The Greenhouse Cafe, 18 State Hill Rd. Wyomissing, PA 19610, Phone: (484)509-2121

We visited The Greenhouse Cafe in Wyomissing, PA last weekend. What an enjoyable experience! It isn’t often you find a restaurant where all the food is plant-based, so we were in breakfast heaven when we saw their menu. The friendly staff will greet you with a warm welcome and offer to answer any questions you may have. Have any special dietary requirements? Eating gluten-free? They will try to accommodate your request.

We both chose the Tofu Scramble, which came with a side of breakfast potatoes, because we were so hungry. (I apologize for digging in before taking the photo, a very bad habit of mine). This hearty Tofu Scramble will fill you up with no cholesterol to sabotage your diet.

Hot or iced, a non-dairy Matcha Tea Latte is my favorite breakfast drink, because it’s a delicious way to start the day with healthy greens. This matcha latte did not disappoint, and the guilt-free caffeine kick was just what I needed to face the long drive home that morning.

The Greenhouse Cafe offers a casual, relaxed atmosphere. You may choose to dine inside in airconditioned comfort, or outside on the sunny patio (pet friendly). They are open for breakfast and lunch 8 AM – 3 PM most days, close at 6 PM on Wednesday and Friday (closed Monday). You will notice and appreciate the effort that has been put into making sure this cafe truly is green in every way. Food is healthy and prices are reasonable.

To learn more about The Greenhouse Cafe, view their full menu and more photos, please visit them online: http://www.thegreenhousecafepa.com

Firestone Culinary Tavern, 105 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701, (301)663-0330, www.firestonerestaurant.com

Valentines Day was the perfect opportunity to visit Firestone Culinary Tavern, one of our favorite restaurants in Frederick. Once a 1920-era department store complete with original tin ceilings, Firestone has become a flagship establishment in Frederick’s increasingly dynamic and diverse restaurant scene. Known for its steak and seafood specialties, the menu is farm-to-table fresh and at Firestone they are always willing to accommodate any special dietary requirements… which keeps us coming back again and again. We were so excited to learn that Firestone was open for indoor dining on Valentines Day (50% capacity, masks required unless seated at your table).

There are so many things to love about this restaurant. We like to sit in the mezzanine. With its wall of windows you can enjoy a view of both the active street scene on one side and the bar/lounge area below on the other. We also love that the knowledgeable servers and talented chef are always up for a challenge and never seem satisfied with anything ordinary. Each dish is a delightful surprise of presentation and flavor. On this most recent visit the Brunch Menu offered nothing specifically for vegetarians, and we try to eat vegan, but after a short conversation with our server we were off and running with an array of suggestions to order salad, main course and dessert to make any wholefood plant-based diet lover swoon.

For my salad I requested one of the salads on the menu (arugala, radish, apple) with an exchange of avocado for the goat cheese. No problem! The lemony dressing was a delicious accent to the other flavors, and the salad (served on a dinner plate) was huge.

And notice the size of that teapot! One two-cup teapot full of really hot water per person, offered with a selection of black, green and herbal teas was greatly appreciated on that cold winter day, and they even refilled one of our pots and gave us fresh teabags! It was a restaurant tea miracle! (If you are a tea drinker, you know what I mean). Even the mugs were hot when served. Bless you, Firestone!

Despite the Brunch Menu, the chef whipped up a tasty vegan entree for us with a melange of stir-fried fresh vegetables in a tasty garlic sauce over barley (our choice of grain — the other option was black rice). Complimentary homemade bread was an unexpected treat. It is refreshing to find a chef that doesn’t shrink from a challenge. At Firestone the menu is not carved in stone. Just ask and they will do their best to grant your request. The entire staff takes pride in providing an excellent dining experience whether for a full course meal or just a sandwich.

There were several desserts offered the day we were there, but the most appealing to me was the Pineapple Bread Pudding with coconut cream. We were not expecting it to be so large or we would have shared just one, but I’m not complaining. The second half was just as delicious the next day at home!

If you are trying to eat healthfully, but want to enjoy an unforgettable meal with excellent service, then I would highly recommend Giving Firestone Culinary Tavern a try. It is the perfect place for a special occasion dinner or a quick lunch break when shopping the many quaint stores in the City of Frederick.

Be prepared to be impressed!

The Silver Diner (review), 5120 Buckeystown Pike, Frederick, MD 21704, (301)694-9501

When you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet, dining out can be a challenge. When you find a restaurant like The Silver Diner, the news is just too good to keep to yourself. Prices at The Silver Diner are reasonable, the food is delicious, and you can even find a selection of hot vegetarian/vegan entrees on the menu! (If I had a dollar for every restaurant that doesn’t even have a veggie burger on their menu… sigh).

From the outside this diner looks like the classic silver diners of your memory. Inside the booths and on-table jukeboxes carry on that feeling, but the casual decor is a bit more trendy than you might expect — definitely not your typical burger joint. Their flexitarian menu features the highest quality, locally sourced ingredients creatively assembled in delicious and unique dishes you won’t find in even the more expensive restaurants.

The Silver Diner offers take-out, curbside pickup and dining-in. In fact they were one of the first restaurants in our area to allow dining-in to resume. How did they do it? The Silver Diner uses the same social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, masked/gloved servers, etc. as most, but they have gone even further to ensure the safety of their patrons. This restaurant has a triple filtration air system and germicidal lights to keep the indoor environment as sanitary as possible. But for all that, I would take my chances even without all their safety precautions — the food is just that good.

On our visit, I ordered the Hen of the Woods Mushroom Picatta over roasted tomatoes, farro, roasted organic corn, butternut squash, lemon-caper sauce, asparagus and sunflower seeds. This was fantastic! The flavors of all the ingredients were so enhanced by the lemon-caper sauce that I couldn’t stop until I finished the whole thing, and it was huge! At only $15.99 this was a bargain for something I would expect to see at an upscale restaurant for $35 – $50 minimum. This photo doesn’t do it justice, because I had already started eating when I said, “OMG, this is going public!” So delicious.

Hen of the Woods Mushroom Picatta

The Silver Diner has 18 locations (at last count) scattered throughout VA, MD, NJ and even one at BWI Airport, Concourse B. Maybe there’s one near you, or look for one when you travel. Bon apetit!

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

42461 Lovettsville Rd., Lovettsville, VA 20180. Phone: (540) 822-9017

For Thanksgiving Dinner 2019, we decided to dine at The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm. Finding a great upscale restaurant that serves something vegetarian and delicious on Thanksgiving has become a quest for my husband in recent years. Our kids are grown and live in all corners the country, so we gladly sacrifice the burden of family travel on Thanksgiving so we can all be together on Christmas.  In addition, I am more than happy to give up the chore of spending Thanksgiving Day elbow deep in a turkey that I won’t even eat in exchange for dining like a queen at a fine restaurant. (This new tradition was all my husband’s idea — what a guy!)

Weeks ahead of the holiday he was searching the web for the perfect restaurant and found this unusual venue. Situated on a mountain top, with a wonderful view of the Potomac River, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm is a working organic farm that features locally grown and/or foraged seasonal produce and grass-fed organic animal products on their menu. He booked our reservation even though they warned him that they would have a special fixed Thanksgiving menu that featured a lot of meat. Well, he must have said something right, because when we arrived they gave us a special vegetarian menu created just for us. The only thing we couldn’t eat was the Seared Escolar (fish).

Patowmack Farm

 

The drive up the side of a mountain to the restaurant was a bit steep (I wonder what they do when it snows). At the top is a large all-glass dining room with brick floor and nature-inspired decor. Food is prepared on site, tapas size and served family style, so you can share and pass plates around the table. And there is plenty of food! At first we thought we should choose what we wanted from the menu, but no. We were served everything on the menu! I can’t even describe how delicious each dish was. The spices and sauces were unique and so flavorful — definitely gourmet cuisine.

Patowmack Farm vegetarian Thanksgiving menu

Service was excellent. Each course was expertly timed and dishes discreetly removed, so we barely noticed. Our waitress explained each dish as it came out and met our every request with a smile. We felt as though we were her top priority even though she was serving others, too. At the end of the meal coffee and tea were brewed at the table, and the dessert platter was brought out. The only thing I would recommend is more pie for dessert. The four small portions served were so delicious that we all wanted more!

If you want to try excellent food that is minus all the commercial chemicals and pesticides, in season and fresh, in a lovely location with a view, then The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm is your special occasion destination.

 

River Bluff Farm Bed & Breakfast

I just had to share a review of this B&B where we stayed for a long weekend in the Fall. River Bluff Farm B&B is located off the beaten path in the beautiful hills of Virginia near New Market. When we left the highway we thought , “Oh, this is pretty…” past the farms , pastures, etc. Then we turned into the little town of Quicksburg, crossed the railroad tracks and landed on a dirt road. When we drove past a few houses and turned into an unpaved driveway that never seemed to end, my husband was glaring at me. His face said, “Where are we, and what have you gotten us into?”  Really, the only other living thing we saw after leaving the highway was a cow, so I was concerned, too. “The reviews online looked great,” was my defense. Finally, a sign came into view: NOT YET, KEEP GOING. Okay, we proceeded down the driveway past another sign that said SCENIC VIEW.  We saw nothing, but later learned that you had to hike up the path to see the view. Then, just as my husband was threatening to turn around, a house came into view. (Thank you, Lord!)

That was our humorous introduction to this wonderful B&B. Everything there great. Lots of rustic charm and antiques while providing every modern convenience you could want. We stayed in the New England Room on the second floor. River Bluff B&B boasts three bedrooms, all with queen beds (and oh, the sheets are heavenly — definitely better than hotel quality) and private baths plus a loft that has been used for groups with children who don’t mind climbing the ladder and spreading out sleeping bags. A cozy fireplace, modern kitchen and large adjoining diningroom complete the interior. In warm weather guests can also choose to eat outside on the ample deck overlooking an expansive yard and North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Our hosts, Donna and Matt, made sure we and the other two couples who were staying there, were comfortable and had everything we needed. All the breakfasts were homemade and delicious. Our hosts were very knowledgeable about the area, and pointed us in the direction of several interesting tourist attractions, places to eat, and orchards to pick apples. Knowing we were vegetarians, Donna managed to make a delicious vegetarian breakfast for us each day in addition to what the others were being served. We really appreciated that. So, I was surprised one morning when she offered us FROG Jam for our muffins. (What… another great reason to be a vegetarian?) Well, she also had BEAR Jam if we didn’t want FROG for breakfast. As you can see from the photo, not a frog or bear was sacrificed in the making of either. She got us that time!

20181115_142650 (002)

River Bluff Farm B&B, 183 Quicksburg Mill Lane, Quicksburg, VA 22847. (540) 454-9751, http://www.riverbluffbnb.com  Check them out!

 

 

 

Bakers Guild Café

225 Center Street

Bloomsburg, PA

570-784-2271

Bakers Guild streetshot

While in the college town of Bloomsburg, PA last weekend we found a delightfully healthy café. We just had time for a quick lunch before a family wedding started, but we didn’t want to settle for junk food either. We were so glad we checked this place out! There is seating for about 12 – 15 inside the café, but take-out is also available. We ate inside.

Bakers Guild Café is also the retail outlet for Columbia County Bread and Granola, known for their organic sprouted breads, crackers and granola. You can visit their website ColumbiaCountyBread.com to learn more about their products. Yes, they ship anywhere in the country.

Bakers Guild menu (2)

I chose the sprouted whole-grain pita for my Vegan BLT. It was so good, and came with a side of organic sprouted spelt chips. The vegan bacon had all the flavor (if not the texture, so don’t expect that) and none of the fat and cruelty of bacon. All the flavors complemented each other perfectly. This was such a treat for a vegan who never gets to have a BLT! Dave ordered a grilled cheese and onion sandwich (his usual lunch order), and even though it wasn’t on the menu they didn’t blink at the request. He also ordered the Caesar Salad with greens, capers and sprouted “sprigs.” The sprigs were thin slices of their sprouted whole grain bread toasted. That salad was quite large so he shared a bit with me. I usually don’t like croutons, but these “sprigs” were just lightly toasted and still warm — not like the hard little rocks usually topping a Caesar Salad. It was exceptionally delicious. Douglas Michael, the owner, took the time to explain the process he uses to sprout the grains and his wholefood philosophy behind the restaurant’s menu.

 

Dave and I both had iced tea, freshly brewed and served from a pitcher, not from a can, bottle, or soda fountain. You could taste the difference. This iced tea tasted like tea, not chemicals, and our empty glasses were promptly refilled. An unexpected find was compostable straws. Ever since learning about the harmful effects of plastic straws on the environment and wildlife I have been trying to find a safer straw to use. Paper straws are no longer available, and I hate to drink an iced beverage without a straw (always waiting for the ice to come crashing down onto my face). Bakers Guild uses straws that are cornstarch-based and completely biodegradable. Doug even told me where to order them… yay!

bakers Guild owner enhanced vignette

If you are ever in Bloomsburg, and want something healthy to eat, please look for Bakers Guild Café. The prices are reasonable and the food is wonderful. You will feel like you’ve eaten real food, and know that you’ve done something good for your body and the environment.

Bakers Guild Café, 225 Center Street Bloomsburg, PA 570-784-2271

Tips for Healthy Eating When Eating Out

pexels-photo-313700.jpegI Corinthians 10:13 — No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

The menu looks disappointing. I probably shouldn’t have come with my friends. What can I eat in this restaurant? Maybe I’ll just give in and order a burger. This is too hard!

We all face this dilemma at some point after deciding to eat a plant-based diet, but here are a few tricks (ways out of temptation) to help you maintain a healthy diet even if there isn’t a single vegetarian entrée on the menu:

— First of all, look at the soup, salad and appetizer sections of the menu. It is quite possible that you will find something suitable there. Many times appetizers that are meant for sharing are huge and can easily be your whole dinner. One of our favorite restaurants has a delicious Hummus Platter Appetizer (a platter of fresh romaine lettuce topped with homemade roasted red pepper hummus, and garnished with sliced tomatoes and warm toasted pita bread) that I adore. It is meant for four people to share, but I always order it as my entrée when we go there, and it is more than enough.

— Look at the side dishes. You can certainly put together a satisfying meal of three or four vegetable sides (not french fries, macaroni, and onion rings!) and a salad. Cracker Barrel calls this a Vegetable Platter, and it’s becoming popular in other restaurants, too. Keep it simple and be creative.

— Sometimes you can find a great vegetarian pasta dish already on the menu, but if you can’t then look at the options that are available, and don’t be afraid to ask if a dish you like could be prepared minus the meat and/or cheese. Most restaurants are happy to comply. I usually request mushrooms instead of the meat. My husband will request nuts be substituted for the meat in his pasta dish.

— If one entrée comes with broccoli and another comes with mushrooms and peas, then ask your server if you could please have the pasta (baked potato or brown rice) minus the meat, but topped with broccoli, mushrooms and peas (because you know they already have those ingredients in house) instead. Restaurants teach their staff that a satisfied customer will be a returning customer and will tell their friends, so they are more than willing to make you a satisfied customer.

— Even fast food restaurants are becoming veg-friendly. Burger King has a veggie burger. It’s not on the menu, but ask for it. Subway and Moe’s (you probably know of others) both have several vegetarian options that you can put together however you like, and they are very inexpensive. Ethnic restaurants offer many unique plant-based dishes that are sure to please, so be courageous and try something different. You might be surprised to find a new favorite food!

— Finally, if all else fails just ask the chef if he can prepare a special meal that meets your dietary requirements. Some of the most delicious restaurant meals we’ve enjoyed were the result of simply making that request when the menu looked hopeless. Many chefs welcome the challenge. You won’t know if you don’t ask. The better restaurants always try to accommodate.

So please, don’t be intimidated by menus or refuse to go out to eat because you’re afraid you won’t be able to stick to your new healthy lifestyle if you do. Meet your friends for dinner! Enjoy their company, and don’t stress out about what to eat. In the whole scheme of life it is, after all, just one meal. You don’t have to live like a hermit to eat healthy. Just be creative and enjoy the journey … To life!

True Food Kitchen, coming to a location near you!

20161217_142206-truefood-kitchenWhile traveling in Atlanta, we had the pleasure of visiting a refreshingly different kind of restaurant. True Food Kitchen is dedicated to not only serving delicious and unique recipes, but their menu closely adheres to the principles of Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. True Food Kitchen is based on the idea that food should make you feel better — not worse — and that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice taste to live a healthier lifestyle. The menu includes a variety of gluten-free, organic, vegetarian and vegan options influenced by Mediterranean, Asian, and California cuisine. The restaurant uses locally seasonal and organic whole foods whenever possible. It was nice to see a menu that is light on meat. (The meats available are “clean,” if you must have it.) Hot and cold teas, smoothies and natural juice blends are offered along with an extensive wine list, seasonal cocktails using fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices paired with organic spirits, plus local beers and cider.

We visited True Food Kitchen for an early afternoon brunch. From the list of teas and refreshers I chose one called “Medicine Man.” It was an iced triple-brewed black tea with cranberry, pomegranate, honey, and sea buckthorn. Very refreshing. From the extensive list of tantalizing main dishes I ordered the vegan Ancient Grains Bowl with tofu. Not really a bowl, this was more like a platter (no complaints here) and came with miso glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow peas, grilled Portobello, avocado and hemp seed. The portions were more than generous, and I was the last one at our table to finish eating because I did devour every delicious morsel.The prices at True Food Kitchen are moderate for upscale casual dining.

I was impressed with the cuisine and also the attention to environmentally friendly architectural detail, lighting, and décor. This truly is a green restaurant in every sense of the word. To learn more, check out their website: http://www.truefoodkitchen.com.

At the present time there are 16 True Food Kitchen’s scattered across the US, with 7 more coming soon. For my friends in the northeast, look for a new True Food Kitchen in King of Prussia, PA scheduled to open in Summer ’17, and in the Mid-Atlantic region Bethesda, MD in Spring ’17. Definitely try to find one near you… you won’t be disappointed!

 

Iris Inn Spinach Artichoke Breakfast Casserole

iris-inn-spinach-casserole

For several years my husband and I made an annual long weekend excursion to the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia. Always in Autumn so we could enjoy the gorgeous scenery dressed in stunning colors of orange, red and gold, and we were never disappointed. In mid to late October Virginia is still warm enough to enjoy outdoor fun like hiking and kayaking with only a sweater or light jacket occasionally needed.

We’ve stayed in many hotels and B&B’s on these vacations, but our favorite has always been The Iris Inn in Waynesboro. (www.irisinn.com). Built as a Bed & Breakfast (never a family home), this establishment offers everything you could want: secluded country location, yet close to many things to do and sites to see, beautiful accommodations from private rooms to individual cabins, and delicious bountiful breakfasts.

As vegetarians, breakfast at any B&B is always a challenge, however our hosts at The Iris Inn always tried to accommodate when we warned them in advance. One morning we were pleasantly surprised when the friendly innkeeper handed out recipes for the breakfast being served. Now, we usually tell people when we eat out that we are vegetarians (to relieve some of the pressure on them), but at home we follow a vegan lifestyle, so I was thrilled to have a copy of this casserole recipe that I easily veganized to enjoy at home. If you are planning to serve a brunch or take a dish to a potluck, this recipe is perfect for either occasion. It goes together quickly with only a few ingredients and is a welcome savory addition to any brunch table that even a vegan can enjoy. I hope you like it!

Ingredients:

3 – 10 oz. packages, or 1 – 32 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (you can do this overnight)

12 ounces vegan “cream cheese” ( I used Tofutti brand Better Than Cream Cheese)

1/4 cup organic butter or vegan “butter” at room temperature

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 – 6oz. jars marinated artichokes, drained

Cracked pepper

1/2 cup Vegan “Parmesan Cheese” (Search under “Recipes” to make your own)

-Place spinach in the bottom of a large greased glass baking dish. Top with chopped artichokes.

-Mix together vegan “cream cheese,” “butter,” and  almond milk. Spread this mixture on top of spinach and artichokes in the dish.

-Top with vegan parmesan and cracked pepper, to taste.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

Healthy Thymes Market, 265 Route 94 Vernon, NJ 07462. Phone: 973-209-8555

Healthy Thymes Market may have been there for 25 years, but I just discovered it on Saturday. What a treasure trove of health foods, supplements, and expert health advice all tucked away in the little town of Vernon in the Highlands of northern New Jersey! It may look small from the outside, but Healthy Thymes Market has managed to fill every inch with things you can’t find in your local grocery or drugstore, including refrigerated and frozen items. When we were there a Kombucha Demonstration was also going on, so we had a chance to sample Aqua ViTea elderberry kombucha… crisp and fizzy!

Besides all that, there is also a snackbar, The Kitchen, where you can order breakfast until noon Monday thru Friday and lunch/dinner all day any day. We decided to get our lunch at The Kitchen the day we stopped in. All items on the menu are vegetarian and can be made vegan if desired. I chose the Sweet Potato Quesadilla which consisted of a whole wheat wrap (gluten-free is available) stuffed with organic mashed sweet potato, saluted onions, spinach, and vegan mozzarella cheese (dairy cheese is an option). This was an unusual combination for a quesadilla, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was very delicious, and the cheese melted perfectly. The price, only $6.99! My husband ordered the Falafel Wrap, also $6.99: organic store-made vegan chickpea patties served with romaine lettuce, onion, tomato and tahini dressing served on a whole wheat wrap (gluten-free available). He said that it was good, but he would have liked more dressing on his. We both got cold bottled drinks with no high fructose corn syrup from the refrigerator case; strawberry lemonade for him and watermelon lemonade for me. The one downside, there is no place to sit and eat once you have purchased your meal at The Kitchen. Fortunately there were some benches by a pond across the street, and the weather was lovely for eating outdoors, so we enjoyed our healthy lunch in the sunshine.

We will certainly go back to Healthy Thymes despite the fact that it is a bit of a drive for us. I hope they add seating for The Kitchen soon. Even so, for health food shopping or a yummy and healthy takeout meal, it’s worth the trip.

Hours are: M-F 8 am – 7 pm; Sat.-Sun. 9:30 am – 5 pm