Best of Plant-Based Expo East 2017!

Best of Plant-Based Expo East 2017!

ecoRDN got off to a bumpy start this year as we headed from Pittsburgh to Baltimore for Natural Products Expo East. Greyhound “lost” our bus. No, we didn’t know that was a thing either. So, we were rerouted to a later bus with a layover in Harrisburg, which put us 3 hours behind schedule. We arrived too late for badge pick up and totally missed the Harvest Festival. However, the long bus ride did give us opportunity to thoroughly search the Happy Cow website to find our dinner spot. We chose Sticky Rice in Fells Point due to their many vegan options and the close proximity to our Air-bnb. Plus, it was still open at 8:30pm on a Wednesday. We chose the Dirty Vegan and the Mock Chicken Szechaun, both amazing! After a good nights sleep we were ready to pick up our badges and hit the expo floor!

Natural Products Expo East 2016 saw ecoRDN traverse the foodscape over two days. This year, 2017, we covered the entire expo in only one, which totaled over 6 miles of walking (and eating, and eating, and eating…)

We set out to highlight all things plant-based, vegan, meat & dairy free then report our findings back to you, the ethical mindful consumer. Here are our 10 top picks in no particular order, as they are all equally awesome.

  1. Vegan Rob’s

A new global snack food focused on nutrition and compassion.

Loaded with flavor, Vegan Rob’s snacks showcase a clean taste with unique combinations such as Wild Mushroom Kettle Chips, Asparagus Chips, Brussel Sprout Puffs, and the brand new soon to be released Beet Puffs! Kombucha was big this year at the expo but Rob’s Kombuchabar was the only bar containing dried SCOBY! Many more amazing flavors, try them all! Love yourself, love these snacks!

 

2. No Evil Foods

Protein For All. In Plants We Trust.

Winner of Nexty Award, Best New Packaging Innovation (Comrade Cluck). No Evil Foods came correct with a mic drop array of stupendous pant-based proteins from their piquant fennel Italian Sausage to the biting hit of the spicy Chorizo. Deliciousness, forever.

 

3. Nuttin Ordinary

100% Plant Based Products

Oil-free fermented cashew cheese, oh hell yeah! Somewhere between goat cheese and ricotta, this plant-based cheese is the bee’s knees. You will not believe your mouth after you try their ravioli. Guaranteed to pull the wool over any omnivore’s eyes. Plant-based goodness based in New Hampshire!

 

4. Ithaca Hummus 

“We would never think of using the same processing techniques as other brands (like freezing or heat pasteurization) and we never use preservatives or concentrated flavorings (like lemon juice) in any of our recipes. “

Cold-crafted hummus? It was only like eating hummus for the first time. The truest, cleanest flavors did a mesmerizing dance upon the palate. If you love hummus you need to search for this product. A foodie work of art! Located mainly in the Northeast.

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5. Oatly

WOW NO COW!

A sign in neon lights marked the entrance to the hot products pavilion this year. Later when we found the Oatly booth we were able to connect the dots.  As more and more plant-based milks hit the market it becomes increasingly more difficult to pick a favorite. This one stands out because of the nut-free base, making it a perfect pick for those with nut allergies. The company is Swedish but you can use the “oatfinder” on their website to locate Oatly in a cafe near you.

 

6. Fronana 

We went bananas for this nice cream!

That’s right! A banana based ice cream hits the market from a company on a mission to show the world that dessert can be healthy AND delicious! They are based out of Dayton, with distribution in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Currently they have 5 flavors: Wildberry Whirl, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Rich Dark Chocolate, Mango Pineapple and Fro Mocha. They are all vegan and gluten-free too!

 

7. Alpha Foods – Alpha Burritos

Alpha Foods believes in a future in which people are no longer reliant on animal proteins for sustenance. Breakthroughs in meatless alternatives are bringing us closer to that reality, and Alpha Foods is at the forefront of this healthier, more sustainable movement. We are committed to cultivating a comprehensive line of plant-based options that will change the way the world thinks about food.”

We sampled. Then we sampled again. It was a sampling frenzy. We could have used an intervention, but screw it. those burritos are FANTASTIC! Chik’n Fajita, Philly Sandwich, Mexicali and Pizza. Eat them all!

 

8. Revive Kombucha

Culture Driven, Craft Kombucha. A Family Owned Brewery.

Sustainable, Ethical, Vegan & Awesome! Superb, eye-catching labels adorn the greatest tasting kombucha we’ve had the fortune of sampling and there were many this year. Big props go out to Revive for using reusable shot glasses for sampling. The waste at these expos gets ridiculous, thus Revive are legit heroes! Go find it and drink it!

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9. Wholesome Organic DelishFish & NEW Cinnamon Bears

Gelatin-free and organic soft candies. Wholesome’s BRAND NEW cinnamon bears are perfectly balanced with a sweet and natural cinnamon bite that make for a wonderful sweet snack safe for vegans! And who doesn’t love soft, luscious candy fish? Jerks, that’s who!

 

10. Manitoba Harvest Whole Hemp Seeds 

Hemp hearts are amazing but whole hemp seeds are even moreso. Kudos to Manitoba Harvest for offering the whole organic seed. Less is sometimes more but in cases like this more is better! With less processing the consumer foodie can get down to their fiber rich whole food roots, getting all the benefit of these super seeds and more! Hooray!!!

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Choosing only ten products to highlight was quite the task when there were so many great companies and products. We just want to give some honorable mentions to some of the  others before we go…

Revolution Gelato One of our top picks last year in the category of plant-based ice cream and we are still impressed. Even more because this year they used REAL spoons for their samples! Thank you for being low waste heroes!

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Miyoko’s Kitchen Best of cheese 2016 and still on top! We really wanted to highlight all new companies this year but Miyoko’s kitchen deserves mention for the whole new line of pub cheeses, cream cheeses, Mozz and cheese wheel!

 

Milkadamia A macadamia nut based milk and another pick from last year. These lattes were not only beautiful but also delicious!

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That wraps up our foodie adventure at Natural Products Expo East 2017.

As always, thanks for reading and eat well!

For a mouthwatering archive of foodie pics and all things nutritionally awesome, follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

©2017 ecoRDN 💚

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Interview with Onion Maiden 💚

Interview with Onion Maiden 💚

Onion Maiden‘s brick-and-mortar opened Spring 2017, located at 639 E Warrington Ave in Allentown. After rocking the pop-ups and popping up around the 412 for so many the plant-based events, the vegan-fused trio of plant-based *bad*brains who flex their amazing take on Asian-American fusion finally found their hearth home. Here is a recap of a dope pop-up Onion Maiden dinner at The Vandal back in February 2016!

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We at ecoRDN enjoy the humanity behind the tater-tots. So we reached out to Onion Maiden to ask a few questions pertinent to vegan living and plant-based fun.

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From left to right: Brooks, Dingo, Elyse (Pic ripped from Onion Maiden website OnionMaiden.com)

We asked each of them these three questions:

1) What did you have for breakfast today?

2) When did you become vegan?

3) What is your favorite recipe (not your own)?

Dingo, Elyse, and Brooks were super cool and thus threw down as follows…

Dingo:
 
1) Left over staff meal: Udon noodle soup
 
2) I became vegan when I was 14, 18 years ago.
(That is awesome!!!)
 
 
3) Honestly I never have enough patience for recipes. I mostly like to look at pictures of food and sometimes I’ll look at a quick glance at a recipe for inspiration. I never buy books without pictures! I also love cooking traveling shows.
 
Elyse:
 
 1) Lemon ginger overnight oats made with blueberries and almond milk.
(OMG, those oats sound amazing!!!)
 
 
2) About nine years ago.  I had been a vegetarian since I was sixteen and had been reading up on vegan diets and then just woke up one day and did it.  I gave away all of my non-vegan food and that was that.
 
 
3) I love anything Isa Chandra Moskowitz does.  Literally everything.  She has a wonderful Queso recipe that is high up on my list.
(Check out Cashew Queso recipe here)
 
 
Brooks:
 
 
1) I had a tall glass of water (chugged as soon as I wake up), one cold, leftover Headbanger’s Ball from the restaurant, a peanut butter Protein Puck, a cup of coffee with almond creamer, and a blueberry fig bar. This was all spaced out over about 2 hours I’d say.
 
2) A few years ago when I started dating Dingo. I had been vegetarian for several years prior to that, but when she moved in and we started (well, mostly she started) cooking amazing meals together, it was the easiest transition ever.
 
3) There’s a recipe for mac ‘n cheese in the book Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold that I’ve kind of adapted and perfected over the last couple years. It’s mostly veggies, but I’ve fooled some pretty discerning omnivores with it. Mac has always been one of my favorite comfort foods throughout my life, and this recipe really hits the spot.
(This book looks GREAT, check it aht!!!)
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Word UP!

You can check them out for dinner and brunch (repeat early and often!). There’s so much awesome food to put in your face, decor to take in, and badass music to listen to. Forever

 💚 Thank Yinz, Onion Maiden: For Being Awesome, Being Vegan, and Being in Pittsburgh!!!

Onion Maiden Hours:

Wed-Fri 5-10pm

Sat 10am-2pm (brunch) 5-10pm (dinner)

Located at 639 E. Warrington Ave 15210

As always, thanks for reading and eat well!

For a mouthwatering archive of foodie pics and all things nutritionally awesome, follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

©2017 ecoRDN 💚

 

 

Apteka

Apteka

“A good appetite needs no sauce” – Old Polish Proverb

It took us a little while to finally dine at Apteka. Not for lack of wanting, the idea of vegan pierogi and Polish fare sounded amazing, but the time had to be right!

Cue the Autumn/Winter season. As light begins to wane and darkness becomes the day, the season of early sunset sets upon us. Chilly air and foggy breath make for ruddy cheeks and hearty appetites, a fitting climate to open this treasure trove of earthy, pungent, and rustic charm.

It was a snap decision, a crisp night stroll through the 300 acres of Allegheny Cemetery led us to Apteka‘s front door. #FoodFate

The approach is streamlined, upon entry you are greeted with a wall-size menu reminiscent of Basquiat’s manic-genius lists. Your order is placed at the counter and you’re given a number and a bottle of water. Food and drinks are brought to your table and the journey begins!

Polish cuisine makes great uses of grains, millet, rye, and wheat. Pungent, aromatic and dense flavor palate, using nutmeg, juniper, mace. Old spice cupboard flavors that taste like something ancient, respected. A feast as homage to an old way.

Earthy flavors, deep browns. Cold weather and dead leaves, crisp frosty airs inspire appetites of starches and root vegetables. Hearty, hefty portions reasonably priced. A treat for the cold-weather season, indeed!

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ecoRDN chose the the Tartines to start. Like crostini or bruschetta, tartines are open faced sandwiches prepared on Apteka‘s grainy house-baked rye. Carrot pâté with pickled cucumber, radish and dill, sweet garlicky toothy bites, polish salad with pickle, celeriac and potato, reminiscent of sweet chunky heavy mayo salads of picnics past. See Apteka’s daily menu for alternating varieties.

The Horse & Pepper jumped right off the page, a sandwich boasting a huge slab of fried veggie pâté served on a hulking crust of baguette holding hands with sweet pepper sauce, crispy cabbage salad, black garlic butter and spicy peppers. The pâté resembles tempeh, in a traditionally set terrine cut into a massive rectangle and cooked to a nice crisp bark. Earthy, rich, and filling.

O M -effing- G, Apteka’s Pierogi are the Apis Patella!!! Heavenly wedges stuffed with a mix of smoked potato or a mash of mushroom and sauerkraut, underneath a sweet nut-based  rich mayo-like yoghurt sauce that tasted like sweet pickle relish, creamy and perfect accompaniment along with the beets and fried cabbage, make it rain with chives. Non-nut options available upon request. The smoked potato pierogi is DIVINE. Smoked potato + parsnip+ turnip greens, a salty woody mash mixed with the carrot-like parsnip and mild bitter turnip greens. The mushroom & sauerkraut provided a perfect balance, earthy deep mushroom flavor marries so well with the pungent aromatic bite of the sauerkraut. A guaranteed umami face explosion!

For dessert we chose the Tarta Jablkowa (apple pie) w/ tart cherry compote. The buttery pastry soaked up the sweet spiced pureed apple, like the consistency of loose pumpkin pie,. A melange of fall aromatics underneath super tart port-y cherry compote, those cinnamony sweet browns, all that good time spice! (OMG, we want more in our stupid faces, rn) The buttery flaky pastry is plant-based, as are all the options at Apteka. Another great place to visit where no-meat/no-dairy gourmands need not worry and go all-in for a memorable feast, perfect for the cold time of year.

Apteka is an absolute treat, highly recommended!

 

As always, thanks for reading and eat well!

For a mouthwatering archive of foodie pics and all things nutritionally awesome, follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

©2016 ecoRDN 💚

Best of Plant-Based Expo East 2016!

Best of Plant-Based Expo East 2016!

How long does it take to digest 1000 new product samples? Well, from our experience at ecoRDN it takes more than the two days allotted in Baltimore for the 2016 Natural Products Expo East. This was ecoRDN’s first Expo East experience and it was enlightening, inspiring, motivating and at times overwhelming!

For those of you that never heard of the Natural Products Expo East, it is an annual conference and expo for natural and organic brands to showcase new products and tell their unique stories. The event is not open to the public, to register you must be a retailer, health practitioner, distributor, manufacturer, supplier or some other such business person. Apparently this year’s expo, the 31st annual, was the largest ever with over 1,450 brands, 28,000 attendees and 450 first-time exhibitors. So many new exhibitors they had to expand to the 3rd and 4th floors of the Baltimore Convention Center where the “Hot Products” were located. There is also a Natural Products Expo West each year in Anaheim, CA which is twice as big as its little sister on the east! Each year New Hope Network, the producer of the Natural Products Expo East and West, puts together the Nexty Awards, which highlight the best new products in 20 different categories.

As a dietitian and chef focusing on plant-based and vegan products we thought we should do the same. So here is our best picks list from this year’s show!

Best of Hummus

Hummus has been a vegan favorite FOREVER so how can you make a great thing even better?

Stuff it in a pod like these guys did! The Modern Pod Co. makes a “pierogi ” type pod filled with hummus. Available in these three flavors-smoky chipotle, zesty lemon and sriracha lime. They are pre-baked in a chewy multigrain crust then frozen. You simply heat and eat! They were all delicious but our favorite was the smoky chipotle!

Do a bean swap! Why limit yourself to all chick pea hummus when Yumami’s got you covered with spreads utilizing other pulses including black beans, edamame, adzuki and lentils! Need a chip to go with that? No problem, grab a Go-Dip snack paired with Popped Nori Chips!

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Is sweet more your thing? Try the dessert hummus made by Delighted By. They offer brownie batter, snickerdoodle, orange dreamsicle and vanilla bean. Be mindful while you dip or you might eat the whole tub in one sitting!

Best of Ice Cream

Revolution Gelato was seriously one of the best cashew based ice creams yet! Though purchasing options are limited and the product is pricey to order online, but if you are in Georgia or find them elsewhere try them out. Personal fave was the Cardamom Kiss!

Best of Sweet

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Favorite sweet snack from one sweet tooth to another goes to Pure Genius for their brownies and blondies made with beans! All products are also gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, kosher (certified by the Orthodox Union), and soon-to-be verified non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project!

Best of Snack

Hippeas are savory snacks made with chick peas! These little power houses provide 4g protein and 3g fiber for each 1 oz. snack bag. They come in 6 different flavors-pepper power, sriracha sunshine, happenin’ hickory, far out fajita, maple haze and vegan white cheddar. Oh and their motto…GIVE PEAS A CHANCE!

Best of Milk

Ripple milk made from the humble yellow pea offers up 8g plant-based protein per serving! It is nut, soy, lactose and gluten-free so can be had by many, even those with allergies and sensitivities.

Milkadamia has less of the protein power but delivers in the flavor category. It is made from the macadamia nut as the name suggests and is another great dairy-free alternative!

Best of Savory

The Jackfruit Company offers products that are whole food plant-based, sustainable, made with Jackfruit and are a spot-on replacement for pulled pork! A great meat alternative without the soy and wheat filler. Though low on protein so add some beans or such on the side, boom!

Best of Cheese

Miyoko’s Kitchen is a Nexty Award Winner! And one of our personal favorites too! ecoRDN was fortunate enough to sit in on a food demo by Miyoko at Vegetarian Summerfest 2016 as she was promoting her new book, The Homemade  Vegan Pantry! Miyoko’s Kitchen perfects cultured nut products and also recently added a European style cultured vegan butter.  Also Miyoko has her own farm sanctuary! She is amazing!

Kite Hill crafts almond-based delicacies in the form of yogurts, spreads and raviolis. Their products are pricey but if you taste them you will no why. There is no skimping on the flavors. Loved the truffle, dill and chive spread! Damn!

Best of Yogurt


Forager Project made this list for their cashew-based yogurt. It is super creamy, delicious and not overly sweet like most non-dairy yogurts. Though you may also want to look at their other products including tortilla chips, juices and nut-milk shakes. Not easy to find yet, but keep your eye on this brand!

Best of Burger

Veggie burgers are often the only options for vegans out in the non-vegan restaurant world so we have tried many varieties. These are two of the best…

GoodSeed uses hemp and chia seeds in all their burgers and some other exotic ingredients such as wild-crafted seaweeds and black garlic. They have four  blends: Curried Sweet Potato, Wild Mushroom & Cauliflower, All American and Spicy Italian.

Foodies offers burgers made from some unique ingredients like cashew, artichokes and wheat gluten. They are all vegan, no preservatives, no MSG and non-GMO. The gourmet griller is super high in protein with 24g per burger! They also do ciders, which we somehow missed at the expo.

Phew, thats a lot of cool products to mull over and still does not even skim the surface of all the products tasted and tested!  There were so many more worthy of mention but alas there is only so much time…

If you have seen or sampled any of those mentioned above please give us a shout in the comments section below! We would love to hear what you think!

As always thanks for reading and eat well!!!

©2016 ecoRDN

Check out our wily posts and gob-smacked foodie pics over at Instagram & Twitter!

 

Philadelphia is a Vegan’s Valhalla

Philadelphia is a Vegan’s Valhalla

After ecoRDN got hip to the abundance of plant based options in Philadelphia (thanks Spat!), we packed our bags and hopped a bus to check things out firsthand! Below is a list of the exciting plant friendly places we visited in during our stay!

Blackbird Pizzeria topped the itinerary, ecoRDN would not pass up a chance to check out an all vegan pizza place that also serves Philly style seitan cheesesteaks! (Look at our pictures and feel the hanger!) Situated next to Starr Garden Park & Playground in a very Sesame Street section of Philadelphia, Blackbird Pizzeria stays good at making amazing foods for the famished. Unique pies and hearty subs accompanied by loaded salads & carnival-style fries… Why yes indeed!

Being in the birthplace of Rocky Balboa, we’da been big dummies to pass over the Balboa slice. With cherry tomatoes, fennel seitan crumble, tofu ricotta, and pumkin seed pesto resting on a chewy crust, all topped with a loaded handful of baby arugula. Oh! The seitan was perfect. Perhaps the finest seitan sausage we’ve eaten. Fennel was a flawless touch, the pungent licorice and salty protein paired well and created the subtle but remarkable flavor. Blackbird’s tofu ricotta was also spot on, rich and tangy lush mouthfuls mimicked the sweet salt fatty hits of dairy-based ricottas. The Balboa is a great slice.

Blackbird’s seitan cheesesteak took the concept of a meat and dairy free alternative to Philadelphia’s historic sammie and broke both its thumbs, and that is meant to be a compliment in the highest regard! Chip chopped seitan served on a blistered chewy baguette, mixed with sweet handfuls of grilled peppers, onions and Blackbird’s own Vegan Whiz, a creamy hit of salty perfection. Blackbirds seitan cheesesteak is no joke, put one in your belly!

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“An all vegan coffee shop called Grindcore House is located on South 4th Street in Philla, Pa?”

“Yes, yes we will.”

Serving Counter Culture coffee along with sweet & savory treats in abundance, Grindcore House was vibrant and abuzz in the early Philly morning. Many dogs and dog-lovers mingled with all the many coffee drinkers and other passersby, in and out of old shop door. Ample seating, great art and a lending library also found within. A very sweet place.

ecoRDN ordered strawberry ginger iced tea and an iced americano. A respective refreshing jumpstart to the immune system, and a smooth icy jolt of dark malty smoothness. Yet still too early for heavy dessert we decided to return later that day. We’d been eyeing the Peanut Butter Bomb sitting tall and inviting within Grindcore House’s cold case.

So! ecoRDN boomeranged later that day on a sweet mission. The Peanut Butter Bomb is a Vegan Treats creation. For those unaware, Vegan Treats of Bethlehem, PA were voted one of the 10 best bakers in the world, pardon us, but holy shit! That is a no-brainer. Peanut butter cream, chocolate ganache and rich black chocolate cake. A huge slice capable of fully feeding two seekers of sweet deep, dark and perfect. We’d had the cake before in Manhattan so it was like a second honeymoon at Grindcore House that day. Highly recommended!

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The Tasty is not an all plant diner (due to the exception of cow’s teat milk for coffee drinks) so not vegan but more instead like 99% vegetarian. All plant diners are a great idea. When ecoRDN ate dairy and eggs, diners were an option all the time. After we went full plant, the egg was gone and so were the omelettes and just about everything dinery, etceteras. During our visit we had the Buffalo Chik’n Sammy (did not enjoy the huge white bun but the buffalo chick’n was delicious) and the Western Omelet (not super hammy and way too heavy for an omelet, more like a dense savory pancake). They were served with waffle fries and home fries respectively. Tasty has some really good ideas that hopefully will continue to evolve forward over time. There were a few hits and a few misses but overall The Tasty is worth the visit (if you don’t mind sharing your space with cow’s teat milk). Oh and don’t forget to bring a sweater in the summer, chilly!

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V Street is a modern & arty sparse take on street-foods from around the world, more about aesthetic than foodie fuel, however there are a few interesting ideas happening on the menu! V Street’s za’atar fries with zhoug is tasty blend of thymey herbed carnival-style spuds topped with fresh chopped cilantro and fresh earthy zhoug sauces. The food is tiny though, to be real. Let this be a disclaimer that we at ecoRDN are often ravenous so V Street wasn’t ideal nourishment prior to an eight hour bus ride. But if you don’t have a date with lengthy bouts of travel and would enjoy a cool plant based haute bistro, we recommend you give V Street a go! (Corrections/Updates: during normal business hours V Street offers two menus with large and small portion sizes, this wasn’t made clear during brunch.)

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Blogging about Miss Rachel’s Pantry is legit saving the best for last. Often one may not realize a profound moment until it is gone, thus their only memory is a remembrance rather than immediate understanding. This was the case for ecoRDN after a perfectly executed dining experience. True story, perfection is an abstract concept but it is possible during dining so bear with us as we #dinesplain. There are only so many variables when going out to eat and many can be reduced to binaries i.e., good food/bad food, good service/bad service, etc. Yet sometimes food stars align and dining plantophiles find their own end of rainbow nosh oases. Miss Rachel’s inspirited plant cuisine topped more best lists than ecoRDN knew we had. The most flavorful love inspired foods prepared amid an amazing buzz from a beautiful staff. Flawless execution in terms of tastes, textures and appearances. ecoRDN will make it simple: do you want arguably the most fully realized plant based mac and cheese ever? Go to Miss Rachel’s Pantry, dummy!

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That was a lot to digest! If you have eaten at any of the planty places mentioned in this article let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading, thanks for looking, and eat well!

©2016 ecoRDN

Follow ecoRDN on Twitter and Instagram for an archive of mouth watering #FoodPorn pics and all things nutritionally wonderful!

All for Spak, Spak for All

All for Spak, Spak for All

Before ecoRDN returned to Pittsburgh from NYC living we made a list of all the many vegan-friendly food hubs to visit upon return to our glorious city and Spak Brothers topped the list. Spak forged a path not many dared back when they first opened their doors. Sure Pittsburgh has seen a vegan-friendly boom over the last five years, but before that boom the vegan scene was practically crickets. There was the dope East End staple Quiet Storm, the Southside Zenith with their epic brunch and all-vegan dessert, however pizza and wings were not yet on the menu. Thus enter the Spak!

Spak Brothers caters to the omnivore, vegetarian and vegan in one swoop. Pizza, wings, hoagies and fries are already famous foods for all the meat-eaters in this Steel City and so it was quite inspiring when we heard about all the vegan options available! ecoRDN were so stoked over the menu we decided to make multiple visits to sample numerous things in order to drop a well researched post into your lap (and eat so much vegan everything!)

ecoRDN made a total of three visits over the span of four months. Ahead is a rundown of all the amazing samples!

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Seitan Buffalo Wings

We ordered wings twice although they weren’t as good the second visit. That’s not to say they were bad, they were delicious, just not as good as the first time. The first batch had gnarly seitan chunks, perfectly toothsome and rich to the eye. Whereas the second visit saw more like shredded chunks of seitan. It looked more like barbecue than wings, but the flavors both times were on point! The sauce remained the same, spicy piquant and buttery vegan buffalo with the sidecar crisp chunks of celery and luscious ranch which boasted an amazing aioli texture with a flavor like sour cream & onion dip, super rich and creamy! The food is quite salty, so be warned. During our third sojourn we schlepped the food back home and steamed up a huge trough of fresh broccoli on the side to cut the salt and it helped a lot. If you are eating a low sodium diet this is not the food for you. But if soulful vegan pub grub is what you’re after, you are in for an awesome treat.

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Seitan Pittsburgh Steak

Shaved hosemade seitan on a chewy lightly toasted hoagie roll topped with banana peppers, mushroom, grilled onion, grilled pepper, lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo and french fries! We in Pittsburgh put french fries on everything from sammies to salads. Gooey rich hits from the mayo and cheese combo lace the umami bomb of savory seitan and all that grilled caramelized mirepoix… Yes indeed! This is a remarkable sandwich. A perfectly executed Pittsburgh hoagie with the chewy crunch of the lightly toasted bun that houses the savory rich marriage of meaty seitan, lush vegan mayo and grilled vegetable umami goodness.

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No toppings, we wanted to taste the cheese, sauce and crust. Absolutely perfect execution! Chewy crust, not too crispy not too soft, not too oily. Sweet sauce though not candy sweet, and not overly pungent with herbs, but mellow and rich. More awareness of the tomato and garlic instead of piney oregano. And the cheese melted up nice, stayed stringy and gave that rich fatty hit to drop the mic. Spak Brothers vegan pizza is exactly what you need for that plant-based Pittsburgh pizza fix. Quite possibly the finest vegan pizza ecoRDN has ever eaten. Two Boots (NYC) and Spak Brothers have set the bar very high, hats off and mad props for that! We can’t wait to eat more after we work off this last round!

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Needless to say Spak Brothers delivered in spades! Although the foods offered are not for ecoRDN’s everyday every meal consumption, special occasions are certainly a go! And those days when ecoRDN feel compelled to put in 15+ miles on foot loading up on that good Spak Brothers fuel prior to the epic jaunt is a no brainer!

Great atmosphere, great attitude, great decor and superb vegan food, Spak Brothers has it all! A true Pittsburgh original we at ecoRDN are proud to support! Hell YES!

As always, Thank You for taking the time to read our post. Feel free to like and subscribe or leave a comment below!

Follow ecoRDN on Twitter and Instagram for an amazing library of mouth watering food-porn pictures.

Stay Cool and Eat Well!

©2016 ecoRDN

Ben & Jerry Go Dairy Free!!!

Ben & Jerry Go Dairy Free!!!

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are sugar superheroes, courageous candymen, bringers of caloric joy. Thank the gooey gods neither had success within the world of higher-education. As you do when institutional life kicks you in the pants, these childhood friends decided to take an ice-cream making correspondence course through Penn State University and opened their first ice-cream parlor in Burlington, Vermont on May 5, 1978. And thus, to this day, they’ve spread sprinkles and chunks of joy throughout the land for  *everyone!

*Everyone who eats dairy…

(insert saddest emoji kitten slowly playing tiny violin)

Whether allergy, diet restrictions, health reasons or personal choice, the dairy-free contingent had to either cheat or outright abstain from Ben & Jerry’s flavor-filled further-minded products for nearly 40 years! FOH.

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Some places the sun don’t shine, as the saying goes, but rainbows now glow everywhere! 2016 marked the release of Ben & Jerry’s Dairy Free Ice Cream! After years of recipe testing the sans-dairy versions hit store shelves at the end of February. Ben & Jerry sell four varieties of vegan verified (made with almond milk), fair-trade certified and non-gmo goodness.

Ben & Jerry’s website offers a Finder option for each variety by adding a zip code to see what stores sell near you.

The Market District on Centre Avenue listed four but only three were shelved when we arrived. Chunky Monkey, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Coffee Caramel Fudge. ecoRDN decided on the Chocolate Fudge Brownie and the Coffee Caramel Fudge, like bosses.

The good soldiers ecoRDN are, we split a pint of Coffee Caramel Fudge in the Market District bar/cafe and it was worth it, don’t judge. Classic sundae flavorites, you can’t go wrong with the marriage of comfort caramel, sweet fudge and aromatic coffee. Malty, rich, brown and earthy, but earthy like the dirt is cocoa and sugar is sand. Good flavor and solid ingredients are a given from Ben & Jerry. The most important qualities of a dairy free ice cream are their consistency and texture. How it feels on the tongue, is it more frosty like skim milk ice cream or sorbet, or can you feel the weight of the fat? Though almond based, they do contain coconut oil. Coconut based ice creams have that weight, and in this case the coconut oil takes over the mouth and the experience becomes lush saturation. So to the point, Coffee Caramel Fudge has weight! A literal ‘holy shit, this is vegan!” epiphany smacked ecoRDN in the face. Honestly the best store bought vegan ice cream we’ve ever eaten. A damn fine job!

 Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Dense chocolate, cocoa brownie, truffle-like crumble. Thin and ‘frosty’ in the  mouth. Feels like dairy free ice cream in the mouth. The flavor is the game changer, it is a frozen brownie in a cup. Dark decadent chocolate perfection.

There were two varieties left to sample, finding them proven daunting. The Market District carried only three of the four. If we were to find the remaining two we’d need to don our detective hats and get down to brass tacks! So we made tracks to the Giant Eagle in Aspinwall. An eight mile roundtrip jaunt to find the remaining two proved fruitful!

Chunky Monkey is our least favorite. Although the flavor grew on ecoRDN during the second sitting, the first bite was kind of strange. Strange is a difficult word to use in a food review, it’s vague yet conveys myriad flat flavor tones. Yet something in the banana taste threw us off. The banana is all natural, the ingredients list bananas. Banana ice cream perhaps is something that one-half of ecoRDN is simply not into. If you like banana ice cream go and grab this unique flavor. Chunky Monkey is rounded out with walnuts and fudge chunks.

P.B. & Cookie is the BUSINESS end of the sweetest stick swung by dairy-free sugar giants everywhere (so far, challenge accepted Ben & Jerry!). Luscious vanilla bean ice cream loaded with salty peanut butter chunks and ENTIRE cream-filled sandwich cookies! The mouth feels are spot-on! Rich, fatty, full bodied sweet rich and perfect. Wow! Coffee Caramel Fudge and P.B. & Cookie FTW

ecoRDN is impressed, for really real!

Ben & Jerry’s Dairy Free for life!

Stay Tuned for more dairy-free ice cream reviews to follow!

Thanks For Reading, Eat Well!

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