Friday, July 31, 2009

Raw Fruit and Nut Bars

Let’s face it, there are about a million kinds of health/energy/snack food bars on the market. I used to just get whatever sounded good, or was the cheapest. However, now that I’m more aware of the ingredients that go into the foods I purchase, I generally stay away from anything that has ingredients I can’t pronounce or can’t actually buy in the store individually (unless I’m just unaware of the COPPER GLUCONATE section).

That’s when I became a fan of Larabars and the new Baraka Bars. Their ingredients are simple and few. For instance, the “Cherry Pie” Larabar consists of dates, almonds, and cherries. That’s it. No preservatives, no additives – just real, live food.

So that got me thinking – if the ingredient list is so simple, how hard can it be to make on your own? Turns out – not hard at all!

I picked up my ingredients at Natural Grocers, an awesome store in Dallas near Coit and Campbell everyone should check out. Their raw bulk food selection is in cold storage for freshness, and the prices can’t be beat.


Not only are their prices great (1 lb of raw walnut pieces for $4), but their items are clearly marked with nutritional information, like these raw cacao nibs…


So, with that in mind, I share with you my first two Raw Fruit and Nut Bar creations – Chocolate Peanut and German Chocolate (I’m still working on some catchy names, let me know if you think of one).

German Chocolate (makes 2 bars)

  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tbsp raw walnuts
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao nibs
  • About 10 Halawi dates


Chocolate Peanut (makes 2 bars)

  • 1 tbsp raw peanuts
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao nibs
  • About 10 Medjool dates


Mix in all ingredients in a food processor. Shape into rectangular bars (or squares, or balls, or…).

Nutritional Info
About 250 calories per bar, 100 calories from fat, 4 grams protein

My thoughts
First off, these were really quick and easy to make. I bought two kinds of dates because I wasn’t very familiar with the different varieties. The Medjool were a bit sweeter than Halawi, but they also cost about twice as much. Next time, I’ll probably use a combination of the two. The cacao nibs were fairly bitter, but it all came together quite nicely. The German Chocolate was my favorite, but the Chocolate Peanut was pretty good too.

I’d also suggest putting them in the freezer until you are ready to eat – they won’t freeze, but they’ll hold their shape better if you’re on-the-go.

It probably cost about $10 for the ingredients I used and I could have easily made about 15 bars – so the price is definitely better than buying pre-made bars. It’s also easy to make up your own recipes – just use dates as the “binder” and have fun.

Your homework for the weekend?…give these recipes a try – or better yet – get your favorite ingredients and be creative! Just come back and let us know what you came up with.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

India Palace

Indian restaurants can be a refuge for vegan diners or they can be a nightmare, because of latent ingredients such as whipping cream, butter (ghee), and yogurt.

For years, India Palace has been an institution for fine Indian dining in Dallas. According to its website, India Palace has been named "Best Indian Restaurant" by the Dallas Observer for the past 12 years, and has garnered top rankings by several sources, including D Magazine, the Dallas Morning News, and the Zagat Survey. India Palace has been in its current location in a shopping center in North Dallas since 1985.

In light of its renowned reputation, I set off once again to determine whether India Palace offers similar options for vegan diners. Pardeep Sharma is the man behind India Palace. He is also responsible for the fast, casual spinoff, the Roti Grill. On each of my many visits to India Palace, Mr. Sharma's presence looms large--that is, if you can catch him. Not only does he greet customers, answer phones, and work the dining room, but he was also seen expediting orders from the kitchen on a busy night. With Sharma constantly on the pulse of this restaurant, it's no surprise why India Palace continues to pack the house.

On my latest visit, I spoke with Mr. Sharma and he clarified that India Palace does not use ghee in any of its dishes, which can be the most lethal ingredient for vegan diners. "No, we don't use any of that stuff -- only oil," said Sharma. He listed off a dozen other items on the menu that were vegan. "There is also no dairy in the Roti bread," he proclaimed.

While deliberating the many menu choices, guests are welcomed with a complementary plate of (vegan-friendly) pappadum which is a type of cracker made from lentil flour, along with a tray of dipping sauces-- tamarind, mint, and red pepper.

These traditional appetizers, along with the elegant decor, linen napkins, and formal table service, begin to distinguish India Palace from its competition, and from its fast, casual counterpart.

One of the most exciting focal points in the restaurant is the tandoor cooking station, which is just visible behind a open-kitchen type window. The tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven which is commonly used for cooking skewered meats and baking fresh naan and roti bread. Unfortunately, there are not many vegan options from the tandoor.

On this visit, I tried two vegetable dishes: the Bhindi Do Pyaza, okra cooked with diced onions and spices, and the Saag Channa (my check said without cream-I don't know if it comes standard with cream or not), spinach cooked with chick peas. The dishes are inherently suited for sharing, and intended to be eaten with basmati rice or scooped with bread baked from the tandoor, such as the vegan-friendly Roti bread. Both dishes were each complex in their own regard. This is not surprising since India Palace uses a blend of different spices for each one of its curries. Sharma himself could hardly differentiate the mixtures for each dish.

Bhindi Do Pyaza

Saag Channa

On a previous visit, I had the Channa Balti, which is a less well known dish representative of northwestern India. Balti-style dishes are both cooked and served in a cast iron pot (called the "balti"). Again, this dish is flavored with different spices including onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and mustard seeds.

While India Palace may set the bar for Indian cuisine in Dallas, I think the bar could be raised slightly higher with regard to their vegan-friendliness. Whereas the variety of vegan-friendly dishes may be noteworthy, it is hard to discern whether there are any plot spoilers among them.

I mentioned to Sharma that it would be extremely helpful for vegans if they could clarify on their menu with something as simple as a little "v," since there were apparently so many items which would be suitable for vegan diners, that would otherwise go under the radar. He acknowledged this with a nod, before moving on to the next order of business.

India Palace
12817 Preston Road #105
Dallas, TX 75230

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wild About Harry's

It’s true. Here at Dallas Vegan, we’re WILD about the fact that Wild About Harry’s offers veggie dogs! And we’ve done the research for y’all—they’re completely vegan…and wildly delicious!

Order your veggie dog Chicago style with yellow mustard, relish, tomatoes, sport peppers, a single pickle spear, and a dash of celery salt. Don’t be alarmed by the neon green relish. That’s half the fun!

Or maybe try the New York. It’s loaded up with sauerkraut, diced onions, and spicy mustard. Add a little ketchup if you’re feeling rebellious. I did!

But if all those fixin's sound like more than your belly can handle, just order your dog plain and dress it up yourself. Heck—even top it off with your own personal stash of nooch. We won’t tell ;)

3113 Knox St.
(214) 520-3113

Monday, July 27, 2009

And the winner is...

Everyone!…because you’ve found the awesome blog!
Ok, well, there’s actually just one winner of the Coconut Lime Verbena candle from Signature Scentsations from our Friday giveaway.

Congratulations to Lauren Dixon – she started following us on Twitter and was picked by the randomizer at We will follow-up with details on getting you your candle (unless I break-down and start using it first…!).

In other news, the DallasVegan team met this past weekend over some Cheladas and food at Mi Cocina for some people-watching and discussion about

Did you know that Mi Cocina has a vegan (almost) menu item available? Order the “Latin Stir-fry” without the rice (try double refried beans, or double pico like Eddie G opted for), and you have a great meal without having to venture too far off the menu.

We have some great things in store, and are excited about the future. There’s nothing concrete to divulge at this time, but for now, here’s a preview of some things we are working on:

  • “A Dallas Vegan in ???” – another member of the DallasVegan team is going on vacation. Stay tuned for more perspectives from another interesting location.
  • Like Indian food? Stay tuned for a review from Drew.
  • Eddie G is going wild for hot-dogs at a popular local restaurant.

Have a great week!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Signature Scentsations – Vegan Friendly Bath, Body, and more

As there’s much more to living a complete vegan lifestyle than your diet, we’re starting to expand the horizons on vegan goings-on in our community. So with a quick search through the Etsy Dallas network, I was in business. The soap business. While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert at bath and body items, I do have skin and a nose, so I considered those ample qualifications to get the scoop.

At first you might think – “Soap? How’s that not vegan?” I thought the same thing. But besides the obvious, like milk, beeswax, and lanolin, you might be surprised about all of the sneaky ingredients that make their way into many products one might assume to be vegan-friendly.

As such, there already are some popular lines of cosmetics, bath, and body products that are beginning to catch on to the vegan market (Victoria’s Secret for one). But the great news is – we don’t have to visit the mega-chains for these items. We have a company selling hand-made vegan-friendly products right here in Dallas! Enter – Signature Scentsations.


Susan Saunders, owner of Signature Scentsations, has been plying her hand-made bath and body care craft for around three years now. She’s quick to point out the “hand-made” aspect, as apparently there are some “workarounds” others might use, yet continue to use the hand-made moniker.


She has an extensive product line with body wash, bath bars, lip balm, and lotions just to name a few. In addition, she also offers made-to-order paraffin-free candles. Need an oversized purple vanilla scented candle? This is where to get one. But why go a vanilla candle when you can go Coconut Lime Verbena? This amazingly scented candle was probably my favorite out of all.


Of the scented lotions I sampled, the Vanilla Patchouli was my favorite. I realize patchouli can be an “acquired” scent to some, but this one had a perfect balance of vanilla without being too “earthy”. Although my sister commented that it made her “hungry”, the Orange Ginger also had a great fragrance and was long lasting, but never overpowering. Susan is also working on a men’s line of fragrance, for those guys that would like to use her products, but don’t necessarily want to smell like a flower shop.

The lotions were a good consistency and were easily absorbed into the skin without leaving that residual “greasy” feeling. If that's any indication as to the quality of the rest of the product line, Signature Scentsations could be a great option for many of your bath and body needs.


Signature Scentsations

Free Giveaway Friday!

The Dallas Vegan team is offering the Coconut Lime Verbena candle as a prize for those that either:

  1. start following us on Twitter
  2. start following us on Facebook
  3. post a comment here

Or all three! Enter as many times as your heart so desires...just be sure to mention this contest.

The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Monday, July 27, 2009.

Good luck! 

    Visit Signature Scentsations at these upcoming craft shows:

  • October 3rd - October Market @ Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic School

  • November 7th - Saint Gabriel Holiday Fair @ St. Gabriel Catholic Church in McKinney

  • November 14-15 - Central High School in Keller

  • November 21 - Jingle Bash - Etsy Dallas Show @ Sons of Herman Hall on Elm Street in Dallas

  • December 5-6 - Keller Christmas Show @ Keller High School

  • December 13 - Bishop Lynch Christmas Bazaar @ Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whole Foods: Vegan Cheese Pizza

I like to shop at my neighborhood Whole Foods Market for vegan staples. No, their prices aren’t always the most competitive, but they always have my favorite vegan cheese and faux meat products in stock. 
Still—it never occurred to me that I could order a phony pepperoni and vegan cheese pizza to-go from their wood burning oven.


On a recent trip to Austin, my buddy Andy edified me on the art of making this happen. The exchange was quite comical.

Andy: Can you guys make me a vegan cheese pizza?

Pizza Guy: Um—we can make a vegan pizza, but not with cheese.

Andy: But you guys sell vegan cheese here, right?

Pizza Guy: Yeah...

Andy: Um—so put some on it.

Pizza Guy: Okay.

It was that simple.

So I decided to try my new trick at the Whole Foods in Lakewood. Here’s how it works in Dallas:

Pick out your favorite faux meat toppings and vegan cheese from the cold case. Take your selections to the pizzeria (by the prepped foods area). Order away. We asked our pizza specialista to get creative with our pie, so she loaded it up with phony pepperoni, FYH Vegan Gourmet, and all sorts of veggies.

Pizzas bake in about 15-20 minutes—just enough time to get your shopping done. Once you pick up your cheesy concoction, you’ll be handed the empty faux meat and cheese packages to pay for separately. Grab yourself a bottle of wine, and check out as usual.

Dinner is done.

The pizza was awesome - but in the future, I might ask our pizza maker to dice the cheese a little finer for more even melting.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Baraka Bars Now Available at Whole Foods

Move over, Larabar—there’s a new raw nutrition bar in town! Baraka Bars, made by our friends at Daily Juice in Austin, are now available at Whole Foods Markets statewide. I got the chance to meet with Paul Haygood of Daily Juice at the Whole Foods in Highland Park to chat and sample the goods.
The package reads, “Baraka is an ancient Sufi word meaning ‘spiritual gift, blessing, or offering.’ We lovingly infuse each of the offerings with a specific intention.” I don’t know about all that noise, but the bars are damn good!

Described by some as a raw chocolate cake, Cacao Almond (the current top seller) is a dense bar of chocolaty goodness. Packed with intense chocolate flavor, and just a hint of coconut, this bar is sure to satisfy the most serious of choco cravings!

Spirulina Goji Berry, the original Baraka Bar, has a rich, earthy flavor. The bar combines sesame seeds and dates to give this treat a Mediterranean kick. Fans of halvah—this one’s for you.

The Goldenberry Pecan is my absolute fave! Its perfect balance of figs and pecans will have any true Texan begging for more!

Baraka Bars are gluten-free, raw, vegan, AND made by Texan hands (the founder is an Arlington native, by the way)! So now all Dallasites can enjoy a taste of Austin's Daily Juice at their neighborhood Whole Foods Market. Find these raw snacks in the cold case right next to Dallas’ own Hail Merry products.

In other news: I used the random number generator at to select the winner of the Chocoreale contest. The prize goes to...bc!

Hey bc - shoot me an e-mail at and let me know how I can get it to you :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thai 2 Go

Word on the street was that the new, fast casual restaurant, Thai 2 Go (aka "T2G"), is offering a vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu. Was this tip for real or was it 2G2BT? Eddie G. and I decided to investigate.

Although we opted for delivery, T2G has recently completed its new storefront in the medical district. The restaurant appears pristene on the inside which is always an important consideration for strict vegetarians who are skittish about cross contamination issues. There is also a nice sized dining room for those who wish to dine on premise.

We spoke with Siam, owner of T2G beforehand to go over the menu and determine if there were any vegan options available. There were indeed several on-menu options available that were vegan without any modifications such as the E8 mixed vegetable. And, most important for the vegans and vegetarians out there, T2G offers a soy duck or chicken option for $2 extra. However, much to my dismay, a majority of the on-menu entree choices contained some sort of hidden fish sauce or meat product in them. For example, the premade curries all contained fish sauce.

We ended up going with the A2 Salad Roll and the S2 Papaya Salad (Som Tum) for starters. While there was nothing wrong with the salad rolls, they weren't our fave. They were wrapped individually, and we found them a bit dry, perhaps due to the fact we couldn't dip them in the non-vegan peanut sauce. The papaya salad, by contrast, was swimming in vegan sauce, and it was exceptional. Make sure to order this one without fish sauce or shrimp. Green papaya is not the mushy pink stuff that most think of when they think papaya. Green papaya is crispy and to the dry side. It was not premarinated in fish sauce or dry shrimp, which are two of the usual plot spoilers for vegans and this salad. Instead it was chock-filled with julienne green papaya, carrots, roasted peppers, bean sprouts, chili flakes, and topped with some chopped roasted peanuts. Easy and light, it was in our opinion a perfect summer salad.

S2 Papaya Salad (Som Tum) (above).

On to the mains, Siam set us up with veganized versions of the N1 Pad Thai Tofu, E7 Basil Stir Fried Chicken, and E9 Ginger Stir Fried Duck. Each arrived warm in nicely packaged in spillproof plastic containers. Portion sizes were moderate, not too large, not too small. Pad Thai was pretty basic, ordered without egg. It was mostly noodles and tofu, light on sprouts and scallions. The Basil Chicken and Ginger Duck were both loaded with flavor, if not a bit watery. The veggie mix was similar for both dishes with the addition of mushroom and celery for the duck. Strangely, each of these dishes on the regular menu would have contained some type of meat or seafood item in the standard house sauce. We found this whole situation a bit confusing since since T2G provides a wonderful vegan soy meat option, but very few on-menu vegan dishes to pair with the faux meat.

E9 Ginger Stir Fry with Soy Duck (above).

For dessert, Siam reccomended the Mango and Sticky Rice, which was a variation of the W1 Custard and Sticky Rice. I'm a fan of the sticky rice, and this dish is always a crowd pleaser. Sweet, slightly salty, sticky rice is topped with creamy coconut milk and, here it was served with fresh mango. But, then again, you can pretty much feed me anything with coconut cream and I'll probably like it!

Mango with Sticky Rice (above).

All in all, T2G is not "too good to be true," but it is a decent, vegetarian and vegan-friendly option for a meal on the fly, or delivered right to your doorstep.


Since this post, we received a message from Siam who has AMAZINGLY offered to change some of his recipes and accomodate his vegetarian and vegan customers. He writes:

"We have changed some of our recipes after you left to accomdate vegans. Our peanut sauce is now made without fish sauce. We also have a couple of dishes that are now available without any special orders. The following are normally made without fish sauce: salad rolls, peanut curry, praram long song, mango and sticky rice, cantelope pearl pudding. The others can be made without fish sauce upon request. Thank you for writing about us and please let everyone know of our recent changes.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Dallas Vegan in Brownsville

Yeah, that's a photo of my brother and me when we were kids. It may be the only childhood photo we have in which we're both smiling for the camera. And for sure the only one where I'm not wearing something ridiculous like, say, Eartha Kitt glasses. (My buddies Lisa and JP like to call THIS SHOT "Sister Mary Batman") :D
I just got back from vacay in the dirty southBrownsville, Texas (the southernmost tip of the state...and my hometown). Sure—not as exciting as Jamey’s biker rally in Austin, but I did enjoy visiting family and helping my grandmother celebrate her big eight-oh! 

Here are some highlights from the trip:

Vegan flour tortillas made with coconut oil - Yum!
(Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Casanova!)

Michael and Erica (my bro and sis-in-law) brought me some sweet gifts from Spain. 
Check out my new PINK TIE!!! 

And some Chocoreale! It's like Nutella, only better...because it doesn't contain milk!

The best corn tortillas in the world are from Capistran's. 
I used these torts to make more of this simple dish :)

Jalapeños Torreados from Antonio's...WAY HOT!

I stopped by Daily Juice in Austin on the way back.

So now that I'm back in Dallas, I want to share some fun news with y'all. Dallas Vegan is now a content partner on Pegasus News. And even more exciting - we've scored ourselves a Drew! That's right - the same Drew we know and love from Vegan Eats Dallas is the newest contributor on Dallas Vegan. Keep your eyes peeled for Drew's "First-Look" at a new Asian eatery in town...

Leave a comment here welcoming Drew to Dallas Vegan for a chance to win a jar of Hazelnut Chocoreale. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Monday, July 20, 2009. 
Good luck ;)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Website

Hey Friends-

We're making some big changes around here!

For starters, we're now located at (please update your blogrolls, bookmarks, and whatnot). And did you notice the new logo?!? 

We'll be dealing with a few kinks over the next few days, but blog content will not be affected. Get ready for some exciting news to be announced soon! So if you're not following us on Facebook and Twitter yet, get on it!

I leave you with a photo of some roasted jalapeños I ate this weekend in Brownsville. These suckers were HOT! Although, Jamey would've probably found them just mild :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mercy For Animals Does Dallas

Wow—what a fab time to be in Dallas! So many great things are happening in our city—and much more to come! We're well on our way to making Dallas an urban-green-hip place to live!

So did you guys see what went down at this year’s Chicago Pride Parade?

Well, with the help of seasoned activists Ari Nessel, Nathan Runkle, and the awesome peeps of Mercy For Animals, we're looking to do the same here in Dallas at the 2009 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. What a great way to celebrate our diversity and spread the word that “no one is free when others are oppressed.”

Dallas is on the brink of veg-explosion! Places like Spiral Diner, Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar, and Cosmic Cafe have already put us on the veg-map, and it’s only a matter of time before our city is recognized as one of the top veg-friendly hotspots in the nation! Believe it.

But we need your help!

If we want to make some WILD, AWESOME NOISE, it’s time for us to come together as a people and show our support for the animals and for each other!

March with us and help spread the word about our compassionate way of life.

Contact Eddie Garza at for more information.

Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade
September 20, 2009
Parade starts at 2:00 pm

Monday, July 6, 2009

Idle Rich Goes Veg for the Holiday

What could be better than an ice-cold beer on a hot summer day? Not a whole lot, if you ask me. So when Jamey suggested we celebrate Independence Day over a few pints at Idle Rich Pub, I was totally game!

And after seeing this ad on their website, I was even more stoked! 

Veggie dogs?! Sweet action!!

But I still had to wonder: Are the veggie dogs vegan?

So after a few sips of my crazy beer cocktail (not the best choice, by the way), I interrogated our nice bartender, Alan, about the dogs. Turns out they are vegan…even the bun (yeah, we checked the ingredients)!

Though veggie dogs are not a staple on the menu, they are available at every major celebration. And considering this city likes to party, I’m willing to bet that'll be sooner than later!

Let’s keep these guys on our radar.

2614 McKinney Avenue
(214) 953-0599

Thursday, July 2, 2009

For Real?

Someone oughta do THIS for a certain little "vegan" joint in the northern burbs.