Wordless Wednesday: Eat Your Vegetables

Catch a Healthy Habit – Zucchini Alfredo Lasagna

The Beer Plant – Roasted Carrots

Sanctuary Bistro – Red Beet & Jackfruit Mignon

Lemat – Mushroom Tibs

Kebabery – Mushroom Kebabs, Lentil Puree, Carrot Salad, Cabbage

Bouldin Creek Cafe – Buffalo Cauliflower

Takeout Take Away

Chinese food is one of the most popular worldwide simply because it boasts such incredible breadth and depth. There are eight primary styles of cuisine that fall under this umbrella term, each with its own flavor affinities and specialties.

Even if you only eat “Chinese food” every day of the week, you would never run out of options. Certainly, you’d never get bored.

Cantonese is one of the most common styles found in America, blending a delicate interplay between sweet and sour, with more braises, heavy sauces, and mild seasonings. This is where you find the usual staples like Kung Pao and General Tso’s.

Sichuan and Hunan lean more heavily into fiery hot spices, with a touch of ma la (mouth-numbing) peppercorns adding a distinct sensory experience. Think of blazing hot mapo tofu and dandan noodles.

Shandong cuisine hails from northeastern China, which explains the strong oceanic influence with much more seafood and salty flavors. Sea cucumbers are a particular specialty (though they’re not related to the vegetable you’re thinking of, and certainly not vegan) along with shark fin soup, now banned in most countries.

Anhui and Fujian both come from more mountainous regions, incorporating more earthy notes, wild foraged foods, and simple, sweet tastes. These styles are rarely found in the United States, sadly. “Hairy” tofu, fermented and pungent, is an acquired taste but highly memorable.

Similarly, Zhejiang and Jiangsu foods are almost impossible to find overseas; a sad omission from mainstream restaurants, as these dishes are lighter, fresher, or even entirely raw. Seasonality is exceptionally important, emphasizing the beauty in simplicity. Ginger-braised or -steamed proteins are popular, often paired with delicate white tea.

When you start craving Chinese food, which is your favorite style?

Splendiferous

Many great stories begin with soup. Soup can soothe the soul, fortify the infirm, nourish the hungry, and uplift the cast down. It can be just about anything ladled into a bowl and eaten with a spoon; hot or cold, thick or thin, based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, noodles, or just straight cheese.

Splendid Spoon also begins, and ends, with soup. Founded on the healing principle of the bottomless bowl, it’s a plant‑based meal program that delivers ready-to‑eat brews, blends, and even bowls. Smoothies and grain bowls have joined the menu, but as the name would imply, soup is the main event here.

The menu rotates weekly, drawing seasonal inspiration to appeal to contemporary cravings. Warming chilis, congees, and stews through fall and winter, and lighter, cooler broths and blends become available in spring and summer. Many recipes appear in founder and CEO Nicole Centeno‘s book, Soup Cleanse Cookbook. For those of limited energy, patience, or ingredients, the full service affair is a godsend.

Kabocha Congee is the kind of a bowl you can curl up with, swaddled in your softest blanket and fuzzy slippers, to feel like all is right with the world. Brilliant sweetness that come as a surprise, all courtesy of the natural sugars inherent in both the squash and coconut milk. Creamy, deeply soothing, rich yet not heavy, it’s a remarkable study in balance. Subtle hints of cinnamon perfume the bowl, marrying beautifully with notes of pepper and a touch of nutmeg. Even better than the average rice stew, toothsome pumpkin seeds are scattered throughout, lending a hearty bite that fully satisfies all the senses.

Not to get hyperbolic, but the Green Split Pea Soup is nothing short of a revelation. Rather than the murky morass of over-boiled legumes, there are full, whole peas in here! Like oversized caviar, they burst in juicy bites, lending an air of luxury to this once humble stew. Easily the best rendition of the concept I’ve encountered to date, it’s fantastic enjoyed cold on a hot summer’s day, too.

Take your taste buds globe trotting with a stop in Italy and France for a bowlful of Garden Minestrone and Butternut Squash Ratatouille. Leaning into a tomato base with savory herb seasoning, the minestrone focuses in on zucchini and white beans, whereas the ratatouille, true to the name, is all about that orange autumn gourd. Happily, neither one taste out of season, appealing to the senses all year round.

Billed as one of the “light” brews, Fennel Consommé presents a zesty citrus-infused broth with softly simmered pieces of licorice-y fennel. An excellent appetizer or palate cleanser between courses, it sings of sunny spring days. You can practically taste the morning dew still clinging to those leafy fronds.

New to the lineup, the Mint Chip Smoothie is everything you want and need out of a creamy summertime treat. Part decadent dessert, part wholesome meal replacement, each verdant sip is loaded with fresh greens and cool peppermint flavor. Trust me, I’m very serious about my mint chocolate chip milkshakes, so it’s really saying something to rank this one so highly on the hit list.

The spice is right in the Carrot Ginger Chia Smoothie. Think “liquid carrot cake” and you wouldn’t be too far off. Bright ginger blends with the tropical notes of mango and banana to recreate a more fruit-forward rendition of the old-fashioned staple. Stay in the bakery department for a moment to drink deeply from the Pumpkin Spice Smoothie while you’re at it. Enriched with almond butter and defined by a heavy dose of cinnamon, each bottle contains all the taste of America’s favorite crusted wonder, without the stodgy pastry.

For a souped up menu or smooth moves to power you through the day, you can do no better than the convenience and comfort of Splendid Spoon. With nationwide delivery and free shipping, there’s never a bad time to drink it all in. Use the code “SAVE25NOW” to get $25 off your next order.

One in a Trillion

There’s no stopping culinary creativity, even during a pandemic. Innovative eateries are still opening up everyday, ranging from low-cost to high-brow, but the latest wave all have something in common: They share the same dining room. Your own home dinner table is now ready to host! Meal delivery services are the new restaurant experience, filling the gap for those who love food but may not be as wild about all the labor- or dishes- involved. Another uniting, but less palatable factor, is that none of these options take specific health needs into consideration.

WeTheTrillions takes an entirely different approach. So named for the trillions of cells, bacteria, and other living beings that make up our microbiomes, the goal isn’t just to feed, but to nourish and flourish.

Using plant-based foods as tools to address specific conditions and wellness goals, these bespoke meals offer powerful nutrition in genuinely delicious packages. A quick quiz helps determine which menu is best suited for your situation, but it’s not all anonymous algorithms guiding the way. A real, live person (!) reviews the results, following up with additional questions about your health history. The goal is to design a menu that you’re guaranteed to love, with real, tangible benefits. Some of the programs deal with tackling diabetes, menopause, IBS, PCOS, Endometriosis, fertility, anemia, and more, customized to your tastes.

Okay, but what about the fun stuff: The FOOD? If you’ve been around the Bay Area long enough, you may recognize some of the edible offerings from the now defunct leCupboard. Living up to that memory, if not exceeding it, these dishes are simply delicious, crafted for flavors without compromise. In fact, downtown workers have been eating it up before thinking about the nutritional implications. There’s a literal hole in the wall, down a small alley in the Financial District, where you can purchase grab-and-go meals a la carte.

Landing right at your doorstep on demand, delivery is clearly the way to go for the majority of those hungry for a change. Packages arrive absent of fanfare in plain cardboard boxes, focused on the inner contents rather than exterior appearances. Personalized touches distinguish every aspect of the service, setting it a world apart from other companies claiming to put their clients first. Handwritten tags label every glass jar, packed by people, rather than shrink-wrapping machines.

If you’re so fortunate as to pay a visit, appropriately socially distanced in person or virtually, at home, may I recommend The Madrid? Designed with the mushroom-lover in mind, slow roasted shiitake and cremini tumble together in a tangle of zucchini noodles, coated in impeccably fresh, slightly spicy walnut pesto. This was a favorite back in the day, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be reunited at last.

Exploring deeper into unknown territory, while The Tangiers Stew isn’t one I was familiar with from previous visits to the brick-and-mortar establishment, it would have easily made my hit list for repeat orders. In fact, it was so good, I willfully flaunted reheating instructions to eat it chilled, straight out of the container! Mercifully, for hot days ahead and blisteringly busy schedules, everything included is fully cooked and ready to eat. Sauced and spiced zucchini dazzles with the ginger-lemon sauce saturating every cell, perched atop a bed of toothsome black forbidden rice. Slivered, toasted almonds remain as crisp as can be, lending a resounding crunch to the harmonious ensemble.

Translucent kelp noodles from The Ha Long Bay glisten in the sunshine, glowing with the golden hue of simmered carrots and parsley pistou. Wok this way (or just sautée) for a Vietnamese-inspired twist on New American Cuisine, drawing inspiration from the tenets of the raw food movement. Kelp noodles, made without flour or starch, are a rare find on any menu. Their unique texture is an ideal blank canvas for such an innovative palate of spices and herbs. Tender mushrooms and zucchini are woven between strands, playing umami chords for a completely symphonic eating experience.

Struggling to get down enough greens is a constant challenge even in the best of times, let alone given difficulty accessing enough fresh produce en masse. Gulp down a few sips of Cancun Juice to win this battle with ease. Swampy green from spirulina, thick as a blended smoothie, the taste is pure pineapple refreshment despite the intimidating appearance.

Appeasing the sweet tooth, breakfasts and desserts seemed interchangeable to me, as it should be when only natural, nutrient-dense sweeteners are involved. The Barcelona, a berry and hemp parfait, stacks up layers of creamy custard and fresh strawberries, that actually retain their textural integrity. It’s a small but noteworthy element; you’ll never find that in a frozen meal solution. Meanwhile, The Nancy is aptly named only because I continuously transpose the letters to call it The Fancy. A coconut base bursting with roasted blueberries, pistachios, and flax seed crumble would be right at home in any high-end hipster enclave. A bit simpler but no less impressive is The Manchester, flawlessly smooth and creamy, a strawberry pot-de-creme made possible only with flawless fruit as the foundation. While the The Bordeaux Chocolate Mousse was most clearly intended for an after dinner treat, but the fact that it’s made up dates and yams suggests that it’s an equally suitable morning starter. Chocoholics, rejoice; you can indulge in all the cocoa goodness your heart desires, deep and rich and silky, without any regrets later in the day. These tiny but mighty little jars contain the fuel to start out strong and end up satisfied.

Of course, any decent diet must include snacks, and the midday morsels included here don’t disappoint. The Marrakesh Jewels take two juicy, soft Medjool dates and stuff them to the brim with pistachio praline and cashew lemon chia, respectively. If hunger begins to nag like a petulant child between meals, a little bit goes a long way with these potent bites.
Genuine cookie monsters can find a more conventional pastry replacement in The Istanbul Cookie, a tahini-rye chocolate chip cookie that boasts an impressive 80% of your iron requirements per day. You’d never know it based on flavor, which is evocative of pure childhood comfort, hold the butter and eggs.

WeTheTrillions invites you to embrace your cravings. Acknowledging that “clean eating” is a misguided fallacy, the ultimate goal is to satisfy the need for comfort food without sacrificing wellness, or sanity, for that matter. Flavor is the foundation of what makes a healthful meal.

This is one establishment you’ll never regret visiting. Give it a try, make it a routine, and throw away your other takeout menus. This one has genuine staying power.

Get 10% off your order with the code HANNAH10, today!

This review was made possible as a collaboration with WeTheTrillions. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

Wordless Wednesday: Let’s Do Brunch

Huevos Divorciados with JUST Egg & Morning Bowl with Avocado from Wooden Spoon

Breakfast Plate from Gay4U

Greektown Scramble from Kal’ish

Pesto Tofu Scramble, Caesar Salad, and Country Fried Chick’n Platter from Eternal

Chipotle Tofu Burrito from Candle Cafe

Garden Breakfast with Tofu from Bouldin Creek Cafe

Japanese Tea Service with Tempeh from Samovar Tea Lounge

Tofu Scramble and Buffalo Salad from Two Mammas Vegan Kitchen

Turmeric Daikon Congee with Tofu from The Well

Plant-Based Meals that Deliver

Meal delivery services have proliferated faster than amorous rabbits in recent years, expanding from an obscure, niche business model to one as common as the standard grocery store. There’s something for everyone, they promise with bright, inviting graphics, splashed across the screen with tempting photos of various dishes. If you like to cook, you can get bundles of ingredients with recipes. If your expertise in the kitchen ends at the microwave, you can have finished dishes ready to heat and eat land on your doorstep with just the click of a button. For those feeding a family, still more options abound for bulk meal prep. Don’t even get me started on all the specialized diets, from paleo to gluten-free, sometimes available all on the same platform. How does one begin to pick apart the best choices, given such a superabundance of promising meals- And seemingly endless deals?

While most enterprises now offer at least a handful of plant-based entrees, as is the trend, only a select few boast a fully vegan menu across the board. Veestro is one that can claim that distinction, inspired by the need for organic, healthy, and above all else, tasty food that fits into a fast-paced lifestyle. For their part, the stated goal is provide more plants for anyone hungry for a healthier alternative to takeout, appealing to the omnivores among us as well.

Sign up for a meal plan to save on the bundle or cherry-pick just a few dishes a la carte to supplement your standard rotation. Deliveries arrive frozen, conveniently packaged for further storage in your freezer or immediate thawing and consuming.

Here’s where I must sheepishly admit that I first tried Veestro many months ago, but as a testament to fervent following, these proven crowd-pleases are still delighting eaters all the same today. Such is the case for this Three Layer Scramble, which stacks up with a base of quinoa, smothered by a soft tofu scramble with black beans and topped by shredded dairy-free cheese. Reminiscent of enchilada filling without the heat of chilies, the ranchero-style sauce definitely erred more on the mild side, but that’s nothing a dash of sriracha can’t fix. Emphasizing the whole grains with a generous portion, it’s a very filling morning meal that would be just as enjoyable at lunch or dinnertime, too.

Perhaps the Breakfast Burrito was designed to be a more handheld, grab-and-go option, but the piquant sauce on the side is what truly makes this dish. Pour it on with abandon to make it a “wet” burrito, with a fork, knife, and plate required. Light and bright, it revives the slightly parched interior and adds volumes of flavor. Though labeled as hot sauce, it’s really more like a smooth, blended salsa. Wrapped up in the grilled tortilla, you’ll be pleased to find tender, toothsome, black beans, tofu, and potatoes. Served separately, lightly seasoned hash browns seem a bit redundant given this combination, but certainly aren’t unwelcome here. Who could say no to a supple, buttery potato, though?

If an urgent call should go out for some homey, uncomplicated comfort food, the Shepherdless Pie has got your number. Creamy potatoes with quinoa make up the bulk of this dish, slathered with a savory mushroom gravy that leads with the distinctive cheesy taste of nutritional yeast. Though slightly grainy after a harsh freeze and thaw, that textural shortcoming is easily forgiven when mixed into the main meal. Very much reminiscent of a pot pie without pastry, this easy entree presents familiar and uncomplicated flavors for widespread appeal.

There are no downright failures on this menu, but admittedly, some small disappointments. Thai Chicken Stew combines a thick, rich tomato base with incredibly meaty chicken strips, complete with a boldly charred, grilled essence, but I struggled to find any sort of Asian influence. Not a hint of curry, lemongrass, or coconut could be found. Although it looks like fried rice on the side, don’t be fooled; it’s just plain brown rice with peas and carrots. If simply re-titled without a reference to more exotic cuisine, it would be worthy of a reorder, but promises more on paper than it delivers in person.

Also available as a full “detox” plan, juices can be added a la cart, with a classic green juice predictably leading the pack as a top seller. Apple juice as a stand-alone beverage lost its appeal around kindergarten, so admittedly, I was not particularly enthusiastic to find the diminutive plastic bottle of Johnny Appleseed Juice in my sampler box. Clearly not just plain apple, as the dark green hue would make obvious at a glance, the initial smell is of grassy celery. Thankfully, it plays more of a supporting role in the overall flavor, which was definitely vegetal, but mellow and mostly sweet. More than mere veggies, this blend boasts a decent amount of protein thanks to the addition of sacha inchi, giving it much more more than just straight sugar for a quick energy boost.

As much as I love cooking, one of the greatest luxuries in life is allowing others to take the reins, and simply be fed. Knowing that those meals are of reliably high quality, healthy, and ready when you need them makes Veestro a strong contender for anyone who wants a night off from kitchen duty. Best of all, since they ship frozen, you can stock up and save them for times of need.

Have you tried any other prepared meal services? There are new plant-based providers sprouting out everyday, or so it seems, and I’m curious to try them all!