Julie Green and Keen: vegetarian restaurant
Showing posts with label vegetarian restaurant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetarian restaurant. Show all posts
I love encountering individuals who are eager to learn about a vegetarian lifestyle and make a change.  Last night at the restaurant I had the opportunity to chat with a couple that has just decided to embark on their vegetarian lifestyle journey.  They asked me for some helpful hints to get through the difficult first couple months.  With spring quickly approaching and BBQ’s and soccer games around the corner they were concerned about vegetarian options.  Luckily for them I have quite a few helpful hints.

Deciding to become is a big diet and lifestyle change.  There are times when it will seem impossible, but once you find your strength and keep pushing forward there is not turning back.  Here are a few tips that helped me “keep on trucking” and create a healthy lifestyle for myself.

1.    Don’t expect everyone to embrace your new lifestyle change initially.  My parents thought I was crazy when I told them I was making the change, and now they eat a primarily plant-based diet.  During the first couple months my friends and family would taunt me with my past favorite meals with meat making it a game to see if I would crack.  I stayed strong and soon everyone came to realize this was something I was doing to better myself and I wasn’t going to back down.  Stay strong!

2.    There will be times when you crave a dish with meat in it, and when that happens just watch one of the wonderful documentaries out there about the factory meat industry.  I am sure that craving will pass.  Documentaries are a great way to find inspiration to make change and find your strength from within.  Educate yourself!

3.    Try new fruits and vegetables.  There are so many it shouldn’t be hard to try a new one every week incorporating it into a new recipe.  I can’t stress enough that even “ugly” fruits and veggies taste wonderful.  Don’t overlook certain types just because you have never tried it before or it looks ugly.  Dive in head first and see what you like.

4.    If you are not a chef, take a vegetarian cooking class.  I took a class in my first couple months of becoming a vegetarian and learned so much and met a great support system.  Working and having fun with likeminded people is a great way to discover some new recipes and new friends.

5.    Eat what is in season and go to the farmers markets.  Going to the farmers markets is not only a way to get your groceries, it is an experience in itself.  Become friends with the farmers and really find out where your food comes from.  I also suggest planting your own garden.  It is such a satisfying feeling cooking a meal with all your own fresh yields.

Making a lifestyle change doesn’t have to be that hard.  Find a good support system and make a promise to yourself, you’ll be half way there.  If you have any other questions about become a vegetarian, I would love to answer them for you! :)

Go Green and Stay Keen,

With every New Year, it is important to grow and stay up to date and appealing to our customers.  At our monthly meeting this morning my good friend, the owner, announced we will be adding a few new main courses to the menu and will be introducing a new weekly special.  I am excited to see how our customers like the new changes and how can reach a larger audience.

Since I started managing the restaurant, we have continued to grow and become more and more popular; not only in the vegetarian community but also to non-vegetarians.

A few months ago we created a sampler plate special that allows customers to try a variety of dishes to see what they like and what they want a full portion size of.  Our wonderful chef came up with this idea, and it has been a hit amongst new customers.

The new weekly special is going to be a great way to showcase our main courses.  The special will allow the patron to get a glass of wine or drink, a side and the main course for one flat rate.  I think it is a great idea that will definitely be popular among our regular customers and hopefully bring in some new ones.

The owner of the restaurant is brilliant and has brought such a wonderful restaurant to our community.  We are constantly changing and modifying our menu to better fit our customers and the community.  I am so happy I am part of such a positive work environment and can’t wait to see how the new changes will benefit the restaurant. 

Go Green and Stay Keen,
With thanksgiving right around the corner we have spiced up our menu at the restaurant.  We have created a little “holiday section”. We finalized the dishes and desserts last week and have had tremendous feedback this week. 

My favorite part of the menu to decide on was the dessert menu.  Who doesn’t love dessert?  We had quite a few different options and I couldn’t be happier with the ones we chose.  Although the desserts we are serving now are phenomenal, the other ones we came up with and tried were fabulous too.  I have made two of them at home already. 

Here are our vegetarian (mostly vegan) desserts we did not chose to serve.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
•    ½ lbs. firm tofu, pressed
•    1, 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
•    ½ cup sugar
•    ¼ cup maple syrup
•    1 tsp. vanilla
•    ½ tsp. nutmeg
•    ½ tsp. cinnamon
•    ½ tsp. ground cloves
•    2 tbsp. soy milk
•    1 pre-made pie crust

•    Preheat the oven to 400 degree F.
•    Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, obviously not the pie crust , and pulse until creamy and pour into pie crust.
•    Bake for 30-35 minutes and enjoy the wonderful combination of pumpkin and chocolate.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
•    2 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
•    2/3 cup butter, softened
•    1/3 cup sugar

•    5 packages, 8oz. cream cheese, softened
•    ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
•    ¾ cup granulated sugar
•    3 tbsp. flour
•    1 tsp. slat
•    1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
•    ½ tsp. ground all spice
•    ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
•    ¾ tsp. ground ginger
•    6 eggs
•    1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin puree
•    2/3 cup evaporated milk

•    Preheat oven to 350 degree F
•    In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the crust and stir with a fork until mixed.  Press the mixture to the bottom and sides of a 10x13 inch pan.
•    In an electric mixer mixing bowl beat the cream cheese at low speed until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. 
•    Pour the batter into the crusted pan and bake for 1 hour then turn off oven and let sit for 30 minutes.  Let the pan cool and refrigerate. 
•    Enjoy!

Cranberry Sorbet
•    2 cups cranberries, either fresh or frozen rinsed and stems removed
•    1 ½ cup sugar
•    1 ½ cup water
•    ½ cup orange juice
•    ¼ cup lemon juice
•    2 tbsp. Grand Marnier or another orange liqueur

•    Make a syrup by adding sugar and water to a pot and bring to boil.  When the sugar has dissolved add the cranberries and orange juice.  Continue boiling until the cranberries burst. 
•    Let the mixture cool and then blend or puree until smooth.  Strain the mixture into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and orange liqueur.  Freeze the mixture and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy your delicious vegetarian thanksgiving desserts!

Go green and stay keen,

I was so excited when the phone rang this morning and heard a familiar voice on the other end.  My beloved “cookbook” cook that moved to Chicago called to check in and see how things have been going.  We talk over Facebook every once in a while but it was so great to hear his voice again.  It had been so long since I had a good chat with him.

From the sounds of his voice and all his crazy antics, it seems as though he is doing great in Chicago.  He told me that the restaurant he is working at is doing very well and since he became the head chef their business has continued to grow; no surprise there.  He is one of the most brilliant chef’s I have ever met.  He explained how since starting at the restaurant, he has created a couple new seasonal dishes that have been very successful amongst patrons.

Chicago is treating his family well too.  They are all settled in and transforming to become more “Midwestern”…his exact words. :D  His kids love having so many parks and a zoo (in the summer) in their backyard.  It makes me so happy for him that everything is good and that his family is loving it there.

He said that the only hard adjustment has been the extremely brutal Chicago winter.  Obviously, living in California for years did not prepare him for the snow, cold temperatures, and ice that winter brings.  Seeing all the snowfall and cold temperatures in Chicago on the news, makes me feel a little bad for them.  (To keep him thinking about us in sunny CA, I send him pictures of the sun and blue skies; maybe it will convince him to come back…just kidding I am happy for him)  It was funny listening to how he has to bundle up just to go to the grocery store and get his kids ready for school.
His kids are loving the snow, besides all the layers they have to put on.  He has sent me a few pictures of them playing in the snow and making snowmen in the park.  He says they also have been ice skating in Millennium Park quite a bit…I am jealous of that.  California doesn't really have outdoor ice skating in the snow.  :)

I am so happy I got to talk to him for a while today and that him and his family are doing great.  After chatting with him, I think I need to plan a trip to the Windy City to visit him and the restaurant he works at.  I think I can make that a business trip right?

GO VEGGIES...inside joke between me and Mr. Cookbook. :)

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Yesterday at the restaurant I had a lovely conversation with a customer that had just converted to vegetarianism.  He dove in head first a month ago without any progression eliminating meat.  He told me he was feeling great so far but was having some serious meat cravings.  I know from experience the beginning can be difficult when you see other people eating meats around you. 
I remember those first months when everyone was eating meat around me it was hard not to think about going back, but in the back my mind I knew it was something I wanted to do.  I tried just about every meat substitute out there, some were very delicious and satisfied the little cravings and some were down right terrible.  I was happy to share my favorite meat substitutes with my customer so he wouldn’t have to go through the trial and error I did. 

In my opinion, these are the best meat substitutes.

•    If you are missing cold cuts and deli sandwiches, Tofurky Deli Slices should be your go to.  They are made from smoked wheat gluten and have many different imitated flavors.  I like the roast beef flavor, but they are all equally as delicious.  Even my non-vegetarian friends like them. 

•    Quorn brand Chick’n nuggets are incredible.  My kids love them cut up with BBQ sauce.  Quorn brand uses fermented mushrooms that give them a texture nearly identical to chicken. They are probably one of my favorite chicken replacements.

•    If you love mushrooms like I do, Gardenburger Portabella Veggie Burgers are really good.  They are primarily made of brown rice and vegetables.  I like the smoky flavor and chucky texture of the vegetables.  They do have a lot of sodium, so read the labels.

•    Amy’s Kitchen has good premade meals if you are on the go.  My son loves the black bean vegetable enchilada.  They have a selection of soups and meal starters as well.

•    Anything Morning Star Brand!! My absolute favorite are the Grillers California Turk’y burgers.  They have the perfect amount of flavor and spices and when topped with avocado and tomato; they are the most flawless burger.  I highly recommend all the products by them!

When looking for a product you like, be sure to read the labels because some brands are high in sodium and aren’t very nutritious.  Although my diet doesn’t consist largely of these meat replacements, they are a nice easy break from cooking.  Happy eating!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

About a month ago, I was excited and sad to hear when my beloved chef at the restaurant had been offered an incredible opportunity to be the head chef at a very well-known restaurant in Chicago.  As sad as I was to see my personal cook book leave, I was so happy for the advancement in his career.  He is destined to do big things in Chicago.

As the manager I had to post the chef opening and begin reading resumes so we could hire a new chef and have them trained by our one and only.  We had quite a few applications come into the restaurant that looked marvelous.  Over the past couple weeks I have been interviewing candidates for this position with my dear friend and our current chef.  It is refreshing hearing all the great ideas and the ambition from new chefs.

This was my first time going through the hiring process from the other side of the table.  It was interesting listening to everyone’s back story and why they wanted to be a chef at a vegetarian restaurant.  They all had their own unique answer and reasoning.

Most of the candidates were vegetarians and were passionate about expanding cuisine standards.  But I guess there always has to be someone unlike all the rest…  One interviewee had some very bizarre questions for us.  First off, they were not vegetarian and kept asking if we missed eating meat?  If that wasn’t strange enough, they suggested we incorporate meat into some of our dishes?  At first I thought they were being funny, but after a while it became too much.

After two weeks of very interesting interviews we had to pick a new chef to fill the big shoes at the restaurant.  It was a very difficult decision, we finally decided to offer the job to a young innovative chef from Seattle, Washington.  He had previous experience working in an organic restaurant and was very passionate about our values and our menu that welcomes everyone.

He accepted the position early last week and begun training at the restaurant.  The dynamic between our new chef and our wonderful cookbook is incredible.  They complement each other so well.  He is beginning to catch on to the way the restaurant runs and has already made a few new dishes for us to try…Yummy.  I have a feeling he is going to be great!

I haven’t gotten to know him that well yet, but I hope to do so soon.  It is exciting seeing a new face in the kitchen working to fill the big shoes of my dear chef.

Good Luck in Chicago Mr. Cookbook, I can’t wait to see all the big things you are going to do! We’ll miss you and always remember GO VEGGIES! :)

Go Green and Staying Keen,


A new cook in the kitchen

by on 8/10/2014
About a month ago, I was excited and sad to hear when my beloved chef at the restaurant had been offered an incredible opportunity to be the...
I LOVE MY NEW JOB!  Sorry it has been such a long time since the last post, I have been consumed by my new passion... working at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant as manager.  The past month at the restaurant has been such a learning and growing experience.  I have reignited my love for the restaurant industry and can’t wait to continue learning and growing. 

Starting work at a new restaurant is always exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking.  I had to get used to the way things are done and get the flow of the restaurant down.  It feels so great being back in the industry.  I love that I am constantly around new interesting people excited to be at a wonderful restaurant.   

Each day is a new adventure.  Working at a vegetarian restaurant is very different from when I was working at a chain restaurant during my college years.  The people coming into my new restaurant have an idea of what they are going to get food wise, and are excited to chat with others that have similar views.  It is also refreshing seeing people come in that are not vegetarians that are eager to try something new.  When I make my rounds through the dining room making sure everyone’s meals are good, it never fails, someone stops me and wants to share their story.  It is rewarding know that this restaurant does not only have good food, but also good company.

Since I started, my family and a few friends have been able to stop for dinner and, from what they tell me, had an unexpected wonderful vegetarian experience.  Like I´ve wrote before, people often underestimate how much variety vegetarians have to eat.  I love seeing the amazement on the face on non-vegetarians when they see how many options there are and how delicious and fulfilling the food is.  I try to make sure everybody leaves the restaurant happy, pleased with the service, and with a full belly of course.

One of the wonderful sandwiches at the restaurant

I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work with.  I love asking questions and learning about the herbs and spices the chef uses to add a different zest to each dish.  I have taken quite a few notes… I want to pretend I’m Chef Julie at home. :)

If you would have asked me 3 years ago where I saw myself today, I would have never imagined I would be living out a lifelong dream working at a great vegetarian restaurant.

Go Green and Stay Keen,