Thursday, April 26, 2018

What's Vegan at Jose Tejas?

Image result for jose tejas eat sign
Image was found on Google, when you click on it, it brings you to Goodies First blog post (go check it out, it's not a vegan post so it should be informative to omnivores) but the picture isn't on that blog, so I don't know...

Let me start by saying, there is no way to contact Jose Tejas via email, messenger, or even Twitter.  They have no contact information listed other the number for each store, if they do, I couldn't find it.  There is no corporate information listed anywhere.  They apparently are owned by Border Cafe, who also has no contact information listed anywhere.  It's the most bizarre thing...

So, I could not contact anyone at their corporate location to confirm anything and I didn't personally call my local Jose Tejas in Woodbridge, NJ because someone from my Vegans of Central Jersey group on Facebook already spoke to the manager at the Iselin, NJ location for 45 minutes.  Yes, 45 minutes.

New flash, if you think they're accommodating to vegans, then you have been sorely misinformed!

Here's the 411 posted with permission from the person who wrote the post:

The beans, rice and all the veggies they serve contain margarine with dairy.  (Yes, you can buy margarine without dairy, but they don't.  The one they use contains dairy.)

Their flour tortillas contain eggs.  (I know, bizarre, but true as per the manager.)

The corn tortillas are grilled on the same grills used to cook meat and cheese.

The corn chips are sometimes cooked in the same fryers they use to fry animal products.

The ONLY vegan options are salad, steamed veggies, salsa, and guacamole.


What makes this whole situation disturbing is that their staff has clearly not been trained on what is in the food they are serving and have been misinforming people for years.  At the very least, they should be trained on known allergens...like dairy and eggs... Not knowing at least that basic information is irresponsible and possibly dangerous.

And before anyone who half-reads this points out they have a "vegetarian menu" not a "vegan menu" I understand that.  But if you ask specific questions to your server, they should absolutely be able to give you accurate information or get you the information you need.  Why all restaurants don't provide a menu notating common allergens is beyond me.

Now you know, just in time for Cinco de Mayo, stay far away from Jose Tejas if you're vegan...or if you have a dairy allergy.  If you're in Jersey, there are a million restaurants serving authentic Mexican food....go there! Or try out the handful of restaurants that offer vegan options like Johnny Tequila's which I haven't been to yet, but plan on going to check it out very soon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Vegan Options at Six Flags Great Adventure

I emailed the Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ last year to find out why they don't have an allergen menu and what their vegan options are.  Remember, this response may not be relevant to your local Great Adventure theme park so I would contact them directly.  

Also, always ask to see the packaging of the food their serving (don't feel weird, I do it all the time and no one ever cares.  Plus most theme park attendants are teens and could seriously care less about showing you the package).  Let me add that the salt ingredients explanation came from me asking about their popcorn, which I always ask now that I know a lot of places add dairy to their salt.


"... we prefer our guest to ask any stand supervisor to see the ingredient list on the box to ensure there is none of the allergen they are looking for in the product. Sometimes products may be switched throughout the year and we want to ensure the guest is getting the most accurate and up to date information as possible. J

As far as Vegan options are concernred, we do offer Gardein Black Bean Burgers at Garden State Grill, Yum Yum Café and Go Fresh Café throughout the year. We also have Vegan Tenders available at Go Fresh Café (Yum Yum Café during Holiday in the Park).

The ingredients in our salt used in our products are:
Salt, Sodium Silicoaluminate, Dextrose, Potassium Iodide and Sodium Bicarbonate."


I will admit I was super surprised they had any vegan options!  I would double check the bread on the Gardein Burgers, a friend went and at that time the bun had dairy in it.  I know they now serve hummus and falafel, which is usually a safe bet for vegans.  There are also random salads, but nothing to write home about.  I really do wish they would make this whole process easier. 

To be honest, we usually leave around lunchtime so it's not an issue.  Or we just stop at Gloria Jean's at the Jackson Premium Outlet (lots of non-dairy milk options and baked goods, love that place) or Chipotle in Freehold.  Ocean Organics in Jackson also opened near the park.  We went right after they opened and everything was just okay.  Now that they've been up and running and have probably worked out any kinks, I'll definitely head back to give them another shot.

Non-vegan related word of advice, they're sticklers for not bringing bags or having things in your pockets at the beginning of the season.  By the middle to the end, they let you bring whatever you want.  But seriously...don't come carrying a bunch of crap.  I mean really, you're going on rides, where do you think you're putting all of that?  I bring my keys and my cards to get in.  That's literally all you need.  Stop being insane carrying ten bags.  And no jewelry...you're whipping around on roller coasters, it's going to hurt your ears or get flung off.  Common sense people...

Also, as a side-note, you cannot wait in line and then have your twenty person party join you when you get to the front.  That's line cutting.  I will call your ass out on that.  Just saying.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Vegan Options at Arooga's

Arooga's in opening up in a town close to me, and they have the Impossible Burger!  Exciting, right?  I know some people don't consider it vegan because the company that took part in animal testing.  You can find a pdf of their statement, The Agonizing Dilemma of Animal Testing" here.  But I shop at stores that sell animal products and animal-tested products, and most of my favorite vegan products are being bought out by non-vegan companies.  If I villanize them for what they did, wouldn't I be a hypocrite?

Back to why you're here.  When I checked out Arooga's menu, I noticed their Impossible Burger comes on a brioche bun, with (what I'm going to assume is) a non-vegan-friendly special sauce and American or Cheddar cheese.  The rest of the menu seemed pretty non-vegan-friendly too.  I couldn't find contact information on their site, so I tweeted them asking for one.  Radio silence.  Then I messaged my local chain on Facebook and they did respond with the following:

"The Impossible burger is vegan but the process in which we cook and prepare it makes it vegetarian only.  Our brioche bun has egg as well as our faux wings.  Our vegan options are limited to our salads with a few replacements."

Well, that's disappointing.  I'm uncertain who they think they're marketing this burger too.  Vegetarians don't normally eat eggs and if you're cutting back on red meat as per doctor's orders, then why is there not-so-heart-healthy items like cheese, mayo, and eggs?  Even getting back to the vegetarian aspect, there are eight items listed on their menu as "vegetarian", most of which contain eggs.  So unless you're an Ovo-Vegetarian (Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian if you're eating eggs and dairy, FYI)...yeah, that stuff is a no-go too.

I'm always baffled why these chains understand there is a demand for vegan items, but half-ass add them.  How hard would it be to make actual vegetarian or vegan food?  I'll steer clear of Arooga's until they can, at the very least, learn the definition of a vegetarian...





Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sweet Potato Soul, Bringing Vegan Soul Food Recipes to the Masses

Yes.  I know.  I already reviewed Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul book for Blogging for Books.  But I had to post a follow-up review because I'm obsessed with this cookbook.  

I have only a small smattering of soul food prior to going vegan.  Maybe.  Honestly, I'm not even sure.  I watch Sweet Potato Soul's youtube channel, which is fine, but too much music and stuff for me.  I'm old and ornery and I like things simple.  When I got this book, I was feeling kind of "eh" about it.  I'm used to Asian cooking, which involves 500 million ingredients.  Short ingredient lists always underwhelm me when I see them.  Which is stupid, since I love Chloe Coscarelli recipes and they have short ingredient lists and easy directions.  Who knows.  I'm clearly just insane.


I decided to try out some recipes in here.  I needed a change of pace from rice and pasta bowls, Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Thai, Sri Lankan and "American" style food like burgers and pizza.  A while back, I bought a ton of vital wheat gluten believing I'd make a ton of seitan, and then never did.  When I saw her two sausage recipes, I thought this was a good opportunity to use some of it up. 

Holy crap.  Both of these recipes were banging!  It was like Tofurky sausage but better (sorry Tofurky, I still love you).  Want the secret for really firm seitan sausages?  Buy pre-cut foil like this one Pop-Up Aluminum Foil Sheets and use a sushi mat to roll it tightly.  The box of pre-cut foil is the way to go because you don't have to struggle with trying to tear foil the right size, you can just whip out a sheet, and they're the perfect size for sausages.


I haven't had Red Beans and Rice in a million years. These were great.  There was a little pre-prep with the sausage and making the creole seasoning (which I still have plenty of even after making a lot of recipes from her book).  My beans were old and refused to cook completely.  I gave up and ate them anyway.  I might use the pressure cooker next time, these do take a while to cook.  Old, under cooked beans aside, this was an easy to make meal with deep, rich flavor.  Definitely worth the wait.


Jambalaya.  OMG.  What an easy weeknight one pot meal! And I love that she used jackfruit for something other than bbq "pulled pork" which is literally everywhere now.  You were supposed to use fresh parsley, but I used dried since fresh herbs die in my house in five minutes no matter what I do.


Low Country Grits was listed in the breakfast section.  While I have had grits with my breakfast at random diners over the years, to me this is a lunch/dinner meal. Never had grits?  You're missing out. They're so smooth and creamy. You'll want to lick your bowl at the end.  I really appreciate her random mix of veggies.  Chickpea and jackfruit in the jambalaya and zucchini, artichokes, and corn in the low country grits.  She uses things you think don't make sense, and wind up being perfect.


Her recipe for Oyster Mushroom Etouffee tastes like you're eating seafood.  I don't know how, but it tastes so much like seafood that you could fool a non-vegan.  No joke. Vegan magic, baby! I've only used oyster mushrooms as a faux fried chicken (which is awesome btw) but now I understand how they got their name.  It really is like biting into a cooked oyster or clam.  


Lentil Loaf with Oooh Mama Mushroom Gravy was something in between a meatloaf and a vegan holiday roast.  When she says to chop the nuts finely, she means finely...I wrote myself a note for next time.  And don't forget to add the breadcrumbs like I did, or you too will have to dump the whole thing out halfway through its cook time, mix them in, squish it back into the loaf pan again. Yeesh. If you're not a gravy making master like me, this is a great one to add to your repertoire.


Sorghum Cornmeal Waffles, or in my case Maple Syrup Cornmeal Waffles.  I was going to grow sorghum once upon a time.  Then I realized the enormity of work that goes into harvesting it and turning it into a syrup...and so here I am still buying maple syrup.  Anywho, they were crisp with a little crunch from the cornmeal.  They were just as good the next morning heated up in the toaster.


And there you have it.  Literally, every recipe in Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul has been a winner.  Clearly, delicious food can be made with simple ingredient lists and easy instructions, who knew?  If you love soul food or have never had it, this is a book you need to get.  If you don't care about soul food or vegan food, and you just like really good food, get this book.  If you want to stop spending a million dollars of plant-based sausages, go buy this book, and try out her seitan sausage recipes.  This book will remain in heavy rotation at my house from now on.  If you do pick it up, let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, February 26, 2018

What's the Best Cookbook for New Vegans? (Part 1)

Chloe Coscarelli's books are the books I recommend to every new vegan. Her recipes are easy to make and consistently amazing.  Well, some are just okay, but nothing is ever bad.  Ever.  Some reviews confuse me because they knock her books for not being healthy.  FYI vegan doesn't automatically mean healthy.  If that's what you're looking for, then go look for someone who claims to make healthy vegan food, don't knock someone who doesn't.  I think her recipes are the ones that can convince non-vegans that vegan food is good because it tastes like the things they are used to eating.  Her books are my go-to, especially for desserts when I go to parties.

Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen is pretty pasta focused, but amazing.  You have to make the apple cake.  Takes 5 minutes to put together, with an amazing result. You can feed any of these recipes to a non-vegan or even someone lactose intolerant and they'd never believe these recipes weren't full of butter and cream.

Chloe's Vegan Desserts is an amazing collection of easy to make desserts.  The lemon poppy seed muffins are amazing! Don't be a cheap ass like me and use almond milk instead of a can of coconut milk, it really does make a difference.  Bake some vegan treats yourself for an eighth of what they cost at vegan bakeries.  Then with all that money you save, go buy her new book.


What's great about those two books is also great about Chloe Flavor, the recipes have minimal, easy-to-find ingredients and simple instructions.  Normally, I'm the type that wants a picture per recipe, but I don't mind that this doesn't have that.  I know her recipes are going to be good, so if my choices are more recipes or more pictures, I'll take more recipes.



So far I've made the French Toast, Sweet Tamale Cakes, and the Fiesta Mac & Cheese.  The French Toast was really good, using something similar to a crepe batter to coat the bread.  The tamale cakes were a little sweet to me, similar to cornbread.  But the siracha mayo you serve it with was banging!  I wasn't sure about the Fiesta Mac & Cheese, it did have a picture and it wasn't that pretty.  Even my daughter, who likes mac n' cheese any way she can get it, was unsure about this one.  The end result was so good! Full-flavored, rich and creamy, it reminded me Hamburger Helper sans dead cow.

IS IT VEGAN-FRIENDLY?  Of course.  

WOULD I BUY IT?  Hell yes.  Bottom line, Chloe Coscarelli makes great food.  If you get to go to her restaurant, go, it's worth it.  In the meantime, go buy 
Chloe Flavor, and then go buy her other books.  These are the recipes that will convince your family and friends that vegans aren't sitting around eating nothing but salad, tofu, and Buddha bowls.  You can thank me later.

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like-it-is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.



Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: Sweet Potato Soul by Jenne Claiborne

If you've ever been on that little site called YouTube, you may have seen the lovely Jenné Claiborne on her YouTube channel cooking delicious vegan meals.  On her blog and channel, she cooks many different styles of food, but this book focused on Southern food.  Atlanta born and raised, she works to show people you can still eat delicious Soul Food sans meat, eggs, and dairy, and not feel like you're missing a thing. Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul is her first foray into the printed cookbook world.

Her intro story is fascinating. so don't just breeze by it.  All these recipes are very accessible, with easy to find ingredients.  Beautiful pictures!  Quite a bit of sweet potato use, but that shouldn't be a surprise considering the title.  Seriously, how amazing does the cover picture of Fried Cauliflower Chicken look?  Sweet potato cinnamon rolls and jalapeno hush puppies are on my long list of recipes I want to try from this book. 




IS IT VEGAN-FRIENDLY?  Duh.  It's a vegan cookbook.  "100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice and Soul."  Yes, of course, it's vegan-friendly.

WOULD I BUY IT?  Yes, if for no other reason, I've been watching her on YouTube for what feels like forever.  For no real reason other than a lack of time, I haven't actually tried any of her recipes before, so I'm super excited to see if they taste as good as they look on TV.  


I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like-it-is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Book Review: Power Plates by Gena Hamshaw

Gena Hamshaw, of Food52 fame, has put out another book, Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Vegan Meals.  

She starts the book by talking about ingredients, followed by how to batch cook beans and grains.  There's even a bit on macronutrients if you follow that kind of thing.  The book ends with meal planning ideas.  The pages are a good weight, and there are gorgeous pictures of every recipe.  There is a lot of roast this, puree that.  Nothing complicated.  The book is divided into six sections, Breakfast, Salads, Soups, Bowls, Skillets and Stovetop and Bakes.  She gives the same advice I give everyone, try a recipe as it was originally intended, onwards from there, make it your own by modifying ingredients to suit your taste.

There's a misconception that vegan food is not only expensive but time-consuming to make.  This book helps to disprove that idea.  All the recipes are easy to make and uses ingredients that I have in my pantry.  Albeit, not everyone has bulgur wheat or miso, but I didn't see anything I couldn't find at a local market or on Amazon.  I do like that none (well, none that I saw) of these recipes relied on faux meats or commercially-made vegan products.  It's all veggies, fruits, beans, and grains.



IS IT VEGAN-FRIENDLY?  Duh.  It's a vegan cookbook.  "100 Nutritionally balanced, one-dish vegan meals."  Yes, of course, it's vegan-friendly.

WOULD I BUY IT?  Yes, I'm made many recipes from Gena Hamshaw's Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen.  Just about everything in that book was really good, so my guess is that everything in here is equally amazing.  I would definitely buy Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Vegan Meals for anyone trying to switch over to a plant-based lifestyle but is lost on what to make.

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like-it-is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.