Green Papaya Salad | Gỏi Đu Đủ

Summer is almost upon us! Time for all the refreshing foods, like this green papaya salad!

Green Papaya Salad | plantcrush.coMy apologies for the huge hiatus on the blog, y’all, my design thesis has been my main priority for about a year now! I am happy to report that I have successfully defended my thesis to graduate. This past weekend, I finally graduated with my Master’s in Landscape Architecture! It still feels so surreal to type those words. I’ve been an emotional, nostalgic mess, and am preparing for an international trip to 3 countries, but that didn’t keep me from getting back in the kitchen!

I’ve had a few potlucks in the past couple weeks, so I’ve been making this green papaya salad a lot. Everyone has been loving it! It’s a classic Thai/Vietnamese dish, and yesterday I made it again for mom for Mother’s Day. Besides spring rolls, Vietnamese salads are one of my mom’s favorite things to eat! Continue reading

Kimchi ‘Bella Burgers

This post has been at least a year in the making. Last summer, I made some Asian-inspired portobella mushroom burgers for a friend and he told me they were the best burgers he’d ever tasted! I’ve since then made the recipe several times, tweaking things and adding different toppings.

This year, I’m participating in #VeganMofo for the first time! I’m mostly posting quick micro-blogs on Instagram, because grad school is my #1 priority at the moment. My life since last week: studying + studio all day every day (with breaks for food *photography* + quick runs to the gym). However, Vegan Mofo’s theme for Day 5, “best sandwich ever,” prompted me to create an entire blog post dedicated to this beautiful burger. 🙂

Burgers are sandwiches, right? 😉 I stepped up my game this time with double the ‘bellas, a creamy avocado basil sauce, and delectable caramelized kimchi (inspired by this dish made by ELY of Buzzfeed). This may be the best reincarnation of this burger yet!  Continue reading

Lunar New Year | Sweet Celebration Bowl

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!
Happy Lunar New Year!

For today’s post, I considered making something savory, but we’ve been having some mildly warm afternoons here in Texas, so instead, I will share a refreshing fruity recipe. This recipe showcases lucky fruits with meanings for Tết (Lunar New Year): soursop (custard apple), coconut, papaya, and mango.
Sweet Celebration Bowl

In Vietnamese, the names of these fruits create a pun, “Cầu Dừa Đủ Xoài (Cầu Vừa Đủ Xài).” This phrase means “[Let’s] pray for just enough [resources/money/food, etc.] to use”–a wise wish for the new year.

Continue reading

4th Annual Texas Veggie Fair | A Yummy Roundup

I despise and try to avoid crowds most of the time, but you can bet I always make an exception for the Texas Veggie Fair. I would choose this one-day event over the regular Texas State Fair any day, and that’s not just because admission to the veggie fair is free. I go for the awesome food, and to support the wonderful vegan community of activists, businesses, educators, and more.The event organizers do an awesome job.

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I’m always amazed at how crowded it gets, and it seems to just keep getting bigger every year. The lines are INSANE (especially the line for the vegan corn dogs), but it’s very exciting to see how many people are interested in the veggie trend, especially in a place like Texas. This year’s event was said to be the biggest yet, with over 7,000 attendees. That’s wonderful news to me! Continue reading

Vegan Options at GRIP Mediterranean Grill + Beirut Cafe

I love Mediterranean food because it includes a great variety of vegan dishes. My favorite Mediterranean place is Beirut Cafe, down the street from UT Arlington. It is a great place for vegans, because all of the vegetarian dishes on the menu are vegan-friendly (except for those that obviously contain dairy, such as cheese pies or the yogurt dipping sauce). When I go with friends, we often like to share the vegetarian mezzeh, which has an amazing number of dishes to choose from. I am obsessed with the spinach pies (as pictured below).

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As a Beirut Cafe regular, I have been very curious to see how College Park’s new GRIP location compares to my favorite hummus and falafel joint. About a week ago, I finally got the chance to go check out GRIP’s vegan options.

Update (10/8/13): GRIP’s vegan items are now clearly indicated with a “V”. For those sensitive to gluten, gluten-free items are clearly marked “GF”. I LOVE them for this–it makes things so much easier! 

Unfortunately, GRIP’s vegan offerings were not as abundant as I would have guessed, but they had a decent amount. The first thing I found out was that both their hummus and baba ganoush contain dairy. I was both saddened and surprised. From my personal experience, these dishes are usually vegan by default, because their creaminess comes from the use of tahini. I really appreciated the staff informing me, because I never would have guessed it. I’ll just stick to getting my hummus and baba ganoush fix at Beirut Cafe.

Falafel!

The falafel wrap is the only vegan entree, but it’s pretty excellent! For those of you who have not tried it, falafel is a deep-fried patty made with chickpeas and/or fava beans. Beirut’s falafel wrap is similar, as both places use tabouli and tahini, but GRIP’s wrap is different, with its inclusion of mint and pickled turnips. In trying their wrap, I especially enjoyed the addition of fresh mint leaves. GRIP’s falafel is crunchy on the outside, with a soft, savory interior. Beirut’s falafel is well-flavored, but sometimes it’s a little too crunchy for me.

Besides falafel, GRIP’s menu also has fries, fried cauliflower (comes with tahini for dipping), pita chips, tabouli and dolmas. Tabouli is a colorful salad made with parsley, tomatoes, bulgar, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Dolmas are stuffed grapeleaves that usually contain rice, but they sometimes have ground beef. The dolmas at GRIP are vegan-friendly, but I found that I much prefer Beirut’s veggie dolmas, because I think their rice is better seasoned. GRIP also has a Mediterranean salad that is very filling.

Fried CauliflowerIt’s pretty obvious that Beirut Cafe will always have my heart, as long as they keep up with their vegan variety and continue to carry my favorite spinach pies and fattoush. However, I will still visit GRIP once in a while for their falafel wraps!

If you get the chance to go to GRIP, try the falafel wrap and bring a friend! Their wrap is pretty big, so I split it with my sister. Please let me know your thoughts about GRIP in the comments!

Update, 12/10/13: GRIP’s Arlington location is now closed! Students will have to get their Mediterranean fixes at Beirut Cafe, Prince Lebanese Grill, or Narah Cafe.