Asheville: vegan goodness down south

Asheville, NC signEvery year we head south for Thanksgiving in Wilmington, NC, but this year we decided to see more of the state. We had heard that Asheville was a great place for vegan food, and an all around lovely town. So we decided to check it out.

Before arriving in Asheville we stayed in a quaint little town called Black Mountain, and had some of the best coffee ever at the Dripolator. The atmosphere at the Dripolator was warm and inviting, you really feel at home. Their coffees, organic, shade grown, and fairly traded, are served in perfectly sized ceramic mugs, a welcomed change from the paper cups given out by most NYC coffee shops (don't use paper cups get a Klean Kanteen insulated mug). The vegan food options are not plentiful in Black Mountain, but we found a wonderful place for dinner called The Morning Glory Cafe. We ordered the tempeh burger, local tempeh made by Smiling Hara Tempeh, avocado, tomato, red onion, and seasoned fries. The next day we set out for Asheville.

coffee at the Dripolator - Asheville, NCinside the Dripolator - Asheville, NC

Meg's vegan, caramel vanilla, latte at Dripolator.

Where the magic happens at Dripolator.

 train station - Black Mountain, NCBio Diesel - Black Mountain, NC

Black Mountain train station.

We found Bio Diesel in Black Mountain.

Our first stop in Asheville was Firestorm Cafe & Books, a worker-owned cooperative offering a wide selection of vegan food and alternative literature. Having researched all the vegan food options for Asheville, we continued our vegan food tour with dinner at Plant. A fairly new restaurant, Plant is a must for anyone visiting the Asheville area. Chef Jason Sellers did not disappoint, serving up some of the best vegan meals we've ever had. Plant holds it's own against any vegan restaurant in NYC. We started our meal with the nightly soup and the flame and herb seitan skewers. For our entree we had the jerk char broiled seitan with smashed sweet potatoes, braised kale, and plantains. We ended our dinner with three desserts: Blackout pie - a must for any peanut butter chocolate lover; apple cranberry pie; and the float - with Uncle Scott's handmade root beer. We enjoyed eating at Plant so much, we came back the next day for brunch. Brunch consisted of one of the best cinnamon buns we've ever had, you must try one to believe it; the breakfast sandwich; and the 5-grain pancakes.

Firestorm Cafe and Books - Asheville, NCbooks at Firestorm - Asheville, NC

And now ... the front of Firestorm.

Vegan books at Firestorm, the important stuff
- cupcakes.

hot apple cider at Firestorm- Asheville, NClunch at Firestorm - Asheville, NC

Josh's hot apple cider at Firestorm.

Our delicious vegan maple BBQ panini
sandwich at Firestorm.

soup at Plant - Asheville, NCdessert at Plant - Asheville, NC

A wonderful soup we had at Plant, can't
remember what it was.

One of our desserts at Plant, apple cranberry
pie.

cinnamon bun at Plant - Asheville, NCbrunch at Plant - Asheville, NC

The best vegan cinnamon bun we've ever had,
for breakfast.

One of our other breakfast goodies,
vegan veggie meat and cheese biscuit.

While walking around the town we stumbled upon Double D's a very unique coffee and dessert shop located in an English double decker bus, a very delightful place. Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar was another great find. The atmosphere was cozy and inviting; a wonderful place to drink wine or hot apple cider while perusing the book shelves. Two more vegan restaurants not to miss while in Asheville (and we missed one of them) are Laughing Seed and Rosetta's Kitchen. We had some really tasty jalapeno onion fries, the Havana Cuban sandwich, and the dinner special, pecan crusted seitan, at Laughing Seed. The one that got away, until next time, was Rosetta's Kitchen.

Double D's - Asheville, NCinside Double D's - Asheville, NC

Double D's double decker bus cafe.

... and the inside.

One of the most refreshing things about Asheville was it's walkability, and for us this is something we always look for in an area when we travel. So if you are looking for a great vegan get away down south, Asheville is the place to visit. We can't wait to go back!

For more photos from our trip check out our flickr.

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Search for The Cinnamon Snail

The Cinnamon Snail truckWe have been following the news about The Cinnamon Snail food truck for a while now. Currently parking in Hoboken, Red Bank, and Jersey City, New Jersey Adam Sobel’s Cinnamon Snail is the country’s first Organic Vegan food truck. Not your run of the mill food truck, The Cinnamon Snail serves up gourmet meals and desserts. We were recently in Hoboken visiting Meg’s sister who was in town on business. Lucky for us The Snail was busy as usual, and we were able to catch up with it for one of the best meals we’ve ever had! Sobel and the crew match their quality food with top quality service and a great sense of humor. The Cinnamon Snail is currently in the process of getting it’s NYC vending permit, and we can’t wait for them to come to Brooklyn!

Here are the delicacies we enjoyed from The Cinnamon Snail:

blue corn pancakes
General Tso's seitan sandwich

Blue corn pancakes with pine nut butter and chamomile blood orange syrup.

General Tso’s seitan with grilled onions, wasabi mayonnaise, arugula, tamarind plum reduction, and 5 spice toasted sesame gomasio on a chili butter grilled baguette.

cinnamon bun
donuts

Cinnamon snail

Organic Vegan Donuts

Check out The Cinnamon Snail online: cinnamonsnail.com | Twitter | Facebook

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One Step to a Greener Cleaner Home

homemade vs. commercial all purpose cleaner

Reason 1: Safer for you, your family, your pets, and your environment.
Take a look at the ingredients in both cleaners; the ingredients that make up the homemade cleaner are items you are probably familiar with or have heard of before. Now take a look at the commercial cleaner; the ingredients here are not so familiar to the average person, unless you are a chemist. Now just because you may or may not be familiar with an ingredient in no way implies that it is more or less hazardous to you or your environment. A closer look at ingredients will always give you a better perspective on their hazardous effects or lack there of, see links below for more information.

ingredients
Reason 2: It will save you money.
receiptThe ingredients listed on the left will make up thirty two bottles of cleaning solution and enough leftover borax to keep your bathtub clean for quite some time. That equals out to less then a $1.00 per bottle. If you went to the store today and bought a bottle of commercial cleaning solution, it would cost you on average $4.49. If you bought 32 bottles, it would cost you $143.68.

cleaner

Reason 3: Your human footprint will be less.
Do you ever wonder what impact your lifestyle has on the earth’s natural resources? Let’s say the average household will use 8 bottles of cleaning solution a year. That might be less if you live alone and more if you have a large family. Take a look at 12 years worth of cleaning solution:
(Based on an average of 8 bottles of cleaning solution per year.)cleaner

Sure, you can try and justify buying cleaners at stores by saying that you will be recycling the used cleaner bottles.

However when calculating your impact you will need to include:
• Pollution from the production plant that produces the cleaning supply and bottles.
• Pollution from the transportation to deliver the product to the store you will purchase it from.
• Pollution from your transportation to the store to purchase the product.
(Unless you walked or rode your bike!)
• If you were given a plastic bag at the store to carry your product.
• If there was a plastic seal on your product that you had to dispose of to open the product
(remember, plastic has no definite life span, as we know it, plastic is forever).
• The toxic chemicals you are spraying in your home that are finding their way into the air, water and soil.

Now when you are finished with the cleaner, and you dispose of it, you can recycle it (which would be preferred) or throw it out.

If you throw it out you will have to add:
• The waste of the trash bag you disposed of it in.
• The pollution from the transportation from the garbage truck.
• The space you took in a landfill where your plastic bottle will remain forever.

If you recycle it, you still have to consider:
• The transportation to the recycling center.
• The pollution from the recycling plant to melt down the plastics.

As of now, I still have not found anywhere to recycle the spray nozzles, so there is a chance that they will have to be discarded, only adding to our growing landfills. Your human footprint from the homemade cleaning solution is substantially less. Packaging from the ingredients are recyclable. There is still a human footprint that will add strain to earth’s resources, but as the above graphic displays, it is a far less impact then the store bought choice. Remember this is only a 12 year estimate, think of your usage through out you whole life, and then think of the usage of everyone you know. That is an insane amount of waste and pollution that could be reduced dramatically and we are focusing only on cleaning supplies.

You have the reasons now, so go ahead and start making a difference on your environment, wallet, and health.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner:

Ingredients:
32 oz. spray bottle
1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons of castile soap (Bronners)
2 teaspoons of borax
10 drops of your favorite essential oil
4 cups of warm water

Links:
Zhiwen Yuan and Jeanne M. VanBriesen and. Environmental Engineering Science. May/June 2006, 23(3): 533-544. doi:10.1089/ees.2006.23.533.

Household Product Database:
Household Product Database

Pesticide Database:
Pesticide Database

Hidden Dangers of Cleaning Products:
Mama’s Health 

Healthy Cleaning

Guide to Less Toxic Products:
Less Toxic Guide 

Environmental Working Group

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Teal Cat Project

The Teal Cat ProjectWe first heard about The Teal Cat Project, founded by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: one of our favorite vegan authors, back in August. At the time they had just launched their first campaign, for $25 (plus shipping) you got a unique and stylish teal cat. The money goes directly towards their affiliated kitty cat rescue programs. Each cat is up-cycled with teal paint, and outfitted with a numbered tag for authenticity. Our number is 65. They are currently all sold out of the up-cycled ceramic teal cats, but have new Teal Cat Plush Dolls, made from recycled fabrics and hand-sewn by Panda With Cookie.

NoahGreyWe are grateful to have our two rescue kitties living with us, but there are many more kitties out there that are not as fortunate. Projects like this really make a difference in the lives of animals, so please stop by and check out The Teal Cat Project.

Noah and Grey warming up to their new teal friend.

Noah and Grey with Teal Cat

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Build a kitty clubhouse

Building a clubhouse for your kitties is easy and cheap. All you need is a hand full of supplies and a sturdy box. It is rather amusing when you catch them looking out the kitty head windows … haha.
 Noah and Grey

Tip: For the tutorial below I used a reinforced paper tape, but I would recommend a kraft paper tape, because it is easier to work with and results in a smoother finish.

supplies

Supplies:

  • Kraft paper tape
  • Scissors
  • Sponge
  • Water tray
  • Box cutter
  • Puddy knife

Step 1:
Cut out doors and windows with box cutter.
kitty clubhouse - step 1

Step 2:

Cut the paper tape with the scissors into small strips. Wet the strips and wrap them around the edges of the cut out windows and doors to reinforce the openings. Press firmly and use the puddy knife to help adhere them to the box.
kitty clubhouse - step 2

I added a second floor to the box with an opening to allow the kitties to go up and down. I also reinforced the bottom of the box to be able to hold up if both kitties were in the box at the same time (not very likely though!)
kitty clubhouse - step 2

Step 3:

Cover the rest of the box with the paper tape, continuing to wet the strips and running the puddy knife firmly over the strips.
kitty clubhouse - step 3

Step 4:

Let the box dry and then it is ready for your feline friend!
kitty clubhouse - step 4

Check out the kitties in action:

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