Friday, November 9, 2018

Hi. First let me introduce myself...

My name is Maria. I'm 39 years old and live in St Louis with my husband, Jason, and our daughters, Linsey (17) and Regan (11). We're divided on our baseball teams and nothing else! I've been a vegetarian for about 15 years and in my dreams I'm a writer living in Chicago sitting in front of a computer writing witty newspaper columns in my jammies and fuzzy socks. In my reality I own restaurants with my husband in  St Louis and have to put on real clothes every single day.

Jason and I have been married for 18 years. We were high school sweethearts.

Insert eye roll here!

We've been working together off and on almost as long as we've been together, but for the last eight years we have been running restaurants here in St Louis. It's fun at times and stressful at others, but it allows us to have flexible schedules and hang out together all the time.


Jason is a classically French trained chef and I can make box mac 'n cheese really well. Together we've managed to keep our kids alive and become fairly successful in our chosen field.

I've dabbled in the blog world before, but it never felt completely truthful. I liked the idea of writing like I was talking to my friends, but the subject matter wasn't truly something I was invested in. It always felt like I was putting on for my (small following of) readers.

While showering the other day I had an epiphany about something I've always loved talking about - food! But not just any food....

I've always loved talking about vegetarian and vegan options that I find around my city and in my (limited) travels. Sometimes I eat at strictly veggie friendly places, but more often than not, because Jason isn't a vegetarian, everyday restaurants that you may not think about when looking for vegetarian/vegan options.

This morning we broke the news to St Louis that we're opening a second location of our restaurant, Layla. It is the perfect example of the type of restaurant I'm talking about. It's a burger place that vegans love! Honestly, it's like you took Jason and I and turned us into a restaurant.

We're cool people that are a bit rough around the edges. We enjoy eating and love feeding other people. Our circle is made up of all different types of eaters so we built a restaurant menu that could (hopefully) satisfy all of them. We've got burgers topped with bacon and smothered in brisket and gluten free options and amazing french fries with apricot ketchup and a 100% vegan burger that will (and has) make any omnivore's mouth water.

Yep... Burgers, Shawarma, Milkshakes and really tasty Hummus.

Since my blog is going to focus on the vegetarian/vegan meals I find throughout the city I figured that there was no better place to start than with two of my favorite menu items in my very own restaurant.

The first one is The Unicorn. It's the yummiest creation Jason may have ever come up with and it's 100% vegan straight from the menu. We started serving the impossible burger and built this amazing mixture of flavors to go with it.

The Unicorn has chopped romaine, house made pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos and this crazy good cashew nacho "cheese" all on a vegan pretzel bun. I'm not even kidding when I tell you that Jason, who eats any and all meat, brings one of these burgers home for his dinner 2-3 nights a week. It's just that good. A side of sweet potato fries give you a little sweet to go along with the hint of spice from the burger. It's by no means a 'healthy' burger, but it isn't meat and that's enough for me.

I promise I eat healthy most of the time and when I'm at work trying to be healthy my favorite meal is one of our new salads we lovingly named The Keanu Leaves. It's an inside joke with a few of the kitchen employees, but we loved the pun and ran with it.

This salad hits all the right spots and leaves you feeling like you actually ate a meal not just a plate of lettuce. It's a chopped blend of spring mix and kale topped with sliced red onion, chopped cucumbers, halved grape tomatoes and falafel croutons. It's all tossed with this 'good god I want to eat it by the spoonful' maple-tahini dressing and a few pieces of grilled pita on the side. It's comforting, flavorful and sits happily in my belly until dinner time.

My goal with this blog is to introduce you to vegetarian/vegan menu items from places you may frequent all the time or some you may never have heard of before. I'll go to places that are vegetarian/vegan centric as well as restaurants that have steak and potatoes on the menu.

Let's be real - we veg heads have to stick together, but we all love meat eaters. I know that we can live and eat cohesively because Jason and I have been doing it for a really long time.

I'm sure I'll deviate from the food talk once in a while. I mean, come on, I have a crazy life with pretty out there stories. But I promise in some way to bring it all back to the food. Because what's life without yummy food to move us along?

Hi. First let me introduce myself... My name is Maria. I'm 39 years old and live in St Louis with my husband, Jason, and our daughters...