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Loving Hut Seattle

Rock climbing seems to be a pretty hot activity in Seattle right now — quite a few people I’ve met randomly recently climb. Even my college friend Ben has traded his viola for ropes and harnesses, as I learned on his recent visit.

I never thought I’d embrace the idea of using physical strength to defy gravity, being both loris-armed and somewhat afraid of heights, but I visited the Seattle Bouldering Project with a coworker recently and am now hooked — there’s something about overcoming the challenge of a scaling a wall that gives one great satisfaction. There’s also a social element that I haven’t quite tapped into.

My brother has been climbing for years and introduced me to the sport in 2010, but until SBP opened last year, there wasn’t really a convenient location to consistently climb — Stone Gardens in Ballard is a fun afternoon (energize with goodies from Wild Prairie, maybe?), but a trek from Capitol Hill.

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Climbing at SBP makes for part of a really nice Saturday outing by bicycle: coast down to Ranier (wheee!), work up a sweat on the walls, go shopping across the street at Goodwill, and then bike around the corner for lunch/dinner somewhere in the ID. (Uhhh, and then pedal your stuffed, exhausted, over-thrifted self home up to the Hill.)

VegNews has been talking up Loving Hut for ages, and while I’ve walked past their Palo Alto and San Francisco locations, I never ventured in to the Seattle Loving Hut on S. Jackson and Rainier until I started bouldering — it’s right on my way home.

Every Loving Hut has a different menu, allowing a somewhat individual experience across the franchise. Compared to, say the San Francisco menu, Seattle’s seems a little weak, but nevertheless has a decent selection of vegan Vietnamese food and a few American-style sandwiches. Here’s what I’ve tried across three visits (two on Saturday afternoon, one on a Thursday evening).

Golden Tofu

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This appetizer has a crispy outside and soft tofu inside and hints of scallion, with a peppery sauce drizzled with vegan mayo. A little bland, but nice texture. Hints of scallion. There’s a bit of a chicken mcnuggety oil flavor, which is actually pretty nice — they’re deep-fried, but not overly greasy. Delicious.

Veggie Wrap

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I was not into this. In general, I don’t do fake shrimp, and this comes with tofu (good), fake ham (also good) and fake shrimp (blech). Also, the wrap, made from mung beans, has a flavor that didn’t appeal to me. I don’t really know how to explain it. I did really like the chewy texture and the dipping sauce.

Szechwan Strips

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These were excellent! A light but flavorful sauce, with just the right level of saltiness. The wheat gluten achieves the perfect texture for seitan: not too soft and not too chewy, lightly fried around the edges.

Crispy Nugget Salad

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This was pretty tasty — fried soy protein chunks over lettuce, tomato and cucumber in a poppy seed dressing. I didn’t pay as much attention to this as I might have. Explanation to follow.

Thai Iced Tea

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I love the jasmine undertones of Thai iced tea, but this was just too sweet for my tastebuds. I was super pumped to have Thai Iced Tea for the first time in years, but could only drink half the glass. Major bummer.

Takeaways

I generally liked the food at Loving Hut, but there are a couple of reasons that I have hesitations recommending the place.

First, Loving Hut is a cult. A tasty, tasty cult, but there’s an element of weirdness nonetheless in the white bamboo furniture, closed circuit TV broadcasting Supreme Master Ching Hai’s messages of love and peace, and vegan propaganda posters on the wall. I’m all about veganism, obviously, but pushing it so persistently totally skeeves me out — I’m already there; don’t assume that I need convincing.

Second, and much, much pettier: on my most recent visit, the owners’ daughter, an impossibly cute 7-year-old, asked me how my meal was before I had started, then proceeded to saddle up at the table and interrogate me with questions.

I’m not particularly fond of children (I know, I know, this makes me the worst person ever), and though she was super adorable, I really wished that she had just left me to enjoy the meal that I had broken my budget for (I paid a huge vet bill for Zeno recently, and meals out have become a luxury). Several staff members walked by and ignored our interactions until finally her father came over and shooed her away.

To me, this is a deal-breaker in a restaurant — it doesn’t matter how good the food is: patrons should be able to sculpt their own dining experience without interruption. I get that it’s summer vacation and all, but I’m not paying to be a babysitter.

However, I generally liked the food, there are a lot of dishes I still want to try, and at roughly $10 a pop, it’s not a terrible indulgence. So, I’ll go back with a friend who’s a bit better at avoiding first-graders — and won’t order anything that has fake shrimp.

Seattle vegan blogger meetup in photos

Vegan bloggers from around the Puget Sound descended on the home of one Ms. Vegan Score on Friday, February 17 for drinks, conversation, and oodles of delicious vegan food.

We feasted upon:

  • Dawn’s version of the spiced nuts from Bryant Terry’s new cookbook, The Inspired Vegan (so perfect with cocktails!)
  • Megan’s pigs in a blanket and fantastic stuffed mushrooms
  • Brittany’s dreamy black-bottom cupcakes
  • Bethany’s melt-in-your-mouth cheddar scones
  • Alicia’s savory marinated mushrooms
  • Molly’s decadent 7 layer dip
  • Rugelach and gumdrops from Whole Foods, brought by Kent (I like his paintings quite a bit)
  • Rhean’s OMFG-amazing soy curl sloppy joe’s, coleslaw, and mini buns
  • Anika’s fresh-squeezed juice cocktails

I made some lemon-chili-nooch kale chips and the brownies from the Joy of Vegan Baking.

Here are some pics of us all noshing and chatting (my apologies in advance for iPhone photo quality and any closed eyes or chewing mouths):

Thank you, Anika, again for opening your home! It was great fun.

Great Pioneer Square vegan options

A couple of my coworkers work remotely. On their most recent visit to the office, I overheard one of them tell my boss that he couldn’t wait to get back to Ohio because when he visits our Pioneer Square office, he only eats out.

“I miss vegetables when I’m here,” he said.

Now, I can think of a number of superlatives for Pioneer Square — “most likely place to hook up with jailbait in the bathroom of a skeezy club on a Friday night,” “greatest odds of seeing a homeless man’s dog give birth,” and a close runner up (behind only Pike Place Market) for “Greatest urge to punch a tourist in the face while walking down the street” — but ”least likely place to eat a vegetable” is not one of them. I eat vegetables all the time in Pioneer Square.

Here’s my list of great vegan lunch and snacking options. Many (but not all) of them do include a full serving of vegetables.

Pho Fuschia — I really like their veggie pho because, unlike some places (*cough* Than Bros *cough*), Pho Fuschia’s pho includes a ton of veggies. Be sure to ask for vegetarian broth — they’ll beef stock you if you don’t. 12/27/12 update: haven’t eaten here in a while — they’ve MSG’d me a few too many times.

The Berliner Doner Kebab — I order the tofu in a spinach wrap with some hot sauce, and it never feels like anything is missing, though you will need to ask them to hold the curry sauce and the cheese.

Coco Banana — This is the only salad bar in Pioneer Square. They also offer smoothies, tthough I’m not sure which of the smoothies are vegan — I mainly just win friends with their salad. They have large signs with customers sipping said smoothies hanging in their windows, and one of these is an acquaintance of mine, and his massive face always freaks me out a little. (Update 12/13/11: I haven’t confirmed, but one of my coworkers thinks there’s fish sauce in the sesame noodles.)

Cherry Street Coffee House — I stop in sometimes on my way to work for a gluten-free vegan muffin. They also proudly feature vegan lunch options, but I haven’t tried these yet.

Uwajimaya — If you’re feeling scrapped for produce, Uwajimaya is both a grocery store and food court. The gomaki inari from the sushi section is my default lunch, and I’m often tempted by mochi, duk, various banchan and exotic fruit when buying them. I also found Stonewall’s Jerquee on my last visit, which pretty much made my day. And, if you need cute non-food stuff from Japan, they have that too. And beer!

Grand Central Bakery — Grand Central typically has some sort of tofu-based vegetarian sandwich on the menu [like the tofuben or the tofCuban (not their official names)], and if you order it without dairy products, you’re basically left with grilled tofu and minimal other stuff, like sauerkraut or grilled peppers, on toasted bread every time. But it’s really, really well flavored grilled tofu, so you actually forgive yourself for ordering tofu on toast. Some of their soups are also sometimes vegan. However, they have the absolute slowest service on the face of the planet, so don’t go if you actually have work to do that day.

Elliott Bay Cafe — this underground cafe and coffee spot always has vegan entrees and breakfast options on the menu, and every time I’ve been in, one of the daily soups is vegan too. The menu is seasonal, but some of my favorites have been the Almost Raw salad, Beans and Greens, and their sweet potato sandwich. However, they’re recently changed their menu, and some of this goodness is no longer available. I’m also a huge fan of the ginger molasses cookie, which isn’t always labelled as vegan (but is.) If you’re lucky, they’ll have vegan pie. Finally, two words: rice milk.

Update (12/9/11): EBC is “closed for maintenance,” per a sign on the door, and has been for a few weeks. No word on the sign as to when maintenance will be completed – huge bummer. Update (4/27/12): Yep, they’re gone. *sob.*

Cafe Paloma — this is really more of a sit-down meet-a-date-after-work kind of place than somewhere you pick up lunch to eat mindlessly at your desk while looking at pictures of kittens (and now you know how I spend my lunch breaks), but the falafel is excellent.

Specialty’s — located at the very edge of the ID, Specialty’s offers the Dawn’s Vegan salad, a delightful and complete mix of veggies, black beans, artichoke hearts and avocado, and delicious cookie smells that we vegans can only partake olfactoraly.

Mediterranean Mix — Get a falafel sandwich from Mediterranean Mix when you want to go into a post-lunch food coma or don’t want to eat for the rest of the day: it’s massive. The falafel is slightly lemony, and I really like how they also include whole fava beans among the sandwich fixin’s– never seen that before.

Blazing Bagels — is in Safeco (like, embedded in the outer wall), so it’s a bit of a hike, but they offer tofu cream cheese. My go-to is cucumber, tomato and caper with tofu cream cheese on an everything bagel. So. good.

Cafe Vita — the closest resource for Mighty-O donuts. The staff always seems a little friendlier than their Capitol Hill location, but that might be just because I’ve never been into the Pioneer Square location in my sweats.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory — vegan chocolate-covered Oreos, chocolate-covered pretzels, and chocolate-covered marzipan. Need I say more?

Taco del Mar – sure, TDM’s burrito-wrapping skills are notoriously poor, but sometimes you just need a mondito vegan burrito (and yes, vegan burrito is actually an option on the menu). Beans, rice, guac, lettuce (always lettuce), tomato, pico de gallo, and hot sauce makes for one satisfying lunch, one that falls apart the moment you remove the aluminum foil. Seriously, send your burrito artists to tortilla school, Taco del Mar!

Little Italy: If you need a classy place to take business guests out for lunch, I would heartily recommend this joint. It is definitely, most certainly, absolutely not a vegan restaurant by any means, but the wonderfully Italian proprietor will whip up something for you. I had a mushroom risotto, heavy on the rosemary and garlic. Yum. The tastefully decorated exposed-brick walls will impress clients, while the $7.95 lunchtime price tag will not break your company’s bank. (added 12/9/11)

Zeitgeist: I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but Zeitgeist is a pretty good option. They supposedly (unconfirmed) have rice milk in addition to soy, and have raw sugar cubes at the milk station. My omni coworkers love their breakfast sandwiches, but there hasn’t been much for vegans to eat until now: they recently started selling Flying Apron baked goods, including Flying Apron brownies. Do yourself a favor and go get a brownie. Now. (added 12/15/11)

Pho Cyclo: Okay, with its 2nd and Marion location, Pho Cyclo isn’t really in Pioneer Square, but it’s not too far of a walk, and their tofu bahn mi (no mayo — a rep has confirmed that the bread and tofu are vegan) makes a tasty, filling, and cheap ($3.45) lunch. (added 12/22/11)

Thai Curry Simple: another offering from the ID. This cash-only lunch spot is located on the same block of 5th Ave S as Joe’s bar (aka, the sketchiest place in Seattle, possibly America), and while it’s not a fancy joint, is a welcoming and bustling one (and not shady at all). They have a rotating daily tofu curry, advertised as being without fish sauce or MSG, that runs only $6 and sauce mixes you can buy for home use. (added 4/27/12)

Gaba Sushi: Gaba uses sprouted brown rice and makes a really nice roll with tofu and edamame hummus that falls apart when you dip it into one of their speciality sauces (the non-creamy ones are vegan) but is tasty. It’s a little overpriced compared to what you can get at Uwajimaya, but makes you feel a little healthier. Unfortunately, the miso soup is not vegan. Also, don’t mistake the big glob of wasabi on the tray for edamame hummus that’s fallen out of the roll like I did. (added 12/27/12)

Where’s your favorite vegan place to eat in Pioneer Square and beyond?

Image by dougtone via Creative Commons.

Brunch at The Redwood

The Redwood has been good to me for as long as I’ve lived in Seattle.

There are 5 things that set it above other Capitol Hill bars:

  1. Happy hour until 8
  2. Pac Man table
  3. Free peanuts
  4. Dogs allowed
  5. Vegan-friendly Sunday brunch

Yes, vegan brunch — the greatest of meals made even greater. The Redwood has probably 7 or 8 items on their brunch menu, plus a couple of additional specials each Sunday, but all of them — I repeat: all of them — can be made vegan.

And this isn’t just “hold the cheese” vegan — they substitute Follow your Heart for cheddar and Tofutti cream cheese for regular. Ask for soymilk for your coffee and you’ll get a shotglass full.

tofus rancheros with homefries and veggie sausage

My favorite dishes are the tofus rancheros (see above) and the chicken-fried veggie steak served with (optional) biscuits and gravy (not pictured) — you’ll be full for a week if you get the biscuit, but c’mon —  soooo good. Most options come with crispy homefries and your choice of protein. One of these days, I’m finally going to order the stuffed French toast — I tend to be more of a savory bruncher, but it sounds fantastic.

Despite the vegan-friendliness of the menu, taxidermy hangs on the walls and one of the bathrooms is wallpapered in diagrams of where to shoot small fuzzy creatures for maximum kill potential. So, kind of a dichotomy. Having spent formative periods of my life in Maine and Michigan, the presence of taxidermy doesn’t bother me that much, though I certainly do not support the practice and understand how it might offend other vegans. So, take this into account.

Some sort of tofu scramble

The Redwood is your typical Capitol Hill young person (okay, I’ll say it: hipster) hangout, meaning that service is spotty. For example, on my first trip, we got there right when they opened at 11 a.m. and had to wait 15 minutes for the chef to arrive — the waitress was very sweet, though not really all that apologetic.

It’s a great place to just sit and drinking beer at any hour, though I can’t safely recommend the Redwood for non-brunch meals — I only ordered their sort of squishy and tasteless veggie meatloaf sliders once, and the spicy fries are just regular fries with spicy, dairy-containing sauce (and when I asked for the sauce without dairy, they were very huffy about it) — but brunch is awesome. I’ve never had an unfriendly server at brunch. Or a bad meal.

Go at 11 or 11:30 a.m. — it won’t be crowded. Get a mimosa (or a pitcher of mimosa!), order some food, enjoy the music (I’ll say this about Capitol Hill young people bars: they do tend to play good music), and watch whatever game is playing on the big projected screen.

The Redwood
514 E Howell St
Seattle, WA 98102

(206) 329-1952

Hours:
Mon-Sat 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Sun 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.


Wedgewood II Vegetarian Thai

Fish sauce sneaks into Thai food like a cat crawls into an open underwear drawer and hides, so that you shut it, then think he’s escaped, and you break into tears of bitter despair because he’s your little furry baby and he wouldn’t make it for a second on the mean streets of Capitol Hill, with the cars and the drunks and the crazy hipster kids. He’s too cute and sheltered for a life outdoors!!

Then you hear that fish sauce scratching and you know that it’s actually been there all along, laying low.

Wouldn’t it be nice to dine lavishly on a coconutty curry without worry of anything fishy swimming next to your tofu?

This is why I love Wedgewood II Vegetarian Thai on Broadway (between Harrison & Republican): no fish sauce. One of the many reasons I love Wedgewood II, actually.

The ambiance is cozy and modern, with wood paneling and orange plexiglass adding warmth and color — it’s one of those interiors that really makes one regret having not become an architect.

[Then one remembers all of the crappy CAD drawings that one looked at in a previous life, and is content to just eat in this splendor rather than making a career of it.]

Service is prompt and efficient. The staff doesn’t try to push anything on you (no “who’s ready for dessert?”) but you may need to ask for drinks, chopsticks (vs. forks) or anything else other than just food when you order. Everyone who works there is polite and cordial, if not overly friendly.

It’s not strictly vegan — there are some dishes with egg — but the assortment of purely plant-based stir-fries, noodle dishes and curries with fresh or fried tofu or faux meat gives plenty of options.

I particularly like the size of Wedgewood II’s fried tofu cubes: they’re small, about 3/4″ to 1″ cubed (maybe? Lack of spacial reasoning: another reason I am not an architect). This allows for a greater fried surface area to soft interior ratio than most restaurants offer, and everyone knows that the greater the proportion of fried to non-fried, the tastier the result.

David and I usually get a curry and a stir-fry. On our most recent visit, we ordered the Yellow Curry (because it had potatoes and cabbage — mmmm….) and the garlic stir-fry: fried tofu, carrots and broccoli bathed in a light and very salty sauce. This saltiness was congruent with other visits, while the silky, flavorful yellow curry sauce complimented the fried tofu, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes and onions within.

Only complaint: neither dish was spicy enough.

As with most places that serve non Euro-American fare, the waiter or waitress will ask you how spicy you want your food, on a scale of 1-5. If you want a spicy curry, ask for a 6.

A 4-level spice at other Southeast Asian establishments usually leaves my mouth burning and nose dripping, but my forehead barely perspired at Wedgewood II. Again, consistent with other visits.

Wedgewood II always has open tables whenever we’ve been in, and is definitely a reasonably-priced dinner option (≈$9/dish, though rice is extra). Since Jup Jup Jup closed (R.I.P.), it’s become my favorite Thai spot on Broadway.

Maybe give them a try next time?

Vegan food at Safeco field

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks may both be vegan, but one cannot survive a ballgame on snacks alone.

Sure, you could bring food in (according to Safeco’s MLB site, “Food brought into the ballpark must be wrapped, bagged or inside a container. Items such as apples and oranges must be quartered.”) but you would be missing out on a quintessential piece of the American Dream: paying too much money for a one-way ticket to Diabetesville while watching a game that, frankly, runs about 5 innings too long.

Here are my suggestions of what to eat while watching the Mariners lose win (on occasion), based on all both of my visits this summer.

The Natural

The Natural is located at section 132 in the back of a small food court. The line was incredibly short (I waited longer to get condiments than I did for my dog) and reasonably priced: a smallish veggie frankfurter only put me back $4.50. They also offer vegan soup and a vegan veggie burger (both $7-ish, I think), and have a couple of vegan and non-vegan gluten-free options (including gluten-free beer).

Blazing Bagels

I walk over to Safeco sometimes during the work week for a toasted everything bagel with tofu spread, tomatoes, lettuce and capers from Blazing Bagels, and their bagel sandwiches are absolutely worth the walk. It’s technically not in the stadium, being on 1st ave S at street level, but is directly adjacent to the entrance and open on game days, so it’s an easy pre-, post- or during game stop.

Ricenroll

Safeco is probably the only ballpark in America where you can get sushi, mainly because Ichiroll sounds much better than Matsuzakaroll or the Takahashiroll. Actually, I don’t anything about the sushi presence in other stadiums, but thank your vegan stars that you can get overpriced fake Japanese food in Seattle’s. Ricenroll is in the same food court area (section 132) as The Natural, and has a few options. I wanted the tofu noodles, but they were out at that particular game, so I settled on 8 pieces of cucumber avocado sushi (at a rate of $1.13/piece). $4 edamame is another possibility.

Note: the box is not completely sealed, so don’t pour your soy sauce into it unless you want a lapful of the stuff.

I also saw someone walking around with chips and guac, and there are always the garlic fries, which are super-tasty/addictive and quite handy if you happen to be at the game on a bad date or seated next to a vampire. Mmm… garlic fries.

And don’t forget the beer.

Save King County buses!

This post is ostensibly off-topic, but definitely related to veganism since access to public transportation has social justice and environmental impacts. It’s also a subject near and dear to my heart.

As Seattle readers may know, King country proposes to cut services if they can’t come up with additional funds — this could eliminate 17% of routes. The alternative is to ask drivers to pay an extra $20 — less than a tank of gas — per year.

If you can’t afford an extra $20 a year, you would benefit from getting rid of your car and taking the bus.

According to Metro [PDF],

[The cuts] would affect up to 80 percent of bus riders. That means as many as four out of five people will have to walk further, wait longer, make an extra transfer, stand in the aisle, or stand on the curb and see fully loaded buses pass them by. And it will force tens of thousands of people back into cars, worsening congestion for everyone.

Fewer buses means more cars on the road.

More cars on the road mean more cyclists and pedestrians placed in unsafe conditions. Want to know why cyclists are so “angry”? It’s because cars are big and we’re small, and there are a lot of stupid drivers out there — tons of a$$holes on our roads don’t realize it’s not okay to cut off pedestrians when said pedestrians have the green walking man.

Fewer buses means that people who legitimately cannot afford a car or can’t drive because of age or medical reasons will be left with few options to get around.

I have a steady desk job and relatively cheap rent, and I definitely don’t have room in my budget for a car, insurance, gas and parking — I can’t imagine how the folks who make just above minimum wage could afford a motor vehicle.

I also live in Capitol Hill and can walk and bike to work in Pioneer Square. I don’t actually ride the bus on a daily basis. For the folks who live further from downtown, reduced bus routes become a serious issue.

Fewer buses mean fewer bus drivers. 17% of these folks will presumably be out of work. This is the same reason I voted against the proposed liquor store bills last year (yes, you can hate me for having to pay that slight increase in price of hard A — I’ll live): it will put government employees out of work.

Other people have more eloquent things to say on this than I:

Please, please submit written testimony on why King County should not cut service.

Heck, I don’t have a car, or even a driver’s license, but I’ll pay $20 to keep buses running.

Image by Keith D. Tyler via Creative Commons.

Annapurna Cafe: Capitol Hill’s best-kept secret

Annapurna Cafe, a Indian, Tibetan and Nepalese restaurant located in the basement below Peet’s coffee at the corner of Broadway and E. Denny Way, is perhaps my favorite restaurant in Seattle.

The atmosphere is cozy and a little dim, though tastefully decorated and inviting. The wait staff is friendly and attentive, promptly refilling water glasses, clearing dishes and bringing the check– it’s a level of courtesy you don’t see often see in Capitol Hill dining establishments.

Though by no means a strictly vegan restaurant (making it a fantastic place to dine with stubborn omnivores), the variety of vegan entrees, appetizers and breads never fails to tempt my taste buds. Best yet, everything vegan is denoted on the menu as such, taking out the guesswork.

My go-to dishes, after many samplings, are the palak tofu (spinach and fried tofu) and the Himalayan curry, a spicy, savory sauce with peas, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, carrots and tofu. Both are oh-so flavorful, without the heavy, oily sauces of many Indian restaurants– ideal for soaking up with roti and basmati or brown rice.

David remarked on our most recent visit that he likes how big the chunks of fried tofu in the veggie dishes are– they make him feel like he is “ripping into meat.” I don’t really think of it this way, but I do like the contrast between the chewy exterior and the soft middle.

Annapurna’s cocktail menu is also quite solid. Whoever mans the bar whips up specialty drinks with generous amounts of house-infused saffron vodka– quite strong. They also have a nice assortment of fruity martinis (as in, made with fruit).

Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

image by trimba via Creative Commons.

Three things Seattle coffee shops need to start doing

Seattle is a very vegan-friendly city. Seattle is also a very coffee-friendly city. However, Seattle is not a very vegan-coffee-friendly city.

Here are three ideas to make it one.

  1. Stop asking if I want whipped cream on my soy drink. I know that there are some customers who order a soy beverage with whip because they prefer the taste of soy (my friend Erik) or are only mildly lactose-intolerant (my friend Kelly), but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that if you want one you don’t want the other. Make soy without whip the default.
  2. Put a non-dairy alternative on the milk/sugar/trash station next to the half-and-half and skim.
  3. Don’t be snarky when I ask if there’s dairy in your mocha syrup/crazy-flavored latte/etc. I hate asking a coffee shop if one of their drinks or syrups has dairy only to be told “It’s a latte– of course it has dairy. Unless you make it with soy.” Now, granted, sometimes I might need to rephrase my questioning, but can’t you infer I want soy? Would I ask if it had dairy if I wanted dairy? “Does this have milk in it? Yes? Oh good. Just checking.” I’ve been a barista. I know it’s possible to pull a shot without attitude because I’ve done it.

And a bonus: offer a non-dairy alternative other than soy. Uptown Espresso gets applause for giving vegans a choice of soy or rice, but it’s one of the few.

image by max_thinks_sees via Creative Commons.

Vegan cream of mushroom soup: a vitamin D powerhouse

Seattle is having the most slit-your-wrists depressing June since… ever. Grey is the color of the season, and King 5 reported via Twitter that the temperature has not risen above 75 degrees in 271 days– extreme even for a city legendary for its rain. Nirvana fan or not, it’s enough to make you want to blow your head off with a shotgun.

Unfortunately, the cloudy malaise sweeping over the city may affect residents’ physical state as well as mental: days without sunshine can lead to a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to softened bones, depression, a lowered immune system, increased multiple sclerosis risk, cancer, and heart disease (if you believe Wikipedia).

Also unfortunately, there are not many natural vegan forms of vitamin D. Several online publications, however, report that naturally-dried shiitake mushrooms are excellent sources of this vital nutrient; these naughty-sounding fungi soak up UV rays faster than a Jersey Shore castmember.

Soy milk is also a good source of vitamin D. Correction: soy milk with vitamin D added is also a good source of vitamin D.

I’ve combined these two powerhouses into a potent concoction that will fight Ricketts while also warming you, body and soul. Serve with a side of crusty bread and a multivitamin.

Vegan Cream of Mushroom soup
serves two

  • 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in 1/2 cup hot water and drained, reserving the liquid
  • 1 cup chopped pioppini mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced crimini or button mushrooms
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 tbs Earth Balance, divided
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 2 cups unsweetened vitamin D-enriched soy milk
  • salt, pepper, parsley and other spices to taste
  1. Saute the mushrooms and chopped shallot in 1 tbs Earth Balance. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Make a roux with flour and the remaining Earth Balance; add reserved mushroom water and stir until blended.
  3. Add soy milk, salt, pepper and other spices, and mushroom/shallot mixture. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve.

Vegan Cream Of Mushroom Soup on Foodista

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