• city guides
  • Chicago Vegan Eats

    Believe it or not, before I read the book that changed my life and led me to a plant-based diet, I scoffed at the idea of going to a vegan restaurant. I so clearly remember, back when I lived in Chicago, the night my friend suggested we check out The Chicago Diner, a famous Chicago vegan restaurant. My response was, “No way. WTF would I order at a vegan restaurant?!” Pretty crazy how much things can change! I recently got back from a quick trip to Chicago and, with a whole new mindset, got to try out some of the delicious vegan-friendly juice bars and restaurants popping up around the city. Today I’m highlighting some of my Chicago favorites here on the blog.Native FoodsWho doesn’t love nachos? Especially when they’re loaded with so much deliciousness like the ones above. My sister introduced me to Native Foods Cafe and we both thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate. The nachos were delicious and came with cashew cheese instead of dairy cheese. The chipotle sauce was also delicious and I loved that the nachos were loaded with so many toppings. Next time I visit Native Foods Cafe I will definitely be ordering the nachos again.Native FoodsNative Foods Cafe also serves vegan “chicken” that will really blow your mind. It tastes exactly like chicken but it’s completely made out of plants like soy, wheat, peas and seasoning. Vegan meats don’t make up a big part of my diet, but when you’re in the mood for them this is a great place to go. Pictured above is my sister’s favorite, the twister wrap. It comes with fresh baby greens, cucumber salsa, avocado, crispy (or grilled or buffalo) “chicken” with a creamy ranch dressing. Native Foods is also great if you’ve never had vegan food before because you’ll be able to order things that are familiar to you – just vegan!Harvest Juicery

    One morning I stopped by Harvest Juicery near the Fulton District. It’s a super cute, clean, bright space that offers juices, nut milks, smoothies and some plant-based eats too. Their juice combos are really unique and healthy. Some of those unique juice flavors include fennel juice with orange, lemon and mint and melon juice made with cantaloupe, honeydew, lime, cilantro and lemongrass. They also offer pitaya bowls too!Left Coast AcaiLeft Coast Food & Juice is one of my new favorite lunch spots in Chicago. It’s a California-inspired restaurant that offers clean healthy eats in another super cute spot. The acai bowl pictured above was fantastic. It had everything I want in a smoothie bowl.IMG_0795The hermosa avocado toast at Left Coast was also fabulous. It comes with toasted semolina bread, smashed avocado, mojo rojo, basil and red onion. Definitely order it if you find yourself at Left Coast! You can see our whole Left Coast spread below. YUM!Left Coast

    blue spirulina

    I fell in love with this blue magik drink from Real Good Juice Co located in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. Not only does it taste amazing and look beautiful with those all natural blue hues, but it’s so good for you too! This drink gets its color from blue spirulina, which is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It contains over 65 good-for-you vitamins, minerals and nutrients including B vitamins, bio-available iron, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, antioxidants and omega-3s, to name just a few. It helps with everything from detoxing our bodies of heavy metals to treating allergies and lowering cholesterol. Who knew such a pretty drink could pack such a healthy punch?!
    Bad Day Donuts

    Chicago is also now home to Bad Day Donuts, a 100% vegan donut shop. I first heard of Bad Day Donuts when my sister went to the Chicago Vegan Food & Drink Festival where she said the lines for the donuts were a hundred people deep throughout the whole event! She didn’t get to try them that day so I knew we would have to check them out while I was in town. The dough of these donuts was absolute perfection. You would never ever know that they were any different from “regular” donuts. Bad Day Donuts doesn’t have a brick and mortar location yet, so you can order donuts by the dozen or find them at street fairs, festivals, pop-up shops and farmers markets around Chicago.

    And there you have it! Some of my favorite vegan eats from my recent trip to Chicago. Comment below with your favorite Chi City veg-friendly places for next time!

    xo,

    Tedi

  • city guides
  • Plant-Based Eating Florida Style

    Hi everyone! I’m currently writing you from 30,000 ft up in the air on my way back to New York from Florida. I had to get to writing this post right away because I was so impressed by all the different plant-based/vegan restaurants I found in the West Palm Beach area near where I was staying. Who would have known that Florida has such a thriving plant-based scene? I certainly didn’t! Here’s my recap:

    Fruits N RootsMy first stop was Fruits & Roots in Stuart, Florida. This cute little place offers the healthiest, cleanest form of plant-based eating. (A theme I saw a lot at the Florida vegan restaurants – which is great!) We ordered the garlic breadsticks made with roasted garlic, house parm, olive oil, spices and seeds, the sundried tomato and asparagus flatbread made with pesto, roasted veggies, microgreens, house parm, spices and seeds, and the seriously delicious raw chocolate caramel “cake”. Even my grandma liked everything we ordered!

    Fruits N Roots DessertFrom what I hear Fruits & Roots is a new favorite spot for people in the area to pick up lunch and healthy snacks on the go. If you’re looking for good, healthy, clean food in the Stuart area, this is your spot. And their chocolate mylk made with cashews, dates, vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa was fantastic too.

    Next up came Christopher’s Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens. My family and I visited this restaurant three times during our stay in Florida and we were all fans of it! This restaurant again has a great, health-conscious concept. Their approach is: raw (aka very healthy, uncooked) food during the day and then your choice of raw or cooked foods in the evening. Christopher’s Kitchen has a large outdoor patio and a clean, bright decor on the inside. In the back of the restaurant they have a wine bar too.

    Christopher's KitchenOne of my favorite dishes at Christopher’s Kitchen was the artisan aged cheese plate. I absolutely loved it! Their cheese is 100% plant-based and comes with a beautiful variety of fruit, nuts, crackers and greens. For dinner we also had the avocado pizza with red sauce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, arugula, basil, oregano, cashew dressing, brazil nut parmesan and big chunks of avocado. Christopher’s Kitchen’s avocado toast was simple and delicious too and their stacked nachos made with blue corn chips, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole and cashew cream sauce were fantastic as well (see below).

    CKChristopher’s Kitchen is also great if you’re looking for desserts that won’t leave you feeling unhealthy or guilty! One night my family and I went there just for dessert. 🙂 One of their special desserts is the ice cream sundae, made with their housemade ice cream, housemade chocolate sauce and housemade caramel sauce. The gluten-free cinnamon roll dessert special was out of this world too. And my absolute favorite dessert that I will seriously miss now that I’m back in NYC is the chocolate mousse pie. It was SO so good while still being one of the healthiest desserts you’ll ever have! And word on the street is that Christopher’s Kitchen will be expanding to two more locations around the south Florida area in the very near future.

    CK DessertAnd while we’re talking about vegan desserts, another thing to note is that the Palm Beach Gardens Whole Foods sells vegan donuts! In fact, the only donuts they sell are vegan! My Whole Foods in NYC doesn’t even sell vegan donuts, so you can imagine my excitement when I found these! They were SO delicious. Seriously, when stuff tastes this good without eggs or dairy why would anyone ever need non-vegan baked goods anyways?!

    Vegan DonutAnother restaurant we visited was the Darbster, a 100% vegan restaurant in West Palm Beach. My sister was in the mood for some vegan pancakes so we headed there for their weekend brunch. Everyone besides me ordered the pancakes and they all liked them. I ordered the tempeh bacon BLT which was classic and delicious.

    The DarbsterBut what is coolest about the Darbster is that 100% of the profits from the restaurant go to the Darbster Foundation, which was created by the restaurant’s owners to assist in animal welfare and animal rights efforts. I honestly can’t think of a cooler concept! A vegan restaurant where all the profits go to helping animals in need?! So special. You can read more about the Darbster Foundation, here.

    Raw Juce was another one of my favorite discoveries! I checked out the Palm Beach Gardens location (where they were extremely kind and helpful!) and they also have two locations in Boca Raton and one location opening in Aventura, Florida soon. I picked up some juice (the raw green made with parsley, spinach, romaine, kiwi, lemon, gala apple, kale, chlorella and ginger) and a smoothie bowl. This smoothie bowl was seriously the best one I’ve ever had. I got the black magic bowl made with banana, mango, acai, almond mylk, vega sport protein and activated charcoal, all topped with chia seeds, flax seed granola, coconut flakes, bananas and blueberries. If you are in the area and looking for a healthy breakfast or lunch you have got to stop in and get this bowl!!

    Raw JuceAnd on my way out of town I made a quick stop at The Bee located in downtown West Palm Beach. This place was adorable! A perfect place to sit and enjoy a healthy vegan meal with a friend or sit and do some solo work on your computer. The atmosphere is really cute as can be. Had I found The Bee sooner I would have tried out their lunch specials because I overheard some of the customers saying how great they were. The Bee offer smoothies, juices and lunch food at this location and whenever I am back in town I will definitely be stopping in to try their food.

    The Bee WPBAnd there you have it! That’s FIVE 100% vegan restaurants I found just during my short visit to Florida. I was pleased as punch to see what a wide variety there was. And I can’t even imagine how many more places there must be in Florida’s other big cities.

    If you’re a Floridian leave a comment and let me know your favorite vegan or vegetarian spots!

    xo,

    Tedi

  • city guides
  • NYC’s Best Veg Restaurants to Try in 2016

    Living in New York City this past year and a half has given me the opportunity to try so many amazing vegan, vegetarian and veg friendly restaurants. This city is a bona-fide goldmine when it comes to vegan food. I’ve had a running list on my phone of my absolute favorite restaurants that I recommend to people when they ask me, and today I’m laying it all out here to share with you. So, to ring in the new year here is my most comprehensive list yet of NYC’s BEST veg restaurants for you to try in 2016!

    Best Weekday Vegan Breakfast: The Butcher’s Daughter

    Butcher's Daughter

    This vegetarian hotspot offers the perfect vegan breakfast options like their delicious smashed avocado toast, their coconut yogurt parfait, the butcher’s pancakes and the tartine with chocolate hazelnut spread, jam and fresh fruit. Plus you can’t go wrong with their fresh juices and smoothies. thebutchersdaughter.com

    Best Vegan Comfort Food: By Chloe

    IMG_8385

    By Chloe burst onto the food scene in summer 2015 and has seen such great success it is already expanding to two new locations. My favorites from the menu include the quinoa taco salad, the guac burger and the loaded avocado toast that comes topped with seasonal veggies and almond parmesan. The restaurant also has their own bakery that makes tons of vegan sweet treats. On the weekend you can stop in for brunch and pick up the early bird special, made with scrambled organic tofu, spinach, maple sausage, market greens, avocado and seven grain toast. And who could resist their housemade cinnamon roll?  bychefchloe.com

    Best Veg Friendly Bagels: Black Seed Bagels

    Black Seed

    Black Seed offers tofu cream cheeses, lots of veggies and my favorite almond butter ever. The subtle saltiness of the almond butter goes amazing with their jam. As the year is coming to an end my new favorite combo is simple but delicious…that slightly salty almond butter on an everything bagel. blackseedbagels.com

    Best Veg Friendly Fast Casual Restaurant: Inday

    Inday

    Inday is the newest restaurant featured on this list. This Indian-inspired healthy food spot has a great selection of unique vegan dishes. From the shredded cauliflower and brussels sprouts “rice” to the charcoal smoked tofu in tomato chutney and all their side dishes the combination options are endless, delicious and healthy.  indaynyc.com

    Best Vegan Weekend Brunch: Sun in Bloom

    Sun in Bloom

    If you’re looking for a traditional weekend brunch where you can sit down, enjoy your meal with a warm drink and keep everything totally plant-based, Sun in Bloom is your spot. The shiitake mushroom “bacon” pancakes are incredibly delicious, the breakfast burrito is always a hit, and their version of a classic BLT is perfection. suninbloom.wordpress.com

    Best Vegan Food Truck: Cinnamon Snail

    Cinnamon Snail

    In 2014 this vegan food truck was voted the #1 place to eat in NYC and it’s still amazing…if you can find them! They aren’t on the streets on a normal basis anymore so if you’re lucky you might find this illusive vegan gem at farmers markets, vegfests and other special events. Cinnamon Snail’s creative menu features items like their gouchujang burger with sautéed kimchi, arugula, pickled red onions, black sesame gomasio and sriracha mayo on grilled herb focaccia. Another favorite from their menu is the Thanksgiving sandoo made with porcini mushroom simmered seitan, rosemary parsnip bread pudding, marinated kale, orange cranberry relish and roasted garlic aioli on a grilled baguette, and a plethora of vegan baked goods. cinnamonsnail.com [UPDATE: This once food-truck-only now has a permanent storefront location at the new high end food hall, The Pennsy]

    Best Healthy Plant-Based Cafes to Pick Up Lunch: Gingersnap’s Organic & Sun in Bloom Tribeca

    Ginger:Sun

    Both Gingersnap’s Organic and Sun in Bloom’s to go spots offer clean, healthy, delicious, organic food. Gingersnap’s makes amazing housemade soups, juices, salads and the best chocolate almond milk ever. Their tomato stew and cauliflower soup are both simple, healthy, delicious and not to be missed. Sun in Bloom Tribeca also offers soups, salads and baked goods that are packaged and ready for you to pick up on the go. Sun in Bloom’s miso soup and chef Aimee salad are my favorites. So are their cookie sandwiches. gingersnapsorganic.com // suninbloom.wordpress.com

    Best Veggie Burger: Superiority Burger

    Superiority Burger

    This new vegetarian burger spot is always packed…and with good reason! Their little veg burgers take on the classic fast food burger in a gourmet way. Your first bite will remind you of the flavorful burgers you indulged in as a kid, while at the same time being way healthier. And when you’re eating that veg burger enjoy it with some of their gourmet sides like burnt broccoli salad with eggplant, red chile and coriander in a wine sauce. superiorityburger.com

    Best Sweet Treat: Dun-Well Doughnuts

    Dun Well Doughnuts

    This Brooklyn bakery makes New York’s finest organic artisanal doughnuts. They are 100% vegan and 100% delicious. Enough said. dunwelldoughnuts.com

    Best Vegan Pizza: Pala Pizza

    Pala

    This pizza spot offers a traditional menu, a vegan menu and a gluten-free menu. My absolute favorite pizza is the broccolini that comes with sautéed broccoli, braised fennel, shaved potatoes, cracked pepper and vegan cheese. Also not to be missed is their gnocchi in a cherry tomato red sauce and their patatini house made potato chips that come with truffle oil and herbs. palapizza.com

    Best Brooklyn Gem: Little Choc Apothecary

    IMG_0901

    This vegan creperie is one of my favorite places in Brooklyn. The burrito crepe with avocado, coconut bacon, black beans, homemade chipotle hot sauce and homemade cashew cheese will definitely keep you coming back for more. As will any of their sweet crepes like the “newtella” crepe with their homemade vegan hazelnut spread. chocny.com

    Best Juice Bar: Juice Press

    Juice press

    If you want clean, healthy, organic juices and smoothies, Juice Press is your place. They have an extensive juice menu that is unparalleled. My current favorite smoothie is the heaven on earth made with raw almond butter, banana, cacao, almond milk, dates, brown rice protein and cinnamon. And the clean green protein smoothie made with almond milk, banana, raw almond butter, kale, spinach, hemp protein, coconut nectar and chia seeds is always a great option as well. juicepress.com

    Best Wrap I’m Always Craving: Manousheh’s Za’atar & Avocado

    Manousheh

    This is the kind of wrap that veggie dreams are made of. With traditional manousheh bread, flavorful za’atar, avocado, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and mint I had to include this wrap in this roundup because it’s that good. manousheh.com

    NYC’s Overall Best Vegan Restaurant: Avant Garden

    Avant Garden

    The city’s hot new upscale vegan restaurant is my choice for 2015’s overall best vegan restaurant. No matter what diet you adhere to, this menu will blow you away! The toast with smoked eggplant purée, calabrian chili, celery, olives and pickled shallots is out of this world. As is the avocado tartare and the butternut squash farro risotto. The atmosphere makes for the perfect little date spot with its open kitchen, gorgeous reclaimed wood tables and small, cozy space. This high-end vegan restaurant will give you the sort of exceptional culinary experience that magical New York is known for. 🙂 (photo via avantgardennyc.com) avantgardennyc.com

     

    Do you have others to add to this list? Leave them in the comments section below!

    Happy New Year!!

    xo,

    Tedi

  • city guides
  • Plant-Based Eating Virgin Islands Style

    FullSizeRender-8Hi guys! It’s been a while. I was lucky enough to be away the last two weeks visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was a wonderful vacation. The U.S. Virgin Islands are made up of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. We visited both St. Thomas and St. John. They’re both beautiful but St. John is home to some of the most spectacular clear waters I’ve ever seen in my life! Snorkeling there was unbelievable. The water honestly looked like a dream. You can see that crystal clear water and other pics from my trip below. Now, as for the food, I think this might be the first time I’m ever saying that it was actually hard to maintain my plant-based diet. Not because I wanted to be eating other non-vegan foods, but because at a lot of places…veg friendly foods just weren’t there. Because the islands are so far from the mainland, and they don’t have enough viable soil to be farming their own produce on a large scale, organic, plant-based foods are a lot harder to come by. But, once I got into the groove of things after being there for a few days, I figured out how to keep it plant-based…and I felt a lot better! So I’m sharing three tips for eating plant-based while in the U.S. Virgin Islands that, had I known ahead of time, would have made eating healthy down there a lot easier!

    FullSizeRender-9Trunk Bay, St. John. Still can’t get over this view!Virgin IslandsMy sister and I during our snorkeling adventure off of Hawksnest Bay, St. John. This is about 150 yards from shore and the water is still so clear! And yes we did drag that pool mat all the way out there with us. 🙂Virgin IslandsGorgeous Cinnamon Bay, St. John.Virgin IslandsI met so many animals while I was there. This cat, that we named Earl, lives at the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas. He was friendly as can be and well taken care of. I loved him!Virgin IslandsThese iguanas are all over the place and their colors are beautiful.Virgin Islands (ADOPT ME!)I met this pup (check out those eyes!) at the Humane Society of St. Thomas. He is up for adoption along with about 70 other dogs, plus cats, birds, fish and even a sheep, at the shelter. I’m going to leave some information about this shelter at the bottom of this post in case you are interested in learning more.
    Virgin IslandsCoconuts picked right from the trees.Virgin IslandsVeggie tacos at Coconut Cove at the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas.FullSizeRender-12Beachside hummus platter.
    Virgin IslandsSome of the plant-based items at the Bleuwater breakfast buffet.
    Virgin IslandsA typical hotel breakfast for me.

    Tips for Eating Plant-Based in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    1) Load up on those breakfast buffets. Lunch and dinner can be hard to eat plant-based on these islands because the menus are so seafood and meat heavy. Each time that I ended up eating a little seafood because I couldn’t find anything else, I did not like how I felt. After eating plant-based for over two years now, you can really tell how much animal products weigh us down when we eat them. I feel so much lighter and cleaner when I eat all plants! That said, breakfast buffets normally have lots of fruits, veggies and potatoes. I would eat a lot of those items for breakfast to fill me up. The different fruits offered variety and eating lots of potatoes kept me satisfied and happy. Just a simple combo like lots of fruit, veggies and potatoes ends up being a healthy, hearty meal that kept me full until lunch time.

    2) St. John is where it’s at. Even though St. John is smaller than St. Thomas, it had way better food and way more plant-based options! Waterfront Bistro was great and they offer both a veggie burger and a crispy tofu caprese burger on their menu (hold the mozzarella to make it plant-based). Cruz Bay Landing was another restaurant that offered multiple veggie friendly options including a veggie burger, hummus plate, and chickpea and pumpkin rotis. Funny enough when I walked up to this restaurant to check out the menu there were two women sitting at a table and I noticed both of their shirts said something about being vegan. I went up and asked if they were and they both said yes. Small, small world! They ordered the chickpea and pumpkin rotis (a traditional Caribbean dish) and said it was great. Plus, the beaches here are absolutely not to be missed. Good (healthy) food and gorgeous beaches are always a winning combination in my book.

    3) Modify if you gotta. At the hotel I was staying at in St. Thomas, there really weren’t plant-based options besides a hummus platter. The hummus platter was good, and I had one almost everyday, but I needed some variety too. So, I asked for some modifications and voila: plant-based foods! The restaurant had tacos on the menu that I asked if they could modify to be vegan veggie tacos. They did, and they were delicious! I also ordered pizza for room service one night and had them skip the cheese. That was pretty good too. Even with the most non-veg friendly menus I was able to make modifications when necessary, and they resulted in some pretty delicious dishes like those veggie tacos.

    xo,

    Tedi

    P.S. The Humane Society of St. Thomas is doing hard work to help stray and abandoned animals, but they could still use a lot of help. My sister and I stopped in to help on a rainy day and we were pretty sad to see how many animals were in the shelter. Plus they have no air-conditioning. It was a sad sight to see. If you’re looking for somewhere to donate this holiday season, HSST is a great option.