i dream of falafel.


The other day, we stopped at a favorite Mediterranean “fast-casual” restaurant, very appropriately named I Dream of Falafel – because in truth, I do dream of this place.  My dish of choice is also appropriately named the “Vegan Dream”, because also in truth, it is actually a vegan’s dream meal.  Bright, vibrant colors provide a variety of plant-based nutrients, from cabbage, to chickpeas, to cous cous, to tomatoes, to quinoa, to cucumbers, to softly warmed pita bread, and of course – perfectly crispy falafel.  The dish is also plant power protein-packed (see: chickpeas, quinoa, cous cous) and flavorfully spiced.  The dreaminess of this meal also lies in the fact that preparing each of these sides separately at home would be labor-intensive and time-consuming.  But here it is, all ready to go, and clearly labeled “V”.  And not just for V for “vegetarian” (requiring me to investigate further as to the animal excretions that may possibly be present in each side dish), but for V for “vegan” (such a treat, really)!

In reflecting on this meal, I can’t help but feel astonished at how I now approach so many different types of food with such boundless enthusiasm. Ten years ago, if you would have told me I’d be so incredibly thrilled about this meal I would have likely laughed in your face and asked for my usual picky-pants dinner of pasta, bread, and cheese (no…like, really…that’s basically all I ate).  The truth is that being vegan has opened up a whole world of food possibilities for me, many at which I would have previously scrunched up my nose.  Because now, searching for and discovering vegan food from a variety of cultures is like a worldwide scavenger hunt.  By educating myself on plant-based nutrition, my positive relationship with food has grown exponentially – right along with my palate.

And as more and more restaurants offer animal-free options, eating out as a vegan has become an amazingly delicious experience.  In fact, I will shamelessly admit that many of my life choices, including day-trips and vacations, are loosely (a.k.a. fully) based on the vegan food options nearby (see: detour on a road trip back from Boston to eat at Vedge in Philadelphia, or tagging along to “support” friends at a freezing cold 8K in Chicago mainly so I could eat at Native Foods or Chicago Diner with them post-race, just to name a few).

From the vegan lens: I think many people assume that veganism means making sacrifices or “giving up” simple pleasures – giving up foods they “love”, giving up restaurants they enjoy, or giving up social experiences that make them happy.  For me, it feels like the exact opposite.  I’ve learned that when something is important to you –  when it truly comes from your heart – it doesn’t tend to feel like a sacrifice, but rather an invigorating opportunity.  It’s a lot easier to adjust your life when you focus on the ethical alignment of your actions, instead of the perceived physical and social depravation that may, at first, consume your mind.  

Becoming vegan actually helped me gain, not give up.  I gained a new perspective on food, life, and the world.  I gained a willingness to embark on new culinary adventures (and in turn, I gained a plethora of new cravings!).  But most importantly, I gained a sense of peace within myself.  And really, that has proven to be far more fulfilling than any fleeting simple pleasure ever was. 


isa’s sinfully wholesome waffles.


Since my breakfast typically consists of a quick piece of toast and a smoothie on the go, it is a delightful treat to sit down to a homemade meal in the morning.  My husband and I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off my spring break this morning than to spend time together cooking up a batch of these flavorful, nutritious waffles from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book Isa Does It.

The recipe calls for: non-dairy milk (we used almond), whole-wheat pastry flour, and rolled oats, along with water, apple cider vinegar, baking powder, flaxseed, olive oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.  We opted to add in some blueberries, as well.

Because the ingredient list is short and simple, yet packs the necessary nutrients to start the day right (without sacrificing anything at all in the flavor department), I am sure we will soon revisit this dish for many brunches to come.

From the vegan lens: Vegan baking is really so easy.  Most people have these ingredients in their home already.  Yet, we’ve been conditioned to believe that meals like pancakes, waffles, muffins, and other baked goods must contain milk and eggs in order to taste good and turn out well.  It’s simply not true! Again, if we can choose not to support the cruel egg and dairy industry, and still enjoy amazing homemade waffles…why wouldn’t we? 

apple cider doughnuts.

apple cider doughnuts.

Fall is here, I think.  Despite the fact that it was 80 degrees for a while yesterday, I am still completely ready to eat pumpkin- and apple-flavored everything right now, and I am always completely ready to eat doughnuts.   Aside from few incredible establishments that I have been fortunate enough to experience (see: a variety of vegan options at Fritz Pastry in Chicago, a whole vegan shelf at VooDoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon, and the truly amazing, all-vegan Dunwell Doughnuts in New York City), the vegan doughnut remains a rarity when eating out.

This thoroughly confuses me, because they are quite simple to bake at home.  Often when I bake something vegan to share, people first say, “This tastes like a real [insert baked good here]!”  Shocking, I know.  That, my friends, is because vegans eat…*gasp*… real food!  Let’s get something straight.  That [cookie/cake/doughnut] I baked tastes like a real [cookie/cake/doughnut] because it is a real [cookie/cake/doughnut]. Okay, moving on.

Next, they’ll ask me, “But what replaces the eggs/milk/dairy product?”  The answer is usually: nothing, really.  The truth is that all of the ingredients used for vegan baking are regular.

My Darling Vegan’s recipe for these Apple Cider Doughnuts is no exception.  Here is the ingredient breakdown: flour, baking powder, baking soda, maple syrup, apple cider, apple sauce, canola oil, vanilla extract,  salt, and then some spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice).  For my version, I also added cinnamon, sugar, and pecans to the top before baking.  See…totally regular. Also, totally delicious. And free from animal excretions!

From the vegan lens: If you could bake absolutely delicious food without supporting the abhorrent egg and dairy industries, why wouldn’t you? It’s really actually super easy. Plus you can always eat the batter.

But until all restaurants recognize and appreciate the mouthwatering world of cruelty-free baked goods, you’ll probably need to invest in a doughnut pan. Or two.