Monday, March 30, 2015

Science Club, DC

The Science Club is one of DC's few all-vegetarian night spots as it is really more of a bar with food. It has an old-school flavor to it and is a great low-key place to go when hanging out with friends. I decided to go to one of VSDC's meetups at the Science Club to meet new people and see how their vegan fare has evolved.

Well, for not having attended one of these events in a while, I was surprised at how packed it was. We had the whole second floor and the tiny third floor. Given that this was a special event with only one waitress serving the whole floor, I won't review the service. I think she did a great job considering how many people were there. I drank a few glasses of the happy hour Carmenere and thought it was great for the price.

For my entree, I went with the most popular dish there -- Tina's homemade veggie burger. No, it isn't called this on the online menu because apparently the online menu hasn't been updated in years. I also added Daiya cheese. The burger showed up with an unimpressive presentation akin to Native Foods' DC burgers with just a plain white bun, a little bit of cheese, and a slice of tomato. There was no lettuce or onions even though the description specified that there would be. There was also a garlic mayo and ketchup. The burger had a nice flavor, but the lack of condiments and white bun killed it for me. I slathered it with the ketchup and mayo to give it more flavor. The arugula salad was just arugula with some balsamic vinegar -- not very good. For $11.50, I expected more.

Others got the nachos, which I got to try. Very unimpressive. There was way too much cheese and a few black beans, but nothing green. No jalapenos, cilantro, or avocado. These were not worth the price.

I think the Science Club could be a fun place to go with friends for drinks, but I'm not sure what you should order. If the burger is the best thing they've got, then I think their menu needs a revamp.

Science Club
1136 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 775-0747

Science Club on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 27, 2015

Rhythm Superfoods - Kale Chips

I've tried a lot of kale chips in my life, but somehow never got my hands on the Rhythm Superfoods ones until now. Rhythm Superfoods kale chips were conceived in the kitchen of The Daily Juice, a little juice bar in Austin, Texas. Their products were so popular, they took them to the shelves and the rest is history.

What makes a delicious kale chip? Crunch and flavor. Kale chips are usually made from dehydrating kale at under 118-degrees. These are no different. They say that their chips are air-crisped under low heat to maintain their natural enzymes and maximize their raw nutritional potency. The art really lies in coating them with lots of flavor then dehydrating them until they are crunchy and crisp. I must say that Rhythm does both of these things well.

They sent me three flavors of their kale chips to try. My favorite was the Kool Ranch. Somehow they hand-crafted a dressing made with sunflower seeds, tahini, carrots, cane sugar, apple cider vinegar, onions, sea salt, lemon juice, dill weed, garlic, and white pepper that tastes very ranch-y. They are super crisp with the crunch you are looking for in a fantastic snack.

I loved the Original too as it had less seasoning, but still a great crunch.

Lastly, I tried the Mango Habanero. Mango with kale? Who would've thunk it? Mango and kale actually works though I tasted very little hot habanero spice. If you are going to call a chip "mango habanero" flavor, it better have a habanero kick!

I love that all of their kale chips are certified organic, certified gluten-free, and Non-GMO Project Verified. Clearly they care about using high-quality ingredients. And what better way to get your vitamins A and K than from healthy kale chips?! To try some on your own, you can find them at Yes! Organic Market in DC or on Amazon here.

Full Disclosure: Although the products were provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Multi-Bean Chili

The cold weather makes me crave chili and a Multi-Bean Chili was just what I needed. While reviewing YumUniverse by Heather Crosby, this seemed like a great gluten-free recipe to try. With black beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, and green lentils along with bell peppers, it sounded pretty hearty. I will say that in the end, it wasn't quite as tasty as I had hoped. It is a good base, but it needs more spice and more veggies. Later on, during the week, I added fresh avocado and more spice to it to give the oomph that it needed. Try it for yourself and let me know what you added to spice it up!

Multi-Bean Chili
Serves 8+

  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced (I like to keep the seeds for extra hotness)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder
  • 2 cups black beans, cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups red kidney beans cooked
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, cooked
  • 8 medium tomatoes, blanched and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped

Heat a large stockpot to medium, add coconut oil, peppers, and onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Then add garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add spices (cocoa powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika, coriander, and chipotle powder) and stir into veggies for about 2 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients to pot except cilantro and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Now season with salt and pepper.

If your chili is too thick, add some optional veggie stock or water until you reach a desired consistency. Often, thanks to the juicy tomatoes, it doesn't need extra liquid. It's up to you.

Top the chili with cilantro and serve!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Living End Saloon - Coming Soon?!

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending The Living End Saloon Crowdsourcing Kickoff Party held at the Science Club. The Living End Saloon would be a vegan saloon in Washington, DC. It would fill the void that was left when Asylum, a vegetarian biker bar that existed in DC for many years, closed down.

Whose dream is this? Michael Farmer is his name and vegan bars are his game! Michael worked for the DOD for 25 years as a contractor and has decided to do something different with his life. He has been working part-time at the Science Club, a vegetarian bar and cafe, to gain industry experience and now feels ready to open his own joint.

Vegan Black Metal Chef and Michael Farmer
He envisions a gothic/punk/dive bar -- a place that will be low-key and welcoming to everyone. He actually bought some of the old decor from the owners of Asylum! The menu will feature international pub food like Currywurst, a sliced fried sausage covered in a tomato-based curry sauce from Germany. Mmmm. In fact, he served it at this party.

It will also feature Pique A Lo Macho, hotdog and seitan strips in a mustard/beer sauce on a bed of fries, topped with onion and tomato with side of llajua (pepper sauce) from Bolivia, raw smoked almonds, and jackfruit barbecue sandwiches. A full vegan brunch will be offered on the weekends as well.

During the party, he also invited the Vegan Black Metal Chef. Yes, this guy is real and you should find him on YouTube. His cookware even has spikes in it!

So when does the bar open? Well, that's the catch. As you may have gathered from me mentioning it was a crowdsourcing kickoff party -- he is trying to raise money so that he can open this dream bar.  He is seeking business partners with bar and restaurant experience, consultants, investors and donors who will donate $25 or more in exchange for certain benefits. He has been saving up for four years and now needs approximately $30,000 to make this dream a reality. To check out his crowdsourcing page, please visit The Living End Saloon Crowdsourcing Page.

It would be truly fantastic to have a vegan bar in DC and I sincerely hope that Michael can make his dream come true. May we all be blessed with a cool place to hang out, eat vegan currywurst, and enjoy a beer. As he likes to say, "eat no evil."

Full Disclosure: At the time of writing this, I had no affiliation whatsoever with this concept. Michael did not ask me to write this, nor did he know I was going to promote this. I chose to promote this on my own.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Protein Bar, DC

I've had my eye on the Protein Bar for a while as I knew they served many vegan dishes. This small cafe is more of a to-go spot than it is a dine-in joint. Their mission is to change the way people eat on-the-go by serving healthy food quickly.

I had an hour-long break from serving my civic duty, that is, jury duty, so I dropped by to see what was on the menu. The layout of the cafe is really cute. You order on one side and pick up on the other, but it is the dining room with its huge white round table that seats six on retro red stools that really catches your eye. It is a simple, yet functional design.

The menu consists of bar-ritos, bowls, breakfast, salads, chilis, and sides. I loved that several dishes were not only vegan, they had vegan in the name. There were two items that were exactly the same but with different names in slightly different ways. You could get the Superfood Vegan salad made with marinated organic tofu, kale, toasted pepitas, chickpeas, and chia dressing over the super 6 salad mix. Or you could get it grilled into a burrito by ordering the Green City Vegan bar-rito.

I went for the Vegan Original (grilled) bar-rito. What I liked about this burrito was that it was grilled and warm in a whole-wheat flax tortilla. I also loved that they use organic tofu. And while everything in the burrito from the housemade seasoned black beans to the organic quinoa blend was good for you, it definitely lacked some flavor. There was even fresh salsa and vegan cheese, but not much of it. It tasted like a healthy rice and bean burrito that needed guacamole or a great habanero sauce to really make it stand out. I slathered it with the Cholula hot sauce and was happy to have a healthy burrito, but it definitely tasted like something I could make at home.

On my second visit, I ordered the chilled Green City Vegan. This time, with more understanding as to what to expect here, I was just hoping for a healthy wrap that needed a little hot sauce. To my surprise, this one had a lot more flavor. The marinated tofu, kale, pepitas, and chickpeas were atop a Super 6 Salad Mix rolled in a tortilla and slathered with a creamy vegan chia dressing that was very good. I added avocado and hot sauce and found it to be quite tasty.

All of the items at Protein Bar are super protein-rich, hence the name, and the people working the counter were really great. LaDonna in particular is super enthusiastic and really gave the place a good vibe! They even post the calories, fat, carbs, fiber and protein for each dish. That can be good and bad. That made me realize that I was getting 27 grams of protein in the grilled burrito, but also 14 grams of fat! 

I also love that they make fresh juices as well. They have locations in Chicago, DC, and Colorado. I love the concept and the food and hope they add a bit more spice or complementary sauce or guacamole in the future. Then, it would be perfect!

Protein Bar
398 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 
(202) 621-9574

The Protein Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vegan Pressure Cooking by JL Fields

After completing my certificate at the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, I bought a huge pressure cooker. I was so impressed with the speed at which you could cook beans and grains that I immediately began cooking everything in the pressure cooker. But, like with many things, my enthusiasm died off as I ran out of creative ideas for innovative food to cook in the pressure cooker. As I went looking for inspiration, there were limited resources for vegan cooking, which is what makes me so excited about JL Fields' new book called Vegan Pressure Cooking.

For those who are intimidated by the high-pressure pressure cooking device, have no fear, JL is here. As a vegan lifestyle coach and educator she demystifies pressure cooking in the first twenty pages by starting with the "why" and ending with the "how." The pressure cooker is a way to make great one-pot meals like stews, soups, and more. She provides interesting tips such as avoiding cooking vegetables in an electric pressure cooker and why one should use oil when cooking beans.

The rest of the book is filled with amazing recipes and beautiful, professional pictures. The photography is inspiring as you can almost taste the dishes through the close-up photography. I had such a hard time choosing which meals to make, but ultimately settled on two to start with.

The first one I tried was her Chik'n Lentil Noodle Soup. This is not your mother's chicken soup. In fact, there isn't even faux chicken in it, which makes me happy because I'm really getting away from the faux meats. This is vegan udon noodle soup with green beans, carrots, and celery all wrapped up in brown lentils and seasoned with poultry seasoning. It's all the goodness of a brothy noodle soup with the heartiness of lentils. No faux chik'n needed!

The other recipe I tried was the Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Chili. Why? Because I love beans, tomatoes, and greens could I go wrong? It turned out to be scrumptious!  Black-eyed peas are engulfed with fire-roasted tomatoes and surrounded by crunchy carrots and celery all while taking in the unique spice mix featuring chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and oregano. It is a warm, happy party in your mouth that will likely please the most discerning palates. And, best of all, it is colorful, protein-packed, and calcium-rich.

Other recipes that look amazing include Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oats, White Beans and Greens Soup, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew, Korean Kongbap, Soy Curl Mac 'n Cheese, and Mashed Peas and Potatoes. I'm super excited about this new cookbook and will continue to post other recipes I make from it. It is currently being sold for ~$18 on Amazon here. Come one, come all, to the wonderful 
world of vegan pressure cooking!

Full Disclosure: Although the book was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Undone Chocolate

There I was, strolling through Yes! Organic Market when I came across a smiling man. He coaxed me into trying his chocolate and in minutes, I was hooked. Who was this strange man and how did he get into the chocolate making business in DC?! Adam Kavalier is his name and Undone Chocolate is his game. He was in graduate school studying medicinal plants for his PhD when he discovered antioxidant-rich cacao. He and his wife, Kristen, began experimenting with it and soon discovered how marvelous it could be. And just like that, Undone Chocolate was born.

Today they work out of Union Kitchen, a food incubator located in DC, where entrepreneurs can make their dreams come true. Their current product line includes four different bars. Their most expensive bar is the one made with 74% cacao from Matagalpa, Nicaragua. This two-ingredient bar has just the right balance of cocoa beans and organic cane sugar that leaves your mouth watering and wanting more. It is mild and balanced.

The other three have similar packaging. My favorite is the Arouse! This 70% cacao bar is also just made with organic cacao and cane sugar, but the addition of cinnamon, cardamom, and chili gives it the oomph I like. Upon first bite, it is the cinnamon that you taste. It starts to coat your mouth and as it melts down your throat, it finishes with the spiciness from chili that leaves your throat tingling even after the chocolate has been consumed.

The Replenish bar is that same well-balanced mix of cacao and cane sugar with Himalayan pink salt. A little salty with your sweet is always a great combination.

And last, but not least, is the Nourish, which is another plain 70% chocolate bar -- no salt or spices. This one seems the boldest and creamiest as it will just melt in your mouth as visions of sugarplums dance in your head.

Best of all, they describe the origins of their chocolate and their commitment to fair trade on their website giving you piece of mind that your purchase supports a fair economy in Central America and the Caribbean.

These bars along with their cocoa can be found all over DC in various stores like Yes! Organic Market, Each Peach Market, and Glen's Garden Market. Soon, it will be in MOM's Organic Market as well. The chocolate bars retail from $8 to $10 each. And your purchase goes towards supporting a thriving business with budding entrepreneurs in DC. To buy them online, click here. Remember, chocolate can be very good for you as it is antioxidant rich, but only in its purest form and without a bunch of non-natural additives. And with that, I think I'll undo another wrapper of Undone Chocolate and savor the flavor of real roasted chocolate.

Monday, March 9, 2015

2015 Natural Products Expo West Day 3

Wow! Okay, I'm officially exhausted. I think I walked that trade show floor at least three times to be sure I didn't miss anything. Thanks to everyone who made my experience what it was because it was an incredible show.  It is rumored that nearly 80,000 people attended! In my exhaustion, I still feel necessary to post my top picks of the last day, in no particular order. Enjoy!

#1 So Delicious CocoWhip

#2 Crude Juice (cold-pressed)

#3 Late July Bacon Habanero tortilla chips (yes, they are vegan!)

#4 Raaka chocolate (organic)

#5 Giv Quinoa Burgers

#6 Tofurky Slow-Roasted Chick'n

#7 Daiya Supreme Pizza (using Beyond Meat crumbles) (and they made cheesecake too!)

And here's my silly picture of the day! Till next year Expo West!

*Disclaimer: I make no claims that any of this is healthy. When I do my research on ingredients, I will decide whether I actually want to fully review these products or not based on ingredient and nutritional content.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

2015 Natural Products Expo West Day 2

Today was yet another exhilarating day at Expo West! So much food and so much fun, yet so little time! Seriously though, there was plenty of time to try just about everything. Here are my top picks of the day in no particular order:

#1 Endangered Species Hazelnut Spread with Cocoa

#2 Amy's Kitchen Soups and Frozen Dishes

Quinoa, Kale, and Red Lentil and Chunky Tomato Bisque
 Chinese Noodles and Veggies in a Cashew Cream Sauce

#3 Hodo Soy Tofu Veggie Burger

#4 TaDah Foods Falafel Poppers (hummus inside the falafel!)

#5 Sweet Earth Tuscan Savory Grounds

#6 Follow Your Heart's new Vegan Cheese

And finally, here is my obligatory silly picture of the day. And, yes, their suits are inflated and equipped with a sound system.

That's it for today. One more day!