Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sacramento Vegan is taking a holiday break

I'll be taking a break from this blog until after the first of the year. If you'd like to follow Sacramento Vegan on Facebook, I'll post occasional updates and news items there. Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Garden to Grill

The Plum Cafe & Bakery, midtown's all-vegan restaurant, recently changed its name to Garden to Grill. I stopped by for lunch a couple of times recently to see if there have been any changes besides the name. Those of you who have enjoyed the plant-based cuisine at the Plum Cafe for years will be happy to know the menu is still the same; the purpose of the name change is simply to highlight the restaurant's farm-to-table philosophy.

I ordered the Tempeh Reuben, which has received rave reviews from local vegans. It consists of tempeh bacon, avocado, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, and pickles, served on rye bread and with a side salad. The sandwich was very tasty, and I can see why it's a Garden to Grill favorite. I followed it up with a yummy carrot cupcake.

On my next visit, I ordered the Gardein Breaded "Chicken" Strip appetizer with ranch dressing. I'm not usually a big fan of faux meats, but I liked this well enough that I thought about ordering seconds. After much deliberation, I decided to have a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting instead.

Garden to Grill also serves breakfast, including a weekend brunch buffet. I've got to give that a try one of these days!

Garden to Grill is located at 2315 K Street, and their phone number is 916-706-3302. Their website address is http://www.plumcafebakery.com/ and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ThePlumCafeBakery. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Road Trip! Ike's Love & Sandwiches in Walnut Creek

I had lunch with my mom a few days ago at Ike's Love & Sandwiches in Walnut Creek. My son had been raving about the sandwiches, and since there are several vegan options on the menu, I'd been wanting to try it out.

As it turned out, there were so many vegan choices that it took awhile to decide what to eat. The veggie menu is full of tempting items like vegan meatballs, vegan turkey, and vegan chicken. This doesn't necessarily mean that the sandwich itself is vegan, though -- you'll need to veganize whatever you decide to order. All the breads are vegan, except the whole wheat, which contains honey. The veggie bacon is not vegan, since it contains eggs, and the pesto is not vegan, since it contains Parmesan cheese. All the sandwiches include Ike's Dirty Secret Sauce, which is a garlic aioli containing mayonnaise, but an egg-free version is available. The key is to make sure that the person taking your order knows you want a vegan sandwich so he or she can help you avoid any hidden non-vegan ingredients.

With all that in mind, I finally decided on the Sally Ride, made with vegan turkey, avocado, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and egg-free sauce, served on a sourdough roll. The only vegan cheese available was Daiya provolone, but that turned out to be perfect with this sandwich. The sandwiches at Ike's are served warm, so the cheese was melted and delicious. I'm not exaggerating when I say this was the best sandwich I've had since I went vegan!

Ike's has several California locations, but the closest one to Sacramento is in Walnut Creek. I just hope their expansion plan includes a Sacramento restaurant at some point down the road. More information is available on their website or Facebook page.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Gifts for Vegans

If there's a vegan on your holiday shopping list, or if you're a vegan who wants to buy gifts that reflect your values and prove to your friends and family that being plant-based doesn't mean being deprived, here's a list of great gift ideas. These items are available online, but for those of you in Sacramento, I've also listed locally-owned businesses offering these or similar products.

Chocolates: I haven't tried Sjaak's chocolates before, but I saw them mentioned on Facebook this weekend and immediately ordered a pre-holiday gift for myself! All of their chocolates are organic and vegan. If you're looking for vegan chocolates in Sacramento, Le Grand Confectionary on Fair Oaks Boulevard sells delicious fruit glaces dipped in dark chocolate, as well as two kinds of dark chocolate bark.

Purses: Check out the gorgeous faux-leather bags at Alternative Outfitters and MooShoes. Clearly, being vegan doesn't mean giving up on style. Both websites also offer faux-leather shoes, wallets, and belts. In Sacramento, the Pink House usually has some vegan handbags in their inventory.

Cheese: If you haven't had the vegan cheese from Miyoko's Kitchen yet, you're missing a treat! My favorite is the Classic Double Cream Chive, but the other varieties I've tried are great too. You can order a collection online, or if you live in Northern California, you may be able to buy individual cheeses at your local Whole Foods Market.

Beauty Products: Say no to animal testing when you buy vegan cosmetics or bath and body products from 100% Pure or vegan shaving products from Vegan Essentials. Looking great while using cruelty-free products means everyone wins! The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op also carries a great assortment of cruelty-free beauty products.

Books: Some great new vegan cookbooks have come out in 2014: Lindsay Nixon's latest book, Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings; Mayim's Vegan Table, by Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler in television's The Big Bang Theory; Bryant Terry's Afro-Vegan; and The China Study All-Star Collection. If these books aren't available at the Avid Reader in Sacramento or Davis, or at Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills, they can probably order them for you.

Shoes: I love buying shoes from TOMS! They're stylish, comfortable, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that for every pair I purchase, a pair of shoes will be donated to a child in need. TOMS offers vegan shoes for men, women, and children. A portion of the proceeds from some of those shoes even go to help the mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo through TOMS Animal Initiative. If you're looking for TOMS in Sacramento, Krazy Mary's on Folsom Boulevard or Sugar Shack on J Street both carry a nice selection.

If you have other gift ideas for vegans, I'd love to hear about them. Here's to a kinder, gentler holiday season!