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One Small Change

6 Tasty Vegan Meals

After 3½ weeks of rice, beans, tofu, soy milk, and cheese-less pizzas, I’ve developed a serious hankering for something more substantial and flavorful. Although my wife, Maria, who’s joined me in this month-long vegan experiment, is a great cook, even she has been hard-pressed to work magic with such limited and often-unfamiliar ingredients. So I invited her and my always hungry, I’ll-eat-anything-if-you’re-paying, college daughter to join me for lunch at one of New York City’s premier vegan restaurants, Candle 79. This is an upscale “vegan oasis” that former New York Times food critic Frank Bruni reviewed as “pleasurable and largely satisfying, leaving an omnivorous interloper with a sense not of deprivation but of relief.”

Perusing Candle 79’s menu left me feeling exactly that way. It featured nachos, a burger, fries, a BBQ sandwich, risotto, spaghetti & wheatballs, and even—sweet Jesus!—ice cream. I wanted to feast on it all, even though I knew it was made from vegan staples such as seitan (wheat-gluten meat), dairy-free “cheese,” polenta and, in the case of the ice cream, soy. What I needed to find out was whether these dishes, my traditional favorites, could be executed cleverly and creatively enough so I’d no longer crave the original.

And I’m both relieved and amazed to tell you that they were. Click on the slideshow above for a sampling of what we ordered—and devoured.

This type of culinary execution doesn’t come cheap as showcased by the final $200 (with tip) tab. But paying $14 for a burger and $16 for nachos didn’t bother me as much as it would have in other, more conventional New York restaurants. In fact, I would have paid much more to be able to eat this smartly and this heartily at this juncture of my fledgling vegan career. Indeed, I think this experience may have saved me. Without it, I would have continued eating my bland meals and cheese-less pizzas while counting the days until my skin color returned and I’d be able to eat even one egg again. But now my wife and I know that if we study The Candle Café Cookbook and work just a little harder at this, all things are possible.

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Dinner, Health, Eating Out, Food