Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eating Proper at Proper Eats

YAY! I think I have a new favorite restaurant! Well, to add to my always-growing list of favorite restaurants.

Last night Joe and I went to happy hour at Radio Room and had drinks with some of his work friends. Actually, Joe had drinks, I, thanks to my anti-parasite diet, downed an entire wine bottle full of water. Mmmm... I really had no interest in getting food at Radio Room; while they do indicate their menu items that are vegan and gluten free, there are only 2 that are both and one has tomato...I wasn't about to have edamame as a meal.

So I decided it was time to try a new place. Not that I don't love frequenting Vege Thai and Blossoming Lotus (and I do...I just had Vege Thai the other night), but there are SO MANY vegan places in Portland that I need to discover! I ended up deciding on Proper Eats Cafe in North area of town that I was previously unfamiliar with....


Oh my stars this place is so cool! They use all organic and vegan ingredients in their stuff, indicate items on the menu that are gluten free, AND they don't add cane sugar to anything!! There were actually multiple items on the menu that I could eat...and as I'm sure you know I don't usually get much of a choice at most places. Even Blossoming Lotus is tricky thanks to my tomato and corn allergies.

We started with drinks, house-made Kombucha (=LOVE) for me and cabernet for Joe...definitely best kombucha I've ever had. A lot of the store-bought stuff is a little too tangy, this had the perfect balance of bite and flavor. Just goes to show that anything homemade is always better!

The salad menu was unreal...I'm such a dang salad fiend lately there was no way I was leaving without trying at least one. Tough choice too because they ALL sounded amazing! I ended up going with the sea salad, which was raw sauerkraut, carrots, beets, avocado, cucumber, and kalamata olives on a bed of mixed greens with a cashew-nori dressing that seriously tasted exactly like sushi. It was even better than in sounded! Joe got a caesar salad (vegan of course!) that had their house-made tempeh on it and the usual caesar staples. It was a little fishy, despite the lack of real fish in the dressing, but according to Joe (who is a carnivore by the way), the tempeh made it all worth it.

The main course menu consists of sandwiches and wraps (bowls for us gluten free folk), and entrees with an international flare. Tacos, masala (indian dish), asian noodles, shepherd's pie, you name it. Raw fajitas anyone? I was immediately drawn to the Pesto and Veggie Wrap/Bowl... steamed veggies, red and yellow quinoa, and house-made tempeh (my stomach is growling just thinking about it), topped with avocado and arugula-hazelnut pesto (which they totally sell in-store, heck YES!). And once again, it was even better than it sounded. Soooo much flavor and from all veggies and grains! It's amazing how delicous simplicity can be. Joe ordered the "NoPo" Burrito, which included steamed veggies, salsa, tofu, beans and rice, topped with guac and corn-pumpkin seed relish. He made a point to tell me to share his review on the blog... he LOVED it. Which I love...I'm just one step closer to convincing him to eat that way all the time :). I tried a little bite and I was impressed as honestly tasted like a more flavorful version of my once-upon-a-time order at Taco Del Mar. It is, of course, about 10 steps up from good ole TDM however, you just can't beat fresh, organic ingredients.

I never get dessert, nor do I really crave it anymore, but I HAD to get some here. I mean, they had like 7 or 8 different variations of vegan, sugar free chocolate: bars, truffles, fudge, hemp-butter cups...hello! It's like my dream! I had a hell of a time picking one out, but I ended up going with the hempseed butter cups. It's just been too long since I've had a reese's. Definitely a good choice for me, but milk-chocolate lovers beware, it is definitely dark chocolate to the core. Unfortunately, that party-in-my-mouth lasted only moments, I smashed those real fast. Thank God for vegan chocolate.

Aside from freaking delicious food, Proper Eats also offers retail items, including organic (and mostly local!) produce, cooking sauces (like my Thai and True curry pastes!), tofu, and other convenience items (natural toothpaste and local hand-made soaps!). They even sell a lot of their house-made sauces, plus that amazing raw tempeh! Do you know how hard it is to find raw tempeh? Freaking impossible now that everything and it's mom is pasteurized. My favorite part was this shelf of all sorts of flyers and business cards for health and vegan-related businesses and events. I spent forever looking at everything! I sneakily left behind a few of my business cards while Joe stood guard (not sure what their policy is on that).

I don't think its even a question that I'm going to become a regular at this place. How I haven't heard about it until now blows my mind. I'd honestly recommend this to anyone who likes food, vegan or not. There's totally something for everyone and everything tastes amazing! What's not to love?

Live free my friends,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kelp Noodles...

...are my latest obsession.

If you're a health freak like me, you know how beneficial adding sea vegetables to your diet is. If you aren't, get this: sea veggies like kelp, nori, wakame, and arame are high in iodine (which can also come from salt but beware: most iodized salt has dextrose, a corn sweetener, added in), iron and vitamin C, and are highly alkalizing in the body. Adding sea veggies to your dishes also reduces the need for excess salt, which is pretty awful for you if you weren't aware!

I've been a big fan of nori (the seaweed used in sushi) for awhile now; I mean shoot, I literally eat it in sheets right out of the bag. My boyfriend called me out on it yesterday ("I don't think normal people eat it like that..." to which I respond "when have I ever been considered normal?"), and my friend Jennifer calls it my sloth food. But my world has been shifted with the addition of another sea vegetable, kelp, in the form of noodles!

The noodles, made by Sea Tangle Noodle Company are made of kelp and sodium alginate (which is extracted from brown seaweed) and water. I've found them at multiple Portland Whole Foods as well as Chuck's Produce here in Vancouver (Vancouver Whole Foods doesn't appear to carry them yet). They are really jiggly and kind of translucent; I'd compare them to like a cooked rice noodle (those ones you find in salad rolls and stuff). But they are so much more nutritious than rice noodles with much fewer calories! I haven't experimented much with cooking them (they are recommended in stir fries and such), but hot damn are they good in salad!

Here's my favorite recipe so far:

Kelp Noodle Salad with Almond Butter/Miso Dressing

1/3 pkg kelp noodles
2 c. fresh spinach, or 1 c spinach and 1 c. romaine lettuce
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
handful of snap peas, chopped


1 tbsp. Almond Butter
1 tsp. unpasteurized brown rice miso paste
1/2 tsp. maple syrup

Whisk dressing ingredients together, adding water until it reaches a salad dressing consistency. Toss veggies and kelp noodles in dressing and enjoy!

Serves 1.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dairy Free Corn Free Nachos

I've gotten to a point that I eat so well most of the time that it is rare for me to try to recreate one of the less healthy dishes I used to love back in the pre-allergy, pre-vegan days. However, even I believe that everyone should be able to treat themselves once in awhile, and it's an added bonus if you can make that dish a little healthier.

I don't find that I crave any of that old stuff anymore (I mean really, I consider hummus junk food these days), but when I discovered Beanitos corn-free tortilla chips, I couldn't help but wonder how well they'd work in nachos. I used to LOVE nachos, in fact, whenever I go off my diet on vacation or whatever (which I don't recommend by the way but hey, it happens!), I search high and low to find the best nachos before anything else. I remember even having an eye out for a Mexican restaurant the entire 6 weeks I was in Greece (such a thing, I found, does not exist haha).

Sooo when I mentioned the possibility of nachos to my also-Beanitos-addicted boyfriend Joe, who I cook with quite a bit, he was all about it. Unfortunately, I'm not really supposed to be eating beans and rice and stuff as a part of my anti-parasite diet, so it kinda had to be a last hurrah.

This recipe serves roughly two people, Joe and I smashed them in minutes, but we were definitely full after (perfect time for a walk on the waterfront!). Feel free to get creative with toppings, these are the ingredients we used but fresh pico de gallo, refried beans, sauteed bell peppers, and Papa G's Taco Tofu would all be delicious as well!

Diary-Free Corn-Free Nachos

1 bag Beanitos black or pinto bean chips
1 pkg. Daiya chedder cheese shreds (or add/replace with pepper jack to give it an extra kick)
1/2 can black beans
1/4 c. chopped onion
1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1/2 can sliced black olives

Heat oven on the "Broil" setting. Place chips on a lipped baking sheet (so the toppings don't slide off in transit to the oven), and top with beans, onions, jalapenos and olives. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Broil with oven door open until cheese is melted, checking often, approximately 3-5 minutes depending on your oven. Serve with fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, and Wayfare dairy free sour cream!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tofu Wraps

So I got a bit of interesting news from my naturopath doctor this last week....Apparently my inability to feel better even when I eat well is being caused by a parasite and having too much H. Pylori bacteria in my body. Kinda crazy, but I'm so relieved to have finally figured out what was wrong with me! I'm on a bunch of supplements and it should clear up in a couple months I guess. Thank goodness for that.

The other thing we discovered is that I may be producing too much cortisol due to stress which has caused me to gain a little bit of weight. I think a lot of the stress stemmed from feeling crappy all the time and not knowing why, but I've always been a little bit high strung/anxiety prone so I'm sure that doesn't help either. As of now, my doctor has me on a blood sugar control diet, which basically means I need to get as much protein at each meal as possible. My veggies and beans are chock full of protein but I may not have been eating enough of them to get the proper amount.

I made this delicious wrap last night that features tofu and hummus as the main protein sources. My taste buds were seriously in love so I obviously had to share it with you!

Tofu Wraps

1 gluten-free tortilla of your choice (I like Food for Life brown rice wraps, make sure you microwave them for about 30 seconds though!)
1/2 c. seasoned tofu, this can be from your own recipe, I prefer either Whole Foods sesame tofu from the deli section or Papa G's sesame tofu
2 tbsp. King Harvest hummus
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 c. spinach
1/4 avocado

After heating up the tortilla, spread the hummus in the middle and start piling on the other ingredients. Wrap up like a burrito and eat! Yummmm!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Top 10 products I'm obsessed with at the moment

I'm so lucky that I work in a gluten free store and have a role in the ordering of new products because I'm always finding new delicious stuff I can actually have. I have cut back on my consumption of even allergy-friendly processed food, but I have to let myself indulge every once in a while! Here's what I'm loving right now:

1. Earth Cafe Vegan Cheesecake
I looooove these. And it's just icing on the (cheese)-cake that they are sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar. It has everything I could possibly want in a dessert. They remind me of their more expensive but equally delicious counterpart at Blossoming Lotus in Portland, but they are more readily available now that I can buy them at Lingonberries! It's got all the flavor and decadence of normal cheesecake, without the dairy and sugar overload that you get afterwords. Hey, I'll take feel-good dessert any day of the week!

2. Beanitos Black Bean Chips

Finally, a corn-free tortilla chip! I honestly thought I was never going to eat tortilla chips again. I'm so glad I was wrong! And honestly, these are better than your average corn chip. Not only do they taste amazing, they have legit protein and fiber in every serving. All in all, they are still chips, but as chips go they are one of the healthiest. However, be warned, it will be very hard to resist eating the whole bag. Side note: these taste amazing paired with #3 on this list...

3. King Harvest Jalapeno Hummus
Boo, I couldn't figure out how to rotate this picture. I'm computer illiterate. Anyway, this stuff is to die for. I'm not kidding. I don't know anyone who's tried it that isn't completely addicted. My favorite, obviously, is the Jalapeno. Its got the perfect flavor of jalapeno without being to spicy for those with senstive taste buds. I am not one of those people, I've actually been known to add my own hot sauce... King Harvest is a local company out of Portland and they deliver their products fresh, plus there are like 12 flavors to choose from so there truly is something for everybody. I'm also super into the lemo hummus cause they don't add any oil and I've been trying to stay away from oil lately.

4. Sea Snax Toasted Onion
I know you probably think I'm weird for eating seaweed and liking it, but I can almost guarentee that you'd like it if you tried it. Especially because this isn't just plain old seaweed, it's roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with dehydrated onion. And, one little package is a mere 16 calories, yet somehow it's quite the appetite supressant. Its the perfect snack to tie you over at work or if you have to postpone a meal for any reason. They also come in a plain flavor that's got olive oil and a little salt. Yummmm....

5. Jungle Treats Maple Coconut Kale Krisps
Kale has become one of my best friends since I went vegan. I still have yet to perfect the perfect at home kale chip recipe, but in the meantime, these make an excellent substitute. They also come in a Cheezy and a Creamy Garlic flavor, but the Maple Coconut is hands down my favorite. Whoever decided that kale would taste good sweet was a freaking genius. I couldn't be more thrilled with these. Unfortunately, they are kind of hard to find, but you can purchase them directly from their website.

6. Amande Almond Milk Yogurt

As I'm sure you are aware, its very difficult to find vegan yogurt that is also sugar free and, in this case, soy free. Leave to me to discover what seems like the only one that exists. It's definitely a thicker yogurt, and it has the distinctive taste of almond milk (i guess that probably goes without saying). My favorite flavor is peach but it also comes in cherry, blueberry, strawberry and coconut. Now if they'd only make a vanilla I'd be a happy camper!

7. Taste Nirvana Coco Aloe Water

Although I hate drinking my calories (unless they're the liquid calories that raise my BAC), I do occassionally break that rule for one of these guys. One bottle of this aloe-chunk-infused coconut water packs all sorts of electrolytes, including magnesium and more potassium than a banana. The little buggers are perfect post-workout, and are even better for nursing hangovers. Its like reaching for a Gatorade, only its all natural and doesn't have added sugar. The plain coconut water by the same company is awesome for while you are working out, especially hot yoga. (The aloe one doesnt really work thanks to the pulp). My boyfriend comes into the store and buys cases of them, and all the employees are addicted as well.

8. The Better Bean Company Refried Beans

Since becoming vegan I'm a freaking bean fanatic. Love em. They are so good for you and so tasty! And yet, someone found a way to make them even yummier. Also a local company, Better Bean makes three different types of refried beans including red, black and cuban-style black. They are ALL good. I'm obsessed. I make recipes with them but most of the time I can't resist eating them right out of the container. Plus, I met the guy who I believe started the company last summer at a demo at New Season's market and he's suuuch a nice guy. I love knowing that my food comes from good people, it makes me feel secure that I'm not being poisoned by preservatives and other crap. I can't help but believe that food made by good hearted people make food nourishes not only the body but the soul. So buy some.

9. Organ Falafel Mix

I fell in love with falafel on my trip to Hawaii last fall...I know, kinda random place to be introduced to falafel. There was this little mom and pop falafel stand outside one of the clubs we went to a lot and we ate there drunk almost every night. I'm sure it wasn't gluten free or anything, but I wasn't about to live without it. Luckily, Orgran makes a gluten free falafel mix that is also corn and potato free. All it is is chickpea flour and spices, and all you have to do is add water to the mix and bake or fry them in little balls. The best way to eat them is in a wrap with hummus, cucumbers, red peppers, and sprouts, but they are also delicious eaten plain or dipped in hummus (King Harvest anyone?)

10. Lucini Cinque e' Cinque Chickpea Frittata Mix

Another delicious chickpea flour concoction...this one is a little harder to explain. It's a bit like fritatta but its bean based instead of egg based. Just add oil and water and you can make it into a thick frittata or into thinner chickpea flatbreads that taste great with basil, olives, and anything else with an italian flair. I can't tell you enough how bomb this stuff is, you'll just have to try it for yourself! The best part is a serving contains 9 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, and an extremely short ingredient list that is vegan and gluten free!

So my friends, you have a lot of products to get out there and try. Happy eating! And if anyone has found a completely tomato, sugar and dairy free pasta/pizza sauce, PLEASE let me know! I'm making pizza tonight and sometimes I get sick of making my own.