Begin with a block of your favorite firm or extra firm tattoo. While it is still a single block, use a towel to drain as much water as possible out of the tofu as you can. Then you will want to cube the tofu into bite sized cubes. Next step is to create an “envelope” of baking foil if you will, to bake the tofu in. You want to put the tofu in, and drizzle it with your favorite oil. We use either olive or safflower. Just use enough to lightly coat the tofu, maybe 2 tbsp at most. And then we take Frontier organic garlic powder and coat the tofu in it. Now I am a HUGE garlic fan…we put garlic in pretty much everything we cook (nothing we bake mind you) but EVERYTHING. If you like garlic on a mild scale, don’t use this brand of garlic powder. It is HIGHLY potent powder, so you can either use half of what we do, or use a different brand. We use about 3 tbsp of the Frontier brand…and wow does this stuff kick butt with garlic! The entire house smells like garlic…no joke, but for me it’s heaven. Vampires might not desire to be present, so if you don’t like them like I don’t like them…pour it on!! We then toss the garlic powder in, drizzle some Bragg’s over the top and sprinkle everything with nooch. Then we put it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 425 and ta-da! Garlic Roasted tofu! And it’s heaven for me! I hope you enjoy!

Café Ohana located in Ozona, Florida has become a new LOVE for me. First of all, I think most of us who are Disney fans, know that Ohana means “family” and you definitely feel like family when you walk into this cozy and quaint place. We were greeted with Aloha’s and hugs from each person we saw. The owners and staff are lovely people who are also kind, and loving. You will feel like a part of the family when you show up!! The décor is Hawaiian and simple. Great atmosphere, and for a Sunday brunch get there BY 11am…we did and reserved a table and boy were we glad we did! It was packed within 15 minutes of our arrival!

Since went there for brunch I ate off of the breakfast menu and my hubby ate off of the lunch menu and we were famished so we started with the lomi-lomi tomoto bowl served with organic tortilla chips that they make in house. Oh wow was it good!!!!

My breakfast was a warm bowl, which was brown basmati rice, with quinoa, black beans, lomi-lomi and avocado. It was a perfect size, full of protein and good nutrition, and absolutely delicious! Lomi-lomi is what they describe as a “side dish in pacific island cuisine that was introduced to Hawaiians by early western sailors. It is typically made with salmon but ours is a delicious vegan variation.” It is reminiscent of a salsa, lots of fresh tomato, cilantro, red onion (I think I remember…) and absolutely delightful.

Dave had the Aloha Avocado Sandwich. It was avocado, tomato, sweet onion, spinach, vegenaise, Dijon mustard all served on a toasted sprouted wheat bread or multi-grain ciabatta. Dave chose the ciabatta. I got one little taste of his sandwich, and it was also delicious. I was so in love with my breakfast bowl that I couldn’t share it, so I only got a bite since that was all I would share!

We definitely plan to go back again, as they simplify the menu by having a blue flower by each “vegan selection” a pink flower by everything “Gluten Free” and a green leaf by anything “Vegetarian Friendly.” There are plenty of delicious options for a vegan on the menu, loads of delightful and healthy dishes to try, so we know we have to go back. If you’re in the area, St. Pete or Tampa even, it is well worth the drive. The prices are all great and there is enough selection for carnivores and vegans alike! So my suggestion is get there, get your hug on, and give it a try!

So I found this Avocado Jalepeno Grilled Cheese sandwich on Pinterest and I was totally craving it the minute I saw it. Though we didn’t have thick crusty bread, or jalepenos, we DID have the Daiya Havarti wedge…with jalepeno in it. And some Ezekial Bran for Life bread. To me ANYTIME is a good time to have Ezekial bread. It is hearty and filling and loaded with great nutrition for me and my baby.

This sandwich became a total improvisation since we didn’t have the ‘meat’ they suggested either. BUT I used the Daiya Havarti wedge as well as the cheddar shreds and I had ‘meatless deli turkey slices’ from Yves and of course we always have avocado so I threw on some ‘butter’ to my Ezekiel bread, slapped on two slices on each side of the ‘turkey’ and sliced the avocado on top of the ‘turkey’ and then sliced up the wedge & put on the cheddar shreds. Then I threw it all on the George Forman Grill. I think it is pretty funny that originally the grill’s purpose was for meats, chicken, sausages, etc. NOW that I am vegan, I LOVE using it as Panini press! It makes sandwiches hot and melty and delicious!

This Avocado Jalepeno Grilled Cheese sure did not let down. Absolutely delicious! I might have to try the recipe ‘as-is’ next time to see what the pin was all about, but this was definitely delightful and easy!

Avocado Jalapeno Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Well I am officially 26 weeks and a few days pregnant. I can’te tell you how worried practitioners and friends are about a vegan getting enough protein. I really have to laugh in hindsight, because their panic caused me to really be worried. My hubby and I use an iphone app called “Lose it” which you can also log online at www.loseit.com because prior to getting pregnant I was on the road to wellness and losing weight. We decided to ensure I didn’t gain too much weight while pregnant and to monitor my intake of food, calories and nutrition, we would continue to use the app.

Thank goodness for this app. I can see every meal, every food, every day how much of my key nutrients, including protein, that I eat. And most often it is 80-100 + grams of protein per day. I now have my ‘loaded weapon’ of proof when people ask “how do you get enough protein?” There are so many annoying things about people making assumptions when you are pregnant. Like touching you…NO it’s not okay to touch my stomach, as my t-shirt that my wonderful hubby got me says “If you didn’t put it in there, don’t touch it.” It’s odd, and rude to be honest. You don’t just grab someone because they are pregnant.

I also get a bazillion questions on my vitamins…well how do you get your DHA? I get it from the source, which is seagrass/seaweed…not from the fish that eat it. They DO in fact make really good vegan prenatal vitamins AND DHA! I get plenty of vitamin D from the Florida sunshine and the rest of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, I get from food! It really IS possible!

I started off my pregancy strong eating loads of kale, spinach and tons of greens and salads and fruits and veggies. Then the second trimester came…and as it progressed so did my desire for carbs, cookies, ice creams, cake, cupcakes, sweets, etc. I have a total aversion now to greens really. I still love my kale & tofu that the hubby cooks up, and in fact I think we’ll eat that tonight, but I can’t stand the idea of a salad. SO…thank goodness for the Blendtec! I just make smoothies…pack in the greens then throw in my fruit and almond or coconut milk and some vegan protein powder and BAM! A healthy fruit/veggie packed snack that I can count on to give me those healthy vitmains and minerals from my greens.

I honestly think it would be much harder to eat meat while you’re pregnant. I developed such strong food aversions in my first trimester that subsided a bit in the middle of my second trimester but have come back with a vengeance. I cannot stomach the smell of any kind of burger cooking…meat, boca, vegan, etc. Enter Hillary’s Adzuki Bean Burgers which just smell like a blend of spices since they are seasoned spectacularly and are totally plant based! Delicious!

So basically if I WERE a preggo carnivore, I wouldn’t have any real protein options since the smell of everything is off putting. I am so thankful I can enjoy tofu, seitan and tempeh! And hello BEANS and quinoa and grains are also loaded with proteins and rich in vitamins. Keeping it real with whole foods is the way to go…vegan or not!

Some people have attributed my lack of morning sickness and general great healthy pregnancy to being vegan, I attribute it to a blessing. No one knows WHAT causes some ladies to get morning sickness and others not to but I am glad I didn’t deal with it. I just can’t wait for her to be born and show everyone it is SO possible to have a healthy baby that was a vegan pregnancy AND a baby that is raised vegan with a breast feeding vegan Mama!

I am a fan of wine, but never really ate a meal at The Wine Exchange in Hyde Park because it appeared the only thing ‘vegan’ on their menu was the pita & hummus appetizer.  I planned to enjoy that with some wine on a date with my hubby.  Well our server was absolutely amazing, and I totally apologize because I can’t remember her name, but told me that most items on the menu they can veganize for me.  I ordered a pasta dish I used to eat as a non-vegan called the “Neopolitan” that has: mushrooms, sun dried tomatos, black olives, walnuts & artichoke hearts in pesto olive oil sauce tossed with fussili and topped with ricotta.  Instead, our server took out the olives, ricotta, and pesto olive oil & added some portabello mushrooms for me, everything sauteed in light olive oil & garlic.  Oh my gosh it was TO DIE for.  SO incredibly good.   I am a huge garlic lover, so I told them to not hold back.  And they didn’t.  The dish was delectable, beautifully colored between the tri-color pasta, tomatoes, walnuts, artichoke hearts and portabello and so hit the spot.  I was also very excited to know that the Wine Exchange would go out of their way to accomodate a vegan eater.  That is also top notch in my book. 

Not only did I dine on some very fine wine and very much enjoyed the recommendations of the server, we then had fresh mango sorbet for dessert which was presented so beautifully and was absolutely delightful.  Sweet, but not overbearing, and the mango chunks inside were a treat to me as I ADORE mango!

If you’re a vegan, or wine lover, or both, and are in the Tampa Bay area, I highly recommend the Wine Exchange in Hyde Park you will not leave disappointed!  Thank you so much for your hospitality and food to the staff and kitchen of the restaurant!  Now on to the beautiful photos!  (taken with Hipstamatic for iPhone4)

So, Annie Shannon in my opinion needs a cape, a superwoman costume…something.  Because she is like a vegan superhero.  Annie is THE real deal.  She veganized the Betty Crocker cookbook for goodness sake!  Anyhow…whenever we’re having mega-meat eaters over for dinner, we always go with a recipe courtesy of the vegan goddess Annie Shannon.  I am just going to start calling her Super Annie from now on…or Super A!  Anywho…we perused the Meet the Shannons website and found ‘Mexi-Shells’ so we only changed the liquid smoke…and removed.  Oh, and we had to use Field Roast Grain Company sausage (and that is NOT a bad thing!) Mexican Chipolte flavor.  We topped with fresh cilantro…and as you can see from my photo, I LOVE cilantro.  I actually used ‘Culantro’ because we have it in our garden.  And if it’s fresh, free & organic that sounds delish to me!!!  We also topped with loads of yummie Daiya cheddar, mozzerella and Galaxy Nutritional Parmeasan.  If you think by the photos below that it looks good, oh just multiply that goodness by a hundred and that is what we all thought of it.  Plates were empty and there were no Mexi-Shells to be saved.  Dinner was a raving success thanks to the genius of Super A!!

Hungry Tiger Too left me feeling well, hungry and unsatisfied.  I am all about second chances, and because this place was recommended to me by QuarryGirl I will definitely try it again during my next visit to Portland.  We arrived slightly before 7pm, and outside service ends at 7pm.  It was a warmer day, and inside was unquestionably too warm for us.  SO we decided to get takeout.  Mind you, it was a 15 minute ride back to our hotel, so everything was pretty cool and soggy by the time we got back to the hotel.  THAT said, I found the food just okay.  There was nothing exceptional about the flavor or taste and I thought the prices were high for what you got.  Having eaten at places like Prasad and Blossoming Lotus I was really disappointed.   AGAIN, I said we will try it next time we’re in PDX AND dine in because QuarryGirl said it’s one of her favorites. 

I ordered Biscuits & Gravy with vegan sausage patties on the side.  For $6 I got the picture below of 2 biscuits (they are cut in half so you see 4…) and the sausage patties were literally two tiny patties for $3.  Maybe it’s because I am from the south, and I know what Biscuits & Gravy should taste like as I ate it OFTEN at Cracker Barrel when I was not vegan.  And these were a far cry from real biscuits & gravy.  Not enough pepper in the gravy, the sausage wasn’t spicy enough and the biscuits were really dough heavy instead of fluffy.  I am no restaurant owner, but I could have done a WAY better job on these myself.  In fact, we do our own biscuits, thanks to a recipe from Annie Shannon which  is identical to the Red Lobster ‘Cheesy’ Biscuits.  We use those, make our own sausage gravy and any southerner would appreciate our dish.  TRUE biscuits & gravy.  LOADED with sausage and quality fluffy biscuits.  BIG thumbs down there. 

My hubby ordered the Cougar Club, which was firm local tofu, tempheh bacon, vegan cheese sauce, jalepeno with lettuce, tomato and onion on a Kaiser roll.  That was $9.75 and he got a side of fries with it.  That was pretty good.  I will definitely try that again as we microwaved it and it was good, but I bet fresh at the restaurant it would actually be pretty darn good. 

I was told on day 1 to skip Hungry Tiger Too and I probably could have, but I will give it another shot when we are next in PDX.  But if you’re a true southerner like me…from the ‘deep south,’ skip the biscuits and gravy because you’ll just be sad afterwards!!!

Oh Prasad how I love you.  Let me count the ways…2 visits in 2 days in Portland.   And I have replicated your meals for lunches for myself back home.  Now I just need the garlic tahini dressing recipe because I LOVE that stuff.

We had the pleasure of stopping at Prasad a few times while in Portland, OR.  We thought that it would be a great lunch to take on the road the first day, when we went to Seaside and Cannon Beach, Oregon.  It turned out we were absolutely correct.  I ordered the Dragon Bowl and it came with quinoa, red beans (my favorite,) wakame (sea vegetables,) avocado, kale sesame seeds, scallions and red cabbage.  And I opted for the garlic tahini dressing.  Not only was this a huge and filling meal, but it was protein packed and left me feeling energized and great as we enjoyed a beautiful cool day outside.  I did try my hubby’s meal, and he got the Chili Bowl with brown rice, roasted garlic chili, steamed kale, avocado, scallions, cilantro, green chili and garlic tahini sauces.  It was lovely as well but I preferred mine. 

Mom got a salad and ordered up the Bliss Salad (we don’t have pictures of hers,) with dried currants and figs, walnuts, quinoa, beets, carrots and mixed greens with lemon ginger dressing.  She said it was awesome, flavorful and delicious. 

One common denominator in all of our items was FRESH.  The food was SO fresh and perfectly cooked.  We had it cold by the time we ate it but we all felt that the flavor and quality was awesome nonetheless. 

Day two of Prasad I wanted to try something new and I got the Mighty Bowl with quinoa, steamed kale, red beans, and garlic tahini sauce.  Oh man was it good.  I think I liked the Dragon Bowl better only because of the wakame and cabbage.  But this was excellent.

My hubby tried the Urban Bowl with mixed greens with olive oil, steamed kale, cabbage, sea vegetables, avocado, carrots, scallions sesame & hemp seeds and got jalepeno cashew cheese dressing.  That was also awesome.  The dressing was great and such a wonderful flavor combination!

And Mom ordered Pasta Fresca with zucchini noodles tossed in sun-dried tomato pesto, with carrots and spinach, topped with cashew ricotta.  For a non-vegan, she really really enjoyed that as well.  And for me, it was a really nice tasty treat!

Prasad we love you.  I so wish that there were something remotely close in FL, but alas, Portland awaits me.  I sure did leave my heart there.  The other thing I loved about Prasad was its friendly and kind staff.  Each time we were there we interacted with several staff members, all of whom were extremely polite and they seemed to work together as a team flawlessly.  GREAT place to eat and I can’t wait to hang out more when I become an Oregonian!

Nicholas Family Restaurant in PDX  is a local ‘chain’ Lebanese restaurant.  We got a Google Offer for $15 for $30 worth of Lebanese cuisine.  Now if you’ll check out the menu, you can see that there are MANY vegan options and they are clearly marked.  Can I just say AGAIN how much I LOVE PDX?!  My husband ordered the Arabian Breeze Mezza and for $12.50 got an awesome (already vegan) meal of:  Tahini, Falafel (2 balls,) Garlic fried cauliflower, Roasted eggplant, Caramelized onions with tahini, and Hamara (roasted red pepper, tomato walnut paste.)  Wow…it was delicious, I love options and sharing, which my husband and Mom and I all were able to share as I had PLENTY of food to choose from. 

I ordered the Mjadra and for $10.75 he got a jasmine saffron rice and lentil dish.  Brown lentils carefully cooked with jasmine saffron rice olive oil, and their “secret spices” then layered with carmelized onions and a sprinkle of cumin.  I don’t know what was so awesome about this dish, but I honestly did not want to share it.  It was so flavorful and just tasty. 

Mom ordered the Lentil soup, which was vegan and AWESOME.  Delicious and filling! 

The other highlight from our visit was the bread that they bring out at the beginning, it is like a MASSIVE pita.  And just delightful.  I love the photo of my husband taking a giant bite…lol.  A fun atmosphere and awesome food.  And not to mention totally inexpensive as well.  We were not disappointed at all!

Oh vegan pizza how I love you.  I have to be honest, there is only ONE place in the local area I can go for Vegan pizza.  When I was in Portland, OR…Sizzle Pie Pizza  is not only everywhere, but they do vegan pizza by the slice OR made to order. Whoa.  Happy times for me!!!

My hubby was starving so he ordered the by the slice option.  I chose to be adventurous and order a made to order personal pizza.   Yes please!  My hubby got ‘Spiral Tap’ which is carmelized onion spread, house marinara, red sauce and a dusting of nutritional yeast.  And he also got ‘Bad Reputation’ which is Daiya Mozzerella cheese, mushroom, onion and black olives and a slice of ‘Thunder and Lightning’ which is Daiya Mozzerella cheese, and pepperoni (vegan of course.) 

I was feeling adventurous so I ordered a vegan pizza with: Daiya Mozzerella vegan pepperoni, vegan seitan chorizo, crushed garlic and jalepeno.  Oh baby was it good.  I enjoyed mine far more than my hubby’s slices, but his were quite nice as well.

He loved all three of his.  No complaints whatsoever. 

Because we loved Sizzle Pie Pizza SO much  we decided to head back again during our trip.  This time I had the ‘Spiral Tap’ slice and a slice of ‘Vegan Angel of Doom’ which is Daiya Mozzerella cheese, jalepeno, pineapple, shaved almonds and fresh cilantro.  I have to say, I had BIG doubts about it.  The Spiral Tap was awesome, loved it…delicious.  I was a little scared/ponderous on how to approach the other slice.  I gingerly took a bite…and flavors exploded in my mouth!!  Sweet, spicy, cheesy deliciousness.  I have to say that ‘Vegan Angel of Doom’ is my favorite pizza now.  I am going to have to try to recreate it when I get home to FL.  But I am not sure I can find the deliciousness that I had on my own.  I cannot wait to move to Portland and become a Sizzle Pie regular!