My Food Experience in Cincinnati, OH

pastries at coffee emporium

I have to say, trying to find a true vegan restaurant in Cincinnati was very, very tough. As in, there aren’t any, well downtown that is. And does someone who eats a vegan diet have to only eat at vegan restaurants? No, of course not. In fact, I know vegans who regular steak houses because they have amazing baked potatoes, sweet potatoes and salads. So regular in fact, that the owners and wait staff are on a first name basis with them. But, I write a vegan blog, and my whole purpose in traveling to other cities is to find those hidden gems in the cities I travel to, not the typical places that exist around the country; the Chipotle’s and Tokyo Joe’s if you will. We all know those establishments are great places to eat and have good options for those who eat vegetarian and vegan. But I want to find the places that are either hidden in the city or aren’t obvious choices for plant based food. 


So what did I find in Cincinnati? I learned that Graeter’s Ice Cream and LaRosa’s Pizza are pretty much city staples. And well, honestly, people here in Cincinnati love their meat! They are very serious about. So many award winning steak houses around the city, not to mention Cincinnati Chili (for those unfamiliar with what Cincinnati Chili is, as I was until a couple of months ago, it’s basically chili poured over spaghetti noodles. Make it a 3 way by adding diced onions and grated cheddar cheese). And there are quite a number of pig statues around in the restaurants as well, which I learned is to recall Cincinnati’s annual Flying Pig Marathon and the city’s’ nickname of “Porkopolis”. The city’s nickname dates back from the mid 19th century, when the Cincinnati meat packing industry led the country. There is an actual historical importance of the pig industry in this city. 


I know vegetable eaters probably don’t care much about that fact, but it is a big part of this city’s history and I felt like I needed to share it. We can’t ignore a part of history just because we don’t like or approve of it. However, healthier, plant based options and restaurants are creeping their way into the city of Cincinnati. 

Restaurants like Melt, which is dubbed a humble yet hip spot delivering health-oriented sandwiches, salads & entrees with a global bent, are making a statement with their food. Every local I asked about where to find vegan food pointed me to Melt. This is the place to go if you want that vegan Cincinnati Chili. They offer a fabulous black bean chili that they make in house-with chocolate and all! They also have an incredible vegan mac n’ cheese and offer alternative proteins like tempeh and seitan. Even though they serve meat and dairy cheeses as well, they are building a name for themselves as the “vegan’s place the eat” in downtown Cincinnati. With now 2 locations, find them on the north side of town or at their new location in the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). 

I ate at a restaurant called Kaze (pronounced Ka-zay), that was a Japanese Sushi Bar/gastro pub/beer garden, located in OTR. That type of restaurant is new to Cincinnati. But they had a fabulous roasted vegetable bowl with rice and miso butter. It was loaded with fresh veggies like red potato, mushrooms, broccoli , brussel sprouts, carrots, seaweed, radish, green beans and celery. It was to die for. And enormous, I couldn’t eat all of it. But I gave it my all that’s for sure. 😂They also had a few selections for vegetarian sushi. I had the kito roll, which was sweet potato, asparagus and avocado. And instead of using soy sauce and wasabi to eat it with, the chef provides a chimichuri sauce with this particular roll. So yummy!! I wish I would have ordered more….

If you’re looking for a light lunch with a more urban feel to it, check out the Coffee Emporium, a neat coffee shop located at the south side of OTR. Phenomenal coffee, ☕️ as they roast their own beans in house and have dozens of varieties. My brother in law would love this coffee shop! 


I had an iced coffee and the rich flavor it had was out of this world. It was very refreshing. They also have hummus pita sliders, pitas topped with hummus, sliced tomato and sliced green apple. I never would have thought to combine hummus and apple but it worked really well. Hats off to whoever has thought of that! 

My last night in Cincinnati, I ate at a place called Maplewood Kitchen and Bar. Located right by my hotel in the Central Business District, it was kind of an accident that I stumbled upon it. But happy that I did. Known for their extensive brunch menu, Maplewood Kitchen has a sit down restaurant feel to it, but you actually walk in, order your food then sit down. The bartender said that it just helps the whole place run smoother, especially mid week when all the business folk have to eat and get back to work after lunch in a timely manner. I sat at the bar however, where it can be full service if that’s what you desire. I am really enjoying sitting at the bar, because being a party of one it’s a less awkward place to sit and you can socialize with others around you if you want to, or not! There are no set rules. Plus, they keep the wine at the bar…..

The Maplewood Kitchen has a fabulous power bowl with quinoa and farro, avocado, tomatoes, beets, crunchy green beans, grilled corn on the cob, and arugula. For you vegetarians out there, they can add two poached eggs to it if you like. This bowl was crunchy, filling and satisfying. It had amazing flavor too, with a slight hint of pepper in every bite to give it some kick. 

I also ordered their wild mushroom toast with whipped goat cheese, but they were out of it. So I settled for their tomato toast. It was extremely creamy and tasty, especially with that tang of goat cheese mixed with the juice from the tomatoes. Num! Tomatoes are a good second to mushrooms.😝

There is a pizza place that I was trying to get to, but because of the holiday weekend it was closed multiple days. The Kitchen Factory, formally known as Northslice Pizza, serves traditional New York style pizza by the slice or whole pies. But they also have a vegan menu, offering vegan pizza, vegan meatballs and their own vegan mac n’ cheese. So if your ever in the mood for pizza and in the north side of town, give The Kitchen Factoy a try. They have late night hours with a late night menu as well. 

Check out my post for 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab for a mellow place to hang out for lunch or drinks at night! 

Walking around the city all weekend, shopping and eating food, total dream. I cannot believe this is my life! 

Until next time… 

Bon Appetit! 

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Findlay Market-OTR


Guys, The Findlay Market in OTR is an awesome Farmer’s Market! It is Cincinnati’s only surviving municipal market house, and oldest market to the state of Ohio. The market is built on land donated to the city of Cincinnati by the estate of General James Findlay. The market house bell, rung at the start of each market day, was brought from Cincinnati’s Pearl Street Market when the facility was torn down in 1934. The Findlay Market has been renovated at least 4 times since its erection in 1855. There’s your history lesson for the day! Yay!

The market about a block wide, with a long, enclosed building that houses dozens of local Cincinnati vendors: from meats and cheeses, made from scratch spices and fresh pastas, bakeries, prepared foods like pizza, Indian and Thai foods, and prepared salads. It was really cool, with tables provided throughout so people can come and eat lunch while they shop. 

On the south side of the market, are older buildings, houses turned businsees with a lot of local shops in them. From smaller grocery stores, to bake shops and holistic therapies, there was something for everyone there.

 On the north side, outside under white tents, is where all the magic happens: this is where all of the fresh fruits and veggies were.

 I realized that I didn’t have any food with me in my hotel for snacks or supplementation. I bought a “bag” of assorted apples of my choosing for $5. Pixie Crunch Apples, Susie Apples, Paduchah Aplles to name a few. And they tasted so fresh, crispy and sweet (I have already had like 3). I bought the apples from Niemeyer Farm, local husband and wife farmers here in Cincinnati. As it turns out, they have hundreds of apple trees, with over 80 apple varieties. Who knew there are so many variations of apples!?? One apple they have, has the skin of a russet potato, but the inside is a sweet, crisp, intense apple flavor. I haven’t had an apple quite like that one! 

I spoke with them for a few minutes, really kind people. I told them I am a huge foodie, and turns out they were too! The wife plays around with all kinds of recipes, mostly using the produce from their farm. People come to her at the market needing recipes for a certain dish and she’s right there to help them. She had folders full of recipes.

The apple farmer introduced me to the EMC, The Epicurean Merchantile CO. Located just to the east of the market, the EMC is an organic grocery store, selling all kinds of organic produce and packaged foods, reminded me of a smaller Whole Foods. I bought a package of rainbow carrots.

 To the back is their in-house restaurant, more of a deli, called The Counter. Locals to the market say it’s a must try. 


The owners of the EMC also had a spot in the enclosed building in the Market, called The Fresh Table. Ironically, they were on my list of vendors to visit! Small world eh? That a random apple farmer would point me in their direction not knowing I wanted to visit them. They had dozens of prepared salads, all house made with organic ingredients. I bought their black bean and corn salad with lime cilantro sauce and their lentil salad with pistachio. The lentil salad is very peppery and spicy, really good flavor. It has pistachios and dried fruit, really really delicious. I immediately called my hotel and asked for a fridge in my room after this venture.

I was very happy I made the trip up to Findlay Market, even in the rain! I love Farmer’s Markets. The culture that they bring, and the awareness that so many local farmers, businesses and entrepeneurs are trying to make their way in your community. If you’re out and about and see a local farmer’s maret, stop by! Support the small businsses in your community. And if your local to Cincinnati, make the Findlay Market a regualr stop for your shopping list.

More to come on my Cincinnati weekend! And thanks for the read 

Until next time…

Bon Appetit! 

Heading to the Queen City! 

Once known as the “Queen of the West”, Cincinnati, Ohio is now known for it’s historical architecture, culture in arts and professional sports teams, The Cincinnati Reds (baseball) and Bengals (football). And it’s also my destination this weekend! That’s right, I’m heading to the big city of Cincinnati for Labor Day weekend. 

I’m sitting now, in Denver International Airport, sipping my almond milk vanilla latte, trying to stay awake until my flight is ready to board. I worked a twelve hour shift last night, and am very much looking forward to my 3 hour flight to catch a few zzzz’s. And yes, I will still be able to sleep after 3 shots of espresso….for those who don’t know me, I could be a professional sleeper. 😝. I have planned a weekend full of parks, museums, farmers markets (most of which are free or cost under $10!!) and yes….there will be food. Lots.Of.Food. I have not been able to find a vegan Cincinnati Chili, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere, and I will find it. 

I’m staying in the central business district of downtown Cincinnati, blocks away from the Ohio River separating Cincinnati from Kentucky. I cannot wait to be roaming around a large city, being present in what this trip has in store. 

Oh! One last thing, I may be meeting a new baby in my family this weekend, which could be the huge catalyst in me traveling to Cinci this weekend. I love having friends and family that live in other parts of the world, it gives you an excuse to travel 🤗

So check back often, as I explore Downtown Cincinnati Ohio! 


Thanks for the read 😉
Until next time…

Bon Appetit! 

No Bake Cookie Balls-Secretly Healthy! 


I came across a recipe from Happy Mothering about 4 years ago for no bake cookie balls. My life hasn’t been the same since! They are that good. I have come across other versions of cookie balls, disguised as energy bites, or no bake cookie heavens. But, I always come back to these. Whenever I need a quick, nutrient dense snack, dessert or potluck dish, I make these little bites of nutty, chocolatey goodness. I have used the idea from the recipe above to create my own. I hope you like it!

 

You will need almond butter, peanut butter, honey, ground flax seed, gluten free quick oats, and chocolate chips. Mix ingredients and any optional add-ins in a large bowl. Mix well, and make sure all oats are mixed. If dough is crumbling, add more honey or nut butter. Cover and chill in refrigerator for one hour. 

Remove from fridge and roll tablespoon sized portions into balls. Store cookies in an air tight m container in the fridge. And try not to eat them all at once!! Enjoy! 

No Bake Healthy Cookie Balls
Makes 16-20 balls

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups gluten free quick oats
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy
  • 1/2 cup almond butter, creamy
  • 1 cup ground flaxseed 
  • 3/4 cup raw honey (maple syrup will work if need it to be vegan)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (not optional!)
  • 2/3 cup Optional Add-ins: raisins, shredded unsweetened coconut

Make it! 

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl, make sure all of the oats are mixed in. If using maple syrup, you may need to adjust amount because of the difference in consistency. If mixture seems dry and crumbly, add more nut butter. Mixture should stick together. Cover and chill in the fridge for up to 1 hour. 
  2. Roll TBS sized portions of mix into balls. Store in an air tight container in the fridge. 

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.

Until next time…

Bon Appetit! 

Cochino Taco, “Such Dirty Deliciousness”


For the duration of the summer, every Friday our babysitter comes over and watches my kiddos for me, so the hubby and I can go out, or so I can go grocery shopping. Being a mom of three kids, trying to do all my grocery shopping with my kids, it’s well, hard. I feel rushed, and therefore buy more unnecessary items. Then there’s the “mom can we buy this? Or, “don’t touch that!” And of course, the needing to potty whilst mid shopping or needing to change a diaper. During the school year, I did my shopping while two of my kids were in school. So nice. So, having 4 hours to myself, every other Friday, to get my grocery shopping done (I’m actually buying what we need for two weeks, making only having to go to the store once every two weeks amazing!), makes me feel almost functional. 

During my latest grocery outing, I snuck in lunch as well. Every time I drive to work, I drive by a little taco place that’s located in the neighborhood right by the hospital. Remodeled out of an old gas station, and known for its eclectic mix of Mexican street food, Cochino Taco has become a real go to place for lunch and dinner, and are now open for brunch on the weekends. Every time I drive by, I think to myself “man, I need try that place out”, while looking at a packed house. Founded by 3 guys who know and love food and have roots to Mexico City, as well as Denver CO, Cochino Taco has definitely become a must try taco place. 


Walking into the establishment, I was surprised to see it was an actual restaurant. I thought, because of its size, that it would be more like a Chipotle, order your food at the counter then sit and eat or take it with you. 


They have a generous size dining room, with a smaller open kitchen off to the right of the dining area, an outside patio, and a bar, which is where I sat as it was just me. And of course, I had to try one of their house margaritas. What’s a taco without a margarita? 🍹😀

 I tried one of their orange and cucumber margaritas, with triplesec, tequila, agave nectar and freshly squeezed orange and cucumber juice. No one ingredient over powered the other, which can be the case when you use really strong flavors in a drink. Oh man….it was refreshingly outstanding! And it may have been a little strong…😋

Their menu is pretty simple: starters, a couple salads and a whole page devoted to….Tacos! Under witty titles, their tacos are divided into categories on the menu, based on what meat is in them. I of course, chose to eat from the “ain’t no meat tacos” category. 


I was told that if I was super hungry to order three tacos, as the tacos come one to an order. Well, I was super hungry, so I ordered two tacos and an avocado tostada. I indulged in tacos called the “fungus among us” hahaha! And filled with grilled shiitaki and cremini mushrooms, crispy onions, corn, tomato salsa and cilantro, I gotta tell ya, these tacos were so delicious and flavorful! There was a little crunch from the onions and corn, but the bite was creamy and smoky from the grilled mushrooms. The tacos came out by themselves on a small plate, and each taco had 2 mini corn tortillas to it, which I learned is how traditional soft corn tacos come in Mexico. It allows for extra “structure” to the taco as corn tortillas can be soft. I just used the extra shell for the stuff that fell out of my taco as I ate it to make another one! I know we’ve all wished to have an extra shell for the leftovers that fall out of our taco….I know I’m not alone in that, because who wants to eat taco filling with a fork? 😝😝

Now, when I order a tostada or make one at home, there’s not much crunch to it and it actually can be a little one dimensional with the re fried beans or guacamole making the tostada shell soft as it sits. Well, this avocado tostada was anything but your typical soggy tostada. Let’s first start with the shell…it was again, made from the mini corn tortillas, and dusted with a spice mixture made in house. And nope, they wouldn’t let me know what was in it. This dust turned my fingers red but I didn’t care! It also added a nice spice to my tostada. On top of the shell was a heaping amount of guacamole, lime, and 3 ingredients that added that extra crunch to my bite: jicama, radish and seasoned quico crunch, which tasted just like corn nuts to me. This was far from a soggy tostada! Every bite had crunch and flavor, a little spice thanks to that little bit of red dust you lick off your fingers at the end. So good. 

The bartender set a bottle of Mexican hot sauce right in front of me when my food came, and I topped my tacos and tostada with it. Normally I prefer a more traditional salsa on my Mexican food, but I could not get enough of this stuff, it was sooooo good! And not too spicy.  However, the food by itself didn’t really need help in the flavor department. 😜

While I was devouring my meal, I couldn’t help but notice that the wall behind the bar was lined with different kinds of pigs…a lot of pigs. I inquired, of course, and the bartender told me that Cochino means “pig” in Spanish. But not a traditional pig, more like a naughty word you call someone during a brawl, a “filthy pig”. I thought to myself “ok, you named your restaurant after a filthy word”…awesome. But the food still rocks tho! I learned after doing more research on this awesome place, that the pig actually holds special meaning to the restaurant’s founders, who have been dubbed “the 3 pig heads” on social media. 😆

Sitting by myself at the bar, not needing to rush through my meal, was such a recharging experience. Which brings me to dessert. Dessert was a must for me, as who could pass up what was on their dessert menu: caramel filled churros and Mexican spiced chocolate ice cream. 

I asked the bartender if he could make me a half order, as I couldn’t eat a full one. He totally hooked me up! The churro was filled with a delicate, creamy caramel, and paired with the crunchy, cinnamon sugar outside, it was the perfect sweet bite my mouth needed. 

Then, there was the ice cream. Telling my husband about this ice cream, my mouth began to salivate. 🤤 Spiced with ancho-chili and cinnamon, the ice cream was so creamy with a subtle spice that left a burn in the back of my throat. The dairy that was in the ice cream was just enough to tame the heat factor of the spices, but kept you wanting more and more with the rich chocolate. It was literally a spicy, rich, chocolatey ice cream. And I was told that the company who makes the ice cream, makes it just for Cochino Taco. Such a perfect end to my lunch! 

If you’re ever in the neighborhood by Swedish Medical Center in Engelwood, CO take the time to stop and try a taco or two at Cochino Taco, your tummy will be very happy you did!

Until next time….

Bon Appetit! 

Sweet Cashew Cream Sauce

I first learned about cashew cream from Chocolate Covered Katie, when trying to make a plant based sour cream. I gotta tell you, savory cashew cream is not my favorite thing. But sweet cashew cream, that’s another story! It’s creamy, almost like yogurt, and has a subtle sweetness to it. It’s loaded with plant based protien, healthy fats and fiber. And it pairs wonderful with fresh fruit, or as a topping for your oatmeal. Heck, some even put it on steamed kale! Hey, don’t knock it til you try it. Any moms out there who want their kiddos to eat kale, try steaming it and topping it with this sauce. You’d be surprised how many kids like to eat kale this way. 

photo courtesy of munchin with munchkin

This sauce is super easy to make and only has 3 ingredients. Did I mention that it’s also sugar free?? Oh and I also may have (definitely) borrowed this idea from Chocolate Covered Katie and Dr. Furhman. Hey, I’m giving credit where credit is due, I don’t want to be in the business of stealing recipes and pretending they’re mine. Just not cool in the blogging world :>) 

Making cashew cream is very simple. 1 cup of cashews blended with 1/2 cup of water (can vary depending on desired thickness), until very smooth. Blend in dates until desired sweetness is reached, I like to use 8-10 dates. Once blended thoroughly, top it on your fave fruit (strawberries are my go to) and go nuts! (Pun intended). 

NOTE: If you don’t have a high powered blender, like a vitamix, you will need to soak your cashews in water for at least 3-4 hours, as well as your dates, for about 10-15 minutes. The cashew cream will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

Sweet Cashew Cream Sauce 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup of water (more or less depending on desired consistency)
  • 5-10 dates, make to your desired sweetness

Make it! 

  1. Blend cashews and water together until silky smooth (if not using a high powered blender, make sure you soak your cashews for 3-4 hours)
  2. Add your dates to get your desired sweetness (again, if not using a high powered blender, you’ll need to soak your dates for about 10 minutes)
  3. Store cashew cream in a mason jar in your fridge. Refrigerate until cool, then top on your fave fruit or breakfast! This would make an amazing pancake topping in lieu of pancake syrup. Cashew cream will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. 

Until next time….

Bon Appetit! 

Plant Based Pie Crust

Do you have any sugar free, gluten free or paleo dieters that you have to plan for in your life? Are dessert ideas sometimes hard to come by? Now, some people would argue that dessert is an unnecessary meal; that it just adds an unearthly amount of calories to the end of our meal and should be omitted for the sake of our own health and figures. Ya, I would not trust those people..😝 My mom had a magnet on our fridge growing up that said, “skinny cooks can’t be trusted”. Ya she may have been on to something there…

Now, I love all kinds of dessert, I normally won’t turn any down. But, doing dessert a plant based way, can be tricky. Usually, the go-to plant based dessert is a bowl of berries with a dollop of delicious sweet cashew cream on top of it or just by itself. Nothing wrong with that! As I drool typing this post…but what about….pie? Yes, pie. Can pie be created plant based? Well, the crust can! I’ve been making this crust for a couple of years now, and it is the simplest recipe I have in my recipe vault. It only has 2 ingredients! That’s it! Unless you want to add stuff to it, then, that’s your call. 

So come on…Let’s do this! 

Start with 1 cup of nuts and 12-15 dates. It’s best to soak your dates for up to 10 minutes to help soften them up. It helps them blend easier! 

Next, blend the nuts and dates until a ball begins to form. 


Place ball in to a 9 inch pie tin, and spread evenly. Fill it with you favorite pie! 

Variations: this pie crust is very versatile, and can be transformed in many ways to make your pie better! I like to add orange peel to it when making chocolate pie, because orange and chocolate go together beautifully! 

Add vanilla or almond extract to your fruit pies, or cinnamon and nutmeg to your pumpkin pie. Sky’s the limit. I hope you enjoy this recipe! 

Plant Based Pie Crust-Vegan, Gluten and Sugar Free 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nut of choice (pecans or walnuts work best for this recipe)
  • 12-15 dates, soaked for up to 10 minutes (mandatory if you don’t have a a decent, high power food processor

Make it! 

  • Add dates and nut of choice to your food processor. Blend until a ball of “dough” forms. 
  • Place ball in a 9 in pie tin, spread evenly. 
  • Place in fridge for about 30 minutes or so to set.
  • Add your filling and enjoy! 

Until Next Time…

Bon Appetit!