Tag Archives: vegan

Lessons Learned from Traveling Across the Country

We recently moved from Atlanta, GA to Eugene, OR. These are a few lessons I learned from traveling vegan-style with two greyhounds in a Buick for nearly 3500 miles.


1. Pet friendly hotels are not hard to find. Our daily driving schedule was not rigid, so we ended up in random cities for the night. But we were always able to find a room in the following pet-friendly hotels  (in order of niceness): La Quinta, Best Western and Motel 6.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

I think the only one that charged an extra pet fee (which was pretty low) was Best Western but it does vary by location. A helpful pet friendly site that we used was bringfido.com.

This guy was always the last to get up.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

2. Although I am in awe of the dark, almost black rocky sand and huge rocky shores of northwest coast beaches, it is intense and scary if you’ve never seen a beach before (like Miles).

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

We drove along Highway 101 towards the end of our trip and had to pull over frequently to enjoy these scenic beaches.  They made me wanna yell…’Heeeey, yooouuu guuuyss!’ because Goonies.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

3. It’s nice to have generous and kind friends who will give you a place to stay along the way (even when they think you’re part of some vegan army stuff).

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

We enjoyed the momentary break from hotels and the pups enjoyed running and meeting new friends.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

4. Despite how soy-cheesy it may be, stop at the tourist areas. They’re tourist areas for a reason.

Outside the Trees of Mystery, Nikko and Paul Bunyan.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

An elk at one of the elk viewing areas about two hours outside of Eugene.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

5. When driving west, the end of the day becomes a perpetual chase of the sunset.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

In Joshua Tree National Park.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

6. Traveling across the country by car with two greyhounds, it IS entirely possible to eat well vegan-style even when we didn’t research restaurants before hand (because ain’t nobody got time for dat).

Most mornings we grabbed as much fruit as possible from the continental breakfasts (served at many of the places we stayed). I also had oatmeal and tea that I packed which just required hot water from the coffee maker.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

And while we certainly ate our fair share of Subway sandwiches, we managed to throw in some unique all vegan or vegan-friendly places along the way as well. Thank goodness for cell phones and Happy Cow! A few eats…

Chopped BBQ sandwich with grilled seitan and an El Paso Burger with chipotle vegan mayo and guacomole from Spiral Diner in Dallas, TX.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

A Mediterranean picnic in the park from International Delights in Las Cruces, NM. The server knew what “vegan” meant and happily accommodated us.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

The “Vegan Caper” bagel with an amazing tofu spread, capers, red onions and a sweet sauce from Los Bagels in Eureka, CA. They had seats outside so we brought the pups.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

Wonton Soup from Noble Veg in Sacremento, CA. I grabbed a menu while Neal stayed with the pups in the car. We decided what to get. Neal went to order and the kind people at Noble Veg brought the food out to the car. In retrospect, eating hot soup on my lap probably wasn’t the best car food. But I was really craving soup.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

A vegan barbecue “Chicken” pizza from Tomato Joe’s Pizza in Valencia, CA. This was dinner and breakfast the next morning.

vegan road trip - Luminous Vegans

I think had this road trip been taken more than ten years ago, it would have been much more difficult to find places to eat good vegan food without meticulous planning ahead of time. But nowadays, its like my phone and the internet gives me super vegan powers. Or at least the ability to find vegan food easily…..unless of course we’re talking about Pecos, TX….now that’s a different story….

Have a Happy New Year!

Festive Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies

These shortbread-y almond thumbprint cookies are flecked with tiny almond pieces and have ruby-like raspberry jam centers. Not overly sweet and with hints of almond flavor in each bite, these crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookies are perfect with a glass of almond milk.

I brought these festive cookies to a Vegan Cookie Swap over at Keepin’ It Kind with Kristy! Click here for the easy recipe!

Thumbprint Cookies- Luminous Vegans

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

PS I am currently taking an epic road trip from Atlanta to Oregon. Me + live blogging on the road = fail, but if you’re interested you can check out my twitter and/or instagram feed.

Cornbread Cafe: Vegan Comfort Food in Eugene, Oregon

Eugene Oregon- Luminous Vegans

Back in early November we took a mini-trip to Eugene, Oregon (to find out why, keep reading). Cornbread Cafe was the first place we ate while there. This cozy, diner-like restaurant serves 100% vegan comfort food made in-house. Not only was the food and friendly staff amazing here, but Cornbread Cafe really makes an effort to keep things local and sustainable. You can read all about their mission here.

Cornbread Cafe Eugene -Luminous Vegans

Their menu is an indecisive person’s worst nightmare because there are so many tantalizing things to decide between from eggfu benedict to nachos and phish & chips.

Cornbread Cafe Eugene -Luminous Vegans

Since we went early on a Sunday morning, we selected dishes from the breakfast menu. Neal went with their Chik’n & Waffle – breaded and deep-fried seitan atop a large Belgian waffle served with country cashew gravy and maple/agave syrup.

Neal says it was THE best vegan chick’n and waffles he has ever had. The gravy was rich and savory and was perfectly complemented by the sweet syrup. And the seitan was the right kind of fried- moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Cornbread Cafe Eugene -Luminous Vegans

I went with the build-your-own-omelette served with home fries and a fluffy white biscuit. The omelette comes with Daiya cheese and a choice of 3 items to stuff it with. I chose to get mine stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and salsa.

I don’t know how they did it, but they have created the most eggy vegan omelette that I’ve ever tasted. Every bite was full of flavor. And most importantly, it was nice and moist. Nobody wants a dry omelette. I don’t think I could make an omelette at home that even comes close to how lovely this was.

Cornbread Cafe Eugene -Luminous Vegans

I so wish that I could have tried more dishes but we were only there for a short time. Luckily I’ll be able to eat there as much as I want in several weeks because we’re moving to Eugene!

We’ve been dreaming and scheming about moving to the Pacific Northwest for a looong time. So when we saw our friends Kenn and Jeanette pull it off, we were inspired to finally go for it ourselves. The trip in November was our scopin’-out-places-let’s-make-this-happen trip.

We were able to secure a place to live and come the end of this week, we’ll be loading up the car and driving from Atlanta to Eugene. If it sounds cray-cray, I assure you it is. But I’m excited (and nervous, scared, anxious, etc.) about our new adventure! And I can’t wait to have another one of those omelettes…

What is your favorite vegan comfort food?

Parsnip Fries: Not French, Not Fried and Not Potatoes

Poor potatoes. Getting replaced by other vegetables. First there was cauliflower going all mashed tater-like. And now parsnips are acting all like french fries!  At least we’re set if we ever find out potatoes are sentient. Always look on the bright side of life, right Mrs. Spud?

Parsnip Fries - Luminous Vegans

I’ve never had parsnips. Ever. Until now. Anxious to try them, I excitedly took a bite of one right when these made it to my kitchen counter. I read that you could eat them raw. Um, anticlimactic much? They didn’t really taste like much. There was a hint of carrot-like sweetness and the teensiest hint of something else bite-y. Almost like a radish. But mostly it was just kinda bland. Almost like biting into a raw potato but a little better. Based on that bite, eating them raw was not gonna be a thing I did.

Parsnip Fries - Luminous Vegans

So I poked around on the internet to find out what else I could do with them and found that they could be made to resemble the classic French fry. Perfect! Roasting veggies is my favorite lazy-girl method!

All I did was cut the parsnips into strips that resembled “fry shapes”. I left the cleaned skins on because ain’t nobody got time for dat! Then I lightly coated them in olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I roasted them at 450F for about 20 minutes, tossing them halfway. When they were done, I sprinkled a little more salt and pepper all over and topped it with some freshly chopped parsley.

Parsnip Fries - Luminous Vegans

Roasted parsnips are much better than raw parsnips. I think the roasting helps bring out the sweetness some and makes it more of a delightful texture. The texture and taste are very similar to, well, a tender french fry but with a tad more sweetness and that very subtle hint of something mildly bite-y that I just can’t put my finger on. Some describe it as a “woody” or “earthy” taste. I’ll just call it that parsnip swag. Because it’s that swag that makes these parsnip fries stand out from regular old French fries.

Parsnip Fries - Luminous Vegans

Although these parsnip fries are perfectly pleasant on their own, I couldn’t help but recreate the whole French fry experience by dipping it into ketchup. I demolished the whole plate all by myself.

Have you eaten parsnips before? Can you recommend other ways to cook and eat it?

Tales from the Vegan Army: Thanksgiving Plans

This installment of Tales from the Vegan Army is not as “combat-y” as the words “vegan army” imply*. Because it involves my dear ma.  Okay, here’s the deal. I never explicitly told my mom I was “vegan”.  Since English is her second language, I felt explaining to her that I didn’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, etc was just easier.

tales-from-the-vegan-army-Luminous Vegans

She’s been supportive about it since then. If I ever came home from college and she made me Thai food she’d know — no eggs, no fish sauce and add tofu and veggies. We’ve been doing this for more than a decade.

Which is why the following bit from a phone conversation that took place A WEEK AGO befuddled (and tickled) me. And I assure you that all conversations with my ma are this wonderfully strange. Love ya ma!


Mom: Are you coming home for Thanksgiving?

Me: Yup. Are you going to go to *insert my sister’s name here* place?

Mom: Ok. What you want me to make for you? I can bring something.

Me: I dunno. I’m sure whatever you make will be good. You don’t have to make anything if you don’t have time.

Mom: Do you eat eggs?

Me: No ma, I thought you knew that.

Mom: [very seriously] Why not? What happens to you if you eat eggs?

Me: Ma, nothing happens to me, I jus…

Mom: [interrupting] What will happen? If you eat eggs?

Me: Ma! Listen to me. Nothing happens. I just choose not to eat eggs.

Mom: Why not? What will happen to you?

Me: [contemplates going into long ethical explanation but opts for…] I don’t want to eat something that comes from a chicken…or any animal.

Mom: [pauses] Ketty. It’s okay to not eat meat and be a vegetarian….[does not finish sentence].

Me:  Ma, I coulda swore you knew this. Remember? I would go to the restaurant (my ma had a Thai Restaurant for a while) and you would always tell the cooks to make my food — no eggs, no fish sauce? Remember?? [wonders if last 10 years were all a dream]

Mom: [pauses]…………Well, what about if I make something and you can’t taste the egg in it?

Me: [sighs] No ma. I don’t eat eggs even if I can’t taste it.

Mom: What about if I make sticky rice dessert with custard?

Me: What’s in the custard?


Mom: [says quietly but very matter of factly]….Eggs.



I love ya ma! Talking to my mom is always a rockin’ fun time. She has that dead-pan-can’t-tell-if-it’s-a-joke-or-not comedic act down. But she totes isn’t joking!  I probably could fill a tome with all the funny things she has said. Like that time she told me that tasting food should be done with none other than……my mouth. Genious!

*Tales from the Vegan Army are not meant to be combative or promote ill will. They’re just a fun way for me to find humor in a non-vegan world.

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash

I’ve always wondered about the first person who decided that squash were edible. I’m talking about any kind of squash. Most are hard on the outside and could probably be used as a zombie head-bashing weapon if needed. They come in all sorts of shapes and various colors. Some have bumps. Some have squash butts. Some are as smooth as porcelain. 

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

But for each various type of squash out there, just think….someone said— yeah, this is probably something I can eat. How did they know? Did they try to just bite into it, skin and all? Or did they hack it in half first? Maybe it was all just some pleasant accident.

In any case, I’m thankful to whoever ate the first squash. Because of them I’ve enjoyed butternut, delicata (or sweet potato squash), acorn squash and kabocha. The most recent squash in my I’m-gonna-eat-all-the-different-squash-out-there phase is spaghetti squash.

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

Spaghetti squash is named for exactly the reason you think. It looks like spaghetti on the inside. You know how most squash have some stringy-ness involved? Well this squash’s stringy-ness is pasta-like. Even though I looked at like every single spaghetti squash picture online. It wasn’t until I actually scraped out the insides of my first spaghetti squash that I kinda gasped and was like — whoa…so that’s why you’re called spaghetti squash. 

I was inspired by Allyson Kramer to pair the light and delicate strands of spaghetti squash with a heartier, creamy mushroom sauce. Creating a surprisingly rich comfort food. The base of the sauce is nearly identical to the one I used for this “cheesy” vegan alfredo.  It’s an easy meal to put together as the sauce can be made while the spaghetti squash is in the oven.

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous Vegans

Spaghetti Squash with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce

serves 2, print recipe here



  • 1 medium to large spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup unroasted cashews (soaked for a couple of hours or overnight if not using a high speed blender)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbs chicken-free broth concentrate (I used Better Than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces of chopped button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbs chopped chives + extra for garnish


Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut the squash in half and scrape out seeds. Coat it with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes until you can pierce the inside of the squash easily with a fork. 

While the squash roasts, make the sauce by blending together the almond milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and chicken-free broth. Set aside. In a pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil for about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about another 4 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Add the chives and parsley and cook for another minute. Then add the set aside sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Salt and pepper it to taste. 

Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash- Luminous VegansWhen the squash is done, scrape out the inside “noodles” into serving bowls, top with mushroom sauce and garnish with extra chives. 

I’ve roasted spaghetti squash whole and by cutting it in half before sticking it into the oven. Hands down, I prefer cutting it in half first before roasting. This results in squash strands that are moist, but not soggy. Which is perfect for this creamy not-pasta dish. 

Do you like spaghetti squash? What is your favorite squash during squash season?

Apples with Roasted Beet Tartare, Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

When I heard that this month’s Virtual Vegan Potluck featured ingredient was beets. I went against every instinct I had and signed up to bring an appetizer that uses beets. I don’t eat beets often. I don’t cook beets. And I rarely make appetizers. What can I say. I like a challenge.

But I do enjoy eating beets. That has to count for something right? My experience with beets growing up is all canned. So this month was the month of learning how to cook beets. Not to mention learning how to handle beet “blood”. Oh yeah, when dealing with beets….there will be beet “blood”. Just imagine Daniel Day Lewis saying that.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

What I’ve learned is that beets don’t need a lot of finessing. They have a great rich and earthy taste on their own. I’ve also learned to use parchment paper when cutting beets. Because beet blood on a wood cutting board is a nightmare. But beet stained hands aren’t that bad. Sure, I could use gloves. But having beet stained hands is somewhat satisfying to me.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

This appetizer is a deconstructed beet and apple salad (without the salad-y part). Fresh, tart slices of granny smith apples are topped with creamy cashew cheese and roasted beets coated with a sweet lemon dressing. It’s all sprinkled with crunchy, candied walnuts and chopped chives.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

All the goodies are on one end of the apple slice. The other end is for holdin’. I like to eat it all in one bite so all the flavors and contrasting textures meld together. But making it a two-bite deal works also.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Even though there are multiple components to this app, it came together easily because I made the components in advance. So all I had to do was assemble it before you guys came over. It can be served cold or at room temp (my preference).

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad

Adapted from Martha Stewart. Makes about 25-30 apple slices.


  • 2 medium beets, roasted and peeled (I used this method)
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1 tbs maple syrup (for walnuts) + 1 1/2 tbs maple syrup (for beets)
  • 1/2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice + extra for dipping apple slices
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 1 cup cashew cheese
  • handful of chives, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans


Toss the walnuts with the 1 tbs of maple syrup, brown sugar and pinch of salt. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and stick them in the oven at 400F for 5 minutes (I did this when I roasted the beets to save oven power). Take them out and give them a shake and put in for another 4-5 minutes. Let them cool and then store in an air tight container if not using it right away.

Cut the roasted beets into small cubes and put in a mixing bowl. Make the beet dressing by mixing the olive oil, lemon juice and the 1 1/2 tbs of maple syrup together. I put it all in a little jar and shake it up. Coat the beet cubes with about HALF of the sweet lemon dressing. Save the other half for drizzling over the finished serving plate.

Slice the apples into pieces that are about 1/4 inch thick. Then cut those slices in half so you have bite-size pieces as shown. Dip both sides of the apple pieces in a small bowl of lemon juice mixed with a little water to prevent them from browning.

Now it’s time to assemble. I put about 1/2 tbs of cashew cheese on the end of each apple piece, followed by some beet cubes and then a sprinkling of crushed candied walnuts and chives. When plating, drizzle more of the dressing on top.

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

I was worried that the beet juices would drip everywhere making this a nightmarish appetizer. But the juices just kinda settled into the thick creamy cashew cheese.  But don’t worry if you spill a little. Because that’s how we roll in this house (aka, the pups will eat it up).

Deconstructed Apple and Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Candied Walnuts - Luminous Vegans

Hungry for more? If you just happenstanced on this post, there is so much more vegan food to be had. Go back and check out what Cadry is serving over at Cadry’s Kitchen.


Or hop on forward to Ashley’s place at A Cook in the Making.


Or start from the very beginning (at Vegan Bloggers Unite) and work your way through 100+ delectable vegan beverages, appetizers, salads, side dishes, main dishes and desserts!


Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of the Virtual Vegan Potluck!

 Do you like beets? What’s your favorite way to cook and eat them?