Thursday, February 4, 2016

Top 6 Things to Do in Rome (From a Frugal Vegan's POV)

Here are my 6 things on how to do Rome, Italy:

Where to...(from a frugal vegan's point-of-view):

  1. Stay: Monti (or City Centre). Monti is the new hipster neighborhood of Rome, but we stayed near Termini station in the City Centre and were very happy with the transit, food, and sights all around us. 
  2. Eat: So What? Ops! and Romeow. I can't pick one because there are so many amazing restaurants. Do So What! for a cheaper but spectacular meal, do Ops! for a buffet style, and do Romeow for the fine dining and kitties. 
  3. Drink: Italian Wine. Everywhere has amazing wine, so you don't have to seek it out. Go to the above restaurants and ask for their wine pairing. Everyone knows their wine!
  4. Walk: Tiber River. This is one of the most beautiful walks. Watch above for the lush trees, look over the river to the Vatican, and watch a sunset on the many bridges. Take a walk into a random neighborhood and explore!
  5. Shop: NaturaSi. This was a natural grocery store that had everything we needed. We tried going to the vegan shops, but they had short hours. Great for picnic shopping when heading to Villa Borghese.
  6. See/do: Definitely see the kitty ruins (Torre Argentina), get a pistachio soy gelato from almost anywhere, and rent a Vespa to risk your life (gleefully) through the city streets or the ancient street Apian Way with My Vespa Tours. 
For a longer review of Italy, check out my other posts:

Vegan in Italy posts...

Follow Your Heart Veganegg Super Bacon Quiche

If you liked my VeganEgg Sausage/Broccoli Quiche recipe but wanted a more meaty version without the vegetables, this recipe is for you.



4  FYH VeganEggs (8 tablespoons powder / 2 cups cold water)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 TB nutritional yeast
1 package Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon (or 1/2 package if you're not a huge bacon fan)
1/2 cup Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese shreds
1 whole wheat vegan pastry shell

0. Pre-heat the oven to 425 F.
1. Beat the VeganEgg together, then add the milk and spices. Once that is mixed, mix in the bacon and cheese.
2. Pour the mix into the pasty shell and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour. To make sure the quiche is done, poke a knife through the middle. When it's done, the knife shouldn't take a bunch of goopy quicheness out of it. If it does, keep cooking.
3. Let it cool for 15 minutes. It's also good cold, so place it in the fridge and eat it the next day.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Follow Your Heart VeganEgg Quiche - Vegan Sausage and Broccoli Cheese Quiche

The Follow Your Heart VeganEgg is a new, crazy option for your mornings. Instead of a tofu scramble that doesn't really taste or feel like you are eating an egg breakfast, you can now eat an egg made from algae flour! It's a weird idea, but the consistency is almost exactly the same. I tried using it for an egg sandwich, but it is pretty flavorless like tofu. That showed me that this is a much better item when it's mixed with spices...and it would be much better in a dish that is full of flavor and vegetables like a quiche!

My original recipe on here is a tofu quiche. That is pretty amazing, but I thought - wouldn't this recipe be so much better with VeganEgg? Well, it is! It's the best quiche ever. The two of us at this in ONE day. Play around with the ingredients you like, but stick with the proportions and you will have a beautiful French dish in about an hour.


2 TB Earth Balance
1 chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves minced
2 Field Roast Italian sausages chopped into 1/2" cubes

4  FYH VeganEggs (8 tablespoons powder / 2 cups cold water)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 TB nutritional yeast
1 tsp Herbes de Provence (to make it OG French)
1 cup chopped broccoli and florets 
1/2 cup Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese shreds
1 whole wheat vegan pastry shell

0. Pre-heat the oven to 425 F.
1. Melt the Earth Balance in a skilled on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook down for a few minutes. Add the garlic and chopped sausage. Once the sausage is browned, remove from the heat.
2. Beat the VeganEgg together, then add the milk and spices. Once that is mixed, mix in the broccoli, cheese, and sausage mixture.
3. Pour the mix into the pasty shell and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour. To make sure the quiche is done, poke a knife through the middle. When it's done, the knife shouldn't take a bunch of goopy quicheness out of it. If it does, keep cooking.
4. Let it cool for 15 minutes. It's also good cold, so place it in the fridge and eat it the next day.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Vegan Thanksgiving Menu!

Everyone asks me what we eat for Thanksgiving. They all assume Tofurky - which I find pretty gross and processed. There is no tofu in our centerpiece, because our family's tradition is to order the Native Foods Wellington as our centerpiece and make side dishes. I'm pretty obsessed with Native Foods recipes for the holidays, so most of them are from their cookbooks or bought from the store! Here is a list of recipes I will be making this Thanksgiving that will fill you up and will never have you missing the dry dead bird!

Native Foods Wellington (bought)

Green Bean Casserole - Native Foods Recipe
Garlic Mashed Potatoes - Native Foods Recipe from her original cookbook
Butter Lettuce Salad

Native Foods Pumpkin Cheesecake (bought)
Avocado Chocolate Ice Cream Parfaits 


Avocado Chocolate Ice Cream Parfaits

Trifle layered desserts are pretty but also easy and fun to make. I mixed all my favorite dessert ingredients for a special holiday parfait made with chocolate mousse with an avocado base, berries, marshmallows, nuts, and the best ice cream in the world! Feel free to mix around these ingredients or pick different toppings!

4 ripe avocados
1 cup agave 
1 cup cocoa powder
1 TB vanilla
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pint Coconut Bliss Ice Cream (I picked "Salted Caramel & Chocolate")
1 bag Dandies Vegan Marshmallows (heat just a bit for a creamy version)

Chocolate Mousse:
Puree first four ingredients in a blender and set aside.

Parfait Assembly:
Assemble in individual clear dessert cups. In each cup, start making 1" layers of each item. Start with ice cream, then chocolate mousse, then raspberries, nuts and marshmallows. Repeat. Eat. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Vegan in Rome, Italy: Top 5 Vegan Restaurants in Rome

Being vegan in Italy is quite amazing, actually. With some of the freshest food I have tasted, the best wine and coffee, and a true love for cuisine, this is the best place to be. Milan and Rome are the best cities to go for a huge variety of vegetarian and vegan food. Supposedly there are 15% vegetarians in Italy, which is a massive number. True or not, they do an amazing job to incorporate vegan products everywhere, and you won't have any problem in the big cities. 

Now for Rome, this is one of my favorite cities of all time. It looks like Paris a lot of the time with a river running through the city and beautiful architecture scattered through tight alleyways and historic sites and ruins everywhere you turn. Except, the people are much nicer to strangers and travelers. Which is pretty fantastic. Even the ones who speak pretty terrible Italian (us). The main city has tons of English speaking people, but if you steps about 2 feet away from the main Roman streets, some people don't know a word of English, but will work with your hand signals and laughs :). For most of these restaurants Sunday, Monday and Tuesday many restaurants are closed. Call ahead to make sure they are open because everyone is on 'Italian time' which is not as strict as opening/closing days and hours in America. Make a reservation to be safe too! Finally, Italy doesn't really use Yelp, so check Foursquare and Trip Advisor's websites to find different restaurants and the hours are all WRONG on these sites and they all conflict to make it even more fun, so be careful with that!

I had some of the best food ever here, with tons of surprising finds. Here are my top 5 restaurant picks from Rome:

  • Romeow Cat Bistrot
Romeow is a vegan restaurant with 6 friendly kitties running around your feet as you eat. It's basically my dream come true. The food is a bit fancy and small, but good. I really enjoyed the quesadilla and the tiramisu (only served on the weekend) was phenomenal. The decor of the place is really cute with nice art and fun runways for the cats near the ceiling. They are well taken care of and run around gleefully as you enjoy a glass of wine and some fancy food. You must have a reservation, so don't make the mistake of just showing up. They speak English, so you can give them a call or email even the same day to get a seat. 

  • So What?
So What? was the big shock of the trip. Odd reviews on Trip Advisor said this place has a "dive bar feel" which I completely disagree with. They place punk music and have old movie posters on the wall, but the place is bright and has a nice staff that speaks perfect English. The food was way fancier than I thought it would be. I expected it to be a vegan fast-food joint, but instead they had fantastic seitan pasta dishes like a Shepards pie and a fettuccine seitan dish that were super tasty. The guy paired it with a red wine and they had a large selection of nice beers and wine. We finished off the night with the "Roller Ball" Cake which was a vanilla double layer cake with a creamy center. It was the most moist cake I've ever had and was super tasty. We truly enjoyed this place and highly recommend it. The prices were really good too, with just about 8 euro per plate! 

  • Ops!
We ran into a TON of pay-by-weight restaurants in Italy, and Ops was one of the best. It is a pretty high-priced place (about $15 for 1/2 a pound of food) but the quality was fantastic. This is an all vegan lunch spot with a variety of foods including frittata, gnocchi, gluten free pasta, quinoa dishes, cous cous, salads, and more. It's healthy, but really flavorful and interesting. 
  • Il Margutta Ristorarte
Il Margutta is a vegetarian and vegan buffet place that serves "brunch" aka lunch starting at noon and dinner. They are open 7 days a week (pretty rare!) and serve a different menu each day of the week. Everything is clearly labeled and it's about half and half vegan/vegetarian. On the weekend it's $25 per person all-you-can-eat, but on the weekdays they offer a $15 per person deal where you can put as much as you can on ONE plate, plus a soup, salad and dessert. I think the weekday is a better deal unless you're going to really go for another plate. I couldn't finish my one plate, so the weekdays were a better deal. The food is a mix of cuisines, but they have a lot of classic European dishes reminded Lucas of traditional French cooking, and it was very healthy and flavorful as always. 

This is an ALL vegan pastry shop a few metro stops out of the center of Rome. It's worth the trip and the sweets are fantastic! It's located in a small town and the chef doesn't speak a word of English. But just point to things that look good and you'll be fine! We had a fantastic cream filled donut, a bag of 5 croissants, sugar coated fried crepe thingy, a sweet twisted bread, and two cappuccino di soias for 10 euro! I know this guy makes even more amazing things all the time that weren't there at the time including cannoli, chocolate croissants, and more. Everything is extremely sugary and sweet, but definitely worth the trip out there! He's super nice and took our photo at his store. Check him out!!

Finally, there are tons of soy gelato places, cafes, and a ton more restaurants we couldn't try. Check out Trip Advisor, FourSqaure, or just Google to find different stores and options, I guarantee you are near something amazing at all times. The farmers markets, like the daily market at campo di fiori sell the most amazing produce including my favorite, the tomatoes (pomodoro) that are the best in the world!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Milan Expo 2015 - Highlights

Milano Expo Highlights:

Sadly, the sustainable food theme didn’t really run deep at Milano Expo 2015. Italy’s meat and cheese frenzy still ran the show even when the exhibits claimed that not everyone can eat meat for us to all live in a sustainable harmony, and a more sustainable diet varies by season and has a bit more veggies than a giant pig leg or Mc Donald’s bacon burger. The hypocrisy was evident, but no one seemed to care. We still found a few hidden gems that we frequented every day or twice a day. The food quality in Italy is superb and Italians know cibo buono. The Expo, as usual, is more of a place to show national pride and bring out the traditional food for the world to taste.

On our last day at the expo, we made the ritual stop at Illy Café for the Maroccino Freddo di soia (2.5 euro only! Which only got better every day and is in the Coffee cluster) and farinata the cheesy-tasting chickpea pancake (5 euro each in the Eataly area). Finally, we ordered Prosecco from a place that had stinky severed pig legs in it, but it was worth it for the wine. We also found a hidden and healthy place behind the ever-so-sustainable McDonalds called Juice Bar. They had a soy yogurt parfait, chia pudding with fruit, salads and smoothies (centrifuge). The guy working there knew perfect English, is a vegetarian, and was fun to talk to about Italian food and the Expo.

Top 3 Pavilions at the Expo
We saw a lot of pavilions including our favorites: Germany, Azerbaijan, France, Japan, Estonia, and Austria. Germany, Azerbaijan, and Japan were our top three picks for the Expo and here is why:

Azerbaijan had a multi-level glass and wood structure with a three inside that went through three stories. There were many interactive areas in the exhibit that talked about their food and culture. They even had a place to put your hand in a box and you could look down at your hand while it turned into the Matrix/Tron. Not sure what the meaning is here, but they say it’s because Azerbaijan is the future.

Germany had an interactive exhibit where you could learn about –gasp- how Germany is actively trying to improve the future of food using different techniques and technologies. This was basically the only exhibit dedicated to showing off their food-revolution rather than sneaking in promotional sponsors and propaganda about traveling to said city.

Japan had the most interesting and interactive pavilion in the Expo. It took 50 minutes to get through the entire pavilion which included three areas with very artistic and creative ways of showing off Japanese art and technology. They also had an app that could be used in the exhibits but was not needed for most parts. The two highlights were the 2nd and 3rd areas. The 2nd area was a room that was completely black with screens on every side. The floor was covered in white lillypads sticking out of the floor that they would project onto. When we walked in the walls had dancing images that looked like they were floating and the floor and lillypads had stars and white spots flying by in the darkness.

The 3rd area was the “future restaurant” where everyone sat down at tables with screens embedded in the table’s glass with touchscreens that reacted to the chopsticks. They did a game to pick out a dish and season and show how Japan’s food is sustainable and varied by season. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Slow Food
  • France
  • Austria
  • U.K.

Things NOT to see, IMHO:

  • Italian Pavilion - This usually has huge lines, so don't bother if it's huge. At the end of the night around 8pm (20:00) you can walk in. Enjoy the "chaos room" wth?
  • U.S. - Sponsored by Walgreens. Not super exciting. 
  • China - Semi-interesting, but kind of propaganday
  • The clusters (fruit & veg, chocolate, etc.) - this is where they put the smaller country pavilions where not much is going on. It's worth a little look, but most of them just have products that they sell in their country, and it doesn't have anything to do with a cluster of food types. Sri Lanka = fruit & veg?

Shanghai 2011 VS. Milan 2015 Expo
Why Milan is not as good as the Shanghai world expo
Shanghai had local cultural ambassadors for each pavilion so you could meet someone from every country. This fair doesn't have that, and 99% of all people are from Italy. There are a few exceptions like Japan and France, so that was a nice touch.

Why Milan is better than the Shanghai world expo

This expo was a lot better than Shanghai because there were a lot less people. Shanghai had 500,000 people a day, and this was a LOT less than that. It's still busy, but at least you can see most of the exhibits in a few days without 7 hour lines to see a big screen TV. Also, there is so much good food to try here, so it beats out the Chinese expo for tastiness too.