Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review...Beans and Barley

Beans & Barley
1901 E. North Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 278-7878

As we Vixens began talk of putting our finely honed eating skills to good use, Veggie Vixen suggested we take a field trip to Beans and Barley in Milwaukee to check out their vegetarian/vegan offerings and have our first go of food reviewing instead of just food devouring. Having been there before, she knew of the delight that awaited us, but we, the Pepper and Tomato, had no idea.

First Impression:
Exteriors can be deceiving, as we found with the outside of Beans and Barley. You may miss it on a drive-by as it sits almost unnoticeable on a corner lot, nestled in between a couple of fairly busy streets. Upon parking and walking up to the front, the warmth of what awaits visitors inside hits. The array of choices when entering the front door, was almost more than we could take...Do we start at the grocery/knick-knack area? Or the deli with cases of freshly made salads and bread? Or go straight into the brightly lit dining area to begin our feeding frenzy? In the end, the dining area won out as our stomachs had been waiting, oh so patiently, for an hour and a half to be filled. We were seated, given menus and made our choices within the first five minutes, even with the extensive menu and variety of options. The options reach further than the food. Take a look at the menu (link below) and notice the multitudinous selection of beverages from teas to freshly squeezed juices, including carrot-apple (which was delicious), to smoothies.

We stared with the Black Bean Dip and Cheese Quesadilla appetizer. Wow, not a vegan item, but a vegetarian's delight. We appreciated just the right amount of kick in the beans to offset the sometimes bland taste of a cheese quesadilla. Nice start! Next, the Vixens ordered a trio of items: The marinated Tofu Fajitas, The Walnut Burger and the Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Sandwich. Both the burger and sandwich were served with a side of "citrusy" potato salad that was a perfect match to the crusty sandwich outsides. The Fajitas were by far the winner at this luncheon. Perfectly marinated tofu accompanied by grilled peppers and onions with warm, soft tortillas were extremely satisfying. The tofu was not mushy, but held together nicely and was a great addition to this favorite mexican dish. The Mozzarella sandwich was tasty, if not a little indestinctive compared to the other two dishes. The Walnut Burger, from the famous Trempeleau Hotel in Wisconsin, was a crowd pleaser. As any new vegemite knows, giving up the comfort of the hamburger (not the meat, but the sandwich part) can be hard, but let me tell you, this burger is a fantastic replacement, without any of the guilt (except maybe the fat grams, but hey, it's healthy Omega fat)! Served atop a squishy yet supportive bun, it was adorned with avocado and tomato. The consistency was pleasurable, even more gratifying than a beef cartilage or bones to break a tooth on.


The dining area is an open and bright, art filled area with plenty of windows. The high ceilings don't help to create a snuggly and cozy kind of a feel, but we certainly didn't have a problem getting rooted to our booth for a chunk of time. The waitress and chefs were very accommodating and gave us the recipe for the fajitas while answering all of our questions with a smile. And wow, we could've spent hours just wandering back and forth between the deli case and grocery/gift shop area just past the dining room (although the term "grocery area" doesn't quite do the little market justice). There are so many varieties of organic, vegetarian, and vegan items offered, as well as knick-knacks, gift items, books and magazines, AND, in the freezer section, Walnut burgers to go! Yes, they sell the delightful walnut burgers for you to take home and recreate...and we did just that!

Overall, our first dining experience as vegemites went off better than we could have hoped. It was a great learning experience for us. We realized that for future reviews we will have to slow down and actually talk about the food during our meal instead of inhaling it, we will have to take some notes as we eat, as lapses in our memory are starting to plague us, and lastly we will need to convince the VegVix to order dessert. It is a work in progress, so join us on our vegadventures!
Check out the menu at

Restaurant Review, Maiden Voyage! Bunky's Cafe

First Impression:
After an hour and a half long dance party at Harbor Wellness Center, famished and thirsty, we embarked upon our maiden voyage to restaurant reviewdom. We ended up at Bunky's on Madison's near east side. Founded in the 1930's by Vito and Ninfa Capadona, Bunky's was one of the first Italian Restaurants in Madison. Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by Theresa Pullara, great granddaughter of Vito and Ninfa, who resurrected the restaurant after nearly twenty-five years of being closed. Pullara, along with her husband, Rachid Ouabel, has combined Mediterrean and Italian flavors at their location on Atwood Avenue. It was a busy Friday night and we had no reservation. As a result, we were told it would be just a few minutes wait. We waited a half hour. Theresa did check in with us several times, but she was clearly being pulled in many directions.

We selected a bottle of Pinot Noir from the wine list before tackling the menu, on which we found a variety of tempting vegetarian and vegan options. The Vegetarian Vixens ordered the Falafel Plate, Fettucini Carciofi, and a Mediterranean Pizza, all with Bunky's Italian Side Salad. Lentil soup was the other starter option, but we were still all too sweaty and hot from the dance party to partake in hot soup. The salad was simple, yet very satisfying since it was cool and crunchy, just what we needed. We all loved the vinaigrette, so much so that we asked the waiter for the details. Being unsure of all the ingredients, he went to find out. Another employee came to our table right away to tell us that it contained everything but the kitchen sink. It didn't need it! Vegans take note, there is Parmesan in the dressing. The Mediterranean pizza was by far our favorite dish. It was a mouth-party for sure! The layers of flavor created by the chewy-crunchy crust, perfectly cooked vegetables, and feta were simply sensational. The Fettucine Carciofi was marginal - creamy and thick, but not much flavor. The Falafel Plate was tasty, but nothing like Falafel King, where it's also cheaper.

The Vixens enjoyed the warm and enticing environment, which was complimented by Middle Eastern music and a belly dancer. The ecletic, hodge-podge, somewhat mismatched decor made it all the more delightful in our humble opinions. We appreciated that nothing was too matchy-matchy. Though it was busy, somewhat crowded, and a little loud that's just what we were looking for on our night out.
To find out more about this hip eatery go to...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Skinny Bitch? Why yes, thank you!


Vixens Vote= RAVE READ!

Skinny Bitch... Who wouldn't want to be called a 'skinny bitch' by a group of envious friends? A different connotation however is implied, when you read the pages of this eye opening book. This ultra-informative, super sassy, slap into reality, read delves into the life and lie of the modern day carnivore. Most of us have been there, giving no thought as to what we are REALLY putting into our bodies...the endless ingredient lists staring at us as we try to work our way through the unrecognizable words,...hydrogenatedsulfidacewhat? Monosodiumglutamatewho? Who thought that putting all of these chemicals and by products into our food was a good idea? Someone who thinks fat and unhealthy is beautiful. Dive into this read and discover all of the hidden products and chemicals in the food you take in on a daily basis. Find out what life is like for the animals that end up on your plate, you'll be shocked, horrified and tossed into reality...You may start to think about every bite you take in a different light, and maybe you too will become a skinny bitch. A perfect launching book for the start of the change you need to your life!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Watch Earthings

Watch Earthlings

From Earthlings, "Earthlings is a documentary that will forever change the way you look at your food and make you think about the things you always chose to ignore."

Sometimes seeing is believing. Though I have read many books on slaughterhouses and cried myself to sleep at night, this documentary shows you firsthand the pain and suffering of so many animals, all at the hands of humans. I think the most upsetting fact is just as the caption to the documentary states, "that you always chose to ignore." Most of the meat eaters I know are fully aware of how upsetting, disturbing and inhumane slaughterhouses are, yet they continue to sit down to their flesh laden meals. If you are aware of this, how with any sort of conscious can you continue to support this horrid industry? Take a cue from Earthlings, if humans had to slaughter their own meat, most people would be vegetarians. Watch this, and let it become ingrained in your mind. Knowledge is power, don't ignore where your food is coming from any longer.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Not Me, It's You

Dear Cheese,

Hi, it's me. You have to know by now how much I love you. I rarely go a day without spending time with you. I love your smooth texture, the way you get all melty over a bowl of hot noodles. The way you lay so serenely on a toasted sandwich and gaze lovingly back at me from atop a crisp salad. I love your colors. Light yellows to deep oranges, you're really irresistable. Irresistable that is, until I found out the truth about you and where you come from. And, the truth about what you are doing to the inside of my body. Literally. Your proteins are attaching to my arteries causing skyrocketing cholesterol levels. Your fat, makes me fat... By the way, Casein, your main protein buddy, is the base for one of the strongest glues used in woodworking. Your friends, the "Dairy Products" have been found to contain dangerous amounts of Penicillan and other anitbiotics used to help speed up their growth. You're clogging my brain cells, not to mention my intestines. You cause mucous, yes mucous build-up as my body tries to fight off your evil ways. And oh, the enzymes you're made with, taken from the bellies of little calves. How could you do such a thing? We have had such a long and glorious relationship, but now Cheese, it's time for this relationship to come to an end. I'm just not that into you.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No More Milk!

See the facts below for reasons eliminate milk from your diet!

A Few Fast Facts

  • More than 7 billion animals die yearly just from human consumption.
  • Cows contribute to global warming due to the amount of fossil fuels it takes to maintain a meat diet. It takes 3 times more fuel than it does to produce a vegetarian diet.
  • A man who eats meat has a 50% greater chance of dying from a heart attack. A man who does not eat meat only has a 15% chance of dying from a heart attack.
  • Women who eat eggs 3 times or more per week have a risk that is 3 times higher to develop ovarian cancer than those women who consume eggs less than once a week.
  • 660,000 animals are murdered in the USA every hour for their flesh!
  • Only drink milk if your goal is to become as fat as you possibly can! The purpose of cow's milk is to fatten up calves at an accelerated rate so that they can survive the winter. As far as your bones go, milk does not add to your long term calcium deposits. It actually drains it because of an acidic reaction in your stomach and your body retrieves the base elements it needs from your bones to break it down. Be wary of the message sent you by the media! This is milk marketing at it's best! Ladies, if you wish to avoid Osteoporosis, do NOT drink your 3 glasses of milk a day!
  • If you are starting a vegetarian diet, you may want to think about taking a B12 supplement. Be sure to consult with your doctor!
  • If 3 Wisconsin girls who were raised on meat and tons of dairy can switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, YOU CAN TOO!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Cows Not Typical

Despite the image that the media wants to portray, that cows are happy and free in California, the bottom line is most cows around the US are not happy or free. Most cows are treated inhumanely and will die a horrible and tortured death. When cows are not producing enough milk, they will be sent to the slaughterhouse. Being from Wisconsin and witnessing farm life through family and friends, I know that there are many farms in which the cows and other livestock do in fact live a nurtured and healthy life. However, with more and more factory farms taking over, the future of cows is becoming crueler and bleaker.

Casein which accounts for 80% of the protein found in cow's milk and cheese has been linked by Dr. Colin Campbell to increase your risk for cancer. (Read The China Study for more information on that). We are all brainwashed from an early age to drink at least 3 glasses of milk a day. Turns out, this is not healthy! Casein can be found on ingredient labels under these names as well: sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate or milk protein. These ingredients are also found in energy bars, drinks as well as packaged goods. Be sure to read ingredient labels carefully! Do your best to steer clear of cows in your diet, both as source of meat and dairy. You will be doing yourself and the cows a big favor!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Veggie Valentine!

My Veggie Valentine

You may not CARROT all for me
The way I care for you
You may TURNIP your nose
When I plead with you
But if your HEART should BEET with mine
Forever LETTUCE hope
There's no reason in the world

PEAS be mine always and forever!

Happy Valentine's Day from the Veg Vixens!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Heart Healthy!

Being Friday the 13th and all, it's important to not take any chances with your luck. What better way to change your luck than by taking better care of your heart! Give your heart all the health and happiness it needs by choosing fruits and vegetables. Going vegetarian is not easy. Start slow and small by limiting your red meat first, then slowly move away from other 4 legged creatures and last, despite common myths, stop eating fish. The mercury and other toxins those fish have to live in are not good for you, or the fish! Do whatever it takes to make the switch. Whether it's for the animals' well-being, the environment or your health, focus on that, read and research it. Your eyes will be opened to a whole new world! We are here to help! Here's to your heart health!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tofu Fajitas = Foodgasm!

While dining at Beans 'n Barley in Milwaukee about a month ago, all three of us ladies mutually devoured and sang praises to the highest heaven about the Tofu Fajitas on the menu.

I recreated the Tofu Fajitas in the comfort of my tiny apartment tonight and I had an equally amazing and satisfying foodgasm. I'm finally comfortable and unafraid to cook tofu at home. It was that one vegetarian/vegan food that I was always so much more comfortable ordering while out. I got over my fear and it was a huge success!

Here's the information you need to have your own flavorful foodgasm.

1 package Extra Firm Tofu
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 medium white or yellow onion
1 portabella mushroom
4-5 cherry tomatoes
1 avocado
1 can of refried black beans (optional)
Favorite jar of Salsa
1 package of Taco Seasoning
(or you can make your own by using your favorite mexican spices)
Tortillas of your favorite variety (watch out for lard or even on a rare occasion gelatin on the ingredient list)!

Cut Tofu into thin strips and lay out between an absorbent towel to get rid of excess moisture. Cook in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Brown one side, and then flip. Once tofu is browned, set aside and saute peppers and onion in frying pan. Add tofu and taco seasoning packet and a little bit of water. Let veggies and tofu simmer.

Serve with tortillas, refried black beans, tomatoes, avocado and salsa. Doesn't even need cheese, it's so scrumptious!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Have You Ever Heard a Tomato Scream?

Grill it, bake it, fry it...add a couple of side items and you've got a meal. But after much thought about what, or who, was actually sitting on my plate, I have been enlightened...It was so much easier to be ignorant, to dismiss the fact that animals, living breathing, birth-giving creatures are what was sitting on my plate. Bloodied steaks with fat and tendons and all too familiar muscle laying out on its final resting place, a styrofoam tray, with a gauze pad underneath to catch the blood and other drippings. How can we walk past that refrigerated slaughterhouse in the grocery store and not gag? Really? Cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, every part of their former bodies laid out for purchase. No thank you. The veg lifestyle is so much easier; no decomposing flesh to cook and guilt about where that animal came from and how it met its end...Enlightenment comes slowly, so join us on our journey to VegDomination!

Revealing Read: The China Study

Rave Read?
Luke Warm Literature?
Appallingly Awful?

Vixen's Verdict = Rave Read!

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell is an extremely informative read. If health is your main concern in becoming a vegan or vegetarian then this is the book that will do well to convince you. On page 7 of the China Study, Campbell states "People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. . . . People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease." The amount of research that went into writing the book can be somewhat overwhelming. However the chapters “Government: Is it for the People?” and “Big Medicine: Whose Health are they Protecting” are a serious cause for concern and very intriguing. The book does well to teach us that it is time to stop taking everything that is so ingrained in our nature and to start questioning everything we 'think' we know. The implications that heart disease can be reversed should be enough to make you want to read it. Being relatively young and in good health, I still find it an incredible shift in the knowledge towards the meat and dairy industry. Vegetarian Vixens highly recommend this rave read!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it’s safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs.” -Alexei Sayle

"I am not a vegetarian because I like animals. I am a vegetarian because I hate plants." - A. Whitney Brown

The New 'Fast Food'

Start wrapping your head around a new kind of 'fast food.' There is nothing faster than grabbing a piece of fruit or some veggies. Seems daunting at first, but for breakfast try fruit! It's fast, it's easy. Your heart and inner workings of your body will thank you for the break from having to sort through the rest of the crap that you've tried to put into it lately.

Flowering Veggies

Here's to literally taking on a whole new plate. Entertain your children, spouses, lovers, friends and families. Create a happy plate of plant foods instead of the rotting dead flesh that you are used to serving. Plate by plate, you can change your body, mind, environment and possibly take over the world. Well, maybe none of that is true, however, at the very least you can make a happy veggie flower and know that no living creature was harmed. Vegetarian Vixens believe that since no plants have a central nervous system, they do not feel any pain when you cleanly pluck them from the earth. You can serve a new meal or snack that is wholesome for your heart and health.

Meat: Does a Body Bad

This used to be my typical weekend or even weekday. Meat, meat and more meat. Oh, how I used to love my meat. That is until I met my meat... Now, how I loathe the meat. I loathe the meat because I love the animals that it comes from. I loathe the meat because of the havoc that is wreaking on the world, our bodies and even our souls. It is our mission to encourage and enlighten you on your journey from the disgusting distasteful world of meat to a happier brighter place. Your body will do more for you, your conscience will rest easier, the environment will owe you for a change and your animal friends will no longer attack you. No guarantees of course, but at the very least, you can rest easy knowing that you have started on a happy path which will lead to a clean bill of health. On a side note, you will get asked a million questions by friends, family and even strangers. They will think it is impossible, strange, foreign, even, heaven help us, unhealthy. This deeply saddens us because not too long ago, we used to be oblivious and ignorant to an unseen and unspoken of world. Sadly, meat is so ingrained in our diets many of us don't know any other way. We worry about what we will eat. We wonder how you can possibly feed a family without meat on the center of the plate. Never fear! We are here to help! We will be posting recipes of both vegan and vegetarian variety, book reviews, restaurant reviews, product reviews and anything else you may need on this fabulous life transformation. Here's to your heart and body health, helping the environment and cleaning your conscience! Welcome friends, enemies, browsers and non-believers. We have a lot to learn together!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


(n) A colorless or slightly yellow, transparent, brittle protein formed by boiling the specially prepared skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals and used in foods, drugs, and photographic film. Interesting, that gelatin can be used in food, OR photographic film. Bet that's easy for the ol' bod to digest. In my world gelatin used to mean Jell-o and would induce happy memories of a jiggly colored dessert on my plate that's fun to eat and fun to play with. Next time you take a bite into marshmallows, candy corn, fruit bars or even wash your hair, check the ingredient list. You may be surprised to find gelatin in the strangest places! If eating boiled bones, cartilage and skin turns you off there are some other options. An alternative substance for gelatin is called Agar-Agar, which is derived from seaweed. Another is made from the root of the Kuzu. Agar-Agar is sold in noodle-like strands, in powdered form, or in long blocks, and is usually white-ish in color. Here's to eating with a conscience, and discovering what's in our food!


Rennet: (n) An extract from the stomachs of calves and lambs that contains the enzyme rennin, which is used to curdle milk in foods such as cheese. Or more explicitly ... after butchering, the fourth stomach of a young calf is removed and freed of its food content. Next, the stomach goes through several steps including being dry-salted, washed, scraped to remove surface fat, stretched onto racks where moisture is removed, then finally ground and mixed with a salt solution until the rennet is extracted. Many vegetarians don't consider that some of the cheeses they are eating could actually contain unfamiliar animal ingredients. That's right. Cheese, a common staple in many vegetarian diets, is often made with rennet or rennin, which is used to coagulate the dairy product.

Because of the limited availability of proper stomachs for rennet production (a by-product of veal production), cheese makers have looked for other ways to coagulate the milk. There are many sources of enzymes, ranging from plants and fungi to microbial that will substitute for animal rennet. Cheeses produced from any of these varieties of rennet are suitable for lacto-vegetarians to consume. Microbial rennet is used more often in industrial cheesemaking in North America today because it is less expensive than animal rennet, whereas cheese from Europe and artisnal cheeses are more likely to be made from animal rennet due to tradition.

At Trader Joes you will find an extensive list of cheeses offered, with explanations for each as to what type of rennet was used to make it. Most of the cheese labels will also tell you if it is made with animal, microbial or vegetable rennet enzymes. Whole Foods also employs numerous "cheese whizes" who have a plethora of knowledge in this area. No matter where you shop, ask questions, look at labels and think about what you are eating!