Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Zest Kitchen & Bar, Salt Lake City #2

After I had such a great experience at Zest this past year, I had to come back for more. So, on my way out of Salt Lake City, the night before my flight would take me away from all of the beautiful mountains, me and my friend stopped by for a final dinner.

On this particular Saturday night, there was a DJ, dancing, and hook-ups going on. We had just finished five hours of driving after a full day of jumping and were exhausted. We definitely didn't expect the liveliness we witnessed here! We were seated right next to the dance floor so we got quite the show.

I started with a berry lavender lemonade, which was really refreshing.

Zest is a vegetarian restaurant and most items are or can be made vegan. We ordered the Baked Mushrooms as our appetizer, which were baked mushrooms stuffed with cashew cheese and served with pesto and red pepper coulis. These had a beautiful presentation, but when we tried them, they lacked some flavor. Just one more ingredient would probably give it the oomph it needed.

For my entree, I got the Shakahari Curry Eggplant and, man, was this dish loaded with flavor. I've never tasted anything like it in my life. The eggplant was battered and covered with pepitas and baked and served with fennel curry potatoes and a cucumber mint lime salad. It was so filling that I couldn't finish it and that's saying a lot! I liked it, but it was a bit overwhelming with the different flavors.

My friend ordered a more subtle Stuffed Avocado Salad. He loved it. Made with romaine, seasoned walnuts, pico, cashew sour cream, and cilantro lime vinaigrette, it had just the right balance of flavors.

All in all, we were both pleased with our meals. I think Zest does a really good job with serving unique vegan meals in a low-light, romantic, yet casual setting. It's still one of my favorite places in Salt Lake City.

Previous review
August 3, 2016

Zest Kitchen & Bar
275 S. 200 W.
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 433-0589

Zest Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Peace Tree, Moab, UT

As one of the few restaurants in Moab that bases its business on organic food, Peace Tree Juice Cafe has been on my hit list for a while. In a brown lodge-like building is a large organic restaurant that caters to individuals with all kinds of dietary preferences including gluten free and dairy free.

This will be a very short review and isn't representative of them because I just grabbed one item to go. We stopped by around 10 a.m. hoping to grab a lunch we could stick in the cooler to eat while BASE jumping. Unfortunately, the only item they could make at that time that was grab and go was the basic Hummus Wrap.  Well, we'll take it.

When we finally tried it, it was very basic. Just spring mix, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, and artichokes with hummus on a spinach tortilla. I had expected something a little more exciting and felt disappointed by the dish. Especially for $10. It did come with a salad, but still.

So, more to come on Peace Tree next time I am in the area. I'll definitely try it again because there's some cool stuff on the menu.

Peace Tree Juice Cafe
20 South Main Street
Moab, UT 84532

Peace Tree Juice Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Shire City Herbals - Fire Cider

The benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar are not largely debated as study after study has proven its health benefits. Shire City Herbals has taken this healthy vinegar and combined it with other good-for-you stuff to make a delicious tonic called Fire Cider!

As a vinegar-based tonic, it'll cause your mouth to pucker. So, just one tablespoon per day should do it for you. The original one has honey in it, but now the Unsweetened version is 100% vegan. Made with oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, garlic, turmeric, and habanero pepper, there isn't one ingredient in the bottle that isn't super good for you.

I love the way it tastes--you get the pucker when you first drink it with the slight burn down the back of your throat once it goes down. It's delicious!

They say that apple cider vinegar can kill many types of bacteria, lower blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and may have protective effects against cancer.

This tonic is not cheap at $15 per 8-ounce bottle, but with all these good-for-you certified organic ingredients, it seems like a good investment. Fire Cider, you left me on fire!

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sesame Kingdom - Mediterranean Spreads

Spreads! So many ways to use spreads and so many spreads out there. But, I don't think I've ever bought a spread made mostly of sesame seeds. Sesame Kingdom is a new company that is providing super delicious, healthy spreads made with sesame seeds as the foundation. None of us are new to tahini--that amazing sesame seed-based spread that we love to eat with our falafel, but have you ever had flavored spreads with sesame seeds? I hadn't, that is, until now.

Sesame Kingdom sent me three of their five flavors to try. Instead of incorporating them into salads or spreading them on pancakes or French toast, which sounded delicious, I wanted to eat them on some crusty French bread to get the full flavor.

The one that is the purest sesame flavor is the Mighty Date. Made with just organic sesame seeds, date syrup, and spices, this one is made with tahini lovers in mind, but is thick so you can use it as a base for sandwiches or as a dip for crunchy veggies. It is very good.

The Carob Chocolate is simply sesame seeds, carob syrup, cocoa, extra virgin olive oil, and spices. This one would be delicious on strawberries, raspberries, or drizzled onto pancakes. It is a nice balance of the carob and cocoa and is not overly sweet, which I appreciate.

But, my favorite is the Beet with Za'atar mostly because it is different and has an unusual, but amazing flavor. Made with sesame seeds, dates, beets, extra virgin olive oil, and spices, this one has so much flavor that putting it on a plain baguette is perfect!

I love that all of their spreads are vegan, gluten-free, and made with mostly organic ingredients. Sesame seeds are a great source of copper and manganese and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, vitamin B1, selenium and dietary fiber. So, if you are seeking a healthy snack or spread, look no further. Sesame Kingdom sells the spreads directly on their website for $12.99 each. I'm hooked!

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Singha Thai Cuisine, Moab, UT

While in Moab, a friend of mine kept raving about a Thai restaurant and insisted we dine there. Singha Thai is located off the main street in an unassuming location. With just a simple red hanging sign and the word "Open" illuminated in the window, we walked in, hoping to grab a seat for dinner.

They weren't that busy, but asked us to wait a few minutes as they cleaned the tables. The small dining room had enough seating for at least 11 parties of four.  In a simple dining room with dark wood tables and pictures of Thailand on the walls, we took our seats.

The server was very helpful in identifying the vegan dishes, of which there were a lot. We started with spring rolls made with veggies. They were pretty simple and the peanut sauce was runny, so I wasn't so impressed.

For my meal, I ordered the Ka Prow (sans fish sauce) and I must say that this dish impressed me. I order the same thing at most Thai restaurants so I have many years of data and this dish was exquisitely made. Loaded with green beans, red peppers, fresh basil, and some of the best fried tofu I've ever had, I was very pleased with my dish. I loved the option for brown rice as well.

Out of all the places I've eaten in Moab, this one will certainly be remembered as one of my favorites. It's an unassuming place with really good entrees, a nice atmosphere, and great service.

Singha Thai
92 E Center Street
Moab, UT 84532
(435) 259-0039

Singha Thai Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cast Iron Black Bean Loaf

It was a chilly evening, so I rooted through my newest cookbook to see what kind of hearty dish I could find when I stumbled across the Cast-Iron Black Bean Loaf. This ridiculously filling dish comes to us from Easy Vegan Breakfasts & Lunches by Maya Sozer.  Loaded with quinoa, black beans, veggies, and topped with a ketchup sauce, it's like the meatloaf your mother didn't know how to make. Makes a great main dish with a side of roasted broccolini.

Cast-Iron Black Bean Loaf
Serves 3-4

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp tamari
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Ingredients for Sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Heat the oil in a cast-iron pan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add all the rest of the ingredients, except the sauce ingredients, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and spread over the black bean loaf. Bake for another 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Moab Brewery, Moab, UT

Heading to Moab to jump off the mesas made for one anxious Angela. Luckily, my friends were ready to keep me in check and the first place we headed was Moab Brewery. Thinking I'd just have a drink and hopefully an appetizer, I was pleasantly surprised to find this place to be very vegan friendly!

This restaurant is huge! And when we arrived, it was overflowing with people. Luckily, we were able to snag a couple of seats at a table with friends who had already been seated. Score! I ordered a glass of wine and hung out with my friends. I know it is weird to order wine at a brewery, but it was what I was in the mood for, so there.

This place was loud and fun and a great place to go with friends. When it came time to order, I went with a simple Vegetarian Chili, which is vegan as-is.  When it arrived, I was not prepared for a huge bowl of beans and very little veggies! The description stated, "thick and chunky, made with lots of veggies," but, lo and behold, this was a bowl of beans!  It was good, but I definitely had upset bean tummy later on.

Later that week, we decided to grab some carryout from that place too. My friend called and ordered the Veggie Burrito without cheese, rice, or sour cream. But, when we got back to the hotel room, it had cheese in it. That did not make me happy. The guy who served us pushed our new order to the front of the line and had a vegan burrito ready when we arrived again. He was very apologetic so I was very forgiving. This one was good - made with broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, walnuts, and pineapple in a flour tortilla with chili on the side. Definitely filling, if nothing else.

Other items that are or can be made vegan are hummus plate, black bean soup, assorted salads, hummus wrap, and veggie wrap. The veggie burger is not vegan.

My burrito was $9 and chili was $5 -- super cheap. The service was as good as I think it could have been given how slammed they always are. And the atmosphere is just fun! It's a great place to go with friends to hang out and have a great time!

Moab Brewery
686 South Main Street
Moab, UT 84532
(435) 259-6333

Moab Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Easy Vegan Breakfasts and Lunches by Maya Sozer

Easy Vegan Breakfasts & Lunches by Maya Sozer is a great book that seeks to provide the reader with easy-to-make vegan breakfast and lunch items. The photography is great and the recipes really are easy!

I tried two recipes.  The Cast-Iron Black Bean Loaf is a ridiculously filling dish. Loaded with quinoa, black beans, veggies, and topped with a ketchup sauce, it's like the meatloaf your mother didn't know how to make. Makes a great main dish with a side of roasted broccoli rabe.

The second dish I made is the classic Indian dish, Chana Masala. It is packed with spice! Be sure that whomever you are serving this to is a lover of Indian spice and, if so, they'll love this. And you'll love it too because the rice takes longer to make than the dish itself. In just a few minutes, you'll have a dish fit for a dinner party.

Other delectable recipes include Day Dream French Toast, Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes, Eggplant Quinoa Black Bean Burger, Curried Veggies, Better Not Squash Mac and Cheese, and Cozy Quinoa Lentil Minestrone.

I, honestly, can't wait to try more recipes. You can order Easy Vegan Breakfasts & Lunches on Amazon for just under $13. Well worth it.

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Explore Cuisine

Explore Cuisine, the leading alternative pasta brand, just came out with a bunch of new products and I was excited to try three of them.

Their Pulse Pastas are made from organic lentils and chickpeas, which makes them high in protein and a great source of fiber and iron. Flavors include Red Lentil Penne, Green Lentil Penne, Chickpea Fusilli, and Green Lentil Lasagne. I tried the Red Lentil Spaghetti. I felt these noodles had a nice flavor, but not the best texture as the noodles stuck together immediately and got hard after removing from the pot of boiling water. I saved some for the next day and when I heated them up in the microwave, they were actually softer than when I first boiled them. Funny how that worked. I liked them much better the next day!

Next, I tried one of their Soybean Noodle Soups. I did not love this soup. I guess I'm just not a big fan of dried soups anymore as I eat mostly fresh food nowadays. These gluten-free, vegan meals contain 20 grams of protein and only 3 grams of fat. But, they lack flavor.

Lastly, I tried one of their Bean Pastas--the Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine. I loved this pasta! Made of just edamame and mung beans, these noodles were soft and had great flavor. I just made the recipe on the side of the box that is made with avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil and it turned out great!  Other flavors include Black Bean Spaghetti and Soybean Spaghetti.

All in all, I'm excited about having more vegan and gluten free pasta options and can't wait to try more. To order the noodles on Amazon go here. They are also available in stores nationwide.

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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Owl's Brew Radler

Owl's Brew is known for its amazing tea-based mixers and now they have an exciting new product that I'm thrilled to share--tea mixed with beer called the Radler! That's right--they have made the first double brewed mix of tea and beer on the market.

Although I was skeptical, I ended up loving all of the flavors.

"That's My Jam" was the first one I tried, which is an amber ale blended with brewed darjeeling tea, hibiscus flower, lemon peel, fruit juices, and agave nectar. So good.

The "Wicked Watermelon" flavor is wheat beer brewed with spices and blended with brewed white tea, fruit juices, and agave nectar. This one was light and refreshing and tasted more like tea with a dash of light beer.

"The Blondie" is wheat beer blended with English breakfast tea and lemon peel. It was the least exciting of all the flavors, but a solid tasting brew.

Lastly, the "Short and Stout" was the boldest brew and ended up being my favorite. Brewed with cocoa nibs and blended with masala chai tea, pineapple juice, coconut water, and agave nectar, it has a distint chocolatey taste that blends amazing well with the tea and beer. I loved it.

Well, Owl's Brew, you did it again. First, you blew us away with your mixers and now, with your tea/beer. Loved them all! I also love that there are no added flavors and each is under 180 calories per serving -- double win!

This beer is perfect for people who want to drink beer with their friends, but really don't like the taste of beer. That's me. As this is a new product, it is currently being distributed in NY, NJ, CT, ME, DE, NH, VT, MA, ME, DC, MD, PA, and OH. Look for it at a store near you and check their website for where to find their products.

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Salamander Resort, Middleburg, Virginia

We've all heard of the Stanford Inn and other resorts that cater to and advertise to vegans. But, did you know that there is one right in our backyard? Located just an hour and 15 minutes away from DC, tucked into the quaint town of Middleburg, is a beautiful resort called the Salamander Resort.

I ended up here for a work retreat and although I had very little free time in my short two days here, I enjoyed every minute of it.  There is a massive spa with heated benches, massages, and treatments as well as fitness classes every morning. I spent most of my time in meetings, so really all I got to experience was the room and food.

The room was really nice. I had a king suite with a small balcony and an amazing bathroom. We are talking a clawfoot bathtub complete with bath salts as well as his and hers sinks or for those single folk -- two sinks just for you!

Now for the food--who knew this place was incredibly vegan friendly?! They have a full-on vegan menu!  On Monday night, I was served an Asian noodle dish with tofu. On Tuesday, for breakfast, I had vegan French toast and tofu scramble and it was amazing. For lunch on Tuesday, I was served an incredibly delicious chickpea curry with roasted vegetables.

For dinner on Tuesday, I had a fresh salad and pasta that had green beans, peas, and asparagus in a red sauce.

For breakfast on Wednesday, I had pumpkin pancakes and tofu scramble. The pancakes had great flavor and were very fluffy. The tofu scramble, although a bit watery, also had nice flavor.

For lunch on Wednesday, I was served quinoa with mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, greens, peppers, and peas. It was fantastic.

I did get to visit some Virginia wineries, which are just around the corner from the Salamander. So there's other things you can do locally if you choose to leave the resort.

The only thing I didn't like is their focus on horseriding and that they do it on their properties because I don't believe in keeping horses in captivity or using them for any type of service, sport, etc.

But, anyway, if you are looking for a getaway with good vegan food, look no further, Salamander is a great option. Great vegan food and fantastic accommodations!  Spend a weekend out there and you'll come back completely refreshed and relaxed! I know I did.

Salamander Resort
500 North Pendleton Street
Middleburg, VA 20117
(540) 687-3600