Monday, June 30, 2014

Capital Dime


Capital Dime opened in Midtown about a year ago, but since their menu didn't appear to have any options for vegans, I didn't pay much attention to it. A week ago, however, the Sacramento Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson reported that Chris Jarosz was going to take over the management of the restaurant.

I'm a fan of Jarosz, who has made a point of having vegan options available on the menus at all of his establishments, such as Broderick Roadhouse in West Sacramento and his Sacatomatoes food truck. Now that he's in charge of Capital Dime, their menu has something for vegans too.

Capital Dime reopened with the new menu on Saturday, and my husband Phil and I had lunch there yesterday. For starters, I ordered the Pickle Plate, which consisted of a variety of pickled vegetables served with bread and Dijon mustard. The pickled green beans were my favorite, but it was all good. The asparagus was particularly spicy, so consider yourself warned!

Next, I had the Street Style Tacos with marinated tofu, which were topped with citrus cabbage slaw and cilantro. The menu doesn't say anything about cheese, but you should probably let your server know you don't want cheese on your tacos, just in case. I really liked them and know I'll be back for more.

Phil ordered a side of House Slaw, which he said was very good. It's made with shredded cabbage and poppy vinaigrette.

The other vegan option on the new Capital Dime menu is the house-made Veggie Burger, which is served on an onion roll with a vegan dressing, house pickles, gem lettuce, and tomatoes.

Capital Dime is located at 1801 L Street, Suite 50, and their phone number is 916-443-1010. Their website, which hasn't been updated to show the new menu, can be found at You can find the new menu on their Facebook page, but neither the website nor the Facebook page list the restaurant's new hours of operation. For now, it's probably best to look for Facebook or Twitter posts each day to find out when they're open.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sun & Soil Juice Company

I've seen a lot of buzz on Twitter and Facebook recently about Sun & Soil Juice Company, so I stopped by this weekend to check it out for myself.

The menu here is strictly liquid -- no muffins, cookies, sandwiches, or any other type of solid food. Fortunately, there are lots of interesting liquid options.

I ordered the Downtown Molly Brown smoothie, sixteen ounces of coconut milk, coconut water, banana, pecans, dates, chia seeds, vanilla, garam masala, and Himalayan salt. It was very tasty, and I felt like I was drinking a dessert. At least two of the smoothies contain honey, so you may want to ask that it be omitted if you order the Iron Giant or the Stress Free Strawberry.

Sun & Soil Juice Company also sells bottled cold pressed raw juices in a variety of flavors. I ordered one that isn't listed on the menu, Pineapple Dream, a delicious mixture of pineapple, coconut milk, and cinnamon. It was like a healthy piña colada. There's a $2.00 deposit fee, which is refunded when you rinse and return the bottle.

A one-day juice cleanse option is available, consisting of six different bottles of juice. The first juice on the list, Lemon Snap, contains honey, but if you call ahead, the staff can help you figure out an alternative.

Sun & Soil Juice Company is located at 1912 P Street in Midtown, and their phone number is 916-341-0327. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at!/sunandsoiljuice/info. The restaurant is open Sunday and Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Be sure to ask for a rewards card so you can receive one free juice after you've purchased twelve.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ciao Chow Food Truck

I've been wanting to check out the vegan items at Ciao Chow for awhile, so I was glad to finally catch up with this food truck last week outside the CalPERS building.

I had a hard time deciding which of two items I wanted to try the most, so I ended up ordering both. The Tofu Marinated with Curry and 5 Spice Rice Plate was excellent, served with salad and sautéed mushrooms. Make sure to order it vegan-style, without the Ciao Chow sauce.

The other item I ordered was the Chow Mein with tofu. This tasty dish, which consists of tofu, flour-based noodles, green beans, onions, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, tomatoes, and hoisin sauce, is vegan without the need for any modifications.

The Ciao Chow Food Truck is a regular at many local food truck meetups. Their schedule is updated weekly on their website. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, June 9, 2014

California Pizza Kitchen

I usually prefer to blog about independent, locally-owned restaurants. But there are times when I find myself dining at a chain restaurant, especially when I'm traveling, and I think it's useful to know ahead of time whether the menu will be vegan-friendly or not.

California Pizza Kitchen recently renovated their Market Square at Arden Fair location and invited food bloggers to sample items from their new menu. I wasn't able to attend, but I checked their website to see if they had any vegan options. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they have created a whole page devoted to accommodating the needs of vegetarians and vegans.

I stopped by last week to check it out. To facilitate the ordering process, I printed out the vegan information to take with me to the restaurant. The first item I ordered was the Shaved Mushroom + Spinach Flatbread without the cheese, which was very good. You'll want to ask your server to remind the chef that no cheese means no Parmesan garnish either.

I also ordered a Roasted Veggie Salad. The only modification that was needed was to request a different dressing, since the Dijon balsamic vinaigrette normally served with it is not vegan. I chose the fat-free balsamic, which was perfect. This was a wonderful salad, consisting of Romaine, artichoke hearts, avocado, corn, eggplant, asparagus, peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes. Since I was having the flatbread too, I ordered the half-sized salad, which turned out to be a fairly large portion. I would never have been able to finish a full salad.

Here are a few basics you may want to remember if you decide to give California Pizza Kitchen a try.

* All of their pizza crusts are vegan, but the only vegan sauces are the pizza marinara, vegetarian black bean, and spicy marinara.

* The pasta noodles are vegan except for the multigrain penne, which contains egg. None of the pasta sauces listed on the menu are vegan, but you can order the off-menu tomato basil sauce.

* Many of the salads can be made vegan by omitting the meats and cheeses, but only three of the dressings are vegan: fat-free balsamic, lemon herb vinaigrette, and hoisin ginger vinaigrette.

* The only vegan soup is the Dakota Smashed Pea + Barley Soup. There are no vegan sandwiches or desserts.

* Some items, such as the White Corn Guacamole + Chips or the Tuscan Hummus are vegan without needing any modifications. Other items, such as the Lettuce Wraps, can easily be made vegan by leaving out non-vegan ingredients.

I appreciate the steps that California Pizza Kitchen has taken to make it so easy for vegans to order from their menu. It seems like it would be easy enough for other restaurants to do the same thing, and I hope that this is the start of a trend.

California Pizza Kitchen has both national and international locations. More information is available on their website at

Monday, June 2, 2014

Vegans and the Honeybee

I've been meaning to write a blog post for a while now about why vegans don't eat honey. According to the American Vegan Society, the short answer is that "vegans eat solely from the plant kingdom: vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds." For a long time after I went vegan, I continued to eat food that contained honey, if honey was the only non-vegan ingredient in the dish. Somehow, eating food that exploits an insect didn't seem quite as serious as eating food that harms or exploits other types of animals. Lately, though, I've stopped eating any items containing honey.

One reason for the change is that I've spent a lot of time lately worrying about honeybees, not because I want their food, but because they pollinate mine. You may have read about the disappearing honeybee population and the sudden onset of colony collapse disorder in recent years. The honeybee is currently facing so many problems that I don't want to do anything to add further stress to their already alarming situation.

What are some of those problems? I've been doing a little research on the subject, and at the risk of oversimplifying things, here's what I've learned:

1. At the top of the list would have to be the proliferation of pesticides used for insect control, especially a category of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. My understanding of these insecticides is that they can affect the nervous system of honeybees, causing them to become disoriented and making it difficult for them to find their way back to the hive. Alone and away from their colony, they die from exposure. Many European Union countries, following the precautionary principle, have placed a moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids unless and until they can be proven safe. In the United States, unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn't follow the precautionary principle, choosing instead a method called risk assessment, which means that the use of these insecticides will be allowed if the EPA deems the risks to be reasonable. One of the problems with that is the issue of who does the research to determine whether the risks are reasonable or not. Apparently, the EPA relies on reports received from the insecticide manufacturers. Can you imagine? The question of whether a particular pesticide is safe is decided by the EPA based on information they receive from Monsanto or Bayer CropScience or Dow or some other corporation whose interests likely are not the same as the consumer's interests. Neonicotinoids are apparently going through another review at the EPA, where they will consider the potential effects on honeybees and other pollinating insects. However, this review won't be completed for another two to five years. How much harm will these insecticides do in the meantime?

2. Another major stressor for the honeybees is that most of them are factory-farmed. What does this mean in the context of bees? It means that there are industrial beekeepers with thousands of beehives who truck them across the country to whatever crop requires pollination at that moment. Instead of eating their own honey, which has likely already been collected by the beekeepers and bottled to sell, they are often fed sugar water or high-fructose corn syrup, which leads to malnourishment. When they arrive at their pollination destination, they are faced with a monoculture crop, rather than the diversity of crops that would be better from a nutritional standpoint. These stressors contribute to the weakening of the honeybees, making them more susceptible to harm from parasites and pathogens.

How does this play out with respect to the foods eaten by those of us who have adopted plant-based diets? The answer will vary with each type of crop, but one of the most honeybee-dependent crops, almonds, is already facing a honeybee shortage. According to a recent article in Mother Jones, California's almond industry requires 1.6 million honeybee hives in order to pollinate their crops each year, and 1 million of those hives must be trucked in from out of state. There was a significant die-off during this year's almond grove pollination, which many are blaming on the fact that monoculture farming is particularly reliant on the use of pesticides. The demand for California's almonds continues to increase in the global marketplace, but there are fewer and fewer honeybees to pollinate the crops needed to meet that demand.

I don't know about you, but I can do without almonds, if necessary. But honeybees are also responsible for pollinating apples, avocados, grapefruit, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges, and lots of other foods that are mainstays of my diet. The declining honeybee population is a problem for those of you who aren't vegan too, as honeybees pollinate many of the crops that feed your food. The biggest concern for me is that I don't know what can be done on a large scale to help the honeybees. Sure, I can buy produce from organic farms that plant a variety of crops and don't rely on pesticides, but that won't help the vast majority of the world's people who don't have that option available to them. The reason that industrial agriculture practices monoculture farming is because it's the most expedient and cost-effective way to grow food for a population that has become used to relatively cheap food. Industrial farmers and industrial beekeepers need each other, and unfortunately, most of the world seems to need them.

The research materials I've used, such as Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis, a book by Rowan Jacobsen, or the film Vanishing of the Bees have painted a rather dire picture of what's in store for us. My next step will be to review more solution-oriented materials, such as Gunther Hauk's Toward Saving the Honeybee or the film Queen of the Sun. I'm hoping to post a future blog article with suggestions for things we can all do to help address this problem.

I know that vegans all over the world read this blog, and I'm hoping you'll share your thoughts on the honeybee crisis and any suggestions you may have for helping us all get out of this mess. Please use the comments section to tell me what you think should be done. I'd love to hear from you!