July 31, 2012

Urban Vegan

Last month, I ate the most amazing vegan orange chicken at Urban Vegan in Chicago.
They bread and sauté the vegan chicken, top with orange sauce and serve with brown rice. I love that there are chunks of oranges in the sauce.
When I'm craving takeout, this is exactly what I want. I wish more restaurants would offer vegan versions of their traditional dishes. I don't always want a salad with steamed vegetables and plain rice. I want the same thing they offer everyone else, complex flavors and textures, just made without animal products. Simple as that :)

July 30, 2012

Black Dog Gelato

Speaking of vegan ice cream and sorbet... 

Black Dog Gelato in Chicago has some amazing sorbets. Blood Orange, Lemon, Canteloupe, Green Apple + Cherry Peach. The menu changes seasonally and it's all made fresh daily. I highly recommend the Blood Orange.

July 25, 2012

Heavenly Gelato + Ice Cream

With temperatures in the 100s, I've been craving vegan ice cream + sorbet. 

It turns out a Chicago ice creamery, Heavenly Gelato + Ice Cream Cafe, serves four different flavors of vegan ice cream from Temptation - Dreamsicle, Cookie Dough, Triple Threat Chocolate + Chocolate Mint. (These flavors may change seasonally).
I went with the Triple Threat, which was so lovely, rich and flavorful.

dairy free. peanut free. tree nut free. cholesterol free.

July 23, 2012

Davanti Enoteca

When I want just an all around amazing margherita pizza (without the cheese), Davanti Enoteca is the place to go.

They call their classic pie the DOC. Ordered without cheese, it's amazing. I also add a bit of salt and oregano to top it off. (In a pinch, it's super easy to pick the mozzarella off, unlike most pizzas). The crust is cracker thin, and the sauce is so flavorful and sweet.
It also happens to be located in a very cute neighborhood in Chicago called University Village.

July 19, 2012


More thin crust pizza today! 

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I stopped by Ciao in Logan Square. And to my surprise, they have a vegan pizza on their menu. Their marinara pie comes sans cheese. It does come with lots of oregano, garlic and olive oil - and it is crazy good.

This is a perfect pizza. The garlic is so flavorful, and the sauce is wonderfully sweet.

On a very sad note, I just read that Ciao has closed. I decided to still post this, in the hopes that they will reopen someday...Seriously one of the best pizzas I've tasted.

July 17, 2012


Awhile ago, I set out to find the very best vegan deep dish pizza in Chicago. Two pizzas in, I realized deep dish is not for me. It definitely has its place...just not on my plate :)

What I have realized is that I've grown to love thin crust - very very thin crust. This was a revelation because I grew up with thick crust pizza and have always preferred it. I think it began with Patsy's in New York and intensified at Pitch in Omaha. Now, it's all I want in a pizza. Thin crust, slightly sweet sauce, garlic, oregano and salt in a wood or coal fired oven. 

So now I'm on a quest to find my favorite thin crust slice in Chicago. 

For my favorite non-garlic topping, the giardiniera at Piece wins hands down. It puts so much flavor into such a simple dish. (I also added broccoli, garlic and red onions).

The crust and sauce are both spot on, making for a seriously delicious slice.

July 16, 2012

Norwegian dinner

There are all kinds of options for dinner on Norwegian. You can choose the buffet (always a vegetarian Asian option plus lots of veggies and fruits), or one of the main dining rooms (salads and pasta dishes), or you can choose one of their specialty restaurants. Below are some of my favorites from their specialty restaurants.

Orchid Garden is the Asian restaurant on board. We had dinner there one of our first nights - I chose a rice noodle dish with sauteed veggies, soy sauce and hot peppers. (They also offered avocado and cucumber rolls).
At Teppanyaki, the Japanese steakhouse, I started with edamame.
Then moved onto grilled vegetables.
And ended on grilled tofu with lots of vegetables and rice. (Ask for white rice, as the fried rice is made with eggs).
And most nights after dinner, I went to the main dining room for their lemon sorbet. I love citrus sorbets! 

This is the view from one of the dining rooms. Not too shabby.

July 13, 2012

Norwegian Lunch

Nearly everyday on the cruise, I ate a salad, the vegetarian Asian option for the day and fresh fruit. 

The vegetarian option was always rice and vegetables with a curry based sauce, with slight variations from day to day, to keep things interesting.
On days when the vegetarian option contained paneer (cheese), I opted for grilled vegetables. Grilled ratatouille was my favorite of their options - the menu changed daily.
When in doubt, there are always kitchen staff members nearby to answer any questions. And as I mentioned in the breakfast post, you can always request vegan items like soymilk or peanut butter.

This was one of my favorite spots...in the spa. Perfect for reading or just enjoying the view.
On one of our days docked, I snapped this picture of the side of the ship.

July 11, 2012

Norwegian breakfast

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I recently went on a Norwegian cruise from New York to the Bahamas. I must admit, cruises normally aren't my thing. I like exploring local cultures and finding unique restaurants, shops, etc. However...we had a really great time. It was nice to do with family. Everyone could do their own thing during the day, and meet up for dinner. (I spent almost everyday at the spa). Since you're not spending your time researching the best local spots, there's plenty of time to just relax and catch up.

So...what do vegetarians/vegans eat on a cruise?

Let's start with breakfast. Their buffet is enormous and it comes with all of the standard breakfast fare. Toast, bagels and English muffins with various jams (you can request peanut butter also),  cereals galore (again, soymilk is available upon request), and several potato dishes cooked in oil, not butter.

But the best part is that they offer freshly pressed juices. You do have to pay extra for these, but believe me, it's worth it to start the day without all that extra sugar. 

Every morning I had an orange and carrot juice. You could also add celery and/or melon. And then I would have a piece of toast or hash browns as a mid morning snack.
Later in the week, I'll highlight my favorite lunch options!

July 8, 2012

Lula's Sweet

In June, my husband and I went on a cruise to the Bahamas with his family. I have all kinds of info to share on the vegetarian and vegan options on Norwegian, with much more to come later in the week. On our way there, we spent one night in New York and I had to stop by Lula's Sweet Apothecary. I have dreams about their Mint Chocolate Chip...but I had yet to try one of their famed sundaes.

So we shared the Banana Split.
We went old school with this sundae...french vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream topped with hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream and a cherry. It was insanely good. You cannot go wrong at Lula's, whatever you choose. But their sundaes go above and beyond your wildest vegan dreams.
You can see my previous posts on Lula's Sweet here and here.

July 6, 2012

Ponzu Sushi + Grill

I have one last post on Omaha from my most recent trip...

Before we left for the airport, we stopped by Ponzu Sushi + Grill with some friends for a quick bite. Their Grilled Tofu Lettuce Wraps are served with coconut jasmine rice, toasted cashews, pickled carrots, red peppers and cucumbers. They're my favorite type of snack, substantial yet still fresh and light.
They also have several veggie rolls including the Super Veggie with asparagus, bibb lettuce, carrots, pickled beets, radish sprouts and cucumbers. And of course, edamame and several salads that can easily be veganized.

July 2, 2012

Ted + Wally's

On my last trip to Omaha, I was most excited to try the vegan ice cream from Ted + Wally's. I used to live right next to this adorable ice creamerie and since I left, they've started to offer vegan ice cream.

Vegan Cinnamon ice cream was the flavor the week I visited. This brought back childhood memories for me.

I grew up in a very small Ohio town, where we celebrated the Johnny Appleseed Festival every September. My favorite part of this event was the Apple Cinnamon ice cream. Since going vegan, I haven't been able to partake, nor find a vegan substitute. Now...there weren't any apples in Ted + Wally's version, but it was by far the closest thing I've tasted. And a seriously spot on texture, which can be rare for vegan ice cream.
And I just read that they're currently offering Vegan Chocolate Chip Peppermint Stick!