Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vacationing Vegan In Venice, CA


Recently I returned to the land of my people (vegans) - California!  Venice Beach to be exact; to engage in sun, surf and the most abundant vegan food you could possibly imagine.  It was glorious!

Because the Santa Monica area is among the top 10 for vegan friendly cities in the United States, we only dined at only 100% vegan restaurants (let me tell you, that makes it really hard to come back to Cleveland and settle).  Here's where we gorged & the feast that ensued....

Veggie Grill - vegan fast food, where veggies take center stage...

2025 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90403

Grilled Quinoa + Veg Burger: scratch-made blend of organic quinoa + kale + mushrooms, topped with chao cheese, house-pickled onions, arugula, veg mayo & drizzled cilantro pesto.
Chargrilled Street Corn: sweet corn grilled 'elote' style, garnished with southwestern vegan mayo, soy Parmesan & cilantro.
BuffaloWings: tossed in spicy Buffalo sauce with celery sticks & creamy vegan ranch dressing.   
Crispy Chickin' Plate: fried chickin', cauli-mashed potatoes topped with porcini mushroom gravy with fresh rosemary & steamed green beans.
Mac-n-Cheese: organic, non-GMO rice pasta slathered in VG-cheese sauce & topped with breadcrumbs.

So much to choose from that we had to come back...

Mondo Nachos: 'chicasa' taco blend of veggie proteins + caramelized onions, mashed avocado, VG-Cheese, jalapenos, soy cream + corn chips.   
Crispy Cauliflower: fresh cauliflower florets encased in panko breading, accompanied by a sweet + spicy orange dipping sauce.   
Mexi-Mini Wrap: 'Chicasa' taco blend of veggie proteins + caramelized onions, avocado, lettuce, spicy sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Verdict: It's vegan fast food with a plethora of options to please any cravings.  Nice to hit for a meal splurge, but nothing to make a habit out of.  Once the novelty wears off, the food kinda tastes generic.

Real Food Daily - best food of the trip winner!

514-516 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Sorry for the lousy photo quality - it was late, it was dark and I was beyond tired...

Lasagna Napoletana: Italian pasta, creamy cashew ricotta, spinach, crimini mushroom, marinara sauce, basil oil.   
Southwest Salad: romaine hearts, black beans, brown rice, jicama slaw, guacamole, pico de gallo, lime cilantro dressing, baked tortilla strips

Verdict: Loved the ambiance, loved the staff, loved the food!  Don't miss the bakery counter!

Kreation Organic - whenever I travel, I try to get as much fresh pressed juice in me as possible to keep my immune system up.  Since almost every vegan restaurant in town offers fresh pressed juice, this is really easy to do.  It also help that there are juice cafes like this one wherever you turn - love it!

1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291

Enhance: Almond Milk, Maca, Coconut, Coconut Water, Cacao, Cinnamon.  
Trinity Twist: Beet, Apple, Carrot, Lemon.   
Feel Better Tonic: Lemon, Cayenne, Echinacea, Ginger, Himalayan Salt, Turmeric.

Verdict: Cute little shop, nice people, quality juice.

Vegan Joint - there's so many great breakfast options - and they serve it all day!

10438 National Blvd, CA 90034

Pancakes: served with maple syrup and vegan margarine.   
Create Your Own Omelet: select 3 choice of fillings and cheese: mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, kale, onion or avocado, served with breakfast potatoes and toast.  
Smoked Apple Sage Sausage: Yukon gold potatoes, apples and rubbed sage.

Verdict: Love the low key atmosphere and the creativity of the dishes. This is actually a place we hit every time we are in the area.

Seed Kitchen - little vegan cafe within walking distance of Venice Beach!  Get it to-go & hit the sand!

1604 Pacific Ave. Venice, CA

Creamy Caesar Salad: romaine, crunchy croutons, cashew parmesan and pumpkin seed dressing.   
Mediterranean Burger: Eric’s original bean & grain burger with baby greens, tomato, red onion and red pepper aioli spread.

Verdict: Food was descent. Seating is limited, don't expect to dine in.  Parking is crazy at prime beach time (paid $30 to park).  No bathroom!

Cafe Gratitude - where you are what you order - "I am..."  I was a lot of things...just kidding.

512 Rose Ave. Venice, CA 90291

Open-Hearted: two gluten-free buckwheat flax pancakes with maple syrup and cashew whipped cream.
Trusting: barbecue tempeh scramble - gluten-free tempeh, seasonal vegetables, shitake mushrooms, spinach, scallions, cilantro, avocado with whole wheat toast.   
Grounded: baked heirloom potatoes 9oven-baked potatoes.   
Serene: cinnamon roll - gluten-free pastry, flax eggs, cinnamon, spice swirl, powdered sugar glaze.   
Charismatic: chai latté - chai tea, almond milk, cinnamon.

Just had to come back for dinner...this time with friends - Hey McDougall Girls!

Awesome: eggplant parmesan panini - herb-cornmeal crusted eggplant, grilled panini bread, marinara sauce, cashew ricotta, tomatoes, brazil nut parmesan, arugula, basil, side of mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette.  
Surrendering: gluten-free brownie, vanilla coconut cashew milk ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, powdered sugar.

Verdict: Love the Zen vibe, good for when you're in the mood for ultra-healthy vegan. 

Vegan World - hit this little place after visiting Universal Studios - I went with dinner, while my bf opted for breakfast, which is served all day.

11044 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

Pad Thai with soy shrimp, served with brown rice, salad & a Fresh Spring Roll: lettuce, bean sprouts, glass noodle, basil, soy chicken, cilantro, carrot
Country Hash Brown: chopped grilled potato with scramble egz & vegan Monterey Jack cheese.

Verdict: Great food, friendly staff, large menu.  Parking can be a challenge.

The Grain Cafe - opens at 6am!!! Perfect for the early risers like me who just want to get their tennis & breakfast on before the city wakes around 11am... 

4222 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Pancake Breakfast: 2 pancakes served with hash browns, "sausage" and tofu scramble.   
Classic Waffle with blackberry spread and powdered sugar.   
Veggie Crepe: spinach, mushroom, zucchini, red pepper in a roasted garlic sauce served with roasted potatoes.

Verdict: So much to choose from! Loved the fresh pressed juices & smoothies.  Don't be deterred that this is actually located in Crenshaw; I never felt unsafe.

By the time we got to the end of our trip, I was so over eating out.  Luckily, I planned a beach day for our last full day.  So, we hit Whole Foods (500 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica) which has a Vegan Cafe (enter store and go to the right corner, not the left where all the other food service stations are).  We both got a grilled veggie wrap that was OK with potato salad & kale chips - again just OK.  While there, we also nabbed some fresh pressed juice, cut fruit and vegan cookies & donuts (located in front of the registers with the other bulk bakery).  Great way to end the trip!  Sorry, no pics of our beach side picnic.  But I did grab this shot...

I hope this helps you plan your trip to the vegan holy land...


Monday, July 27, 2015

Hoff's Instant Mushroom Gravy (IP)

Hoff's Instant Mushroom Gravy (IP)
Yields: 6 cups
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free**, gluten-free*

  • 2 cartons sliced Mushrooms
  • 4 cups Veggie Broth
  • 1/2 cup Braggs/Coconut Aminos**
  • 1/2 cup GF Flour
  • 2 tbsp. Vegan Worcestershire Sauce*
  • 1 Sweet Onion (half moon slices)
  • 6 Garlic Cloves (chopped)  or 2 tbps. Minced Garlic

  1. Mix together Broth, Braggs & Arrowroot in IP
  2. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine
  3. Close & lock lid
  4. Set Pressure Valve to Sealing
  5. Select Manual setting on High Pressure & cook for 10 minutes
  6. Quick release pressure
Hoff Thoughts: Omit the Braggs & Worcestershire Sauce to make soy & gluten-free.  You want just enough liquid to cover the Mushrooms & Onions, pack down and add more liquid if needed.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hoff's Summer Smoothie

Hoff's Summer Smoothie
Yields: about 6 cups
dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free, gluten-free

  • 4-6 cups seedless Watermelon
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen Strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen Mango

  1. Add Watermelon to Vitamix/high-speed blender, top with Strawberries & Mangoes
  2. Using the tamper, blend until smooth, about 15-20 seconds

Hoff Thoughts: You may need to blend a little of the Watermelon in order to make room for the Strawberries & Mangoes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hoff's Baked Beans

Hoff's Baked Beans
Yields: 3 3/4 cups
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free

  • 2 15 oz. cans Navy Beans (rinsed & drained)
  • 2 tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Blackstrap Molasses
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. Mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 small Sweet Onion (diced)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (diced)

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, sautee Onions
  2. Add Garlic & stir constantly for 30 seconds to prevent burning
  3. Stir in Beans & remaining ingredients
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce & simmer 10-15 minutes
  5. Add a little Water if Beans become too thick or dry

Hoff Thoughts: You could also double the recipe and Crock Pot these babies for about 4-6 hours on low.  Periodically check if any Water needs to be added to prevent the dish from drying out.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hoff's Strawberry Chocolate Ice Cream

Hoff's Strawberry Chocolate Ice Cream
Serves: 2
dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free, gluten-free

  • 2 Cups frozen Strawberries
  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Almond Milk 
  • 2 tbsp. Cacao Powder
  • 2 tbsp. vegan Chocolate Chips 
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Sugar

  1. Add all ingredients (except Chocolate Chips) into a Vitamix
  2. Using the tamper, push the Strawberries into the blades
  3. Blend until smooth about 10-15 seconds
  4. Drop Chocolate Chips in & run a few seconds more to break up 
  5. Serve immediately

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SSS: Corn on the Cob & Mashed Potatoes

Hit your local Farmer's Market for some non-GMO Corn (ask to make sure) and use this super simple cooking method to quickly prepare.

Pair with some boxed Mashed Potatoes made with plain Almond Milk & Nutritional Yeast.

Super Simple Supper!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Event: Engine 2 & Forks Over Knives Are Coming To Cleveland!!!


Cooking with Plants

A fantastic lineup of whole-food, plant-based chefs show you the inventive ways they create amazing meals. Featuring Chef AJ (Unprocessed), Ann and Jane Esselstyn (The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook), Chef Del Sroufe (Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook), and Chef Darshana Thacker (The Forks Over Knives Plan), you'll learn how to turn wholesome fruits, vegetable, tubers, whole grains, and legumes into delectable and satisfying meals from around the world. 

Expert Speakers

The event also features expert keynote speakers such as Forks Over Knives stars Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease) and Dr. Doug Lisle (The Pleasure Trap), along with Dr. Michael Klaper (TrueNorth Health), and Dr. Joel Kahn (The Whole Heart Solution).

Join for two full days of insightful stories, amazing demos, and plenty of the best food on the planet!

When: October 24-25, 2015
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cleveland: 6200 Quarry Lane, Independence, Ohio 44131-2218
Time: Varies
Cost: $225 - $399

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hoff's Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie

Hoff's Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie
Yields: about 6 cups
dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free, gluten-free

  • 4 cups seedless Watermelon
  • 2-3 cups frozen Strawberries
  • Juice from 1 Lime

  1. Add Watermelon to Vitamix/high-speed blender, top with Strawberries & Lime Juice
  2. Using the tamper, blend until smooth, about 15-20 seconds
  3. Drink while laying out on the beach

Hoff Thoughts: Shout out to Susan for turning me onto watermelon smoothies!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What I Eat In A Week: Summer Edition

The number one question I get asked is, "What do I eat?"  I realize that most people are just looking for inspiration to get them started on their vegan way or ways to spice up what they are already doing.  So here's a glimpse of what I ate in one week, Healthy Hoff style.

I tend to change what I eat through the various seasons.  It's currently summer and I'm stripping my meals way back and keeping it very simple.  I also tend to eat the same things daily for breakfast and lunch throughout the work week.  It does not get boring and I actually find myself craving certain meals, so give it a go.  Keeping it simple is key to keeping it healthy.

My cooking technique of choice at the moment is steaming - predominately with the help of my latest toy...The Instant Pot.  I'm using it so much, I'm seriously considering getting a second, which I hear is very common in the IP community.

While I gave some measurements to give you perspective, I don't measure anything.  I just didn't want you thinking I was cramming a bag of baby carrots down or something...  And not listed, I drink about a gallon of water throughout the day - water is my beverage of choice. 

So this is what I eat Monday - Friday up until dinner:


Mid Morning Snack
  • 1 cup Baby Carrots
  • 1 pint fresh Blueberries


Mid Afternoon Snack
  • 1-2 cups Cherries

After Work Snack
(I only have this if I'm working out, which typically means 30 minutes of tennis.)

  • 1 Gala Apple

Monday Dinner
After Dinner Snack

Tuesday Dinner

After Dinner Snack

Wednesday Dinner
After Dinner Snack

Thursday Dinner
After Dinner Snack

Friday Dinner
After Dinner Snack

Now on the weekends, I mix things up at little bit:

Saturday Breakfast
  • Three cups of water first thing!
  • Fresh Blended Orange Juice
  • Hashbrowns with Black Beans and Sauerkraut (I know this seems odd, but it eliminates the desire for Salt & since it's fermented offers a bit of probiotic goodness.)

Saturday Lunch

Saturday Dinner

Sunday Breakfast

Sunday Lunch

Sunday Dinner

That's what I ate in one week!  I hope it helped or inspired your vegan journey and remember the key to keeping it healthy is keeping it simple.

Keep it healthy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hoff's Roasted Veggie Wrap

Hoff's Roasted Veggie Wrap
Yields: 4 servings
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free

  • 4 Whole Wheat Wraps
  • 1 Zucchini (sliced)
  • 1 Red Pepper (sliced)
  • 1 small Onion (sliced)
  • 1 tbsp. Blackstrap Molasses
Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 15 oz. can Garbanzo Beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/3 Water
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 tbsp. Tahini
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder

  1. Place all Sauce ingredients in Vitamix/Nutribullet (order not important)
  2. Use tamper (Vitamix) to push ingredients into blades
  3. Blend until smooth, set aside
  4. Meanwhile, in a non-stick span over medium-high heat, sautee Zucchini, Red Pepper & Onions, adding Molasses during the last few minutes of cooking
  5. Spread Sauce onto one side of Wrap and layer with Veggies
  6. Roll into a "burrito" & enjoy!

Hoff Thoughts: You'll notice that the Sauce is just a basic Hummus, feel free to use an oil-free Hummus instead.  The Molasses will give the Veggies a sweet, caramellytaste. With all this slicing going on, I pulled out my Börner Mandoline to tackle the job!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hoff's Dessert Oatmeal

Hoff's Dessert Oatmeal
Serves: 1
dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free, gluten-free

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oatmeal
  • 1 Spoonful Vegan Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Spoonful Maple Syrup
  • 1 Spoonful Cacao Powder
  • Splash Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

  1. In a small bowl, combine Oatmeal & Milk
  2. Microwave for 1-2 minutes
  3. Mix in Maple Syrup & Cacao Powder
  4. Add a splash of Milk if desired & top with Chocolate Chips

Hoff Thoughts: Yes, you could easily have this oatmeal for breakfast, but my intent for this recipe was to attack those after dinner sweet cravings. You'll notice I used the very scientific term of "spoonful."  What I am referring to is your cereal spoon, no need to dirty another thing...