Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Farewell

As I sit here on a winter afternoon at the end of 2017, I think back to a warm summer day when I pulled up behind a poultry transport truck at a red light.  These trucks are a common site here in Fayetteville Arkansas.  We are a stone’s throw from Tyson Headquarters just north of us in Springdale.  

The industry’s presence in the northwest corner of our state is pervasive.  I’ve met line workers employed at slaughter houses (oh, pardon me - processing plants), known industry administration people - even the curator of Mrs. Tyson's art collection.

Tyson Foods, Inc.  How we laud the titans of industry.  Can I argue with $40 billion in revenues annually?

Yes, I can argue against such staggering wealth when it is built on the pain and suffering of millions of animals.

Let’s see a few more statistics I picked up on Wikipedia regarding the Tyson empire: Every week, its 54 chicken plants, 13 beef plants, and six pork plants slaughter and package 170,938 cattle,  347,891 pigs and 42.5 million chickens.

Wow.  That’s a lot of death.  Are you OK with that?  If you are, you’re at the wrong blog site.
Turkey Run
Mission and Crossover, Fayetteville AR
July 2017

During the year that I put out this blog, I endeavored to be patient and polite regarding my motives for promoting vegan dining.  Indeed, this approach in incorporated in my mission statement.  But as I conclude this effort, I cannot walk away from this project without saying a few words regarding the sheer hypocrisy of our society.

The truck I sat behind was packed with wilted, battered turkeys heading to their execution.  All around me people could see perfectly well who (not what) was on board.  But we all hurried on with our lives once the light turned green.

For Christians, this is a season of “Peace on Earth”.  But we can never approach true peace until we see the truth about agribusiness.  How can we preach  harmony and mutual resepct when we ignore, institutionalize and even applaud the excruciating suffering which is behind each serving on our plate?

Here’s a New Year’s resolution which will have lasting impact:  Cut back on or even drop entirely meat and dairy from your diet.  This blog and countless other websites, books, organizations and support groups show it’s possible, it’s healthy, and it’s the future.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

No Ham for Christmas Dinner

I can't take credit for this video.  Activist site Lively Days shares it without copy write, without payment, and in fact encourages everyone to use their videos to further the message of compassion and decency to sentient beings.  And so I'll use this humble blog platform to leave you in a contemplative mood for this Holiday Season.  Spoiler alert - this video packs a wallop in 59 seconds and it does not have a happy ending.  Grab a tissue before viewing.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Sweet Ending to our Relationship

The time has come for me to conclude entries in this blog and move on to my next adventure.

To conclude my year-long culinary odyssey, I should end with dessert, yes?

I found my last stop at Nomades Music Lounge, on south School Street in Fayetteville.

The place has an easy going, funky atmosphere, with the furniture being an eclectic blend of mid-20th century resale shop finds – colorful folding chairs, retro kitchen chairs and a few stately high-back dining thrones.  There is a stage in one corner for open mic nights, and a wall for local artists to display their work.  I felt right at home.

Nomad's CRUMBLE -
The guilt-free dessert of a lifetime
Yes, I was able to find a winner vegan dessert.  They offer a scrumptious Crumble mixing finely chopped walnuts, coconut, apricots and dates topped with a berry agave puree and two juicy black berries.  It’s good – really good.  Let’s put it this way.  I’d ordered lunch, which I’ll review in a minute, and was going to take the dessert to go.  Only a small portion of the creation made it into my to-go cup.  I just kept taking spoonful after spoonful of this delectable concoction – and the antique spoon they provided was the perfect touch.  Being served in a footed parfait cup, the whole dish seemed to be something out of the Victorian age.

For a vegan maindish, my servers, Kaiya and Coleman, pointed out many of their traditional entrees can be customized to accommodate the vegan diet, and there's the Green Goddess salad of celery, cucumber, avocado, bell pepper, onion, pine nuts and mixed greens.
The AVO WABO - a rainbow of taste!
But I went for the Avo Wabo.  It’s a toasted tortilla wrap cradling sliced avocado, orange segments, mixed greens and roasted beets (you can also have red onion, but I passed) in a chipotle-lime vinegrette.  Normally I’m a wimp when it comes to Latin spices, but this dressing was just right, giving my palate a thrill it wouldn’t get in my own kitchen, but fading from my taste buds in time for me to fully enjoy the aforementioned dessert.  As for the roasted beets, here’s an idea I’ll try at home.  They are so good for you and such a beautiful color for the presentation.

So when you’re yearning for a refreshing vegan meal including dessert, check out Nomades, and who knows, maybe you’ll even get a floor show.

Nomad's Music Lounge at 1431 South School Street, in Fayetteville

Monday, November 20, 2017


Fayetteville has a number of eateries which are locally owned and operated, and Mockingbird Kitchen is one of the most charming of these establishments.  

Even their name celebrates the state bird of Arkansas.  The signature bird graces the walls of this contemporary café, situated in a cozy corner of the Evelyn Woods Shopping Center on College Avenue in Fayetteville. 

With study at The American Culinary Institute and co-ownership of Bordino's Restaurant in her portfolio, Chef Chrissy Sanderson fuses her extensive experience with treasured family recipes.  The result is a selection that delights and surprises. Her menu denotes dietary needs, and vegan dishes are flagged by a cute little leaf.

Our server cautioned that the ripple-cut fries were prepared in the same oil as some of the meats on the menu, so they can’t be called vegan.  However, vegan selections include the Sautéed Greens which are prepared in a vegetable stock, as well as the Three Bean Salad (kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and edamame melded with a red pepper vinegrette). And on a cold autumn day, you can’t beat a warm bowl of savory Tomato Soup.

I decided on the Stir Fried Farro and Vegetables.  Farro, a nutty wheat-grain derivative, is paired with carrots, edamame, kale, mushrooms and tofu in a savory soy sauce.  It’s a filling bowl of goodness, so filling that I easily had enough for take home.  My remaining portion was placed in a reinforced cardboard container rather than Styrofoam – yeah!  (Vegans notice these things.)

I’ll admit to a moment of jealousy when my dining partner received her Veggie Burger.  This is a patty of pureed vegetables, quinoa, and oats, stacked high with tomato slices and a vegan focaccia bun. It’s a mighty mouthful which threatens to unhinge your jaw, but one does has the option of eating this creation open faced. And even the mayo is edamame-based – how refreshing that she didn’t need to say “hold the mayo”.

Mockingbird is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.  Come and luxuriate in this casual chic atmosphere, know you’re doing your part to support a locally-owned business, and send the message that vegans are the fastest growing demographic on the foodie landscape.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pizza Lovin’ Chicago Girl Embraces Fayetteville Pieology

A while back, Mercy for Animals noted the pizza chain Pieology was now offering vegan cheese.

Oh, Feytteveille Arkansas won’t have anything as chic and boutique as Pieology, I thought.  They did!

Oh, Feyetteville’s Pieology won’t have anything as specialized and cutting edge as vegan cheese, I though.  They do!

Start with
wheat crust and red sauce....
So off I went, and was greeted by a sparkling clean eating area that showcased the brick oven which would cook my pizza.  You know it’s a well-run establishment when the kitchen operation is this transparent.
add vegan cheese and veggies....

Just as you build your sandwich at a Subway (I recommend their falafel sandwich, by the way), I was helped through the choices for crust, sauce, and toppings to create the culinary delight of my vegan pizza pie.

I mistakenly got the wheat crust.  It sounded so healthy but I discovered it contains honey.  As I began with my battery of questions, my helpful server, Matthew, retrieved an employee information card which outlined dining choices for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.  Turns out the gluten-free crust is a bona fide vegan option for next time.

I did OK keeping it vegan on the red sauce. (In my day they called it tomato sauce, but I’m getting older.) Stating the obvious, the fresh vegetables were also listed as vegan on the employee dietary needs card.  I topped my creation with spinach, mushrooms and bell peppers.  If I had wanted to be more adventurous, such choices as hot peppers, marinated artichokes and cilantro could have been added.
Since the price of any pizza (one size fits all, by the way) comes with unlimited toppings, I then had them add another lacey sprinkle of vegan cheese atop the toppings – holds everything in place and it makes for great presentation.

....bake 'til pipping hot...
and let "pizza love" take over!

Coming from Chicago, the land of legendary deluxe deep-dish pizza, Pieology’s crust was a bit on the cracker side by comparison, but I do so appreciate the fresh veggie toppings and corporate’s decision to make vegan cheese available.  On behalf of all the factory farmed animals who are suffering in the food supply chain from hell, as well as those human animals who insist on the plant-based diet, thank you Pieology!

Fayetteville Pieology

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Taste of Thai - make that Taste of Tofu

Pad Thai.  It’s a passion of mine.  I’ve eaten it across the country during road trips, sought out favorite nooks in my home town of Chicago, actually purchased a box of it in the frozen food section (not recommended) and thought about attempting to create it myself, then went out to a restaurant instead.

And so it was that I found myself in Fayetteville’s Taste of Thai on East Central Street.

The room was decorated as you might expect - lots of red and gold, mirrors and elephants and tiny twinkle lights.  My server, Molly, reviewed the menu with me, which was extensive even for vegans. Many entrees and appetizers are already vegan, and those that aren’t can be easily adapted by the removal of eggs or the substitution of tofu.


This much maligned bean curd (think block cottage cheese) carries on despite rude jokes and barbs on the part of those who flirt with obesity and high blood pressure.  It’s actually quite a chameleon, adding heft and texture to everything from fruit smoothies to the Pad Thai I was about to order.

My luncheon came with Vegetable Soup. Maggie assured me the broth was fully veggie, so I enjoyed this little bowl of warmth before my entree arrived.  Diced celery, zucchini, cabbage and carrots swam around – yes, tofu.  The owners of Taste of Thai are at work in the kitchen, which means each order is handled with care and pride.  Special requests such as adding tofu or leaving out eggs are accommodated cheerfully.

The complimentary Summer Rolls which arrived at my table had little blocks of tofu among the bean sprouts, lettuce and carrots, all skillfully bundled in translucent rice paper.   The rolls were perfectly complimented by a sweet dipping sauce with crumbled peanuts.

Having swirled in my soup and nestled in my summer rolls, tofu then appeared in my Pod Thai.  This time it was a firm, fried version which took on the curry and the chili flavors amid the green onions, broccoli and the shredded red cabbage. It made a scrumptious lunch with plenty to take home for delicious left overs.

There are dozens of other dishes I’d like to try for several “next times” – garlic pepper, red and yellow curry, and even creative titles such as Evil Jungle Prince and Drunken Noodles.  There’s pages of dishes to explore!  Vegan Heaven.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mangia at The Olive Garden

I’ve come to almost the year mark in this blog, and have yet to do Italian.  Amazing.  So, it’s time for a little Tuscan comfort food, and where do I end up?  Well…..

While I usually prefer to give my restaurant business to the Mom and Pop establishments, there comes a time in every vegan’s eating-out journey when they find themselves at a national chain restaurant.

I chose Olive Garden.  The restaurant itself was clean and atmosphere was good, what with big band American song book music crooning to me, helping me to forget I was surrounded by giant flat-screen TVs (but then, they did seat me in the bar, and one doesn’t want to lose track of the score, right?)

My server, Leah, was as helpful and understanding as a busy waitress at the start of the lunch rush could be, but the ingredients for bread and the ravioli stuffing remained a mystery that only corporate could solve.

Their Minestrone -
Mmm mmm vegan!
There’s not a vegan restaurant chain out there (yet), but I was pleased to discover Olive Garden actually touts a “vegan classic” with their minestrone soup.  I explored the bowl with my little soup spoon and discovered quite a vegetable family among the broth – tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, green beans, and zucchini, as well as fava and kidney beans and cute little pasta shells.  The bowl also contained enough sodium for a week, but hey, let’s remember, it’s a “vegan classic”, although I’m not sure the concept of veganism has been around long enough to have anything connected with it be considered a classic.

I eschewed the breadsticks but later learned, online, that they too are vegan. 

I decided to try the portabello mushroom ravioli. Ravioli is the perfect example of an item I’ll order in a restaurant because I’m not industrious enough to attempt it from scratch at home alone.  The cream–based sauce that would have normally come with them could be substituted by marinara, and it made a real pretty plate.

I felt a little foolish when I did my research online later that same day, and discovered the ravioli contained both egg and dairy (for heaven’s sake, Diana!).  But I was pleased to find Olive Garden had dietary charts on their website which answered just about any ingredient question I had.  Next time, I’ll do the angel hair or whole grain linguine with the aforementioned marinara sauce, along with all the breadsticks I can eat, and I’ll be back in the vegan community’s good graces.

Monday, August 21, 2017

OPA! Greek cuisine goes vegan at KOSMOS GREEKAFE

A Greek friend of mine in Chicago took me out to dinner every so often.  We’d start with Saganaki – the famous Greek flaming cheese.  The pyrotechnics never failed to thrill me.  We’d both shout “Opa!” – that rallying cry of celebration – and I would almost break into a knee-slapping dance to the balalaika, That crusty, melted cheese was soooooo so good.  But alas, ‘twas not vegan (yet J).

Fast forward to Fayetteville circa 2017.  I stand at the counter of Kosmos Greekafe on north College Avenue, and I discover that Greek cuisine includes vegan options which aren’t set on fire.

I go to restaurants to get something I can’t easily make myself, such as falafel and stuffed grape leaves.

Falafel in a blanket - a savory bargain 

Falafel - patties of ground garbanzo or fava beans mixed with Middle Eastern spices including dill, cumin, and coriander, comes served on a bed of crunchy chilled lettuce for the Falafel Pita.  It's one of the best bangs for the buck on the Kosmos menu.  Traditionally served with tzatziki, a vegan will want to ask to have this yougurt-based dipping sauce left out, but  if you’re doing the to-go route, you can whip up a small dish of tzatziki with vegan mayo and a dash of lemon juice.
It's a vegan's answer to cocktail weenies

Dolmades - stuffed grape leaves, rolled up like little sausages, are plump with rice and herbs, served cold on a bed of lettuce with the house Greek salad dressing (an olive oil-based vinaigrette) and slices of soft, warm pita bread.

The Portabella Mushroom Salad was a meal for two.  A suggestion for the persistent but diplomatic vegan diner: I didn’t realize this dish came sprinkled with feta cheese. Not wanting to be difficult and trying not to wastefood, I did not send it back.  The feta was a note of authenticity, but I don’t think I will miss the cheese when I order the portabella mushroom salad in future.  The dish is quite salty and that would have saved me some sodium intake.  No worries. I’ll get it right the next time.  The portabella slices, sautéed in olive oil, were meaty and filling - rather like a vegan answer to sardines.

I didn’t have room in my tummy for their vegan side dishes, but for snacks at your next football game – skip the processed meats and plastic cheese slices.  Consider trying pita triangles with a variety of freshly pureed hummus spreads – the roasted red pepper, Kalamata olive, and eggplant varieties meet the vegan requirement.  They’re are buffet treats that are both festive and healthy.

Didn’t have room for a dessert of sopa-petas either - crispy pita chips tossed in cinnamon-sugar.  But if you’re stopping by for a mid-morning or afternoon pick-up, try this treat with a demitasse of Greek coffee.  It might have you dancing and slapping your thigh..... 

Kosmos Greekafe
2136 North College Avenue, Fayetteville, AR

Thursday, July 27, 2017


In my lead blog, I mentioned I bend the rule of no dairy in my diet for a sumptuous sour dough that’s sold at the Roger’s Farmers’ Market.  It has that tang of sour dough with the soft, cake-like texture of Hawaiian rolls.

Heather Meis of Meissterbrew Bakery and I had a pleasant exchange over her tempting display, the aroma of fresh buttery bread seducing anyone within 20 yards.

I explained I loved her bread, but would she be able to make a vegan version?  She was most eager to rise to this challenge.  The regular bread has butter, but darned if I miss it.
Dessert for Breakfast

If I want a buttery taste, I spread a bit of Earth Balance on a fresh slice.  There’s also what I call “dessert –for-breakfast”, achieved by topping this bread with a generous dollop of orange marmalade.  But this manna passes the ultimate bread test – you can eat it naked.  (The bread that is, although how you dress for dinner is your business.)

Meissterbrew Farms


Monday, July 10, 2017

TJ's SANDWICH SHOP - Quick and Satisfying

Virtually any Sandwich place, from Subway to Jimmy John’s to this delightful find on north College Avenue in Fayetteville has a veggie number you can call lunch or dinner.  The trick is to get them to leave off the mayo and the cheese.  Most places I’ve visited have been very accommodating.

TJ’s gives an added twist in their Garden Guru – it’s hot.  Steam actually rose from inside the sandwich when I placed it open-face for the photo.  Adds a whole new dimension to the “veggie sandwich”.

Jules (but she goes by Julie) takes great pride in her work, having trained under Chef Todd over at the seafood emporium Mermaids. TJ’s was Todd’s brain child, further expanding his culinary contribution to Fayetteville.

The décor is ‘50s retro, with red plastic pedestal seating and lots of aluminum furniture – clean and sparkling and just ready for me to sit down and enjoy my meal.  So I get my warm bundle of foil over to a cozy table and unfurl a sandwich that can stack up to any deli creation in New York’s lower east side.

The Garden Guru - it'll warm your tummy and your heart
The roasted red and yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms and – wait for it – artichoke hearts have been sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, and topped with a sun dried tomato black olive relish that pulls it all together.  This casserole for the soul is served on a crispy fresh Vie de France hoagie – but it’s one I could get my mouth around, unlike some insurmountable loaves that have arrived on my plate over the years, threatening to give me lock jaw.

Not much else on the menu comes in under the vegan flag, as the pre-made pasta salad already has feta cheese in the mix, and there’s cream and butter lurking in the tomato bisque, but hey, there’s always Lays potato chips and a big cup of sweet tea.  So if you find yourself out at TJ’s with friends who are ordering turkey and ham and roast beef, no need to feel like the poor relation.  The Garden Guru is sandwich royalty.

P.S. Sandwiches are half price on Wednesday!

Monday, July 3, 2017


I pass a chuck wagon every day on my way out of town. Bacon and eggs, biscuits and gravy, nothing for me, right?  Wrong.  How I dreamed of the day I’d see the “V” word on their menu chalkboard, and then it happened.  Jackfruit tacos.  Time to do a U turn and go back and be sure I didn’t read incorrectly while travelling at 30 miles an hour.

The Green Goat, found at the corner of Martin Luther King and Wood Streets in southern Fayetteville, offers Cuban-Florida cuisine with a nod toward Ozark cooking.  Owner Erin Walsh brings innovation to the menu, with the vegan tacos being a good example.

Jack fruit is a giant relative of the fig family.  It yields a starchy, fibrous pulp which carries a subtle sweet flavor which tends to blend well with sauces and spices, much like tofu.  Put a little BBQ sauce on it and you’ve got a vegan’s answer to pulled pork.  These tacos come with homemade mojo dipping sauce - cumin, garlic, olive oil and just the right amount of tangy lime.
Rice & Bean Empanada, Mojo Sauce and the Jackfruit Taco (open faced)

While I was there, my vegan exploration carried on to the empanadas.  They substitute rice and beans for the “meaty” filling.  There’s also vegan Thai coconut soup, fried avocado, and yuka fries.

It didn’t matter a bit that I was standing alongside the truck when the heavens opened and soaked me to the skin.  I was carrying a vegan feast to-go from….a chuck wagon.  Who knew?!

The Green Goat
583 S Wood Street
Fayetteville, AR


Monday, June 19, 2017

HAMMONTREES - Fayetteville AND Rogers - and lots 'o vegan choices

Friends were visiting from out of town.  I picked a gourmet boutique restaurant that would impress them with local cuisine.  Only problem was, we were ready to eat at 4:30 and the fancy place didn’t open until 5:00.  We started to scope the area and came across Hammontrees.  It really could be called “Ham and Cheese” since its specialty is grilled cheese sandwiches.
Ah cheese.  Probably the most difficult hurdle I faced in shifting to the vegan diet.  And here I was in a place that served such temptations as smoked mozzarella, sharp white cheddar and wild mushroom goat cheese.  It just wasn’t fair.

But wait!

Turns out they can substitute Daiya vegan cheese at no extra charge.  So I ordered the vegan grilled cheese number called Where the Wild Things Are (ask them to grill in olive oil rather than butter).  These sandwiches are not the pathetic white bread slabs with a thin sheet of processed semi-melted American cheese that we’ve all gotten at the local diner.  Hammontrees takes the humble grilled cheese to a whole new level.  My choice included sautéed mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes incorporated with perfectly melted vegan pepper jack cheese.  Other sandwich creations include such mouth-watering avant guard additions such as caramelized onions, poblano peppers and artichoke hearts

No photo on this visit, as this happened in pre-blog days.  However, I returned recently to try the Hot Dog side of the menu.  
Cali Dog and trimmings - no take home this time....

They’ll substitute a veggie dog for the sausage or frankfurter at no extra charge.  I was envisioning a tiny tofu pup getting lost in a (vegan – I checked) scali roll, but no, this is a hearty veggie brat that is spicy and satisfying.  The Cali Dog came with slices of avocado and cherry tomatoes, complimented by a cup of chips, dill pickle, and a cherry pepper.  (Ask for the lime cilantro dressing to be left off, as it uses sour cream – you won’t miss it.)  It was a hot dog so plump I had to grab my knife and fork.  I’d planned on take home left overs.  Nope.  Just tooooo good.

Yummy vegan Cheese Sandwiches and "Dogs"
at  326 N West Avenue, Suite 8, in Fayetteville

and 113 W Walnut Street in Rogers, Arkansas

Friday, June 9, 2017


Delux Burger, now known as Beer Kitchen and Liquor Bar, for its wide selection of craft beers, is located just in back of Chipotle on Fayetteville’s Dickson Street.  During my recent visit to The Catfish Hole, their hostess recommended the Chipotle bean burger available at Delux Burger.

Beer Kitchen has a casual bistro atmosphere which makes for a refreshing place to gather and celebrate life’s victories, even if it’s just getting through another work week.  And for those of us whose friends think “burgers and fries” are two of the four basic food groups, we can join them in the festivities here and enjoy a vegan meal.

The Chipotle Bean Burger is mildly spicy and satisfying, and it comes with  meaty (well, you know what I mean) fries.We’re pretty sure the brioche bun is vegan, (I do wear out my servers with questions they are not expecting), although I was sorry I hadn’t opted for the alternative – a large flour tortilla which would make my burger a wrap.  
Next time.

Or, I might try the Asian or Kale Salad with a bean burger patty crumbled over the greens in place of the chicken.  Mmmmm…..  Then there is the Fried Pickles (you don’t have to be pregnant) or “Bomb” Onion Rings, as I have the assurance from the kitchen that no milk or egg are used in the batter for these appetizers.

Something to note - I might not have discovered this dining spot if not for the thoughtful and genuinely enthused recommendation by a carnivore at the Catfish Hole.  Keep your ears perked and your mind open for tips from unexpected sources!

Beer Kitchen & Liquor Bar

550 West Dickson Street, Fayetteville AR


Wednesday, May 17, 2017


This is not the typical restaurant review you’ve come to know in this blog.  This involves an observation I made on healthy eating and sustainability while attending a weekend retreat.  Since I believe these two topics are inexorably linked, I wanted to share what I witnessed.  And it’s good news!

At this retreat, I volunteered in the kitchen.  I saw massive amounts of waste of both food and containers, but I pulled what I could out of the trash to recycle.  One of the main recycle items I rescued was the humble water bottle.  I pulled over fifty of these crinkly little critters from the trash, and then, on the final morning of the outing….we ran out of bottled water.

I filled a pitcher of water and left it at the beverage station alongside a stack of cups (I wish I could say the cups were reusable or compostable, but we’re not there yet).  I fully expected those in attendance to ask me where the bottled water was, and to mope when they found we’d exhausted the supply.  I also assumed the pitcher would sit quietly, gathering dust like some artifact from the 1950s.

But to my surprise and delight, the lowly tap water in the pitcher was poured again and again until I had to refill it – twice.  Oh, I forgot to mention, the attendees were young people, ages 10-18.

Gives me hope.

Monday, May 8, 2017


The Farmer’s Table Café is a must-stop for vegan eating, found on south School Street in Fayetteville.  Co-founders Rob and Adrienne Shaunfield have come miles in the two short years their doors have been open.  Their mission of bringing locally sourced whole and healthy foods to the Fayetteville community has received a warm welcome.  They pack in the customers with friendly service and delicious platters.

My friend Dolores and I lucked out and were able to sit alfresco, tolerating only the occasional siren or Harley which passed the dining terrace on this fine spring day.
Dolores ordered the A M Power Bowl, which promotes the humble bowl of cooked oatmeal to royalty.  Spiked with red quinoa and slivered almonds, and presented with a ruff of apple crescents and a mound of dices strawberries, you can eat your fill and feel
entirely virtuous.
Doesn't she look virtuous?
Good food never has the ingredient of guilt.
Not having had pancakes in quite a while, I was intrigued by the Sweet Potato Pancake.  These were fluffy discs of rich orange batter topped with sugared pecans and complimented by a side of maple syrup.  (To keep it vegan, just asks them to leave off the butter – and believe me, you’ll never miss it.)

I was allowed a side with this meal, and I know it sounds like an odd combination, but I wanted to try the sautéed local greens and veggies - kale, carrots, green beans and mushrooms sparkling in organic coconut oil, with just the right amount of salt and spices.  I called that my lunch and had the sweet potato pancakes for dessert.

Sweet Potato Pancakes with a side of sauteed greens -
lunch is served - and so is dessert.
There was even one pancake left over for a home meal. I try to remember to bring my own to-go container when dining out, to keep the Styrofoam epidemic at bay, but in this case, I just asked for the pancake to be wrapped in tin foil.  It made it home just fine and was already wrapped for warming in the oven.

Even with a companion ordering a second dish, I still couldn’t scratch the vegan surface of their menu.  Several items on the dinner menu are specifically marked “Vegan”, which is beyond helpful and right up there with thrilling as far as I’m concerned.  We are no longer foodie orphans!

My “next-time” options include The Garbanzo Burger, Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Wine Sauce and fresh veggies, the Moroccan Salad and Mediterranean Lettuce Cups (substitute maple dressing for the yogurt mint on these last two) as well as the Stuffed Sweet Potato.  But keep in mind the menu for The Farmer’s Table Café is a moving target.  They source locally and go with what’s seasonably available, so the menu changes often – which makes your dining experience spontaneous as well as scrumptious!

The Farmer’s Table Café
Open for Breakfast and Lunch, Tuesday-Sunday; Dinner Friday and Saturday.  Closed Mondays
1079 S School Ave, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE CATFISH HOLE - Angling for Vegan Options in a Southern-Fried World

So I’m once again at a conference and they come to the “you’re on your own” lunch break.  I head to the parking lot not sure what I’ll do, amid a freezing rain down pour and a growling stomach.  Fellow attendees are nice enough to invite me to join them.  We pile into the RV and head for the Catfish Hole.

In ordering such things as green beans and fried okra, I don’t ask the right questions.  Turns out the green beans are cooked with bacon, and the batter for the core contains eggs.  Sigh.  Perhaps it was wishful thinking.  The corn on the cob is delicious – just be sure they don’t dip it in butter prior to serving.

I space about taking a photo of my plate upon arrival, and given the missteps in my ordering vegan, it’s hardly necessary, but here’s my “after” shot.  

One okra nugget left.  Corn on cob was yummy nostalgia.  Contraband hushpuppy front and center.

As you can see, I enjoyed the repast.   The pickles were also a vegan option, and I might have ordered a baked potato – naked of course, or its cousin, an order of fries.  I could have gone for the dessert of mandarin oranges as well.  Lots of options.  I just have to be a little creative and inquisitive.

And then there was that complimentary plate of hushpuppies.   They’re fried balls of fluffy cornbread that are made with eggs.  The Catfish Hole is known for these little bites of crispy fried heaven and I down two of them.  Delicious.  When you’re the face of veganism, sometimes a little compromise gets you a lot of cooperation and appreciation.

But the luncheon is anything but a loss for the vegan cause.  The questions I do ask start a conversation around the table about why I’ve adopted this lifestyle.  I’ve found the conversations about the plant-based diet are much more pleasant these days than in years past.  Or maybe I’ve mellowed.  People seem genuinely curious and respectful, rather than argumentative and obsessed with whether or not I am getting enough protein.  Times have changed.

The management is equally receptive, gladly answering my questions about ingredients (belated though they might have been) and one of them even offers to pass my business card on to a vegan relative.  I couldn’t  ask for a more pleasant experience all around.

The Catfish Hole
4127 West Weddington Drive
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Monday, March 6, 2017

HELLO NINJA - Rogers, Arkansas

Like so many vegan finds, I just stumbled on this one.  Attending a conference where lunch break came and I suddenly found myself alone, I went out prowling.  Saw an Asian place - a good bet for vegan cuisine.

Hello Ninja features sushi rolls and grilled Japanese main dishes.  I tried to experience both sides, and the menu made it easy with little leaf symbols alongside vegetarian dishes.
Asparagus roll with a side of lacy beets

I can recommend the asparagus sushi rolls, expertly made with sticky rice complimenting crispy thin spears of kelly green asparagus.

Hibachi Noodles with stir fried veggies

And for the hot dish, you can’t beat the hibachi noodles.  A bed of staming semolina noodles topped with savory stir fried onion, cabbage and bell peppers.

The service was excellent.  It should be noted I tend to drive my servers mad with numerous questions and trips to the kitchen to check ingredients and prep procedures.  If I ever get famous, I’ll no doubt have one of those reputations that make an establishment dread my appearance for this reason, but I am a good tipper.    I’ll be back to Hello Ninja to try the teriyaki tofu and the vegetable fried rice, and I’ll bring a few extra bucks to make my server not cry in her miso over so many questions.

3000 S Pinnacle Hills Parkway
Rogers, AR

Monday, February 13, 2017

Meeting a Kindred Spirit

When you are a vegan, it can seem lonely and discouraging to have adopted a lifestyle that’s not mainstream, so when I strike up a conversation at a food stop and discover a soul mate, it’s warm and fuzzy time.

Such an encounter occurred at the Public Library in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I’d stop to peruse their offerings - I was considering the latte with coconut milk or a full-fruit smoothie -when my queries about vegan food brought a young woman to my side who’d overheard my comments.
She was not purely vegan.  After a trial period of being vegan, she found the diet did not meet her health needs.  She eats free-range eggs and sea food occasionally, but has eliminated meat, pork, poultry and dairy from her diet.

Now in my book, that’s terrific.  I was further heartened because she’s young.  She’s the future.  It is my firmly held belief that her generation will tip the scale when it comes to agribusiness and factory farming.  Her food choices multiplied by millions of millennials will result in a seismic shift in our global practices with respect to food production.

Who would have thought I would have such a spiritual awakening over an apple with peanut butter? (That was what I chose for lunch there at the Asaga’s Café at the Fayetteville Library.  Very satisfying.)

On the opposite end of the age spectrum, I lunched recently with a woman who’s in her senior years.  She is a polite but firm advocate for animal rights.  She eats fish and has not eliminated all dairy from her diet, but she knows the issues and she’s heading in the right direction.
And here’s the point – most of us, myself included, are not going to become pure vegans overnight.  We might not ever be totally vegan; however, a move towards this lifestyle in degrees has a tremendous impact on our own health, the health of the planet, and the lives of farmed animals. 
We shall soldier on!

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Art of Fine Dining

My Trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

I happened to be with a group attending a special exhibit at The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.  We stopped for lunch at Eleven, the chichi café on the premises.  (Eleven gets its name in honor of the Museum's opening on November 11, 2011 at 11:11 am.)

Eleven is pleased to offer gourmet food, light years ahead of the standard cafeteria fare which tarnishes the reputation of many a fine museum.  Vegan options were advertised in the menu’s legend, along with vegetarian and gluten-free selections, but the menu changes every three to four months, and this “season” didn’t offer any actual vegan dishes.  I had to be creative.

The white bean soup lived up to expectations.  Even without the jalapeno cornbread (it contains butter) it was a filling bowl of savory beans in a rich vegetable broth with a stewed tomato as the centerpiece.  You know you’ve picked a good dish when several people at your table want to taste a sample.  

But there was still plenty left to warm my tummy on this frigid winter day.  Had it not been so bitterly cold, I might have considered the Autumn Harvest Salad (have them leave off the parmesan), or the Ozark All Seasons Leaf Salad (substitute the yogurt cucumber dressing with a balsamic vinaigrette.)

There’s also a coffee bar at the opposite end of the dining hall, and their latte was delicious.  (Yes, they have both soy and coconut milk.)
This was a simple enough lunch, but very filling.  Prices are a smidge high, but then, you’re in a world class museum whose admittance is free, so enjoy the fabulous collection before and after your vegan repast.  It’s food for the soul.

The cornbread I took a pass on at lunch reminded me of my own beloved vegan version of this classic dish:
1 cup each whole wheat flour and stone-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon oil
4 tablespoons melted margarine (cooled)
1 cup soy or almond milk
Mix all ingredients, but not too thoroughly; leave texture course
Pour into a greased 9” pan and bake at 400 ° 25-30 minutes
Serve hot with non-dairy spread and agave syrup – D-lish!

Monday, January 16, 2017


Khana is a very user-friendly purveyor of Indian cuisine.  They’ll cheerfully answer any questions which might come from the uninitiated, and believe me, I put them through their paces.  I got both a meal and an education on my lunch hour.

Indian cuisine is all about the spices, lots of them.  As many as ten spices can be combined to form what is known as a masala, which is then used to flavor sauces, soups or a main dish (known as a curry).  This isn’t the pitiful shake of salt and pepper Americans are used to.  Exotics such as saffron, cardamom, and curry leaves are added to more familiar players such as ginger, nutmeg, and hot chilies to create unusual yet mouth-watering combinations.

The Vegan Coconut Malai Curry  comes with slender, long grain basmati rice, blended with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves.  Malai translates as “cream”, but in this vegan incarnation it’s rich nutty coconut milk, blended with a flavorful curry.

The Vegan Coconut Malai Curry
For the side carbohydrate I substituted the traditional naan flatbread because naan contains yogurt and egg.  Paratha bread is a flaky wheat flour creation that is India’s answer to the croissant.

My lunch partner ordered the Samosa.

Samosa and Sambar

It is little crispy pastry pillows stuffed with potatoes and peas. They are complimented by ramekins of tamarind (a pulpy fruit) and cilantro chutney.  It was a cold day, so she also ordered the Sambar, a spicy lentil soup with green beans, carrots and squash.

Neither of us left hungry, nor did I suffer the indigestion for which I had braced myself.  Either my pallet has matured, or these folks really know how to make excellent Indian food.  I would check the box next to “both of the above”.

A word about where we ate as well as what we ate.  The décor is as authentic as the food.  Check out the imported hand-carved pendant lights.  Khana is also eco-conscious, outfitted with sustainably forested furniture, and using biodegradable serving ware for to-go orders.

So, for your next vegan adventure, travel to the subcontinent, or better yet, to 2101 North College Avenue in Fayetteville to Khana Indian Grill.


Monday, January 2, 2017

The best resolution for a new year is...
pledging to give the vegan lifestyle a try!

Hope this video gives you some inspiration!