Nashvegan

A not-very-definitive guide to eating (and living) as a vegan in Nashville.

Noodles & Company February 24, 2013

Noodles!

Noodles!

Full disclosure: Noodles & Company was kind enough to send me some coupons for free noodles so that I could check them out.  The free-ness of these noodles in no way influenced my opinion regarding their deliciousness.

Noodles & Company is one of those magical and rare chain restaurants that actually caters to vegans.  It’s like looking at horses off the side of the highway and spotting a unicorn.  For one thing, you can add organic tofu to any dish at Noodles & Company.  And I’m not talking about sad, flavorless, little white cubes.  I’m talking about well-seasoned cubes that are cooked juuuuust right in a way I can never seem to replicate at home.  Also, since all dishes are made to order, a lot of things that seem like they wouldn’t be vegan (say, a dish with a combo red-and-cream sauce) can be altered on the spot (omitting the cream and just using red sauce).  And the vegetables!  Such a bounty!  Let’s take a look at what I ordered on this trip.

The Noodles & Company menu is divided into geographical regions: American, Asian, and Mediterranean.  The American section of the menu is not your friend, but between the other two sections there are seven vegan entrees along with two sides.  How do I know what’s vegan, you ask.  Because they freaking tell you.  The list of vegan dishes can be found here, on the bottom right.  The only thing better than an all-vegan restaurant is a restaurant that just straight up tells you what’s vegan.  No asking confused/uninformed waitstaff, no having to check with the kitchen, no worrying about undisclosed animal ingredients … just the simplicity of ordering food.  Love it.

Japanese Pan Noodles

Japanese Pan Noodles

I got one Asian dish, Japanese Pan Noodles with tofu, and one Mediterranean dish, Pasta Fresca.  The Japanese Pan Noodles feature caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce with broccoli, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms, topped with bean sprouts, black sesame seeds, and cilantro.  When they say “caramelized udon noodles” they aren’t kidding.  These noodles were absolute perfection.  I think we should caramelize more things.  The veggies were super fresh and well-prepared – just the right amount of crispness.  I raved about the tofu above but let me reiterate: delicious.  As an added bonus, bottles of the wonder sauce sriracha are scattered about the dining room.  For those of you who, like me, have considered bringing your own personal bottle of the rooster with you everywhere, there’s no need at Noodles & Company.

Pasta Fresca

Moving on to the Mediterranean section of the menu, I didn’t have particularly high expectations for Pasta Fresca.  A simple dish of penne with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, white wine, roasted garlic, red onion, and spinach, I thought it would be tasty but nothing to rave over.  I was wrong.  This dish is FULL of flavor, mostly thanks to the balsamic vinegar.  I basically couldn’t stop shoving this into my mouth.  My only complaint is that I wish there had been a bit more spinach.

The takeaway?  I love Noodles & Company.  The Green Hills location is close to my work and their online ordering system is my new best friend.  Did you know that when you order online you can add as many vegetables to your dish as you want?  The food here is delicious, filling, and infinitely customizable.  One of my favorite dishes here (not pictured) is the Cucumber Tomato Salad, and now I never eat here without getting a side of it.  Oh and they have one of those freestyle Coke machines.  At Noodles & Company, get exactly what you want, and none of what you don’t.

Noodles & Company

Multiple locations – Green Hills, Cool Springs

Website

 

Happy Herbivore Abroad December 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 12:56 pm
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HHA Cover

Greetings faithful readers, and welcome to Nashvegan’s first ever cookbook review, author interview, and giveaway!  Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve probably heard of Lindsay Nixon, better known as Happy Herbivore.  Nixon is a prolific author and blogger who advocates for a plant-based diet that includes no added oils and only a few added fats from nuts and avocados.  Her cookbooks Happy Herbivore and Everyday Happy Herbivore shot up the bestselling ranks on Amazon.com and now her newest installment, Happy Herbivore Abroad, is doing the same.  Her publishers were kind enough to send me a review copy and they’d like to send one of you a copy as well!  Details on the giveaway are at the end of this post.

First things first: let’s meet Happy Herbivore!  Nixon was kind enough to answer a whole bunch of my deeply probing questions about her life and her work.  Here’s what she had to say:

Nashvegan: There seems to be a current trend towards global vegan cookbooks (yours, Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World spring to mind) – why do you think that is?

Happy Herbivore: I’m not sure. When I finished writing Everyday Happy Herbivore, I left for a long trip to Europe. While I was there I decided to write a cookbook that combined my lifestyle (my love of travel) with food from the places I’ve traveled too — it was about me and celebrating my passions (food + travel) together. I haven’t seen Romero’s book, but I imagine it’s quite different.

NV: How does Happy Herbivore Abroad (HHA) stand out both from your other offerings and from other vegan cookbooks in general?

HH: HHA is international themed and has a lot of me in it — personal stories and such. You won’t find that in my other books. This book is so personal, and I really love that about it…

My cookbooks (all of them) focus on being low fat, no oil — using whole foods, and basic ingredients, which makes them stand out from the vast majority of other vegan cookbooks on the market.

NV: How are you handling life after Earth Balance?  For many, it may feel like “life after cheese” syndrome all over again!

HH: I never really got into Earth Balance. I wasn’t much of a margarine or butter person before I was plant-based and a huge motivation for my dietary change was health… Earth Balance isn’t exactly a health food :) I also adopted the no oil/low fat whole foods approach early into my plant-based change, so it was something I just passed up.

NV: What inspired you to come up with the idea of offering your plant-based meal plans?

HH: Fan requests :)

NV: What are your favorite plant-based “convenience foods” for people trying to live a low- to no-fat plant-based lifestyle?  Basically, what would you recommend for vegans who need something grab and go, perhaps in a gas station?

HH: Gas stations usually have fresh fruit and oatmeal :)

Lindsay Nixon headshot

NV: Give us your top three favorite recipes from HHA.

HH: Asking a chef to pick a favorite recipe is like asking a parent to pick their favorite kid :)

NV: After your previous career as a lawyer (this is a personal question for me because I have my J.D.), how did you make the transition from lawyer to plant-based cookbook author?  What sorts of practical challenges (student loan debt, etc.) did you deal with before your success, and how did you manage those challenges?

HH: I was never happy as a lawyer. Not to say the profession is a bad one, it just wasn’t for me. I’d been working as a lawyer for a few years (miserably) when the opportunity to write my first cookbook came along. I knew there was no way I could work as a lawyer AND write a cookbook, so it was one or the other. I decided to take a big chance, quit being a lawyer and work on my cookbook while also doing various freelance assignments to pay the bills. My husband and I also had to do some major downsizing to make it happen — selling our cars, moving from a large apartment to a teeny, tiny studio, etc. (I’m so glad he was up for it!)

I still have a mound of student loan debt crushing me — some $120,000 is left. I joke that it’s my summer home, since my law education costs more than what a friend recently paid for her house.

The book business is not lucrative — even when you’re a best seller so we continue to live with less “glitter” than we had when I was a lawyer, but I’m so much happier and I’ve really come to love the minimalist lifestyle.

NV: Why Los Angeles?  How did you end up there?  How do you like it?

HH: My husband’s work brought us here, but we’ll be leaving again soon for Tahoe. I love snowboarding more than anything and you can’t really do that in LA :)

This is the second time we’ve lived in Los Angeles. You can’t beat the weather or the casual, California lifestyle but the traffic is ridiculous. LA without the traffic would be perfection.

NV: I know a lot of my readers like to try to eat seasonally and locally.  Is this an issue that you’ve given much thought?  Have you considered writing a seasonal cookbook?

HH: I too like to eat seasonally and locally (and living in Southern California makes that easy!) but it’s not really practical for a cookbook since what’s local (and seasonal) varies so much from place to place and I try to write books that are accessible to everyone — no matter where they live. That’s one thing that really frustrated me when I first changed my diet. The vegan cookbooks I bought used bizarre ingredients that didn’t exist where I lived or they were way outside of my price range. I think that’s why I try so hard to use “supermarket” ingredients. You shouldn’t have to live in LA or NYC to be able to cook up a good meal!

——–

So I’m sure now you want to know about the food.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, I happened to cook some.  I cooked two meals from HHA, totaling six recipes.  I went on a Tour of Europe and then took a trip South of the Border.

TOUR OF EUROPE

Who needs a Eurorail pass when you have HHA?  This menu consisted of Swedish Meatballs, Irish Colcannon, and French Savory Glazed Carrots.

Getting ready to cook

Getting ready to cook

One of the things I love most about Nixon’s cookbooks (I have them all) is that they all use “normal” ingredients and are easy to prepare.  These recipes were all easy to follow, a breeze to prepare (if you don’t count all the time I spent chopping things), and of course turned out delicious.  I cheated a little with the meatball recipe, which called for mixing the gravy with chunks of tempeh, and used Trader Joe’s frozen meatless balls instead (THE HORROR).

Swedish Meatballs, Colcannon, Savory Glazed Carrots

Swedish Meatballs, Colcannon, Savory Glazed Carrots

First, I am a doofus and was so eager to get this on the plate and INTO MY MOUTH that I neglected to toss the meatballs with the gravy and instead just poured it over them.  Following recipe fail.  Whatever, they were still incredible.  I am serious, this food was so good I could eat it every day.  I couldn’t believe how much I loved the colcannon.  As a person who believes that all foods are better when slathered with Earth Balance, I thought there was no way I was going to like mashed potatoes that were fat free.  But guess what I INHALED THEM.  And they’re full of freaking KALE.  Talk about a nutritional powerhouse!  In your face, margarine!  The carrots had a great flavor but in my impatience I undercooked them a little.

SOUTH OF THE BORDER

Ole!  For my trip to Mexico I made AJ’s Pico de Gallo, Drunken Beans, and Migas.

AJ's Pico de Gallo

AJ’s Pico de Gallo

Despite my obsession with pico, I’ve never actually made it from scratch, mostly due to laziness.  This recipe was easier than I thought it was going to be and I loved that it used shallots instead of regular onions because, let’s face it, shallots make everything fancier.  I made this early in the day and then let it sit in the fridge until it was time for dinner so the flavors could marry and this was definitely the way to go.  It tasted a lot better later.

I’ve never heard of migas so I knew I had to make it.  Migas is traditionally an egg-based dish with corn tortilla strips and veggies.  I added nutritional yeast because I couldn’t make what was essentially a Mexican tofu scramble without nooch and I thought it added a nice depth of flavor.  I’ve also never actually bought a poblano pepper, which this recipe called for.  That worked out fine, too.  Turns out they sell them in the produce department.  Who knew.  Anyway, on to the booze.  Drunken beans are awesome.  They taste like beer.  I like beer.  I like beans.  I like beer and beans together.  Seriously though, the smoked paprika really made this dish for me.  Don’t skimp and just use regular paprika or you’ll be seriously missing out.

Migas, Drunken Beans, Pico de Gallo

Migas, Drunken Beans, Pico de Gallo

Happy Herbivore Abroad is a really solid cookbook and it’s definitely going to be on heavy rotation in my kitchen.  The recipes (and beautiful food photos) are interspersed with Nixon’s travelogue and personal stories.  Everything is plant-based and low- or no-fat.  Everything is made from “normal” ingredients that you can pick up in pretty much any grocery store, and there are no overly complicated cooking techniques.  This book is accessible, flavorful, and not too shabby to look at.  I highly recommend it.

HHA_31DaysofGiveaways_badge

After all that, I bet you want to get your mitts on a copy of this book.  Well now it’s giveaway time!  All you need to do to enter is leave a comment telling me about the best vegan thing you ever ate on vacation.  But what’s that you say?  You want to earn additional entries?  Of course you do.  Here’s how:

1. Share this post on Facebook and be sure to tag Nashvegan.  Leave a comment telling me you did this.
2. Share this post on Twitter using the hashtag #HHATour and mentioning @NashveganBlog.  Leave a comment telling me you did this.
3. Be my special friend on Facebook and “like” Nashvegan.  Leave a comment telling me you did this (or that you already liked me because duh we go way back).
4. Follow @NashveganBlog on Twitter.  Leave a comment telling me you did this.

So if you do everything you can get a total of five entries.  FUN.

Be sure to include a real email address when you comment so I have a way to tell you that you won.  The contest closes at 11:59 PM CST on December 31.  I will use a random number generator to select the winner.  The winner will be announced on January 1, 2013, so long as the world does not end before that time.  If I email you and you don’t get back to me within 72 hours, I’ll give the prize to someone else, so there.

 

Sloco November 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 4:03 pm
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Shaved Seitan Sub & Housemade Pickle

I’m kind of obsessed with Sloco.  My only complaint about this 12 South eatery is that they aren’t open longer (they close at 4:00 each day).  The vibe in the small sandwich shop is warm and welcoming, and the food is incredibly delicious and super affordable.  Sloco’s commitment to using local ingredients is laudable and their Declaration of Food Independence is reason enough to support them.  Their website will tell you exactly how many miles the ingredients in your sandwich have traveled to get to your belly.

The menu at Sloco is ever-changing based on what’s in season, and the sandwich featured in the above photo has already vanished from their online menu, presumably to make way for more fresh goodness.  What you see above is a Shaved Seitan Sub with a Housemade Pickle.  Mouthwatering marinated seitan is topped with crispy chickpeas, fresh locally-grown squash, and a divine sesame dressing.  The pickles on this particular visit were made from cucumbers but they are made from whatever’s fresh at the moment.  This sandwich was absolutely amazing.  The seitan was incredibly juicy and flavorful, the crunch of the chickpeas was a great addition (I would totally eat them by themselves), and the freshness of the veggies was evident.  One of my dining companions ordered the Vegan Meatball Sub (the meatballs are made from quinoa) and it was also great but I preferred my sandwich.  I’ve heard great things about the new vegan BLT as well, but haven’t tried it for myself yet.  I’m so excited about this awesome addition to our local food scene.  Go out and try it.

Sloco

2905 12th Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37204

615.499.4793

Website

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Burger Up – UPDATED July 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 5:13 pm
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Marathon Burger and Heirloom Tomato Salad

There used to be a review here.  Now there’s not.  The Marathon Burger is not vegan. It’s not even vegetarian. The patty contains the house ketchup that is made with Worcestershire sauce, which contains anchovy paste. I have been informed by multiple servers that this patty was vegan. I can’t even tell you how disappointed I am to hear this, and how upset I am that after multiple inquiries I was assured that the patty was vegan. I will not be returning to Burger Up and I suggest you don’t either. A special thank you to my friend Lacey for discovering this fact after my emails to Burger Up went unanswered.  If you have dined at Burger Up, like me, and have been misled, like me, I encourage you to contact them about your experience.  Their information is below.

Burger Up

2901 12th Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37204

615.279.3767

Website

UPDATE: As of December 2012, the Marathon patty is completely vegan.  The house ketchup, however, is not, so keep that in mind when thinking about dipping your fries.  Thanks everyone for contacting Burger Up with your concerns.  Community action, it’s super effective!

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Meatless Mondays Radio TONIGHT! April 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 2:06 pm

So folks, I’m going to be on the radio this evening.  And it won’t be just me!  Meatless Mondays is a radio show hosted by my amazing friend DJ Natto; it airs on Monday evenings at 6:00 PM on WRVU 91.1 FM.  Tonight she’ll be hosting an extra-special vegan roundatble featuring yours truly, The Traveling Vegetarian, and Emily Beverage, a law student, animal rights activist, and greyhound foster mom.  So tune in, or stream online.

Now, I’m sure you love local media just as much as you love animals and awesome food.  Did you know that WRVU is facing the sale of its broadcast license, taking it off the air forever?  Find out what you can do to save WRVU here.  Also, tomorrow is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s.  Ben & Jerry’s sorbets are vegan, and the 21st Avenue South location will be hosting WRVU DJs and selling merchandise to benefit the WRVU Friends & Family Association Fund.  So stop by for free sorbet and support WRVU!

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Flyte February 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 10:56 am
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Amuse Bouche

A friend and I visited Flyte World Dining and Wine during Restaurant Week.  Last September.  Hey, sometimes it takes me a long time to write about things.  We specifically chose Flyte because their Restaurant Week menu said “vegan options available.”  Vegan options available?!  Sign me up!

Besides having great food, Flyte is a beautiful restaurant space.  The lighting is not so dim that you can’t see but not so bright that it doesn’t feel cozy.  Exposed beams and pipes lend an industrial feel, and striking artwork adorns the walls.  Breaks in the warmly hued walls reveal bare bricks.  Seriously, this place is lovely.

After being seated, we informed our server that we were both vegan.  The server was very knowledgeable and knew exactly which menu items were appropriate for us.  We were both surprised when, after ordering, we received the amuse bouche pictured above.  I mean, really, vegan amuse bouche?  Clearly, this place was class all the way.

Salad

What you see here is a simple but very delicious salad.  Mixed baby greens and tomatoes are served on top of a pile of pesto.  Vegan pesto.  Pesto sans cheese.  I could hardly believe my good fortune.  A few pine nuts are hanging out on the margins for good measure.  Also, in the top right?  Yeah, I have three glasses of wine.  That’s because Flyte is known for its flights (get it? get it?).  You can choose from all sorts of flights of three, like French whites, Spanish reds … you get the idea.  I’m a sucker for any kind of “sampler” so I was sold on the idea.

Fried Stuffed Poblano Pepper
Baked Stuffed Poblano Pepper

My dining companion and I ordered exactly the same thing for all courses.  Up until this point, our food had been identical.  When our entrees came out, they were slightly different.  Our server informed us that the chef had prepared our entrees differently so we would have some variety.  We both had the stuffed poblano pepper, but one was baked and one was fried.  They don’t look so different in the photos, but they certainly had different flavors and textures.  I was presented with the baked version and my friend was presented with the fried version, but we ended up swapping.

What we have here is a giant poblano pepper stuffed with tasty things that you can’t really see (corn, beans, spices, goodness) served atop a grain whose name I cannot recall, delicious sauce, and a vegetable medley of zucchini, squash, and bell pepper.  This is an entree that was creative, bursting with flavor, and more than filling.  This is an entree that features vegetables as the main event and not just a side.  This, my faithful readers, is the gold standard in vegan fine dining.

Sorbet “Flyte”

Dessert was, appropriately, a “Flyte” of three refreshing sorbets.  Berry, blood orange, and lemon sorbets brought a refreshing end to the meal.  The blood orange was my favorite.

As soon as money starts growing on trees, I’ll be back to Flyte.  I’m exaggerating a bit about the price–it’s not exorbitantly expensive, but it’s a little out of my grad-student I-eat-a-lot-of-peanut-butter price range.  The next time Restaurant Week rolls around, you should absolutely make reservations for a $30.11 prix fixe world of awesome.  And, you know, think about treating your favorite vegan blogger.

Flyte World Dining and Wine

718 Division Street

Nashville, TN 37203

615.255.6200

Website

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Jackson’s Bar & Bistro February 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

House Salad

A quick glance at the Jackson’s menu doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of vegan option.  Never fear, though!  There are treasures within, and you will be fed.

When I sat down here I was skeptical, so I ordered the shot of the day as a starter.  It was tasty, and I was ready to grill my server about the vegan-ness of various menu items.  Thankfully, my server was pretty knowledgeable, though he did have to go back to the kitchen and ask the chefs a few questions.

Taking a look at their menu online today, I’m not sure that they still serve the exact salad pictured above, which is a shame, because it was really good. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, and chickpeas topped with champagne vinaigrette?  I’m on board!  Their menu now features a “shredded salad” instead which doesn’t sound as exciting: chopped cabbage, carrots, and red onion with the same dressing.  Boring, right?  Yeah.  And it doesn’t have any protein.  Bummer.  Maybe if we all ask nicely we can get the delicious chickpea salad back.

Rosso Marinara

That’s right, it’s a bowl of penne with marinara sauce.  Is it fancy?  No.  Does it hit the spot, especially after all those shots of the day?  Yes.  This is actually really really good for basically just being wheat and tomatoes.  The sauce is surprisingly sweet (in a good way), and it’s very flavorful.  I would absolutely order this again.  Be sure to tell your server you don’t want any cheese on top.  Plus, the hunk of bread that comes with it is vegan, which surprised me.  This portion is a lot larger than it looks, because the bowl is deep–I had leftovers, which meant I had the pleasure of eating this twice.

The Jackson’s menu is pretty inspired if you’re not a vegan.  We vegans have few choices at Jackson’s; there is only one other menu item other than what I’ve described above, the Capri vegetable wrap sans cheese, that’s suitable for people like us.  Still, I’ll probably be back to Jackson’s, if only for the great happy hour specials, and I’m sure I’ll find myself digging into a bowl of Russo Marinara again soon.

 

Jackson’s Bar & Bistro

1800 21st Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37212

615.385.9968

Website

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