Exploring recipes, local restaurants, businesses, farms and fun places in and around Atlanta, GA that promote good wholesome food AND that make a gluten intolerant / plant based eater, a meat-eater and two young girls with ever evolving taste HAPPY.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Successful Week

Wow.  I had a fantastic week in the kitchen, or should I say at the dinner table.  Everyone liked all the dinners I prepared this week.  I am pretty sure that has NEVER happened.  The left over burritos I made for Halloween were actually eaten by both girls the today for lunch.  That confirms they really enjoyed them.  Tonight's dinner was another easy recipe and I received several accolades from everyone.

Fiesta Quinoa Salad
This recipe is by Christy Morgan, author of Blissful Bites and found on the Forks Over Knives website.
The version I had was slightly different, it had 1 TB of maple syrup in the dressing.  Instead of all quinoa, I did half quinoa and half millet.  That is my new trick, I really enjoy the texture better.   I am adding millet to all of my quinoa dishes.  I served the quinoa with baked tofu, and Chad brought home Publix chicken!

1 cup quinoa with ¼ cup red quinoa, washed drained (I used 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1/2 cup of millet)
2 cups filtered water
1 cup fresh corn (off cob)
1 ½ cup cooked black beans
¼ cup yellow pepper, finely diced
¼ cup tomatoes, diced
¼ cup cilantro leaves
 pinch of sea salt
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Place quinoa, corn and water in a medium saucepan with pinch of salt and bring to a boil. 
Simmer covered for 20 minutes over low flame.
Meanwhile, whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. 
Fluff quinoa with fork, place in medium bowl and stir in the black beans, veggies, dressing and cilantro. 
Season with sea salt if needed.  Serve warm or great cold the next day.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Yummy Burritos

On Halloween night, I wanted to get some healthy food in the girl's bellies before we headed out for trick or treating.  Somehow on this busy afternoon, I came up with a new recipe for a delicious, healthy burrito. 

I had left over kale salad, whole wheat tortillas, a box of black beans, salsa and potatoes.  I peeled and cut up the potatoes into small pieces and baked them at 400 for about 25 minutes.  The drained black beans were mixed with Trader Joe's salsa verde.  I then drained this mixture (it was too watery from the salsa) and added the roasted potatoes.  I made a bowl of this mixture for my dinner, as I can not eat the whole wheat tortillas.  I put a layer of the kale salad on each of the tortillas and added the bean, potato mix, then rolled them up and put them in a baking dish.  I topped each burrito with a little salsa and baked them at 350 for 15 minutes.  If you dont have time to bake them, the burritos would be great without this added step.  You can also use gluten free tortillas or corn tortillas.  Although,  I enjoyed my burrito bowl without the tortilla.  I served the burritos with orange cauliflower, for Halloween!

Everyone loved dinner.  I actually got the girls to EAT before they got their sugar overload.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mary McDougall's Green Thai Curry

Everyone enjoyed dinner tonight!

I loosely followed Mary McDougall's recipe but did a very quick version.  I cheated and bought Trader Joe's Asian Stir Fry mix and threw in a few more chopped veggies I had on hand. I also used Trader Joe's frozen organic brown rice.  I started with a 1/4 cup of veggie broth to saute the veggies and rice (I omitted the garlic).
Then I mixed a 1/2 cup of rice milk and a 1/2 tsp of coconut extract with 1 TB of green curry paste and a little tamari sauce and poured this over the veggies and rice.  I let this simmer for 5-10 minutes. This dinner took me no time at all, and for some reason everyone liked it much better than the first time I made it.  I did pull out some veggies before I put the curry paste in for Ry.  The curry is just too hot for her.  I served this with some rice noodles on the side.  Chad grilled a piece of chicken to go with his dinner.
Si even took leftovers for lunch today.  Score!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kale and Burgers

Ann Esselstyn demonstrated a super simple, delicious kale salad recipe at the Healthy Lifestyle Expo I attended a few weeks ago.  It is so simple and so delicious, I have made it for my family FOUR times in two weeks!

Strip a bunch of kale off their stems (after washing) and tear the kale up into manageable, bite size pieces.  Add the zest of one lemon and the juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon.  (Depending on how much kale you use)  Then put a handful of your favorite hummus in the bowl with the lemon and kale.  I use Cedar's Fat Free Hummus - Roasted Red Pepper.  Then start massaging your kale.  Really get in there and rub the lemon and hummus all over the kale.  Yes, your hands get pretty messy.  But the more you massage, the softer your kale becomes.  Ann added garlic to this mixture, I felt it had enough flavor without garlic.  You can add any other veggies to the salad that you have, tomatoes, carrots, etc.  I have kept it simple - kale, lemon, hummus - strip - massage - done!

Last night, I served the kale salad and made two batches of veggie burgers.  I usually would not make two different burgers, but I had extra time and wanted to freeze some.  The two I made were:
Colleens Chickpea Burgers from Fat Free Vegan.  And, Jeff Novick's Basic Bean Burger.  For Jeff's burger, I used cannellini beans, sweet potatoes, gluten free oats, Robbie's BBQ sauce and chilli powder.  The great thing about Jeff's recipe is the amount of variations you can make!

Dinner served - I threw some toasted pumpkin seeds on top of the kale salad. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fooled Again

I am exhausted-  Trying to find convenient, healthy food that my children enjoy, is getting the best of me.  Of course they want pizza, ice cream, french fries and cookies.  I want to give them healthy versions.  I wish I could say I enjoy making all those items by hand to ensure quality ingredients. But, on a Friday night when I want to get out of the house as soon as the sitter arrives, it is nice to have a frozen pizza ready to go. 

I know not to believe all the claims on the front of packaged food.  It is all advertising and mostly false.  I know to read the ingredients, fat, calorie and sodium content.  I know...  But when I saw this frozen pizza at Whole Foods - I grabbed it.  Its Amys - its organic - its dairy free - its gluten free.  Yippie.  What in the world could be wrong with this?

 Well, I got it home.  Baked it, and then saw the nutrition panel and ingredients.  This was a small pizza and it had a whopping 470 calories with HALF of the calories coming from FAT.  Sodium scaled the charts at 680mg.  Are you kidding me?  I could eat this small pizza in about two bites, still be hungry, meanwhile almost giving myself a heart attack.  I might as well eat a hamburger.  Well at least it was organic and no GMOs.  No more Amy's pizzas in this house.

And, it happened again this morning. 

I try to stay away from a lot of the "gluten free" products, as seen above. When they take the gluten out, they usually add back in sugar, fat and other weird ingredients.  But when it comes to making pancakes and waffles, it sure is easy to grab the Bob's Red Mill GF pancake mix, instead of trying to make my own.  I make the pancakes or waffles vegan and low fat by substituting apple sauce for oil, plant based milk for dairy milk and flax seed and water for an egg.  (1TB of ground flax seed with 3 TB of warm water - stir and let sit for a few minutes = one egg!).

This morning I made waffles (same way as pancakes, just add a little more apple sauce) and re-examined the ingredient label of the pancake mix.  UGH. 

Well, the mix is dairy free and gluten free. But it has corn flour and corn starch.  Because it does not say organic in front of the corn, it is most likely GMO.  Over 80% of today's corn is GMO, thanks to Monsanto.  So, unless it says organic, it is best to assume it is GMO corn.  To learn why this is a concern, one great resource is Genetic Roulette.  Another is Food Inc.  Yes, I did go ahead and make the waffles this morning.  Though, I  will now be looking into other alternatives for pancakes and waffles.  It is almost impossible to be completely GMO free, hopefully, someday, we will put a BAN on GMOs.  Like Peru just did!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lettuce Wraps

Recently, a friend was telling me that her girls loved to make their own lettuce wraps for dinner.  The other night I was looking in our refrigerator and realized we had a few left overs that needed to be consumed.  When I spotted the new head of romaine lettuce, my friend's idea popped into my head.  I had left over lentils and a quinoa / millet mix along with an open bottle of marinara sauce (I use Muir Glens) in the frig.  So, I threw it all into a pot and let them simmer.  I then sauteed mushrooms and peppers with a little water and tamari sauce.  I put the mushrooms and peppers in their own little bowls.  I put romaine lettuce with the lentil mixture on everyone's plates.  Everyone created their own lettuce wraps with the lentils, mushrooms and peppers.  It still amazes me how much the girls enjoy dinner when they "fix" it themselves!  Such a simple, delicious dinner!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Overwhelmed? Here Are Some of My Favorite Resources:

 I have realized lately I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of information I am receiving daily.  Between the emails, blogs, facebook, twitter and now pinterest I can not keep up with it all.  I love reading about nutrition and recipes, but there is only so much I can absorb.  And, how do I sort through it all to simply find something to cook for dinner??

So, I started thinking, what are the cookbooks, websites, and blogs that I go to most often?

These are the cookbooks in my kitchen that have the most highlights, notes and food stains- very telling of their popularity:


Fork Over Knives Companion Book

Everyday Happy Herbivore 

The Happy Herbivore

Appetite for Reduction

Recipes Online

Mary McDougall's Newsletter Recipe Index

Fat Free Vegan

Engine 2

Happy Herbivore

There are a TON of other websites / blogs and great places to go for recipes, but these 4 all have low fat, plant-based, delicious recipes.  If you want to narrow down your search - stick with these 4, you should be able to find any kind of plant-based recipe you need!

Very easy to make them gluten free.  Just remember to use tamari for soy sauce, gluten free noodles and gluten free flour!


This is the primary source of my information overload.  I receive emails, blog and facebook post from all of the recipe websites I just mentioned, and the websites listed below for plant based nutrition.  They are all great, and I dont know which ones to eliminate.  (I am in the process of unsubscribing from all but those listed here.)
One more to add to the list:  Oh She Glows has gorgeous photography and amazing recipes. 

Oh She Glows

Websites for Plant Based Nutrition Information
I follow all of the people below on facebook, twitter and their blogs:

Dr. McDougall

Engine 2

Colin Campbell Foundation


Rich Roll

Jeff Novick 

Dr. Pam Popper

Dr. Fuhrman's 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Keeping it Simple

Keep it real, keep it simple.  Sounds simple, right?  This has been my motto since school began.  But figuring out how to keep it simple can sometimes be a challenge.  (Or at least for me).  But after four weeks, I think I am getting the hang of it.  Our weekly calendar on the frig has been amazing.  I was letting the girls pick their breakfast and lunch for each day of the week on Sunday.  I then found I was preparing  two different breakfasts and two different lunches all before 6:30am each morning.  That did not work.  So, for the past two weeks I made the menus without input from anyone.  And, the girls get the same breakfast and lunch.  I do take into account their different tastes and tweak their meals accordingly.   And, I used meals they liked during the first two weeks.  When  they complain, I gently remind them that they liked said meal a few weeks ago.  Examples of lunches - rice and beans, sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches, bean spread sandwich, school lunch one day a week, and repeat a sandwich.  Sides always include fruit, veggies, granola bar and pretzels or chips.   They also like ants on a log, apple slices with sunflower butter "sandwiches", salads, and dried fruit and nut mixes.  Other ideas can be found:
100 Days of Real Food (This is not a vegan website, but I do like her focus on unprocessed, real food, and she has great lunchbox ideas)

My meals are easy, I usually have oatmeal or rice and fruit for breakfast.  Lunch is a big salad with leftovers.  This was a recent lunch, a big bowl of lettuce, a cold sweet potato, baked the night before, and left over quinoa.  I LOVE stone ground mustard, and used that as the dressing.  Took me 2 minutes to prepare, filled me up for the rest of the day and I thought it was delicious.  Can you think of a healthier meal than greens, sweet potatoes and quinoa??  I think not!

Dinner simplicity:
  I signed the girls up for too many after school activities.   I have two tired girls on my hands when they get home from their sports - I need to help them with homework and quickly get dinner on the table.  Chad is traveling - so it is just me juggling tantrums, homework and cooking.  I tried to do one "recipe" last week and quickly learned that was not going to work.  So, I am back to SIMPLE.  Taco night, pasta night, left over night, beans and rice night.  If family comes over for dinner I order Casseroles.  Our Sunday night dinners, Chad is usually home and we prepare a meal that takes more effort.   I will share some of those meals soon.  But for now, in our home we are not trying many new things.  And it is making my life SIMPLE!  We do keep our focus on REAL food though - always.

Here is an interesting article on eating variety versus simplicity:
Jeff Novick's Article

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eating Out and This Week's Menu

I had two great vegan / gluten free meals this weekend.  Friday, Chad and I had a last minute opportunity for a date night.  We went to El Taco, they are extremely accommodating to dietary challenges.  I had a vegan / gluten free veggie pizza.  You can order it off the menu, just request no dairy.  It is one of my favorites.

Veggie Mexican Pizza El Taco - hold the dairy
 Saturday night, we went to a new restaurant, The Optimist.  I called ahead and asked them if they would be able to fix me an entree with my restrictions.  They said no problem.  I had an amazing arugula salad, hold the cheese.  The arugula tasted like it was straight from the garden, crunchy and spicy.  I asked my server to bring me anything the kitchen could prepare as an entree, as long as it was vegan, gluten free. They brought me a gorgeous plate filled with beets, heirloom tomatoes and okra.  Fabulous.  Best beets I have EVER had.  The atmosphere was really fun and I loved the way the restaurant was decorated.  Everyone at my table enjoyed their meal.  Unfortunately, I forgot my iphone so I dont have any pictures.

This week's menu - Chad requested no new recipes.    We have a lot going on after school this week, so we decided on a super easy menu.

Sunday - Heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers (with red wine vinegar), corn on the cob, sweet potato fries, baked tofu with BBQ sauce and Chad made a hamburger (gasp).  We wanted a super fresh, summer meal.

Look at those tomatoes!
Monday - Trader Joe's steamed lentils, brown rice and crushed tomatoes (throw all into one pot).  After I serve the girls, I will add in  a little lemon juice, cumin, chilli powder, and salt and let it simmer.  I will also serve a spinach salad.

Tuesday - Pasta night - boil a big pot of gluten free pasta and everyone choices their toppings

Wednesday - Roasted potatoes, broccoli, baked tofu and baked chicken (for Chad).

Thursday - Taco Night - black beans and rice - spiced up for me and Chad with Trader Joe's taco seasoning.

Friday - Pizza Night

I am still on my Sunday organization kick.  This will be week three of planning all breakfast, lunch and dinners.  And, I go to the grocery store to make sure I have everything on hand.  My new family calendars arrived.  Everyone enjoyed my new tool.  I wrote out all the girls activities, meals and mine and Chad's schedule on this new weekly calendar.  Now no questions on food or what we will be doing on each day!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Week Two of Menu Planning

Week one of menu planning was so successful that I made myself sit down and do it again.  
 First Dinner - McDougall Thai Green Curry

I LOVE spicy food, especially curries.  In the past few years I have learned that a lot of curries are not vegan (fish broth and / or cream is used).  And, with the oil and coconut milk typically called for, curry dishes can be very high in fat.  So, I was thrilled when I opened Dr. John McDougall's book The Starch Solution and saw a recipe for Thai Green Curry on page 284.  The key to this recipe is using a low fat plant based milk, like rice milk and adding a little (1 tsp) of coconut extract to it!  I used 1.5 TBS of green curry paste, along with one cup of rice milk. I wish I had used 2 TBS of the curry paste to give it a little more kick.  I did not follow the recipe exactly.  I cut up the veggies I had on hand, peppers, onions, broccoli and cabbage.   I sauteed these in a little tamari  and water.  I mixed the rice milk, coconut extract and green curry paste in a separate pan.  Then combined the sauce with the veggie and about 3 cups of brown rice.  Let this cook for 5 - 10 minutes The recipe also called for 1 TBS of chopped basil and 1 TBS of chopped cilantro. I wish I had doubled both of those.  Let everything simmer together for about 10 minutes.

Tonight I will be serving veggie burgers that I previously made with potatoes and a salad.
My two favorite veggie burger recipes are Jeff Novick's and Colleen's from fatfreevegan.com.

Tomorrow night will be fix your own pasta night.  I have 2 different jars of pasta sauce that Chad and Si like and Earth's Best for Ry.  I will steam veggies and boil the gluten free pasta and everyone can top with their preferred sauce.

My cooking will conclude with Enchiladas.  I will use corn tortillas instead of flour.  I plan to stuff them with black beans, potatoes, corn and spinach, and will top them with Mary McDougall's enchilada sauce.   (I will leave out the chipotle and garlic in the enchilada sauce).  Bake enchiladas at 350 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes.

This week is pretty easy - a veggie curry, veggie burgers, pasta, enchiladas.  The rest of the week will be left overs or we eat out!

BTW - I now have a "menu" for breakfast and lunch.  The girls order off the menu each evening for the next morning.  Our mornings our a little less chaotic.  I have set choices for breakfast of things I always have on hand.  Lunch we try to plan out for the week so I can buy accordingly.  They choose a "main" for lunch and a fruit, veggie, snack and "treat".

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Quick Trader Joe's Dinner

One bag of Trader Joe's frozen fire roasted peppers, one bag of Trader Joe's frozen organic brown rice, 1/2 bag of Trader Joe's frozen organic corn and as much as of your favorite salsa as you would like.  Saute all together and you have a delicious, healthy, filling meal in under 10 minutes.  I ate mine on top of a large bowl of lettuce, the girls put theirs in an organic hard shell taco and Chad put his in a flour tortilla.  Everyone was happy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What's on the menu this week?

I have probably said this before, I struggle with planning a menu for the week.  I get it - it saves time, money and keeps the "what is for dinner?" questions and subsequent melt-downs at bay.  I love the idea of meal planning - I just do not like to do it. 

School started today so its a great time to start something new that will hopefully become a habit.  Instead of looking through all of my great cookbooks, I picked one cookbook to choose all the dinners from.  This week it is the Forks Over Knives companion book with recipes.  By the way, Forks Over Knives just released a second cookbook!  I am looking forward to purchasing it soon.

On to the menu.

Last night, we had The Quinoa Garden Salad on page 110 with corn on the cobb.  I made a few changes.  I did not use parsley, I only used 1/4 of a cup of lemon juice (which was PLENTY) and we salt and peppered the quinoa at the table.  I also sauteed the peppers, onions and garbanzo beans in a little tamari before adding them to the quinoa.  It was delicious, and great for lunch today.  Everyone enjoyed it, no one LOVED it.  But - at least they ate.

Tonight, I am making the Mango- Lime, Bean Salad on page 108. I will serve this on top of spinach and brown rice.

Tomorrow will be pasta night.  We have yet to find one sauce everyone likes.  Therefore, pasta night is a make your own dinner night.  I make a big pot of Tinkyada brown rice pasta.  Ry usually has Earths Best on her noodles.  And, I throw green peas in there as well.  Si usually likes the basic Trader Joe marinara sauce.  Chad is still experimenting with sauces. I have something "green" prepared, to go along with the pasta, usually green peas and a salad.   It is a pretty easy dinner.

Wednesday - Minty Lemon Lentils with Spinach page 147.  This has potatoes in it as well, so a complete meal!  I have been wanting to try this recipe.  It sounds delicious.

Thursday - Polenta with Rice and Beans page 143.  Served with Tomato and Cucumber Salad page 154.  I have made the polenta dish before.  Everyone really liked it, and it was fairly simple.

And that is it - I did it.  Now, lets see if I can do again next week.  The FOK book is worth getting, if not just for these recipes!

First day of school -time for a new routine:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Potatoes Are Awesome!

I love potatoes.  I usually opt for sweet potatoes.  But Chad doesn't like sweet potatoes.  So, I was inspired by this recent post on Happy Herbivore on the virtues of potatoes,  and decided to try a variation of one of the recipes mentioned.  If you are curious about potatoes being a friend not a foe, watch this video by Dr. John McDougall.  And, read his latest book, The Starch Solution.

I usually bake several sweet potatoes each week and have them in my frig.  They are a great addition to salads and perfect for lunch or snacks.  This week, I baked a whole bag of Trader Joe organic red potatoes. These were the base of my new dinner creation.

After baking the potatoes (400 degrees for about 30 minutes), I kept the oven on, and began building my potato lasagna.  In a glass dish, I poured a layer of pasta sauce, (I used Muir Glen because it does not have any added oil) then I sliced several potatoes with a mandolin and did one layer of potatoes on top of the red sauce.  I had previously sauteed some of the Trader Joe frozen pepper and onion mixture and drained them.  I layered the veggies on top of the potatoes. Next, I covered the veggies with chopped up kale.  On top of the kale, I poured my MOST favorite sauce from Hungry Hippie - my version cashew cream sauce.  I topped with another layer of potatoes, pasta sauce and cashew cream.  I baked the creation at 400 for about 30 - 40  minutes and broiled it for several minutes.

I made a salad with wonderful arugula we bought at the Piedmont Park Farmers Market this weekend.  I read about an easy, no oil salad dressing on Lani Mulreath's blog.  It is so easy to remember - 3-2-1.  3 parts vinegar, 2 parts mustard, 1 part sweet.  I used champagne vinegar, stone ground mustard and maple syrup.  I toasted a pan full of pumpkin seeds for the week and sprinkled them on top of the salad.

Dinner served!

I LOVED the dinner.  I will enjoy leftovers for lunch.  Ry actually enjoyed the dinner as well.  Unfortunately, Chad did NOT like it.  I really thought I had nailed this one, but it bombed.  He did not even eat more than one bite.  He is beside me right now eating chips and wine for dinner.  Oh well.  More leftovers for me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pasta Sauce

Pasta de los Angeles
For the girls

As many jars and as many recipes I have tried, I can NOT find a pasta sauce my whole family likes.  What is an easier dinner than pasta and sauce?  And, my family hates it.  Grrrrr.  So, I tried another one Monday night.  I knew the girls would not like it, as it has jalapenos in it, but I was hoping I could find one for Chad.  For the girls, I sauteed (with a little water) spinach and plum tomatoes, which I put on a plate beside the pasta.  I now know to let them mix their own pasta dishes!

On to the sauce I made for the "adults".  Pasta de los Angeles page 177 in Appetite for Reduction.  How could I resist a pasta from Los Angeles!!  I did not use the oil, I sauteed the veggies in a little of the tomato sauce.  I did not have enough tomatoes, so I used 3 cups (one box) of Pomi chopped tomatoes.  I only used one clove of garlic. 

Chad and I both thought the sauce was very good.  Definitely too spicy for the girls.  It had a Mexican flavor instead of an Italian flavor, so you had to be ready for that.  But overall, we thought it was good.  I had leftovers and ate it cold on top of lettuce for lunch one day, and with polenta the next day. 

Pasta - I had almost given up on pasta as well.  Gluten free pasta is not my favorite.  But, I decided to try it one more time.  We saw Tinkyada elbow pasta in our recent trip to Jackson, WY.  Right on the package it professes "not mushy", so I was glad to find it in Atlanta at Whole Foods.  It is one of the best GF pastas I have tried.  Chad could eat it, which says a LOT.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stone Soup Kitchen

My two picky eaters were happy at Stone Soup Kitchen!
This post is LONG over due.  Especially considering how thrilled I was to find a restaurant in Atlanta with gluten free AND vegan labeling right on the menu.  (Besides Metrofresh!)  I heard about Stone Soup Kitchen from a friend and could not wait to try it out.  So, that is what I declared I wanted for Mother's Day:  a family breakfast at Stone Soup Kitchen, the girls to behave, and all laundry and dishes done by the end of the day.  (And, not done by me).  Almost, all wishes were granted.

Stone Soup Kitchen is off of Boulevard right before you get to the Grant Park neighborhood.  It only serves breakfast and lunch.  And, as I mentioned, it has GF, VG labeled right on the main menu.  Thank you!  They also serve regular breakfast and lunch fare - ie non - vegan.  So, the entire family was happy.   Mothers Day I had the blueberry cornmeal pancakes and grits.  They were amazing, soft, sweet, filling.  I literally cleaned my plate. It was such a treat to have good tasting pancakes.  Most GF mixes I have tried have an after taste.  I pretty much had given up on pancakes.  The grits were great as well.

My second trip, I had vegos rancheros.  It was hard to decide not to get the pancakes, but I felt obligated to try another GF/ VG menu item.  Vegos Rancheros certainly did not disappoint.  Incredible - spicy, delicious and again filling.  Yes, filling is an important adjective these days - so many "veggie" plates are NOT!  I joined the clean plate club again.

The entire family all enjoyed their breakfast as well.  So, this truly passes the test - everyone can eat happily at Stone Soup Kitchen.  Try it!

Vegos Rancheros

Clean Plate Club

Friday, June 29, 2012

I LOVE LA Day 3...

Our last full day in LA.  Have you heard of the stairs in Santa Monica?  When I think of the stairs, the image of Matthew McConaughey ascending the stairs in People Magazine often comes to mind.  Yes, his shirt was off.

Anyways - I have heard about the stairs for years, and always wanted to try them.  I finally had my chance.  But this chance came on the morning after our party - and the call came early.  Real early.  I decided I must accept the challenge several Chad's friends put before us.  We jumped out of bed and rushed to the car to sit in traffic from West Hollywood to Santa Monica for the next 45 minutes. (Ok - just one complaint about LA)

I love to exercise, I think I am in fairly good shape, so what is the big deal about these stairs?  Well, for starters, there are 162 of them.  They are narrow, rickety, scary, steep, and crowded.  And, I was with a drill sergeant who was telling me I had to do 7 sets, with pushups and situps at the top and bottom.  And, he dictated how I went up the stairs - skipping stairs, running stairs, then running, skipping stairs.  At set three, I thought I would loss my incredibly good dinner all over the stairs.  At set 5, I was so dizzy I was clinging to the rotten handrail.  But by set 6, I was in a daze, completely numb, delirious, and determined to finish set 7.  Which I did.  But it was a far cry from pretty.

On to breakfast at Urth Caffe (again).  Then we stumbled back to our hotel.  After a shower, and in my hotel robe, I decided that there really was no reason to leave to hotel again that day.  This was a once in a lifetime suite I was staying in, in one of the coolest hotels ever.  Why leave?  Oh, and I had that great book - Finding Ultra.

Lunch we ordered from Joans on Third.  This was mine and Chad's favorite lunch place when we lived in LA. And, home to the best cupcake I have EVER had.  And, trust me I have been searching for a better one.  Joans had several gluten free, vegan sides I enjoyed.

 I had been planning my gluten cheat for a year - this cupcake was so good (in my memory) that it was worth my one intentional cheat.  A good friend recommended I wait until the end of the trip.  So, I saved it.

Afternoon - relaxing on our balcony, reading a book, watching the scene on Sunset Boulevard, with my husband - what could be better?  For me, not much.

We discussed leaving the hotel, but I just couldn't do it.  We went down to the restaurant, sat outside and enjoyed a glass of champagne with heirloom tomatoes and basil.  Lingered, people watched, and wished that we were as "hip" as those around us. 

I requested that we order dinner in our room and enjoy it on the balcony.  We had left over champagne and wine from our party, so we were all set.  Real Food Daily had several gluten free / vegan entrees that I wanted to try, so I was eager to order from them again.  I choose the GF/ VG pizza.  Chad ordered a hamburger and fries from room service. Both of us were in heaven.

And, then there was the cupcake.  Yes, GLUTEN AND DAIRY.  Yes, I did it. I am very sad to say it was not as good as in my memory.  And, yes, I paid the price.....

 Good bye Chateau Marmont.  Thanks for the incredible breakfast send off on our last day:  (Seriously, look at the berries...)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I LOVE LA Day 2...

So, where was I?  Day two afternoon - we switched rooms from a regular room to a suite, because we were hosting a cocktail party that evening in our room.  Accordingly, we "needed" this larger space with an enormous balcony overlooking LA.  This switch rendered us homeless for a few hours so we spent our time by the pool.

Beet Quinoa Salad
The menu indicated very few options for vegan / gluten free meals.  So, I apprehensively called room service by the pool.  I explained my dietary requirements and look what they brought me:

That evening before our cocktail party, I was nervous that the appetizer trays we ordered would not have much to fill me up.  (I was wrong).  But I ordered from another favorite, Real Food Daily and had dinner delivered to our room.   Gluten free, vegan enchiladas.  Ohhh, sooo good.

And, then came the party trays:

Yep, I had a full belly to enjoy my champagne.

The cocktail party was a huge success.  Chad mingled with clients and friends, I was able to catch up with grad school friends.  We ended the night at Bar Marmont.