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Tag Archives: omnivore

Vegan at Mohawk Bend, Los Angeles

Mohawk Bend, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

Mohawk Bend is a place that I have wanted to visit for quite a while.  In fact, I sought out a copycat recipe for their Buffalo-Style Cauliflower because people raved about it.  Here’s where I tweaked that recipe a bit and posted about my results.

Eric and I went out with his mom a couple of weeks ago and suggested Mohawk Bend since it’s mere miles from her house.  As I said in my previous post, Mohawk Bend (found in the Echo Park area where Mohawk Street bends and meets Sunset) used to be a movie theater, but was left vacant for many years.  Now it has a cozy, pub-like atmosphere and offers food and drinks that are made mostly with California-based products.

Mohawk Bend, Los Angeles | A Vegan in Progress

We were seated in the back, theater area that is surprisingly light and airy.  On the walls hang photos of graffiti saved from the renovation of the formerly dilapidated theater.  Their well-marked menu has quite a bit to offer to vegans, vegetarians, and carnists alike, so it took us a while to figure out what to order.  I knew what I wanted to start with, though!  I got a Mimosa with cider rather than champagne that was seriously yummy.

Of course, we had to order their Buffalo-style Cauliflower appetizer.  While very tasty, I preferred my version.  Theirs didn’t have a lot of coating to it and therefore, the cauliflower wasn’t as soft and just looked like slightly crunchy cauliflower drenched in buffalo sauce.  I can see why the original copycat recipe didn’t call for much batter, though.  It was actually a better copycat recipe than I had assumed.

Mohawk Bend - buffalo cauliflower wings | A Vegan in Progress

For my entree, I ordered their Vegan Burger with vegan cheese, which was delicious!  Possibly the best vegan burger I’ve had.  The black beans and rice patty had just the right texture to it and the cheese was such a welcome addition.  The fries that came with it were well-cooked, but a little too salty.

Mohawk Bend - Vegan Burger | A Vegan in Progress

Check out that side view!  It’s making me hungry!

Mohawk Bend - Vegan burger | A Vegan in Progress

Finally, I had to try out one of their vegan desserts.  I ordered the vegan Cast Iron Cookie, which was Mohawk Bend’s version of a BJ’s Pizookie.  It was good, but a little overcooked and lacking in chocolate chips.  I could have done without it.

Mohawk Bend - Vegan Cast Iron Cookie | A Vegan in Progress

We will definitely be going back, but this was quite a pricy trip.  For the three of us, it cost over $100.  Eric’s mom graciously covered the meal, but I felt a little guilty.  I highly recommend the place to anyone in the LA area.  It’s worth going out of your way for.

Vegan at California Pizza Kitchen

I have categorized this post both under dining out and dual dining because California Pizza Kitchen is a great place for vegans and omnivores to eat in mixed company.

My mom works as a preschool teacher and some of the parents gave her generous gifts this holiday season.  She invited my sister and me to have lunch with her at California Pizza Kitchen, courtesy of a gift card from a parent.  We researched ahead of time and saw that on the menu page of their website, they have a special menu for vegetarians and vegans (I have attached the PDF here: CPK_vegetarian_and_vegan_menu).  Here’s a summary of their offerings:

Pizzas:  Thin crust only with pizza marinara, vegetarian black bean, and spicy marinara sauce only.  Ask for any thin crust pizza with one of those sauces without any meats or cheeses.  The California Veggie is already vegan (with minor modification).

Pastas:  Avoid multigrain penne, tomato basil sauce is the only vegan one that they offer.  Ask for any of the pastas with tomato basil sauce without any meats or cheeses.  Tomato Basil Spaghettini is already vegan (with minor modification).

Salads:  Any salad with fat-free balsamic, lemon herb vinaigrette, or hoisin ginger vinaigrette dressing is vegan as long as you ask for it without any meats or cheeses.  Chinese Chicken (no chicken or wontons), Field Greens (no Dijon balsamic or candied walnuts), Quinoa and Arugula (no cheese or Champagne vinaigrette), and Roasted Veggie (no Dijon balsamic) are already vegan (with minor modifications).

Appetizers and Sides:  The following are the only vegan options… asparagus and arugula salad (no cheese), white corn guacamole and chips, lettuce wraps (ask for only Chinese vegetables), Tuscan hummus (ask for thin crust instead of pita bread).

Soups:  Currently, the only vegan soup is the Dakota smashed pea and barley soup.

Sandwiches:  Currently, there are no vegan options available for sandwiches.

Desserts:  Currently, there are no vegan options available for desserts.

To start, we ordered the white corn guacamole and chips.  I didn’t try the corn guacamole (I believe I may be allergic to avocado), but my mom and sister thought it was good, but a little bland.  The chips were tasty, but it was a very small appetizer for the price.

CPK - guac and chips | A Vegan in Progress

We ordered the California Veggie pizza on thin crust with spicy marinara sauce, although the pizza came out of the kitchen with regular marinara.  It was very tasty.  I don’t usually like thin crust pizzas, but this was a winner and not hard at all.  It comes with “baby broccoli, eggplant, corn, red onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, Mozzarella and tomato sauce,” so we asked for no cheese and got the traditionally original crust pizza on thin crust instead.

CPK - veggie pizza | A Vegan in Progress

We also got the Roasted Veggie salad.  The website says it includes, “warm artichoke hearts, asparagus, eggplant, red and yellow peppers, corn and sun-dried tomatoes served over cool Romaine, avocado and housemade Dijon balsamic vinaigrette,” so we ordered it sans Dijon balsamic, with balsamic vinegar instead and the avocado on the side.  This was a really great, light, but flavorful salad.  I would order it again, but I definitely preferred the pizza.  It’s probably what you’re in the mood for if you’re dining at the California Pizza Kitchen anyway.  Please excuse the blurry photo.

CPK - roasted veggie salad | A Vegan in Progress

Overall, CPK offers tasty options for vegans.  While many restaurants just offer meals that are acceptable, these are actually enjoyable.

Dual Dining – Southwestern Black Bean Casserole

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I have to sing my husband’s praises a little bit.  He is a major meat-eater, but he has really started to become more open minded about my new dietary choices.  Yesterday, he brought me a recipe that could easily be made vegan and asked me to make it for dinner tonight.  It’s Southwestern Black Bean Casserole, found here.

We were expecting some friends over, so I made it with both vegan and traditional cheese.  It came out about 40% vegan and 60% otherwise.  I carefully sprinkled the cheese so that it would be easy to cut and separate the servings by diet.

INGREDIENTS:
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth
2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 low-sodium whole-wheat tortillas (or 6 corn tortillas)
12 ounces salsa, no added sugar
1 cup shredded 2% Cheddar cheese / Daiya vegan cheddar cheese
1 (2.25oz) can sliced olives (optional)

STEPS:

1.  Preheat oven to 375°.

2.  Drain beans, set aside.  In a medium skillet, add oil; heat over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.

3.  Add black beans and broth, and continue cooking approximately 3 minutes.  Add cumin, black pepper, salt, and cilantro; stir to combine.

4.  Spray the bottom of an 8×8-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray (I used a 7×11 inch casserole dish and it worked just fine).  Add a tortilla (or tortillas if you are using a rectangular dish), a layer of black bean mixture,  a layer of salsa, and a layer of cheese; continue layering until all ingredients have been used. Top casserole with remaining cheese.  I sprinkled sliced olives on top of mine.

5.  Cover casserole dish with foil, and bake approximately 20 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly. Remove foil, and continue cooking 8–10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Southwestern Black Bean Casserole | A Vegan in Progress

Daiya Vegan Cheese on the right, regular cheese on the left

Next time, to make things simpler, I will probably just use two smaller Pyrex dishes for the different cheeses so there is no chance if it melting over to the other side.  You can see very clearly in the photo above the two different types of cheeses.  In terms of taste, I found the Daiya cheese to be a close replica of its dairy counterpart.  In terms of looks, it doesn’t melt nearly as well as regular cheese and is slightly unappetizing for those who aren’t used to it.  The recipe is very simple, tasty, and easily customizable so we will probably make it again.  Everyone enjoyed it enough for seconds.

Dual Dining – Chinese Salad

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My husband, Eric, does not have plans to change his diet to exclude animal products.  This is totally up to him and I am doing my best to avoid lecturing or attempting to persuade him.  So far, he has been pretty understanding about my compulsion to share what I learn about the lifestyle.

One of the challenges that I have experienced while adjusting my diet is cooking for both of us.  We eat together every night when I am not in school and I prefer that we eat the same thing, rather than just fend for ourselves and simply eat with each other.

This brings me to what will be a regular post on A Vegan in Progress: Dual Dining.  These posts will describe meals and recipes that I try, create, or alter to be both Omnivore and Vegan friendly without much hassle.

Today’s Dual Dining meal is based off of the Okami Chinese Chicken Salad mix from Costco.  Please excuse the use of photos I found on a Google search, but I didn’t have photos from the night I made this dinner.

Costco Chinese Chicken Salad Kit | A Vegan in Progress

Growing up, we ate a lot of Chinese chicken salad from Costco and I love it.  The kit offers enough ingredients for two huge salads of lettuce (or spinach, which I prefer) almond slices, wonton strips, rice noodles, and chicken.  All ingredients are packaged separately, making it easy to use substitutions in place of certain ones.

After looking over the ingredients, I found that the greens, almond slices, and dressing were vegan.  Just a quick trip to Ralphs later and I had wonton strips and rice noodles that were animal product free.  To make one of each version of the salad, all that I did was toss the greens, almonds, and dressing, then split the salad in half and mix in the wonton strips and rice noodles specific to each salad.  For Eric’s salad, I warmed the chicken in a small amount of the dressing that I held to one side and added it to the bowl.  I don’t miss the chicken when I leave it out, but I suppose tofu would be a nice replacement if necessary.

An even simpler version (and slightly cheaper) would be to make the entire salad from vegan versions of each ingredient, since there is little difference between the Costco and Ralphs wonton strips and rice noodles and toss with a vegan grocery store bought dressing, such as the Ken’s Steak House Lite Asian Sesame with Ginger and Soy dressing that I also found at Ralphs.

Add mandarin oranges if you like such things in your Chinese salads and there you have it – an easy entrée salad for both to enjoy!