More Vegan Eats from Mu in Redlands

I went back to one of my favorite restaurants in Redlands.  Last time I went to Mu, I went with friends and got one dish for myself.  This time I went with my parents, and we got a few items to share.

Mu Tom Ka Soup

Tom Ka Soup

I love their simple Tom Ka Soup.  This coconut milk-based soup doesn’t skimp on tofu and veggies. It comes in a large bowl for sharing that stays hot from a flame underneath the bowl.  It’s perfect, because you’ll want seconds.

 

Mu Pad Thai

Pad Thai

As one friend once put it, “Pad Thai is like the gateway drug to Thai food.”  My first experience with Thai food was indeed Pad Thai, and Mu makes a delicious version of it.  Just make sure to ask for it without egg and fish sauce.

Mu Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew

While Pad Thai has a bit of sweet to it, Pad See Ew is less so.  I love the chewy-but-soft-but-firm texture of the wide flat rice noodles that go into this dish.  Top it with all that tofu and I’m sold.  Like the Pad Thai, make sure to omit the egg and fish sauce.

Mu Indian Yellow Curry

Indian Yellow Curry

Lastly, my parents and I got the Indian Yellow Curry.  It’s made with tofu, potatoes, onions, and coconut milk and was a delightful dish to round out the meal.

 

If you are ever in Redlands, I’d suggest checking out Mu.  They also have a martini bar connected with an extensive selection of adult beverages.

 

Mu is located at:
309 W State St
Redlands, CA 92373

Monday – Friday: 11am – 2:30pm and 5pm – 10pm
Saturday: 5pm – 10pm
Sunday:  5pm – 9pm

 

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Herbivore Festival at Crafton Hills College

Despite the rain, I thought the first annual (bi-annual??) Herbivore Festival at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa was a success.  There were quite a few vendors set up selling food and products and other vendors who were there to provide information about their various causes.  They also had cooking demonstrations, music, aerial acts, and inside lectures.  I was able to browse the vendors (and buy some products) and also watch the cooking demonstrations.  I wasn’t able to listen to any for the lectures, but I heard they were great.

Herbivore Festival

Herbivore Festival

Parmela Creamery makes some awesome vegan cheeses and they were there sampling and selling some of their products.  I tasted their new Nacho Cheese and it was super yummy, so I bought a jar and a jar of their Alfredo Sauce.

Parmela Creamery

Parmela Creamery

Parmela Creamery Alfredo and Nacho Sauce

Parmela Creamery Alfredo and Nacho Sauce

Happy Family has a delicious restaurant in the Loma Linda area (and also in Rowland Heights) and they were there selling a few of their best sellers.  I got a chicken dish for $5, but think it is way better when eaten at the restaurant.  I highly recommend this place.

Happy Family Restaurant Chicken

Happy Family Restaurant Chicken

The Tamale Guy normally serves all sorts of tamales, but for this event, they went completely vegan.  The Potatoes and Veggies Tamale was really good and hit the spot on that unusually cold day.

The Tamale Guy Vegan Menu

The Tamale Guy Vegan Menu

The Tamale Guy Potatoes and Veggies Tamale

The Tamale Guy Potatoes and Veggies Tamale

Loma Linda Market was there serving up a whole meals worth of samples.  They were super generous.

Loma Linda Market Sampling

Loma Linda Market Sampling

Galvans Gourmet Veganeatery was new to me, so I was excited to try one of their dishes.  The TVP Taco was just ok, but the Fried Shrimp Taco was insane.  I can’t believe how crispy they got the shrimp, since it was a cold, wet day and they just had some small portable fryer.  They really did it well.

Galvans Gourmet Veganeatery

Galvans Gourmet Veganeatery

Galvans Gourmet Veganeatery Menu

Galvans Gourmet Veganeatery Menu

Galvans Gourmet Veganeatery TVP and Fried Shrimp Tacos

Galvans Gourmet Veganeatery TVP and Fried Shrimp Tacos

Pies by Domonic based out of Orange County was selling gluten free pies.  I got a Pumpkin Pie and a Blueberry Crumble Pie.  I’m not gluten free and would have preferred a regular flour crust, but it was pretty good.  I ate mine with lots of Soyatoo Whipped Cream when I got home.

Pies by Domonic Pumpkin Pie and Blueberry Crumble Pie

Pies by Domonic Pumpkin Pie and Blueberry Crumble Pie

Naked Lunch had some savory items and this Chocolatey Yogurt.  I was a little worried it was going to be bitter since it was made with cacao, but it was perfectly sweet.

Naked Lunch Yogurt

Naked Lunch Yogurt

Naked Lunch Yogurt

Naked Lunch Yogurt

I saw three cooking demonstrations while I was at the festival.  The first was done by a very energetic dietician named Kimberly Paulien Slater.  She showed us a recipe for an easy and delicious salad (recipe can be found here).  The second demonstration was for a Raw Nacho Cheese by Paul Zanone who runs a raw meetup group in the Inland Empire.  The last demonstration I saw was by two chefs who came all the way from the UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center.  I thought the effort they put into this demonstration was terrific.  They made a beautiful Butternut Squash Tangine that was also delicious.  The conference center is open to UCLA grads and to organizations and small businesses that want to use the facility for retreats and conferences that are educational in purpose.

Butternut Squash Tangine

UCLA Lake Arrowhead Center Butternut Squash Tangine

After the success of this event, the organizer was toying with the idea of making this event twice a year.  I’m so excited that there is this much involvement in the vegan community out in my home area of the Inland Empire.  Keep watch at their Facebook page for information about the next event.

More Baked Goodies from Muffin Top Bakery

I wanted to add to my earlier post about the seriously good vegan desserts at Muffin Top Bakery.  As you saw, I went a little overboard – it’s hard to resist such beautifully presented treats.  Well, I went back and they had a whole new round of goodies that I HAD to try.

They had a bunch of cake slices laid out for me.  The Key Lime and the Cookies n Cream varieties are fluffy and topped with sweet frostings (and I think are better than the cupcakes).  They also have Neapolitans (layers of flakey pastry and creams/mousses).  One was a delicious Chocolate Neapolitan with a cream filling and chocolate topping.  The other was a Raspberry Neapolitan with more cream filling and a raspberry topping.   What can be bad about cream and pastry?  Nothing.

Muffin Top Bakery Goods

Key Lime, Cookies n Cream, Neapolitan

I also got another Raspberry Neapolitan (this time with a different presentation) and a French Pastry.  The French Pastry was like a sandwich of flaky pastry filled with cream and strawberries.  And then the best part is that it is covered in chocolate.  I’d get a serious muffin top if I ate this everyday – which is probably why they named the place Muffin Top Bakery.  Nothing but “cream” and pastry – deliciousness and more deliciousness.

Muffin Top Bakery Neapolitan and French Pastry

Neapolitan and French Pastry

And on a healthier note – I found some Fruit Bars hanging out on the check out counter.  These are similar to Fig Newtons, but way better.  These tasted so fresh and had a lot of fruit filling.  I bet they’d make a great afternoon snack for kids or at the office…. or just for lunch – right out of the bag – on a Tuesday.

Muffin Top Bakery Fruit Bars

Fruit Bars

 

Redlands
223 E. State St. Suite A
Redlands, CA 92373
(909)792-9911

Monday – Wednesday 8am – 7pm
Thursday 8am – 9pm
Friday – Saturday 8am – 7pm
Sunday 9am – 4pm
Riverside
1735 Spruce St
Riverside, CA 92507
951-222-0377

Monday – Friday 6am – 6pm
Saturday 8am – 4pm

 

Casa Maya in Mentone

I know, I know.  I said I was back and then I disappeared again.  I promise this time I will be more consistent with my posts.  I honestly have a whole bunch of draft posts of things I’ve eaten the past few months ready to be finalized and brought to you.   Please forgive me.

 

My parent’s neighbor recently gave me a great recommendation for food in the area where they live.  I actually was quite surprised I hadn’t heard of Casa Maya before.  I grew up in the area and had spent a lot of my childhood as a vegetarian. This Mexican restaurant gets its unique cuisine from the Yucatan region and has a special vegetarian menu.

 

I went to visit my family and my mom and I decided to grab some lunch here.  We ordered two dishes and split them.  Our first dish was the Veggie Panuchos ($11.95).  What is a Veggie Panucho?  I had to read the menu to find out: corn tortillas stuffed with black beans, topped with marinated onion, cabbage, xnipec, and fresh guacamole.  It came with a side of beans and potatoes.  Wow – was this thing good.  I was hesitant about the marinated onions (the pink stuff in the picture), because… really… pink onions?  But they were great and (I think) essential to the dish.  And the sides!  Oh the sides!  Insanely good.

Casa Maya Veggie Panuchos

Veggie Panuchos

 

The second dish was just as good as the first!  The Potato and Avocado Empanadas ($11.95) were amazing.  How can you go wrong with dough filled with avocado and potatoes and then fried?  Again, I was hesitant about one component of this dish, but it wasn’t the onions this time.  The cream of balsamic vinegar was not too vinegary and enhanced the flavor of the empanadas (Phew! because I don’t like strong vinegar flavors).  And more beans and potatoes!  I need me some more of this.

Casa Maya Empanadas

Empanadas

 

There are a few other items on their vegetarian menu – a few don’t look too easily veganized.  It doesn’t matter, though, the two dishes we got were satisfying enough.

Casa Maya Menu

Casa Maya Menu

 

1839 Mentone Blvd
Mentone, CA 92359
909-794-7458

 

Loving Hut in Upland

Loving Huts are everywhere – and I mean EVERYWHERE!  The diligent disciples of the Supreme Master Ching Hai have opened these all-vegan restaurants all over the world.  Whatever may be the reason for their openings, I am glad they did.  Sometimes it is just hard trying to find vegan food – Loving Hut makes it easier.

I was in the Upland area and decided to support the local Loving Hut.  Just so you don’t think I am a total glutton (although I really am), I will tell you that I did eat some of this for lunch at the restaurant and some I took to work for dinner.  The Joyful Sate ($4.75) is marinated TVP (textured vegetable protein) grilled with a special traditional homemade sauce.  I wasn’t a huge fan of this.  The TVP was too chewy and the sauce was too soy-saucey for me.

Loving Hut Skewers

Joyful Sate

The Peking BBQ ($4.99) was more my style.  This dish is BBQ marinated seitan with a homemade sauce.  It was savory with a hint of sweetness and not as chewy as the first appetizer.

Loving Hut Peking BBQ

Peking BBQ

And I got one entree to nibble on – their Lemongrass Country ($7.75).  It’s deep fried soy protein chunks sauteed with lemon grass.  OK, so I said deep fried, but it actually wasn’t that greasy.  The lemongrass flavor was awesome – not overpowering.  The side salad came with a delicious sweet tropical fruit dressing.

Loving Hut Lemongrass Chicken

Lemongrass Country

They had some pre-packaged servings of dessert, too. The Blueberry Pie ($3.25) wasn’t the greatest berry pie I’ve had, but something I’d certainly recommend trying if you wanted a dessert here.

Loving Hut Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

The Peanut Butter Dream Pie ($3.25) was my favorite of the two (you can’t go wrong with peanut butter!).  It was like a thicker, chewier cheesecake… but in a good way.  Very creamy and very peanut buttery.

Loving Hut Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

There are so many more menu items I would like to try.  It is a very fake meat heavy place and if you can’t eat soy, don’t come here.  A few non fake meat dishes use tofu, but there is not much without soy.

The Upland location is at:

903 West Foothill Boulevard
Upland, CA 91786
909-982-3882

Tuesday – Saturday: 11 am – 9 pm
Sunday: 4 pm – 9 pm
Monday: Closed

Oasis Vegetarian Cafe in Riverside

Oasis Vegetarian Cafe is (in fact) an oasis.  This all vegetarian (and very vegan-friendly) restaurant is set in the middle of meat land.  It’s attached to a Seventh-Day Adventist grocery store and has seating inside.  You order at the window at the front of the store and they will bring your food to you if you are dining inside.  The menu is a mix between burgers/wraps and Mexican Food – my kind of place.  I definitely went a little crazy on the Mexican side of the menu when I came here with my mom awhile back.  I think the people at Oasis thought we were crazy by the amount of food we ordered.  I don’t think any two people have ever order this much (but we did take most of it home).

The Taquitos ($4.99) are served with veggie chicken, potato, lettuce, tomato, and guacamole.  Fried, tasty goodness.  And look at all the guacamole they give you!

Oasis Taquitos

Taquitos

I think my favorite item from our feast was the Pupusa ($4.69).  I’ve never had this before (probably because no other place I’ve been to has made it vegan).  I didn’t know what it was, but it was described as corn masa filled with beans and cheese served with sauerkraut and tomato sauce.  It’s like a giant stuffed tortilla.  Delicioso.

Oasis Pupusa

Pupusa

I’ve also never had meat Carnitas, but I got to try Oasis’ version of it ($3.49).  It was corn tortillas, fried steak, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, onions and tomato sauce.  I liked it, but I liked the other dishes better.  It was sort of hard to eat, and the steak wasn’t my favorite of the fake meats.

Oasis Carnitas

Carnitas

An Oasis Vegan Burrito ($5.69) was also ordered.  It was simply  rice, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, and vegan cream, but was another one of my favorites.  I love bean burritos!  And this one had extra awesomeness to it (vegan cream?  yum!!).

Oasis Burrito

Burrito

My next photo doesn’t look that great, but, believe me, this Tamale ($4.15) was good.  Made with corn masa, steak, tomato sauce, olives, and bell peppers.  Even though this dish was filled with gross bell peppers, the steak tasted a lot better covered in corn masa.

Oasis Tamale

Tamale

I didn’t realize how much steak we ordered until I wrote up this post.  We got one non-Mexican entree: a Steak Wrap ($5.79).  It’s made with steak, hummus, spinach, and pico de gallo.  It’s a fresh lunch option, but since vegan Mexican food is so hard to find, I’d probably order one of the other entrees instead.

Oasis Pepper Steak Wrap

Pepper Steak Wrap

My mom decided to wash this all down with a Soy Milkshake ($3.99) which turned out to be just fruit blended with soymilk.  Not what I call a milkshake, but hey, whatever floats your boat.  My mom thought it was good.

Oasis Fruit Shake

Fruit Shake

11550 Pierce St.
Riverside, CA 92505
951-688-5423

Monday-Thursday: 8am – 7pm
Friday: 8am – 4pm
Saturday: closed
Sunday: 9am – 5:30pm

It is Tasty at Covina Tasty

I forget how I happened upon Covina Tasty, but I’m very glad I did.  This location used to be a Tastee Freeze franchise, but when the owner started swapping the meat-filled menu with veg alternatives, the headquarters said they must change their name. Thus, Tasty Covina was born and have been serving up vegetarian versions of the traditional Tastee Freeze menu since.

While it still kind of looks like a Tastee Freeze, it is no longer a part of that company.  There is no inside seating.  You just order at the window (left window is for ice creams and right window is for food) and eat at one of the picnic benches.

Tasty Covina

Tasty Covina

What can you get here?  The cheese is not vegan and the hot dogs buns aren’t either.  The owner said that he tries to get vegan hot dogs buns, but sometimes he just can’t get them from his supplier – although the hot dogs are vegan.  I was concerned that he didn’t know the true meaning of “vegan” as some places serve “vegan” fake meats that contain animal by-products.  But, this guy knew his stuff.  He was saying things about how it was hard trying to find vegan patties that didn’t have whey, etc.  This reassured me that he was actually checking the ingredients.

My first sandwich was a Chicken Sandwich with Avocado ($3.79 plus $0.99 for avocado).  I thought this was delicious.  Everything you could want from a fast food chicken sandwich.  The lack of extra vegan sauces was not missed.  The chicken was nice and crispy and the avocado added that creaminess that a fancy vegan special sauce or mayo would give.

Tasty Covina Chicken Sandwich with Avocado

Chicken Sandwich with Avocado

My second item was a Hamburger with Chili ($3.79 plus $0.79 for chili).  This had a very meaty patty and their homemade chili.  I also thought this burger was great – I don’t know which sandwich I liked better.

Tasty Covina Chili Burger

Chili Burger

And I wanted dessert from this awesome place.  Unfortunately their soft serve is not vegan, but they do carry Vegan Heaven‘s Tiramisu and ice creams.  They also hand dip their own frozen bananas.  I even asked to make sure the chocolate sauce was vegan, and he showed me the package.  Although not the healthiest, it was vegan.  My Frozen Banana ($2.09) was huge!  The owner even commented that most places don’t serve frozen bananas that big.  It was delicious, as well.  It was a great feeling to sit in front of this 70’s type place on a beautiful day eating my frozen banana.  There were even a few older gentlemen who were admiring the owner’s vintage VW Bug. The owner came out, revved it up, and turned on the radio to a very fitting song for the moment: The Guess Who’s “American Woman.”  I think I was born in the wrong era.

Tasty Covina Frozen Banana

Frozen Banana

I love this place.  The food is great and the feeling of being there just reminds me of youth and the innocence of it.  You must go here if you are ever in the Covina area.

1063 N. Citrus Ave.
Covina, CA 91722
626-332-8816

Daily 11 am to 11 pm

Being Vegan in Rancho Cucamonga

I think I’ve said in every post from the Inland Empire that it is more difficult to be vegan here.  I sort of take that back, because of places like Bright Star in Rancho Cucamonga.  This all-vegan thai place is very similar to the vegan thai places all around LA (I never knew burgers and pancakes were such a Thai staple).  But, in addition to the burgers and pancakes, they do have more traditional Thai dishes.

I got a lot of food (and shared most with my family).  My first appetizer was the Shrimp Batter: deep fried soy shrimp and vegetable tempura with sweet plum sauce.  I normally don’t get tempura at Japanese restaurants, but this had a thicker batter and was quite good.  Sweet sauces are my thing (I’m not a salty soy sauce girl) and this one was delicious.

Bright Star Fried Shrimp and Veggies

Shrimp Batter

Another fried appetizer was next – the Fried Chicken.  This one also came with that delicious sweet plum sauce.  I liked this dish – simple, greasy comfort food.

Bright Star Fried Chicken Appetizer

Fried Chicken Appetizer

My favorite appetizer was the Chicken Satay.  This dish comes with a sauce that is the best sauce of all time: the peanut sauce.  Really – what can’t creamy peanuts go with??  If you aren’t into fake meats, they have this dish with tofu instead of chicken.

Bright Star Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

Although tempted for more peanut sauce, I didn’t get the Pad Thai and instead went with Pad See Ew.  Really, there’s nothing “ew” about it! (sorry, bad pun).  Thick rice noodles are coated in a lovely, light brown sauce and tossed with two of my favorite veggies.  It’s great the next day, too!!

Bright Star Pad Sew Ew

Pad See Ew

My least favorite thing I ordered here was the Teriyaki Chicken.  I was expecting chunks of chicken marinated and coated in teriyaki sauce.  This was just some grilled chicken with a teriyaki dipping sauce.  Not as flavorful as I had hoped.

Bright Star Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken

But the Orange Tofu was a lovely dish.  They have it with chicken, but I had already ordered so much chicken.  The tofu was lightly fried, making it not so heavy.  And of course I’m going to like that sweet, orange sauce.

Bright Star Orange Tofu

Orange Tofu

And if all the sweet sauces didn’t satisfy that sugar craving, I wanted a small dessert.  They have a few more traditional desserts, but that Pancake just sounded too appetizing for me to pass up.  This pancake was nice, a little dense, and maybe not the best vegan pancake ever – but it will sure make those pancake cravings go away.

Bright Star Pancake

Pancake

And to make Rancho Cucamonga even more vegan friendly, I stopped by Viva la Vegan – a moderately sized all-vegan grocery store.  This place has lots of vegan products to offer.  You can get all kinds of things here: from organic produce to frozen foods to fresh foods prepared by local vegan vendors.  It’s kind of out of the way from me, but I sure would like to come here more often.

Viva La Vegan Grocery

Viva La Vegan Grocery

I didn’t get much (any perishable foods would have spoiled by the time I got home hours later), but I did get some stuff I can’t easily find in my local health foods store.  (Seriously – Chocolate Inspirations products are delicious!)

Viva La Vegan Goodies

Viva La Vegan Goodies

Bright Star
9819 Foothill Blvd Unit F
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
909-980-9797

Monday – Sunday: 11 am-10 pm

Viva la Vegan
9456 Roberds St
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701
909-941-4495

Monday – Sunday: 10 am-8 pm

Great Risotto from a Box?

Risotto is that rice dish that takes forever to prepare.  One has to stand at the stove and gradually add in broth to the cooking rice.  And if you’re vegan, don’t even think it’s that easy to find a place to make you risotto free of cream, cheese, or meat broth.  I think I’ve only found one place in my life that was willing to modify their risotto recipe to accommodate my vegan diet – and this was in not-at-all-nearby Oakland.  Luckily, there is a product in a box that makes making risotto a little bit easier.

Caley & Cobb is a small business offering gourmet foods such as risotto mixes, spices, and spreads.  These products aren’t meant to be vegan, but a few of their products actually are.  I love the Mushroom Risotto, because it tastes so good and is pretty easy to make.  It comes with a rice packet and and a spice packet.  Just saute the rice in some olive oil and butter (Earth Balance) and add the spice packet and some vegetable stock.  Keep adding the stock a bit at a time until the rice is fully cooked.  Easy peasy.  I topped mine with some Parma Vegan Parmasean Cheese and ate it up.

Caley & Cobb Artisan Mushroom Risotto with Parma

Mushroom Risotto with Vegan Parmesan

Where can one find this product?  You can order by phone at 909-794-4415, but I always buy mine inside Gerrards Market at 705 West Cypress Avenue, Redlands, CA.

The Best Refried Beans are at Cuca’s

This post is going to have the most boring food photos ever, but I have to tell you about my favorite place to get a bean burrito.  Cuca’s Mexican Food started in Redlands at a little hole in the wall and have since expanded around the Inland Empire.  They now have seven locations for refried bean enthusiasts like myself.

Some locations are purely take-out.  Others are counter service only.  The location I frequent when I want to sit down and relax while I’m catching up with friends is their full service restaurant in Mentone.  When you sit down, you always get a bowl (or two or three or four…) of freshly fried tortilla chips and some of the best salsa ever!

Cuca's Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

There menu is large and consists mainly of meat and cheese laden items, but there are some vegan options.  The beans, tortilla, veggies, and guacamole are vegan for sure.  Never get the rice, because it is cooked in chicken broth.  I don’t need anything but a nice hot tortilla wrapped around their refried beans.  Sure, I’ll add a bit of that salsa, but really, I could just drink those beans.  If you know anyone from the area, chances are, they are a fan of Cuca’s.  I have waited in line and have heard conversations of people shipping Cuca’s to those unfortunate loved ones living out of state.  Of course they were probably shipping the cruel stuff, but it shows how much people love this place.  Now if only they carried some Daiya, vegan sour cream, and maybe even a little bit of Gardein.

Cuca's Bean Burrito

My boring photo of the most amazing Bean Burrito ever!

Check out their website to see which location is close to you.