Archives for May 2012

5 Fusion/ Big Brothers & Big Sisters Charity Dinner

Lilian Chu of 5 Fusion has completely endeared herself to me. She is a savvy restauranteur with an unprecedented attention to detail and her charity work for the Central Oregon community is quite an inspiration. In the past year, her charity dinners have raised over $45,000 for various local organizations like the Humane Society and Big Brothers & Big Sisters. I was lucky enough to return from my trip to Los Angeles in time to be her guest at this month’s dinner.

The dinner was prepared by guest chefs from two local eateries Barrio and Blacksmith in the dimly lit, sexy upstairs space of 5 Fusion. I had visited Barrio on two occasions with my family food warriors and found it to be very veg-friendly, as long as you communicate your dietary preferences. The chefs created an impressive 5 course  meal that was veganized for me. Each course was paired with a specialty cocktail and by the second course, I was already tipsy. The carefully customized vegan menu was:

Chili glazed yam

Jibarito with jicama and orange basil sauce

Crimini mushroom taco

Vegan paella with crispy kale

Yuzu, shiso and marionberry sorbet trio

Both my cousin and I agreed that our favorite dish of the evening was the taco… Full mouth food-gasm! I was sipping on my tamarind cocktail and giggling at the whimsical smashed beer can presentation of the intermezzo.

Lilian had us seated at her table so that she could monitor the servers to make sure my plates were indeed vegan and that no stray avocados would trigger my food allergy. The evening was such a fun event, I’ve recommended it to all of my Bend,OR friends and family. The $100 ticket for a seat is well worth it to have some of the best chefs in town prepare such a stellar dining experience . Check out 5 Fusion’s website and Facebook page to get notices for the upcoming monthly dinners.

Photo credit: Paul Gregory Ong

Vegan Food Swap! May 2012

I’ve got mail! Last month, I discovered that Cat DiStasio of The Verdant Life was organizing a Vegan Food Swap. It’s no secret that I am completely distracted by anything in a shiny package and I love to try new products. This was a perfect opportunity to give and receive a box of goodies with another plant-based foodie from around the country. Here are the guidelines for the swap as listed on Cat’s blog:

How It Works:

1. Sign up by completing the form at the bottom of this page. (Sign up by May 4, 2012!)
2. On/about the 7th of the month, you’ll receive an e-mail from me containing the name and e-mail address of your Vegan Food Swap match. You’ll need to contact them to get their mailing address and any food specifics (allergies, gluten-free, etc.)
3. Collect items that you’ve purchased or made and box them up. Let’s keep the spending limit under $20.
4. Include a handwritten note to your match. You can explain why you chose certain items, offer suggestions on pairings, or include a recipe.
5. By the 15th of the month, ship your package to your Vegan Food Swap match. (Consider using USPS Priority Flat Rate boxes!)
6. On the last day of the month, post an entry on your blog about what you received, and be sure to include a shout-out to the person who sent you the box!

Opting Out:
I’ll assume you want to participate every month. If you wish to opt-out for a month, or stop participating entirely, just drop me ane-mail.

Be Nice:
Each participant is responsible for actually participating, unless you’ve opted out. If you fail to receive a box, please don’t be mad. Trust in karma.

* The Vegan Food Swap is open to residents of US and Canada. US residents will be matched with US recipients and Canadian residents with Canada recipients, for ease of shipping.

*If you live in another country and would like to host a swap, let me know!

Sarah of Gazing In was sent a care package of goodies I found while traveling in Oregon. This little piggy received these awesome goodies in a parcel from Karen of Seattle Veg Coach. Karen contacted me to inquire as to whether or not I had any food allergies or special preferences. I let her know that I was basically game for anything she wanted to send my way but had a special place in my heart for savory snacks…followed up with sweets for “taste balancing”. She did not disappoint!

  • Mori Nu Silken Tofu
  • Mori Nu Mates Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • Keebler Graham Cracker Ready Crust
  • Caketastrophe DingDillo
  • Biscoff Spread
  • Vegan Diets Organic White Chocolate Bar
  • Natural Desserts Raspberry Jel Dessert

  • Fantastic Foods Tofu Scrambler
  • Stonewall’s Jerquee (Original Flavor)
  • Companion Curry Cha’i Pow Yu (braised seitan tidbits)
  • Gardenbar  Japanese Savory snack

The seitan tidbits and the Gardenbar have me very intrigued.

The DingDillo was a little mangled due to the fact that I’m pretty sure the postman stomped on my box (the graham crust did not fair well either). As a kid, I never got to eat those devilish Hostess treats. My mom only bought us trail mix with carob, blech! This little piece of snack cake heaven was devoured in about three bites and all I can say is Om nom nom.

This morning I tried the Biscoff spread with banana slices on Dave’s Killer Bread. This trio was born to be eaten together.

Mahalo Karen for the amazing collection of treats!



Perhaps I could have shown more restraint but I didn’t. Like most Americans, we had a Memorial Day BBQ and I ate most of what came within reach of my little paws. Chips, crackers, bagels, Sheese, loaded baked potatoes, grilled corn, coleslaw, taco cups, candy, bloody marys, margaritas…I’m going to stop there lest you think I have a tape worm or that I am just a glutton. I did manage a salad or two, but I still felt bloated and in desperate need of repair. On an average day, I’d be making a big green smoothie. My VitaMix is already packed up for the trip home to Hawaii and I tried to use my cousin’s Blendtec- FAIL! I had so much work to finish after being disconnected from Wi-Fi for 72 hours, quick convenience was key in getting some proper nutrition today.

I received a sample of the Chia\Vie smoothies recently and the timing was perfect to give them a try. Each bottle is a single serving that comes in a recyclable aluminum container that is perfect to throw in your bag if you’re on the go. I drank the whole bottle of the Mango-J for breakfast and had my entire AI (adequate intake 1.1g for women) of omega 3’s for the day. Aha! Now my brain is working again. Since I’m from the islands, tropical flavors always appeal to me. The smoothie isn’t overly sweet and I enjoy the tang of the mango.

I had the bottle of banapple-berry smoothie for lunch with some raw buckwheat crackers and felt completely satisfied. While the banapple-berry didn’t have a really distinct flavor like the mango, the fruity goodness was still highly drinkable. *glug, glug, glug*

One of the pluses I see in this product is that the chia seeds are ground, as opposed to being left whole, so the nutrients are more bioavailable. Chia is magical because it is a sustainable crop that is naturally pest resistant, vegan, gluten-free, high in protein and fiber. The gel-like consistency helps move things along (if ya get my drift) after a weekend of hard eating. I did question the ingredient listed as “natural flavor” but contacted the company and was assured that these ingredients are plant derived, organic compliant, GMO-free, MSG-free, all-natural, Kosher Pareve, and vegan. I would definitely take these Chia\Vie smoothies along on my next road trip adventure since refrigeration is not required (shake well and  chill for best taste).

How do you put yourself back together after over indulging?

Chi Chi Dango

This recipe for ChiChiDango (rice cakes) is one that my mother has used for years. It’s very simple and a local favorite in Hawaii. The only exotic ingredient you will need is mochiko (sweet rice flour). All the other ingredients should be in your well-stocked pantry.

I made mochi at the request of my Aunty Sylvia for my cousin Everett’s doljanchi (first birthday celebration). The rice cakes are placed on the table during the doljabi, the Korean ceremony where the baby chooses his life path. Several items represent different paths the baby could select.

First birthdays are a special celebration and a huge feast is prepared. I also prepared a Cucumber & Wakame Salad but really worked as Sous Chef to my Aunty as she went all out for this day. Her recipes aren’t mine to share, but you can find similar recipes for some of the dishes on Maangchi’s website.

Chi Chi Dango


by Veggietorials

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Keywords: bake dessert dairy free gluten-free nut-free soy-free vegan vegetarian mochiko birthday Korean Japanese


Ingredients (24 pieces)

  • 1 box Mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups organic sugar
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 drop vegetable based food dye
  • 1 cup potato starch for dusting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth. Add one drop of for dye to the mixture.

Pour mixture into the pan and cover with foil. Bake for 350 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Using a plastic knife, trim away any well-done edges. Cut the mochi into 3/4 inch by 2 inch pieces. Dust with potato starch to prevent sticking and brush off any excess.

Store in airtight container for up to 3 days.

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My week in photos Los Angeles edition

“Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream?”

As a native Angeleno that managed to escape, returning to LA-land is always bittersweet. Visiting my bestie Laudi, the museums, and the variety of food choices make it an enticing and exciting city. The traffic, smog and lack of compassion cause me to need a massage just so I can separate my shoulders from my ears after about a day. Luckily, the food and company of friends makes up for the city’s shortcomings.

First stop: Real Food Daily. I’ve been making the Lentil Walnut Pate at home out of the RFD cookbook for years but had never been to the cafe to try it. If you’re allergic to nuts, I’m sad for you because this spread is so full of savory goodness I could eat it everyday. No joke. The secret ingredients are ume (Japanese pickled plum)and miso, giving it a deep umami flavor. My guess is that you could also substitute pumpkin or sunflower seeds if you wanted to, but the toasted walnut flavor is so pleasing to me.

Pecan Crusted Tempeh on a bed of kale and black beans with coconutty yams. If you have been wary of tempeh, try this outstanding dish. The salty nuttiness of the tempeh is the perfect companion to the sweet yams. The portion is huge, so share with a friend or be happy you’ll have leftovers.Real Food Daily on Urbanspoon

On to Veggie Grill: When I lived in Irvine,CA this was my absolute favorite place to go for a cheap and cheerful vegan lunch. They’ve opened a few LA outposts and added some menu items. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than eating a giant salad like the Thai Chikin’ (pictured above) or the All Hail Kale. Don’t forget the sweet potato fries if you’re serious about getting your Nom on.Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

Au Lac: I don’t know what rock I was living under during my residence in LA, but I did not discover AuLac until my last visit to CA in March. This place has a cult like following and is packed every night.The menu features Asian influenced “humanese” cuisine with both cooked and live, raw dishes. My favorite item is the simple Song Salad with watercress, tomato, crispy onions and a light teriyaki style dressing…Hot&Sour soup was a  very close runner up in the favorites category. The interior of the restaurant is very dimly lit, so I’m sorry my pictures didn’t come out!

The cooked vegan dishes at Au Lac are heavy on the mock meats like the BBQ “Pork” roll pictured above. We also had the Crispy Soy Seafood noodles and Green Curry which were both delicious but I found myself picking out the faux meat and just enjoying the veggies. After stuffing myself like a little piggy, a Chinese foot massage down at Jade Foot Massage in Irvine was the perfect happy ending.Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

MCafe de Chaya– In another life, I was a shopgirl in Beverly Hills. I wish that back in the day, I had the option to eat contemporary macrobiotic cuisine like this instead of giving my money to The Cheesecake Factory for over priced salads. The Big M burger is a patty chock full of whole grain brown rice,vegetables, special sauce, lettuce, soy mozzarella, tomato, pickles, onion, and sprouts on a house-baked whole wheat bun. Big enough for me to share with Laudi and leave room for dessert. I was intrigued by the Braised Shitake Inari sushi, but since it is pre-made and sits in the case, it wasn’t my favorite but I like the idea and will recreate it at home. Lots of choices in the deli case of prepared salads, desserts, and a juice bar.M Cafe on Urbanspoon

Checked out the new tapas bar PicaaPeru and found out that I don’t like Pisco. The waiter told me it was like Peruvian brandy and I was game to try it even though my friend Ross warned me he drank it in college and it’s basically rot gut. The fiery gas-like burn of grappa was too much for me,I had to send it back.

We went to the Getty Center to see the Herb Ritts L.A. Style exhibit on a beautiful day. The space is designed by Richard Meir and houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs.

There are several dining choices at The Getty. We opted for the Garden Terrace Cafe that is set up cafeteria style with counters offering different fare. I chose a vegetable melange of eggplant and asparagus with a chimichurri sauce, a pearl cous cous salad and big basket of sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries just make the world seem like a better place,y’know? Laudi had a hankering for pizza and got a side of veggies. You can also get something from the grill, a made to order salad, sandwiches and some grab & go options from the cold case.Garden Terrace Cafe at Getty Center on Urbanspoon

Flore Vegan, Silverlake- I’ve been following the daily food porn on Flore Vegan’s Facebook page for months so I was super geeked to eat here. Laudi joked that we needed our passports to go all the way to Silverlake, but man oh man, was it worth the drive! The space is cozy, the service is friendly and the portions are humungous. I had the BBQ Tempeh sliders and could barely finish one mini burger after sharing the cashew cheese platter as an appetizer. The cashew cheese was rich and tangy, served with enough bread to put you in a carb coma. Laudi tried the Southwest Seitan Quesadilla and said it was delish with the cilantro cream and pico de gallo. Being seated next to the deli case that cradles all of the amazing desserts created quite a dilemma when we had to decide on just one. Strawberry shortcake was just too tempting to pass up and we leveled it until there was not a crumb left on the plate.Flore Vegan Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Walked across the street after Flore Vegan on the way to the car and saw Pazzo Gelato. I promised Laudi that I just wanted to pop in for a look since their sign stated they had “vegan things” too. Well, looking turned into tasting when the guy behind the counter offered a sample of Aprium sorbetto. It’s tangy, sweet, tart blend of apricot and plum tricked me into ordering a cup which was shamelessly devoured in a blink. Obscene that I could even think of another bite? Yes.*burp* I was only outdone by Laudi, who finished a Sea Salt Caramel gelato and then asked what we were having for dinner.Pazzo Gelato on Urbanspoon

Last stop in LA, Newsroom The Cafe: Met up with my sexy friend Rick for lunch before I got the heck outta Dodge. He had suggested The Ivy first, but I’d seriously rather have a hot poker shoved in my eye than choke down the awful food and deal with the bad service there. He offered up Newsroom as an alternative and I was a happy camper. It had been years since I had eaten there and I had forgotten how veg-friendly they are. There was a “duck” salad special (mock meat) and vegan riblets that looked interesting and I almost went for it. I asked the waiter for his recommendation and he was so cute, he said : “I’m obviously NOT a vegan” while pointing to his ample frame “But I like the veggie burger. If you don’t like it, I’ll buy you lunch.” How could I resist? It was a patty very similar to the one at M Cafe, served on a hearty whole grain bun and served with…sweet potato fries,j’adore! Chased the burger with a shot of wheatgrass and enjoyed the people watching on Robertson Blvd.Newsroom Cafe on Urbanspoon

Headed north to go back to Oregon. No road trip is complete without a stop at Pea Soup Andersen’s . Even though we were on our way to SLO town to meet Barbara for lunch, I convinced the food warrior to share a quick bowl with me. Their recipe is vegan (no ham bone in the pot) and the toppings are all served on the side. Order the Traveler’s special for an all-you-can-eat bowl that comes with a beverage or get it in the bread bowl if you’re a carb-a-holic like me.

Bliss Cafe, San Luis Obispo: The website lists it as “good karma cuisine” and you can feel your chakras align as you walk in the door to the tiny sliver of  the restaurant. The food warrior and I both ordered the Shakti smoothie, a blend of strawberry,banana, cardamom and vanilla with a choice of rice or soy milk. Barbara went for the Bhema Burger, green split pea Indian style patty stacked between a bun, with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, & veganaise. Of course, I had to steal some sweet potato fries while nomming on my delicious quiche prepared with a gluten free crust made from garbanzo bean, rice, and corn flour filled with cauliflower, zucchini, green peas, artichoke hearts, spinach, nutritional yeast, & vegan sour cream. The quiche was full of flavor and the texture was perfect. I want to try and recreate this using The Vegg very soon.You can tell that they really care about the food they serve. The restroom is at the back of the building and since you have to walk thru the pitch to get there, I’m happy to report that the kitchen was spotless.Bliss Cafe on Urbanspoon

You can check out the rest of the goodies we had during the road trip in my vlog HERE

Plant-based Road Trip Snacks- vlog


My week in photos PDX edition

If homeland security is monitoring me via my check-ins on my personal Facebook page, I’m sure they’re scratching their heads thinking “All this chick does is eat!” On my last weekend in Portland, I realized that a lot of the joints I wanted to check out where closed or had abbreviated hours on the weekends. So, what to do but head back for a dedicated 24-hour plant-based eat fest? My cousin agreed to be my food warrior companion, so off we went.

First stop: Black Sheep Bakery for a Double Berry Cobbler and a Chai. This confection is called a cobbler but the crust is like a shortbread and the fruit filling is thick and jammy. I tried to exercise discipline and only eat a bite or two since we had a big day ahead of us, but before I knew it, the whole thing was gone. I happily wiped the crumbs off my face and washed it all down with a spicy hot chai.

Black Sheep Bakery on Urbanspoon

Next stop: Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ. Yes, vegan bar-be que! I’ve been following them on Twitter and salivating over the daily food porn. As I walked up to their original food cart location on SW4th and Hall, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. The daily special was the “Loaf-a-roni”, Smoked Meatloaf smothered in Mac No-cheese and stuffed between a sesame bun served with a side a chipotle cole slaw. This combination is obviously not “healthy” but it’s dayum good when you’re ready to indulge. The food warrior took a bite and could not believe how packed with flavor, tender and juicy the meatloaf was. Mind you, this is coming from my cousin aka the Bacon BBQ King, so I consider this to be a worthy testimonial. I took a big swig of my mint lemonade and was ready for a carb coma nap.

Homegrown Smoker (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

I couldn’t stop thinking about how good the first sandwich was, so I had to go try the Homegrown Smoker 2 food cart (now open at NE 20th & Everett) the next day for lunch. Lightning can strike twice, proven with the existence of the Mac-strami Sammich:thinly sliced, double smoked Psstrami on grilled wheat sour dough with Mac-NoCheese, cabbage mix, grilled peppers & onions, Daiya cheeze, Mellow Yellow. Oh.Mah.Ger. I want to move to PDX so I can eat this sandwich everyday and I will gladly gain 200 pounds in the process. Go here, eat this.

Homegrown Smoker 2 (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Obscene that I was even able to think of dinner? Yes, but I rationalized that if we consumed some living cuisine, all would be right in the world. On to Blossoming Lotus in the Irvington District for dinner. The food warrior was still stuffed from lunch, so he opted to drink his dinner with a blend of apple, lime, ginger, basil, cilantro -Thai Greens juice. There was still room in my bottomless pit of a stomach, and with a “never say die” attitude I ordered the Live Sampler: tahini-cilantro pate, almond cheese, live pizza, kale- wakame salad, live falafel, served with seasonal fruit and cucumber slices. This was raw food done right. Taste and texture exploded on my tongue like 4th of July fireworks. The almond cheese was my favorite…tangy, smooth and decadent. If you enjoy the taste of bitters, give the Ginger Fizz cocktail a try: Bourbon, fresh lemon and ginger juice, agave. Shaken and Served Up. Loved the vibe at this restaurant, friendly service and a great neighborhood find.

Blossoming Lotus on Urbanspoon

The next morning, we hit Dovetail Bakery on Alberta St. It’s a cute little hole in the wall that serves up some very fine looking cinnamon buns. Perhaps mine would have tasted better when it was fresh out of the oven, but I’m still dreaming of the cinnamon roll goodness I had at Angeline’s in Sisters,OR. The food warrior had a ginger molasses cookie that we both gave thumbs up.


At our last stop, Back to Eden Bakery, the food warrior was seriously begging me to stop the madness. ” No more food!” he exclaimed. “Stop being selfish, you need to take a picture of me eating” I said as I dragged him out of the car. My trip would not be complete until I tried the strawberry vegan soft serve ice cream. It was the first warm spring day I had experienced during my two month stay in Oregon, so I was doing the happy dance as the creamy smooth cold sweetness touched my lips. Of all the things I miss from my days as an omnivore, nothing pulls at my heart strings like the thought of a lemon meringue pie. I thought I had died and gone to dessert heaven when I spied the mini lemon meringue pie in the case, so I got it to-go along with a rosewater sugar cookie. There is something about eating anything with flowers or floral essence that makes me feel like a goddess. After the long ride back to Bend, dessert for dinner was all I had the energy for. The thin layer of meringue was light and airy while the lemon filling was perfectly tart and sweet. Paired with a flaky pastry crust, this pie is certainly on my “Best thing I’ve ever eaten” list, hands down.

Back to Eden Bakery Boutique on Urbanspoon

24 hours just wasn’t enough time to eat and see it all. Next time, we’ll see if I can tackle this wonderfully veg-friendly in 48 hours.

Cucumber Wakame Salad

I love the simplicity of this refreshing seaweed salad. It’s a great source of Vitamin C, calcium, iodine  and the perfect addition to a bento lunch. When it’s hot out, I can barely concentrate long enough to figure out what to eat, so the last thing I want to do is turn on the stove. Boil the water to soak the seaweed in an electric kettle and enjoy your cool kitchen as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Adding more sea vegetables to my diet has improved the strength and condition of my finger nails which normally look pretty shabby due to my constant dish pan hands. And double bonus: I was able to grow out a tragically bad haircut pretty quick. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, Asian chicks do not look cute with a mullet.

Wakame can be purchased online or at a Japanese market.

Cucumber Wakame Salad

by Veggietorials

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: raw salad vegan vegetarian gluten-free dairy free nut-free seaweed Japanese

Ingredients (12 servings)

  • 2.5 oz bag of dried wakame
  • 6 baby cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced white onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • salt
  • sesame seeds

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons agave (or your sweetener of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 tsp hot sauce


Pour dried seaweed into a large bowl and cover with 6 cups of boiling water. Set aside until rehydrated. Slice cucumbers into 1/4 inch pieces, place into a medium sized bowl and sprinkle with salt. Massage the cucumbers with salt and set aside until they start to release liquid ( about 15 min.)

Mix rice vinegar,agave, miso and hot sauce in a small bowl. Drain and rinse the wakame seaweed. Squeeze out excess water and place seaweed in a large bowl. Squeeze liquid out of cucumbers and add to the bowl of wakame. Add onions, carrots and toss with dressing. Add salt to taste if necessary. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Store unused portion covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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My week in photos, Colorado edition part 2

My trip to Colorado was a smashing success! I managed to squeeze in a baby’s 1st birthday party, some plant-based cooking lessons for my friend Patty, a day trip to Boulder and still had time to see the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Denver Art Museum before I flew back to Oregon.

I am super proud of Patty for making the decision to improve her relationship with fruits and veggies. We were blending up green smoothies, experimenting with different bean dips like hummus and simple meals such as orange-chili glazed yams with black beans and rice were a hit. I’d have to say that the best service we had when eating out was at Snooze in Denver. Though not an exclusively  veg*n eatery, they whipped up a monster tofu/soyrizo breakfast burrito that really hit the spot. I felt like a bit of a lush since I indulged in not one, but two Bruce Lychee mimosas.

Arrived back in Bend to help as Sous Chef for my cousin Everett’s 1st birthday celebration and  got distracted with a little more “research”- lunch at Boken and happy hour at Flatbread Pizza. The KimChee Bloody Mary at Boken may be the best I’ve ever had. I love the trend of eating small plates tapas or izakaya style.