vegetable diaries

smoothie power!

Posted by vegetablediaries on May 29, 2013

strawberry & banana smoothie

strawberry & banana smoothie

it’s only been a few years since i started drinking green smoothies, and they usually consist of mostly greens, lots of berries, one beet, a little knob of ginger, one banana, other seasonal fruit, and spring water. they are super delicious and a major energy boost, so i like to pack them with me on my hikes. it wasn’t until this weekend that i ventured off my smoothie track and onto simple berry smoothies, and wow! i am so amazed at how blending up berries with a frozen banana (and a little bit of spring or filtered water) is instant pleasure, and instant energy, with no crash afterwards like typical caffeinated beverages. so, now i’m addicted to my berry smoothies.. my favourites are strawberry & banana, and blueberry & banana. i whipped up a raspberry & banana smoothie last night and it was certainly delicious but it had a lot of seeds still swirling around, so it didn’t turn out as creamy as my strawberry smoothie. maybe i needed to blend it longer. speaking of blenders! i use a vitamix, which i will forever swear by. i sometimes use my vitamix 5 or 6 times in a day! anyways, i hope you give these simple berry smoothies a whirl.. they will not disappoint!

blueberry & banana smoothie

blueberry & banana smoothie

i didn’t measure, but i used about a pint or more of fresh berries, and one frozen ripe banana. i added about 1 cup of spring water.. you can’t go wrong. you can make it thick or thin.

raspberry & banana smoothie

raspberry & banana smoothie


strawberry & banana smoothie

strawberry & banana smoothie

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, raw, recipes, vegan | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

spice up your butternut!

Posted by vegetablediaries on November 18, 2012

there are lots of butternuts hanging around right now.. and maybe there is even one lurking in your kitchen. thanksgiving is four days away, and if you’re wondering what to do with these little or not so little lovelies i strongly suggest you give this recipe a try! i love turning the butternuts into fries, roasts, and soups, and today i cooked up a dal-vegetable stew from madhu gadia’s cookbook, the indian vegan kitchen. i love her cookbook.. and it’s one where you will refer to again and again. you can learn more about her here. anyways, back to the dal. the result was a creamy, spicy, savory, minty (yes, minty!) and a little bit of tangy dal stew! i topped it off with a hint of fresh cilantro. i think this would be a perfect dish at a thanksgiving meal. i know first hand that vegans tend to miss out on t-u-r-k-e-y day; the day of EATING! i know that i certainly don’t want mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls for my t-day dinner. give this recipe a try and you will be sure to please your vegetable-eaters.

p.s. i doubled the recipe since i wanted to use my entire butternut squash, and i froze half of it. i also cooked it in a big pot, not a pressure cooker. i also only pre-soaked my lentils for about 1/2 hour.

p.s.s. this is by far one of my favourite dals!

Dal-Vegetable Stew (Dhan-Saak) from The Indian Vegan Kitchen by Madhu Gadia


1/3 cup (split, hulled) toor dal

1/3 cup (split, hulled) mung dal

1/3 cup pink lentils

3 cups water

1 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 cups butternut or acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes


1 tbsp garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 cup tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2-1 tsp fenugreek seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped

1 tsp tamarind paste or 2 tbsp tamarind sauce

1/4 cup water

3 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

1. Combine toor dal, mung dal, and lentils. Wash in 3 to 4 changes of water and drain.

2. (For best results, cook in a pressure cooker. To cook in a skillet, see note below.) In a pressure cooker, add dal, 2 cups of water, turmeric, salt, squash, and eggplant. Cover the lid and put the pressure weight in place. Once pressure develops, reduce heat, and cook under pressure for 5 minutes. Cool the cooker until the pressure is removed. Open the lid carefully. The beans and vegetables should be very soft. Stir a few times.

3. In the meantime, prepare the paste: In a blender, combine garlic, ginger, tomatoes, cumin seeds, garam masala, coriander, cayenne pepper, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cilantro, mint leaves, tamarind paste, and water. Grind to a smooth paste. Set aside.

4. In a large fry pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and fry 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown. Add the paste and fry until oil separates, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

5. Add the dal mixture to the onion paste. Stir to coat dal mixture with the spices. Add 1/2 cup water, or more as needed, for desired consistency. (Mixture should have a thick, stew-like consistency.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

6. Serve hot over a bed of rice.

Note: To cook in a skillet:  After washing dals as instructed in step 1 above, soak the dals for 2 hours or longer. Drain dals. Combine drained dals, 4 cups of water, salt, turmeric, squash, and eggplant. Bring dal to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the dals and vegetables are very soft. Stir to smooth consistency. Follow steps 3 to 6 to finish cooking.

dal-vegetable stew

i also had a salad with fresh greens i bought from my local market.. i thinly sliced up some radishes and added balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cracked black pepper & salt. i couldn’t resist not taking a picture..

lettuces & paper thin radishes

Posted in cookbooks, gluten-free-friendly, indian, recipes, vegan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

got milk? you don’t need it.

Posted by vegetablediaries on November 6, 2012

Got Milk?


provided by:

Posted in uncategorized | 1 Comment »

the ravens & mendocino

Posted by vegetablediaries on June 8, 2012

at this minute i am sorely missing one of my newest favourite places. the ravens, tucked away on the coast of mendocino is absolutely, positively, magical! it’s wholesome and gourmet all at once. it’s also all vegan and gluten-free friendly. if you stay at the stanford inn by the sea (where the restaurant is located), breakfasts are included with your room stay! i’m going to post some pictures instead of writing about it, because you gotta see it to believe it.


pecan torte: the ravens





the ravens





spicy sushi roll: the ravens





hazelnut almond encrusted tempeh: the ravens





lemon custard tart: the ravens




creme brule: the ravens





comptche ukiah road, mendocino





breakfast time at the ravens





maple glazed tempeh: the ravens





buckwheat waffle: the ravens





breakfast feast at the ravens





stanford inn by the sea & lichen





sea palm spicy peanut curry: the ravens





ravens bananas split





mendocino, ca





another breakfast at the ravens





chickpea crepe with vegetables: the ravens





pancake paraphernalia: the ravens





buckwheat pancakes: the ravens





tiki flowers, mendocino





mendocino sea





mendocino sea sky & land



the ravens at stanford inn by the sea
shoreline coast highway and comptche ukiah road, mendocino, ca 95460

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, sf bay area, vegan | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

vegan food swap 2012

Posted by vegetablediaries on April 29, 2012

vegan food swap 2012! this was my first time for a food swap, vegan and otherwise, but it sounded fun, so i thought i would try it!

i was paired up to receive a box o’ goodies from luciana of it’s raining kale ( and ta-da! i’ll let the photos speak for themselves. she gave me all sorts of things:  justin’s chocolate peanut butter, home made oatmeal raisin cookies, sea snax, fancy jalapeno tortilla chips, raw ginger snap cookies, agave nectar, local chocolate, and bhutan red rice! i hope i didn’t forget anything.. thanks to luciana! it made my day to come home to a sweet package of treats.

to join the next vegan food swap go here:

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, vegan | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

i am a cinnaholic

Posted by vegetablediaries on October 13, 2010


lemon blueberry cinnamon roll at Cinnaholic


in the last six days i’ve managed to squeeze in three visits to Cinnaholic, the newish vegan cinnamon roll shop located in downtown berkeley. this photo was actually taken from visit number two.. it’s a lemon frosted, blueberry topped, heavenly little bun! i’ve never been a die-hard fan of cinnamon rolls but with Cinnaholic around i am now a die-hard fan of cinnamon rolls! their buns are tender soft, ooey gooey, lip-smacking treats.

when you visit you get to pick your choice of frosting and topping from a long list of goodies. the other combination’s i tried were pumpkin spice frosting with hazelnuts (yum!), and maple frosting with blueberries, mini chocolate chips and shredded coconut (wowo!). the maple frosted bun reminded me of french toast and the blueberries added a bit of tartness to all the sweetness. it would be great to see mini cinnamon rolls soon because their rolls are so giant. i find it hard to eat a whole one and that’s saying a lot because i’m a pretty good dessert-finisher!

2132 Oxford St
(between West Entrance & Center St)
Berkeley, CA 94704

Posted in sf bay area, vegan, vegan bakery | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

burgers, tiramisu, and lots more: a mary’s secret garden adventure

Posted by vegetablediaries on March 6, 2010

tiramisu from Mary's Secret Garden

you can never ever ever go wrong with Mary’s Secret Garden! although i’ve only eaten there a few times, every time has been such a pleasure. you can find my older post on Mary’s here.  i think this is probably my favourite vegan restaurant in southern california. i think i want to tell everyone i know to eat there. i think i’m going to start talking about my dinner now.

we started off with a small order of the fresh thai spring rolls. mmm, you have to order these! julienned carrots and cucumbers, basil leaves, smoked tofu and lettuce all wrapped up in rice paper, and served with a spicy peanut sauce. these are probably some of the best fresh spring rolls i’ve ever tasted (note: i’ve had many many fresh spring rolls!).

the secret burger--mary style at Mary's Secret Garden

for dinner i ordered the thai yellow curry stew, which included stewed kabocha squash, carrots, potatoes, red onions, ginger and basil leaves in a creamy curried coconut sauce. they offer a choice of protein and i went with the tofu. again, i think this thai yellow curry is seriously one of the best i’ve tried! it was seasoned to perfection and topped with lots of fresh cilantro, which i love! my only complaint, if you even call it that, is that it tends to cool down right away. they served it steaming hot but after a few minutes it tended to cool off. but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it. i actually could only finish half of it because it was so big, but i just ate it for lunch today and it was still so delicious!

my friend ordered the secret burger–mary style. oh my lord. i’m not a fan of burgers but this thing was tremendous! we are talking homemade secret sauce, grilled soy patty, melted cheeze (which i’m not a fond of, but it really tastes like cheese), lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, red onions, and tempeh “bakin.” i think when you order it “mary style” it includes extra sauce, pickles, avocado, and tempeh. it was crazy delicious! it also comes with a good size salad.. it was a caesar salad and off the charts good!

raw cherry ice cream at Mary's Secret Garden

we were both pretty full from dinner but the desserts sounded too heavenly to resist. the cake of the day was tiramisu, and it was the best tiramisu ever! i was expecting it to be heavy and espresso-ish but quite the contrary! it was light and fluffy and had notes of cinnamon, almond and vanilla. it’s not always available but if you see the tiramisu on the menu you must try it! we also tried the raw ice cream du jour, which was cherry almond chocolate something something. it was very yummy, too. the cherry flavor was so rich, and they drizzled chocolate sauce over the top and added slivered almonds for good measure. oh man, what a meal. thank you, Mary’s Secret Garden!

i went back the following day with my not so vegan-friendly mom. we both ordered the burgers (i got mine sans the cheeze) and they were just as tasty as ever. the side salad was mixed greens with a really lovely vinaigrette dressing. my mom was really impressed and wants to go back for more. although my last couple of meals weren’t gluten-free, Mary’s is very gluten-free-friendly and they also have many raw options. everything is clearly marked on their menu.

their menu isn’t posted on their website so here it is for you to see:

mary’s secret garden menu

Mary’s Secret Garden
100 South Fir Street
Ventura, CA 93001

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, los angeles, raw, thai, vegan, vegan ice cream | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

my appetite and the east bay: a compendium

Posted by vegetablediaries on March 2, 2010

the moderate meal at Manzanita

today i will cover three wonderful east bay eateries: Manzanita Restaurant, Vik’s Chaat Corner, and Cafe Colucci. all of them are very affordable and delicious and will summon you from far away (i write this from southern california)!

you can find my older post on Manzanita here, and as i mentioned before i find the grain at Manzanita to be a little on the mushy side. so when my friend and i had lunch we ordered our moderate meals without the grain and it was just as excellent as ever! we also didn’t waste any food. i don’t have a photo of the soup but i think it was a miso vegetable and bean soup. it was probably one of the best soups i’ve had at Manzanita.. it was hearty and loaded with veggies. the entree included split peas, dinosaur kale with some sort of dill dressing that was outstanding, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with a tahini dressing (i think), and a mixed green salad and beet dressing. i really enjoyed everything and it was also nice to sit outside in their sunny patio.

dosa from Vik's Chaat Corner

later that afternoon we headed to Vik’s Chaat Corner to snack on some dosa. by the way, Vik’s recently moved to a new location… don’t worry, it’s nearby to their old location. the new space is airy and huge! it seems like it will accommodate crowds better then their old place. when we visited it was a weekday around 3pm, so it was calm and their menu was limited. i recommend going on a weekend (although it will be crazy crowded) where they offer more menu items. the vegetable dosa is so tasty and only available on the weekends! the idlis, which are like little steamed rice & lentil cakes are also so yummy. i could drink the sambar and coconut chutney! oh, how i miss Vik’s!

veggie combo from Cafe Colucci

and last but not least, i give to you Cafe Colucci! i’ve had somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Colucci’s and lately i seem to be loving them. when i first tried them years ago i thought their food was really good, although my favourite ethiopian restaurant lives in the city of angels– Meals By Genet. anyways, i’ve had my share of not liking Colucci’s for various reasons from service to food quality, but lately they seem to be consistently really really good. i usually tend to visit them during lunch, because the veggie combo is so cheap at only $10! i always end up leaving so incredibly stuffed!

veggie combo from Cafe Colucci

Manzanita Restaurant
4001 Linden Street
Oakland, CA 94608

Vik’s Chaat Corner
2390 4th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

Cafe Colucci
6427 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609

Posted in ethiopian, gluten-free-friendly, indian, sf bay area, vegan, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

brunch & madeleine bistro

Posted by vegetablediaries on February 21, 2010

beignets at Madeleine Bistro

let’s say you’re in los angeles on a noonish sunday. when you say brunch, i’ll say Madeleine Bistro and everybody wins! you’ll want to make a reservation, as the space is intimate and a Madeleine Bistro brunch is on a lot of people’s minds. when i visited it wasn’t overly crowded out the door, but just about every table was occupied and there was a hustle and bustle all around. however it was still charming and calm and i didn’t feel rushed to eat.

beignets ready for apple compote at Madeleine Bistro

the food! first we started with a half order of the beignets, which are little cinnamon sugar coated balls of goodness served with organic apple compote. they were amazing! when you smear the apple compote in the middle of the beignet it’s like what i imagine manna would taste like. at least that is what i would want manna to taste like! the texture is incredible.. you have a crisp and sugary outside and a warm and tender inside. if you’re eating brunch at Madeleine’s you must try the beignets! it’s also like eating dessert as an appetizer.

porcini-crusted tofu benedict at Madeleine Bistro

i ordered the porcini-crusted tofu benedict, which is smoked portobella, rosti potatoes, and hollandaise sauce. it was served over a little bed of kale and garnished with asparagus. it was really nice. it doesn’t look as filling as it actually is, but i was satiated and enjoyed the smoky mushroom and potato combination. the porcini is so delicate in texture but has an intense smoky flavour that will knock your socks!

waffles and "chicken" at Madeleine Bistro

my friend ordered the waffles and “chicken”, which is belgian waffles, seitan “chicken”, mashed potatoes, and gravy. mama mia! i didn’t taste it but my friend was quite pleased. i was surprised by how much the “chicken” really looks like chicken! and just look at the size of that waffle!! oh my.

i’ve eaten dinner at Madeleine’s a few times and loved it. my non-vegan friends have loved it, too. it is pricy but for special occasions it’s definitely worth the splurge!

Madeleine Bistro
18621 Ventura Blvd.
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 758-6971

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a weekend full of mock meats, noodles & cabbages

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 26, 2010

bun bo hue at Vinh Loi Tofu

this might be vegan-sacrilege to say, but in general i’m not very fond of faux meats. i am vegan for so many reasons and one of them is that i have a strong aversion to meats, and another is that i adore plants and naturally vegan dishes, such as my mainstay, dal. however, i am always curious to try new things and my curiosity led my friends and i to experience Vihn Loi Tofu in reseda and Real Food Daily (RFD) in santa monica. i’ve been to RFD numerous times but i haven’t added them to my blog yet, so this is perfect timing.

bun bo hue at Vinh Loi Tofu

this was my first experience at Vihn Loi and it was really fun. first off, this tiny vietnamese tofu factory is located in a ubiquitous little corner mall in reseda, so parking is not ample but you can easily find street parking. there are about a bamillion things to order but we kept it simple and all got soups. one of my friends also ordered a roll.. i think it was a veggie roll but i’m not sure. it was good though and i really enjoyed the dipping sauce. for lunch i ordered the bun bo hue, which is rice noodles in a spicy broth with seasoned lemongrass tofu, shiitake mushroom, vegan chicken and beef, served with red & green shredded cabbages, bean sprouts, mint leaves, and lime. wow, when the soup is on at Vihn Loi, it is ON! the portions are humungous, i ended up taking more than half of the soup home. i loved the mint leaves and lime flavour.. it really makes the soup fresh. the vegan chicken and beef have interesting textures.. it’s not meaty, but i found them to be chewy, maybe like a dumpling. the noodles were really fun to slurp up. i noticed that the menu said to let them know if you’re allergic to gluten.. i’m not sure how aware they are of gluten allergies, so if you’re gf then you’ll definitely want to ask. also, everything at Vihn Loi is 100% MSG-free and they use certified non-GMO soybeans!

at RFD i ordered the yin yang salad with an add-on of blacked tempeh. there was cabbage, romaine, carrots, cucumbers, edamame, cilantro, sesame seeds, peanuts, and peanut dressing. this was also quite a large salad and i had to take it home, but it was delicious and i’m glad i got to eat it twice!

yin yang salad at Real Food Daily

one of my friends ordered the club triple decker, which is seitan, tempeh bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, vegenaise, and sourdough bread, served next to a big caesar salad. i had a taste and the seitan really does taste like meat, which for me, i’m not crazy about, but it was interesting nonetheless. most of the times i have been to RFD have been with omnivores and usually carnivores, and they almost always end up enjoying the food. and i usually hear how their plant-based meal made them feel energetic and not heavy. YAY! on my way out i stopped in the RFD bakery (which is next door to the restaurant) and i got the pecan sour cream coffee cake to go. i don’t have a photo, but oh my gosh, it was so scrumptious! it reminded me of those hostess cinnamon coffee cakes i would eat as a kid.. but A LOT better, and better for you.

the club triple decker at Real Food Daily

Vinh Loi Tofu
18625 Sherman Way, #101
Reseda, CA 91335

Real Food Daily
514 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(they also have another location in west hollywood)

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, los angeles, vegan, vegan bakery, vietnamese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »