Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grandma's Homemade Flour Tortillas (sorta)

I may have mentioned that I spent a good bit of my childhood in my grandmother's kitchen...mostly gossiping and watching her cook, but occasionally I would give her a hand. I remember using an old wooden rolling pin to help her whip out loads of tortillas for a table-full of hungry children. We'd load these magical discs (nobody made 'em like Grandma) with all sorts of things--beans, guac, butter, you name it...

So after years of trying, I finally got the magical recipe out of Grandma, veganized it, and made a batch of my own. And let me tell you--what these tortillas lack in beauty, they most certainly make up for in taste!

Grandma's Homemade Flour Tortillas (sorta)

2 c unbleached white flour (plus extra for rolling)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon evaporated cane sweetener
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 c vegetable shortening
3/4 c unsweetened almond milk (luke warm)

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well with fork. Add shortening and mix with fingers until consistency is even. Add almond milk and knead well (about 3-5 minutes). Separate dough into 8 equal parts, creating small dough balls. 

Generously dust a large, flat surface with flour. Using a rolling pin (or a sanitized wine bottle...not kidding), roll out each ball into a round, flat shape. Use additional flour to dust balls as you roll them out. 

Heat griddle to medium-high heat. Thoroughly cook each tortilla (roughly 1 minute on each side). 

Store uncooked tortillas on a large plate, separated by parchment paper. Cover plate with plastic wrap. Uncooked tortillas can be stored up to 3 days in refrigerator.  

Feel free to load these up with whatever you like...or don't. They're great all by themselves, too!

Free "Cancer Project" Cooking Class

For those of you not on Spiral Diner's e-mail list, here's the latest from Amy, Lindsey, and Sara:

Free "Cancer Project" Cooking Classes at Spiral Ft Worth 

Spiral is excited to be hosting a free event brought to us by PCRM and The Cancer Project. The "Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking Class Series for Cancer Prevention and Survival" covers a variety of cancer-related nutrition topics and demonstrates how to prepare several meals loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, high-fiber and low-fat foods, and healthy dairy alternatives. The series also provides information on planning meals and maintaining a healthy weight. To register for the class please click here. Please don't sign up at Spiral. All registration must be done on-line.

Each class includes a nutrition video followed by a cooking demonstration and sampling of the food prepared. Classes are open to cancer survivors, friends, family, and anyone interested in cancer prevention and healthy eating. For more detailed info on the class please visit the Cancer Project Website. To learn more about your Food for Life instructor, Katherine Lawrence, click here. If you have any questions about the classes please contact Katherine Lawrence, at 817-526-4811 or

Here's the class schedule (All classes take place at our Ft Worth location):
5/03/09 (7 to 8:30 p.m.): Introduction to How Foods Fight Cancer
5/04/09 (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.): Fueling Up on Low-Fat Foods/Favoring Fiber
5/10/09 (7 to 8:30 p.m.): Discovering Dairy Alternatives
5/11/09 (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.): Replacing Meat/Cancer-Fighting Compounds and Immune-Boosting Foods

Monday, April 27, 2009

BuzzBrews Kitchen


OK--it's no Kerbey Lane

So you're not going to find a complete Vegan Breakfast Platter on the menu at BuzzBrews. What you will find, however, are a few tasty vegan eats, great coffee, and free Wi-Fi...24 hours a day! 

Here's a list of some of our options:

Chips and Salsa
Black Beans
Veggie Sausage 
Build-Your-Own Veggie Tacos (not on the menu) with the following fillers:
Anaheim Pepper
Artichoke Hearts
Button Mushrooms
Red Onion
Bell Pepper
Sun-dried Tomato

Unfortunately, their Veggie Burger is not (and cannot be made) vegan. But with the B-Y-O Taco option, who needs a veggie burger anyway?

4154 North Central Expressway
(214) 826-7167
4334 Lemmon Avenue
(214) 521-4334

Update: 11/11/09

Veggie Sausage contains egg.

Bliss Raw Café UPDATE

Opens on Friday, May 1
at 3:00 PM

Go visit Johnny and the gang for some Rawko-Tacos

...or Minty Hemp (if you're on a liquid fast like me)!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thai Lotus Kitchen

Admit it--the place looks sketchy.

So imagine the look on my face when my friends suggested dinner at this hole in the wall., thanks. 

But after checking out Thai Lotus Kitchen's menu and seeing their consistently high marks on the City of Dallas Food Inspection page, I decided to give the place a shot. And I'm so glad I did...a few too many times last week!

Once you get past the less-than-beautiful exterior, Thai Lotus Kitchen is a rather pleasant place. Service is fast, friendly, and the food is wonderful! Every dish is made with super fresh veggies, served with two heaping scoops of steamed rice, and almost everything can be made vegan upon request.

My faves:

Spicy Basil Tofu
Made with baby corn, bamboo shoots, red bells, carrots, mushrooms, and fresh basil. The dish is mildly spicy and a bit salty, but the rice helps cut the salt factor.

Red Curry Tofu
Perfectly seasoned red curry with green beans, red bells, carrots, zucchini, bamboo shoots, and fresh basil. 

Sticky Rice 
Sweet sticky rice laced with fresh mango slices. Yes--we get dessert, too! 

Have any of you been brave enough to try Thai Lotus Kitchen? 
Let us know your faves!

3851 Cedar Springs
(214) 520-9385

Friday, April 24, 2009

Whole Foods: Mock Chicken Salad

Whole Foods launched their new Summer Salads this week. In addition to their original Vegan Chicken Salad made with baked tofu ($5.99/lb), they are also offering the Mock Chicken Salad made with soy nuggets ($9.99/lb) this season! As I mentioned in a previous post, the soy nuggets have the taste an texture of real chicken. This salad has a smoky flavor--quite different from the original Vegan Chicken Salad--and totally worth the extra 4 bucks!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cyclone Anaya's

What can I say? I do love a good margarita. 

And Cyclone Anaya's has a killer one!

So I was willing to settle with the typical chips and salsa and forego a decent meal just to visit with my friends Nicholas and Lynsy at Cyclone Anaya's this past weekend. But to my surprise, my lunch at Cyclone turned out to be more than decent!

In addition to my (far too many) chips and salsa, I ordered sides of accidentally-vegan refried black beans, corn tortillas, and roasted jalapeños. The sides were all pretty fantastic! I chopped my jalapeños, mixed them into the black beans, spread the mix onto each tortilla, and doused them in salsa. Sloppy, delicious mess, I must say! 

I was sad to learn that the guacamole is not vegan, but the waiter suggested ordering a side of avocado wedges. Maybe I will next time and make my own guac!

3211 Oak Lawn 
(214) 420-0030

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Dietary Guide to Dallas' Vegan Culture

My life as a vegan began nearly five years ago—a short time in the eyes of many vegans (as I’m reminded often). And I have no shame in admitting I’m still rather a “newbie” to the cause.

But what is “the cause” exactly?

I have explored the many facets of veganism—working at a popular vegan diner, running in circles with the raw foodists, and mingling with the new wave of “Skinny Bitch” vegans at social events. Each group has its own agenda, be it ethics, personal health, vanity, whatever. And each group is passionate about this chosen lifestyle. However, few of these subcultures of veganism share common food interests. We are all driven by different factors, hence making our dietary choices equally diverse.

During my stint working at Spiral Diner, I met some of the most fascinating vegans in Dallas. The clientele and employees came from all walks of life. Most of my co-workers were young artist types (some pictured above), but a couple of us were older professionals taking on a side gig to connect with the vegan community. It was during my days at the diner that I became aware of just how multifaceted Dallas’ vegan culture really is.

Vegans are roughly defined as people who do not consume animal products of any form, including, but not limited to, dairy, eggs, honey, refined sugars, and animal-based fashions. But as you’ll learn in this dietary guide to Dallas’ vegan culture, gray areas do exist, and the subcultures sometimes intermix...or clash.

This guide is not meant to belittle any one particular group (we all have our individual quirks and charms). It’s simply my response to the many ill-informed writers who continue to get it only half right in their stories.

A Dietary Guide to Dallas’ Vegan Culture

Ethical Vegans
Ethical vegans seem to be the largest group in Dallas’ vegan culture, and the most culinarily diverse. Ethical veganism is defined as a lifestyle that excludes animal products for reasons of exploitation and cruelty to animals. While members of this subculture fall under other categories as well, this group also includes avid yogis, feminists (have you read any Carol Adams?), and members of several religious groups. (If I’ve left anyone out, please don’t be offended—this guide is about food.) Food choices in this category can include any plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, etc.). Some members of this group also consume imitation milks, cheeses, and meats. But ethical vegans who choose to consume faux meat and cheese products are sometimes given flack by omnivores (and even some self-important vegans) for their dietary choices. The idea of eating plant-based foods that taste similar to the animal-based equivalent seems preposterous to some. But not everyone gave up animal foods because they hated the taste of meat and cheese. Some vegans enjoy the taste of a delicious pepperoni pizza…they just don’t want to support the industries offering the “real deal.” And companies like Lightlife, Follow Your Heart, Turtle Island, among many others are making some wonderful faux meat and cheese products available at most grocery stores. Additionally, Spiral Diner has made it really easy for local vegans to enjoy some amazing faux meat and cheese creations in a casual restaurant setting. Amy McNutt and James Johnston, Spiral's founders and executive chefs, are true pioneers!

Members of this group focus on the environmental aspect of veganism. John Robbins’ The Food Revolution explains the environmental effects of the meat and dairy industries in great detail. Eco-vegans have adopted this way of life for such reasons. Many drive eco-friendly vehicles, sport hemp shoes, and are often found volunteering at local clean-up events. Their diets mostly consist of organic produce, bulk organic grains and nuts, and often include house-grown herbs and vegetables.

Health Food Vegans
Many members of this group have adopted veganism for health-related issues like diabetes, obesity, psoriasis, high cholesterol, and other ailments. Some health food vegans follow specific diet regimens (Ornish, McDougall, etc.) that limit sweets, highly processed foods, fats, and other select items depending on their particular diet. Raw vegans fall under this category as well. Raw vegans believe consuming plant-based foods in their purest forms (not heated over 115 degrees) allows the body to heal itself and function more efficiently. The incorporation of superfoods such as raw chocolate, maca (a Peruvian root), and goji berries is said to further enhance those health benefits. Many claim their conversion to the raw foods lifestyle has helped them cure cancers and other ailments where Western medicine had failed. Other benefits touted include weight loss, healthy skin, better sleep, and age reversal. The raw vegan community in Dallas started as a small grassroots venture that has vastly grown over the past couple of years. Local raw confectioners like Hail Merry and Amy’s Raw Chocolate Delights offer tasty alternatives to your everyday vegan chocolate treats. Additionally, Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar is set to open next week, and they will offer some truly inspired raw creations that rival some of the big shots in California and New York! Click HERE to read more about Bliss. Some raw vegans call themselves “bee-gans” because they allow themselves to eat foods that contain raw honey and bee pollen.

Hipster Vegans
Hipster vegans are just that—hipsters. And veganism is hip, right? You can find these cool kids dancing to the newest beats every Tuesday night at Fallout Lounge’s Disqo Disco, parties at the Annex House, and just about every other offbeat event in the city. Hipster vegans often call themselves “free-gans” because, while they do follow a mostly ethical vegan diet, they never turn down free food. They believe that as long as they are not financially supporting the meat and dairy industries, all food is fair game. Some argue that these kids are not true vegans because after a few beers, they’ll eat just about anything!

“Skinny Bitch” Vegans
If you haven’t heard of Skinny Bitch, you must be living under a rock! The witty book by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin is a guide to “stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!” It promotes a whole-foods vegan diet—light on the prepackaged, chemical-laden stuff found in the frozen aisle. The book became a New York Times Bestseller after Posh Spice was spotted toting around a copy in an L.A. boutique. Some “Skinny Bitch” vegans include Highland Park honeys trying to lose some vanity weight, suburban soccer moms looking for a new project, and urban thirty-somethings jumping on the latest diet trend. Daily food consumption is heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and other low-fat/high-fiber vegan eats. Coffee and other forms of caffeine are avoided (yikes!), and only herbal tea and three small servings of fresh fruit are suggested for breakfast.

Now—I’m sure other subcultures do exist. The groups listed above are the ones I encounter most often in Dallas.

But the most interesting thing about our diverse Dallas vegan culture is how some people within the culture judge those that don’t fall into their particular subculture. We all find it irritating when belligerent, preachy sorts try pushing their personal agenda on us, yes? So why do that to each other? Are we not all making a difference?

So to those vegans, I say this:

Why should it matter if rich ladies-who-lunch want to dabble with veganism for a minute because Rory Freedman says it’ll make their asses look better? It might.

Why are hipster vegans given hell for eating a slice of free pizza after a few too many beers? You know they’ll pay for that sloppy mess in the morning.

What’s the big deal if someone wants a box of Spiral brownies (or Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes) for dinner? They’re good.

And the most ridiculous one yet: WHO CARES whether you’re a Suma Veggie fan or a Veggie Garden fan??? They're both great. (I heard that one this weekend at a party at the Annex House—but trust me…I’m no hipster!)

There’s already plenty of negativity directed at us for our lifestyle choice, folks. Must we add to it by placing judgment on each other? We are all doing our part to make Dallas an urban-green-hip place to live! 

Pictured from the right: Nicholas, Andy, Eli, and Justen (some of my favorite Spiral Diner buddies at a Dirty Birds show).

Friday, April 17, 2009


Some days, finding parking at the Highland Park Whole Foods can be nightmarish--if not completely impossible! Today was one of those days. So as I exited the chaotic scene of mad housewives attempting to maneuver vehicles much too large for them, I came face-to-face with Nonna.

Nonna? That tiny space in the the strip mall by the liquor store? Yes, that's the one.

It was suggested to me a few weeks ago by a vegetarian friend of mine who swore they could make a vegan dish with advance notice. Although I hadn't made prior arrangements, I decided to stop by anyway. 

Upon entering the place, I immediately asked to speak with the chef. I explained my dietary needs to him, and without any hesitation, chef Dustin Koerner spouted off a meal he could prepare instantly. The dish: Spaghettini with ramps and Calabrian chile. 

Hmm...a pasta dish? Really? But I went for it anyway.

Soon after being seated, the general manager (a vegetarian), visited with me and explained several other potentially vegan dishes. The menu changes daily, but today's other vegan options included a baby beet salad with fuji apples (no cheese), and a cheese-less pizza with fresh herbs. Tempting--but I was satisfied with my glass of Barbera d'Asti and the complimentary dish of olives.

My Spaghettini was out in minutes--and I must say: the dish was flawless! Prepared with house made pasta and a touch of olive oil, the subtle flavors of the ramps and chiles really came through. The pasta itself was light and fluffy, and didn't leave me with that typical bloaty feeling sometimes associated with prepackaged pastas.

My unplanned visit to Nonna was extremely pleasant! My server (Lindsey) was fantastic--friendly, fun, and attentive! And the entire staff made sure my needs were being met. I visited with chef Koerner after my meal, and he enthusiastically spoke of some of the upcoming vegetable dishes this season. Keep an eye out on this place!

4115 Lomo Alto Drive
(214) 521-1800

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yoga+Music+VEGAN FOOD at Fair Park

This Friday, April 17 at Chi Dallas

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bliss set to RAWK Dallas!

Ready to get blissed out, Dallas? Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar is set to open on April 28. Lisa Petty (DallasEats) and I were invited to attend a tasting of Bliss' menu this past weekend.
Check out my write-up on the Dallas Observer's City of Ate

And take a look at some of the rawkin' food we sampled!

Strawberry Sheezecake: Crazy Amazing!

Rawko-Tacos and Choco Salad: We both loved the Tacos!
Lisa was diggin' on that chocolate infused cabbage salad.

Nori Bites: Tasted SO real, they freaked me out! 
Lisa loved 'em!

Coconut Berry Parfait: Like an ice cream & berry dream-come-true!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Easter brunch--not something vegans normally get to partake in, huh? Most places seem to sell prix fixe menus on Easter, none of which include decent (if any) vegan choices. So my good friend Christopher searched long and hard for a nice Easter brunch spot for us. After several calls, he found only a few eateries serving their standard menus. Our small group agreed on Parigi. Regarded highly by many locals, the Oak Lawn brunch spot offers a nice selection of wines, a couple of vegan appetizers, and a single vegan entrée that puts many other non-veg restaurants' vegan offerings to shame. My meal started off with a beautiful assortment of olives. I'm not extremely well studied on the fruit, but I can say this: if you're a fan of olives, you'll appreciate the quality served at Parigi.

Main course: I admit I'm a sucker for mushrooms, but my Roasted Portobello at Parigi was phenomenal! The mushroom was loaded with quinoa (I thought only Spiral was hip to this complete-protein grain), spinach, carrots, peas, and parsnips. And the mushroom cap itself had a wonderful smoky flavor. Order the dish without asiago to make it vegan. 

Service was fast and everyone was extremely friendly! Be sure to visit with Dovey for a good laugh--she's quite the comic!

3311 Oak lawn Avenue, Suite 102
(214) 521-0295

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bella Bar and Restaurant

I recently posted a review of Bella Bar and Restaurant that was…well, not so nice. After a restless night (negative energy does that to me), I deleted the post. My intention was to remove it and never mention Bella’s name again, but after some wise words from a wise man, I had a change of heart. So I present to you my revamped, cooled-off version of my dining experience at Bella last weekend…

Despite the fact that several botox beauties and their not-so-better halves were awarded special treatment (seated immediately while the rest of us waited), I do have to thank Chef Short for accommodating my dietary needs. On a whim, the chef prepared me a fabulous appetizer—a tomato and olive tapenade with grilled flatbread. I shared it with my omnivorous dining companion who agreed it was stellar! The main course, while not a total miss, was definitely not a hit. Served over a bed of (cold) basmati rice laced with an arrabiata sauce, the wild mushroom and spinach stuffed heirloom tomato seemed rather uninspired and lacked serious flavor.

What went wrong?? 

Several things, really.

1. Well, it isn’t the best season to feature a tomato, is it? No.

2. I failed to ask the server (who was fantastic, by the way) what special dish the chef was preparing for me. I admit I tend to put too much trust in well-respected chefs.

3. The chef should have informed me of his culinary plan. Had I known a tomato was to be the featured item, I would have objected.

4. We really should have walked away after waiting over an hour for our table…let alone two hours! Bad call on my part, but I felt bad leaving after giving the chef a heads-up that we would be dining there that evening.

5. What was I thinking going to this place right after its rave review from DMN’s Leslie Brenner in the first place??? That was just plain dumb.

So in all fairness, I really need to give Bella another shot (on a much less hectic night). As one of my favorite food writers reminded me, this is not uncommon when a new restaurant is overwhelmed due to press coverage. And I do see definite potential for Bella as a vegan-friendly dining spot—great wine selection, excellent bar and table service, and any chef willing to accommodate dietary restrictions at a relatively low cost deserves props for his/her efforts.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hail Merry at Whole Foods

Hail Merry! I was so excited to find these products at my Whole Foods (Lomo Alto)! I used to have to drive out to Central Market twice a month to pick these goodies up. The Red Pepper Macadamia Dip and Choco Macaroons are great...but the Miracle Tarts are CRAZY AMAZING! I went to town on my set of chocolate and mint chocolate tarts tonight after yoga (I'll probably be wired all night).

Click HERE for more information on these deliciously raw (and local) treats.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Crooked Tree Coffeehouse

Don't waste your money at Starbucks! What have they ever done for us? Alright--I admit they did help make soymilk a staple at coffee shops everywhere. And they do employ some pretty neat people. But I'm so over paying $4 for a cup (literally) of "fresh" fruit...our only real vegan food option! 

Get your caffeine fix at Crooked Tree Coffeehouse in Uptown. The place is an old reconstructed house, complete with drapes, rugs, and plenty of cozy seating areas. So Austin(!)--but maybe a little dressier. Like most independent coffee shops, Crooked Tree displays works by local artists. Today's display: Kelsey Foster. Cool stuff! 

But the best thing about Crooked Tree is the fact that they have vegan baked goods from Covert Vegan Baking Company! And the stuff is GOOD! Even D Magazine thinks so. When's the last time YOU had a vegan cinnamon roll? Me...about five minutes ago! Go get one.

Oh, yeah--I should also mention their espresso is good, too! My quad-shot-over-ice went down a little too smoothly :) 

2414 Routh Street
(214) 953-1142