If #RAW is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right

Today I finally got the chance to go to #Raw, a vegan cafe in Florence, and once again I was blown away by the vegan presence here in Italia. Let me just start out by saying that they served me coconut water straight out of the coconut… I mean, does it get any better than that? Not to mention that it was hands down the best coconut water I have ever tasted.

The inside of #Raw is a minimalistic, trendy atmosphere laden with bamboo furniture and plates as well as hanging plants and cotton pillows. It’s light, fresh, and welcoming and I will be spending a great deal of time there.

Today, I ordered a vegan falafel veggie wrap with avocado and a light peanut sauce. It was completely raw and completely delicious! I usually am not a huge fan of raw bread substitutes, but this wrap was one of the only exceptions I have found thus far. I absolutely loved it!

The menu at #Raw is the stuff of my dreams, there are beautiful salads, smoothie and chia bowls, a vegan burger, a full smoothie and fresh juice menu, vegan deserts and baked goods, and much more… It’s safe to say #Raw is a vegans paradise in basically every way possible, and I can’t wait to try everything on the menu!

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Chickpea-Spinach Burger of my Dreams

It’s official, Florence will never cease to amaze me with its vegan friendliness. Today I had the most interesting, intelligent, and downright awesome meal at a darling restaurant called simBIOsi, and I will 100% be back for more. SimBIOsi offers the most beautifully unique collection of dishes and wines all made from local and organic ingredients, served to you in an equally beautiful and unique atmosphere.

Today, I tried the chickpea and spinach “burger” that comes with vegan pesto and a side of potatoes. The “burger” patty was unlike anything I have ever seen or tasted before, it almost felt like a hybrid of a giant falafel and a crispy veggie burger – whatever it was, it was magnificent. The rosemary potatoes and vegan pesto that came with it were equally as delectable and the three elements complemented each other to no end. Needless to say, I was in heaven and I will be returning as soon as possible.

Just when I thought a menu including a vegan chickpea and spinach burger with rosemary potatoes and vegan pesto couldn’t get any better, I flipped to the wine list. The wine is also all organic and local, we decided to try their “Orange Wine” because we had never heard of Orange Wine before. Our glass of wine followed suit with the rest of our experience in its delightful and unexpected flavor, and it was the perfect refreshment to go along with our decadent meal.

All in all, it’s no question that this was undoubtably one of my favorite meals in Italy thus far – definitely the most unique. I absolutely cannot wait to return to SimBIOsi, there were countless other dishes that I am dying to try (like a handful of “potato” ravioli, vegan pesto, and zucchini dishes). I think this is the beginning of an extremely symBIOtic relationship 🙂

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An Acai Bowl Abroad

If there’s one thing you can probably deduce from the food section of my blog (aside from my flaming veganism) it’s that I am nothing short of obsessed with smoothie bowls. From my point of view, they’re just the most perfect food: delicious, nutritious, versatile, customizable, and the list goes on..

Anyway, you can probably imagine the separation anxiety I have been feeling from my soul-mate-meal since I have come to Italy, leaving behind my blender and my go-to Bay Area smoothie bowl spots. There’s nothing like a big, satisfying bowl of health and deliciousness to start the day off right, and I was about to go crazy if I went another day without one.

Luckily, this morning I was able to find a great smoothie bowl right in the heart of Florence at Shake Cafe! I tried the classic Acai Bowl with almond milk (substituted for cow’s milk) and every topping offered. They also offer a green bowl, a tropical bowl, a chia bowl, and a power bowl (you know I’ll be trying them all, so stay tuned for the verdict)!

The Acai Bowl was absolutely wonderful, it had the perfect amount of flavor, everything about it was fresh, and the topping-to-base ratio was just right. Not to mention how cute and photogenic it was for the 5 seconds before I devoured it. Anyway, Shake Cafe, you’ve done it again and I will most definitely be back for much, much more!

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P.S. Do you know of any great smoothie bowls for me to try in Florence or the San Francisco Bay Area? Comment below or shoot me a message and I would love to check them out!

P.P.S. Want more of my smoothie bowl obsession? Check out my posts: Low Sugar, Low Calorie Smoothie Bowl HackQuick n’ Easy Sweet Green Smoothie BowlStrawberry Dragonfruit Smoothie Bowl

6 go-to Vegan Meals to Have Under your Belt in Italy

If you’re a vegan and anything like me, you always have your go-to restaurant dishes in the back of your head to order in a pinch at any establishment. Coming to Italy as a vegan means adapting your go-to meals to fit the average Italian menu. In the USA, there are tons of vegan options constantly surrounding us that we take for granted like Mexican, Asian, and American style options. In Italy, however, the variety is less obvious. On top of that, Italian Cafe’s, Bars, and Osteria’s have such amazing ambiance that it would be a shame to miss out on them for the sake of keeping to a vegan diet. Luckily, if you keep an eye out for these six basic Italian dishes you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful, stress free, vegan Italian meal at any restaurant in Italy! Here are my six fool-proof vegan Italian meals:

  1. Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce: This comes in many slight variations, but is always a great choice that will fill you up and taste amazing. Some common variations are different types of pasta noodles, or spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and basil. Gnocchi is also a great option since it is made with potatoes! 
  2. Minestrone or vegetable Soup: I have yet to have a bad bowl of soup in Italy. Each one differs slightly but is equally as delightful. If soup alone isn’t filling enough I often opt for a side of potatoes, french fries, a green salad or a piece of bread or two! Or you can always go fill up on some sorbet afterward…  😉
  3. Bruchetta with Tomato and Basil: As is true of the dishes above, bruschetta will differ slightly from place to place (sometimes it can even come as a panini) but there is almost always a cheese-free option. 
  4. Grilled vegetables: The grilled vegetables in Italy are seriously underrated. They often come beautifully seasoned, slightly blackened, and gorgeously plated. You will see mostly tomato, eggplant, and bell peppers with basil and various other vegitables like carrots, squash, zucchini, potato, artichoke or whatever is in season. Although this dish is more filling than it would seem, if you need something more it goes perfectly with some soup, potatoes, pasta or even bread! I find that I often enjoy the free bread so much that I don’t need more than a heaping plate of veggies anyway. 
  5. Mushroom Risotto: Contrary to what many may think, risotto actually isn’t inherently creamy. The way the rice is cooked just creates a creamy texture, which can be deceptive to those trying to avoid dairy. Having said that, I still like to double-check that there is no cheese or cream in my risotto. Mushroom risotto is on almost every dinner menu, and is one of the most rich, filling, and even decadent vegan Italian dishes you will find. 
  6. vegetable Pizza With No Cheese: Veganism by no means stops me from enjoying pizza just as much as the next guy. All you have to do is find the vegetarian pizza that looks the best to you and ask them to leave off the cheese!

While this is my little list of vegan meals to look for, there are tons of other options and cuisines available in Italy! As usual, many things can be easily veganized or a few sides can come together to make an awesome meal. On top of that, as I continue to eat my way through the city, I am constantly finding that Florence is riddled with amazing options just for vegans! In any case, never fear my fellow vegans – there is absolutely no shortage of delicious meals in Italy!

Shake Cafe & Vegan Bowl

I have officially found the most perfect spot in Florence – or at least one of them! Shake Cafe is a healthy cafe with the best vibes and even better food, juice, smoothie bowls, buddha bowls, wraps, coffee, and more. They have tons of vegan options and awesome wifi so I have been absolutely in heaven here. Yesterday a I had a delicious veggie wrap  and today I had a vegan curry bowl which had sweet potatoes, chickpeas, beets, cauliflower, quinoa, spinach, and some more of my favorite things.

I have spent some time the past few days taking online coding classes and hanging out here enjoying the adorable, succulent-rich decor and the funky alt music playing. If I could pick a cafe as my spirit animal, you bet it would be this one!

May 17 – Exploring Firenze

Today we (two of my freakin awesome roommates and I) spent a few hours exploring this fantastic city by getting lost in it and I had the opportunity take a few pictures in the process! Here are a few of my favorites, I hope you enjoy them 🙂