Over the past 7 months I have been living through a kitchen remodel. If you’ve ever done any remodeling in your home, you can sympathize with me. YES! It was worth it..and YES! I would do it all over again, but living without functioning kitchen was quite a challenge. It’s fair to say that I normally cook the majority of my meals at home because 1) I love to cook and 2) I want to use fresh, healthy ingredients. Since I didn’t have a place to cook, I took the opportunity to explore local, plant-based restaurants and be inspired by the many delicious options that are available. I was able to eat 100% plant-based the entire time and surprisingly my weight stayed exactly the same from when I started the kitchen remodel to when it was finally finished. I assumed by eating out all the time I would see an increase in my weight, but by simply making healthy choices my weight remained the same and I had enough energy to train for my upcoming races.
Now that I'm finally settled, I have some time to reflect on the past few months. I thought it would be fun to share my favorite Orange County spots (in alphabetical order) that offer delicious plant-based options and give you my usual go-to items on the menu. Hopefully this will help you out if you are in similar situation or you just want to try some tasty food. When I go out to eat, I try to look for places that serve local, organic and non-GMO products as much as possible. I've lived in several states over the years and this is the first place that has soooo many options for me. What's even more amazing, some of these places are entirely plant-based. If you live here or are ever in the area, I highly recommend trying them out…you won’t be disappointed:)
Cafe Gratitude is a 100% organic plant-based gourmet restaurant that supports local farmers and sustainable agriculture. The Thriving / Chef's Seasonal Soup is always a great choice. I also get the Devoted / Soul Bowl because I love the way they prepare the tempeh.
Mother’s Market has been around as long as I have:) They have local and organic produce. The juice bar is outstanding and they even have a restaurant inside. My favorite menu item is the Chickpea Scramble. It’s loaded with fresh veggies and you can have it served with potatoes, brown rice or quinoa. Yum! When I wanted a little extra fuel for a long run I would get the Gluten- Free Pancakes. They are vegan and I would skip the syrup and opt for some extras such as walnuts, bananas and blueberries.
Seabirds Kitchen is a plant-based restaurant that uses seasonal produce and locally grown fruits and vegetables. They feature small plates, salads, entrées and desserts. As you can image everything on the menu is tasty. I usually order a few small plates because I like the variety and I can't seem to pick just one thing. The Purple Taquitos, Tomato Soup, and Burnt Brussels Sprouts usually make the list for me.
SEJUICED is an organic, nutrient-dense superfood juice bar. They serve cold pressed juices, smoothies, bowls and raw snacks. Sometimes I would go there twice a day and the staff always remembered my name for the loyalty points. By far my favorite pressed juice is the Blue Mojo. It has pineapple, chia seeds and Phycocyanin. The juice is served in a glass jar that you can donate back for charity. Or you can keep the jar and repurpose it at home. Right now I have a bunch in my cabinet filled with seeds and nuts. If I wanted a smoothie I usually got the Coco Cure and added Bee Pollen and Hemp Seeds. I can't forget to mention my favorite snack..Raw Superfood Brownie.
Taco Mesa serves healthy and authentic Mexican food. They even have Meatless Monday! They offer plenty of healthy vegetarian options and can easily make a dish vegan. I always order the King Tostada (hold the cheese) because it's served with GMO-free corn chips.
The Stand is a staple in Laguna Beach. This one has been around longer than me! The 100% plant based vegan menu has something for everyone. So for this one, I can't pick a favorite because the menu is so long I haven't tried everything YET! But, a few things to note..they serve most food on the menu all day long and it's just a short walk to the beach. I usually get my dinner to go and watch the sunset while I eat.
True Food Kitchen is a health conscious restaurant that uses seasonal ingredients. Their menu rotates often so the food is always fresh. They have so many offerings that are vegan and vegetarian and will always accommodate any special requests. The Seasonal Ingredient Salad is always a good choice. I also enjoy the T.L.T. (smoked tempeh, butter lettuce, tomato) and Shiitake Lettuce Cups. Fun Fact - Dr. Andrew Weil, helped establish True Food Kitchen based on the principles of the Anti-Inflammatory diet.
Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice is 100% organic, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free and vegan. They have a little bit of everything here from breakfast to dinner. The Buddha Burger on greens is pretty awesome. The Sunrise Scramble is so filling for breakfast. This should come as no surprise, the Ironman (hold the oats) is my favorite smoothie. It has cold-brew coffee, cordyceps and sunwarrior protein. This place is great and definitely has a good vibe;)
Vitality is a great place to enjoy dinner. This was another place where the staff knew my order without me even saying a thing. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't go there twice in one day:) They offer vegan soups such as their Antioxidant. I usually got a large Mixed Green Salad and a side of Roasted Potatoes too.
Well, I think that is a pretty complete list of what got me through my kitchen remodel. I can't forget about the countless trips to Whole Foods for their awesome salad bar. Hope you enjoyed reading about my plant-based favs. Let me know if I missed any places in Orange County. I'm always up for trying new things! Oh and a picture of my kitchen with my cooking buddy. Now back to cooking at home most of the time and hitting up these places as a special treat!