SoCal Veg Fest at OCC

The first annual SoCal Veg Fest happened this month on World Vegan Day – November 1.  It was a beautiful day at Orange Coast College and I thought this event went very smoothly.  I applaud the organizers not only because I personally know how super-cool they are, but because this was the first time a first annual vegan event didn’t turn out to be a total cluster fuck.  The location was large enough for the crowd, it was free to attend, free parking was provided, there was enough shade, there were many speakers and cooking demos to fill your time, and the lines at the food vendors weren’t absurdly long.  I look forward to attending this event next year.

SoCal Veg Fest

SoCal Veg Fest

Quite a few food vendors were out giving free samples of their vegan products.  I know this was a big part of what the day was about.  A popular flea market was happening nearby, and I know the organizers wanted any of those attendees curious enough about a veg fest to have the opportunity to try some delicious vegan food.  Good idea indeed.  I got some of those samples – but also paid to get some more food.  First stop was a group serving up food from Vegi Wokery.  I bet the Combo Plate would be delicious in the restaurant, but it was not so amazing when being served out of a tent.  I’ll have to hit up the actual restaurant one day.

Vegi Wokery Menu

Vegi Wokery Menu

Vegi Wokery Combo Plate

Vegi Wokery Combo Plate

After chatting with some friends, I decided to try Plant Food for People.  I think I’ve tried them before – maybe when they were first starting out? Everyone says they love them and they were, in fact, delightful.  The the Torta (#5) was nice, but way too much bread (or maybe just not enough filling?).  The Quesadilla (#7) was not what I was expecting. It was two small hard tortillas sandwiching a small portion of filling. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it was the grilled soft flour tortilla quesadilla I thought I was getting.

Plant Food for People Menu

Plant Food for People Menu

Plant Food for People Torta and Quesadilla

Plant Food for People Torta and Quesadilla

Donut Friend is such a friend to the vegan community.  They always seem to come out to every vegan event.  Even though I live in LA and it wouldn’t be too hard for me to make the trek from west of the 405 to Highland Park, I never seem to get to their store.  I really should go more often – their donuts are amazing.  I got the Fritter Seems Forever (the best!), Husker Blu (yum!), Pumpkin Piebald (pumpkin deliciousness!), and X-Ray Speculoos (love speculoos, but ruined by the sea salt topping). I really could have gotten them all, but I must set some boundaries.

Donut Friend Menu

Donut Friend Menu

Donut Friend

Donut Friend

While waiting in line for my donuts, the woman in front of me was eating something that I thought I must have.  Turns out, it was a Pumpkin Cheesecake from Mother’s Market.  This. Was. Good.  I wish Mother’s Market came to LA.

Mother's Market Pumpkin Cheesecake

Mother’s Market Pumpkin Cheesecake

And lastly, I just wanted to show you some of the awesome cupcakes from their cupcake competition. It was a wonderful addition to the event and many winners went home with fun gift bags after three judges tasted every single cupcake (where can I sign up for that job?!).

Cupcake Competition

Cupcake Competition

Thank you so much to all the people who worked so hard finding the space, vendors, speakers, and everything else to make this event a huge success!

Advertisements

You Can Eat More, Because It’s Healthy Junk, Right?

And I certainly did eat more on a recent trip to Healthy Junk in Anaheim.  As you may remember, I have been here before.  And as you may also remember, I completely stuffed myself at that visit, as well.

The No Fish and Chips ($9.95) are one of my favorites here (my other favorite is the nachos – which you can see at my previous post).  These strips of “Fish” are really crispy and actually have that fishy taste!  The tartar sauce is nice, but is about half creamy dip and half chopped onions.  I could have done with less onions and more creamy dip.  It is served with some potatoes, which were tasty but a little soggy.  That might have been my fault, though, since I may have let them sit too long.

Healthy Junk Fish and Chips

No Fish and Chips

I had a moment of weakness and decided to get a salad.  The thought of juicy, sweet mango overcame me and I ordered the Mango Tango ($7.95).  This salad is loaded with romaine lettuce, quinoa, jicama, tomato, mango, and avocado.  It is then drizzled with their mango dressing.  I liked this salad, but didn’t love it.  I thought there was too much jicama (which is kind of watery and dilutes the other flavors in your mouth).  I also don’t like raw onions or cucumber in my salad and this came with it (not mentioned on the menu).  I might get it again, but without all that stuff.  The dressing was very good.

Healthy Junk Mango Salad

Mango Tango

My entree (as if I needed to eat anything else!) was the BBQ Burger with Slaw ($6.45).  Their meat strips, I believe, are seitan which are covered in BBQ sauce and then topped with a cool slaw.  This was a good burger and I’d get it again.  The whole wheat bun was good and not too “wheaty” – plus it makes you feel healthy (hence the name of the place).

Healthy Junk BBQ Burger

BBQ Burger

The Strawberry Shake ($5.50) was kind of a let down.  It was more like strawberry non-dairy milk.  The flavor was ok, but just too runny for me.  Go with the chocolate shake – it’s a lot better.

Healthy Junk Strawberry Shake

Strawberry Shake

And I tried a healthy take on a vegan Brownie ($2.95).  Honestly, I don’t think this brownie was all that more healthy than a regular brownie.  No cholesterol for sure, but probably still quite a bit of sugar and fat.  Oh well – sometimes a girl just wants a brownie!  The brownie itself was not too phenomenal, but topped with that fudgy frosting – oh wow!  This was one of the better vegan brownies I’ve had – ’cause we all know how hard it is to find a good vegan brownie!  There were mini chocolate chips baked in, which made the chocolate explosion even greater.  I’ll be getting this one again, for sure!

Healthy Junk Brownie

Brownie

Healthy Junk is one of my new favorite vegan places in Orange County.  They mentioned once that they were thinking of opening a second location in South Orange County.  I hope they do – sometimes Anaheim is just too far to drive from Central/South Orange County.

201 Center St. Promenade Unit B
Anaheim, California 92805
714-772-5865

Monday – Saturday 11am – 8pm

Junk Food That’s Healthy

Vegan MoFo Day 23:

Healthy Junk in Anaheim.  Get on it… Seriously.

They have revamped downtown Anaheim and it now has a bunch of cute boutiques and a food court-type place that houses the newest vegan watering hole.  It’s got all the vegan junk food you loved as an omnivore, without the “omni” part.  Just take their Nachos ($5.50) – these tortilla chips are loaded with black beans, taco meat, chez sauce, tomatoes, and avocado cream.  They did not skimp on the toppings!  I think these might be my new favorite vegan nachos.

Healthy Junk Nachos

Nachos

Another snack I tried was the Curly Yam Fries ($4.95).  A friend ordered this, so I thought they were onion rings at first (they look like it, right?).  The flavor was awesome – not to mention I loved the BBQ and Ranch sauces they drizzled over them.  However, they were a bit too mushy – something you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at them.

Healthy Junk Curly Fries

Curly Fries

My entree was their Classic Burger ($6.45) and I opted to add chez and bacon for an extra $2.  I liked the burger – typical soy patty and a great bun.  I did feel that they could have added more chez and the bacon was more like a slice of vegan ham (still good, though).

Healthy Junk Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon Cheeseburger

And I got a BLT ($5.95) to-go for my vegan guy.  It was also quite nice, but I wouldn’t call it a BLT.  It was more like a ham sandwich.

Healthy Junk BLT

BLT

And they have shakes!!  I’m an insane person when it comes to shakes, so I had to try their Chocolate Shake ($5.50).  I thought it was delicious!  Even better than their Strawberry Shake (more on that in a later post).  I also had a sip of my friend’s Pumpkin Shake (which is available for a short time only) and thought it was extremely good, too! I heard it’s made with tofu and pumpkin spices and some other stuff.  Way better than I thought it would be.

Healthy Junk Chocolate Shake

Chocolate Shake

Let me take a moment to say that my friend “J” is awesome!!  We happened to be with a large group and it happened to be the day before my birthday, so she went ahead and did what I dream to do at every vegan restaurant – order one of each of the desserts!  The first was not really a dessert, but still so good.  The Cornbread Muffin had the perfect amount of cornmeal flavor and sweetness.  It comes with a small container of vegan butter to make it even more tasty.

Healthy Junk Corn Muffin

Corn Muffin

The Apple Crisp is gluten free.  It was a nice dessert.  My only problem was that the crust was super hard to cut – making sharing difficult.

Healthy Junk Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp (GF)

The Chocolate Chip Cookie was giant and thick!  Definitely one of the favorites of this evening.

Healthy Junk Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie

My birthday cake turned out to be Carrot Cake.  This one is super moist and topped with vanilla frosting.  Talk about dessert overload!!  I still have one more…

Healthy Junk Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

The Fall special is a Yam Pie.  I think this one is also gluten free, but you’ll have to ask about that one.  It’s like cream on a crust.  I thought it was good, but the raisins or cranberries (or whatever they were) were kind of a weird chewy thing amongst the delicious creaminess.  Next time I might just pick those off and eat them separately.

Healthy Junk Yam Pie

Yam Pie (GF)

I love it here.  Order at the counter and then sit and wait for them to bring you your amazing food.

Healthy Junk

Healthy Junk

201 Center St. Promenade Unit B
Anaheim, California 92805
714-772-5865

Monday – Saturday 11am – 8pm

Loving Hut Inside the Brea Mall

Vegan MoFo Day 17:

I don’t remember the last time I ate in a mall’s food court.  The closest thing to food court food I’ve eaten in the past decade would probably be at a no longer existent location of California Pizza Kitchen ASAP at a fancy Orange County mall (their delicious hummus and pea and barley soup are vegan).  It’s kind of weird to dine in a food court as a vegan.  Most of the time there is nothing to eat but a standard bean burrito or sometimes a smoothie.  The giant vegan food chain know as Loving Hut is changing that – well, at least at the Brea Mall.  This was the first time I’ve gone to a mall just to visit their food court…. and I’ll be back.

Loving Hut Brea

Loving Hut Brea

The guy at the counter seemed new and looked as if he was only in control of the Chinese portion of the menu.  When I asked him questions about other items on the menu, he kept having to go back and get the lady in charge to help me.  I asked her about the Dragon Roll  and she responded with a description of something I had to try.  It’s filled with soy protein, cucumber, and avocado.  I asked to hold the cucumber and only drizzle a little bit of the spicy mayo sauce on top and absolutely love it!  The sauce actually wasn’t that spicy, so next time I might ask for more.  I can’t emphasize how much I love plain avocado rolls, so add some extra vegan goodness to it and you’ve just blown my mind.

Loving Hut Dragon Roll

Dragon Roll

I was also going to get a burrito, but the lady in charge said it was no good (I guess she meant it – the burritos are no longer on the menu).  So instead I got a Crispy Chicken Sandwich (which is also no longer on the online menu).  I thought this sandwich was also fantastic.  They really made the chicken crispy.  The bun was also tasty and the toppings were simple and fresh.  It looks like they have varied up their new sandwich menu with crispy patties with other toppings, so try one of those.

Loving Hut Spicy Crispy Burger

Spicy Crispy Burger

And I couldn’t resist getting some of the Chinese food displayed in front on steam tables.  This is that greasy take-out Chinese food that is so good, but not so good for you.  I got the Two Item Combo which comes with Chow Mein Noodles and Fried Rice.  The first item was a single Egg Roll and the second was some Tofu (I can’t remember which kind).  Seriously good.  I wish I was closer and they delivered.

Loving Hut Chinese Buffet

Chinese Buffet

I know where my next meal is coming from when I’m passing through Brea.  And I think you should try it, too.

1065 Brea Mall
Food Court Store 2163
Brea, CA 92821
714-990-2261

Monday-Friday: 10am – 9pm
Saturday: 10am – 7pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm

Vegan FroYo at Tutti Frutti

Vegan MoFo Day 15:

Have you heard?!  Tutti Frutti has soy frozen yogurt!  They have all the nutritional information on their website.  It lists quite a few flavors, but I have only tried the Vanilla and Peanut Butter.  This was at their Marina Del Rey location.  I’ve also been to the one in Los Angeles on Wilshire, but they only had the peanut butter flavor.  The Irvine location got rid of it due to low demand.  I liked the flavor (more sweet and less tangy), but my vegan guy thought there was a chalky aftertaste.  I can kind of see what he means, but it didn’t bother me that much.

Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt

Vanilla and Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurts

So go out and try it.  If you like it, keep buying it – or it just might be gone forever.

Vegan at zPizza

Vegan MoFo Day 9:

Daiya vegan cheese has really revolutionized vegan pizza.  I remember when vegan pizza was just a mythical creature in childhood fables.  Now, vegan pizza can be found all over the place.  On a recent trip to Tennessee, it seemed vegan pizza was our only vegan option.  Progress, I tell you.

zPizza is a national pizza chain that is helping spread the gospel of vegan pizza.  They have a pizza called the Berkeley that is full of veggies and fake meat.  I never was a fan of real meat on my pizza, so I tend to just stick to veggies – which is what my vegan guy and I did on our last trip to zPizza.  We got a vegan Mushroom and Olive Pizza.  The crust is a one-size fits all kind of crust:  not to thick and not too thin.  I like it.

zPizza Mushroom and Olive Pizza

Mushroom and Olive Pizza

But my vegan guy likes the fake meat, so he got a Hawaiian Pizza to eat the next day.  They put a good amount of hearty-sized bits of the fake meat and look at all the pineapple.  Fruit on a pizza is a great way to get your 5-a-day!

zPizza Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiian Pizza

Check their website to see where your local zPizza might be.

Shhh – there’s vegan food at The Secret Spot

I wish The Secret Spot was… well… a little more secret.  It’s this tiny cafe in Huntington Beach that is run by a bunch of youngins and some older surfer dude that is very welcoming to the customers.  However, like a lot of the reviews say, it takes awhile to get your food.  When I went, there was a longish line that moved very, very slowly.  I expected it, so no biggie.  I had gone once on a winter’s night and it was A LOT faster.

It was a weekend morning and I wanted something I don’t normally have, so my vegan guy and I decided to go here.  I saw on their board that they now had vegan pancakes, so I knew what I was getting.  It was a good thing, too, because their menu is a little confusing for vegans.  I wish they had a “can be prepared vegan” icon next to those items that are veganize-able.

The story of the Vegan Pancakes goes like this.  They looked good, came with syrup and some vegan butter, so I was excited.  I poured the syrup onto the pancakes and saw that the consistency was not like maple syrup (or even agave nectar) – was it honey?!!  I was worried that I had just ruined my vegan pancakes with a non-vegan product (well, not vegan for me).  I asked and the chef said that the syrup was vegan.  She went to get the container and presented me with a giant bottle of corn syrup- corn syrup?!!  Gross!  Who puts corn syrup on their pancakes?  I don’t, and will certainly not in the future, as well. I mean, the pancakes were decent, but that corn syrup was just not good.  The side of potatoes was not good, either.  It was full of bell peppers (yuck).

The Secret Spot Vegan Pancake with Fruit

Vegan Pancake with Fruit

My vegan guy went with another menu item that we deciphered to be vegan – their Western Garden Nut Wrap.  It’s made with their vegan meat substitute and grilled with organic greens, tomato, avocado and homemade BBQ sauce in a spinach tortilla.  I thought this dish was decent, although I don’t think my vegan guy was too enthusiastic about it.

The Secret Spot Wrap

Western Garden Nut Wrap

And I also saw they had vegan desserts.  I wanted to try their Vegan Hostess cake, but was sorry I did.  This was just a not-very-good tasting chocolate cupcake with a small scribble of vanilla frosting on top.  Hello?!  Hostess is supposed to have that chocolate ganache topping.  Not good, guys, not good.

The Secret Spot Hostess Cake

Hostess Cake

If you want to go to The Secret Spot, I recommend going at an off hour.  You’ll have plenty of questions, and they’ll be able to help you best when there aren’t a lot of customers waiting in line.  Good luck!

3801Warner Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
562-592-4494

Monday: 8 am-9 pm
Saturday: 8 am-9 pm
Sunday:8 am-7 pm

Breakfast at Mother’s Market

Mother’s Market is an awesome place.  Not only is it a great grocery store filled with vegan food, but some locations have a sit down restaurant (available at Brea, Costa Mesa, Laguna Woods, Irvine, and Huntington Beach).  It’s one of the few places in Orange County to get a vegan breakfast – and it’s a good one, too!  The menu is entirely vegetarian (with one tuna dish) and most things can be made vegan if they aren’t already.

The newest member to the vegan breakfast menu are their Gluten Free Pancakes ($9.95).  They come with a healthy side of fruit.  These pancakes are really good.  Most people think gluten free foods are gross (and I agree a lot are), but not these pancakes.  They didn’t even taste gluten free.  I hope they don’t take these off the menu.

Mother's Market Pancakes

GF Pancakes

My vegan guy got the Ma’s Breakfast Melt ($8.95): two slices of toasted sourdough stuffed with tofu, avocado slices, vegan cheese, tomatoes and choice of “fakin’ bacon” or ”Gimme Lean” veggie sausage. It’s served with your choice of  herb roasted potatoes or organic brown rice.  I think my vegan guy thought it was too tofu-y, but I love that type of stuff.  I had a bite and thought it was delicious.

Mother's Market Ma's Breakfast Melt

Ma’s Breakfast Melt

Mother’s also serves lunch and dinner – and they have an incredible selection of juice, smoothies, and shakes.  I’ll have to post some of my favorites from those menus sometime!

¡Hola! from Native Foods

It seemed both my vegan guy and I were craving a bit of mexican inspired cuisine, because we both picked something with that south of the border taste at Native Foods.  My vegan guy went with the Nachos ($7.95): corn tortilla chips covered in black beans, Native Taco Meat, Native Chipotle Crema, Native Cheese, salsa fresca, and guacamole.  I’ll say it over and over, but I love cashew cheese (which is what the Native cheese is).  It’s just so creamy!  And it goes well on these nachos.  In fact, everything in the nachos tastes exceptionally well.

Native Foods Nachos

Nachos

Unlike the nachos, my Roasted Chile Taco Trio ($7.95) was not so great.  It sounded good with refried beans, roasted jalapenos and layered with brown rice, mango salsa, guacamole and cilantro.  But, sadly, the difficulty in eating them was just not worth the taste.  I prefer soft tacos or burritos over hard shelled tacos, but I definitely prefer hard shelled tacos over this mini taco salad shell crap.  Who eats a taco like this?  I expect to bite into a taco – not break off a piece of shell and scoop up the filling.  No bueno on the presentation, Native Foods.

Native Foods Tacos

Tacos

Who knows when this item will be taken off the menu, since they change it so frequently.  Get it while you can (if you so desire).

Quick Bite at Sushi Laguna

Most of us know that vegans can eat the basic vegetable roll at sushi restaurants.  Something I didn’t know for a long time was that some miso soups contained a fish broth (yuck!)  Now I diligently ask if the miso soup is vegetarian at all sushi places.  One place I know is ok for vegans is Sushi Laguna in Laguna Beach.  This is my favorite omnivorous sushi restaurant and I’ll tell you why (did you honestly think I wouldn’t?).

They have the vegetarian Miso Soup that I love.

Sushi Laguna Miso Soup

Miso Soup

And they always have the creamiest Avocado Rolls ever!  They are seriously some of the best avocado rolls I’ve had. Really, it’s a boring post, but it’s true.  And the rolls aren’t too expensive either.  They used to be $4.50, but I think they might be $4.75 now.  I’ve been to places that charge $8 for some crappy roll, so I think Sushi Laguna is a deal.

Sushi Laguna Avocado Rolls

Avocado Rolls

231 Ocean Ave
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

(949) 376-8786

Monday  – Thursday: 11:30 am-2 pm & 5:30 pm-10 pm
Friday: 11:30 am-2:30 pm & 5:00 pm-11 pm
Saturday: 12 pm-11 pm
Sunday: 12 pm-9 pm