Taste of Thaiyai

On Friday evening I went out to eat with my parents in the southern suburbs. Since I do not normally go out to eat in the Apple Valley area, I decided to use www.vegguide.org to see if there were any restaurants in the area that serve vegan options. I was able to find one restaurant in Apple Valley that was not a fast food type establishment that had Vegan options, Taste of Thaiyai. Taste of Taiyai servers Thai food if you were not able to distinguish that from the name. I was actually in the mood for Thai, like I am in most cases and convinced my parents who normally refuse to eat any food that could potentially be spicy to eat there with me.

Thaiyai’s menu does not specifically state which items on their menu are able to be made vegan, but there are plenty of options if you ask the server what can be made with no animal products. MY first impression of the restaurant is that it was very cozy, and there were not very many tables. The walls and tables were decorated beautifully and gave of a Thai atmosphere. I thought that table cloths looked really nice that is shown below.

IMG_0408I decided to go with number 38, Pra Ram Long Song with tofu. This dish is a peanut curry sauce served over steamed spinach, served with steamed rice. I asked to have the dish prepared vegan in case there was normally fish sauce in the dish. My dish was fairly creamy from the coconut milk and had a delicious taste of peanut to it. The tofu was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The spinach seemed a little greasy and tough to me. I asked for my food to be prepared hot, which was the highest level they offered, and it tasted mild to medium to me. Nest time I would ask to have it made spicier, since I love spice in my food! Overall I was happy with the food I chose and would be interested in trying a different dish and their appetizers as well. I do wish that there were more vegetables in the dish as it was sort of plain with just tofu and spinach in the dish itself.

IMG_0410

Have you been to Taste of Thaiyai, if so what did you think?

Conflict of Interest

When vegan meets non-vegan world.

I’m caught in the middle of a huge conflict of interest. This is the first time I’ve really felt obligated to do something that goes against everything I stand for. The interesting thing is that this would be a conflict of interest for me even if I still wasn’t vegan yet.

For those of you who’ve known me for ages know that this was my entire life in high school and my early college years:

WesleyI lived for one purpose: to go to the barn and hang out with Wesley. The realization that people eat horse is probably one of the reasons veganism clicked with me.

Anyways, I grew up loving horses and was always taught that horse racing is a terrible, terrible, terrible “sport” just as terrible as hunting.

Fast-forward to last year. Sean started playing an Irish sport called hurling.

Hurling

This sport’s group is a volunteer-run non-profit. When they posted a list of open positions several of them sparked my interest. It seemed like an awesome way to gain experience and learn how non-profits run; So I’m on the advertising/marketing committee.

This being our first year in the club we are pretty clueless about the annual events. I had heard something about a “night of the races” at one of the ladies’ nights, but I didn’t know all the details. Later we kept seeing emails about NOTR, which turns out to be short for Night of the Races. Sean and I talked about it and we decided that fake horse racing is horrible, but we want the club to do well and it’s not our place to come in and try to change everything. I was still under the impression that I could fly under the radar and have little involvement with this event. Later we learned they play real horse racing! AH! And that this is an all-hands-on-deck kind of thing since it’s planned about a month before the event! AHHH! What a nightmare.

So here I am now, helping promote and coordinate this very vegan-unfriendly horse racing event. I was hoping I could at least find a vegan food vendor, but it turns out it’s hard to find free catering three weeks before an event. What makes this even worse is that I’ve pulled a half a dozen people into this event. In one of my classes we have to do a group service learning project and I thought it would be fun to have people help me with my advertising/marketing committee duties. I gave my group two options and they all voted to do the fundraising event. Sigh.

My plan is to try my best this year and keep suggesting that they change the theme to something that doesn’t involve animal exploitation and to make it clear that I don’t want to help with the event next year if is still horse racing theme…

I imagine there must be tons of vegans out there dealing with conflict of interest, such as vegans serving non-vegan food in restaurants.

How would you deal with this situation?

OMG KFAI

Guess what we did today?! We tried our hand at radio! I know right? No way! Granted it wasn’t a live show, it was still our first radio experience ever. Spoiler alert: We won’t be pursuing careers in radio anytime soon.

KFAI Radio

At the beginning of the week I got an email from Sabrina Crews at KFAI for an interview on a piece about going vegan. Well of course I thought the piece sounded great and Sean and I both felt honored to even be contacted about it. Then before I knew it we had a meeting setup and I was looking at a list of questions to go over during the interview. Crazy right?! As the week unfolded we learned that Unny Nambudiripad from CAA was interviewed too then today we found out Dallas Rising from ARC was interviewed too. Wow! These are two people we deeply respect and look-up to so the pressure was on.

So today we went to the studio. We finally met Sabrina, a new vegan, in person. We went on a tour of the studio then squeezed into a little room to record. This morning Sean and I typed up a quick cheat sheet of answers in case we were flustered, but we couldn’t have any papers rustling in the background so it was too hard to hold onto them. Neither of us have strong speaking skills and we were sharing this microphone that we were both supposed to be one inch away from so that probably added to our awkwardness. It was still really fun and exciting to be part of such a neat piece.

So for kicks here is our cheat sheet so you can see how different it was when we tried to speak it.

1)             Introductions: Who you are, what you do, and a brief description of your organization

  • Sean – Engineer
  • Genevieve – Full-Time Marketing Communications Student
  • We run the website www.TwinCitiesVegan.com

2)             Your reasons for becoming a vegan, and benefits for those who adapt the lifestyle

  • Genevieve – Read skinny bitch after my friends read it to lose weight for the wedding. Was vegan for 6 months, then vegan inside the house vegetarian outside the house, then vegan 6 days a week, all kinds of weird things. Started being drawn to animal rights and was able to commit to veganism for ethical reasons.
  • Sean – Was forced by Genevieve to do a 1 month vegan macrobiotics challenge a year and a half after she started going vegan. Lost 30lbs and committed to being vegan in the house. Later committed to be an ethical vegan with Genevieve.
  • Benefits: Much better health. Happiness from knowing you are helping animals and the world. A sense of living a life of purpose.

3)             Local resources you’d recommend to new vegans

  • Local vegan blogs. When you follow vegan blogs in your area you learn about where vegans are shopping, what and where they’re eating, what events they’re going to, and how they’re connecting with other vegans. They can be used as unofficial vegan mentors in a sense because you can tweet them, leave comments and questions on their blog, connect with the blogger and blog followers on facebook.
  • Finding local vegans in person through Compassionate Action for Animals dine-outs and Animal Rights Coalition’s meetup group. It can be isolating to only have online vegan friends. Eating at new restaurants with other vegans, watching how they interact with non-vegans, how they order food is incredibly valuable. Being able to hang out with other vegans and not having to worry about what is in all of the potluck dishes is refreshing. Being able to talk about favorite products and ask advice is amazing.
  • Documentaries and book can help you educate yourself so you can answer questions and in some cases defend your new lifestyle choices.

4)             Popular misconceptions about veganism

  • Calcium & protein – When people find out you‘re a vegan they instantly feel like they have the highest education in nutrition. They tell you all about how you can only get calcium from drinking milk. They don’t know that animal products make your body acidic which leeches calcium from your bones. They don’t know that the only tribe in Africa that is greatly affected by osteoporosis is the tribe that drinks cow milk. They don’t know that vegetables such as kale and broccoli are rich with calcium. The other one is protein. Non-vegans will constantly tell you that you cannot get complete protein unless you eat animal. They forget that animals like horses, oxen, gorillas, rhinos, and elephants are all vegans. They get their protein somewhere. When you are eating animals like cows and chickens you are just getting recycled planted-based protein. It’s better to cut out the middle man.
  • Being vegan is too expensive – Being vegan actually saves us money and we eat pretty extravagantly. Animal products are so much more expensive than beans, grains, and veggies.
  • I can’t go vegan because I love ___. You can veganize anything. You can eat all of the same stuff, just the vegan version. Vegans don’t miss out on anything.

5)             Key tips/words of wisdom for new vegans

  • Don’t feel like you can’t have something. You can have anything you want; you just choose to have the vegan version. Eat vegan ice cream, grill vegan burgers and hot dogs, and make vegan pigs in a blanket. Google vegan (your favorite meal) to learn how to make it vegan.

Pei Wei Review

Every day that I have worked at my current job I drive by a Pei Wei that is near where I work. I always wondered what their food tasted like and if they have any vegan options on their menu. After almost a year of driving by Pei Wei I finally decided to go eat there for lunch. I decided to do a little research before I went to Pei Wei to see what if anything on the menu is vegan. From the research I did (I googled Pei Wei Vegan) and found out that anything on their menu that is vegetarian when ordered with tofu and vegetables (denoted with a green leaf next to it) is also vegan. I found out that they have one appetizer that is vegan ( edamame). Pei Wei has three entrees that are vegan, Spicy Korean, Sweet and Sour, and Thai Dynamite.

My first observation as I entered Pei Wei is that the cooks make your food that you order fresh unlike at other fast food Asian restaurants where they scoop the food from a precooked serving dish onto your plate. I ordered the Thai dynamite, since I am now obsessed with Thai food with tofu an vegetables. Not very much later the food was delivered to the table, and it was a mammoth portion of food. Looking around I noticed that if you ordered tofu and vegetables you got more total found than if you ordered a meat dish. I think you get extra vegetables, and it even costs less! At first I could have sworn that there was a mistake and I got meat instead of tofu because it looked like meat to me. After I cut it up I could tell the texture was tofu. After eating some of the tofu I was in heaven, this might be some of the best prepared tofu that I have eaten anywhere. The outside was crispy, and the inside was soft. The tofu was slathered in the Thai Dynamite sauce and had a magnificent taste to it. The dish also came with carrots, bell peppers, snow pea pods, broccoli, green onions, and a lime wedge. All of the vegetables had a nice snap to them when I bit into them, and I could tell that they were fresh. I do feel like the dish could have had some more sauce. The Thai dynamite was listed as one of their spicy dishes, however I did not find the dish to be very spicy. overall I would say that I enjoy the dish thoroughly and would like to go back and try the other dishes that are vegan.

Have you eaten at Pei Wei, if so what did you try and what did you think of it?

peiwei

 

 

Hash Brown Chicken Fajita Casserole

Where breakfast meets the vegan version of a Taco Bell chicken quesadilla. I developed this casserole recipe to compete in the 2013 Vegan Hotdish Cook-Off.

#VEGAN

#VEGAN

 

Ingredients

 

  • 1 Stick Earth Balance Butter
  • 6 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Tub of Vegan Cream Cheese (Toffuti or Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 Cup Coconut yogurt
  • 1 Bag Frozen Shredded Hash Browns (Thawed if in one solid block)
  • 3 Bell Peppers of Different Colors (Cubed or sliced)
  • 1 Package Chicken-Less Strips ( Trader Joe’s or Gardien Brand)
  • ½ Package Smart Bacon
  • 2 Small Shallots (Thinly Sliced)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Cup Trader Joe’s Vegan Shredded Cheese (Mozzarella style)
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegan Bacon Bits

 

Directions

  1. In large pot melt butter then mix in flour. Stir constantly for 5 minutes making sure to bubble, but not burn the flour. Meanwhile sauté peppers, garlic, shallots, bacon, and chicken (optional).
  2. To the butter/flour mix in cream cheese, yogurt, chili powder, cumin, (1) tablespoon of the bacon bits. Once everything is incorporated add the peppers, garlic, shallots, bacon, and chicken. Stir well.
  3. Mix in Hash browns so that they are completely covered in the sauce.
  4. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs then cheese.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes at 375F. Keep covered for the first 30 minutes then uncover so the cheese melts, but doesn’t dry out.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining bacon bits on the top before serving.

First Twin Cities Vegan Hot Dish Cook-off

Announcing the first Twin Cities Vegan Hotdish Cook-Off!

Attendees will sample a variety of delicious vegan hotdish recipes prepared by local cooks at this event on Saturday, February 9, at 1 p.m. at Fuller Park on 48th Street & Grand Avenue South in Minneapolis. Each sample costs $1 and counts as a vote for the audience favorite so bring your singles. Free beverages provided.

Like cooking? Have a secret family recipe? Then you might have what it takes to win the Twin Cities Vegan Hotdish Cook-Off! (For you non-Minnesotans, a hotdish is a meal cooked and served in one dish, also known as a casserole). There will be two prize categories, Audience Favorite and Judges’ Pick, and lots of fun prizes for the winners. And our celebrity judges include noted cookbook author Robin Asbell, Florence Brammer, who helped introduce a vegan main dish competition to the Minnesota State Fair, and Minnesota State Fair judge Susanne Mattison!

The day of the contest contestants will receive a $10 gift card for Éthique Nouveau, the Twin Cities vegan boutique. Interested? Email Dallas at dallas@animalrightscoalition.com or call her at 612-822-6161 for more details and to register (only 10 spots are available; a $20 deposit will reserve your spot and you’ll get your deposit back in full on the day of the contest ).

Your best Church Lady attire is welcome, but not required. Hope to see you there!

The fine print: 1) Recipe should be for a hot dish, or casserole; i.e. a meal cooked and served in one dish, 2) Recipe should be original, and not published or used in earlier competitions, 3) Recipe must be vegan (no meat, dairy, eggs, honey, refined sugar, or other animal by-products), 4) Please bring one small casserole for the judges, and a large one (or two!) for the guests, 5) Please bring copies of your recipe for the judges.

Edit: Facebook event here – http://www.facebook.com/events/321974057908645/

 

 

Baja Sol

Baja Sol summed up in four words: Chip and Salsa Bar

Free Chips and Salsas

Seriously. Unlimited chips and salsa. And not just one salsa, nine salsas, cilantro, onions, etc.

How have I never been to Baja Sol before? Chips and salsa is almost the largest food group in my house, second to pizza.

chips and salsa

I love chipotle, but I wanted something smaller. Sean suggested Baja Sol, which he’d tried for the first time earlier this week.

We both ordered the Vegetable Burrito (Grilled Veggies; wrapped with Black Beans, Romaine Lettuce, Jack/Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream & Pico de Gallo) with no cheese and sour cream.

I should add that I went to the Oakdale location, which is huge inside.

paper wrapper

The burrito comes wrapped in paper, which doesn’t hold up as well as foil.

inside burrito

Impressed by the veggies, I noticed green bell peppers, yellow squash, onions, and zucchini. Sean said his had red bell pepper too. The burrito wasn’t spicy, but with all of those salsas in the salsa bar who cares. Next time I’ll get guacamole on mine.

dinner plate

What’s your favorite thing to eat at Baja Sol?

 

Home Goods Finds

I love going to Marshalls, T.J.Maxx, and Home Goods. One of my favorite parts is browsing the food area. Here are a few vegan items I noticed last time I was at the Oakdale Home Goods:

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What’s the coolest thing you’ve found at Home Goods / Marshalls / TJMaxx?

Save the Date: January Events

Happy New Year!

January is such an exciting month. A new year, a fresh start, with endless possibilities. I’ll be busy celebrating my birthday, a friend’s birthday, two in-law’s birthdays, and my three-year marriage anniversary as well as returning to college after a three-year hiatus. I’m sure you can guess that the new year is not usually a time for resolutions for me, seriously who can pass up countless birthday cakes? Nevertheless this year I am going to try to drink a green smoothie every morning, with the help of my brand-spanking-new Vitamix, and maybe actually workout this year. What are some of your new year’s resolutions or big plans this month?

Save the Date - January

In case you aren’t busy enough here are a few events happening in January that you might be interested in, please add any events that I miss into the comments so we can all be in the loop.

For the New Vegans:

  • What: Help! I’m going vegan When: Saturday, January 5th from 1:00pm – 2:30pm Where: Ethique Nouveau 317 West 48th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55419 RSVP: Facebook or Meetup
  • What: Vegan Grocery Shopping Tour When: Saturday, January 19th from 1:00pm – 2:30pm Where: Valley Natural Foods 13750 County Road 11, Burnsville, MN RSVP: Meetup

For the Foodies:

  • What: Registration for the Vegan Hotdish Cook-off. Registration is $20, but you get it back the day of the contest (Feb 9th) as well as any prizes you receive. When: Happening NOW! Where: On Facebook or email Dallas at dallas@animalrightscoalition.com or call her at 612 822-6161 to register.
  • What: Vegan Basics Cooking Demo/Tasting ($35/$32 members) When: Wednesday January 9th from 7:00–9:00 PM Where: The Wedge Co-op RSVP: Register for classes at the Wedge Customer Service Desk or call 612-871-3993 and sign up using a credit card.
  • What: Making Veggies Sexy! Cooking Demo ($55.00) When: Thursday, January 10th from 6:00PM – 9:00PM Where: Kitchen Window Calhoun Square 3001 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55408  Phone: 612-824-4417 RSVP: Kitchen Window
  • What: The Joys of Legumes, Nuts and Seeds ($35/$32 members) When: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM Where: Mississippi Market 1500 W. 7th Street Saint Paul, MN 55102 RSVP: HERE
  • What: The Joys of Legumes, Nuts and Seeds ($35/$32 members) When: Wednesday, January 30, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM Where: Seward Classroom, 2823 East Franklin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55406 RSVP: register for classes at Customer Service or by calling at 612-338-2465

For the Social Vegans:

  • What: Vegan Community Circle When: Saturday, January 5th from 3:00 PM to
  • What: Book Group: The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams (reschedule) When: Sunday, January 6th at 4:00 PM Where: The May Day Cafe 3440 Bloomington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN RSVP: Meetup
  • What: Vegan Runners When: Thursday, January 10th at 6:00PM Where: Metrodome RSVP: Meetup
  • What: Vegan Knitting Circle When: Saturday, January 12th from 3:00 PM to
  • What: Vegan Drinks When: Monday January 14 at 7:30 Where: HUGE improv Theater RSVP: Meetup
  • What: Dine-out at Bambu When: Tuesday January 22nd at 6:30 PM Where: Bambu Restaurant 1715 Beam Avenue, Maplewood MN 55109 RSVP: Facebook

For the Activists:

  •  What: ARC Volunteer Meeting (if you get on to the meeting minutes you can see all of the activism events – there are a lot) When: Every Wednesday (January 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th) at 7:00PM Where: Ethique Nouveau, 317 W 48th St. in Minneapolis Minnesota 55419

 

The Donut Cooperative

The Donut CooperativeMonths ago I heard about a wonderful place selling vegan donuts. I knew I had to go there, but their hours made it impossible for me to go during the week. That was before I quit my full-time job.

Two months ago I finally made my way to The Donut Cooperative. I’ve been procrastinating writing about it because I didn’t take many pictures. I kept putting it off thinking I had plenty of time to stop by and actually eat inside the cute little shop and snap some beautiful photos to post in my raving review. After all one of my favorite parts is the look and feeling of the shop.

The name is misleading. Both two times I stopped into The Donut Cooperative the cases were full of delicious looking baked goods, sandwiches, and even pizza. About half of the large selection being vegan. Seriously. They have it all.

You can imagine my despair when I woke up Monday afternoon, yeah I sleep late these days, to this Facebook post from The Donut Cooperative:

Hello everyone. Wanted to take a second and say how much we love our fans and everyone that has supported us. It is with a very heavy heart that I am telling you that this Sunday we will be closing our doors. Come out and support us this week or stop by on Sunday for a laid back day with drinks and treats. Thank you all…it has definitely been a ride!

I’m still bummed about it. It turns out my third time to The Donut Cooperative will not be a charm, it will be my last visit. What the heck! The world really is ending! Why else would this be happening? I saw the comment about the main board person having to leave because of his own reasons and no working capital left, but the world ending fits in better in my irrational sad state of mind.

Vegan Donuts 2

My first time I went there on a whim, who am I kidding it was a donut craving. I don’t remember what we had going on that day but we had just enough time to run over and get some donuts. I convinced Sean we had to go because they had his favorite donut on their menu that day, cinnamon sugar. I think I got something like coconut chai. Walking into the shop, I was floored by all the food. Suddenly I was all, “Am I sure I want a donut maybe I want vegan focaccia bread?” But Sean was there to remind me of the plan and hurry us along. I probably could have browsed for at least 10 minutes. Not to mention the teal-ish colored wall paper with metallic gold rabbits, swallows, butterflies, etc. was screaming take your picture in front of me, I’m so your style, I would the perfect profile photo background. But Sean gets annoyed when I ask him to take my picture or when I spend time taking pictures. Anyways, the donuts were amazing. Greasy, fluffy, and sweet everything a donut should be. I loved the logo stamp on the top of the to-go box.

Donut Coop Stamped Box

My second visit was on small business Saturday. We were meeting Sean’s parents for pizza at Galactic and I was slow getting out of bed so Sean pushed the time back, but it only takes me 10 minutes or so to get ready so we were running really early. With our extra time we decided to stop by The Donut Co-op. I almost got cake, but Sean convinced me to just stick with donuts. We bought two of each vegan option they had that day, which ended up being six donuts. I thought we were going to share them with Sean parents, but Sean wanted them all to ourselves. Apparently I didn’t take any pictures of them.

Next time I go I am going to eat in the shop and make someone take my picture.

Vegan Donuts

What will you miss most about The Donut Cooperative?

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