San Juan Vegan Eats with Asian Flavors

Lamp - 1st Visit to Sogo Asian Bistro

When I find a place that has Vegan options in Puerto Rico I feel need to share it with you so you can help me spread the word.

I shared on my personal blog part of the awesome experience I had a few days ago during a business lunch  at SOGO Asian Bistro in San Juan.

The next day I took my family for lunch and here is a quick review of the delicious and well prepared meal we enjoyed.

My company eating at SOGO.

Lucy and Daniela ready to try SOGO.

Fast Service with a Smile

We got there during the lunch hour rush which seemed pretty packed. As the patrons left to get back to their duties, we sat and enjoyed the rest of our meal.

That said if you want a good meal at a great value and don’t have more than an hour for a lunch break, the food is served in a very timely manner.

Kahoo Yu - Owner of Sogo

Kahoo Yu, Owner, always smiling.

Vegan Asian Appetizers

We started our meal when the owner Kahoo, (a good friend of mine) recommended ordering sautéed vegetables as a side and some spring rolls. They were both great options.

We also started off with some Jasmine tea to set a relaxing tone to our lunch.

Vegan Options in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Vegan Appetizer - Veggies

Mix of Sautéed Vegetables

Vegan Asian Entrees

When I visit a restaurant with Vegan options,  I usually ask for as many vegan food items as I can fit in my stomach (I hope my personal trainer is not reading this).

I ordered a bento box which included the following:

  • Salad with Ginger Dressing
  • Fried Vegetable Rice
  • Sautéed Vegetables
  • Veggie Sushi Roll
Part of my Huge Bento Box

Vegan Bento Box

For my daughter (and me) I ordered fried tofu with black mushrooms and Lucy ordered a few sushi vegetable rolls that where all delicious.

Fried Tofu, Black Mushrooms and Vegetables

Fried Tofu, Black Mushrooms and Vegetables

Vegan Dessert

Lychee in Martini Glass

Lychee

After our entrees, we had dessert which were Lychee Fruit in a cute martini glass.

Overall the meal was great and very tasty; something difficult for many regular restaurants when they prepare vegan options.

I am so thankful for Kahoo and how he went the extra mile to cater to our lifestyle, the attention to detail he paid to Daniela, so we could have one of the best meals in a long time.

If you are near San Juan and you’re seeking some vegan eats with an Asian, twist feel free to stop by SOGO Asian Bistro.

More About SOGO Asian Bistro

SOGO Asian Bistro
Centro Comercial San Francisco
San Juan, Puerto Rico
(787) 766-0111

1st Visit to Sogo Asian Bistro

Super Time at SuperFoods PR

SuperFoods

Since we moved to the Metro Area of San Juan, Puerto Rico, I have been on the lookout for restaurants that serve vegetarian and vegan options for lunch or dinner. Prior to Raul @rj_c becoming vegan, we would share desserts at @PFChangs if we dined there. But there are few places that offer vegan and vegetarian treats that please both our palates while being nutritious. Add to the mix our almost three year old daughter, who will try food from mommy’s plate, we want to make sure that what she intakes is delicious and healthy.

I came across the SuperFoodsPR Facebook page from someone who visited the place when we moved to the area. SuperFoodsPR creates smoothies and fruit bowls with Açaí berries as one of its main ingredients. The Açaí berry is considered one of the top ten super foods you could consume. You can find more information about this berry here.

Fresh Bananas and Granola

To SuperFoods We Go!

From the outside it looks like a small store, but when you enter, there are plenty of stools and three counters for clients to sit and see how the smoothies and Açaí bowls are made. There is a table in the middle with another seat made from wood pallets.  There other tables in the back, the music is relaxing, and it is always filled with customers. The menu is listed on a chalkboard, reducing paper waste. Their bowls are made from wood and they use eco-friendly cups for their smoothies.

Açai blended with...

Christmas Coquito Bowl

They have seasonal bowls and recently  Raul had the vegan version (sans Gingerbread cookie) of the Christmas Coquito Bowl. The açaí is mixed with coquito, topped with pomegrante, granola, banana, and coconut shreds. Our daughter enjoyed this bowl with her dad and she can help eat half of the bowl. If you need to pick-up some organic foods or vitamins, you can find a variety of items for purchase.

Christmas Acai Bowl Vegan

You can look at their menu to see other options available along with a list of organic ingredients you can add to your bowls. We will definitely go back and try other bowls.

Have you gone to SuperFoods Puerto Rico?

 

Rellenitos de Papa with Daiya Cheese

Relleno de Papa

We all make more mashed potatoes than we would like and that is exactly what happened to me yesterday. Our daughter likes potato wedges, fries, and chunks but mashed, not so much. I don’t like throwing left-overs away and decided I would put them in the fridge and eat them the next day.

Snack Time with Rellenitos de Papa

Snack time is around ten thirty and I decided that instead of re-heating the mashed potatoes for lunch, I would make Rellenitos de Papa with Pepper Jack Daiya Cheese. I had already incorporated the Daiya Cheese into the mashed potatoes from the night before and I decided to fill the small little potato balls with more Daiya Cheese.

I remember trying to make Rellenos de Papa with my grandmother one time and I failed miserably. Her Rellenos de Papa were much bigger (tennis ball sized) and stuffed with ground meat. When we fried the ones I made versus hers, mine turned into fried mashed potatoes. Of course her’s stayed in the shape of a ball.

My mistake was that I handled the potato balls too much and my hand warmed them up. Forming the ball and filling them has to be done quickly. My grandmother used canola oil that covered the Rellenos de Papa in a deep pot, at medium to high heat. She has over 80 years of experience making them. She just celebrated her 90th birthday this past July.

This is a vegan version and you could find faux meats to fill  them with or any leftover veggies from the night before and of course make them much bigger. I also did not deep fry but pan fry in olive oil and did not move them around. I browned each side and then with a spoon coated the entire rellenito with olive oil whilst leaving them in place.  These were small appetizer size (golf ball size) and were made pretty quickly.

Rellenitos de Papa

Left over mashed potatoes (cold preferably)

Pepper Jack Daiya Cheese

Olive Oil or whatever oil you use for frying

2 tablespoons of Flour with a sprinkle of salt and pepper (this is to coat the balls)

Dipping Sauce Mayo-Kectchup

1 tablespoon of Vegan Mayo (any brand we used Earth Balance)

1 tablespoon Ketchup (we used Woodstock Organic Tomato Ketchup)

1 garlic clove peeled and shredded (raw not cooked)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cooking the Rellenitos de Papa

I made the mayo-ketchup sauce after I had given Raul a test rellenito. He thought it would be a good idea to use this as a dipping sauce. Next time, I will make the mayo-ketchup first so it could really have that garlicky taste.

My leftover’s allowed me to make seven, cheesy filled, balls. I quickly formed each ball leaving a little hole in the middle, I put the shreds of Daiya that could fit, closed up, and rolled in the flour. I made sure to coat all sides of the ball. I  heated up the olive oil in a small frying pan (medium heat) and did not turn the rellenitos over until I saw one side was brown. Once both sides were brown, I used a spoon to drizzle the hot olive oil over the rellenito to make sure the flour was cooked. (If you cook the rellenitos too low, they will get mushy. One of them got too soft.)

This really took about twenty minutes to make; this does not include the taste testing in between. This might be something you could do for a party instead of making the huge rellenos that would fill anyone up in no time. We ate them pretty quickly. If you are a vegetarian, you could use regular cheese and mayo.

I really don’t use exact measurements in this recipe, but I am sure that trial and error won’t hurt. The key is not to move the rellenitos too much while frying or you’ll end up with fried mashed potatoes.

Book Review L.I.V.E. Latin Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Eats

 

LIVE Book

I was provided an abridged version of L.I.V2.E. (Latin Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Eats): Local & Organic Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle as a book review by the author, Melinda Gonzalez. Although it was a review of the abridged version, the opinions expressed are solely my own. 

When we started our journey into healthier eating (not just vegan or vegetarian), we had to play a guessing game of what to do and what not to do. Since I was the cook, I did not know that buying and cooking whole foods was better than buying processed vegetarian foods. We are always looking to connect with people who have gone on a food journey similar to our own. Being a vegetarian & vegan Latino family  is strange to some folks in our own families and connecting with folks all over the globe makes us realize that we are not alone.

We recently had a person join our Latino Vegans & Vegetarians group on Facebook. Melinda Gonzalez, who has a blog called Organic Melinda, introduced us to her blog and also made us aware that she had written a book called, L.I.V2.E. (Latin Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Eats): Local & Organic Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle .  She asked if any blogger would be interested in reviewing her book and I signed up. I was interested in reviewing the book because any recipe that I can veganize for my partner that has a Latin twist, is something I keep on hand and forward to other’s looking to go meatless for a day or for life.

Meal Plan and Exercise Plan

The book is so much more than just recipes; it starts off with the reasons Melinda went vegetarian, to eating super healthy with the birth of her daughter. I can relate to her in the sense that I really did not go vegetarian or eat whole foods until our daughter was born.

For those who don’t know where to start when choosing a healthier meal plan, there is one for you with recipes from the book. If you are a busy family on the go or you are considering incorporating more vegetarian meals during the week, then the meal plan takes the guess work out of your cooking. Exercise is also important and I force myself to move out of the house with my dog at least twice a day, go for walks with our daughter, and swim with her to do exercise. Melinda’s book also provides an exercise plan that was created with the help of a certified personal trainer and registered holistic nutritionist.

Staple Foods for Latinos and Caribbean People

There are foods that have been a staple in many Latino and Caribbean homes that are now considered super foods and are being consumed by those looking for healthier food options.  Melinda explains how foods such as Amaranth, Cacao, and even Avocados have been in the diet of Latinos for many centuries.

If I look at my mom’s recipes, we always had avocados when they were in season and if someone was going to Puerto Rico, my dad always had to have one from the island if they were in season. Living in Puerto Rico, we are lucky to have family members and friends with all sorts of root vegetables and fruit that you can’t find in the states. Ever had Grosellas for dessert? 

Organics on a Budget, GMO’s, & Farmer’s Market List

We buy local organics from El Departamento de La Comida in Santurce, Puerto Rico and we don’t look at price unless it is a tight week budget wise. Melinda has some tips for those looking to purchase local organics on a budget and suggest growing your own or buying at certain times of the month to save some dollars.

Nevertheless, if you are looking to purchase fruits and vegetables that are not Genetically Modified Organisms, then the book also provides an insight on her reasons she avoids GMO’s for her family and offers other alternatives such as growing your own veggies or going to coops.

Since Melinda lives on the East Coast of the United States, she provides a list of Farmer’s Markets in New York and New Jersey. If you purchase the book,you can read more about her conversations with farmers and why sometimes getting labeled as a USDA Organic farm can be costly and lengthy process .

Recipes

This section gives a wide variety of recipes not just Latino dishes. She offers recipes for the entire day; breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts. The recipe that I wanted to try was the Vegan Veggie Mofongo for one simple reason; I wanted to see how baking the plantain in the oven would really taste and come close to deep frying. I have my own way of doing the mofongo which is closer to making Mangú, a Dominican dish that has one boiling the plantain instead of deep frying pieces.

Melinda provided me a tip about not over baking the plantain pieces or they would be hard as sticks. I cooked the pieces, took them out just in time, and mashed them in my mortar and pestle. I served this with mixed vegetables and an avocado salad with spinach and tomato. My partner and I agreed that texture was close to that of deep frying and was actually better than my boiling technique. It is also healthier than deep frying and gives you that bit of crunch that you find with deep frying.

Melinda offers her experience and knowledge in this book and the reasons she chooses to be a tree hugging hippie (she writes that she literally hugs trees and goes barefoot to be grounded with nature.) Purchasing the book would be a good jump start for those who are considering going vegetarian or vegan.

 

 

A Nuttzo Nut & Seed Butter Experience

Nuttzo CHOC and NuttZo original

I have always been a fan of Peanut butter but not almond butter or any other nut butters.

When I was sent Nuttzo, I read that the product was vegan friendly, kosher, and organic. I started adding Nuttzo to my protein shakes (made with  which I drink after training or when I am about to miss a meal.

NuttZo CHOC in a Protein Shake

Going into my Protein Shake.

NuttZo significantly improved the taste (with added on nutritional value) of my vegan protein shakes (I prefer Vega Sport Performance Protein).

Satisfying My Chocolate Cravings

The Chocolate version of NuttZo really helped me satisfy my chocolate cravings.

Since I am a fan of chocolate and at times I don’t have a vegan chocolate options or products, I opened the jar of Nuttzo Choc first and consumed it a lot quicker than the regular jar.

Unique Packaging

I am a big fan of simple and fun packaging. NuttZo is placed inside a jar but the labels are inverted than what we normally see on jars.

I really fell in love with the packaging especially when the ingredients can be easily found on the main label. Later when editing this post I reviewed the website and there is a practical reason why the label is upside down.

Who would of a thought an upside down Jar could easily trick the mind?

Ingredients

Being Vegan I have to make sure I consume protein and other great nutrients such as Omega 3; ingredients found in Nuttzo.

In trying to learn more about Nuttzo, I looked at their site where they provided 8 reasons to eat NuttZo CHOC. The reasons they provided where all tied to health and other benefits such as improving your mood, skin, and why every ingredient makes NuttZo such a great product.

More info on ingredients found here:

I had these two samples of NuttZo delivered to my home in Puerto Rico where I enjoyed them and hope the product becomes available to ship to the Island.

If you want to find out more on where to find, try, and buy Nuttzo visit their cool website.

Disclosure: Even though our two Complimentary Samples where sent to our house on behalf of Nuttzo and Smack Media, we don’t feel that this influenced the writing of this post in any way.

Review

Zest Restaurant at @SanJuanWBC Hotel Caters to Vegetarians!

Raul and I are always looking for local places to eat that can cater to both of our palates.

We recently were hired for @CIMAPR to help a local boutique hotel, San Juan Water & Beach Club with telling their online story. One of the most exciting things that happened with our new client is that their Executive Chef, Raúl Correa, was nominated for @FandW Food & Wine Magazines People’s Best New Chef Gulf Coast region. 

When I sat down to talk to the General Manager, José Torres, he told me they had a complete vegetarian menu and not just one for omnivores.

Vegetarian Menu Zest Restaurant San Juan Water & Beach Club

Anytime a restaurant can accomadate our family, that is a place that we can support. With a little help from our community, we are asking for you to vote for Chef Raúl in the Gulf Coast category and read more about his inspiration for cooking.

We are rooting for Chef Raúl and hope that if you are vegetarian or vegan, stop by Isla Verde and have your meal at Zest!

Decisions in Vegan Nutrition

Many of us have the bad habits of trying to eat things that might not be as healthy as we think they are. In the perfect world everything edible, with moderation, would bring nutritional value. Reality is everything, edible by humans does not necessarily mean nutritious.

I have been vegetarian for 6+ years and at almost one year of being vegan, I can say that I can still find many ways to improve what I eat.

My enemy Sugar

Every once in a while my archenemy, Sugar, starts to battle with me and more times than I want to admit, she wins.

I have found many healthier options when it comes to cookies, but I can still eliminate those options completely.

Vegan Beer and Spirits

Every once in a while I will have a drink or two making sure it is a spirit or beer that is made in a vegan friendly way. I use the Vegan is Easy app to help me decide which ones are vegans and which ones are not. But I would be better off not having any drinks.

To learn more about Vegan friendly spirits and beer, feel free to go to Barnivore Vegan Alcohol Directory and download their iPhone app.

Organic Farmer’s Market is Very Important

For quite some time we have been visiting the local Organic Farmer’s Market and making sure we get as much fresh, organic foods while supporting our local farmers.

My biggest commitment to nutrition is tied to giving a good example for my daughter to follow. In her case at 21 months old she is still breastfed and vegetarian.

As individuals we are prone to take the less healthy route when eating. But when we think about our role as parents, our minds shift and make sure we make the best choice; not only for our daughter but for ourselves as we are the primary caregivers.

Our biggest Challenge is the Family our Dog

I also see the importance in keeping our dogs healthy and the great options of dog food that are available for them. I started thinking on how to improve the quality of lifestyle of my Labrador Juanga. What I find curious is how people would sometimes feed their dog a more strict and healthier diet than what they feed their kids and themselves. In our house it is the opposite and we might need to fix that.

Nutritious and Healthy Drinks

At our local farmer’s market, we purchase juices from Martin and Itege, our Rastafarian Vegan Friends, who are encyclopedias of nutrition. Martin and Itege have a unique way of offering vegan and even medicinal drinks that have great taste and are nutritious.

Leading by Example

As parents we need to lead by example. Seeking options for kids that are fun to eat, with a high nutritional value, and with great taste is a challenge everyone should sign up for.

I try to give my daughter the best and there is a lot more to learn. I think we have done a great job, but we still have many more years of learning and exchanging information with those who care about nutrition.

In what ways do you identify and find great tasting food options that are healthy for your family?

Join @peace_n_loaf for a Slice of Hope

The ladies at @Peace_n_loaf are teaming up with an industry magazine called, Pizza Today, in a charity  event called Slice of Hope. Slice of Hope is dedicated to raising money for breast cancer awareness and is counting with the donations made at participating pizzerias in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Look for participating stores near you.

I spoke to Stephanie and Vanessa at the Organic Markert, (Isa was home sick with a cold)  regarding the Slice of Hope charity event for this coming Friday, October 12. They will be open from 3-9 p.m. (their usual hours) and will be donating 15% of their sales to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation.

You will be able to purchase your regular sized pies and if you don’t want an entire pie, you can purchase a nice sized piece of pizza with a drink for $5.00. I have eaten at @Peace_n_loaf on several occassions and their slices are not small at all.

Besides who wants to cook on Friday after a long day of work?

 

If you need further details, you can contact Stephanie or Isa regarding this event on Facebook , via Twitter, or Website.

A Vegan Alcapurria in Piñones

It had been at least 7 years probably since my last experience with an alcapurria. Out of the many fritters that are created this one is my least favorite. I guess that most of the ones I had tasted in the past where either overcooked or had the disclaimer of a heart attack written all over it.

For those of you not familiar with an Alcapurria it’s a fritter made of:

“An alcapurria is made from a doughy mixture of mashed tubers and root vegetables that grow on the island. The dough surrounds a center of heavily seasoned filling. Cooks spoon the filling into the center, roll the alcapurria into a distinctive peg shape and deep fry it for several minutes.”

Since I stopped eating meat I have not been able to eat some of the typical Puerto Rican treats. When I find a variation of a Puerto Rican treat that is vegan I feel obligated to try it out.

Our friends Itegue and Martin who are organic farmers and also owners of Jugos Creazion started an Organic Market in Piñones which is every last Sunday of the month.

On a one occasion they mentioned that they would have vegan alcapurrias at the market and sadly I arrived when they where all gone. On another visit to the organic market Itegue mentioned they had a dozen alcapurrias for sale and ready to be cooked. I could not resist the temptation in trying this treat I had not eaten in years. I took Itegue up on the offer and carried the box of vegan alcapurrias to the car with a big smile.

Since I don’t cook, Lucy my loyal partner in many things, made sure she cooked them. She decided to fry them and although she says she did not do a good job frying (we don’t fry much at home) I really thought those vegan alcapurrias where delicious. On our last visit to the Mercado Organico of Piñones at the COPI we where able to try the Alcapurrias made by Martin’s Dad Mr. Castro and getting the completely finished product.

For some reason these alcapurrias where much tastier and better to enjoy than the versions I had tried years before which where probably fried in lard and a mystery of other ingredients that accumulated in the frying oil.

My first experiences with a vegan alcapurria left me with the need to have one every once in a while. Itegue also mentioned that we could even bake them to make them even healthier than the fried option provided that the outer dough is prepared for baking.

When it comes to Puerto Rican treats I have to say out of the vegan versions I have tried, the Alcapurria definitely took first place.

As I wait till my next encounter with an alcapurria I wonder what other Vegan version of a Puerto Rican meal or treat can we make or try?

Any suggestions?

So you can get to know Itegue a bit better here is her performing with the Equal Rights Band at the Organic Market in Piñones. Great healthy options, beautiful people, and some  pretty awesome entertainment for the family to enjoy.

Peace N Loaf Vegetarian/Vegan Pizzeria

We have known about Peace N Loaf’s Pizzeria since they opened but could not align with their time schedule when in the San Juan Metro Area. We usually visit San Juan early in the day and Peace n Loaf thankfully is open when most other vegan and vegetarian friendly places are closed. We have already mentioned consuming Isa and Stephanie’s artisanal bread at the local Organic Market In La Placita de la Roosevelt many times. Since we moved to the metro area about two weeks ago, we decided to go and have dinner at the first and only vegetarian/vegan friendly pizzeria.

The Atmosphere and Menu

When we visited the restaurant, the ladies were just coming back from vacation/business trip out in the states where Stephanie mentioned that they would be opening up another Peace N Loaf in her home town in Ohio. Raul and I loved the decoration and homey feel of the place. The menu was on the wall with their specials, appetizers, and creative use of space. The wall serves as a chalk board (with chalk board paint) and eliminates paper menus and reduces the printing of new menus if something changes.

The Food and Drinks

Raul and I have said this many times; Stephanie is a master at selling her bread at the market and so it was no surprise to us that the same service we get at the market was the same service we got at the pizzeria; Excellent! She explained the cheese options which were either vegan or regular mozzarrella. A majority of the ingredients used at the pizzeria are local organics and the best thing is that if you have any type of allergy, you can let them know in advance.

We ordered the Super Veggie (mushrooms, sun dried tomato, vegan cheese, black olives, green peppers, onions and red peppers) and hummus with bread and vegan jalapeño cheese. The hummus was so creamy that our daughter had a blast dipping away and eating. We did not let the hummus go to waste and ask for more bread. The drink options we chose were watermelon and parcha juice made in-house. Don’t expect to be served in paper plates or cups. No straws are kept in the restaurant. Stephanie has commented to us in previous discussions that straws need to be eliminated everywhere. The ladies have really made the restaurant as eco-friendly as they possibly can.

Once the pizza came out, it was delicious. The crust they use is free of potassium bromate and at times they do have gluten free pizza crust (Corrected below thanks to Stephanie). I like a thin crust with an even amount of cheese and sauce. The pizza was just the way I like it and our daughter enjoyed eating at the restaurant. If you don’t want pizza, you can order a melt.  You can even buy a loaf of bread and take a piece of the pizzeria home. At the end of our meal we finally got to meet Isa, after so many years of interacting with her via Twitter.

We will be visiting Peace n Loaf more often and one of our primary places to eat since we want to support local and vegan friendly places.

We give Peace n Loaf 10 stars and recommend you stopping by the only vegetarian pizzeria in Puerto Rico.

Contact Info

  • Address
    • 1402 Avenida Americo Miranda Caparra Terrace, PR
  • Phone
    • +1 787-293-7773
  • Website
  • Map


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