Vegetarian

Hey, hey!

So you want to eat cleaner, huh? Every year, millions of Americans head to the gym with the hopes of dropping the holiday pounds, but as many of you know – the secret in the weight loss sauce is really what you consume. For a moment, let’s picture a new you — a you that likes kombucha, tea instead of a frappé and sometimes maybe a salad instead of the fries (blasphemy, I know!)

If you’re reading this, you probably love to eat just as much as I do, so consider committing to make small, but impactful changes every week until they become habits.

Let’s raise a smoothie to the new you in 2017 and explore my favorite places to eat clean in and around Orlando. Because hey, a little kale salad here and there never hurt anyone.

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Eats: Mixed, raw and clean options 

1. The Sanctum | Colonialtown North

Major’s Pick: Shiva Salad (Half Salad) Massaged kale, roasted butternut squash and house-seasoned tempeh with pink lady apples, celery, carrots and raisins. All tossed in curried peanut dressing and finished with candied walnuts, toasted chickpeas and flaked coconuts

2. Dandelion Communitea Cafe | Mills 50 District

Major’s Pick: The Giddyup ($6 on Mondays!): tempeh chili topped with blue corn chips and fresh diced tomatoes. Served with vegan queso or organic dairy cheddar cheese. Get in a bowl or wrap, and check out the new menu! (Tell them Major sent you.)

3. Infusion Tea | College Park

Major’s Pick: Nut & Honey wrap: local honey, organic cashew nut butter, bananas, strawberries, and granola for a sustaining wrap

4. Create Your Nature | Winter Park

Major’s Pick: Nutty By Nature bowl: blueberries, banana, organic granola, almonds, walnuts, pecasn, chia seeds, hemp seeds and local raw honey

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Drinks: Cold-pressed, blended and over ice options 

1. Juice Bar | The Milk District

Major’s Pick: Hale to the Beet Down: apple, kale, orange, lemon ginger

2. Juice’d | Thornton Park

Major’s Pick: Kale Smoothie: apple, banana, ginger, kale, mango, pineapple, spinach *add coconut water

3. Grounding Roots | College Park

Major’s Pick: Sweet Potato, Pineapple & Red Apple

4. New Moon Market | College Park

Major’s Pick: Cheeky Monkey: almond milk, banana, oats, almond butter with maca powder

5. Skyebird | Audubon Park

Major’s Pick: Thai Hot: spinach, celery, cilantro, orange, apple, lime, lemongrass and jalapeño

Share your food adventures with us on Instagram! I’m so excited to see what you let your palate explore in the year!

Snack on,

Chauniqua Major, but we’re friends so call me Major!

Kale yeah! Salads are no longer the side piece. As consumers become more ingredient conscious, chefs and restaurateurs across the globe are being pushed to think beyond traditional proteins, and experiment with ethnic flavors and greens-based dishes to accommodate varying palates. Caesar salad, move over and make room for quinoa and farro bowls topped with spicy broccoli, roasted chickpeas and basil.

This month happens to be National Salad Month, and thankfully, here in Florida, we’ve got an abundance of fresh greens and vegetables to mix and match to whip up amazing creations. We’ll start with three places in town to get your salad fix.

Forks up. . . let’s eat our way to summer.

1. The Sanctum Cafe

Sanctum

Dish: Savage Salad – Organic greens, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, eggplant and corn – all roasted and tossed with bell peppers, sweet onions, carrot ribbons, celery, jicama, zucchini, peas and pepitas. Served with rosemary dressing.

Local Fare: Corn from Long & Scott Farms (Zellwood, Fla.), Deer Park Peaches (Saint Cloud, Fla.) and salad greens and microgreens from The Greenhouse (Apopka, Fla.).

Favorite Salad Ingredient: “Roasted cauliflower is one my favorite toppings!” – Chef-Owner Chelsea Savage

2. The COOP

The COOP

The Skinny: The new salad bar costs $9.99 per person and includes an endless amount of offerings, such as locally-sourced greens and vegetables, proteins and house made dressings.

Local Fare: The COOP is trekking around the state and shopping with Alderman Farms (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and L&M Farms (Palatka, Fla.).

Favorite Salad Ingredients: “I like the grilled vegetables and the specialty salads that rotate daily at the end of the bar. One of my favorites is a Hoppin’ John Succotash that Whitney makes and a few more are grilled asparagus, roasted tomatoes and feta cheese.” – Chef-Owner John Rivers

3. Dixie Kharma
Photo Credit: LemonHearted.com
Photo Credit: LemonHearted.com

Dish: Hail Kale Salad – Garlicky kale, blackened corn, pickled beets and watermelon rind and smoked tempeh

Local Fare: In this salad, Dixie Kharma’s uses Florida-grown corn and watermelon. When available, they toss in baby kale grown in their pallet garden located in front of Market on South.

Favorite Salad Ingredients: “We love to mix it up. Local ingredients are our first choice. Everything from peppery greens and herbs are a must. Pickled veggies, fruits and roots, heirloom beans and grains are also great.” – Dixie Kharma crew

Greens Guide  

Here’s a handful of local shops to visit to stock up on greens, grains and vegetables. This list is in no way inclusive of our local offerings in Central Florida, so comment with your local go-to store! 

What To Buy Right Now

Bell Pepper | Blueberry | Cabbage | Cantaloupe | Carrot | Celery | Cucumber | Eggplant Grapefruit | Guava | Mango | Mushroom | Orange | Papaya | Peaches | Radish | Sweet Corn | Tangerine | Tomato | Watermelon

Seasonal Recipe – Taverna Opa Orlando’s Watermelon Feta Salad Pizza
Taverna Opa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 Watermelon slice
  • 1 Oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 5 Mint leaves
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Balsamic glaze

Directions:

  • On a cutting board, slice the watermelon in half
  • Place the flat side down, and cut a one-inch thick slice, then cut into five slices
  • Plate on a round dish and add feta cheese, olives, mint leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze

Snack on,

Chauniqua Major, but we’re friends so call me Major!

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Well, hello!

I’m Major, TastyChomps.com’s newest contributing food writer. To kicks things off, I’ve conducted a Q&A with myself (we all talk to ourselves, right?).

My stories will include everything from chef interviews, recipe features and industry news to kitchen gadgets, healthy eats, foodie fashion and even workout tips to keep the pounds off!

Check back for stories and send suggestions! And, if you catch me cruisin’ down Orlando Avenue sipping cold brew blasting NPR, holla at me!

Q: When did you fall in love with food? 

A: October 4, 2006 was the day that my love affair with food began. It all started with a sweet introduction to Blue Bird Bake Shop’s Downside Up cupcake.

Q: Where are you from and what do you do? 

A: I’m a New York native turned avid Orlandoan. By day, I’m publicist at a super cool PR/creative agency in downtown Orlando, and at night, I’m fighting the good fight against boring snacks as a foodpreneur with Project Pop, my organic kettle corn company.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with top chefs and restaurants throughout the country, so I know my way around the kitchen. I am also obsessed with fitness, so check out my Instagram to follow my gym chronicles!

Q: What are you currently drinking? 

A: My everyday, fail-proof drink is Dandelion Communitea Cafe’s iced coffee with plain soy milk and one pump of agave. Go in, and tell them Major sent you. You will not regret it! I also just purchased a great bag of beans from Lucky Goat Coffee Co. in Tallahassee. It’s pretty amazing.

Coffee Shop

Q: What is always in your fridge?

A: Homemade cold brew, coconut water and at least three different types of organic greens

Q: Where do you shop for groceries? 

A: You can find me on Saturday mornings at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market, or shamelessly running around Trader Joe’s, while juggling 15 items in my hands.

Lemons

Q: What’s your earliest memory of food? 

A: My dad would sit me down for hours on Saturday mornings to sip water straight from fresh coconuts, while he watched karate movies. I have my dad to thank for my obsession with all things coconut.

Q: Current obsessions? 

A: Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar’s Vegan Tuna Melt,  Ashley Brooke Design tumblers, Bearded Brothers’ organic energy bars and Orlando-themed tanks from Go Big Tees.

Q: Where can we follow you on Instagram? 

A: @Majorcreates + @EatProjectPop

Snack on,
Chauniqua Major, but we’re friends so call me Major!

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It’s a tiny place off of Fern Creek and Colonial, just behind the Chevron gas station – but The Sanctum Cafe, a new vegan and vegetarian cafe, packs a lot of flavor in its dishes.

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Kabbage Krunch Slaw

As owner Chelsie Savage tells us, “Ain’t no sissy salads here, yall.”

No sissy salads, indeed – their plates are piled high with healthy greens, nuts, fruits, and other flavorful combinations to make for a very satisfying meal.

The cubed, spiced tempeh, a fermented and cultured soy product (think – firm tofu) with cultural origins in Indonesia, gives an additional wonderfully “meaty” texture and taste to round out the dishes we tried on our recent visit.

Chelsie explained to us why she started The Sanctum, “Pretty simply I’m a health advocate with particular foodie tastebuds. Staying healthy and taking care of myself, my family and teaching others to do the same is one of the things most near and dear to my heart.”

“And along with that, I’ve always grown up being a lover of good food and I want to show people you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health. The best food comes from the best ingredients, prepared mindfully by someone who cares.”

“There is this misconception that food is something that needs to be restricted, counted and measured to achieve good health and if you’re enjoying it it must not be good for you but food is community. It brings people together and nourishes and heals.”

“There is a reason why every single culture has foods and cuisines that are associated with it.”

“My mission with The Sanctum is to bring people back to this with good for you food and to create a menu that made people fall in love with health promoting foods.”

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Shiva Salad
How did the idea for The Sanctum Cafe come about?
Chelsie Savage, The Sanctum Cafe – I have run a nutrition consulting business the last 5 years in Orlando where I taught integrative nutrition and cooking lessons that evolved over the years. It started as just nutrition and I quickly found it wasn’t that more often than not, it wasn’t that people didn’t know how to eat healthy, it was they didn’t know how to make healthy food that also tasted great. I started teaching nutrition lessons and courses paired with cooking classes and the feedback I kept getting was “will you just open up a restaurant so I can eat your food everyday”. After hearing this feedback client after client, year after year, you start to think – “maybe I should open a restaurant so people can eat my food every day”. My husband and I put our heads together and we created The Sanctum!

Most Popular dishes so far?
Chelsie: All of our bowls have been getting a lot of love but The Sassy Thai has definitely been a crowd favorite as well as the Sedona Bowl. The Mo’Rockin blows peoples mind because of the complexity of flavors and there has also been a lot of love for the Shiva Salad. The Savage Salad is my personal favorite – my slightly spicy rosemary vinaigrette and tons of veggies – cooked and raw – is my definition of the perfect meal.

What do you do outside of The Sanctum?
Chelsie: Along with running my health coaching business, I’ve been teaching yoga all over Orlando since 2010. I’m taking a short hiatus from teaching to get The Sanctum up and running but plan on returning soon – on a smaller caliber of what I used to teach – but returning nonetheless. I’ve got a dedicated yoga practice and also like running with my dogs. By nature I’m an introvert and really just love spending time with my family. My husband (and also co-owner of The Sanctum) love to travel, eat & practice yoga and we make a habit to do so often!

Take a look inside:
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SHIVA SALAD

Massaged kale, roasted butternut squash & house spiced tempeh tossed with pink lady apples, celery, carrots and raisins. Tossed in our curried peanut dressing and finished with candied walnuts, toasted chickpeas and coconut shreds. Full Salad $13 | Half Salad $8

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KABBAGE KRUNCH SLAW

Shredded kale, red & purple cabbages, mint, cilantro, carrot, beet & finely chopped red onion. Topped with shelled edamame, grape tomatoes, dried cherries, sunflower greens, avocado, slivered almonds & tossed in our ginger-miso dressing. Full Salad | $10.5 Half Salad | $7 | Add Maple Miso Tempeh $2.5

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The Sanctum Cafe’s Philosophy

“Food made with real ingredients, because we care just as much about health as we care about about indulging in life’s greatest pleasure— a damn good meal.”

“We love everything about meal time— the cooking, the community and even the clean up (as long as we’re doing it together). But our REAL mission is debunking the myth that if food tastes good it can’t be good for us. With every coffee we serve and every mouth we feed, that mission is further accomplished.

We are health advocates with foodie tastebuds committed to redefining the way people think about healthy food. We are educated about nutrition, skilled in the kitchen, sassy in attitude and conscious in the way we live our lives and conduct business.

We put health promoting foods front and center and make people fall in love with them.

If we wouldn’t serve it to our family, we won’t serve it to you. We do plant-based, sustainable, gourmet food, not because it’s a trendy, but because it’s a conscious way of living. It’s good for this body, good for this planet—everyone wins.”

The Sanctum Cafe
715 N Fern Creek Ave, Unit D.
Orlando, FL 32803
407-757-0346

HOURS
M-Th: 8am-8pm
F-Sa: 8am-9pm
Sun: 8am-2pm

Park Ave is hands down the highest visited spot in Winter Park. However, there are still many hidden treasures to be found around this hotspot.

One day, I decided to explore Winter Park to see what more it had to offer. After ending up on Pennsylvania Avenue, I checked out a few of the local shops; a few being Riffle Paper Company and Pure Blends Apothecary and Spa. After a short lived shopping spree, I ran through the rain and ended up at Fresh Cafe.

Before you continue reading, please note I had absolutely no intention of coming here. However, the combination of rain and post-shopping fatigue brought on some serious soup cravings.  Upon entering, an EXTREMELY friendly staff welcomed me into the dim lit restaurant – the main source of light being the melancholy sun through the wide window.

freshf

I sat down at a small wooden table and took in the surroundings. Beautiful wood tables. Posh designs. Calming atmosphere. The ambiance is indescribable and that’s a good thing because it’s one of the best places in Winter Park to go on a date. Fresh is known for its ethics. They are globally inspired yet locally sourced. Meaning, they use locally sourced organic ingredients.

The server tried his hardest to get my full attention but my eyes kept scanning the restaurant. Every detail. All the plants. He got really close to me until it was obvious that I couldn’t ignore him for much longer and asked me what I’d like to drink. My typical response is “Water,” and I said just that.

The waiter smiled and said “We have different infused waters,” pointing to various containers behind the counter. My eyes were instantly fixated on herbs floating in giant containers of water. I can’t remember all of the combinations, but I ended up choosing Rosemary instead of my second choice, Lavender.

My mood instantly changed for the better after taking a sip of the Rosemary infused water; it was fresh, earthy, and breathtaking. Every sip felt like a new breath of fresh air. A new server approached me and asked me how the water was.

I smiled and said “Yes..please” assuming he was inquiring if I wanted more. By this point, my mind was gone. I wasn’t listening to anyone. I felt like I was in a whole new world. It sounds cheesy but it’s true. The combination of the ambiance with the rosemary water was extremely euphoric.

Water
Infused Rosemary Water 

After getting my own bottle of Rosemary water, I looked over the menu and asked the server what he recommended. He pointed out the Tikka Masala Chickpea Soup, which sounded absolutely amazing since I’m from India and have felt homesick lately. The soup was very interesting – almost like a cross between curry and a creamy bisque. The texture was smooth and slightly thick. I asked the server how it was made. He said “We slow cook the chickpeas with the spices, puree it, and it continues to slow cook for hours.” The soup had notes of cardamom, cumin, tomato, coconut, and garlic. Overall, I’d give it an eight out of ten stars. The soup is delicious but it could use more spice. Maybe roasted red peppers or habanero?

Soup
Tikka Chickpea Soup

For my entree, I tried the Mrs. Saigon Salad, which had julienne Cabbage, Daikon, Cucumbers, Carrots, Scallions, Peanuts, Cilantro, mint, basil sesame-ginger dressing on a bed of black rice. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the combination but I wasn’t disappointed with it either. The cold rice felt undercooked and the sauce was zesty its best but ended up being boring. The vegetables were fresh and crisp but the ginger dressing took away the original flavor.

Saigon
Mrs. Saigon Salad

For dessert, I opted for the Bananas and Chocolate Bread Pudding, which was served with homemade whipped cream. Bread Pudding is not one of my favorite desserts. However, the combination of deep chocolate and creamy banana works well together. The dish is served warm and pairs beautifully with the cooly creaminess of the whipped cream. At first, I found the texture to be awkward until I felt a crunch. There were walnuts! Yum! The combination of rich flavors, creaminess, and crunchy texture set the bar for future bread puddings. Overall, I give the bread pudding a nine out of ten. My only issue with it was the flavor. A hint of cinnamon or peppermint would take the dish to a whole new level!

Banana
Bananas and Chocolate Bread Pudding 

Fresh Cafe is an amazing restaurant. The customer service is superb and the cuisine is absolutely delicious. If I had to give it a rating, I’d give it a nine out of ten.

Fresh Café on Urbanspoon

Like any other Sunday morning, I was faced with the tedious task of figuring out what to eat for breakfast. After all, no weekend is complete without a memorable Sunday brunch.

I decided to head toward Park Ave with great hope of finding a delicious brunch spot. Unfortunately, the parking situation was not in my favor, so I decided to drive away. A minute later, my eyes glanced over to Ethos Vegan Kitchen. For those of you who have never been here, they serve vegan/vegetarian cuisine – I’ve had their pizza and calzones in the past, which didn’t disappoint at all. However, I was completely unfamiliar with the brunch/breakfast scene at Ethos. The thought of vegan sausage and bacon confused me.

I walked into Ethos and was greeted by a friendly staff. They pointed me to the bar since all the booths were filled. The menu was easy to follow; they were serving up the usual breakfast assortment in a vegan fashion: eggs, french toast, cinnamon buns, bacon, etc

My brunch started with  freshly brewed iced tea, or at least that’s what I was told it was. Unfortunately, the tea was bitter – probably due to over-steeping or poor tea quality. I should have trusted my instincts and ordered a mimosa.

SweetTea

Bitter Iced Tea 

Before ordering, I asked the server what the vegan sausage was made of. She said, “It’s a mixture of wheat and soy.”

As a struggling vegetarian, I decided to give it a try and ordered the vegan sausage as a side to my french toast, which was served with fresh strawberries, walnuts ($0.99 extra), and agave syrup. When I received my french toast, I was slightly disappointed at first. The portion size was tiny and didn’t seem like it was worth $10. However, I started feeling full after a few bites in. I’m not sure how vegan french toast is made, but Ethos’ take is rich and filling. The powdered sugar and cinnamon accentuated the caramel flavors found in the edges and the sweetness of the strawberries. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of the vegan sausage – it was dull in flavor and slightly chalky in texture.

FrenchToast

French Toast topped with fresh strawberries, agave syrup, walnuts, and served with vegan sausage. 

Overall, I’d give the French Toast an eight out of ten. The french toast itself was absolutely delicious but I’ll have to try a different side next time.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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