Champs Family Bakery, Brooklyn

Champs-3Photo credit to

I could sit here and type a long list of reasons why it feels good to be on the east coast again, but I’ll start with one.   Food.  And by that I mean the vegan options.  And taking it one step further, I mean establishments that are ENTIRELY vegan!  Living so close to home, aka NY, feels so great.  I forget how easy it is to find every little vegan item you want. Taco truck?  “We got that.”  Ice cream in a cone?  “got it.”  Raw samosas?  “Yup.”  How bout a huge vegan breakfast menu, fresh juice, then pie for dessert, or maybe a slice of turtle cheesecake?  “You know it!”  Ah yes, New York is wonderful.  Especially if you are a 7 month pregnant vegan.

Another reason living so close to home is great is my friends.  I haven’t lived back here since 2004, when I swore that California would be it for me.  While there is something so special to me about Cali, it feels so nice to be around people I’ve known for over a decade of your life.

So mushiness aside, lets talk food!  It was Sunday, and I wanted breakfast (what else is new).  Thanks to my Happy Cow app, and va voom – we find Champs family bakery. Champs is everything you think it should be.  Retro diner atmosphere, and a nice variety of menu options for the naughty and healthy vegan.   We waited about 30 minutes for a table, as the place is small.  Fine by me.  After all, it was Sunday.

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Mac and Cheese Pancake

The special was mac and cheese pancakes- say what?! We ordered one for the table.  It was pretty darn good. As for the rest of brunch, we all tried to keep a variety.  I opted for the classic, tempeh bacon, ‘sausage’, tofu scramble, and a piece of french toast.  Oh yes, a side of whip cream please.  My breakfast, the French Toast Slam, wasn’t bad.   As I am a scramble snob, and I think my scramble is above all.  Erik had warned me of this… I should’ve listened.  The blueberry pancakes were to die for!  As was the whip cream (not sure if this was made in house).  The Monte crisco was, eh.  I think the french toast needed to be a bit more fried.  I just said that didn’t I?  Never ever had I imagined to recommend more frying of anything, (please never let those words leave my mouth/keyboard again!)

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The French Toast Slam

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The Drunken Cowgirl

Erik’s breakfast was the Drunken Cowgirl.  Chili, potatoes, scramble, daiya cheddar, avocado, and toast.  It was great, especially with some hot sauce.  Steve had the Awesome Bowl, a healthier option, which sounded delish.  Quinoa, scramble, greens, peppers, and potatoes.

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The dessert case

As I got up to go to the ladies, I couldn’t help but notice a lovely filled with vegan goodness dessert case!  And again, all vegan.  It was entirely too hard to make a decision.  Places like that should be fined.  I knew we had a 3 hour drive home, and I was the only one opting to not let dessert slip on by, so I went with the Turtle cheesecake.  When I got back to the table, the waitress had packed us up some ginger cream cookies as well.  Thank You Ma’am!

All in all I will definitely be back at Champs.  The Tofu Rancheros, Enchiladas, and more of the dessert case will be calling my name next month perhaps when we return.   Oh and the Turtle cheesecake… simply devine.

IMG_2203Happy 40th Steve, Happy 32nd Meg, and Happy back to school weekend everyone!


Oh Cali, you’ve done it again.


I am always the first to note that I am a New Yorker. Through and through. A bagel loving, pizza folding, IheartNY New Yorker. But somewhere along my timeline, I must have gotten sidetracked and gave away a big piece of my heart to California. This seems to be a trend among many east coasters. Its as if we had a time lapse. A battle of my inner conscious. Girls just don’t go around giving their hearts away to just anyone, let alone anyplace. Why would I have done such a thing?
On our recent vacation out west, I was reminded.

After the wedding of my dear friends Rachel and Josh, we headed up to Ventura, where we would take a ferry over to the Channel Islands. There we would Kayak around Santa Cruz island to explore the sea caves! The water was perfect. Erik proved to be the risk taker of the group, and the day was surrounded with sea lions, starfish, anemone, sea urchins, dolphins, and sun burn. All we needed was an aloe plant.

San Luis Obispo. Central Coast of California. For me this seems to be a perfect fit. Maybe it was the charming street signs, maybe it was the fog rolling in as it covered the mountains peaks. If I had to live out that way again, this would be where. We decided to have lunch at Big Sky Cafe. Not completely vegetarian, but wow. This might be where I could say I had my favorite meal of the trip. Erik had the vegetarian Pozole. A South American stew, spiced and seasoned perfectly, with Hominy. It was topped with a slice of cornbread and a slab of tofu. I had a veganized black bean Huevos Rancheros, and breakfast potatoes.


Side note: I find myself severely addicted to Hominy these days! Use this in a stew soon Meg!

After a filling breakfast we traveled around the corner to Kreuzberg, Ca coffee shop.
Berlin is a special place for Erik and I. What do Plato and Ayn Rand have in common? They are both entrees on the menu, along with a surplus of other great authors.


Haruki Murakami (a personal favorite of mine) was a vegan sesame tofu dish.

Erik had some doubts about Dostoevsky being a turkey pesto sandwich, but as we headed inside, we couldn’t miss a life size copy of the most prominent graffiti art in Kreuzberg Berlin. This place was filled with comfy furniture, and books…. tons and tons of books. Any of the books in store were fro sale. No more than $4. Unfortunately we had no room left in our bellies, so I ordered a latte. To my surprise, I had not only the option of soy, but almond, hazelnut, oat, rice, and coconut. This place was great.


Take note of the upside down light fixtures!

We bought sunscreen, and aloe then headed up the coast another 3 hours swirling round hwy 1. With our thrown together last minute packs, we set out for a 10 mile trek to Sykes hot springs. Knowing that we were going to stay the night at a place that had no amenities, we tried to pack lightly. Avocados, oranges, grapefruits, eggplant tapenade, and ezekiel sprouted tortillas, aseptic containers of miniture soy milk and packets of Chocolate vega protein mix, and coconut waters, held us up quit well. We hiked, camped, soaked in the springs, the set out for our 10 mile return. Just another beautiful day of hiking around the redwood covered mountains of Big Sur.
We made it out alive, still sunburned and our bodies sore, but lucky us, Big Sur Bakery was located just around the corner!

Big Sur Bakery prizes themselves on working with the local farmers, and the simple elegance of the vegetables themselves. We split a bread board, which included their 11-year in the perfecting 9- grain bread, and their italian bread. Both delish. I could’ve eaten a whole loaf. We made sure to finish all the black sea salt that was piled on the wooden board as well. We also split a vegetable dish that was composed of cauliflower, pine nuts, green beans, and cranberries. It was divine! The flavors were so fresh. We finished it off with two espresso shots, and hit the long road back to so Cal.

We made a stop in Los Angeles on our way back to visit some friends and family. Our dear friend Roi, is a chef at Sun Cafe in Studio City. Sun Cafe serves mostly raw vegan food. Roi insisted we try the gluten free macaroni and ‘cheese’ and Erik wanted to get his raw fix, and ordered the Pad Thai, with kelp noodles.


Both were great, but we were quite envious of Roi’s raw Shamrock shake, which consisted of banana, mint, spinach, and raw cacao. On the drive down I was whining about craving an ice cream sundae, which doesn’t happen often.

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Roi insisted we skip the shakes and head around the corner to kindkreme. Kindkreme is and all raw, all vegan ice cream shop. They have 3 locations, offering cones, cups, shakes, floats, and pints to go! My craving was met! I got a cone with a scoop of mint chip, and a scoop of the superfood which had raw cacao, goji berries, hazelnuts, chia seeds, and a whole mess of other raw goodness.

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The owner was so nice, she offered to let us sample every flavor!

The rest of the trip was filled with M Cafes’ sushi and macro bowls topped with the best seitan in the world (I have said this many a times before- go there and just get a side of seitan with their macro-ketchup!), beer breakfasts at Ranchos accompanied by chilaquiles, and the fabulous tofu cutlet sandwiches from Mama Turners B & B. Though many more food ground was left to be covered, our last stop before the drive to the airport was the old time fav, Influx Tofu #1’s.

The whole vacation was well spent, absorbing everything the beauties of California had once offered me, and had proven to stay true. I understood why my heart had sunk as I boarded the plane back to Wisconsin. I missed it already. The drive back up from the airport felt like forever. I knew work beckoned in less than 6 hours. But as I arrived home, my heart had been so distracted, that I had forgotten with what was really important… these two:


Kala & Cooper

And then I was glad to be home.

Eclipse Chocolat Cafe

Eclipses’ Blackberry-Sage chocolate bar

It was just like any ordinary busy afternoon in San Diego, until lunch.
After some lunch at Mama’s (always a hit!), Drew pointed out this somewhat hidden Chocolate Cafe. “Chocolate cafe?” It didn’t take longer than 2 seconds to get me to at least take a look!
The first thing obviously noticed was the bright teal painted walls. Their pledge is also stated boldly on the wall. Organic when possible, and maintaining ‘green’ operations in the store, as well as products. 10% of the annual profits go back into the community thru local charities. Pretty darn cool.


Now, as a vegan, walking into a chocolate shop, you have to be prepared to see a ton of delicious truffles, and beautiful chocolate delicacies, that more than likely contain milk, butter or other dairy by-products.
Then, as I glanced over the beautifully displayed truffles, I noticed that 2 of them were very clearly labeled, Vegan Friendly Hooray!!!
I knew it was my lucky day!

Ginger & Sea salt

I love the taste of salt. Not over-salty, but salt. After all, salt brings and enhances flavors together. But most importantly, I love the benefits of a good salt. So in the display case, the sight of coarsely ground sea salt with a ball of rich chocolate-coconut milk-caramel, got my mouth watering! And better yet a ginger kick to boot! Yum. On a side note, I’ve recently been reading about some of the pollutants that can be found in sea salt. So I’m strictly using on Himalayan mined celtic salt at the homestead now. It’s more on the pricey side, but a little goes a long way. Really, you only need a pinch for most everything.

Toasted Coconut

Want more? How bout some vegan toffee! Unfortunately, I’m allergic to peanuts, so I didn’t get to try. There was another vegan-labeled toffee bar, but it had honey, so be careful. I mentioned this to the girl working, and she was going to change it to say ‘dairy-free.’

Peanut butter Toffee

I hadn’t the time to stay, but I needed coffee, and what better to go with some chocolate! The girl working was very polite, and made me the most amazing organic soy-mocha! I think there was cacao nibs or something in it. Anyway, it was awesome. Glancing over the menu, I noticed they offered a vegan fondue, served with bread and fruit! Perfect for date-night! It’s been ages since I’ve had chocolate fondue! Next time when I have more time.

Hand rolled Truffles, 2 for $5

Another cool thing about this place is the 100% post consumer packaging. The owner and Chocolatier, Will Gustwiller, also has a food blog. You can read it here. They always seem to be expanding their menu, and enjoy catering to us vegans out there. Oh, and did I mention the free wi-fi. Trouble. I could be here all day eating chocolate and comfortably sitting at my laptop, while sipping my coffee. Trouble. The location was a bit odd, but easy if you are familiar with Mama’s Lebanese bakery or the Livewire bar. I can’t wait to go back….dreams of chocolate everything in my head till then!


More Love for M Cafe


I’ve said it before, and will I say it a million times more, I LOVE M CAFE!
LA can be the most draining city on all levels. But with the help of good company, especially those who desire amazing vegan eats as much as I, LA can be sooo incredibly yummy!
In case you haven’t yet heard the scoop on this place, M Cafe “quoted” is Contemporary Macrobiotic Cuisine — featuring balanced, nutritious, creative cooking which can be enjoyed daily by everyone, not just vegetarians or people with dietary restrictions.
Instead of going for the amazing Tempeh Florentine, which is my favorite brunch option, (see my old post on M cafe!), I decided to go for the Japanese Bento Breakfast Special, pictured above. It’s starter was a Kyoto style miso soup. Thinly sliced shitake mushrooms, wakame, scallions, cubed tofu, and yellow miso broth.


When the Bento Platter arrived, I hadn’t even gotten thru 2 sips off my fresh celery lemon juice. And boy was the platter huge! Simple scoop of brown rice, salad with ginger dressing and homemade pickled radishes, grilled tofu drizzled with a katzu glaze. And lets not forget about the gingered-arame-cucumber salad to help the digestion of all the food I was about to pile into my belly!
My friends had the blueberry pancakes, served with fresh strawberries and sweet maple syrup.
You’ll have to admit that Brunch like this on a Thursday is quite impressive!


The following morning was a run around. But of course, I needed a little treat to help fuel my energy for the day. So where else to stop for a quick grab-n-go? M Cafe take out! In under 5 minutes, perfect for LAers, I grabbed a Chocolate Hazelnut Croissant, and a Raspberry Chocolate Muffin from the take-out counter. On a side note, I haven’t had a croissant in about 7 years, and more importantly, I’ve NEVER had a vegan croissant! Let alone chocolate drizzled.


Evan more exciting, I get to actually “work” in LA soon on the weekends. I’ll be demo-ing, and promoting the Nature’s Express Wraps at 20 different Whole Foods in LA county! So stop by and see me, and let me know what you think of the wraps! We are switching to bio-ware soon! Whole Foods is also making a movement to stop using plastic bags in all locations. It starts April 22nd. EARTH DAY! Pretty cool. Genevieve (in picture below) is so excited about the wraps being in Whole Foods LA, that she is forced to do a dance!


Nature’s Express Wraps!



Let me introduce to you my new friends…
I present you with the Raw Thai Ginger Collard Wrap, Raw Cashew Hummus Wrap, BBQ Tempeh Wrap, the Tequila Lime Chicken Wrap! All vegan, mostly organic.


I created these wraps for Kung Food, and now under Nature’s Express, they are sold in every Jimbo’s here in San Diego, as well as Whole Foods, and soon to be in every Whole Foods in LA county!!!

I’m so excited that some of my recipes are available to the public! My favorite is the Tequila Lime “Chicken”, or TLC as I call it.


Both the raw wraps are great for a light delicious lunch, plus we all need more raw veggies in our diet! If you’re in the area grab one for lunch on your way to work! Heck, grab two! If you aren’t in the Southern California area, we also ship through



Feedback on these yummy vegan wraps is always appreciated!

Nature’s Express Arizona should finally be open in 2-3 weeks. Its all coming together so beautiful. I can’t wait for the San Diego location! More to come soon!

Nature’s Express, the future of fast food


Its nearing the end of summer. August is 1 week away from being over, and sad to say so is Good Karma.

Just what have I been doing for the last 6 weeks? The people behind the scenes of San Diego’s beloved Kung Food, have another project in the works! As most of us are very familiar with the KF drive thru, we have also had a sister location on the Venice boardwalk.


Serving the most amazing vegan fast food, such as Soy Chicken Chipotle sandwiches, Pesto Burgers, Chili Cheese Fries, Homemade Ice Cream & Mylk Shakes!
Perfect for veg-heads who love their fried food, and hate having to question fryers shared with meat. Or those buff muscle beach lifters (see pic below!)
And more importantly, perfect for aging men and women who want to see a change in their diet, or maybe even their kids’ but don’t know where to start.
The concept behind good karma seems so appropriate for what our society needs. I could start to go into the million and one reasons why veganism plays a huge part in preserving our future, but I’ll save that for another day 🙂
Sad to say that Good Karma will be leaving the boardwalk, closing its doors August 28th. We will be relocating to La Brea, and Olympic, mid-city LA. We’re hoping it’ll be a fast change, and our loyal customers, some who drive from west LA to east LA, 4 times a week in LA traffic (ugh!) will still come out to visit.

So as for the future of vegan fast food? Well, the owners are changing the name to Nature’s Express. And this is just a start….

The grand opening of our Yuma, AZ. location should be in mid-September. Anyone wondering “Why Yuma?” I said the same. But after spending 2 weeks in Yuma, it was pretty apparent. People there have not one single option for healthy foods. And, they need it. More so than LA, maybe even more so then SD. The local folks there seem to rarely cook for themselves, and corporate America has made this small town a huge fast food community. People eat drive thru food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So why not get them thinking about a healthier option!

I just hope I last through the heat! Heres a great pic from the Good Karma pick up window! This place will sure be missed! Till the next episode in veggie adventures…..


Pike Street Market



Well I only had an afternoon, but it was spent well. The weather was beautiful, as was the city. I love the atmosphere of port cities. Most of them anyway.

Lunch was quick, as I grabbed a sandwich from Wayward Cafe, and strolled down to Pikes Market. It was a blast. I even took a moment to watch the fisherman throw around there freshly caught salmon and trout. The market had a huge selection of veggie eats. Organic, local, and fresh produce, nuts, flowers, herbs, as well as a ton of arts-n-crafters! I can’t remember the name, but there was a cute little pastry shop that specialized in vegan cinnamon rolls and other yum yums.


I didn’t get to check out the Mighty-O Donut house, but a friend did bring me a bag of 6 different flavors!!! Lemon Poppyseed heaven! I think soon Ill have to make some of my own soon!


This one is for Mom….Everlasting statice flowers!

My, how I heart M Cafe!

I think after this last visit to M Cafe, I can safely say it is my favorite eatery in all of California…..its true. And is what is not to love? The brunch is Amazing. Best Seitan Cutlets ever, and they’ve even started making ice cream! This months flavor was Black sesame! Grain sweetened Ice cream! I’ve heard they are opening a new location. Hopefully soon, they’ll be one in SD.

IMG_0022Tofu Florentine, with tempeh bacon


Edamame Inari