Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Detoxifying Week From Leaf Organics

I have always been curious about juice cleanses, as it seems like a great way to detoxify. Nevertheless, I know I cannot actually stick to a juice cleanse, since I crave food too much. I decided to do a partial cleanse when I saw that Leaf Organics was having a deal on Groupon for $85 for their Living Foundation box. Each box consisted of 3 1/2 days worth of food and juices, which totaled 14 meals and 7 juices.

The first juice was my favorite and was a lemonade.

The lemonade was very good, but a little more tart than the typical lemonade. It tasted very fresh and went well with the food that was provided.

Next, there was a detox drink, that tasted of ginger and cayenne peppers. It was very spicy and left my mouth burning upon drinking it.

There was also a kombucha.

I am not a fan of kombucha, so I had to force myself to drink this bitter concoction. For those who don't know, komucha is fermented tea but does not taste sweet at all.

Next, I had the Flying Falafel Burger.

The bread was slightly crunchy and oniony and filled with a soft, meaty falafel burger. The accompanying sauce had a creamy tahini flavor and was slightly nutty.

Next, I had the Bedouin Burrito.

The burrito had a creamy hummus inside, but was slightly bitter. The vegetables were very crisp and crunchy. The collard green wrap added an extra bitterness. The accompanying sauce was slightly cheesy.

Next, I had the Bombay Burrito.

This burrito was even better than the last. The collard green wrap was filled with a lentil croquette that was very savory. The accompanying coco curry sauce made the wrap even more flavorful and enhanced the spiciness.

Next, I had the Hale Kale salad.

I really did not like this salad very much. The kale was not massaged very well and had a tough consistency. The dressing was very bitter and sour. There were also avocado chunks that were overly ripe.

Next, I had the Garden Salad.

The salad was pretty good. There was an interesting mixture of vegetables, from lettuce to carrots to sprouts to pickled beets. They all tasted very fresh and had a crisp texture. The dressing was very creamy and had a balsamic flavor.

Next, I had an unknown salad.

I couldn't figure out what type of salad this was, but it was very good. I am guessing that it was the Supremely Caesar salad. The lettuce was very crisp and there were small pieces of "cheesy" bits. There were also chunks of crunchy, smoky "croutons". The tomatoes added a lovely sweetness to the salad and the dressing was very creamy with a slightly bitter flavor.

Next, I had the Purely Pad Thai.

The kelp noodles resembled glass noodles perfectly and were very slurpy. There were crunchy nuts that had a subtle sweet flavor. The creamy asian nut sauce greatly enhanced the dish, as the sauce was so scrumptious and had a lovely balance of sweet and spicy.

Lastly, I had the Spaghetti with Meet Balls.

The squash noodles mimicked spaghetti very well. The noodles were coated in small nutty balls that had a meaty flavor and sweet marinara sauce. This dish was very enjoyable and had great spices and seasonings.

The Living Foundation box was fantastic. I enjoyed most of the food and juices, although I still think the food could have used some improvement. I would have preferred to have chosen the drinks and food from the menu to avoid getting dishes that I did not like. Nevertheless, the box was still worth it and it left me feeling light and energetic. A bonus is that it enabled me to lose a few pounds. I would definitely get the box again if Leaf Organics offers another deal, but I wouldn't pay full price for it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Celebrating Fathers Day With Carvel

This past Father's Day, I honored my dad by ordering a vegan ice cream cake from the Carvel in Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, he wasn't here to enjoy it, but I made sure to send him pictures and descriptions of the cake. Since I purchased a Groupon voucher, the ice cream cake only cost $12. The cake was a decent size and very delicious. I enjoyed every bite.

The cake had three layers: vanilla ice cream, chocolate crunch pieces and chocolate ice cream. The ice cream had a sweet, luscious flavor, but the texture was a little off. While it had a creamy consistency, there were a few icy patches. This may be attributed to my freezer, since the cake did not hold up very well and got a little melty. My favorite part of the cake was the frosting, which was so succulent, yet light and airy. The confetti pieces also added a wonderful crunch.

Overall, the cake was fantastic. I would love to see more flavor varieties, since vanilla and chocolate can get a little boring. Nevertheless, this reminded me so much of the beloved ice cream cakes I used to order frequently before going vegan. It's so nice to know that these options exist, especially for special occasions. Carvel appears often on "Groupon Now", which is a part of the Groupon website that allows you to receive a voucher instantly for immediate use. In addition, they offer their own coupons that can be used anytime. I cannot wait to order a cake from Carvel again and highly recommend it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Very Green Dinner At Greens Up!

A couple of weeks ago, I had a strong urge for a salad. I normally have cravings for greasy food, so it was odd that I actually desired something light and healthy. Luckily, I had purchased a Gather Green voucher for $7.50 for $15 worth of food and drink at Greens Up! in Santa Monica. I headed over to the restaurant just before they were about to close and ordered some delicious, healthy grub.

I first had a cup of lentil soup ($3.75), which was the soup of the day.

The soup was very good and reminded me of Mulligatawny soup. It was very savory and the lentils made it very hearty. The carrots were soft and easy to chew. The soup had a mild spice and subtle curry flavor.

Next, I created my own salad. I chose a kale and spinach mix with red onion, red/yellow peppers, beets, grape tomatoes, and avocado topped with tropical ginger vinaigrette ($9.50).

The portion of this salad was massive and could easily feed two people. The kale was well-massaged and the spinach was fresh and very crunchy. All of the vegetables were very crisp, except for the avocado which was soft and was rich and creamy. The vinaigrette was fantastic. It had a subtle sweet flavor and was very tangy.

Lastly, I had a lemonade ($2.75) to wash down my meal.

The lemonade was fabulous. It was freshly squeezed and had a sweet flavor. There was a subtle tartness to balance out the succulent taste. The drink was very refreshing and complimented the meal perfectly.

Overall, the meal was very good. While this may seem like a stereotypical meal for a vegan, it was actually quite delicious. The salad was unlike any I've had before and was very flavorful. Still, I wish I had added more exciting ingredients to it, like baked tofu or dried nuts, but I still really enjoyed the food. With the discount, the meal cost me less than $10. I will definitely return to Greens Up!, since I would love to experiment with more salad varieties. I also have to give this place props for making salads such an adventurous experience. I've never actually looked forward to eating salads, but they have so many unique ingredients and dressings I cannot wait to try.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Happy Lunch At Happy Veggie

Los Angeles is littered with tons of vegan Thai restaurants, offering almost identical menu items. Since I love Thai food, it saddens me that there is such a lack of originality at these places. I was excited to hear about Happy Veggie, a vegan Asian restaurant in Redondo Beach which offers more variety than most. It was lovely to see a menu filled with a mix of Thai, Chinese and Indian cuisine.

Since Happy Veggie was offering a limited time discount of buy one lunch special, get one free, my friends and I decided to take advantage. The lunch special is already an amazing deal. For $8, you get a soup of the day and an entree of your choosing, along with a side of rice. During this promotion, it only cost $4 for a heaping amount of delicious food.

We began with the pumpkin soup.

This soup was fantastic. It had a thick, creamy consistency and the pumpkin broth gave it a lovely sweet flavor. There was a spicy curry that balanced the sweetness very well and provided a subtle heat.

Next, I had the Lemongrass Chicken.

This was also very good. The faux chicken strips were slightly chewy and had a meaty texture. They were very juicy and had a savory taste. The vegetables were stir-fried well and were soft and easy to chew. The dish was coated in a sweet and spicy sauce that had a wonderful tanginess.

Overall, the meal was very delicious. The dishes were so flavorful and I loved the pumpkin soup. It was an unexpected dish to find at a vegan Asian restaurant. I would definitely recommend visiting Happy Veggie, as the service was great and the food was not too oily, yet very tasty.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

An Incredible Meal At Cru

On a warm afternoon, I met up with a friend to have a late lunch at Cru in Silverlake. Since my friend brought her dog, we sat outside on Cru's patio, which unfortunately was not covered and I found my skin burning intensely. Nevertheless, the raw food helped cool my body down a bit and left me feeling blissful and uplifted.

We began the meal with Nachos ($14).

This dish was fantastic. The raw chips were slightly chewy and crunchy and were lightly seasoned. The nachos were loaded with savory pumpkin seed chorizo, creamy cashew cheese, smooth guacamole, and a luscious coconut "sour cream". The taste of nuts was prominent, but there were so many lovely flavors, from spicy to sweet to bitter.

Next, we had Bruschetta ($8).

This dish was very delicious. The bread was a little sweeter than the chips in the nachos. The pesto drizzle was garlicky and rich in flavor. The cashew cheese was nutty and perfectly salted, closely resembling mozzarella. The tomatoes added a wonderful sweetness to the dish and were lightly coated in oil.

Next, we had the Vegetable Lasagna ($16).

The lasagna was also very good. The vegetable layers were slightly crispy and easy to chew. The bitterness of the zucchini slices complimented the salty cashew ricotta very well. The coconut cream sauce added a subtle sweetness, while the pesto enhanced the flavor even more. Thankfully, the portobello mushrooms weren't too noticeable, as I loathe the taste of them. The salad was very crisp and coated in a light, refreshing vinaigrette.

Lastly, we had a scoop of gelato ($4) for dessert.

The gelato was superb. It was very creamy and had a lovely succulent taste, but was not overly sweet. It had a wonderful maple flavor and was very cooling and refreshing on a hot day.

I really enjoyed the meal. My only complaint is that the food is quite expensive, but luckily Cru offers many discounts. They have appeared on numerous deal sites, such as Daily Candy and Google Offers. During this visit I used a $20 for $40 voucher worth of food and drink that I purchased from Google Offers. The meal came out to $17 per person (with tax and tip). I cannot wait to return and try more of Cru's enticing menu options.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Magnificent Meal At Mandoline Grille

On an overcast Monday afternoon, I ventured to Ocean Park in Santa Monica, where Mandoline Grill typically stakes out a spot near the business park and art school. I was surprised to find the truck fairly crowded and as I stood in line, I scanned over the small menu. I was happy to see that for each menu item there was a vegan alternative, giving me plenty of options to choose from. I am a huge fan of their tacos, so I knew I had to order some of those, but I also wanted to try something new. Since I had a Groupon voucher for $5 for $10 worth of food, I decided to go crazy and order a ton of food.

I first had two Lemongrass Tofu Tacos ($5).

This was delicious. The tofu was deep fried and very juicy. It had a savory, charcoal taste. The cucumber was very crisp and refreshing. The mint leaves were a nice touch and added a subtle bitterness. The sriracha aioli was creamy and very spicy. It left my mouth filled with an intense heat.

Next, I had the vegan Bahn Mi ($6 + $1 to be made vegan + $1 to substitute sriracha aioli). Since I can't stand the taste of vegenaise, I opted to have the sriracha aioli sauce instead, since it's so scrumptious.

The Bahn Mi was humongous! It was 12 inches and very bulky. The bread was soft and slightly crunchy and filled with the same ingredients as were in the tacos. The bread absorbed the sauce very well and there were even more meaty tofu pieces. The Bahn Mi was even spicier than the tacos, since it was loaded with jalapenos.

My meal at Mandoline Grill was terrific. There was so much food and it was very filling, thus lasting me two meals. I was a little upset that the Bahn Mi ended up being so expensive with the extra charges for veganizing it and changing the sauce. It always annoys me when places do this, especially since it dissuades people from choosing the vegan option. Nevertheless, the food was very tasty and with my discount only cost me $8 total.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Riveting Shakes From Cafe Rivva

Cafe Rivva is one of my favorite places to get some delicious shakes and smoothies. I was excited when they had a deal recently on Gather Green for $8 for $16 worth of shakes. On a warm, spring afternoon, I decided to order two shakes to replace my meals for the day.

I first had the 16 oz Green Delight Smoothie ($8).

This smoothie was so scrumptious. The drink was very creamy and frothy and had a sweet, fruity taste. The spinach was barely noticeable, but added a slightly bitter taste to the drink. It was very refreshing and filling.

Next, I had the 16 oz Raw Cacao Smoothie ($8).

This smoothie was even more amazing. It was also very creamy and frothy and had a rich, chocolatey taste. There was a subtle fruity flavor and it was very sweet. The goji berries added a slight tartness and a lovely crunch.

Overall, I really enjoyed the shakes. They were both flavorful and refreshing and filled me up throughout the day. I found that drinking them in place of meals actually provided me with more energy than usual. I thought I would have serious food cravings, but surprisingly, I didn't. This deal was fantastic, as it made each smoothie only cost $4. I cannot wait to return to Cafe Rivva for more smoothies and also try their enticing vegan gelato.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Blissful Meal At Better Life Cuisine

Better Life Cuisine in Santa Monica is one of my go-to places for raw food in Los Angeles. Their food is always delicious and I feel great after eating it. Nevertheless, the service is always pretty bad and many of the dishes taste very similar. I still love eating there and with a $25 gift certificate the food is reasonably priced.

We began the meal with some side salads that accompanied each entree.

I first tried the corn salad. The corn was nice and soft and mixed well with crunchy greens. The sauce was very light and mildly spicy.

I tried the kale salad next. The kale was well-massaged and coated in a light ranch-like dressing. It had a lovely salty flavor.

Next, I had the cabbage salad. This was a raw version of cole slaw. The cabbage was slightly crunchy and coated in a tangy vinaigrette.

Next, I had a Thai noodle salad. This dish was fantastic. The lettuce was very crunchy and the raw glass noodles were very slurpy. The dressing was very tangy and had a wonderful sour taste, with a subtle sweetness.

Next, I had the bruschetta ($10.55). This was also very delicious. The raw onion bread was crunchy, but easy to chew. The tomato mixture was very sweet and perfectly contrasted the saltiness of the nutty mozzarella "cheese". The pesto was very creamy and had a wonderful garlicky taste.

Next, I had the pizza ($11.50). It was scrumptious, but very similar to the bruschetta. The tomatoes were more prominent in this dish and had an even sweeter taste. I also loved the addition of the cashew ricotta, which was very creamy and enhanced the salty flavor of the dish. The olives were also very good, as they were very juicy and bitter.

Next, I tried the manicotti rolls ($10.75) which is my all-time favorite dish at Better Life and a must order. The zucchini noodles are very soft and slightly chewy and are filled with an amazing cashew ricotta that is perfectly creamy and salty. The tomato mixture is layered with a lovely parmesan, which has a very nutty, cheesy taste.

The lasagna was very similar to the pizza. The only difference was the mozzarella, tomato sauce and cashew ricotta were layered on a thin sliver of zucchini, which made it a little less crunchy. It also did not have the pesto sauce, so it had a sweeter taste.

We ended the meal with some cinnamon rolls ($5). These are phenomenal and definitely a reason to dine at Better Life in and of itself. The texture is so moist and gooey, our non-vegan friend could not believe it was raw. It had a lovely cinnamon flavor, which was enhanced by the sweet, luscious vanilla frosting.

Overall, the meal was fantastic. Each dish was very flavorful, although it is unfortunate that the tastes were not very varied. In fact, it was hard to tell each dish apart, since they all looked so similar. Still, I enjoyed the meal and felt satisfied afterwards. I was upset to realize that we were charged incorrectly for the meal and paid about $10 too much total. This was not the first time this restaurant has miscalculated the cost of the meal, but I'm hoping next time I realize this sooner and am able to get it corrected.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Fantastic Brunch At Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart has one of the most amazing brunches in LA. I would probably go there every weekend if it wasn't so damn far. The food is delicious and very reasonably priced, considering the large portions they dish out. On a Saturday morning, after yoga, I ventured to the cafe with my $10 for $20 Gather Green voucher in hand to enjoy a delicious brunch.

I began the meal with a non-dairy peanut butter shake ($5).

The vegan milk shakes at Follow Your Heart are some of the best I've had and comparable to dairy versions. The peanut butter shake was very delicious. It was very frothy and creamy and had a wonderful sweet taste. Thankfully, it wasn't too sugary and was quite refreshing.

Next, I had the Pancake special, which consisted of wheat-free raspberry pancakes served with tofu scramble, home fries and a soy sausage link ($11).

The pancakes were spectacular. I was a little afraid the consistency would be off, since there was no gluten, but the pancakes were very light and fluffy. The pancake batter was sweet and buttery and the raspberries added a wonderful tartness. The accompanying maple syrup enhanced the sweetness.

The tofu scramble was also wonderful. The tofu was very soft and had a lovely "eggy" taste. It was perfectly seasoned and had a mild spice. The home fries were also very good. The potatoes were well-cooked and combined with some onions and peppers. The soy sausage link was very savory and perfectly mimicked the taste of real sausage. It had a slightly smoky flavor.

I took home a chocolate raspberry cake ($5) for dessert, which lasted me a few days.

The cake was phenomenal and the perfect way to end a lovely meal. The cake was very moist and had a rich chocolate flavor. The layers of chocolate mousse were so luscious and heavenly and had a creamy consistency. The raspberry coulis was tart, yet had a slightly succulent taste.

Overall, I loved the meal. Everything was fantastic and the food was very filling. I was overcome by the sugary meal and barely made it home before I fell into a food coma. This is definitely not a good meal if you actually plan to be productive the rest of the day. Nevertheless, I cannot wait to return to try more of their brunch items. The meal cost about $16 total (with tax and tip).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Some More Goodness At Golden China

Golden China in Culver City is amazing. It has recently converted me from a Chinese food loather to lover and I constantly find myself craving their scrumptious food. I am thankful that their food is not greasy nor contains MSG. I am even more thankful that they offer a $25 gift certificate, which makes their food more affordable. On my recent visit, I decided to order some favorites, along with trying some new dishes.

We started out with Egg Rolls ($5).

These egg rolls were gigantic and very filling. They were crispy and flaky on the outside and delectable on the inside. They were served with a succulent plum sauce that was a great contrast to the slightly bitter interior.

Next, we had the Hot and Sour Soup ($6.55).

The soup was delicious. As mentioned in many of my previous posts, this is one of the best hot and sour soups I've ever had. The broth was very tangy and the tofu chunks were very savory.

Next, we had the Vegetable Chow Mein ($8).

Although this was called chow mein, it resembled lo mein. The noodles were soft and slurpy and coated in a delectable beany sauce. The vegetables were stir-fried well and were easy to chew with a very slight crunch. I appreciated that the dish was not too oily.

Next, we had the Dry Sauteed Green Beans ($9).

This dish was fantastic. I must admit I had pretty low expectations, since I don't normally like string beans. Nevertheless, the dish was perfectly seasoned and was glazed with a magnificent, flavorful sauce. The sauce was a little tangy and bitter with a mild spiciness.

Lastly, we had the "Beef" With Snow Peas ($11).

This dish was also very good. The faux beef was slightly chewy and tasted very meaty. It was generously coated in a scrumptious sauce that was beany and had a lovely bitter taste. The snow peas were slightly crunchy and the water chestnuts were very crispy.

The meal was delicious and every dish was flavorful, although many of the sauces tasted similar. I did not feel ill afterward, as I normally do when I eat Chinese food, which is a big reason why I frequent this establishment. With the discount, the meal only cost about $11 per person (there were three of us). I cannot wait to return again soon.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Seamlessly Good Meal At Rosti

I love learning about new websites, particularly ones that bring food to me. I was excited when Google Offers had a deal recently for $10 for $20 worth of food to be used at any participating restaurant on I had never heard of this delivery website and was enthusiastic to try it when I saw all of the amazing Vegan restaurants on it. I decided to try out Rosti in Santa Monica, which I had heard fantastic things about. They have an entirely separate Vegan menu of salads, pizzas and pastas. I opted to pick up the food to avoid any delivery costs.

I ordered the Tuscan Hummus Dip as an appetizer. Unfortunately, they ran out of hummus, which held up my order for quite a while. The manager asked me if he could replace the appetizer with something else. I decided on the Bruschetta Pomodoro ($7.25) as a replacement.

The bruschetta was wonderful. The bread was well toasted and very crunchy. The tomato mixture was slightly sweet and very oily, with a bitter flavor from the onions and basil. The softness of the tomato checca was a great contrast to the crispy bread.

Next, I had some pita that Rosti gave me, which was made for the hummus I sadly did not receive.

The bread was a little peppery and very tasty. It was very crunchy and toasted well.

Next, I had the Penne Puttanesca ($12).

The pasta dish was very delicious. The penne was soft and easy to chew. It was coated in a spicy tomato sauce and had a subtle taste of white whine. The olives were very juicy and added a lovely bitterness to the dish. The capers enhanced the flavor and spiciness of the dish.

Lastly, I had a bowl of Vegetable Soup ($6) that was complimentary, since I had to wait such a long time for my food. The free food more than made up for the inconvenience.

The soup was very scrumptious. The broth was very flavorful and seemed to have a tomato base, which gave it a wonderful sweetness. The soup was filled with soft, delectable vegetables and lentils to give it a hearty taste.

Overall, I really enjoyed the food from Rosti. I was a little annoyed by the hummus situation, but am happy about how it was handled. Everything was very tasty. While the prices are on the expensive side, the portions are quite generous. The food lasted me three meals! With the discount, I only paid $11 total. I will definitely order from both and Rosti again!