Monday, January 26, 2015

Fast Casual Giant Chipotle Goes Cruelty-Free!

Over a year ago, Chipotle Mexican Grill began offering a marinated, braised tofu "meat" option which could be substituted for chicken or pork in their salads, burritos, or bowls.  It is SO delicious, by early 2014, I had already taken a few of my carnivore friends to taste it!  

Today, January 26th, 2015, Chipotle offered a Sofritas special:  Purchase one Tofu Sofritas menu item, and get one free burrito, salad, or bowl on your next visit!  Using Social Media posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, Chipotle Mexican Grill created a plant-based publicity storm around the United States and Canada!

I'm excited about what this means for Vegans who typically have to search everywhere for vegan-friendly options!  Chipotle restaurants are everywhere here in SoCal.  The years of searching for the nearest Veggie Grill, Native Foods Cafe,  Loving Hut, or M Cafe (only in Brentwood, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood now), or calling around to Pho or Sushi restaurants to make sure they are veg-friendly-- are OVER! A plant-based executive fast-casual lunch can be just around the corner at your nearest Chipotle Mexican Grill!  YES! Thank you, Chipotle, for making strides to accommodate plant-based diets for years!

Now that millions of consumers have tried Chipotle's Tofu Sofritas, let's take a look a their Tofu supplier.  Chipotle has always made an effort to source from sustainable and responsible suppliers, and the Tofu is no exception.  

Hodo Soy Beanery, based out of Oakland, California, makes artisanal soy bean products with a strong emphasis on high quality and freshness.  Not all soy is created equal!  

Watch this video to see how much time and effort is put into creating this delicacy.  Hodo Soy Beanery also produces "Yuba" a so-called "Tofu Skin" which I order when I dine at Nobu Malibu, Las Vegas, or West Hollywood.  It is literally the "cream" that rises to the top...the highest quality tofu you can find.  I hope that we will continue to see this type of awareness and consciousness elevating our quality of food to a more compassionate and responsible level.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Healthy Tips for Dining Out: Plant-Based Asian Cuisine

Faux Shrimp Won Ton soup at Wheel of Life Vegan - Irvine, CA
Asian food is absolutely one of my favorite types of food! Whether I'm going out to eat, or I'm cooking and preparing dinner in my own kitchen, Asian food makes me a HAPPY girl! 

I owe my love of Asian food to my parents!  I can still remember the comforting feeling I would get as a child  at our favorite Chinese food restaurant.slowly sipping my hot delicious Wor Wonton noodle soup with crunchy noodles on top.

Since I went Vegan in 2007, I avoided many of my favorite foods because plant-based cuisine was not as popular and definitely not understood.  Now, thankfully, most Asian restaurants, especially Thai, Vietnamese, and Sushi, are vegan-friendly!  I always recommend calling ahead to make sure they can accommodate a vegan diet, some restaurants make their broths and sauces with bones or fish flakes and may not be able to alter a recipe.

Remember to do your research before you go out.  I have gone through many evenings driving around looking for the perfect Pho restaurant or Sushi spot that could accommodate my special requests.

Here are some tips for enjoying your favorite Asian food when dining out:

  • Substitute Tofu for meat in any dish.
  • Ask for No Egg in Fried Rice dishes and Pad Thai.
  • Request vegetarian broth made with no meat.
  • Ask for ingredients in sauces, make sure they don't use Fish flakes.
  • Embracing my Asian heritage
  • Teppanyaki: ask for the chef to prepare your veggies first, without butter.
Suitable for Vegans:

  • Salad dressings made with ginger and miso
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls
  • Tofu based dishes
  • Vegetable chow mein
  • Pad Thai with Tofu (specify No Egg)
  • Steamed brown rice
  • Sesame noodles
  • Vegetable broth Pho 
  • Vegetable sushi rolls
  • Miso soup (without fish flakes)
  • Korean Soon Tofu with vegetarian broth
  • Sriracha
  • Black bean sauce
  • Boba Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Jasmine Tea
I hope you will continue to enjoy your favorite types of cuisine, whether you eat out or dine in!  With so many options, meat alternatives, and substitutes, we are free to explore our taste buds with passion!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winter Chill Garden LifeHack for your Nursery

The New Year is here, and the Winter Chill has no doubt kissed your garden with a layer of frost. 

There is a beautiful serenity in nature at this time of year; we don't get to hear as many birds chirping, bees buzzing, or critters crawling.  As peaceful as this seems, it also means our garden can go into an unrecoverable hibernation unless we put in a little effort.
If you're anything like me, you may like to plant seeds throughout the year, failing to pay attention to the ideal season for germination.  Fortunately my California climate lends itself to this year-round-gardener mentality.  The weather is not typically extreme.  This New Year's Eve, however, the Southern California Wine Country had a generous snowfall which coated the region.  Nature's confectioner dusted the mountains, vineyards, and rooftops with layer upon layer of powder.
As I grabbed my phone at 3:30 am on New Year's Eve to photograph the phenomenon (the last snowfall was 10 years ago), I immediately thought of my nursery and the tomato and herb babies I planted in the Fall.  Thankfully I had brought them indoors and Nature is still on my side.  

I developed a little Garden-Hack, a mini-makeshift Green House which may come in handy if your garden ever experiences a sudden chill.  I call my plants my babies because that's what they are!  My babies need the nurturing sunlight, but not the chill.  I'm not sure how this sudden Winter chill will affect my nursery, but I'm hoping to share my luscious tomato and herb creations in a few months!

Mini-Nursery Green House
Cost: Minimal

Old Screen Door or Window Screen
Plastic Wrap (reusable)
Pipe Cleaners or Wire

Find an old screen door or window screen which you can cut up, or purchase screen material at your local home improvement warehouse.  Place your potted plants in a sunny area on a plastic saucer or large makeshift cachepot which can serve as an anchor for your screen.  Cut a large piece of screen which will fully cover well over the top of your tallest plant.  Use pipe cleaners or wire to connect the wire to the bottom of your planter:  be creative!  Now cut a piece of plastic wrap (can be reused) large enough to cover the entire screen.  Your mini green house will protect your plants from pests and will retain soil warmth and allow your plants full access to the Sunlight.  Be sure to bring your plants indoors or into your garage/storage space in order to avoid a freeze. 
You can always purchase a pre-made greenhouse or make a more elaborate one with PVC or wood, but this is a quick lifehack when you don't have all weekend for a hands-on DIY project!



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