Monday, April 29, 2013

SactoMoFo 6 Wrap-Up

I arrived at SactoMoFo 6, the mobile food truck festival under the freeway at 6th and W, just as it opened on Saturday. It's a good thing I did -- the crowds were huge and lines were long by the time I left. But while I was there, here are the food trucks I visited.

My first stop was Addy's Paella, a Lodi-based catering business, to try their vegetarian paella. I knew they were only going to offer two pans of vegetarian paella throughout the day, and I didn't want to miss out. If I'd known how big the paella pans were, I wouldn't have worried! In addition to the seasoned rice, the vegetarian paella included asparagus, mushrooms, red bell pepper, green onions, and peas, and it was very tasty. It's vegan as long as you don't let them add the garlic aioli on top.

I headed to Smoothie Patrol, a Sacramento food truck, to get something to drink. They had a few vegan options, but the one I wanted was the Razzle Dazzle, consisting of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, orange juice, and ice. It was delicious!

For dessert, I found the DavePops cart, serving a variety of LukePops (all vegan) and DavePops (vegan except for the two flavors that include chocolate or toffee chips). Where have these been all my life? I ordered the Chocolate Almond Flake pop, and was halfway done before I remembered to take a picture. If I hadn't been so full afterwards, I'd have gone back for seconds. I'll definitely watch for the DavePops cart at the Cesar Chavez Park and Oak Park farmers' markets.

As I mentioned in my April 25th blog article, other food trucks offered vegan menu items too, like Gameday Grill's veggie sandwich, KoJa Kitchen's Teriyaki Zen with Pineapple, the Chairman's steamed vegan bun, and We Sushi's tofu salad. I completely understand why some people bring coolers to the festival so they can take food home to try after the SactoMoFo food coma wears off.

It was a great event, and I'm already looking forward to SactoMoFo 7!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vegan Options at SactoMoFo 6

The next Sacramento Mobile Food Festival is coming up this Saturday, so I sent messages to most of the vendors asking if they'd be offering any vegan menu items. Here's what I've found out so far. I'll post any updates on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page.

Addy's Paella will prepare one pan of vegan and gluten-free paella. Don't know how long that one pan will last, so if you want vegan paella, you'd better get there early!

KoJa Kitchen will be serving Teriyaki Zen with Pineapple. This is described on their menu as "Portabello mushroom and soy vegan/gluten free patty, with caramelized pineapple, sesame vinaigrette lettuce, drizzled with our teriyaki sauce, and served on garlic rice buns."

Juice On will be offering -- you guessed it -- juice! All of their juices are vegan, raw, and organic.

DavePops will be selling both LukePops (all vegan) and DavePops. The only two flavors of DavePops that are not vegan are Mint Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Chocolate Toffee Chip. Dave did make some vegan Mint Chocolate Chip DavePops for Earth Day this past weekend, though, and he has a few left that he will sell at SactoMoFo. If you get there early enough, you might be able to get one.

OMG! Yogurt will have shaved ice.

Swabbies on the River doesn't really have any vegan specialties on their menu, but they'll have Boca Burgers available and they can prepare tacos without cheese.

Gameday Grill will be offering a grilled zucchini-based veggie sandwich, with sautéed peppers & onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles.

La Mex Taqueria will have vegetarian tacos and burritos, but be sure to ask them to leave off the cheese and sour cream.

The Spicy Grill responded to my request for information about their menu by saying they would have "VEGI" items. I asked if that meant vegan, and got another response saying they would have "VEGI." Not sure what that means, so if you decide to try their Afghani/Indian/Pakistani cuisine, you may need to ask some probing questions about their ingredients.

Smoothie Patrol will have a few vegan smoothies. They will probably offer the Razzle Dazzle (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, orange juice, and ice) and the Mango Madness (mangoes, pineapples, peaches, orange juice, and ice).

Dave's Dawgs says they will be serving smart dogs (veggie dogs with no GMO).

The Chairman's vegan bun is not advertised but is always available on their food truck. It consists of their regular steamed bun with their house-pickled carrots, cucumbers and daikon radish, along with bok choy and their house-made tofu sauce.

Vegan options may be available at some of the other food trucks too, but I've only listed the ones who responded to me. SactoMoFo's Facebook page lists Drewski's as one of the food trucks that will be offering vegetarian/vegan items, but Drewski's has not responded to my inquiries about their menu.

To help you avoid wasting time in a long line for nothing, who definitely won't be offering anything vegan? OM Karmabile, Krush Burger, Green Papaya, and OMG Burger. And Annie's SnoBiz can't guarantee that any of their menu options are vegan.

SactoMoFo 6 will be held under the freeway at 6th and W from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Parking is $3.00, but if you bring a non-perishable food donation for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, you can park for free. A map of the event is available at this link:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shabu Japanese Fondue

I must have driven past Shabu Japanese Fondue hundreds of times, but I'd never checked it out. Then a friend had dinner there and told me the menu looked vegan-friendly. So my husband and I went to Shabu over the weekend.

I was concerned about whether we would both be able to order fondue, since my husband is not vegan and I wouldn't want to cook my vegetables and tofu in the same cooking broth in which he was cooking meat. As it turned out, that wasn't an issue, since Shabu has a divided pot that can hold two different cooking broths.

Of the four broths on the menu, one is vegan (Kombu, consisting of salt, water, and seaweed), and two can be made vegan by leaving out the fish sauce (Shoyu and Miso). I chose the vegan version of the Shoyu broth, which is a soy sauce based cooking stock. A small plate containing Daikon radish, green onions, and garlic accompanies the broth so you can flavor it to your taste.

I ordered the Vegetarian Shabu Special, which included chunks of tofu, carrots, cabbage, spinach, enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, udon noodles, and rice. Basically, you just put a few things in the broth, let them cook for a little while, and then scoop them out and eat them over your rice. If you'd like, you can dip them in the ponzu sauce, a vegan citrus soy sauce.

I enjoyed the leisurely experience, cooking a little food, eating it, then cooking and eating a little more. I had to forgo the non-vegan ice cream that comes with the meal, but I was full anyhow so I didn't miss it.

We didn't have a reservation for dinner, which meant we had to wait for a table for twenty minutes or so. This restaurant may not have been on my radar, but it does a very good business, at least on weekends, so I would recommend making a reservation if you decide to go.

Shabu Japanese Fondue is located at 1730 16th Street (16th and R), and their phone number is 916-444-6688. The restaurant's website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at!/shabufondue. They are open for dinner only from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pita Pit

One nice thing about writing this blog is that I'm always looking for vegan-friendly restaurants I haven't tried before. That's how I ended up at Pita Pit on 65th Street for lunch yesterday, and a very good lunch it was!

Pita Pit has several different vegetarian options, most of which can easily be made vegan. Your first decision is whether to order a white or wheat pita. After that, you choose your filling. If you're a vegan, your filling choices are falafel, hummus (regular, garlic, or red pepper), babaganoush, spicy black bean patty, or garden (veggies only). If you order the falafel or black bean patty, be sure to let the staff know you're vegan so they can either microwave it or wash off a section of their grill so your filling won't be cooked in residual meat juices.

The next step is to choose your toppings and sauces. They have a nice variety of vegetable toppings, and at least a few vegan sauces. In the picture above, I chose white pita bread with a regular hummus filling, then had it topped with Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, black olives, and pepperoncinis. I had them finish it off with their secret sauce, which is essentially a vinaigrette mixed with pepperoncini juice. Delicious!

Pita Pit is an international chain, so I don't know if the staff at all of their restaurants will be as knowledgeable about the needs of vegans as the staff at the 65th Street location in Sacramento, who could not possibly have been any nicer or more helpful. More information about the Pita Pit menu and locations can be found at

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chipotle Revisited

I've been hearing for weeks that Chipotle Mexican Grill was going to be adding a tofu option to its menu. They've been test marketing the product, called Sofritas, in seven San Francisco Bay Area restaurants, and they finally rolled it out to all of their Northern California locations this week.

I attended a media tasting event to try this new product at the Chipotle near IKEA in West Sacramento this afternoon. I had Sofritas on the tacos pictured below, and I thought it was outstanding. The Sofritas is seasoned with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and spices, which gives it the same type of smoky, slightly spicy flavor as other Chipotle menu items. You can also have Sofritas in a burrito, burrito bowl, or salad. Other vegan items on the menu that you may want to combine with your Sofritas are the black beans, brown rice, cilantro-lime white rice, sautéed vegetables, guacamole, or salsa.

Sofritas is made from organic, non-GMO tofu crafted by Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland. The tofu is braised and shredded, which gives it a texture that's completely different from what you'll find in most tofu dishes.

For those of you who are interested in the nutritional breakdown, four ounces of Sofritas contains 145 calories (90 from fat); 10 grams of fat (including 1.5 grams of saturated fat and no trans fat); no cholesterol; 850 milligrams of sodium; 9.5 grams of carbohydrates; 3 grams of dietary fiber; 4 grams of sugar; and 10 grams of protein.

The timing of the rollout to other areas of the country will depend on the production capability of Hodo Soy Beanery. Chipotle hopes to have Sofritas available in their Southern California restaurants sometime in the next couple of months.

As far as I'm concerned, Sofritas is a game changer. I've eaten at Chipotle many times over the years, but mostly just because I happened to be with non-vegan friends or family who wanted to eat there. While I appreciated the fact they had something on the menu I could eat, their vegan options weren't all that interesting. Adding Sofritas to their menu completely changes my view of Chipotle. Now it's a restaurant I'll visit on purpose and often.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Food Bloggers Against Hunger

Today, I'm joining more than 200 other food bloggers in calling attention to the problem of hunger in America. The Food Bloggers Against Hunger project was created in response to A Place at the Table, a recently-released movie that chronicles the challenges facing more than 50 million food-insecure people living in the United States today.

What is food insecurity? Definitions vary, but the following components are generally taken into account:

• Is enough food available on a consistent basis?
• Is the food accessible? Put another way, are there sufficient resources (such as money or transportation) to obtain the food?
• Is the food nutritious and safe to eat?

A Place at the Table explains how our government's priorities and food policies have helped to create food insecurity for millions of families in our country:

• Our system of food subsidies, which was started during the Great Depression to help family farmers, now overwhelmingly supports corporate agribusinesses, which grow commodities such as corn, wheat, and soybeans in order to manufacture processed foods. These foods are often high in fat, sugar, sodium, and calories, but low in nutritional value. According to nutrition expert Marion Nestle, our food subsidy policy has resulted in the relative price of fresh fruits and vegetables increasing by forty percent since 1980 while the relative price of processed foods has decreased by about forty percent during the same period. This creates a financial incentive for low-income families to make unhealthy food choices.

• Addressing hunger is not a high priority for Congress. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 provided for only a $4.5 billion increase in child nutrition and free school lunch programs over a ten-year period, which works out to an increase of only six cents per meal. By contrast, $700 billion was spent on the 2008 bank bailout, and $1.3 trillion was given in tax cuts to the wealthiest two percent of Americans over a ten-year period. And how was the paltry $4.5 billion increase in child nutrition programs funded? Half of the funding came from cutting the food stamp budget, even though the cost of hunger and food insecurity to the U.S. economy is $167 billion per year.

• Hunger in America was virtually eradicated based on policies and programs instituted in the 1970s, but it's back now due to the underfunding of those programs and because of a push that began in the 1980s to replace government anti-hunger programs with private charity.

What can we as individuals do to address this problem that the government seems reluctant to tackle?

• We can tell our federal representatives that we want them to support adequate funding for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), school meals, and other federal nutrition programs. Click this link to send an e-mail to your elected officials.

• We can increase our understanding of the reasons for hunger in America and the need for action by watching A Place at the Table, which is available through Amazon or iTunes.

• We can support anti-hunger programs in our community. Sacramento has a variety of organizations that are working to provide nutritious food to people in need, including:

Alchemist Community Development Corporation, which offers a Market Match program to help people receiving food stamps purchase fresh produce at their local farmer's market.

Harvest Sacramento, which gleans unused fruit from local trees and donates it to area food banks.

River City Food Bank, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, and Central Downtown Food Basket are just a few of the area's food banks. As a vegan, you have the opportunity to donate whatever canned and packaged foods reflect your values. All of these food banks need peanut butter, oatmeal, rice, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, and other vegan staples.

As a participant in the Food Bloggers Against Hunger project, my post is supposed to include a budget-friendly recipe, featuring reliable pantry staples and ingredients that are accessible in most supermarkets. Here is the minestrone soup recipe I used when I took the food stamp challenge last November. My regular recipe, which is adapted from The New York Times International Cook Book, calls for salad macaroni and dried navy beans, but I used the shell macaroni and pinto beans that were available at Dollar Tree. I made my own vegetable stock by throwing saved vegetable peels and ends into a pot of boiling water with a clove of garlic and some salt and pepper, letting it simmer for awhile, and then straining out the solids.

Minestrone Soup

1 cup dried beans
5 cups vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 diced tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped cabbage
2 zucchini cut into 1/4-inch cubes
8 ounces of pasta (macaroni, shells, etc.)

1. Place the beans in a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight.

2. Drain and empty the beans into a large pot. Add the vegetable stock and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about one hour.

3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and celery until wilted. Add the garlic and stir this mixture into the beans. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cabbage, zucchini, and pasta and cook about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.

More information about Food Bloggers Against Hunger and A Place at the Table is available at the following links:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Wayside Noodles

I stopped in for lunch over the weekend at Wayside Noodles, a Northern California restaurant chain serving Vietnamese food. While the restaurant doesn't offer much, if anything, that's specifically vegan, there are numerous dishes on the menu that can be made vegan by substituting tofu for animal protein, or rice noodles for egg noodles.

I ordered the Beef & Broccoli, substituting tofu for beef, from the Wayside's Noodle-o-licious section of the menu. It consisted of tofu, ginger, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms served over thick rice noodles. The portion size was generous, and the dish was very good. In addition to the noodle dishes, tofu can be substituted in many of the rice paper rolls, salads, or rice plates. Wayside Noodles also offers a garlic tofu banh mi sandwich, but you'll want to have them leave off the mayonnaise.

The location I visited was at 828 J Street in downtown Sacramento, but Wayside Noodles also has a restaurant in the Natomas Marketplace shopping center. More information about the Wayside Noodles restaurants is available on their website at or on their Facebook page at