Chen Vegetarian House, 709 Penn Ave. West Reading, PA 19611- Phone: 610-374-2288 or www.chenvegehouse.com

Chen Vegetarian House is an all vegetarian Asian restaurant with a full menu of vegetarian dishes to choose from…just what the health-minded people of Berks County have been waiting for!  Tonight was our first visit there and I was impressed.  We will be going back!  Although this is a small establishment, probably more geared to take-out than dining-in, our experience was entirely enjoyable.

We entered the newly remodeled restaurant (next to Haute Chocolat) and were promptly seated at one of the two tables by the window.  Several other tables were available near the take-out counter.  Our server answered all our questions and explained the menu (Yes, EVERYTHING on the menu is vegetarian — even the chicken, the beef, the pork, and the seafood).  They do not use MSG in any of their food.  We talked and drank green tea until our dinners arrived.  The spring rolls were piping hot and very fresh (not frozen and reheated).  My Pad Thai was delicious, seasoned perfectly with not too much “chicken” and lots of crunchy bean sprouts.  My husband ordered General Tso’s “Chicken” (his favorite) and we were both impressed by the quantity and presentation.  Our meals were delicious and the service was efficient and courteous.

Chen Vegetarian House also features something other Asian restaurants don’t offer — fresh vegetable and fruit juices (3.99) and fruit smoothies (4.29).  Hallelujah!

The menu states that lunches including white or brown rice, hot & sour soup or spring roll, and entrée are only $5.99.  To save time you can pre-order online and pick up at the counter. Business hours are Mon. – Thurs.: 11 am – 10 pm, Fri. and Sat.: 11 am – 10:30 pm, and Sun.: 12 pm – 9:30 pm.  Visa, Mastercard, and Discover are accepted.  Now until 1/31/2014 is their Grand Opening and you get 10% off a minimum $20 order!

If you want a healthy and delicious meal for not a lot of money, then I would highly recommend Chen Vegetarian House.

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What is Nutritional Yeast?

 

 

 

 

 

 

One ingredient I really love, one that gives vegan recipes a real “cheesy” flavor without all the negatives of dairy, is Nutritional Yeast.  It is also a good vegan source of vitamin B-12!  To learn more, or to experiment with some great recipes using this little known seasoning, visit the link below or simply try some Nutritional Yeast sprinkled on a bowl of warm popcorn.  Yum!

http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2011/10/what-the-heck-is-nutritional-yeast.html

Van’s Cafe, 448 Penn Ave. West Reading, PA 19611, 610-741-6466

Today the Reading Eagle did a nice piece on Van’s Cafe, the new Vietnamese restaurant in West Reading, so we had to go there for lunch to try it for the first time.  For those who are familiar with West Reading, Van’s is occupying the same space as the former Fire and Ice Cafe. The place is casual, the decor minimal, but clean.

I hope I can give it a fair review because my main thought about Van’s is that they won’t win any prizes for speed.  We went on our lunch hour, which was a mistake — don’t go there unless you are under no time constraints.  After sitting at the table for about 15 minutes we went to the counter to order.  I still don’t know if that is how you are supposed to do things there; some people did have a waiter come to take their order, but we and others went to the counter.  No one greeted us, seated us, or told us what to do (a simple sign “Please place your order at the counter” would have been helpful).

The food was very good and fresh.  They had a few vegetarian options.  We both ordered the Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Vegetarian Rice Noodle Soup (huge bowls) called Pho.  I don’t think the soup broth was vegetarian, however.  Service was very slow and disorganized. (I could see my husband’s blood pressure rising by the minute).  Our appetizer came out after the noodle bowls, and I don’t think we would have gotten it at all if we didn’t remind the server.  We were missing a set of silverware and had to hunt one down ourselves.  No one came to freshen our ice teas or offer water.  As we ate we saw people leaving and more coming in and standing waiting to be seated.  Tables weren’t cleared as new orders were coming out and there was nowhere to put them or to seat the people who were waiting for a clean table — Did I mention that the service was SLOW?

Prices at Van’s are all under $10.00, and the food is good.  Convenient parking is available in the rear. I am hoping that this was not a typical lunchtime at Van’s, and that they were just having an off day.  I would love to go back to sample their bubble tea, but I know my husband won’t be going next time.  With some people you don’t get a second chance.

China King Chinese Restaurant: 840 North Park Rd. Wyomissing, PA 19610 (Park Plaza)

China King is a small casual restaurant located in a little strip mall off N. Park Road.  It is a great place to get delicious Chinese food fast. They offer several vegetarian dishes, including our favorite, General Tso’s “Chicken.” Food can be prepared with no MSG (you won’t miss it), brown rice is available on request, and any dish followed by (D) can be made as a low calorie, low cholesterol dish with absolutely no oil, salt or sugar — who says eating out will ruin your diet!

I consider China King to be an excellent value.  The first time we ate in their tiny diningroom we ordered an entrée for each of us — big mistake!  Two of us could barely finish one entrée, the servings were THAT BIG!  Now we order one entrée and share it.  That is plenty and with spring rolls and tea we leave completely satisfied with no boxes of leftovers to carry.  Our total bill is usually around $12.00 for two people, a price that is hard to beat anywhere.

China King offers take out and delivery service ($10.00 minimum for delivery) if you’d rather eat at home or the office.  Everyday they have a lunch buffet for only $5.45/ person which includes free water or soda, but I am sorry to say that there are no vegetarian entrees on the lunch buffet.  (Maybe if enough people request it, they will change that!) Visa, MasterCard, and Diners Club cards are accepted, BYOB. Friendly, fast service, generous portions, low prices = highly recommend!

PHONE: 610-373-5851, 610-373-8805

FAX: 610-373-8803

Sweet and Sour Slaw

This is a Hallelujah Acres recipe.  (You can find more of their delicious recipes at http://www.hacres.com).  It is so healthy, fresh, and tasty!  The combination of apples and onions with the veggies is outstanding.  I appreciate the dressing — it’s much lighter than traditional cole slaw dressings that rely on mayonnaise or sour cream as a base.  If  you use a food processor the prep time is much lower than chopping and shredding everything by hand.  Be warned: this recipe makes a HUGE amount.  I used fairly small cabbages and it made over a gallon of slaw — make it for a crowd!

Ingredients:

1/2 green cabbage, finely chopped

1/2 red cabbage, finely chopped

4 stalks celery, finely chopped

3 carrots, shredded

1 onion, finely chopped

2 apples, finely chopped

Dressing:

1/ cup raw honey

1/2 cup lemon juice or Bragg’s vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 tsp. sea salt

1 Tbsp. celery seed

Blend raw honey, lemon juice or vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt until smooth.  Stir in celery seed.  Pour dressing over prepared vegetables and apple.  Toss lightly to distribute dressing and set in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to mingle. Serve cold.

Miracle Fat-Burner Stew

I found this recipe about five years ago in a magazine, and have used it many times since. It makes A LOT. (I had to buy a large stock pot just to accommodate this recipe — a traditional dutch oven will not do). It is great for when you are cooking for a crowd, but if you are cooking for just one or two you can use one of the variations on different nights so you don’t get bored. It also freezes well. Serve with a crusty wholegrain bread.

Makes 10 (2-cup) servings: 258 cals.; 18 g. protein; 4 g. fat; 45 g. carbs.; 1.54 mg. sodium; 0 mg. chol.; 12 g. fiber

1 1/2 bags (1 lb. ea.) dried lentils

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 c. chopped onions (1 12 oz. bag frozen)

2 Tbsp chopped garlic (6 cloves)

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

10 c. vegetable broth

1 can (28 oz.) stewed tomatoes

1 Tbsp. salt

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 bags (1 lb. ea.) assorted frozen vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, & red pepper work well)

3 Tbsp. wine or balsamic vinegar

Sort and rinse lentils. In a very large pot saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 4 – 5 minutes. Add lentils and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute stirring. Add broth and spices. Break up tomatoes into pieces with back of spoon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until lentils are very soft (ab. one hour).

About 10 minutes before serving add frozen vegetables and vinegar. Heat through.

MIRACLE FAT-BURNER STEW VARIATIONS:

To one (2-cup) serving of stew, stir in any of the following and simmer 3 – 5 mins.

CHINESE:

1/2 c. cubed firm tofu

1 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. peanut butter (reduced fat)

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1 sliced scallion

MEXICAN:

1/2 c. salsa

Heat through and top with 1/4 c. shredded veggie cheese

HARVEST STEW:

1/4 c. frozen baby carrots

1/4 c. orange juice

1/4 c. canned pumpkin

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

INDIAN:

1 tsp. curry powder

1 tsp. tumeric

1 Tbsp. golden raisins

2 Tbsp plain soy yogurt

1 Tbsp cashews

1 tsp. chopped cilantro

Watermelon Sorbet

The inspiration for this recipe came from “The Vegan Scoop,” a dairy-free ice cream cookbook by Wheeler Del Torro.  Eating vegan is always my goal, but I realize that simply because something is vegan doesn’t make it healthy.  In fact many vegan recipes, especially those for desserts, contain so much fat and sugar that you might as well eat the real thing;  if health is your concern there’s not much difference.  So, I just had to tweek this recipe to make it a bit more acceptable.

This is a refreshing summer cooler.  With all the added artificial ingredients found in most frozen treats it’s  nice to find one that contains no added sugar, and has all the healthy lycopene found in watermelon naturally.  (Lycopene is thought to reduce the risk of cancer).  The sweet crisp taste will please both young and old alike, and of course, it’s low in calories.  This one won’t weigh you down on a hot summer day 🙂

Ingredients:

6 – 8 cups diced seedless watermelon

1/4 cup Xylitol crystals

Zest of 1 lime, finely chopped or 1 – 2 tsp lime juice

pinch salt

1/4 tsp. Stevia powder

Method:

Using a food processor, puree watermelon into 4 cups.  In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup watermelon puree, Xylitol, and lime to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Season with salt.  Pour in remaining 3 cups watermelon puree, then add Stevia — whisk until evenly blended.

Pour entire mixture into a metal cake pan and freeze overnight.

The next day, allow frozen watermelon to thaw at room temperature for 5 – 15 minutes.  Using a knife (if it’s too hard let it thaw a little longer), carefully break up puree into 2-inch pieces.  Transfer to food processor in batches and pulse until smooth.

Store in plastic container in freezer for up to one week.

Yield: App. 1 quart

Garlic Bread

 GARLIC BREAD

Warm garlic bread goes great with Miracle Fat Burner Stew or any other stew or pasta. This is how I make a low-calorie garlic bread (you won’t miss the butter!)

Take one large garlic bulb(do not peel) and slice off the top one third (you want to expose the top of each clove). Wrap the entire bulb in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 1/2 hour. When done each clove will be creamy and can be spread, just like butter, on a slice of warm wholegrain bread. Yum!