Archive for the ‘Gluten-Free’ Category

Dinner and Bikes Event (Vegan+GF)

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Dinner and BikesFrom the website:

The Bikenomics East Coast Tour makes a stop in Asheville on Thursday, June 26! Please join us at West End Bakery (757 Haywood Rd in West Asheville) from 7pm to 10pm for a traveling road show of vegan food and bicycle inspiration.

Tickets $12-$20, sliding scale (includes dinner). More event information at

Choose “Local Pickup” as your shipping option during checkout. Your order confirmation page is your ticket—please print a copy and bring with you to the event. Tickets are nonrefundable.

Purchase tickets, and read more details on the Bike-Ready website.

I’m told by one of the organizers that the food will be vegan and gluten-free!

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Bean Salad – favorite recipe for 2013

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
bean salad

bean salad with black-eyed peas and aduki

I’ve eaten this meal probably 50 times this year and I still love it. It’s easy, healthy, and filling.

Bean Salad

2 Cans beans – recommend black beans, aduki beans, and/or black-eyed peas

1 Cucumber, diced

1 Tomato, diced

4 Green onions, chopped small

1 Tbsp flax oil

1Tbsp ume plum vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Drain the liquid from the beans, rinse thoroughly with water, and drain well again. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. That’s it!

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Arbonne, vegan and gluten-free personal care products

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

arbonne_logoFirst, let me say that I do not gain, financially or otherwise, from the sale of Arbonne products. A local Arbonne consultant, Sarah Jukes, asked me if I’d like to try some of their products and write about my experience with them on my blog. I’m not a great person to review personal care products because I don’t use very many of them. But I’m always happy to plug new vegan products, especially if they are gluten-free, and only if they are actually any good. All Arbonne products are vegan and gluten-free.

So with that, here’s what I think of the Arbonne products I tried, in order of my enthusiasm for them.

Hair products: No joke, after using either the Nourishing Daily Conditioner or the SeaSource Hair Mask, my hair never looked so healthy in all my life. They both work great as detanglers on my super fine, tangly hair as well. I also tried the tea tree oil shampoo. The smell is great and it works well, although I wish it lathered up a bit more than it does.

Deodorant: I’ve often wondered if different people’s chemistry responds differently to the various deodorants on the market because so many of them don’t seem to work at all. Some even make things worse.  Arbonne’s Pure Mint Deodorant is the first aluminum-free deodorant that seems to actually do its job, even when I’m breaking a sweat. Thumbs up.

Facial products: I’ve been washing my face with my regular soap for years, which means that just about any facial cleanser is going to be a vast improvement, so I don’t think my opinion carries a lot of weight here. But I did like the one I tried – the RE9 Advanced Smoothing Facial Cleanser – it didn’t dry out my skin and it feels like it washes off completely. I tried some other samples of moisturizers, masks, serums, and others, but I so hate putting lots of stuff on my skin that I was never  able to truly give it a chance, so I can’t offer an opinion on those.

Nutrition bars: I don’t delude myself into thinking the various nutrition bars on the market are really that good for me, but sometimes I want a treat and I do think they are far better than what’s in the candy aisle. The Arbonne chocolate nutrition bars taste good and are not overly sweet, which is hard to find these days. But they contain oats, which don’t happen to agree with me, even though they are gluten-free. They also contain a small amount of sugar, which I’m willing to eat on rare occasion, but I am strict about not making a part of my regular diet. If those issues don’t apply to you, you might want to give them a try.

Fit chews: These are little treats that are supposed to stop you from giving in to food cravings. They do that well. Both the chocolate and the lemon taste pretty good too. The chocolate tastes just like tootsie rolls to me. But again, they contain a small amount of sugar, and I’m personally quite strict about that. If you find yourself unable to resist the call of tootsie rolls or some other unhealthy candy, these are a good alternative. Keep them in a cool place so they don’t stick to the wrapper.

Anti-aging stuff: Arbonne specializes in anti-aging products. I’m at a point where I’m starting to notice my age, but perhaps not old enough where these kinds of products show a big enough difference for me to notice in a short period of time. So I can’t really offer an opinion.

In conclusion, Arbonne seems like a high quality product line to me. They are pricier than what you’ll find in the grocery store, but I’ve gotten used to the idea of paying more to get better products. They also have a lot of ways to get discounts. Again, I have nothing to do with Arbonne and make nothing whether you buy their stuff or not.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, contact Sarah. She’s not pushy in the slightest. Just a nice and interesting woman who’s on her own health journey as well.

Sarah Jukes
Arbonne Independent Consultant
ID # 13155218
Tel: 828.707.1610

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Dobra Tea: Secret veg, gluten-free restauant

Monday, May 6th, 2013
Dobra Tea

Dobra Tea

Going out for tea has never appealed to me, so when Dobra Tea opened in Asheville a few years ago, I never bothered checking it out. I finally went there this evening at the invitation of a friend and was surprised – no, shocked – to find out that (1) they have food, (2) a lot of it is vegan, and (3) all their food is vegetarian and gluten-free.

Their gluten-free pita bread is delicious on its own. Their hummus is amazing. Yeah, I know, who cares about hummus? But seriously, this is the best hummus I’ve ever had. They have a number of sweet treats as well, and of course lots and lots of wonderful teas. Not all of their vegan options are labeled on their online menu, so go to Dobra and check it out in person.

If you walk on by, like I’ve been doing for a couple of years, you’re really missing out.

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New brunch menu at Plant

Sunday, August 5th, 2012
French toast at Plant

French toast at Plant

Plant introduced a brand new brunch menu today, and it is fabulous. If anyone else was unimpressed with Plant’s old brunch menu, make sure to go back and give them another chance. They have many more options that are gluten-free, and they are far more interesting.

The two best items, in my opinion, are the hemp bread french toast and the summer crepe (hold the soysage). The crepe falls apart a bit when you eat it, but it taste great. It reminds me a little bit of the vegan omelet that Laughing Seed use to have, but this is better. The french toast is made with a hemp bread and comes loaded with fresh berries, but the sugary vanilla-orange cream destroyed any illusion I might have had that this was a healthy breakfast.

Summer crepe at Plant

Summer crepe at Plant

Ironically, the one thing I really wanted to try on my recent trip to Montreal, was a vegan crepe. Couldn’t find one anywhere. Then as soon as I’m back in Asheville, I finally come across one. It’s good to be home.

Also, the mate latte, with coconut cream, was sensational.

Brunch at plant is every Sunday, 11am – 3pm. They are located at 165 Merrimon Ave. in Asheville.

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Vegan food in Montreal

Sunday, August 5th, 2012
Mock duck at Yuan

Mock duck at Yuan

A couple of things to know about the restaurants in Montreal. (1) It’s expensive to eat here. Plan on spending about $20 per person, per meal. More if you go for desserts and appetizers. Don’t skimp – you’re on vacation. Just plan for it. (2) There is no early morning vegan breakfast anywhere that I could find. So pick something up at the grocery store for the morning. See my previous post for where to find the good grocery stores in Montreal.

Here are the restaurants in Montreal that I tried, in order of preference:

  1. Aux Vivres – Hands down, my favorite. We ate here more than any other restaurant. Weekend brunch is worth checking out as well. Everything is 100% vegan and they also have gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free options labeled. I tried a bite of the chocolate apple cake, which was sensational.
  2. Zero 8 – This restaurant doesn’t use any of the top 8 most common food allergens. This means that any vegetarian item on their menu is also vegan, including the desserts (which are amazing, by the way). They also ask you if you have any other food allergies so they can make sure not to let you order something that will make you sick. The food here was excellent. It was pretty expensive though. With tax and tip, and ordering 2 entrees, 2 drinks, 1 dessert, and 1 appetizer, we spent $70. Worth it, but be forewarned.
  3. Lola Rosa – A hippie Mexican style restaurant near the college. The food was very good, but they don’t have any kind of cheese substitutes. Our waiter, who I think is also the owner, was extremely nice and helpful. Not much in the way of appealing gluten-free options.
  4. Ming Tao Xuan – Actually a tea shop but it serves a few food items. Makes for a nice light dinner. I enjoyed this place quite a lot, but the limited menu kept me from going here too often.
  5. Le Commensal – This is a chain with several vegetarian cafeteria-style restaurants around the city. The food really isn’t very good, but they get points for variety and for thorough labeling of all their items.
  6. Yuan – Chinese mock meat kind of place. The food was decent. The ambiance could definitely be improved. If you’re having a fake meat craving, it’s a good place to go. They have a gluten-free mock duck that’s very enjoyable.
  7. Liquid Nutrition – It’s just a mall kiosk that serves smoothies, but it serves really good smoothies. And they have Vega brand protein powder available. They also have those Vega chocolate-saviseed protein bars that I am currently addicted to, plus other energy bars as well. Not terribly exciting food, but this place was a lifesaver for me when I was looking for something healthy to eat.
  8. Le Panthere – Soups and pita sandwiches. Not really my kind of place. I did have an good falafel pita, and the pita bread was really really good (which made my gluten hangover almost worth it). They have a few raw food snacks as well. I probably should have given this place more of a chance.
  9. Mikado – Sushi place that I went to with a couple of omnivores. I tried some veggie rolls. It was good, just like any other sushi place really.
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Advice for vegans in Montreal

Saturday, July 28th, 2012
Old Port in Montreal

Old Port in Montreal

I was only in Montreal for 10 days, so I’m not an expert by any stretch. I’m sharing some advice that would have helped me, had I known. Even with Happy Cow, and other helpful veg websites, it’s hard to know in advance where the good restaurants and grocery stores are, and how to make sure you have access to them when you need them. If you’re a vegan planning a trip to Montreal, particularly if you like to eat healthy and/or gluten-free, here are a few suggestions for you.

Where to stay

Don’t get a hotel in the Old Port area. Sure, it’s incredibly charming, but there’s almost no food there. All the good vegan food is centered around Saint Laurent Blvd. and Rue Saint Denis, and west of Sherbrooke St. You might think you’ll enjoy the 30 minute walk, but it gets old real quick. And when the weather is uncomfortable or you have lots of things you’d like to do that day, you want your hotel to be close to your food.

Are you already stuck with a hotel in Old Port or other inconvenient area? That’s OK, so was I! Here’s the great thing about Montreal – it’s super easy to get around quickly if you’re willing to spend just a few bucks on transportation. Learn to love the BIXI bicycle system and/or the Metro subway system. After suffering through about 10 minutes of confusion, both offer affordable multi-day passes that allow you to easily hop on a bike or subway any time you like to get within a few blocks of wherever you’re going. Montreal has truly got public transportation figured out.

On a related note, think twice about booking a hotel through You pay in advance, and the hotel has no way to reimburse your payment if you want to switch hotels. Expedia’s policy is to give no refunds after your reservation has begun.

Where to shop for groceries

Happy Cow has quite a few “stores ‘n more” listed for Montreal, but most of them are not true grocery stores. If you like to keep some food in your hotel room, rather than eating out for every meal (good luck finding a vegan breakfast), there are 3 groceries I found that can get you through your trip. There do not seem to be any Whole Foods type stores here, so manage your expectations.

Tau on St. Denis has the best variety of groceries. If I lived in Montreal, this is probably where I would do most of my shopping. Take the Metro to Mont Royal and walk from there.

Le Couffin Bio at Sherbrooke and Park Ave. is a nice little health food store that has tons of breakfast cereal, frozen meals, energy/breakfast bars, bread, produce, and more. Tons of gluten-free food. It’s the most convenient store to Old Port, if you’re walking.

Rachelle Bery is a chain of health food stores. The one I went to is located at the corner of Rachel and Berri. It’s a bigger store with a lot of variety, but I didn’t find much more there that happened to be to my liking than I found at Le Couffin Bio. Very convenient by Metro – get off at the Mont Royal station.

Where to eat a healthy meal

Weekend brunch polenta at Aux Vivres

Weekend brunch polenta at Aux Vivres

Everyone’s definition of healthy is different, even amongst vegans. What I mean by healthy is a meal that is not a pile of carbs, and has little or no gluten. When traveling, I always seem to end up eating a ton of sugar and processed junk, so a few days into the vacation, I’m gittery and dizzy. The following restaurants were life savers.

Aux Vivres on St. Laurent is an all-vegan restaurant. Gluten-free food is plentiful and labeled. They have a nice selection of “bowls” that are healthy and very satisfying.

Liquid Nutrition is a smoothie and juice chain with multiple locations. They have Vega brand proteins available to add to any of their smoothies. It isn’t the most exciting meal, but I ate there a couple of times out of desperate need for a little protein.

Ming Tao Xuan is a tea shop in Old Port that also serves a few light vegetarian entrees. They have a really nice mango and greens salad that is great for a light healthy dinner. Sometimes they’ll put some unsalted cashews on top. The owners are wonderful.

Here’s a separate post listing all the restaurants I tried

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Chai Pani kills off the best simple vegan meal in Asheville

Monday, May 21st, 2012

There are plenty of vegan-friendly restaurants in Asheville that I enjoy. Only one has – had – a meal that I frequently craved, especially on a particularly draining day. A vegan, gluten-free bowl of rice and daal from Chai Pani could always fill my belly, lift my spirits, and soothe my tired soul. Even better, it was a simple, healthy meal that I felt good about eating.

So naturally, Chai Pani changed their recipe so that their daal is no longer vegan. And I was told that while there was some talk of offering a vegan version, they decided against it. Thanks.

Don’t get me wrong – Chai Pani still has a couple of good items on their menu and their food is still good. But nothing I need to go out of my way for like that heart-warming, soul-soothing daal. That magic is gone from Asheville.

The next runner up for that kind of simple but satisfying vegan, gluten-free, healthy meal would be Laughing Seed‘s Harmony Bowl. I recommend getting the sauce on the side.

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Macaroons at West Village Market

Monday, January 16th, 2012
Macaroon from West Village Market

Macaroon from West Village Market

I’ve been eating very healthfully for many weeks so today I decided to indulge in a treat. But only one, so it had to be good. A gluten-free, vegan macaroon at West Village Market caught my eye a couple of days ago, and that was what I wanted today.

I’m very happy with my choice. It’s a large, coconut chocolate chip macaroon that was freshly made somewhere nearby. In other words, not in a package or full of preservatives. Very soft. Very filling.

For a small, neighborhood grocery store, West Village Market does a pretty good job keeping their store stocked with exciting vegan (and gluten-free) options.

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Vegan Gluten-Free Food Truck

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Veggie Love (from

Veggie Love (photo from

Veggie Love, Asheville’s own vegan and gluten-free food truck, has been around since this past summer. I finally managed to try them out today, when they were parked a few blocks from my house. For such a small city, Asheville always surprises me with all of its vegan resources. I’ve lived in bigger cities that didn’t have this much to offer vegans.

I was tickled to see, painted on the truck, “gluten-free”. I asked if all the food is gluten-free. She was quite definitive. “Yes, everything is always gluten-free, now and forever.” So great. There were also some raw food options as well. They even sell coconut water, which is my latest addiction.

I ordered miso soup with seaweed and a Dosarita, which was just like a south Indian dosa, as far as I could tell.

It’s no 5-star restaurant and the options are limited (it is just a little food truck, after all), but everything I ate was good and healthy too. Definitely a great place to go if you need a quick bite to eat and they’re parked nearby. I’m happy to report that there was a line for food, so hopefully they means they are doing well and will be around for a long while.

Go to their website,, to find out where they’re parked.

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