Okay, so I probably wasn’t the only vegan in Palm Beach, Florida, but the place wasn’t exactly brimming with restaurants that offered me a lot. Some relatives took me and my mom out to lunch and I ordered a “field of greens” salad, thinking it would be like a garden salad. It was literally just a plate of greens and the serving size was meager at best. I couldn’t believe they would actually offer a plate of mustard greens as a menu item! I endured the hunger and held out until we got home, where I made myself a real salad, complete with spinach, tomato, avocado, cucumber, chickpeas, and sugar snap peas!
We ended up cooking in most nights since the restaurants in that area are a bit pricey, but that was fine with me! We made spaghetti the first night, with a sauce that had SmartGround in it. I’m not sure how I feel about SmartGround. It’s a good ground beef replacement, but needs to be seasoned to death. Other than being a bit processed, I think it’s a fine product.
I made a great dish that was SO simple! It was the result of rushing through a crowded grocery store and quickly grabbing items that I hoped I could somehow shape into a meal.
Quinoa Sauté Over Baked Sweet Potato
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red quinoa
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon Italian Blend of herbs
4 teaspoons ground cumin
Set oven to 400°F, cut a slit in each sweet potato, put them in the oven on top of some tinfoil. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, poking with a fork to test if they’re tender.
Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Once the quinoa is done, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high. Add garlic, let it cook for a minute, then add onion. Let the onion cook for about five minutes or until translucent, then add peppers, quinoa, black beans, herbs, and 2 teaspoons of cumin. Mix and let cook for 8 to 10 minutes, then turn the heat to low and cover the pan.
Once the sweet potatoes are tender, pull them out of the oven and split each lengthwise. Scoop out the potato from the skins and mash them in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of cumin (I probably would have thrown in some ground coriander as well if we had it). Spoon the mashed sweet potato back into the skins. Serve the sauté mix right on top of the sweet potatoes, garnish with some sliced avocado, and enjoy!
Next up was a curry! Well, it was a curry in the loosest sense of the word. Since I was limited in my cooking tools and ingredients, out came the sauté pan again! This time it was minced garlic, minced ginger, onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and chickpeas sautéed in a curry powder and served over toasted whole wheat pita bread and garnished (again) with sliced avocado. I wouldn’t call it authentic at all, but it was tasty!
For lunch I made my mom a great simple sandwich. I know she really likes something when she’ll eat it a second time with enthusiasm. The first time, I served it in pita bread, but we ran out so the pictured image has the sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread. It had spinach, tomato, avocado and hummus in it. Definitely a great warm weather sandwich!
Now for the eating out!
When I walked into a little deli called Too Jays, my expectations for vegan fare were not high. It was one of those old fashioned delis, basing their menu on mostly meat and cheese. Luckily, they had a fantastic vegan option: a “Mediterranean Vegetable Wrap” that contained hummus, tabouli, greens, and veggies. It was delicious!
It just so happens that it was last year on St. Patrick’s Day that I went vegan. I had to celebrate my vegan birthday in style, so my mom and I went out to a swanky Japanese restaurant called Echo. It was amazing! I got a tasty, simple salad to start, some cucumber rolls for the main course, and delicious coconut lime sorbet for dessert.
My mom and the waiter had a little misunderstanding about her order of avocado, cucumber, and carrot rolls. She thought she order five individual rolls while the waiter thought she had ordered five orders of the rolls, totaling her roll count at 40 rolls. We laughed so hard; she had to put the plate, or should I say platter, between us because she was so embarrassed. The waiter later came back and asked if there had been a mistake. Luckily, we didn’t get charged for all five orders!
The Tropical Fruit Store in Palm Beach had the freshest, most delicious fruit I’ve tasted in months. The oranges there were the real deal Florida oranges and boy, were they amazing! They also make smoothies there, which are obviously amazing as well! The smoothie I got, “The Palm Beacher,” contained oranges, bananas, strawberries, and papaya. So good, I was devastated when I sucked the last bit from the bottom of the cup.
I’ll certainly miss the warm weather! But it definitely heartened me to get some serious sun and relaxation. I am ready for summer!