Bun in the Oven

Sooo... I have been away for awhile, but I have an awesome excuse. I have a bun in the oven.

I don't necessarily like that expression but it's fitting for a food blog.

Andrew and I found out we were expecting towards the beginning of July and for a long time I could not fathom blogging about food, nor did I have the motivation to whip up any new recipes, cook, eat or think about food. If I had posted a blog, it would have consisted of my love affair with non-dairy ice cream treats and orange juice (my lifesavers).

Our sweet baby boy is due towards the end of March and I am in the process of transitioning over to a lifestyle blog (baby, home life, some eats, etc). Luminary Havens will remain, but probably only with the occasional vegan/gluten free restaurant reviews. My heart's in a different place now for blogging inspiration and I am following it.

This foodie baby loves vegan hot chocolate and kicking when I make dinner.


Baked! - Gluten Free, Vegan, Portland Restaurant Review

The sun has finally made its long awaited presence in Portland. Look, I know people talk about the weather just to make conversation, but for about 6 months weather has made its way into every conversation. It's pathetic. It had been so gloomy, gray, cold and wet this past winter (and spring), that it just had to be discussed. People needed to vent. People needed sunny vacations and vitamin d. What does this have to do with a food post? Not much, I suppose. Except that I for one, don't exactly enjoy eating outside during the soggier months.

However, in the last few weeks the skies have cleared and the sun has been absolutely glorious. We've been taking advantage of this by spending more time outside. We spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon on NE Alberta and had fun looking through the shops, getting groceries at the Alberta Co-op and locating all the places that offer the Supportland card. We were strolling along when all of the sudden the words gluten free and vegan jumped out at me, with macaroni and cheese following. We stopped to read the sign and discovered Baked! They're serving up made-to-order macaroni and cheese from a window in a building on Alberta. It's like a food cart... only it's a food window.

Baked offers gluten free noodles, as well as a vegan cheese sauce (also gluten free). I ordered the standard mac and Andrew ordered the margherita (basil, tomatoes and garlic). There were a bunch of other selections and add-ins as well. The mac & cheese was inexpensive and the guy at the window was friendly. We also found out you can go into the bar next door (they share an indoor service window) and order from inside and they will bring you your food. We decided to go inside, Andrew ordered a beer and we sat on the back patio on picnic tables. There were people playing ping pong in the sun and other people playing games, but I didn't enjoy it because I have a sensitive nose and it was really smokey.

Our food came out fairly soon. We knew it would take a bit longer for our special orders. It was piping hot and as soon as we took the lid off we knew we were in for a treat. It was a huge portion, smelled so good and looked oh, so, very cheesy. I immediately wished I had ordered the same as Andrew's because the basil smelled delicious. The top of the baked mac was a little crispy and crunchy - which is why I love baked mac and cheese. My gluten free noodles were perfectly cooked and that sauce - that "cheese" sauce - was ridiculously good. It was nutritional yeast based but had some gluten free tamari in it that gave an awesome salty, smokey flavor. It was one of the best vegan/gf macaroni and cheese dishes I have ever had.

You really should not debate whether to give this place a try. Go to Alberta, spend something around $7 for a huge helping (enough for left overs) of some of the best mac and cheese ever and your tummy will thank you.

Vegan Baked Margherita Mac

GF/Vegan Standard Mac


Junior's Cafe - Vegan, Gluten Free, Portland Restaurant Review

I love the weekends because they give us an excuse to sleep in and then decide to go out for brunch. Lately we have been trying new places from the Portland Chinook Book, which offers great coupons for local restaurants, entertainment, grocery stores and much more.

One of their dining coupons is for Junior's Cafe in SE Portland. It was a "buy one entree, get one of equal or lesser value free". Those are the best discounts and since we live nearby, we couldn't resist giving it a try. We headed over to Juniors around 1pm on a Saturday and didn't have any expectations, as we had never heard of it. We looked online and found out they have a decent amount of vegan choices, but only one or two vegan and gluten free entrees. Junior's is located in an unexpected place. It just kind of popped up in the middle of some neighborhoods. It's small and quaint with some really sweet wallpaper and decor. We sat down immediately in a cushy booth when we got there, complete with own carafe of water. They had customers but it wasn't busy and I am curious if it ever gets super crowded. Anyway, we were promptly greeted and served by some of the best customer service at any Portland spot. Serious. Those Junior's folks were friendly, energetic, warm and kind. In fact we had two different people serve us and both were awesome.

On to the food... it is diner food, so if you're looking for healthy or raw options, then keep looking. But if you're in the mood for comfort food then Junior's is your place! I ordered the vegan potato plate. It comes with spicy seasoned potatoes, corn, mushrooms and zucchini and is topped with a spicy tofu sauce. The guy who took our order suggested I add the "SortaSausage". I had no idea what it was but he knew it was gluten free and vegan. After some iPhone searching, I found out that it was also sesame free, GMO free and locally made. I am so so so so happy I added it to my meal. That sort of sausage is sort of awesome. No, it is awesome. I usually do not like vegan sausage products for the same reason I never liked actual sausage (texture and flavor), but the kind of SortaSausage they had was more like crumbled Sunshine Burgers, which I love.

The dish overall was unbelievable. I was expecting a ho-hum plate of potatoes and instead got a [huge] heaping plate of goodness. The sweet corn and zucchini were perfect with the spicy potatoes and tofu sauce. The tofu sauce alone was amazing. It added some heat to the dish, was delicious and kept it from being too dry. The sausage added some "meat" to the meal and was filling, but it was everything plated together that was perfectly delicious.

Vegan Potatoes with SortaSausage

Andrew ordered a cup of coffee, which never went empty (that helped make up for its price). It came with a generous amount of soy milk (enough for a small glass). He also ordered the french toast breakfast and got it veganized. It came with garden sausage patties and tofu. However, our awesome waiter asked if Andrew would rather have potatoes than tofu, to which he replied yes.

The french toast was great with maple syrup and Earth balance (though Andrew prefers thicker french toast). He enjoyed his potatoes (even if they seemed so plain next to mine), but the best part of his meal was his sausage. We couldn't figure out what brand it was until the waitress told us it was Gimme Lean sausage that they froze in the tube and then cut, so it would hold together like a patty. Andrew thought it had the best texture out of any kind of breakfast patty and was happy they didn't serving Morning Star veggie sausage like everyone else. Even though he enjoyed his meal, I knew as soon as our food came out that he wished he'd ordered the vegan potatoes too. Andrew confirmed this and luckily for him I had a portion large enough to share (and take home leftovers)!

Vegan French Toast Breakfast with Potatoes and Garden Sausage

Our food was filling and delicious and Junior's Cafe is a must visit for their hospitality and friendliness alone. We'll be going back and I have my bets that next time we'll be ordering two vegan potato dishes!


Vegan & Gluten-Free Mashed Potatoes

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I thought it was only fitting to have a potato recipe for today (it's so cliche). One of my favorite foods as a child was my grandpa's mashed potatoes and I still get excited when he makes them for me. He has some sort of magic way of doing it so that they are as creamy and fluffy as possible. This recipe is a more "rustic" version, with a few lumps and bumps, but they are still pretty smooth. I like to leave the skins on, but if you prefer you can peel the potatoes for a smoother mash.

Vegan, Gluten Free Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4-6


2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
3 tbs Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Dried Sage (optional)
Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
Sea Salt, to taste

1. Wash and scrub the potatoes and cut off any brown spots or eyes.

2. Cut the potatoes into large chunks and steam until fork tender. You could also bake, which can take awhile or boil. Be careful if you choose to boil, that the potatoes are not cut too small or get too soft. Boiling can lead to watery mashed potatoes, which is why I choose steaming.

3. Place the potatoes, unsweetened almond milk and oil in a large bowl. Add the sage, rubbing it between your fingers. Mash with an electric mixer or potato masher until your desired texture. They won't be totally creamy, but will have a little rustic, lumpy texture to them.

5. Crack black pepper and sea salt on top if desired. Serve with gravy, shredded "cheese", vegan butter or enjoy plain.

I topped mine with Road's End Organic Savory Herb Gravy


Italian White Bean & Kale Soup - Gluten Free and Vegan

I love soup, especially on drizzly days like we've been experiencing in Portland lately. Although "drizzly" does not even begin to describe it... because it has been pouring buckets. The crazy (usual) weather was making my soup-pot look mighty attractive and within no time I had visions of carrots, celery and beans dancing around in my head. I was dreaming up something warm and hearty, something brimming with leafy kale and italian herbs, something to make me forget all about the rain and be thankful for soup weather.

White Bean and Kale Soup
Serves 4

2 tbs Canola Oil
1 cup Yellow Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Celery Stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 Large Carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
32 oz Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
14.5 oz Italian Diced Tomatoes
14.5 oz Cannelloni Beans
4 cups Kale, chopped and packed, tough stems removed
1/2 tsp Dried Sage
1/2 tsp Dried Rosemary
1/4 tsp Paprika
Blacker Pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, heating until fragrant, about another minute.

2. Add the carrots and celery, sautéing for 5 - 10 minutes until tender.

3. Add the broth, tomatoes and beans (both undrained) and kale. Add the sage, rubbing it between your fingers, rosemary and paprika. Stir to combine.

4. Bring the soup to a boil then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked enough.

5. Crack fresh pepper to taste and serve.

I have been on a kale kick lately, so I knew I wanted a soup with this powerful green as the star ingredient - and I think it shines.


Gluten Free Vegan Pad Thai

I have a confession to make. A few weeks ago, in a fury of hunger and a low blood-sugar inducing bad mood, I ate a vegan pad thai and it was sick, gross, nasty. It tasted like it was made with ketchup. I forgot to ask if the sauce had sugar in it, but it did. It was so sugary gross. I couldn't eat it and I was so sad. Ever since then I have been determined to try and make my own. And by golly, I did.

Another confession; this is not an authentic pad thai. One reason being that I could not find any tamarind at the last minute, but I don't care. It is pleasing to the taste buds and works for me as a pad thai. It was also exciting to put together and felt like a true accomplishment in the vegan, gluten-free world of recipes. In fact, Andrew (whom one would think doesn't express excitement due to his quiet, calm and unassuming nature - quite a stark contrast from myself) kept exclaiming that it was really good and how much he liked it and telling me "good job babe!". And that my friends is how I know I have struck gold.

Gluten-Free Vegan Pad Thai
Serves 2-3


8 0z. Flat Rice Noodles
8 oz Tempeh, cubed (optional)
2 tbs Canola Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 cups Broccoli Florets (or 2 bunches)
1 Carrot, sliced thin
8 Green Onions, whites and greens separated
5 tbs Agave Syrup
4 tbs Gluten Free Tamari (San-J brand)
2 Limes, 1 for garnish and the other for 2 tbs juice
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (1 tsp for more heat)
2 cups Bean Sprouts (+ more for garnish)
1/4 cup Roasted Peanuts, chopped

1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

2. Heat oil in wok or large pan over medium heat, adding the garlic and sautéing until fragrant, about one minute.

3. Add the tempeh, broccoli, carrots and the white green onions. Saute for a few minutes.

4. Add the tamari, agave syrup, lime juice, red pepper flakes.

5. Add the noodles and bean sprouts.

6. Stir to combine and cook until the veggies are heated and tender, but still with some crunch in them.

7. Serve with a garnish of bean sprouts, lime slices and crushed peanuts.

Nom, nom, nom.


Monday Meal Planning: February 21 - 25

What's for dinner?

Monday: PB & J, Veggie Sticks and Snackies
A packed and on-the-go dinner, since we were spending the evening on Mt. Hood snowboarding!

Tuesday: ALT Wraps and Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach & Chickpeas in a Maple Vinaigrette
Wraps with red leaf lettuce, avocado, cherry tomatoes and homemade sweet pickles from the Get Naked Fast! cookbook and a quinoa salad from Karina Allrich's blog; The Gluten-Free Goddess.

Wednesday: Fettuccine Alfredo and Green Salad
Trying out a fettuccine alfredo recipe from the March issue of VegNews Magazine, as well as having a green salad full topped with sliced radishes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber and sunflower seeds, lightly dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

Thursday: Burritos with Spinach & Berry Salad
Burritos stuffed with my special mix of refried pinto beans, salsa, spinach and olives in a brown rice tortilla for me and an organic whole wheat tortilla for my love, who requested this meal. Wrapped in foil and baked in the oven - they could very well rival Laughing Planets. Add in a spinach salad topped with raspberries and sliced almonds and we have ourselves a lovely dinner.

Friday: Happy Hour at Blossoming Lotus!
Amazing taco plates and naan pizza (for the "naan" GF, hardy har).


Blossoming Lotus for Brunch - Vegan, Gluten Free, Portland Restaurant Review

Behold, I am finally posting about my hands-down, all-time, very favorite restaurant in Portland!

Blossoming Lotus is a vegan restaurant located in NE Portland that also offers a variety of raw and gluten free options on their various brunch, lunch, dinner and happy hour menus. I have loved them since their original location in the Pearl and even more now - with their extended offerings. Their fresh, creative and beautifully presented food is so amazingly good, that we frequent this place more than our checking account should know! It's embarrassing that I have never blogged about it, but I am finally getting with the program and starting out with a brunch review, since Andrew and I enjoyed it this past Sunday.

As we were driving over to BL, I was already busy looking over their brunch menu on Andrew's iPhone. I anticipated a long wait, but surprisingly it only took about five or ten minutes. That is the nice thing about their brunch; it can have a fairly short wait compared to other restaurants. I decided I would order a hot coconut chai and was highly anticipating it. Their chai is my absolute favorite. Ever. It is made with coconut milk and sweetened with agave and for me it has just the right balance between the sweetness and spiciness of a chai. I declare it perfect. I often daydream about driving there mid-day, mid-week, just to treat myself. Anyway... Andrew got a cup of their organic Caffe Vita coffee with soy creamer, which is also a special treat for him. I am not a coffee drinker, but he says that it's pretty good.

Coconut Milk Chai

Originally I was going to order the breakfast parfait since I hadn't tried it yet, but then I saw someone get my favorite brunch dish (loaded home fries) and my whole plan changed. I was done for - I had to have them! The loaded home fries (vegan + gf) were even better than the previous time I had ordered them. They changed the potatoes, which used to be your run-of-the-mill cubed potatoes, but are now round potato slices. I am totally one of those people that think the shape can affect the taste, and the new little potato discs or slices were a nice change. Nobody else does that and the thinner, the better. They really held the flavor of the seasonings on them and also seemed to work better in the dish as a whole.

The potatoes were laying on a bed of steamed kale, which is a nice BL touch to many dishes (and they give you a lot!). The dish was topped with smokey maple tempeh bits, scallions and cashew and avocado sour cream. The loaded home fries are one of the cheapest things on the brunch menu and a really hefty portion (two things that make me love it even more)! With the new potato slices, I thought it tasted at its best and was so happy I got it.

Loaded Home Fries:

I also enjoy their savory pancakes (gf), which are made from quinoa and sweet potato and topped with a cashew cream cheese and come with soy butter and pure maple syrup. You can choose one side: kale, grits or applesauce. I wish it automatically came with kale, but since it does not, my pick is the applesauce (it's homemade!).

Andrew ordered a vegan (not gf) benedict with seitan on a spelt biscuit, covered with hollandaise sauce and tomato. It came with a side of steamed kale and plain home fries. He enjoyed it thoroughly, but compared it to a similar dish at Vita Cafe on Alberta (another review for another day). He said BL had the fresher, healthier tasting dish and he liked how it came with sides. However, he can't get over Vita's vegan hollandaise sauce, which he declares the best. All in all, he really liked it but doesn't think it's his favorite brunch item at BL (he really loves their scrambles and breakfast burrito).

Andrew's Benedict:

So, there you have it! A lovely brunch at my favorite restaurant, Blossoming Lotus!


P.S - Congrats to Chef Wes who has been voted the Hottest Chef in Portland and is now competing at the national level! Although I heard, they now call him "one vote Wes"- and that one vote could be mine!


Monday Meal Planning: February 14 - 19

I thought it might be fun and maybe even helpful to post my weekly meal plan for each Monday through Friday. Every weekend I take delight in filling out my magnetic What to Eat meal planner. I get super excited to fill in the boxes, browse through cookbooks and blogs for new recipes to try or to pencil in my favorites or go-to meals for quick and/or cheap eats.

Here is what the last (work) week looked like...

Monday: Breakfast Bake and Spinach & Berry Salad
A breakfast bake of yukon gold potatoes, tempeh, onion, garlic, button mushrooms, thyme, rosemary and cheddar daiya cheese from The Skinny Bitch Cookbook. Accompanied by a spinach salad topped with sliced strawberries, raspberries, chopped almonds and a pomegranate dressing. And a special fruit-sweetened pomegranate sparkling beverage!

Tuesday: Stir Fry
Steamed stir fry veggies on a bed of short brown rice and steamed kale, topped with black beans and drizzled with gluten free teriyaki sauce.

Wednesday: Veggie Burgers with Fingerling Potatoes and Fruit & Nut Salad
Oven baked veggie burgers topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, avocado, ketchup and mustard on a whole wheat bun for Mr. Havens and a bed of lettuce for moi, paired with oven roasted fingerling potatoes tossed with olive oil and herbs, with an apple-banana-walnut-cinnamon fruit salad.

Thursday: Tacos with Spinach & Berry Salad
Soft corn tortillas with a refried black bean and jalepeno filling, tomatoes, avocado, olives, shredded lettuce and taco sauce with a spinach salad topped with strawberry slices and raspberries, chopped almonds and pomegranate dressing.

Friday: Leftovers or a second dose of Veg Burgers, Potatoes and Fruit & Nut Salad
Andrew and I usually have a "date night" every Friday and we go out to eat. It's a favorite tradition for us and it doesn't even have to be expensive. Sometimes we hit up our favorite low budget places (Laughing Planet, Los Gorditos, Dalo's, etc.) or happy hours for ridiculously cheap eats. The Chinook Book also has great coupons (like buy one entree get one free or 50% off). I also get super excited to decide where we want to go each week. Long story short - this week Andrew was working longer hours, so we planned for a Saturday dinner date instead.


Vida Vegan Con 2011


This summer, the Mr. and I will be attending the first-ever Vida Vegan Con in Portland! We are super excited, from the meals, networking, classes, swag, bloggers, blogging, oooooh it's gonna be fun!

Andrew is excited for classes on podcasts and media stuff. I am just excited about the overall vegan-ness of this grand event!


For information check out their website! I also have an event badge on the right of this page. :)


Vegan Celebration Salsa!

Lately I feel like there is a lot to celebrate; the winter temperatures slowly rising and the beautiful, bright, sunny days we've had in Portland. Spring is steadily approaching (the groundhog said it was coming early!) and I can feel and smell it in the air. I'm even celebrating my own personal triumphs of getting back into a regular yoga practice for the past month and feeling my body responding. And celebrating special occasions with others, such as my mother-in-law's birthday, which is today (Happy Birthday Sherrie!) and February 13th, which was the anniversary of the day Andrew and I first met. We call it our "friendversary" and it might sound really silly, but to us it is our Valentines Day and every year I look forward to celebrating the day we met. This year was no different as we celebrated the day with love notes, flowers, chocolates, as well as dressing up and going out to a fancy dinner at Oba! It is our favorite place to go out for an expensive, romantic, dressed to the nines evening and we loooove a vegan-ized version of their butternut squash enchiladas with quinoa salad.

So with all this celebrating going on, it seemed fitting to share my recipe for celebration salsa (and I had a hankering)! This past summer my brother and sister-in-law kept bringing this amazing salsa to all our family functions. It was so fresh and pretty and everybody raved about it - so naturally one day I was craving it but didn't have the recipe, so I crafted my own, inspired by the ingredients I loved in the original.

I dubbed it "celebrations salsa" because it seems to be perfect for all kinds of get-togethers; birthdays, bbqs, luncheons, parties, game nights, picnics. It is so simple, incredibly healthy and has the freshest flavor. Wait, can I mention again that it is so simple?!

Celebration Salsa


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can shoe-peg corn, rinsed and drained
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 limes

Simply toss all the prepared ingredients into a bowl and squeeze the juice of two limes over the top. Toss well and serve chilled. (Yup, that's it!)

Happy Eating!


Forks Over Knives

I wholeheartedly recommend that you see this movie if you have the chance! "Forks Over Knives" is an inspiring, informative and encouraging documentary about having a whole foods, plant based diet. I was amazed and excited after seeing this film and it also made me feel really good about the way I eat, as well as wish that everyone could have the opportunity to see this film! I also learned a lot from the research in the documentary and look forward to reading some of the books and studies done by the two main men in it; Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. It was amazing to learn about the affect that eating a whole foods, plant based diet can have on disease; specifically its relation to controlling or even reversing degenerative diseases.

I have seen many food documentaries, like "Food Inc." for example, but this one was more focused and didn't feel quite as overwhelming or broad. I also did not feel like they came across pointing fingers or blaming people or glorifying vegans, but instead wanting to educate and inform society of their findings - findings so incredible that everyone should stop and take a moment to look at them. It made me want to go to all the people I love in my life and ask them to watch this movie, because I love them and because I believe this. I believe food can heal. I have seen it with my own mother, who after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis went on a very strict vegan-like diet. She is not cured, but she is amazingly healthy with very mild symptoms, most of which she attributes to her diet. Also, from a film standpoint, it was incredibly organized and kept me interested the entire time. It was really well done and in the end I wanted more!

Also, I ran into a woman after our viewing. Her name is Lori and she works at Bob's Red Mill. I actually recognized her from "the mill" and from all the help she has given me in previous visits regarding gluten free products and other various questions. It was really great to meet her and we briefly chatted about the film and being vegan. She also said she knows both of the doctors and said such wonderful things about them. Everything about the documentary, from the actual film, to meeting Lori and hearing her opinion on the men was so inspiring and reassuring!


I recommend checking out the film's website:


And seeing the documentary!

PS - They will be talking about it on Oprah tomorrow!

Happy Eating!


Happy Birthday Husband!

Dear Andrew,

I love you. You are my favorite person in the whole world, my best friend, my husband. You have made me the happiest woman in the world and I cherish each and every moment I have with you. Sometimes I do not know where I end and you begin... all I know is that God created us for each other. Today is your birthday and yet I am the one who has received the greatest gift of all. Here is to many more years of enjoying some of the most delicious things life has to offer.

Happy Birthday Puddin'
I love you.

Your wife,


Featured Recipe: Polenta Cannellini Bean Torte with Caponata

While a majority of the recipes in the Flying Apron's cookbook are baked goods, such as cookies, muffins, pies and cakes, there are some delicious meals as well. In fact the first one I tried was the Italian Mushroom Apron Pockets with a Homemade Marinara Sauce that rivaled my mothers. Everything was so absolutely wonderful about them. From the fact that they were "pockets" with pinched edges, to the mingling of herbs and vegetables on my taste buds, to my love of having a dipping sauce. I was so impressed, as I honestly did not think they would turn out (I have had my fair share of failed attempts to make anything with a crust). They reminded me of little calzones and froze incredibly well for later suppers. Now I have to try the Indian Curry Apron Pockets. Mmm...

Another meal I have made, and the one I am featuring, is the Polenta Cannellini Bean Torte with Caponata. Not only was this tasty and packed with flavor, but it was a beautiful dish and fun to make. The torte was easy to put together and the caponata topping was delicious and Andrew raved about the rich flavor. It was a beautiful, delicious, hearty meal - what more could you ask for? Another helping, I suppose.


Portobello Vegan Trattoria - Vegan, Gluten Free, Portland Restaurant Review

Get ready, it's another post about pizza...

Flash back to 1987, when Belinda Carlisle released a song with this lyric: "Oh baby, do you know what that's worth? Oh, heaven is a place on earth." Flash forward to present day. I just experienced heaven on earth. And this song runs through my head every time I think about that fateful day.

Cheesy? Yes.
(I am sorry, it had to be said).

So, I have been hearing things about this vegan restaurant in Portland for awhile now. It's called Portobello Vegan Trattoria and they offer an ever-changing seasonal menu with gluten free options. I had looked at their online menu a handful of times, but had not gone yet.

Anyway, a couple of months passed and thanks to LivingSocial, I got a sweet deal and my hair cut at Fancy! Hair Salon, which just so happens to be located next to Portobello. My hairdresser, Lu (love her!) and I had a mouth-watering conversation about vegan, gluten free food and she mentioned Portobello. After talking and getting a great haircut - I knew it was a must try!

We got there on a Friday at 5:30pm, which is when the open for dinner. Unfortunately we waited in the freezing cold with other patrons for nearly 15 minutes, before they unlocked the doors. I felt as though it was a bit of an off-night for them (I hope), as they were still assembling menus when we entered and it took a long time for them to even seat everyone, even though the restaurant was empty. I forgave them as soon as I sat down. Why?

Because they have awesome tables and a really beautiful wall made from recycled wood. Every table has a cute glass bottle full of water and they have letter-pressed menu covers. They offer the kind of vegan food you have to go to a restaurant to get, it's fancy! The biggest reason I forgave them? They have gluten free, vegan, pizza dough.

Andrew and I looked no further than the list of pizza selections. I ordered the Daiya pizza, which came with Italian Daiya cheese, basil and the most delicious home made pizza sauce ever. The crust was... well, lets just say I honestly thought they made a mistake and didn't give me gluten free crust. It was crispy and delicious like an Italian pizza crust. I told Andrew I bet my crust was even better than his non-GF. He was too busy inhaling his pizza to hear me. He ordered the Arrabiata pissa. It came with hot peppers, sausage, garlic, spice chili, fennel marinara, Daiya and chili oil. It was fancy. Again, I questioned the "vegan-ness" of the sausage. Too good to be true.

I felt like I was in a scene from "Eat, Pray, Love". I felt like I was sitting in some cute little Italian restaurant in Italy eating the world's best pizza. I savored each and every hot bite. And for $11, I could barely eat half of it! The left overs were equally as enjoyable.

Andrew declared it his new favorite restaurant (I still remain Blossoming Lotus loyal, how have I not had that post yet?!). I declared it "fancy ocassions" and "birthday dinner" worthy. But here is the best part - it is also "every day" worthy. We both got 2 massive pizzas for less than the price we would pay for an over done, cheese-less, gf-vegan pizza at Oasis Cafe on Hawthorne. In fact, we could have split one pizza and been comfortably full. Though, when I mentioned this to Andrew, he protested that it's so good and he would want a whole one to himself.

There were other items on the menu we want to try, but I fear we'll never be able to order anything other than the pizza. Andrew's golden birthday is this month and he has already put in his request for dinner...

Please excuse the iPhone photo. It does no justice!


Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free Cookbooks!

Lately, I have been asked by a handful of people where I find my recipes. When not hand-crafting my own recipes (that sounds really arrogant), I am flipping through the pages of some really wonderful cookbooks. Below is a list of all the cookbooks in my house. You can click on any of them for more information via Amazon.com. The ones with an asterisk (*) after them, are ones I just received (thanks Santa!) or were inherited via the husband, and that I have not had the pleasure of using yet. The others are tried and true.

Vegan/Gluten-Free/(Mostly)Refined Sugar Free Cookbooks:

- The Gluten Free Vegan
- Flying Apron's Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking Cookbook
- Babycakes Bakery Cookbook
- The Virtuous Vegan
- Melissa's Marvelous Meatless Meals*

Vegan Cookbooks (with easy converting possibilities!):

- The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen
- Get Naked Fast!
- The Skinny B*tch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook
- Student's Go Vegan Cookbook*
- Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet*
- Vegan Cooking for One*

Vegetarian Cookbooks

- Essential Vegetarian
- The Big Book of Vegetarian*

I also love my loyal subscription to Vegetarian Times and am currently awaiting my first issues of VegNews (a vegan mag) and LivingWithout (a food allergy mag).

Another resource I love are my fellow bloggers. You can find links to the right of my page, with my personal favorite being The Gluten Free Goddess. Seriously, Karina's blog was a huge help in my early days and now my most trusted and loved online resource! She most certainly deserves her title!

May these cookbooks and other resources guide you to a healthier self!