Tagged: Gluten-Free

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition:

Deli Salads at Wheatsville Co-op

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Mongolian tofu patty with salads from Wheatsville Coop

I have a love affair with salads, but probably not the kind that you’re thinking of – I love potato salad, tofu salad, pasta salad, broccoli salad, bean salad, quinoa salad, and even a well-massaged kale salad. Lettuce based salads are fine (and some are even really great), but I’m much happier when you pair a bunch of what would most likely be described as ‘side’ salads on a plate together. I love how these hearty salads often play off each other — one might have sweet dried berries, another garlicky greens, and another a tangy vinaigrette. When you pair many salads together, the flavors are varied and intense, and don’t get old fast. Restaurants that have bevies of vegan-friendly salads pre-made and ready to be dished up are incredibly common in major cities around the world, but unfortunately haven’t really taken off here in Austin (too hippy for us Texans?). I hope we can turn this “salads as meals” image around, because it’s my favorite kind of meal, and there’s only one place in town that has the variety to do it right: Wheatsville Co-op.

Deli counter at Wheatsville on GuadalupeBroccoli salad at the Wheatsville deli counter

To start my meal, I’ll head to the grab-and-go area to size up what’s available on the shelves, then I’ll head over to the deli counter (if I’m at the North location) to see what’s on offer there, and formulate my meal plan. The vegan options are all labeled with a green “V” and can sometimes be plentiful, other times sparse at the Deli counter, so the grab-and-go area is really helpful for completing a balanced meal. I’ll usually pick a protein to start, my favorite of which is the Mongolian Tofu (I realize this is technically not a salad). There are often other tofu based salads, bean salads and tempeh salads to choose from. Then I’ll move onto the carbs, and grab a couscous, pasta or potato salad. To get my veggies in and finish off my meal I’ll pick two green salads, often a kale salad and a broccoli or Brussels sprouts salad to finish. I like some of the salads (hello Raw Deal!) better than others, but I’ve never come across a salad I didn’t like at Wheatsville, so I’ll just grab whatever sounds good in the moment.

Raw Deal salad in the grab-and-go section at WheatsvilleGrab-and-go section at Wheatsville on Guadalupe

I know you’re probably thinking I’m breaking the bank with all my fancy salads, but the plate pictured up top cost me just under $9. Many of the ingredients are organic, and it’s made in a place that I know treats its workers well, so I’m really comfortable with that price. This meal also happened to be gluten-free friendly, as Wheatsville uses wheat-free tamari in many of their salads, so it’s a great option for those avoiding gluten – though probably not so much for those avoiding soy. Two slabs of tofu and three salads made for two hearty meals, so you can share with a partner or plan for some leftovers. You of course can go crazy, and grab four of the more expensive salads, but even then you’re probably looking at around $12 a plate (I know I’ve spent waaay more accidentally at the salad bar you know where). So really, the deli salads at Wheatsville are just a win all around.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ (Fruit &) Veggies Edition:

Cacao Cup from Mister FruitCup

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Traditional Mexican and Cacao Cup from Mister FruitCup

We’re taking a departure from the veggies for a moment to highlight another food group that we tend to neglect – fruit! Fruit, glorious fruit! Fruit is of course delicious, but how often do you actually go to town on an array of fruit?* Fruit all too often gets relegated to boring snack status: the squished grapes or banana haphazardly stuffed into your lunch sack, or the sad browning fruit salad sitting uneaten at a potluck. I’ve always considered fruit a quick snack, maybe a lazy dessert, but never something to put much effort into, that was until Mister FruitCup showed up on the Austin scene. These fruit cups are a huge departure from the cocktail cups of your childhood. They’re cups piled high with a wide variety of ripe fruit, covered in sauces and spices and then covered in toppings including nuts, coconut and lime. They’re the LeBron James** of fruit cups.

Tropical and Thai cups from Mister FruitCupTop view of vegan cups from Mister FruitCup

Since the Mister FruitCup trailer first opened up over two years ago, the menu has changed a bit. They’re currently located in the University Co-op Food Court, at San Antonio and W. 23rd, and cater to the hungry UT student population. A few of our past favorite vegan-friendly fruit cups have disappeared from the menu, but Mister FruitCup’s commitment to their vegan customers has not. They currently mark the fruit cups which are vegan or can be made vegan with modifications (agave for honey as an example), and are in the process of putting together a separate vegan menu. The flavors also change with the seasons, and our current favorite is the Cacao cup, comprised of mango, banana, orange, kiwi, cacao nibs, agave and fresh lime juice. The lime and agave elevate the flavors of the fruit perfectly, and the cacao nibs add a nice crunch to balance the cup out.

Mister FruitCup TrailerUniversity Co-op Food Court

If you’re looking for something a little less sweet, we recommend the traditional Mexican cup with its unique combination of flavors including watermelon, pineapple, cucumber and jicama topped with spices and coconut. For a nice breakfast, they have an “Energy” cup with fruit, granola and yogurt (vegan yogurt available). The Thai cup is another interesting flavor departure, with fruits such as watermelon, banana and mango, topped with peanuts and fresh herbs including basil, mint and cilantro, and served with chopsticks for a fun twist.

Because it is a food truck with limited resources, and because the ripening of fruit can be finicky, not all fruit cups are available at all times. The menu is so wide and varied, though, that there are always a few vegan fruit cups to choose from. The cups range in price from $4.50 to $6.50 depending on size, and all come with a generous portion of fresh fruit. And while the University Co-op location is clearly a great spot for students and UT employees alike, it’s also pretty convenient for those of us who drive by the area frequently, as there’s free parking (with validation) in the large parking garage directly across San Antonio Street from the trailer lot. So, whether you’re looking for an energizing snack, a light meal, or a yummy dessert, if you’re on or near campus, you should definitely look to Mister FrutiCup!

* Don’t answer that. I realize I’m probably alone in my delayed discovery of how amazing fruit can be.
** I know I wrote it, but I don’t actually know what that means. Basketball, right?

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition:

Tofu & Broccoli Salad from Bouldin Creek Cafe

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BouldinCreekSalad

Never in my life did I think I would wax poetic about a tofu and broccoli salad, but that’s what happens when you start diving into the world of great vegetable dishes this town has to offer – you find things you never expected to find. I think before this series started, we ordered a salad at Bouldin Creek Cafe, errr, once. Maybe? We figured if we were going to drive across the river (we’re die-hard northies), we’re going to get a Veggie Royale or a Renedict. When we placed our order for the Tofu & Broccoli Salad, we had low, looow expectations – I’ve never been happier to report that we were wrong. This salad has become our new go-to.

The Tofu & Broccoli Salad is loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, sunflower sprouts and seeds… you know, the standard salad fare. Where this salad really shines is in the crisp stir-fried broccoli and the firm sesame tofu – both flavored to perfection in a delicious savory marinade. The thing that seals the deal, and brings all the flavors together, is the ginger-miso dressing. Do not order this salad without that dressing! It’s imperative. We were so close to ordering it with just the garlic tahini dressing (because, tahini — yum!), when our table-mate and bestie Tenley, a Boulin Creek Cafe regular, saved the day and told us we needed the ginger-miso dressing. So we got both. The garlic tahini was no match for the ginger-miso. Tofu & Broccoli Salad + ginger-miso dressing = love at first bite!

BouldinCreekSandwichBouldinCreekRenedict

Before we stumbled upon the tofu and broccoli salad, Dan and I were dead set on featuring the Kool Summer Sammich at Bouldin. It was a very close runner-up to the salad. It’s basically a salad sandwich. A stellar salad sandwich. Made up of tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, sunflower sprouts, field greens, and shredded carrots piled high on grilled ciabatta with a chipotle-pecan pesto spread. It’s made complete with an order of tofu bac’n or hummus. Tenley (Hey, Tenley! Are you totally not embarrassed by all of these these shout-outs?!) also wanted to make sure that everyone knew that the hummus is legit, and that she loved her Kool Summer Sammich in large part because of the pesto spread – so now you know. Order that stat!

BouldinCreekInteriorBouldinCreekExterior

I’m happy we found a new favorite at Bouldin, and look forward to switching it up more often now. I honestly don’t think you can get a bad meal at Bouldin; I mean, c’mon, everybody knows Bouldin’s the bomb! So if you’re stuck in a rut like we were, ordering the same dish time and time again, maybe it’s time to try something new? Hopefully you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as we were.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition:

Falafel Salad from Maoz

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Salad Box from Maoz

Love falafel? Who doesn’t? It’s a magical combination of chickpeas, veggies, herbs and spices all mixed up and fried into little balls. Maoz, an international chain of vegetarian falafel shops, has it down to a science. We’re lucky that Austin is one of the few US cities to have its own location, which opened up in The Triangle (Lamar and 46th) in early 2012. Grabbing a falafel in a pita is the standard go to, but we prefer grabbing a salad bowl. The bowl comes pre-filled with a little bit of lettuce and five falafel balls with plenty of room on top to spare for their rotating salad bar fixings: shredded carrots, red cabbage, green cabbage, beets, fried broccoli, cucumber and tomato salad, chickpeas, tabouli, olives, pickles and more. There’s a cilantro sauce at the end that I love to slather all over my salad, and a green chili hot sauce that Dan prefers. To top it all off, we grab the squeeze bottle of tahini and go to town.

Salad Bar at MaozVegan Shawarma at Maoz

The best part about Maoz is that they take their vegan customers seriously. Almost everything in the restaurant is vegan, and they’re not afraid to label it so. They offer vegan soups, and even have a vegan rice pudding dessert. Almost everything on the salad bar is vegan, and everything is clearly labeled vegan if it is. The fryer is a dedicated vegan fryer, so pile on that fried broccoli – it’s so good! Maoz is also incredibly gluten-free friendly, making their falafel balls gluten-free, and labeling the salad bar with gluten-free labels. They’re also trying out a new option of a vegan shawarma and vegan BBQ. When we were there, they mentioned that the shawarma is a chik’n style protein fried with onions and peppers, and the BBQ is a beef style protein marinated in BBQ sauce. The BBQ style was temporarily unavailable, but the shawarma was delicious and can be added in a wrap or salad.

Maoz Austin located in The TriangleInterior of the Maoz location in Austin

We live nearby, so taking our food to-go is pretty standard, and we love that there are dedicated 10 min and 30 min parking spots right out front that are almost always available. If you plan to eat in, the sandwich is a steal at $6, as you get a little box for salad bar toppings that you can refill as many times as you like. If you get it to-go, they give you a slightly bigger salad container, so it’s still a good deal. If you’re grabbing a salad bowl, you can do like we do, and stuff it to the max and then head home and transfer it to a larger bowl for easy eating. This is one superb salad that will fill you up.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition:

Quinoa Ranchero Salad from Juiceland

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Quinoa Ranchero and Smoothies from Juiceland

Juiceland, oh Juiceland, why are you so expensive*! I’d eat you for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could afford it. You make spinach juice taste good. You’re clearly working some sort of voodoo magic. When we’re looking to eat our veggies, we turn to you first. Your Quinoa Ranchero salad is a flavor explosion. Steamed quinoa tossed with corn, covered in a tangy ranchero sauce, and topped with cilantro and massaged spinach. It’s bold, and limey (as in, full of lime flavor – totally unrelated to the wonderful British people). We sometimes cheat on you with the Feast in the Middle East, the Double Rainbow Quinoa Salad and the Kale Salad, but we always come back to you in the end. You pair so well with a Peachy Green smoothie – which tastes more peachy than green, but looks more green than peachy, or an Applelily juice – the lovechild of an apple and cold-pressed green juice. Both are our go-to drinks when we want the benefits of downing our greens, without it tasting like we took a nosedive into a patch of grass.

Assorted salads, smoothies and a Mannawich from JuicelandOriginator and Peachy Green Smoothies from Juiceland

When we’re not looking to break the bank, we make sure to check out your daily specials board. Get a medium size Originator for $5.95? Yes, please! I’m drinking protein powder and spirulina, and yet all I taste is peanut butter & jelly. When we’re looking for something sweeter, we grab a Mannawich – which, both baffles and intrigues me. Who came up with the idea to put cinnamon date paste mixed with cacao and goji berries between two slices of manna bread? It’s like a cake sandwich. I have a love/hate relationship with this bizarre concoction that keeps me coming back for more.

Mannawich from JuicelandJuiceland on Burnet

Juiceland, it’s so swell that you’re doing well. I swear I blink, and another location opens up around town. I can find you at Barton Springs, Deep Eddy, North Burnet, Hyde Park (shoutout to Sweet Ritual!), Oak Hill, E. Cesar Chavez, Lakeway, Westlake, 29th & Guadalupe, and now I even hear you have a location in Brooklyn (NYC, not some new nickname for the East side)! Three cheers for world juice domination!

*I kid! I know why your delicious food is expensive. It’s because it’s full of expensive sh*t. And I’ll happily pay, because what’s the alternative? I get my own juicer dirty, and have to clean it? I don’t think so.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 Austin Favorites:

Mac & Chz from Happy Vegan Baker

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Happy Vegan Baker Mac & Chz, served with a side of fresh farmer's market veggies

Thick, tender elbow noodles covered in a rich cheezy sauce, with little bits of seasoned tofu mixed in — Happy Vegan Baker‘s vegan version of this all-American favorite comfort food has it all. Each bite is packed with flavors and textures that are guaranteed to make you a happy vegan eater. Best of all, this lip-smacking cheezy goodness can be yours for only three dollars, so when you feed your cravings it doesn’t bleed your savings. (Yes, eating Mac & Chz makes you tell cheezy jokes.)

You can find Happy Vegan Baker at several of the local farmer’s markets around town (check their website for details), where they sell Mac & Chz in refrigerated containers along with other tasty ready-made meals like the ChickUn Salad and Lentil Shepard’s Pie. They’re all so good that I could dig right into them cold, but if you really want to make the flavors pop, the Mac & Chz and Shepard’s Pie can be reheated at home. Happy Vegan Baker also offers a wide selection of delicious vegan baked goods (e.g. cupcakes, bread, oatmeal sandwiches, even gluten-free biscotti), which you can find at their farmer’s market booth, as well as in several coffee houses around town.

Mac and Chz at the Farmer's Market Gluten Free Options from Happy Vegan Baker

Happy Vegan Baker Booth at the Triangle Farmer's MarketHappy Vegan Baker is a family-owned business, and their passion and enthusiasm shows through in everything they do. They were the first vegan business we ran into when we moved to Austin (purely by accident, at the downtown farmer’s market), and we were welcomed warmly with a big grin that made us feel right at home in a city that was brand new to us at the time. Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or savory, head over to the farmer’s market and visit the Happy Vegan Baker booth: their friendly greeting will brighten your day, and so will the food, with every bite from the first to the last.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!

Good To Go

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North Austin just keeps getting better and better! As a proud north Austinite, I was so excited to try out our latest kick-ass new(ish) vegan-friendly trailer Good to Go, located in the NATY lot on Anderson Lane. The trailer is all vegetarian, with almost everything veganizable. In the four months that they’ve been open, Good to Go has added more and more vegan options, like vegan pesto and vegenaise, making it my new go-to spot for a quick dinner. They even have a ton of gluten-free vegan options, with a gluten-free bun option provided by Happy Vegan Baker! With five vegan patties to choose from, including hempseed, portobello, boca, and house made edamame and black bean patties, and a dozen ways to jazz them up, there are seemingly endless burger possibilities.

After working my way through most of the menu, some of my favorite combinations include:

  • Edamame patty with the Thai topping: Daikon and carrots marinated in veggie fish sauce, cucumbers and spicy vegenaise
  • Black Bean patty with the chili cheese topping: Soyrizo chili, romaine, tomatoes, red onions and daiya cheese
  • Portobello patty with the beet topping: roasted beets, romaine and daiya
  • Hempseed patty with the basil topping: pine nut basil pesto, romaine and daiya

Good Seed Burger on a Patty Melt with Root Vegetable Chips If you’re looking for a good side to accompany that burger of yours, try the veganized mac and cheese, homemade potato and beet chips, or some hummus topped with veggies and tahini. Some of the burgers can get a little pricey when you start to add extra patties, toppings, etc, so if you want a great option that doesn’t break the bank, try the patty melt or the quesadilla.

Veganized Quesadilla

I bet you’re thinking, “Hey, I really need to check that place out!” Guess what? Vegans Rock Austin has the meetup just for you! This Thursday (12/13/12), at 6:30pm, meet up with a bunch of awesome vegans (myself included) and try out this new vegan burger haven. Hope to see you there!

A Fall Pumpkin Treat and a Bake Sale for SARA Animal Sanctuary

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Who doesn’t love the fall? The leaves begin to turn deep orange and red colors. Sweaters make their way out of the bottom drawer and onto our shoulders to keep us warm during  nippy evening strolls with our dogs (also wearing sweaters) through Central Park — wait — this is not the New York of When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail. This is Austin, and our Zilker Park is still recovering from the throngs of people treading all over it for the Austin City Limits music festival. Yes, this is Austin, where pretty falls days are scattered between “unseasonably” warm days. What do we do in Austin to remind ourselves (and our dogs) that it is indeed Fall? We go to vegan bake sales, buy pumpkin-laced goods, and raise money for SARA Animal Sanctuary in Seguin!

Austin blogger Lazy Smurf recently reported that SARA Animal Sanctuary has fallen on hard times and particularly needs help paying their electric bill. Ms. Smurf has organized a vegan bake sale to benefit SARA Animal Sanctuary this Sunday October 21 at Counter Culture. If you can not attend the actual sale on Sunday then you can still sign up to donate baked goods and make plans with Ms. Smurf for a Friday or Saturday drop off. Alternatively, you can simply make a direct donation to SARA Animal Sanctuary. However you decide to help, please join the facebook event and invite all of your friends. Volunteers from the sanctuary will be present to answer questions, and Counter Culture will feature live music from Ken Atkins and the Honky Tonk Kind to entertain you during their popular weekend brunch. All in all, Lazy Smurf and Counter Culture have put together a pretty neat event for an awesome cause. And just to remind myself that is indeed fall, I plan to contribute something made with delicious pumpkin.

Obviously, I have been in a pumpkin mood tonight, so I took action and made the tempting cake you see pictured at the top of the page. To read about my experience making a vegan version of the pumpkin poke cake from the Something Swanky blog, click through to the next page.

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Sunday Night Supper

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You don’t have to be a church goer to regard Sunday as a day of repose and hardy food. As a general vegan feminist renegade, my every day existence hardly resembles any kind of June and Ward Cleaver wholesomeness. However, that does not preclude me from enjoying a hot meal that is heavy on carbs and served on that day of rest when the malls close at 6:00pm sharp.

This past Sunday I made two recipes from Dreena Burton’s book Eat, Drink & Be Vegan: Everyday Vegan Recipes Worth Celebrating. We capped off our week with the Chickpea Sensation Patties and the Thick ‘n’ Rich Gravy. I also steamed some broccoli and mashed up some potatoes to go along with it.

By now one would hope that I might anticipate the making-a-new-recipe phenomenon where you look at the recipe and think, “Oh I should have dinner on the table by 7:00pm.” Then recipe prep rages out of control and you find yourself sweating profusely and barking out orders to anyone within shouting distance —even if the only creature within range is your cat staring at you from the top of the refrigerator.

So goes the reality of those sunday night suppers. You imagine yourself enjoying a hearty meal with your loved one, with the matching plates and the card table freshly wiped. In the end, what you get is a very dirty kitchen and dinner served on the couch at 9:00pm while watching Arrested Development on Netflix.

Do not let this scene of domestic chaos discourage you from trying out these two recipes from Dreena Burton’s book. They are worth the effort. Surprisingly, the gravy recipe is gluten free, so file that away for the next time you entertain a GF friend. Since the patties do not call for vital wheat gluten flour, they could be made gluten free with few minor adjustments.

The chickpea patties consist of an oat and rice base and call for plenty of delicious ingredients like vegan worcestershire sauce and capers. Those imaginative additions are what make the end result so delicious and save the recipe from banishment to the much maligned 1970’s style vegetarian food graveyard. The recipe officially serves 4, but I think we’ll wind up getting closer to 7 servings from it. The patties are versatile and could be used as a veggie burger, broken up into pasta, sliced for tacos, or frozen for a future quick meal. We ate them smothered in Dreena’s delicious Thick ‘n’ Rich Gravy.

This unexpectedly gluten free gravy recipe is a real gem. The only floury bits are nutritional yeast and arrowroot powder. (I substituted arrowroot for cornstarch, and it came out fine.) In reality, it is a fancied up tahini sauce, which is a point worth celebrating for tahini freaks such as myself. Ingredients like red wine vinegar and miso give this gravy a substantial tang. This recipe comes together very quickly, but make sure you don’t neglect to stir as my gravy wanted to stick to the pan a bit —but maybe a little gravy stuck to the pan is okay, because then you will have more scrape up and lick from your index finger.

I definitely want to make these recipes again. The Thick ‘n’ Rich Gravy is straight up delicious, and now that I have completed the inaugural batch of Chikpea Sensation Patties I will be spared from future, “Oh-shit-I-should-have-started-cooking-the-rice-earlier” moments. These are not the only good recipes from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan either, so I definitely recommend picking up a copy of the book for yourself.

Accidentally Vegan: Indian Groceries

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No money to go to India - have India come to you.

Love dosas? curries? samosas? Wish you could whip up Indian delicacies like a pro, but have no idea where to start? Head on down to your local Indian grocery store, where you’ll find an amazing wealth of vegan-friendly imported goods. I’ve always been a sucker for the exotic flavors found in Indian food, and since returning from a three week honeymoon in India (best trip ever!), I can’t get enough of them. I’d love to say that my kitchen is full of exotic spices and flours, but in reality, my kitchen is full of frozen dosas and bags of pre-mixed curry powders. Whether your magic happens in the microwave, or on the stove, you won’t walk away from an Indian grocery store empty handed.

As a regular Indian grocery store shopper, there are a couple of things you’ll start to notice, the most important being the green dot. A large segment of the Indian population is vegetarian (including no eggs), so to make shopping easier, they devised a system of dots. The green dot means that the food does not contain meat or eggs. If you see this green dot, you are in luck – as it means all you have to look out for is dairy (or rarely, honey). Be watchful for yogurt, curds, whey, milk, paneer, and ghee (except for vanaspati ghee which is hydrogenated vegetable oil). Things you don’t have to be wary of include: jaggery (unrefined sugar), asafoetida (an onion-like plant), dal (lentil), ajwain (spice), gram (spice), maida (flour) and amchur (mango). These are the main funky sounding (but entirely vegan) ingredients I’ve run across, but let’s just say that it never hurts to have a smart phone handy or a friendly grocery clerk around to help you out, as you’re likely to run into other strange ingredients.

Not what it sounds like.Shopping the Indian grocery aisles always brings out the middle schooler in me, as I giggle my way past the “dhudhi bread” and the “cook fresh fatafat”. I always get a chuckle out of the instructions on the packaging that tell me to add a tea cup of water, as I dutifully rummage through my cupboards to find my finest china tea cup to complete my recipe. I often ruminate on what you could possibly make with a bag of frozen gooseberries or pointed gourds, as I load up on my bulk bags of samosas. Not everything in the grocery store is completely foreign though, as you’re likely to find the Pilsbury Doughboy’s face smiling up at you from a package of frozen roti. Our gluten-free friends should fear not, as Indian cuisine has a lot to offer, with a majority of goods being comprised of rice and lentil flours. You can load up on dosas, uttapams, and idli to your heart’s content.

While perusing the frozen section, make sure to keep an eye out for a vegan-friendly brand of dosa, uttapam, idli, roti, vada, dhokla (my favorite!), khandvi, kebab, samosa, sambhar and kachuri. Most of these are sold at a mind blowing $1.99 – college students rejoice! While in the chat (Indian snack) section, keep an eye out for KurKure (I could eat bags of the “Masala Munch” flavor), soan papdi (magical cardamom dessert – watch out for ghee in some brands), Thums Up (Indian version of coca-cola), and a myriad of cereal-like snack mixes.

There are Indian grocery stores in every major city I’ve lived in or visited. Austin is no exception, and we have quite a few to choose from! Some are better (i.e., have a larger frozen section for the terminally lazy) than others. My personal favorite is Gandhi Bazar on W Parmer Ln. Not because it’s the largest, but because it’s next to one of my favorite Indian restaurants, Curry in Hurry (they were in too much hurry to include an “a”). If you’re in the area, make sure to check them both out – you won’t regret it.