back roads and mason jars

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vegan mac and cheese

2018 RVA VegFest

I have to be honest.  I get so jealous when I see all the amazing offerings at the really large vegan festivals like Eat, Drink, Vegan in Los Angeles, CA.  Seriously, check it out here. Since I am deathly afraid to fly, I have to settle getting in my tasty vegan treats locally.  Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate that I have a festival so close. But the vegan supply on the West Coast is drool worthy for sure.

This past weekend was our third year attending the Richmond VegFest which takes place in Bryan Park.  The weather was beautiful even though Richmond was recovering from a lot of rain and even some flooding in some parts.  Thankfully, the rain stopped before the start of the event!  I was so excited to wake up on Saturday morning and get on the road and was even giddier as we approached the Veggies Ahead signs leading the way.  They are the signs of my people.

We got to the park a few minutes after it officially opened and walked in with people and animals alike with the same goal – eating some delicious vegan food!  I don’t get the opportunity to go many places where I don’t have to ask questions about everything on the menu or do hours of research ahead of time trying to find something that meets my goals.  It’s such a freeing feeling knowing that I can walk in to park and eat ANYTHING in sight! This is truly what dreams are made of, people!

We walked into the park specifically looking for one particular booth – Nu Vegan.  Of course, it was easy to spot since it had the longest line!  Nu Vegan is a restaurant that is opening up its third location which will be located on Grace Street in Richmond on June 30, 2018.  Their other two locations are in the Washington DC area.  They are known for making traditional comfort food like mac and cheese, but cruelty free.  What could be better in life than having a heaping bowl of vegan mac and cheese?

We waited in line for approximately 20-30 minutes.  Don’t worry – it was totally worth it.  While we patiently waited, we reviewed the options and made our choices.  I couldn’t believe what the food looked like when it was finally our turn.  They had four offerings (fried, buffalo, BBQ, and jerk) of vegan “chicken wings” complete with a “BONE” and two sides – collard greens or mac and cheese.  We chose to try the traditional fried, buffalo, and BBQ wing with a heaping side of mac and cheese since I can get the best collard greens made by my grandmother anytime I want.  The wings were delicious and chewed similar to chicken without the creepy parts like cartilage.  The “bone” was made of a wooden dowel so you could actually eat it like a traditional wing if you desired – how creative!  The mac and cheese was also amazing!  They made the “cheese sauce” out of tofu!  This was by far the creamiest and most decadent version of mac and cheese that I’ve ever tried.  I would even say it was better than some “real” mac and cheese dishes I’ve had in the past – and I LOVED cheese.  I am looking forward to making a copy-cat recipe for the blog in the future so keep your eyes peeled for it coming later in the summer!

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around reading up on the local sanctuaries and browsing the booths with catchy phrases to increase awareness.  I did miss a lot of my favorite booths that we purchased from in previous years, but it seemed like there were less booths to purchase products this year.  We did purchase a few products that I will be sampling in the weeks to come as well as some gifts for family and friends.  Overall, it was a very successful and tasty day!

Bye y’all!

are you scared? part 2

What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?

Part 2 of this mini-series addresses the second fear from last week’s post which you can see here if you missed it.

Are you scared of being deprived?

At first, I was worried about missing some of my favorite comfort foods – mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, pizza and buffalo wings.  All of these things were in my top favorite foods.  I felt scared thinking that I could never have those things.  Boy, was I wrong!  There are so many alternatives available to you.  There are alternatives for cheese, butter, milk, sour cream, pepperoni and even wings!

Here are some of my favorite comfort food recipes or products that I have found and enjoy.

Mashed potatoes can be easily made vegan.  In my house, my husband is the mashed potato maker.  I don’t know what it is, but I’ve never had the magic touch that is required to make really good mashed potatoes.  In the past, we used butter, sour cream, salt and pepper.  To make them vegan is so simple.  Just replace the non-vegan products with vegan alternatives.  Vegan butter (Smart Balance or Earth Balance) and Tofutti sour cream are easily found in most grocery stores.  I also like to add chives to my potatoes.


earth-balance-watermarkI feel like macaroni and cheese is a staple comfort food for everyone.  I traditionally bake my macaroni and cheese with jalapenos and chipotle breadcrumbs.  It was a staple in my house.  In order to get that cheesy comfort in a quick fix, I turn to Earth Balance macaroni and cheese.  It comes in cheddar and white cheddar flavor.  I have tried both products and they are excellent replacements for that quick dinner side dish.  I do prefer the white cheddar flavor.  The instructions couldn’t be easier and all you need to add is vegan butter and your non-dairy milk of your choice.  I prefer to cook with oat milk or unsweetened almond milk.


Pizza.  Everyone loves pizza.  If they say they don’t, I’m pretty sure that can’t be trusted. What’s better than pizza? Having it delivered to your door.  There are a lot of options when it comes to pizza.  PETA’s website is a great resource if you are ever in doubt of which crusts may or may not be vegan.  Follow this link for tips if you are dining in at your favorite pizza joint.  I don’t have access to a lot of these restaurants so I usually opt to follow this link for common pizza delivery options.  The crust is the biggest concern since ordering no meat or cheese is a easy decision.  My favorite crusts are Domino’s thin crust and Pizza Hut’s Thin ‘N Crispy or Hand Tossed Crust.  I have never been a fan of meat on my pizza.  Pretty much every time I have ordered pizza it has been full of veggie toppings so it was a pretty easy transition to just get used to no cheese.  If you are eating at home, you could add some vegan shredded cheese or vegan pepperoni and broil the pizza for a few minutes.


cauliflower-watermarkBuffalo wings were always my favorite happy hour bar snack.  When we lived in the city, a local bar that we visited frequently happened to have a vegan chef where I tried cauliflower wings for the first time.  I haven’t had chicken wings since that night.  Now the restaurant serves theirs deep fried, but this baked recipe is even better with less calories!  I follow hot for food’s cauliflower wing recipe pretty closely.  You can get the recipe here.  For the sauce, I use one part of Frank’s Red Hot and three parts of a honey or sweet barbecue sauce.

Hopefully this shows you that you can still have your favorite comfort foods – cruelty free!

Bye y’all!

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