Monday, February 23, 2015

Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza opened two new restaurants in Roseville and Gold River a couple of months ago. Executive Chef Bradford Kent, who has been featured on Good Morning America, was in Roseville last week, where I had the opportunity to talk with him.

Blaze Pizza offers a fast assembly-line approach to pizza ordering so that you can get your 11-inch pizza quickly but eat it at your leisure. At the beginning of the line, you choose which type of pizza crust you want, either classic or gluten-free. Both are vegan and non-GMO. The pizza dough will have been fermented for twenty-four hours in order to make it easier to digest. A dough press is used to shape it.

Next, you decide which sauce you'd like. The vegan choices are the red sauce, spicy red sauce, olive oil drizzle, or BBQ drizzle. They even keep a separate container of the red sauce in the vegetable section in case you want to avoid any accidental drips from the non-vegan sauces.

The vegan cheese option is Daiya. It's kept in the section with all the meats, but they keep a cover on the container so that nothing will fall into it that you don't want to eat.

There are numerous vegetable toppings from which to choose: artichokes • arugula • bell peppers • cherry tomatoes • chopped garlic • fresh basil • jalapeños • mushrooms • olives (both black and Kalamata) • banana peppers • pineapple • red onions • red peppers • sautéed onion • spinach • zucchini.

Chef Brad is very aware of vegan issues and concerns, and he knows which ingredients might be problematic for vegans. For example, he researched the company that provides the cane sugar for the restaurant's fresh lemonade to make sure they don't use bone char as part of their refining process. There are separate pizza cutters and other utensils for vegan pizzas, and if you're concerned about whether the person assembling your pizza is using gloves that might have come in contact with meat or dairy products, they will change their gloves upon request. More information for vegans is available in the FAQs on the Blaze Pizza website at

After the interview, Chef Brad offered to make a pizza for me, an offer I couldn't pass up! I asked for the classic dough, red sauce, Daiya cheese, mushrooms, black olives, banana peppers, and pineapple. It was baked in the approximately 700 degree oven for about three minutes, then Chef Brad drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with a little sea salt. It was excellent! The crust was light and crisp, and the red sauce was very flavorful and not nearly as salty as the sauce that most pizza restaurants seem to make. My preferred toppings were mostly processed, but the other vegetable toppings looked fresh and appetizing. Chef Brad prides himself on the high quality of the ingredients used in Blaze's pizzas.

I was impressed by the commitment to environmentally-friendly packaging at Blaze Pizza. Their eating utensils are made from recycled materials, the drink cup lids are made from plant-based materials, and their drink cup and box suppliers are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. What I really loved, though, were the pizza boxes available to people who can't finish their pizza in the restaurant and want to take home the leftovers. Instead of receiving a full-sized box, they receive a box that's exactly half the size of the full box.

Blaze Pizza is a national chain with fifty-six restaurants currently open. In addition to the Roseville and Gold River locations, a restaurant is expected to open in Davis in the near future. Chef Brad hopes a Sacramento restaurant will open eventually. Information about restaurant locations and hours can be found on the Blaze Pizza website at or on their Facebook page at

Monday, February 16, 2015

Oak Park Brewing Company

My son was home on a break from college recently, and we decided to have lunch at the Oak Park Brewing Company, which opened just a few months ago. While there weren't many vegan options on the menu, I thought the mention of a vegan burger was a hopeful sign.

There is a different vegetarian soup every day, and when I was there, it was a vegan pureed tomato, mushroom, and barley soup. It was flavorful and spicy and, best of all, it was served hot, which has not been the case with any of the soups I've had at the last few restaurants I've visited. The toasted bread served with it appeared to be buttery, so I skipped that.

I ordered Steve's Vegan Burger for my entree. It was a tasty barley patty served on a ciabatta roll with arugula, onions, and toasted pepita sauce. It comes with fries or salad, but the fries are cooked in the same oil as non-vegan menu items, so I ordered the salad. It came sprinkled with Parmesan, so if you order this dish, you may want to ask your server to let the chef know you don't want any cheese on your salad.

The only other vegan item was the roasted seasonal vegetables, available either as a small plate or as a side dish. I'll give that a try on my next visit.

Oak Park Brewing Company is located at 3514 Broadway, and their phone number is 916-660-2723. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vegan Chocolate for Your Valentine

It's almost Valentine's Day, and if you haven't figured out where to buy chocolates for your vegan significant other, you may be starting to panic. Fortunately, I've been out shopping and can make a few recommendations.

Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op has a nice variety of Sjaak's vegan organic chocolates displayed on a shelf in front of the deli counter. I haven't seen them there before, so it may be that they're just carrying them for Valentine's Day. There are heart-shaped boxes full of fabulous truffles, small boxes of lavender chocolate hearts, four-packs of sea salted caramels, individually-wrapped chocolate hearts, and canisters of melty truffles. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them!

Ginger Elizabeth's, the popular chocolatier in midtown, has a few vegan items. I can personally vouch for the incredible dark chocolate bark with almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios. The Valrhona chocolate pearls and the bittersweet chocolate bars are also vegan. Don't wait till the last minute, though -- when I drove past Ginger Elizabeth's just before Christmas, the line was out the door and halfway down the block.

At Lyon Village in East Sacramento, Le Grand Confectionary offers one of my favorite vegan treats: orange or apricot fruit glaces half-dipped in dark chocolate. They sell out quickly, so you may want to call ahead. Le Grand Confectionary also has dark chocolate bark containing either almonds or cacao nibs.

Wishing you a sweet Valentine's Day!

Technical Difficulties -- Today's Blog Post Will Be Delayed

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dr. Bob's Donuts & DoYos

I don't go to Roseville very often. It's big and spread out, and I'm never quite sure where I am when I'm driving there. But when I heard about Dr. Bob's Donuts & DoYos, I knew a trip to Roseville was in my very near future. Dr. Bob's Donuts are advertised as healthy donuts, containing much less sugar than conventional donuts, and they're steambaked instead of fried. Not only that, but they're vegan.

With that in mind, I programmed my GPS last week and made the drive to Roseville. It was easy to spot Dr. Bob's Donuts from the street -- it was the storefront with the awning that proclaimed "The World's Healthiest Donuts." Inside, an employee was bringing fresh, hot donuts out to the self-serve case, and he showed me the different options available to customize my donut. There were four hot glazes, a few squeeze bottles containing icings to drizzle, a frozen yogurt machine with chocolate, vanilla, and chocolate and vanilla swirl flavors, a fresh fruit bar, a VitaBowl bar with a variety of puddings, yogurts, and a yummy looking chocolate mousse, and a whole section of toppings. Because the donuts contain so much less sugar than the donuts we're used to, they rely on these glazes, sauces, and toppings to make them sweet.

I decided to make myself a DoYo, so I grabbed a bowl and put a chocolate donut in the bottom, then added a helping of chocolate and vanilla swirl frozen yogurt. I poured on some warm chocolate glaze, and topped it off with fresh raspberries, mini chocolate chips, and brown rice puffs. I took it to the cashier, where it was weighed and I paid accordingly. Finally, I sat down and dug in. It was pretty great!

Posters on the wall explain the nutritional value of Dr. Bob's donuts, DoYos, and VitaBowls. All of the ingredients used are organic, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and almost everything is vegan, except for the honey that's available as a topping and the Himalayan Salted Caramel sauce, which contains honey.

Since I had so much fun making my DoYo, I customized a donut to take home with me. Rather than figure out for myself what to add to my donut, I followed the instructions on a sign above the glazes for one of the "Fan Favorites." My Banana Blueberry Bourbon Vanilla consisted of a vanilla donut, bourbon vanilla glaze, organic bananas and blueberries, a chocolate Ultra Sauce drizzle, and flax crunch (the sign called for hemp seeds, but a woman who worked at Dr. Bob's told me she liked the flax crunch even better). Yum!

Dr. Bob's Donuts & DoYos is located at 336 Lincoln Street in Roseville, and their phone number is 916-742-5241. Their website address is and their Facebook page can be found at They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.