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Chilled Dark Chocolate Pie and Cranberry-Raspberry Compote

So, it has been a really long time since I have posted.  During my pregnancy, I just overwhelmingly didn’t feel like posting anything.  Now, of course, with a 4 month old, I have very little time to write anything.  In the beginning, I was sleeping while she slept, like everyone suggests, but these days I try to get stuff done or get ready for work while she’s sleeping.  While she’s awake, though, I want nothing more than to stare at her little beautiful face and blow raspberries on her little baby belly.  She’s such a doll and I’m so happy to have her in my life.  She’s got such a personality and is generally a very, very happy and very perceptive baby.  We are really very lucky.

Charlotte | A Vegan in Progress

I happen to have this week off (my office is closed), so I thought I would try to get my momentum back.

I made this Oh She Glows Chilled Dark Chocolate Pie for this past Thanksgiving and it was so popular with my family that it was requested I make it again for Christmas.  Luckily for me, it’s pretty simple, especially with a tweak for the lazy.  I simply got store-bought pie crust from the frozen section (they came two to a package – more pie!) rather than making my own.  This pie is very likely the best vegan dessert I have ever had, let alone made myself!  Don’t let the coconut cream scare you away if you aren’t a huge coconut fan.  It’s not the overwhelming flavor of the dessert – that would be yummy, yummy chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Pie | A Vegan in Progress

Rather than make the strawberry vanilla compote from the Oh She Glows website that I’m sure is delicious, I felt that a cranberry-raspberry compote would be more fitting for the season.  I did a quick google search, then chose a recipe that looked the easiest (that’s usually how I work) and ended up with this one originally from Bon Appetit.  I would make this 100 times over – it was that good.

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Ramen Yamadaya, Sherman Oaks

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Eric and I went with a friend one night a few weeks ago to get ramen.  Ramen Yamadaya is a tiny place in Sheman Oaks that offers Vegan Ramen.  The broth is soy milk based and the noodles are spinach.

I had never before eaten proper ramen and didn’t know what to expect, but the broth was extremely flavorful and the  noodles were great.  I mixed in a little chili paste for added spiciness and some pieces of tofu that I ordered on the side.  In the bowl you get your broth, noodles, corn, tomato, mushrooms, cabbage, and green onions as far as I could tell.  It wasn’t very expensive at $8 for the bowl and while I’m still not a major ramen fan, I would definitely eat this again.

Ramen Yamadaya - Vegan Ramen | A Vegan in Progress

Food Lab, Silverlake

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Eric and I were visiting his mom this weekend and decided to go out and pick up food.  They are always very gracious and willing to stop at more than one place so I can get something vegan and satisfying.  The great thing about their neighborhood is that there are so many vegan and vegan-friendly cafes in the Echo Park/Silverlake area.  I think I’m going to try a different place each time we are in this situation.

FoodLab is a vegan-friendly restaurant, so it’s a great place to take non-vegans as well.  It’s very cute, but small, like pretty much every Silverlake cafe.

FoodLab, Silverlake | A Vegan in Progress

I ordered the Vegan Sandwich, which is described as hummus, roasted veggies, and dried tomato with basil pesto on 5 grain bread.  From what I could tell, the veggies included eggplant, mushrooms, squash, bell peppers, and zucchini.  I am not a big fan of squash and I just don’t like zucchini, but the sandwich was still delicious.  I loved that it was grilled on a panini press and the 5 grain bread was perfect.  I only ate half, and Eric had the other half later that night and he liked it as well.

This photo was taken at Eric’s mom’s house.  Their presentation is a lot prettier in FoodLab, but we got it to go.

The reason I could only eat half of the sandwich is because I also got 8 oz. of their cous cous salad which was basically cous cous and veggies.  It was so fresh and delicious – the salad was my favorite part of a good meal.FoodLab - Cous Cous Salad | A Vegan in Progress

There’s only one other vegan sandwich at FoodLab, the Garden Sandwich, which is described as hummus, avocado, watercress, tomato, cucumber, and carrot on 5 grain.  There are also two vegan salads (see this menu, the vegan items are noted with a U).  So it’s not a place with a huge amount of vegan options, but it’s tasty and a good place to take non-vegans.  I also liked that their website states “we are proud to announce that our eat-ware, ranging from plates, cutlery, cups, and packaging are 80% environmentally friendly and biodegradable. It is extremely important to us to be a leader in keeping this planet clean and beautiful, and therefore have made every effort in finding items that are not only attractive but also harmless.”

Easy Vegan Pot Pie

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I haven’t been cooking a lot lately.  The main reason is that I’m pregnant and, in case you haven’t heard, pregnant women can be lazy.  I’m sure that women who are raising children while pregnant just fight through the nausea and exhaustion because they have kids to take care of, but I’m not there yet.  A full work day or even a long day of shopping makes me just want to lay on the couch for hours before finally going to bed.  Eric has been really great about taking care of me and picking up food to go because most of the time I feel like doing nothing.  However, I’ve been feeling pretty guilty for all my laziness and I understand the importance of cooking in advance so that I have food ready to just warm up when I’m feeling famished.

I searched Pinterest for interesting, but easy-looking recipes.  I have always loved pot pie.  I love the combination of the veggies, flaky pastry, and gravy-like filling.  So, when I saw this “Cheater” Vegetable Pot Pie, I decided to give it a try.  I left out the mushrooms because I don’t like those and I added a little vegan chicken bouillon for flavor and some of Trader Joe’s vegan grilled “chicken” strips.  I liked the recipe a lot, the only problem was how bland the filling was.  The non-dairy milk, flour, and veggie broth mixture definitely needed some major seasoning like vegan gravy might have.  We ended up just adding a lot of salt as we ate.

We will definitely make this recipe again, just trying some different ingredients using trial and error.

Easy Vegan Pot Pie | A Vegan in Progress

Pot Pie Filling

Pot Pie Filling

The slightly edited recipe below makes 7-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan butter
  • 2 red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • half cup of non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 2/3 cup frozen sweet peas
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry crust, thawed and rolled out (Pepperidge Farm is vegan)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan chicken bouillon
  • Trader Joe’s vegan grilled “chicken” strips – use however much you like

Directions:

  1. Water saute the onion, kale, and carrots for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the butter, potatoes, bell pepper, and celery and cover with the heat on medium/low for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the flour into the veggie mix, mixing until it’s all combined, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the veggie broth, almond milk, and vegan chicken bouillon.  Keep stirring until there are no flour lumps, then bring to a simmer.  It’ll start to thicken up in about 4-5 minutes.  Add the frozen peas, then remove from heat.
  5. Add Trader Joe’s vegan grilled “chicken” strips and a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, then stir.  Spray your 8 x 8 baking dish with some non-stick spray, then pour in your delicious veggie mixture. (I ended up making a couple of smaller individual pot pies and one larger one to share – this recipe makes a lot!)
  6. Cover with your puff pastry and cut slits in the top to vent.  Bake at 375 until the crust is golden brown, 15-20 minutes (or maybe more depending on  your oven).  Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.

Vegan at Disneyland – Hungry Bear Restaurant

I have posted about Disneyland before and will continue to update as I try different vegan options in both Disneyland and California Adventure.  Click here to see all posts about Disneyland.  Eventually, I plan to put together my own comprehensive list.

My sister and I were looking for a new vegan place to try on our recent trip to Disneyland, so we consulted the impressive 23-page Vegan Cowgirl guide to vegan options at Disneyland.  It’s dated 2013, so the information is pretty current.

We went over to the Hungry Bear Restaurant (located near Splash Mountain and the Winnie the Pooh ride) to try the Fried Green Tomato sandwich.

Hungry Bear Restaurant, Disneyland | A Vegan in Progress

It’s cornmeal crusted fried green tomatoes, layered with heirloom tomatoes and jicama-mango slaw and served on a multigrain roll.  Just make sure to order it without sauce or cheese.  Unfortunately, even though I said the exceptions twice, she didn’t get that I didn’t want cheese, so I had to wait for them to re-make the sandwich.

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich - Hungry Bear Restaurant, Disneyland | A Vegan in Progress

It was worth the wait, though because this sandwich was tasty!  I loved the fried green tomatoes (never had those before!) and the batter was a little bit salty, which went so well with the rest of the sandwich.  I was worried that without sauce or cheese the sandwich might be dry, but it was actually really moist because of the tomatoes.  It tasted really fresh and was filling without being heavy.  The fries were fine, especially with some barbeque sauce.

Bonus points for being less expensive than the Vegan Gumbo at Royal Street Veranda and the Tofu Rice Bowl at Lucky Fortune Cookery in California Adventure.  There’s also a cute little area to sit and eat, with a view of the Mark Twain riverboat as it goes by.  It’s never all that crowded on this end of the park, whereas finding a place to eat your gumbo can be a nightmare in New Orleans Square.  I will definitely be ordering this one again, particularly on warm days since it’s not too heavy.

Vegan at The Counter

I have been to The Counter, a burger chain restaurant in the past, but it was before I went vegan.  Early in my vegan days, I did some online searching and found that their veggie burger patty wasn’t vegan (I believe it had egg in it), so I didn’t think about going back until I heard recently that they now offer a Vegan Veggie patty.

Eric and I were out shopping and passed a location of The Counter, so we stopped in on a whim to try it again.  I tried to quickly look up if any of the buns were vegan, but their website isn’t very mobile-friendly.  I asked the waitress and was told that none of the buns were vegan.  I was initially really irritated.  What is the point of having a vegan patty if you don’t offer any vegan buns?  Buns don’t need animal products.  I just don’t get it.  They’ll be getting an email from me about that.

UPDATE:  The always knowledgeable Insufferable Vegan has since let me know that the ciabatta buns are vegan.  The CEO of The Counter has confirmed it.  I knew I had seen this information somewhere, but we just stopped in on a whim, so I didn’t have time to check into it in advance.  Good move, The Counter, offering a fully vegan burger option!  However, I have to say that my husband has told people since our visit that you just get so much more food when ordering it in a bowl and I have to agree that it was pretty great that way.

I opted to have my vegan burger in a bowl (this costs an extra $1 – what the hell, The Counter?!) with organic mixed greens, tomatoes, roasted corn and black bean salsa, roasted green chiles, roasted red peppers, and housemade guacamole (a premium topping for $1.25 extra) with Sweet BBQ sauce.  I ended up with a sorta Tex-Mex BBQ salad.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post for a list of all vegan options.

Build Your Own Burger, The Counter | A Vegan in Progress

It was actually very tasty and extremely filling.  The patty was warm and had visible pieces of veggies in it.  You can see what looks like spinach, red pepper, carrots, black beans, and corn in the second photo.  The patty was really hearty and immensely preferable to the microwaved veggie patties at Red Robin.

Eric and I ordered large fries to share, which turned out to be way too much.  They were shoestring cut and I commented that they were well cooked, since shoestring fries tend to be floppy or burned.  Eric said that it’s because they are twice-fried.

Large French Fries, The Counter | A Vegan in Progress

The burger in a bowl option is really tasty and I look forward to trying their ciabatta bun on a future visit!

FYI:  the allergens are listed on their website, and the following items are marked as vegan.

Sauces

  • Apricot Sauce
  • Dijon Balsamic Dressing
  • Ginger Soy Glaze
  • Habanero Salsa
  • Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Red Relish
  • Sweet BBQ Sauce

Sides

  • French Fries
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • 50/50 – Fries/Sweet Potato Fries
  • Side Salad
  • Grilled Vegetable Plate

Patties

  • Vegan Veggie Burger Patty

Buns

  • Ciabatta (according to the CEO, but not yet listed on their allergens page)

Toppings

  • Baby Spinach
  • Bermuda Red Onion
  • Black Olives
  • Carrot Strings
  • Dill Pickle Chips
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Grilled Onions
  • Grilled Pineapple
  • Jalapeños
  • Lettuce Blend
  • Organic Mixed Greens
  • Roasted Chiles
  • Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Scallions
  • Sliced Cucumbers
  • Spicy Pepperoncinis
  • Sprouts
  • Tomatoes

Premium Toppings (extra charge)

  • Avocado
  • Housemade Guacamole
  • Sautéed Mushrooms
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Beverages

  • Fresh Iced Tea
  • Still/Sparkling Water
  • Soda – All

That’s the entire list from their website as of 2/8/14.  I haven’t left anything out, anything I didn’t list isn’t vegan.  You can use this post as your mobile-friendly cheat sheet since their website doesn’t work well on mobile devices.  You’re welcome!

*Marinated Artichokes is oddly listed as not vegan, but it doesn’t say what’s in it.  It might be worth clarifying with the staff if you’re interested.

Follow Your Heart, Canoga Park

I’m very lucky to live near one of the best vegetarian health food markets in LA.  Follow Your Heart is a vegetarian market with a restaurant as well as a yoga studio.  The company is responsible for the many popular Follow Your Heart products including as Vegenaise, Vegan Gourmet Shreds, and various vegan salad dressings.

FYH Exterior | A Vegan in Progress

The first time I visited Follow Your Heart, I wasn’t vegan.  I went with my younger, longtime vegan sister and I had a hard time finding anything I wanted to order.  I was a little less than willing to try new things.  I don’t know if I ordered something that just wasn’t all that good (I don’t remember what it was) or if it was because I went in with a bit of a closed mind, but I was not a fan.

However, my sister very graciously invited me to dinner after staying over at our place and she loves Follow Your Heart, but doesn’t live close enough to dine there regularly.  So, I was looking forward to trying it again, this time with an open, vegan mind.

Be warned if you happen to visit, when you walk in to Follow Your Heart, you will feel confused and lost.  You enter in the market, near the registers… just walk past them and all the way to the back.  In the back corner is the entrance to the restaurant.  It is even tinier than the market.  Don’t let that discourage you, it’s perfectly fine that way.  In fact, this just means that you will be in closer proximity to the celebrities who dine there.  Seriously, one time Allison and I saw Travis Barker and his son there.  We were led to the patio out front, which was nice.

I ordered the Nutburger, vegan.  It’s described as “A Nut and Vegetable Patty on a Toasted Whole Wheat Bun, Baked with Raw Rennetless Cheddar Cheese, and Topped with Sprouts, Tomato, Pickles, Vegenaise, and our Special Sauce.”  It tasted great, especially with the Wizard Sauce (request it – that stuff is tasty).  The nut and vegetable patty was not very firm.  It wasn’t sloppy, but it did fall apart just a little bit.  I’m not usually a fan of big piles of sprouts, but they went really well with the burger.

Allison always wants us to look like we are insane diners for blog photos.  Don’t mind our insanity.

Allison ordered the Organic Tempeh Tacos, vegan.  They are decribed as “Two Organically Grown, Stone Ground Corn Tortilla Shells, Filled with Seasoned, Grilled Organic Tempeh, Jack and Raw Rennetless Cheddar Cheese, Tomatoes and Fresh Cilantro. Served with Organic Spanish Rice, Organic Black Beans Guacamole, Sour Cream and Lime Wedges.”  She loved it, especially with some added Wizard Sauce.

We both ordered the vegan chocolate shake, after confirming that it doesn’t contain bananas (I’m allergic); Allison ordered extra chocolate.  I found them really bland, not all that creamy.  I’ve made better vegan chocolate shakes myself (check out the post on that), so I don’t think I’ll order that again.

Vegan chocolate shake, Follow Your Heart | A Vegan in Progress

I’m will definitely be dining at Follow Your Heart again if Allison has anything to say about it!  I’m also likely to stop by to pick up hard to find vegan products since the market is on my way home from work.  Definitely worth stopping in if you’re in the area!