The Vegan Roadie – Interview

TheVeganRoadieAnother interview has made its way to Another Hungry Vegan! This time, I got to learn more about Dustin Harder, AKA the Vegan Roadie who recently traveled through Denver for an episode of his webseries. Dustin is a well-seasoned traveler (no pun intended), and he made it his mission to show how easy and fun it is to eat vegan around different parts of the United States. Read on to find out how his love for travel and living a compassionate life work in harmony to encourage others to go on their own vegan food journey. Continue reading

1. What made you decide to start the Vegan Roadie?
I have been traveling on and off for work for the last 10 years. My partner watches a lot of HGTV and The Food Network. When it was on in the background, I started getting very frustrated and equally disgusted at the show “Diner’s, Drive-In’s and Dives”. The fact that so much money and effort goes into showcasing food that has a detrimental effect on America was mind blowing to me. Beyond that, I was discouraged when I traveled, often when I typed “vegan” into yelp a steak house or something of that nature would come up, random things like that. During my time in the Chef’s Training Program at The Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC I had a light bulb moment and made a commitment to myself, when I went out on the road next I would create a road map across America for the Vegan and Veg-Curious, and that was how The Vegan Roadie was born. I’m committed to making this resource, vegans and non vegans need to know what wonderful things are being created without animal products or by-products and where to get them. 

2. What has helped you to stay vegan over the years? 
It used to be weight and health. As time has progressed and as any good vegan does, you do your research. I have learned about our food system and like anyone who has a heart, I’m truly disappointed and saddened. Those feelings shifted into fuel to make the right choices for myself and the environment to be the best me I can be, and that means being vegan. Immersing myself in the cooking aspect has also been very helpful, and fun! It’s a different world full of so many new and exciting possibilities, that keeps me going. 
 
artichoke3. What’s your best advice for vegans who are afraid to travel? 

Prepare and get excited! Now more than ever there is a stimulating and very abundant vegan scene on the Horizon with Chef’s coming out of the woodwork to show the world how innovative, delicious and down right mind blowing plant based cuisine can be. Take advantage of your resources, google stuff like a mad man (or woman) before you go somewhere and get excited about their menu’s! If you find yourself lacking vegan options, be sure to get a hotel with a fridge and stock some staple items you know will keep you satiated. Did I mention prepare? You know you are vegan, the rest of the world doesn’t, you can’t blame anyone but yourself if you find yourself hungry.

4. What has been the most memorable experience while filming for the Vegan Roadie?
I did a demonstration in OshKosh, WI for an audience of all carnivore’s. I made a pasta with a cashew garlic cream sauce from Chloe Coscarelli’s “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen” cookbook, instead of mushrooms I used Field Roast brand artisan grain meat. A woman came up to me after and said her daughter had become vegan and she wanted to support her, she felt after my demonstration she could go home and make something her entire family would love, including her “meat and potatoes husband”, and she could support her daughters choice. It’s memorable to me because I was in Wisconsin, this was a tough crowd. This woman said she felt discouraged and now saw that it can be easy. That meant a lot to me, made me feel I was doing something right! That kind of stuff keeps you going on a journey like this.

VR_45. Who are some people who’ve inspired your journey to become vegan?
My initial inspiration came from reading “Skinny Bastard” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I strongly recommend that book to anyone curious about a vegan diet and what it offers. As for a specific person, I worked in the test kitchen of Chloe Coscarelli and her spirit and positive attitude forever is ingrained in me, she sees the positive light in everything and sort of spreads that energy around, it’s lovely. Chef’s Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of VEDGE and V Street in Philadelphia are a huge inspiration in that every place I visited when in Philly had the most amazing things to say about them and their contribution to their community. It was unanimous among the Philly Vegan Business owners that their business was better because Kate and Rich, both established in their own right, took the time to stop in and work with people on their menu and offer insight when it was sought out, that’s amazing, they are very busy people! Robbie Tucker and Lauren Loomis of Lulu’s Local Eatery (St. Louis, MO) stick out in my mind for their commitment to grow as much as they can on their own for their restaurant and cut down on waste, and they are just a stellar couple on the crusade to better the world through compassionate eating and living. I think I have to stop the list now because I could really go on and on, I have met so many fantastic, uplifting and inspiring people in the last 10 months alone. These are just a few of the people that have inspired me to become and stay vegan.

6. What inspires you to travel?
I have always enjoyed traveling. Early in life I knew I wanted to tour as an actor, I did that. Now I want to tour to help educate those curious about a plant powered lifestyle and create a resource for vegans across the country to travel with ease. I also want to entertain and engage, not preach, about how inventive and fun plant powered food is! What better way to do that than travel the country and meet some of the master minds behind it all?

7. Favorite place you’ve visited so far?
Austin, TX. It is a Vegan’s playground! Denver was also awesome, the whole vibe had me and my partner considering our next move for our home base.

IMG_5783(1)8. What has this journey taught you about being vegan in the United States?
That it’s easier than one would think, most of the time. That the vegan community, for the most part, is very nurturing and supportive of each other’s efforts to mainstream veganism. And also, as I said before, to be prepared. While I have stumbled across so many vegan gems, there have been a few cities that are rough but if you are prepared you can make it work. Also, talk to business owners, often if you suggest a way to make something vegan an owner will more than likely take that into consideration and offer it to the general public as that is simply good business. I met an amazing woman in Jacksonville, FL who has single handedly changed her communities standards by simply going into establishments and using her natural southern charm to educate owners and chef’s of what their options are to create vegan choices for their patrons. You can check her out on Facebook at “JAX Vegan Love”

9. What is a go-to, favorite meal of yours to prepare? 
The previously mentioned pasta with garlic sauce from Chloe Coscarellis “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen” as a main dish. My own recipe for a Caesar Salad at www.veganroadie.com. And Chloe Coscarelli’s “Vegan Cookie Dough Truffles” (recipe available on her website www.chefchloe.com), always a crowd pleaser.
 
10. Where are you off to travel to next? 
Dallas, Charlotte, NC & Hershey, PA will wrap up the first Vegan Roadie Tour. Then it’s back home to New York City to further my education with the Professional Plant-Based Certification course offered by Rouxbe Online Cooking School and to start raising funds and mapping out the route for the second Vegan Roadie Tour. I’m also working on another web series, “OMG! That’s Vegan!?” that will be out in the fall. In the mean time, check out episode 1-8, including Denver (episode 8) on The Vegan Roadie YouTube Channel. Our final episode for Season One featuring the San Francisco Bay Area will be out July 14th.
 
So, a big thanks to Dustin for working on this interview with me! You can keep up to date with his adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @TheVeganRoadie. Don’t forget to check out his webseries and subscribe to his YouTube while you’re at it!

Vibrant Veggies

Vibrant Veggies Sauerkraut Review @anotherhungryvegan.comEven the healthiest of diets need an extra boost every now and then. Whether you’re making an effort to eat a little healthier this month as a resolution, or looking to ease any tummy issues, fermented foods are a great solution. I am so happy to have been given the chance to try out some products from Vibrant Veggies, which is a local company to Colorado that I first discovered at Neat Market (an all-vegan pop-up shop in Denver). They make sauerkraut in four different, fun flavors that happen to be super versatile. I read the other day that fermented foods like kraut are considered a superfood trend of 2015. Normally I don’t follow “diet” trends, but I can attest to the power of sauerkraut in terms of not just flavor, but overall digestive health and beyond. Continue reading

Vibrant Veggies Sauerkraut Review @anotherhungryvegan.comFermentation is good for our bodies because it allows for good bacteria in our digestive system. I know you might’ve shuddered at the thought of bacteria in our bodies, but it’s true that after we have been so exposed to antibiodics and generally processed foods, it’s important to start introducing live foods back into what we’re eating. Think for a second about all the fermented foods you eat already; in fact you could probably make a list of things. Bread, alcohol, yogurts, kombucha, pickled foods and of course, sauerkraut are just a few of them. What I love most about Vibrant Veggies is that the flavors make it easy to incorporate them into your meals. Each flavor is so tasty that you might just be tempted to eat some out of the jar with a spoon. Your tummy will thank you regardless of how you enjoy this spectacular kraut!

Vibrant Veggies Sauerkraut Review @anotherhungryvegan.comVibrant Veggies comes in the Moroccan Fusion flavor, which was the first of theirs that I ever tried. I went with a simple dish of Beyond Meat Chik’n with sautéed garlic, onion and bell pepper over jasmine rice. Just be sure to add the sauerkraut at the very end so you still get all the fermented food benefits. This kraut really helped season the rice and vegan chik’n with a light citrus flavor and some Moroccan spices. On the Vibrant Veggies website they recommend pairing this one with soup, burgers, quinoa, tofu, potatoes and more! I’ve even had it on top of pizza which was surprisingly a fantastic combo!

Vibrant Veggies Sauerkraut Review @anotherhungryvegan.comThe Roasted Green Chile is one of their top-sellers, and I can see why! It has a definite kick to it due to the jalapeño and chile peppers, but the carrots and cabbage mixed in the jar really help cool it down. I created a vegan bacon avocado cheeseburger on top of a bed of greens. The other toppings on here were mustard, spicy ketchup and of course Roasted Green Chile kraut. The flavors in this all really complimented each other, it wasn’t too spicy, and the different textures really added to the dish. Looking for some other ideas to have this kraut with? It’s also phenomenal with hummus and crackers, tacos, and rice and beans.

Vibrant Veggies Sauerkraut Review @anotherhungryvegan.comLemon Ginger Kraut immediately got me excited. I ended up trying this on its own first, and it has an excellent balance of salty, sweet, and tangy. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw my recent post where I made a Reuben using this kraut, some Tofurky slices and a garlic vegan mayo. Now, you don’t have to get that crazy to enjoy this flavor of Vibrant Veggies. I used it to top a macro bowl of brown rice, edamame and other veggies along with some soy sauce and lemon pepper. What a vibrant, healthy and incredibly flavorful bowl!

Vibrant Veggies Sauerkraut Review @anotherhungryvegan.comOne of my favorite ways to enjoy Vibrant Veggies is with some hummus, crackers and veggies. The Vindaloo Curry flavor is phenomenal with some of this Thai Coconut Curry hummus made by Hope Foods. I find this to be an extremely easy way to incorporate some of those fermented foods if you aren’t a big fan of cooking. This is also a great party appetizer idea and it has a fancy, super colorful presentation. You don’t even have to tell your guests it’s a healthy option! Enjoy this on top of curries, with rice and beans, on salads, or whatever else you can dream up!

A gigantic thank you to Vibrant Veggies for providing the kraut, and for all you Colorado, Utah and Nebraska residents check out their store locator to see where you can pick some up for yourself! Hopefully they will spread to the rest of the country, because their products are so wonderful that they really ought to be enjoyed by more people. Did this post inspire you to incorporate more sauerkraut and other fermented foods into your diet? If so, comment below what kinds of foods or dishes you’re thinking of having soon!

ByTmee Cold Brew Coffee

IMG_3058ByTmee is a local CO company that makes different flavors of cold brew coffee, all vegan. I preordered these and got them at Neat Market, a monthly pop-up shop filled with vegan vendors from Colorado. If you live anywhere near Denver, I highly recommend checking this out. Anyway I chose one of each flavor to review and here are my thoughts on them! Continue reading

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The first flavor I went for was the Penny Black-cold brew coffee flavored with vanilla and almond milk. I really liked this one and found it to be plenty flavorful, but not too sweet. The coffee itself is really smooth and not bitter at all like some other coffee brands can be. I also tried it another time blended along with some ice, a tiny bit of almond milk, and some vanilla powder. This was a nice morning treat!

IMG_4819The Ready Jack is definitely one that’s worth trying when it’s available! What I love about this is that it happens to be fair trade, which is one component that I definitely look for in coffee nowadays. You can really tell this is high-quality just from the taste, and I love to enjoy it with a little almond milk and stevia (or other sweetener). However for the serious coffee people out there, you could probably just enjoy it straight out of the bottle or poured over ice.

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Another cold brew and creamer, mid-swirl. I’m not sure what about it I love so much, but this Pumpkin Indulgence has to be my new all-time favorite flavor. A rich pumpkin flavor that is way better than any pumpkin spice latte I’ve ever had. If only it weren’t seasonal!

IMG_3292The Spring Rider-cold brew with lavender and almond milk. The lavender flavor wasn’t overpowering, which I was really happy about. I don’t generally associate this flavor with coffee, but I was definitely pleased with it. I gave the rest of the bottle to my mom and she enjoyed it as well. You can even drink these out of the bottle, but I like them over some ice.

IMG_3600Monarch Gully-cold brew with rich spicy cocoa and cool coconut. This actually had a richness that I didn’t get from the first two flavors. I definitely got a kick from the spice, but it was more of an aftertaste so it didn’t take away from the overall flavor. Be sure to shake the bottles!

IMG_3693The Peppermint Pot de Creme was the last flavor I tried. Now, this is a seasonal flavor-a refreshing blend of winter flavors, sweet peppermint, and smooth chocolate. I really love almost anything chocolate and peppermint related so this was a winner for sure! I’m hoping ByTmee keeps this flavor going because it was one of my favorites. If you’re interested about ordering some of these, or about this company in general check out ByTmee’s website.

Two Moms in the Raw – Nut Bars

IMG_3502Have you heard of Two Moms in the Raw? Well you should have by now! Their products can be found in places like Starbucks and most natural food stores, and these bars are a fantastic on-the-go healthy snack. This is a family-owned company that like me, is located in Colorado. All their products are organic, gluten free, non-gmo, raw and of course vegan. They feature only the best nutritious ingredients in their different products so I was so excited to finally try some of them, and naturally I went for the bars first. Continue reading

My favorite flavor was actually the Blueberry bar, which was the one I tried first. I loved the sweet flavor of the berries but also the crunchiness of the nuts. My next favorite flavor was the Cranberry bar, which was very similar to the blueberry but just a little bit more tart in flavor. The Goldenberry was surprisingly good, although I don’t really even know what a goldenberry is to be honest. The Gojiberry bar had a slightly bitter taste from the combo of the raw walnuts and the berries. Generally, I don’t really like gojis much anyway, but I was still able to enjoy this one. I love how few ingredients these bars have and the fact that they’re homemade is really impressive. These bars are really nice and durable, and they can definitely withstand hot weather or being buried inside your bag. 

BLovely Vegan Baked Goods – Treats from VegFest 2014

IMG_4283This Summer’s VegFest was a blast! I had a great time walking around and seeing all the vendors, trying samples and meeting new people. One vendor that was there again was BLovely Vegan Baked Goods, and naturally I had to buy a few items to have later at home (and some to share). I’ve reviewed the treats on this blog in the past, but I always love to try something new. The first that I tried was this Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake. The cake was nice and chocolately yet not dry or overly sweet, and the peanut butter frosting and chocolate drizzle made this cake just perfectly decadent. This was a winner for sure! Continue reading

IMG_4353I picked this up because it’s been way too long since I’ve had any vegan caramel corn. This variety from BLovely was absolutely delightful! Perfectly sweet and crunchy, just like any good-quality caramel corn should be. I even gave some of this to family and they would’ve never guessed that it was vegan!

Ciao Bovina Cashew-Based Ice Cream

IMG_1324Ciao Bovina is another local Colorado company that specializes in non-dairy, cashew-based ice creams. These happen to be coconut and soy free, and are completely plant-based (also non-gmo!). This was my first time every trying a cashew ice cream, and honestly I had been missing out until now! The Peppermint Bark flavor was the first flavor of Ciao Bovina that I ever tried, and it was truly incredible! I was sad when I found out that this was only a seasonal flavor because I could honestly eat this any time of the year. It has a creamy consistency with these chocolate chunks in it. The peppermint flavor was just right and I liked the little candy cane pieces in here.

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IMG_5990Chocolate Rhapsody was nice and creamy and just the perfect amount of chocolate. This was wonderful with a little rice whipped cream and a fresh strawberry. You could mix in some nuts, fruit, or candy/brownie pieces if you felt like something different.

IMG_6364Simply Vanilla, because you can never go wrong with vanilla. I enjoyed this with a little hot fudge chocolate sauce and fresh berries. For a vanilla ice cream this was not plain at all! If you wanted to take this even further, it would be great in a cone, a hot fudge sundae, a milkshake, a homemade ice cream sandwich, aside some cookies or cake, the list really goes on!

IMG_6981Honestly this Lemon Hazelnut flavor was my least favorite, but I think that’s just because I don’t really like hazelnuts that much. However, I did enjoy the refreshing lemon taste and the lightness that this dessert has to it. Perfect for the spring or summer months!

IMG_7508This Italian Strawberry flavor was a really nice surprise! It actually has balsamic vinegar in it, which is something that goes great with strawberries (ever tried strawberries in a salad?). This actually had a nice and light taste to it. With some chocolate syrup, rice whip and a fresh strawberry this was truly decadent.

IMG_7379Ancho Cafe Fudge Swirl is a new flavor, and I was so excited to try it! This flavor sounds a little odd, but I promise it is incredible! It’s basically a mocha/coffee ice cream with a fudge swirl and just a kick of the chile, which is more of an aftertaste. I highly recommend this flavor if you can find it! Now unfortunately, Ciao Bovina is only available in select Colorado stores, but hopefully one day they will be able to get their product in other locations around the country. If you do happen to be in Colorado, I highly recommend that you find these and try them for yourself! They have a store locator on their website.

BLovely Baked Goods

 1531926_200839223448216_1875102789_o 1669800_200839226781549_2057524465_oB-Lovely is a local, Colorado company that makes wonderful vegan baked goods. From cookies to brownies, and cake bites they have it all! If you are located in Colorado you can find these at places like Nooch Vegan Market, Neat Market, and VegFest. Definitely worth the trip! Here are some items of theirs that I have tried so far:
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tumblr_ms2ovjYyl01s3uefeo1_1280 tumblr_ms2ovjYyl01s3uefeo2_1280B Lovely lemony sugar cookie that I got at Nooch Vegan Market downtown. I tried a sample of this cookie at VegFest this year but I didn’t end up buying one. Needless to say I’m happy I was able to find these again!

IMG_5037 This was a more recent version of the Lemony Sugar Cookie, one that she tweaked the recipe for. I found that this cookie was a lot different from what I remember the first one from being. It was a lot chewier and seemed more lemony and a little less sweet. I’m not sure which one I liked better to be completely honest.

IMG_0733These cake bites were adorable and really tasty! They are a lot like cake pops but without the nonsense of the stick. Each of the cake bites I got in this pack featured a different inside flavor for each one, so there was a different combo with either a chocolate or vanilla cake and a chocolate/vanilla coating. I highly recommend these if you get the chance to find them!

IMG_3118This was one of the best brownies I have had, I’m not even kidding. The fudge on top was so rich and incredibly tasty. The brownie itself wasn’t over-the-top chocolately, which I found to be a good thing, and I honestly forgot that this was even gluten free!

IMG_3206This lemon mini bundt cake was adorable and tasty too! I thought it would be too small on its own, but it was just perfect. The lemon flavor was perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the cake. I’m glad I got the chance to try this one!

IMG_5081The Old Fashion Oatmeal Cookie tasted exactly how it sounds! Nice and hearty oatmeal cookie with some raisins and walnuts inside. This was the type of cookie that I would reach for when I’m not wanting something with chocolate or something super sweet.

IMG_5124These Mexican Wedding Cookies were a new one for me, but I absolutely loved them! They were nice and light, but they had a crunch to them. I loved the powdered sugar and icing that was on these, it reminded me of the coating on those yogurt covered pretzels or raisins I had long before going vegetarian. I totally wish I had the recipe for these treats!

The Chocolate Therapist – Dark Chocolate Bars

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I finally got the chance to try all of my chocolates I purchased from the Chocolate Therapist! This is technically from a local Colorado company, however they are expanding into a franchise and you can find a lot of these on their website HERE. Just make sure that you get either these items I have mentioned, because most of their dark chocolate items are in fact vegan, or perhaps contact the company if you are interested in something that you aren’t sure about. Luckily I got to speak from someone who worked in the shop to pick out suitable options. Continue reading

IMG_9595First off, let me say that all of these dark chocolates were delicious! In the ones pictured here, the top is a peanut butter filled, the right has a lemon filling, and the left is a dark chocolate mint patty. I was hesitant to try the lemon but it was one of my favorites!

IMG_3275This Berried in Chocolate Bar was really tasty! It had blueberries and cranberries, which are things I don’t usually associate with chocolate. The cherries were a nice addition as well.

IMG_3326The Orange Twilight bar was delicious. The orange bits inside added a chewy texture, and I liked that this didn’t have just orange oil for flavoring in it like some other chocolate orange bars out there.

IMG_3416The Super Hero flavor was a lot like the Berried in Chocolate, except with almonds and less berries obviously.

IMG_3462The Blue Suede ‘Shews bar had such a clever name! It was a nice variation on chocolate also, because blueberries and cashews don’t generally seem to be paired together.

IMG_3527Something that’s also really good together-chocolate and espresso! I loved how the espresso was actually ground, it reminded me of a chocolate covered espresso bean.

IMG_3741This flavor was just a plain chocolate bar, but I did like the sweetness of the chocolate. I typically go for a higher percentage because I’m a big fan of rich chocolate.

IMG_3586Just as expected, this bar tasted great. Funny that I used to hate almonds with chocolate but now I love the combo and the crunchiness that it adds.

IMG_3632The Purist was one of my favorite bars! I love really rich dark chocolate and this definitely raised the bar (no pun intended).

IMG_3684Just like the almond bar, this one was good as well! I enjoyed the hint of salt with the sweet chocolate flavor.

IMG_3712The last flavor I tried was great! Cacao nibs can be a little bitter compared to cocoa and they added a crispy/crunchy feeling to the bar.