Fiction Kitchen – Raleigh, NC

Walking past Fiction Kitchen in downtown Raleigh, the first thing you’ll notice is the bright green paint and the large yellow sign. Peering in for a closer look, you will see the mismatched furniture, quirky decor, and laid back feeling of the restaurant. Although the atmosphere is casual, the taste and look of the food is on par with many fine dining restaurants. Fiction Kitchen caters specifically to both vegan and gluten-free customers, offering a variety of American and ethnic dishes. This is the place that I would take a meat-lover friend who is convinced that all vegan food is bland and tasteless.

My husband and I came to Fiction Kitchen for the first time with his family around Thanksgiving. We had heard great things about the place and expectations were set high. It was such a nice change to be able to walk into a restaurant and be able to pick anything on the menu. We have become accustomed to having to choose from 1 or 2 vegan-customizable dishes (at best!) when eating out with non-vegan family and friends.

To start off, we ordered the cornmeal-fried oyster mushrooms and root vegetable fries. The fried mushrooms were reminiscent of fried calamari, with a less rubbery texture. It was incredibly well-seasoned and the crispy cornmeal texture offset the mushrooms perfectly. The fries were also a winner; well seasoned and cooked and served with two great dipping sauces (dill aioli & chipotle “buttermilk” dressing).

I ordered Nori Rolls with Sashimi Tofu for my entree. The ingredients in the sushi rolls were were so unique and not things I would have guessed would taste good in sushi. But the combination of textures and flavors were amazing. The microgreens salad was well dressed and complemented the dish well. But the standout component of the dish was the seared tofu. It had a soft and porous texture, was slightly sweet and savory, and had a coating of sesame seeds. Although it did not resemble sashimi in taste or texture, I was not at all disappointed by the substitution. My husband kept trying to steal my tofu and sushi rolls when I wasn’t looking.

Nori wrapped local butter bean hummus, quinoa, carrot, cucumber, radish and spicy microgreens, finished with a sorghum molasses + dijon emulsion. Served with a kale sesame salad, seared sashimi tofu, house pickled ginger and wasabi

My husband ordered the Curry Bowl. It had a great variety of different vegetables, and the the curry was spicy and tasty. My only complaint was that the curry didn’t seem to penetrate the vegetables, so they weren’t as saturated with the curry flavor as I had hoped. My husband also mentioned that the rice (not pictured) was unusually salty. The concept of the dish was great, but the execution didn’t quite hit the mark.

Housemade yellow curry, coconut milk and seasoned vegetables prepared on a spice level from 1 through 5, served with jasmine rice on the side 

To end the meal, we ordered a slice of a dark chocolate ganache pie. The texture was smooth and creamy and the crunchy pretzel crust was a great base. The salted caramel drizzle tied the whole thing together nicely. My husband’s sister liked it so much that she wanted to buy a whole one to take home, but we were told that required advance notice.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Pie with Pretzel Crust and Salted Caramel

Our experience at Fiction Kitchen lived up to all of the hype, and we are DEFINITELY coming back again soon.

It’s almost too good to be vegan!

 

✿ Katie ✿

Beyond Meat: The Beyond Burger

Introducing: a brand new series, called Too Good to be Vegan!

A lot of omnivores automatically assume vegan friendly foods means bland, sub par dishes that consist mostly of salads and tofu. This is absolutely not true. Not to mention, salads and tofu can be very tasty when prepared well!

In this series, I will be telling you about delicious vegan food that even non-vegans would be happy to eat. The foods featured will include both restaurant entrees and meals prepared at home, snacks, desserts, and anything else that is 100% vegan and delicious!

My husband and I recently found out about The Beyond Burger, made by the brand Beyond Meat. This burger is made out of 100% plant protein (pea protein for their “beef” burgers) but mimics the texture and taste of meat and even “bleeds” like a real burger.

I’ve had my fair share of veggie burgers, and though some of them are indeed tasty and well seasoned, none of them have really resembled the texture or taste of meat. I definitely had my doubts about how close this purely vegan burger could come to the “real thing.”

The burger looks so convincing, it’s even found in the meat section of some grocery stores

I was surprised at how much the burger looked like meat, even when raw. It had the same coloration and texture, although it was slightly softer. Nevertheless, it held up nicely on the grill.

I was extremely impressed with the taste and texture of The Beyond Burger. It wasn’t starchy or crumbly, like veggie burgers I’ve tasted in the past. It also had a hint of smokiness that pushed the meatiness factor even further.

Although a vegan diet should consist mostly of whole fruits and vegetables, a good processed substitute can be a fun treat. In terms of nutrition, this burger is similar to an actual beef burger, with 22 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat. No wonder it tastes so good! However, the main difference is that these burgers have 100% less beef.

 

Ingredients: pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, water, yeast extract, maltodextrin, natural flavors, gum arabic, sunflower oil, salt, succinic acid, acetic acid, non-GMO modified food starch, cellulose from bamboo, methylcellulose, potato starch, beet juice extract (for color), ascorbic acid (to maintain color), annatto extract (for color), citrus fruit extract (to maintain quality), vegetable glycerin.

Where Can I Buy It?

Whole Foods, Wegmans, Kroger, Ralphs, QFC, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Dillons, Safeway, Albertsons, and more!

 

This burger definitely hits the spot when you’re craving the good ol’ American classic. It’s almost too good to be vegan!

 

✿ Katie ✿

7 Recipes for a Vegan Holiday Feast

Originally published on Thirty on Tap

Being a vegan can be hard, especially when living in a small town in the South. Lack of convenience is one of the biggest drawbacks. I can’t just go to a drive-thru and grab a vegan-friendly (albeit unhealthy) lunch and the selection of vegan/vegetarian foods at our local grocery stores is downright laughable.

The holidays are another time when being a vegan is challenging. Family members are confused about why you won’t eat these delicious mashed potatoes they spent so long making, drowning in butter and cheese. “You can eat this. It doesn’t have any meat.”

Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about spending time with family and eating, and when you can’t eat much of anything at dinner, family time becomes even harder to handle.

Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice great tasting (and filling) food. Chances are, your meat-eating family members won’t even have a clue that these dishes are vegan. Try out these holiday recipes and you won’t be missing out on any holiday favorites!

MAIN ENTRÉE

Vegan Italian Meatloaf via Pasta-based

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SIDES

Vegan Stuffing via Serious Eats

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Vegan Mashed Potatoes via My California Roots

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Vegan Gravy via Brand New Vegan

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Green Bean Casserole via Minimalist Baker

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Mac & Cheese via Vegan Yumminess

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DESSERT

Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie via Minimalist Baker

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✿ Katie ✿

Vegan Weight Loss Journey

My husband, Kyle, was overweight for most of his childhood. He comes from a divorced household, and he frequently sought comfort and stability in food. Growing up, he often dealt with teasing from other kids, and even family members, contributing to his low self esteem and self-image issues.

Kyle with his mom at his college graduation, 1 year before we met (May 2013)

In December of 2013, he decided to seriously start trying to lose weight through eating fewer calories and exercising more. He ran regularly, attended martial arts classes, and stayed active at his job as a Health and P.E. teacher. He lost over 50 lbs, and when I met him for the first time, I had no idea that he had been heavier for most of his life.

Kyle and me at the beach, 1 month after we met (June 2014)

We got married in December of 2014. With the combination of married life, less free time to exercise, as well as switching to a sedentary office job, Kyle went back to old habits and gained back more than 70 lbs.

Kyle holding our newborn son (June 2017)

When our son, Elijah, was born, he was at one of the heaviest weights he had ever been. He knew it was time for a change but didn’t have enough motivation to stick with a plan for more than a few weeks.

Kyle’s family had recently watched a movie on Netflix, “What the Health,” which talks at length about how diet (specifically animal products) affects chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The movie also emphasizes the inhumane treatment of animals bred and slaughtered for human consumption. Although some of the claims that the movie makes are based on weak evidence, it is undeniable that a plant-based diet is better for overall health and for a sustainable world. After watching this documentary, Kyle felt very inspired to change his own food choices. The next day, he became a full-fledged vegan and hasn’t looked back since.

In the beginning, when trying to lose weight quickly, Kyle ate a diet consisting of mostly fruit and also fasted intermittently. He ate cooked meals a few times a week until he got closer to his target weight. As the weight fell off, he began to feel more agile and able to exercise on a regular basis. His knee and ankle pain improved drastically. He strove to get 10,000 steps per day by taking long walks and staying active. He was able to lose 60 lbs in 3 months.

It took me a little longer to commit to this lifestyle change. Meat, dairy, and eggs have been a vital part of my diet ever since I was young, and I was reluctant to completely eliminate these foods from my life. After a few months of seeing the changes in Kyle and knowing how much he wanted me to join him in this lifestyle change, I hopped on board. I also wanted to lose the rest of my pregnancy weight and knew that this would be a step in the right direction.

We have converted our household to have only vegan food items, with minimal processed foods. We intend on raising our son on a vegan diet, as much as possible, until he is old enough to make his own food choices. I’m still learning the ropes in terms of vegan cooking, but I hope to share some of my favorite vegan recipes with all of you here.

Kyle and Eli (Oct 2017)

Here are some of Kyle’s own thoughts about his experience so far: 

 

What differences did you notice after becoming vegan?

Less inflammation/swelling, my joint pain started to go away. I had more energy overall. I feel like I regained my sense of taste after eating whole plant based foods, when before, it was hard to enjoy certain things (like apples) when I was used to drinking soda and eating Wendy’s.

How has becoming vegan affected your ability to keep the weight off? 

I think I have control over myself more. I’m not perfect but I’m more capable of making more health conscious decisions and not feeling ruled by food. I’ve been able to take control back. Because it limits what I eat, it makes it easier since my selection pool is smaller to choose from.

What made you decide to commit to being vegan?

I like being vegan, not only for health purposes, but also because of the ethics and the world of the future. Fighting for justice and equality for all people, feeding all people, reducing greenhouse gasses. The slaughtering of animals is appalling to watch, and that’s not something I want to support.

What are your favorite vegan foods?

One of my favorites is definitely Mediterranean. I like Chinese-style tofu, rice, and cabbage, which my wife and mother-in-law make often. I also really enjoy Thai, Indian, and sushi.

✿ Katie ✿