My Week in Photos::Beautiful Island Life

Happy Aloha Friday friends! It’s been a busy week but I made some time to enjoy the beautiful weather and visit with family.

My cousin Tim and his girlfriend came to town for a visit. We enjoyed lunch at the new Monkeypod Kitchen in Ko’olina. The selection for vegans is limited but if you order the Vegan Portugese Bean Soup (labeled as such on the menu) and the Kale Macadamia Nut Salad, you won’t be disappointed. The soup is highly spiced and very flavorful, served with pita bread for dipping up the last bits of broth. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly excited about the kale salad when I ordered it, because I was hoping they had vegan pizza. But this fresh salad, loaded with sweet Maui onions, golden raisins and the mac nuts tossed in a sesame miso dressing really is something special. Ono mouth explosion!

Then it was back to the drawing board, literally, as I started story boarding for my next video recipe. I’ve been staring at a 10 pound bag of organic carrots and tried to come up with easy ways to use them.

Most of the time, I play a round with a few ideas before I film the video.

 I filmed my carrot video and realized the footage came out like complete crap, so with a very sad face,I scrapped it all and took a drive to the beach.

I got a kale,spinach and pineapple shave ice from the House of Pure Aloha and a big hug from Uncle Clay,the owner. Suddenly, everything was right in the world again.

So then the carrot video evolved into this Walnut Salad amuse bouche…hey, I still used ONE carrot 😉

Rooted some more pineapple crowns to put out in the garden this weekend.

Gratuitous pug photo: Winston doing his Yoda impersonation- “Do or do not, there is no try”

So let’s have a toast to the weekend with this super yummy lychee sake I recently discovered. I lurrrve lychee and this sake goes down so smooth. Be careful! It will catch up with you. Kanpai!

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My Week In Photos- Holiday Cheer

It’s so easy to get caught up in the frenzied pace of the holiday season. This week I stepped away from the kitchen and the computer to go out and LIVE a little, spending time with new friends and my ohana.

Went looking for my pot of gold and then I realized how blessed I already am.

Met up with the lovely Valentina from The House of V Bakery for a meal at Greens & Vines in Honolulu. I love it when you meet a new friend and you can just talk and carry on like you’ve known each other forever. A love of delicious food connects us all. It looks like we’re drinking Bloody Marys but it’s actually the house made strawberry & goji kombucha. It’s thicker than store-bought kombucha, almost like a smoothie. Super tasty and gave me a nice boost for the day.

Greens &Vines Raw Vegan Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Raw Pad Thai- Light, refreshing and full of crunchy goodness

Living Lasagna- A MUST try. Rich, complex flavors and very filling.

Mushroom Alfredo w/ Zucchini Noodles

And the Wicked Chocolate Tart- sooooooo rich and delish!

After sightseeing and a beautiful sunset, we ended the day with a cocktail at The Modern hotel in Waikiki.

I did find time to do a little work. My friend Chanelle has been my baking muse,so I finally broke down and asked her for the recipe for these Ooey Gooey Sticky Buns.Even for a “baking FAIL” like me, they turned out awesome! The video recipe will be up on my YouTube channel soon 🙂

Winston the naughty Pug thought he’d open some Christmas prezzies early…

My Aunty Cynthia took Mom,Dad and me out to celebrate the season at Chai’s Island Bistro with music by the Brother’s Cazimero.

Cheers to all of You, my friends. Mahalo for all of your love and support. Wishing you many blessings and merry everything!

My week in Photos- Bend,OR finale

My time in the breathtaking and picturesque Pacific Northwest has officially come to an end. Made it up to Mt. Bachelor for a quick photo opp. Never got a chance to ski or snow shoe…next time I will make it a priority.

My last stop eating out & about in Bend,OR was Bōken. An adult beverage seemed like a good place to start. I sipped the cool blend of cucumber vodka and blood orange juice that is the Boken-tini while I pondered lunch selections. Blood oranges can make a drink seem so much sexier…y’know? Lemon grass tofu banh mi ( Vietnamese style sandwich) is served with the same delicious house marinated pickled daikon and carrots  that garnish an order of Shitake skewers. I’m a pickle fiend and love love loved the marinated cauliflower.

Veggie Lumpia and a Coconut Martini @Bōken.

My vegan chili entry into the annual cook-off was good but not good enough to beat cousin Keith. He won first place for the fourth year in a row! I’m still perfecting this recipe but should have it ready to post soon.

Mission accomplished in Bend: Got Cousin Paul to incorporate green smoothies into his diet and he knows that you don’t “suffer” when eating a plant-based diet.

This week I’ll have a post about my new favorite spices for kitchen alchemy. Have a great weekend friends!

Sarah’s Raw & Vegan Cafe at the Cafe of Life

How is it possible that I have been in Bend,OR for almost three months and had no clue that Sarah’s Raw & Vegan Cafe was open? I’m subscribed to the Happycow updates and somehow missed this hidden gem. This is currently the only  No Meat Kitchen in Bend serving up an impressive menu of superfood smoothies, raw lunches and delectable desserts.

Sarah (pictured above) has the space located behind her husband’s chiropractic office on NW Colorado Ave . I smiled to myself as we passed the sandbox and toys walking to the rear entrance. Yup, you can actually feel the good energy flowing out of the tiny cafe. My Aunty and Uncle came along as food warriors today after our Zumba workout and we were famished. Today’s featured lunch was a raw pizza: flax cracker base, romaine lettuce, marinara sauce, cashew cheese, tomatoes and almond cheese shreds accompanied by a leek salad. We tend to dissect all the elements of a dish and agreed that this was superbly composed. The cracker was hearty enough to hold up to the moist ingredients without becoming a soggy mess while the marinara had enough complexity to avoid being lost in the greens.

Dessert surprised us all..a petite persimmon stuffed with date puree spiced with cinnamon and cloves, topped with a fresh raspberry sauce. Perfect to share and eat enough just to touch the heart ♡

The smoothie options are extensive. It was hard to choose between the Coconut Chocolate Dream, Luscious Lavender or about twenty other choices, but I settled on the Chai smoothie sans avocado. My smoothie was a blend of cashews,dates,banana,cinnamon, clove, nutmeg,warrior protein,vanilla and Himalayan sea salt. So good, I must try and recreate it at home when I leave Bend. I got mine to-go in the honor system Mason jar (return jars to the cafe for continued good juju) and found out they really make an effort to reuse/recycle to cut down on waste. Instead of purchasing to-go containers, Sarah’s Cafe either uses the Mason jars or they pack your goodies in the containers that herbs,dates or other ingredients are shipped to them in. No paper napkins, plastic utensils or straws here.

Grab a hula hoop and burn off those overt fats after your meal. If you’re an expert at wiggling your hips, try it tandem with one of the super friendly staff members! We had a fantastic experience and wish Sarah and the staff much continued success.

Sarah's Raw & Vegan Cafe on Urbanspoon

*Vegan caveat: I asked about the cheese they used to top the pizza after realizing it was not any of the usual cheese alternatives I was used to. Unfortunately, I had already eaten the whole pizza since the cafe is marketed as “vegan” and I didn’t think to ask before wolfing it down. The almond cheese used here is a brand that does contain casein. I will suggest that perhaps they give Galaxy shreds or Daiya a try.

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

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.

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.

My week in photos- Colorado edition

I want to live in Boulder,CO so I can enjoy brunch at Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant every weekend. Vegan biscuits and gravy were savory and satisfying, especially since I’ve been having a mean hankering for ‘um! The sprout salad with pickled radishes, pea shoots, and jicama was a refreshing contrast to the biscuits. My fellow food warrior had the baked brie and told me she wanted to lick the pan, it was THAT good. Bonus:Upbeat and friendly service with a smile.Leaf Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

And how can you call it “brunch” without a mimosa?

Stopped in to Tapateria for dinner with friends: Sangria, roasted garlic, artichoke & pepper salad, patatas bravas, gazpacho shooter and mushroom pan. SO good…I love to eat little noshes with distinct flavors. Fantastic service, casual atmosphere in Colorado Springs.TAPAteria on Urbanspoon

Just missed Happy Hour at Trinity Brewing Co. but tried the falafel salad and the seitan Buffalo wings. The menu is extremely veg*n friendly but I found the food to be just  “meh” at best.