Archive for the ‘Raw Food’ Category

Local raw chocolate mmmmm…..

Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Sinless raw chocolate

Sinless raw chocolate

I’ve been sampling some amazing vegan raw chocolates this weekend from Sinless. Vegan, raw, gluten-free chocolate, made right here in beautiful Asheville. Without even opening them up, they filled my kitchen with a strong chocolate smell. Yum.

Sinless is $8 a bar, but that’s not as expensive as it may seem. For one thing, they are good-sized chocolate bars, not skimpy. For another, they are so rich and filling that 2 segments of a bar (each bar has 10 segments) is about all I could eat at one time. Each flavor has a silky smooth consistency and a rich cacao taste. It’s neither bitter nor overly sweet. Here are the flavors I tried:

  • ultra dark raspberry – Nice. The raspberry is subtle.
  • ultra dark original – Tastes like a fudge brownie in chocolate form. This might be my favorite.
  • ultra dark crunchy nib – Or this might be my favorite. Simple chocolate flavor, love the nib crunch.
  • original peppermint – My boyfriend said it was “like a junior mint.” It is a lot like that although I think he forgets how overpowering and artificial the mint flavor in junior mints are. This chocolate is not like that aspect of it, but it does have a good mint kick to it.
  • original almond – big pieces of almond aren’t my thing, but it’s good if you like that.
  • ultra dark sea salt pecan – big pieces of pecan are better to me than almond, but it’s the sea salt flavor that makes this one extra good.

I didn’t try the ultra dark coconut flavor this weekend, but I remember trying a free sample of it at Green Life Grocery a while back and I vaguely remember it being the most delicious chocolate I have ever eaten. Although I’ve eaten so much chocolate today that I might just be in a swoon at the moment.

While Sinless might be on my mind right now, that shouldn’t take away from a couple of other amazing local chocolate companies that I’ve enjoyed.

I went through a phase of eating a couple of UliMana chocolate truffles every morning for about a month, until I realized they were causing my brain to become too unfocused to get work done. I save them for special occasions now and often give them as birthday gifts to friends.

Raw Shakti Chocolate is another definitely worth trying. Especially if you enjoy combining unusual flavors. Loco for Coco, with coconut and Hawaiian black lava salt, is a particular favorite of mine.

Yeah, 3 kick-ass raw vegan chocolate companies in one little mountain city. Life is good.

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Vegan-friendly Restaurants in Charlotte

Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Cafe Luna in Charlotte

Cafe Luna in Charlotte

Maybe it’s because I had more time to spend in Charlotte on this recent trip, but the city seems significantly more vegan-friendly than ever before.

First though, the bad news. Blynk Organic, the super healthy, vegan-friendly, soup and salad restaurant at the Southpark Mall, which I wrote about in a previous post, is no longer there. It was so good that we were actually looking forward to eating there again. I’m sure many readers are thinking, “who gives a crap about mall food?” Well, I hate shopping at the mall too, but the truth is that the only reason I ever go to Charlotte in the first place is to buy clothes, because you just can’t find petite women’s clothing in Asheville. It was nice to have a place in the mall to grab a quick bite to eat.

But on to all the good stuff, some of which is new, most of which has probably been there for years but I just didn’t know about it.

Fern, Flavors from the Garden, is a new all-vegetarian restaurant, a bit on the fancy expensive side.  Plenty of gluten-free, vegan options available. The flavors were impressive. The only complaint is that the portion sizes of the entrees were very small. I think most people would be disappointed with, especially considering the price. I do highly recommend trying it.

Buckwheat Blaster at Luna's

Buckwheat Blaster at Luna's

Luna’s Living Kitchen is a raw, vegan restaurant, open only for breakfast and lunch. Many gluten-free options. They have an extensive breakfast menu, but I was hoping to order something off the lunch menu. Unfortunately it was too early, and I didn’t end up making it back there again later. I ordered the Bombin’ Buckwheat Blaster, which was tasty and full of fresh fruit. For me though, it was way too sweet, which means most people would probably love it. Even so, I could tell the quality of the food was top notch, and I hope to try their lunch menu next time I’m in Charlotte.

I’m sorry to say, I found out too late about Zizi’s Vegetarian Restaurant. It’s 100% vegan, take-out/delivery only, lots of gluten-free options and lots of comfort food. It looks fantastic. It’s #1 on my list of places to go the next time I’m in Charlotte.

Not a restaurant, but I have to mention….

The Greener Apple is a new little all-vegan store. I should really say, The Greener Apple is an all-vegan tiny corner of a large book store. Despite it’s surprisingly small size, I did walk out of there with 3 things I was genuinely excited to find – peanut butter cups, dog bisquits, and something like a sponge but much less disgusting than a sponge. Make sure to look for the “Book Buyers” sign in order to find the store.

There are also plenty of grocery stores in Charlotte that have all the vegan food you could want. Healthy Home Market, where I did my grocery shopping this time around, has 3 locations and a ton of gluten-free breads. Earthfare has 2 locations in Charlotte. Berrybrook Farm is a great little health food store in Charlotte, but it’s pretty small. They also have an excellent sandwich shop inside.

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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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New vegan restaurant – Plant – Now open and exceptionally good

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Cannoli at Plant

Cannoli at Plant

We’ve been waiting for months for Asheville’s only 100% vegan restaurant, Plant, to open and it’s finally here. And wow is it ever good. The menu is full of old favorites that vegans never get anymore, like onion rings and cannoli(!!!) but with all kinds of unique creations like the black pepper tofu and peppercorn crusted seitan. Every dish looks like a work of art and every bite is a perfect blend of interesting flavors. As far as I’m concerned, the chef at Plant is a genius.

There is even a raw dish on the menu – Enchiladas with summer vegetables, annatto cashew cheese, and cacao mole. It was filling without being completely overwhelmed by nuts (which many raw dishes tend to be).

There was a raw dessert last night too, key lime pie, but I’ll have to try that another time because there was no way I was going to miss the cannoli. One of my favorite treats as a kid in NY state, I thought I’d never have one again. The filling was slightly less firm than I remember, but the taste was right on.

One of my friends, who is a regular meat-eater, ordered the “berger” and truffle fries, which he ate and enjoyed for the most part. The problem though was the texture of the burger – it was very stretchy, like pizza cheese, and freaked him out quite a bit. Seeing as how I long for the stretch of pizza cheese, I actually enjoyed that, but it did seem odd. The flavor was amazing even so, and the corn-crusted onions (aka onion rings) that came with it, were better than I remember onion rings ever being.

Berger and truffle fries at Plant

Berger and truffle fries at Plant

There are a number of gluten-free options at Plant but my biggest complaint is that they were not labeled on the menu. I hope that can be remedied soon.

I really can’t say enough good things about Plant. It was some of the best food I’ve had in a long time, the owners were welcoming and attentive, and I left there feeling perfectly full without feeling weighed down. All the food is fresh and made from scratch. It’s my new favorite.


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Vegan breakfast in San Diego is hard to find

Sunday, May 1st, 2011
Vegan scramble at Rancho's

Vegan scramble at Rancho's

It is not easy to find a decent vegan breakfast in San Diego. It seems that all the good restaurants open after 11am. Luckily, there’s a very vegan-friendly (and carnivore-friendly) restaurant that opens at 8am and has some of the best vegan scramble I’ve ever had, not to mention some other amazing vegan options. Rancho’s Mexican & Vegetarian Cuisine a strange combination of traditional Mexican and super healthy vegan food. We were told that it came to be that way because the owner’s wife was vegan. See also my previous post about the most delicious vegan quesadillas I’ve ever had.

As good as their food is, I really didn’t want to eat there 2 mornings in a row, but I literally could not find another restaurant open for breakfast. For my 3rd morning, I had luckily discovered the Ocean Beach People’s Co-op which has a pretty good hot bar and bakery upstairs and lots of great food downstairs.

In general, it is very easy to find good vegan food in San Diego. Here are the places I had a chance to check out:

  • Evolution Fast Food
    2949 5th Ave.
    San Diego, CA
    (619) 550-1818

    Mushroom swiss burger from Evolution

    Mushroom swiss burger from Evolution

    Drive through or order take-out at the counter inside. They have a few chairs inside. The menu is reminiscent of traditional fast food – burgers, fries, shakes, and sandwiches, but way way healthier. They have several gluten-free options as well as a nice selection of raw food. The gluten-free version of the mushroom swiss burger was very flavorful and satisfying. I also grabbed a banana bread cookie to eat the next morning for breakfast, which was delicious. I came back another night for a smoothie, since they seem to have some of the more interesting smoothies in San Diego. I’m afraid I can’t remember what I got but it definitely hit the spot.

  • The Greenery Raw Food Cafe
    133 Daphne St.
    Encinitas, CA
    Not quite as good as Peace Pies (see below) but similar concept. I think I caught them at a time when they were out of most of their options, which is why it didn’t seem as good. Greenery does have a made-to-order menu for dinner, but I ate there during lunch, which is pre-made raw food items. I had a pretty good pizza and one of the best seaweed salad’s I’ve ever had.
  • Peace Pies
    4230 Voltaire St.
    San Diego, CA

    Raw cinnamon rolls from Peace Pies

    Raw cinnamon rolls from Peace Pies

    “I’ll have one of everything!” OK, it wasn’t exactly like that but pretty close. This 100% raw cafe didn’t look too promising when I first walked in. Most of the lunch options were pre-made in a fridge, not made-to-order. But When I looked up close, everything looked like something I had to try. I had some spaghetti with pesto, a slice of pizza, veggie sandwich, vanilla ice cream, and a slice of coconut cream pie with chocolate on top. I also got some cinnamon rolls to take for breakfast the next day. Everything I tried was outstanding. Truly delicious.

  • Stephanie’s Bakery
    4879 Voltaire St.
    San Diego, CA
    Their website proclaims that they have the “best vegan pizza ever!” so that definitely seemed worth trying. Unfortunately, they were out of the gluten-free crust, but I decided to suffer through the gluten in order to get to try out their pizza. I don’t know if it lived up to the hype, but it was pretty good pizza. Definitely no complaints. I had the “Supreme” pizza which includes vegan pepperoni and several vegetables. They also use Follow Your Heart cheese. I also grabbed a gluten-free brownie, which was very tasty. Their other cakes looked absolutely incredible, but I didn’t want to eat any more gluten than I already had.
  • All Vegan
    4669 Park Blvd.
    San Diego, CA

    S'mores from All Vegan

    S'mores from All Vegan

    Not a restaurant at all, but they had some really awesome vegan treats. The s’mores was particularly amazing. Truly amazing. They also had a nice selection of chocolates. Most of the store is non-edible things like shoes, belts, wallets, and other hard-to-find vegan items.

Overall San Diego is far more vegan-friendly than your average city, but not so awesome as Los Angeles or NYC. There are pockets of the area where good vegan food is very hard to find (ie Coronado Island, where I was staying). If you show up with a good list of restaurants and a GPS, you’ll have no problem finding enough food to eat.

As an aside, an interesting peculiarity about San Diego is that many many restaurants seem to offer young coconut water as a beverage, straight from the shell.

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Delicious juices and smoothies at “The Farmacy”

Saturday, March 19th, 2011
The Farmacy Juice and Tonic Bar

The Farmacy Juice and Tonic Bar

It’s hard for most of us to get too excited about a juice and smoothie bar, but maybe that’s because most of them aren’t as satisfying and exciting as they could be.

The Farmacy Juice and Tonic Bar, in West Asheville, is appropriate for vegans, raw foodists, those who are gluten-intolerant, or any health-conscious person who also wants to enjoy their meal. They offer juices, smoothies, “super smoothie meal replacements”, raw soup, tonics, and shots. Their smoothies feature such exciting ingredients as chia seeds, coconut yoghurt, cacao, mesquite, spirulina, lavendar, and all the fresh fruits and veggies you’d expect. They also have something I’ve only been able to read about but have always wanted to try: Rejuvelac, as made famous by Dr. Anne Wigmore of the Hippocrates Institute.

Judy and Carl, who operate The Farmacy, do things differently than most places. For instance, you get a coconut water chaser with your wheatgrass shot. And they’ll first bring you a taste of your smoothie so you can ask for changes before they pour it. They are also wonderful, positive, interesting people who enjoy getting to know their customers.

Prices are extremely reasonable and we’ve never been unhappy with our order. Give them a try any Wednesday through Saturday, inside the West Village Market at 771 Haywood Rd. in West Asheville.

Other than bee pollan and honey, there is nothing on the menu that vegans need to look out for.

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What’s her longevity secret? Peta’s sexiest veg woman over 50

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
Mimi Kirk, 70 years old

Mimi Kirk, 70 years old

Peta’s sexiest vegetarian woman over 50 is actually 70 years old! Mimi Kirk went vegetarian 40 years ago, was vegan for much of that time. About a year and a half ago her blood pressure was up and her doctor wanted to put her on medication. Rather than accept that fate, she turned to a raw vegan diet.

Check out a video of Mimi on a local news station here.

Check out SuperVegan’s interview here

Mimi looks amazing, even for 50. But she’s 70.

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Greenlife Grocery – A Great Source For Raw Foods

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Greenlife Grocery, more so than other large stores in the Asheville area, seems to be on the cutting edge of food options. While EarthFare only carries a few over-sweetened raw energy bars, raw crackers, and a couple of live food lunch-on-the-go type of items, Greenlife has an ever-expanding collection of raw food meals, snacks, desserts, fresh deli items, and ingredients.

For a long time, Greenlife has offered a full section of snacks about 7 shelves high. And they have featured some live food deli items for quite some time. In recent visits, I have discovered a new line of raw ice cream and a whole line of raw pies by Earth Cafe Living Foods in the freezer section. Both are out of this world delicious.

They have also expanded their selection of deli items and added a regular selection of to-go meals in the refrigerator. And they continue to add new snacks to their raw snack shelves all the time.

All the raw food isn’t in one place, so you have to become familiar with where everything is. Check the far left end of the deli case and the refrigerated area near the sushi. The refrigerated section in the produce area has some raw kimchee and sauerkraut and there is a mini fridge around the corner with some random items as well. The raw snacks are at the end of the pasta aisle facing the meat counter. And the frozen treats are a few feet away at the end of the freezer section.

Just like most people in Asheville, the employees at Greenlife are very friendly and helpful, so ask them to show you where all the raw food is and they’ll probably give you the full tour.

Greenlife is located at 70 Merrimon Ave.

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Monday, February 4th, 2008

foodscout logoIf you’ve spent any time reading my blog, you probably noticed that I’m a bit of a health fanatic. I love learning about new ways of healthy living and healthy eating. It’s been something of a hobby for me for the past few years.

About a year ago, I was reading a health food book and started feeling overwhelmed by all the information I was taking in. It was all fascinating. I was learning so much that I wanted to apply to my diet. But how would I possibly remember it all for long enough to benefit from it?

And so, was born.

I started to create a database for all the foods I was reading about along with their nutritional value and the health benefits they provide. It was becoming so handy that friends would often ask me for advice and information from my food database.

It finally occurred to me to put this information out on the internet and share it with the world. I hope it helps you on your path to better health!

Check it out at

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100% Raw isn’t always best

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Since starting down the raw food path, I’ve met a lot people struggling with answers to health and diet questions. Some people transition to a raw food diet quite easily, while others have to invent clever strategies for staying on raw food. Food cravings can be intense as our bodies struggle to kill off unhealthy intestinal bacteria and build up healthy internal flora. If you’re constantly struggling with binge eating, feelings of deprivation, or lack of health and vitality, staying 100% raw may not be your best path to good health.

A common strategy for transitioning to raw is to eat a certain percentage of raw food. This can be a great strategy, provided that when you are eating cooked food, you choose healthy cooked food. If you are eating 75% raw and 25% Twinkies and fried tofu, you’re missing out on the beneficial effects. Those processed foods are making your body more acidic and feeding the anaerobic bacteria in your gut, worsening your cravings.

Another popular strategy is to eat a lot of gourmet raw foods that mimic cooked favorites. There are dozens and dozens of gourmet raw food recipe books and a wide array of pre-packaged raw food snacks and desserts. Restaurants and grocery delis are adding raw selections to their menus. These are great for a fun delicious treat, but they are not part of a healthy, long-term diet plan. They tend to be high in sugar and fat, low in natural water, and lacking in substantial nutrients as compared with a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet. Eating raw junk food makes us feel sluggish and bloated, much like with any other junk food. The idea of staying raw at all cost is not necessarily the best strategy. Maintaining a raw food diet is supposed to be the means to being healthy. It is not the end in itself. If we are raw but unhealthy, then we have completely missed the point.

There is another alternative, and I’d like to suggest that it is superior to an all-raw diet that relies on fancy gourmet dishes and desserts: eating a mixture of raw foods and healthy cooked foods. The bulk aisle of natural food stores offer a variety of high protein, high fiber, mineral-rich, gluten-free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, and wild rice. These are all easy to prepare and can be mixed with raw fruits and vegetables for a very satisfying and tasty meal. Squashes, which are difficult to prepare raw, can be cooked and eaten plain to add healthy variety. Lightly steamed vegetables, while losing their enzymes, do retain most of their nutrition and cancer-fighting qualities.

Raw food is supposed to be about energy, vitality, and good mental and physical health, and for a lot of people, it is. If you aren’t one of those people, don’t beat yourself up over falling off the raw food wagon. Concentrate on good health first. Once you clean out the toxins and unhealthy bacteria and build up a healthy internal ecology, your body will demand nutritious, natural foods. Junk food won’t even look like food anymore. You’ll know raw food is the best diet for you because your body won’t want anything else.

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