Once upon a time, I decided to change my diet. I wanted to do away with processed foods that had ingredient lists I couldn’t even pronounce.
So, I hauled myself to my local healthy food store and stocked up on fruits, vegetables, vegan and gluten-free products.
I like fruits, vegetables and a few vegan items, but by the end of the week, I threw most of it away. I couldn’t decide what tasted better, the vegan cookies I purchased or seasoned cardboard. Tough pick.
Lately, I’ve been on the pry for vegan options that wouldn’t be a waste of money.
The healthy gang that uses Express Grub regularly (Hi Ashley) swears by Heart Beet Kitchen in Collingswood. Though reluctant, I wanted to give them a try to see if it was possible for vegan and gluten-free food to be appetizing.
Right outside of Heart Beet’s front door, was a huge chalkboard with big bold writing, describing the type of cuisine one is in for. Dairy-free, plant-based, locally-sourced, I read, as I reassured myself that I was making the right decision. Admittedly, it was great to see what I’d be consuming wouldn’t be detrimental to my insides.
I ordered a heart beet burger that came with an orange tahini kale salad, a blueberry maple lemon kombucha and a thick slice of gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake.
The dining area was overtaken by organic sunlight. The decor was very homey, with farmhouse style furnishings. I loved the long, dark, wooden dining table that reminded me of a piece you’d see in the south.
When my burger reached the table, I was thrilled to see it actually looked scrumptious. It was made with beets, quinoa, celery, carrots, onions, black beans, and other veggies. There was a pile of crunchy sprouts on top, a thick-sliced, ruby red tomato, vibrant segments of avocado, and a heavy slather of horseradish aioli. The gluten-free bun had seeds and grains trickling about the surface. It trumped the frozen patty I envisioned getting. Thank God!
I took my first bite and was astounded. It actually had taste–great taste at that! There were a slew flavors that made it far from one-dimensional. The most pronounced flavor, of course, was the burger itself. It had a medium firm texture that I enjoyed. It went along well with the dense bun. I actually scooped a bit of the bun out to taste even more of the freshness sandwiched between it. The beet and bean mixture was earthy and satisfying. The creamy horseradish aioli gave it a smooth kick. The avocado, one of my all time favorite foods, provided even more buttery, creaminess Without question, this burger was a hit.
I washed all those veggies down with my blueberry maple lemon kombucha. What I love most about kombucha is the instant shot of energy it gives after the tiniest sip. It literally awakened all of my senses. It’s something about a sour, fermented taste that I love and this tea paired very well with the aiding ingredients. I could taste the ginger and maple just as prominently as the kombucha base. These natural additives gave extra flavor that made the drink less sharp. Next time, I’m going back for the salted watermelon flavor they had on draft.
The moment I awaited most had finally come–ripping apart the chocolate cake. When I asked for a slice, I was served the thickest chunk of cake I’d ever received at a restaurant. There was so much moisture glistening from the beautiful amber fudge frosting. You could also see sparkles of moisture on the cake layers. I tried being classy by using a fork to cut into it, but little did I know, that would be a bicep workout. The slice was so dense, I slowly watched the fork trudge it’s way from the top to bottom. The sliver I cut was so fudgy, that it stuck to my fork and wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Quickly, I raised the piece to my mouth, and let the chocolate take over.
“Wow,” I thought in disbelief that this was really vegan and gluten-free. I’ve eaten tons of chocolate cakes in my day, and this would certainly be at the top of the list. The texture, taste, and moistness mimicked that of the “real thing.” I would even consider it better, since I know that the ingredients are much better for me. It was superb.
Finally, I’ve found a healthy restaurant with A+ food! I never thought I’d come across vegan food that was filling and worth every penny.
I love you Heart Beet Kitchen. Don’t you ever go away.