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As a plant-based foodie, I know the struggle all too well when it comes to finding clean eats on a road trip. I was recently vacationing with family in the Tampa Bay area and stumbled upon this amazing plant-based restaurant called The Cider Press Cafe. I love to support small business owners, and an inquiring mind like mine always does some digging to find out the owners’ stories.

In 2007 owners Johan and Roland decided that they wanted to remove growth hormones, genetically-modified organisms (GMO), herbicides, and pesticides from their diets. On their quest to improve their eating habits, they discovered the raw vegan lifestyle. After 2 weeks raw, they felt full of energy, experienced increased mental clarity, lighter stomachs and glowing skin. In 2011, Joan and Roland opened Cider Press so that others in their community could feel just as awesome.

“So why the name Cider Press?,” you may be asking yourself. The inspiration for the name originated out the barn of Roland’s mom in Cincinnati, Ohio.  An old apple press, which was a staple item for Ohio and other Midwestern farmers in the 1800s, sat in her barn unused.

As you may or may not know, digestive enzymes are found naturally in our food and help our bodies absorb nutrients faster. When we cook our food, it destroys these enzymes and many of the naturally-occurring vitamins and nutrients.  Simply put, raw foods are more nutrient dense. Raw food is also more satisfying because your stomach tells your brain that you are satisfied much faster than when you eat cooked food. All menu items at Cider Press are 100% gluten, tofu, peanut, MSG, dairy, trans fat and sugar free.

 

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BBQ Nutloaf, $17

 

My family is not vegan, vegetarian, or even pescetarian. They are very much meat-eaters. I love increasing their exposure to the plant-based lifestyle because they usually end up saying, “You know, I really could eat this way all the time.” My father had the BBQ Nutloaf. Think of this as a raw vegan meatloaf. The BBQ Nutloaf is made from a variety of nuts and mushrooms, then topped with a mango barbecue sauce; served with summer slaw and a cucumber tomato salad. I always hated meatloaf as a kid, so I didn’t taste his dish.

 

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Rainbow Spring Rolls, $7

 

My mom is a pretty light eater so she opted for the Rainbow Spring Rolls as her main dish. These rolls are filled with red cabbage, sweet peppers, cucumber, and wrapped in rice paper. The sauce in the photo is almond jerk. I had never heard of almond jerk so I immediately went to Pinterest to find out if the rest of the world knows about this sauce. Now for my dishes.

 

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Pineapple Kimchi Dumplings, $6

 

The Pineapple Kimchi Dumplings were so different. They weren’t as crispy as your typical dumpling but I loved them! These were filled with pineapple kimchi and cashews, then  wrapped in coconut paper. The mango-yellow ahi sauce was different, too. The cashews in this dish made for a pretty filling appetizer.

 

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Pad Thai, $15

 

In my opinion, the Pad Thai was the star dish of the day. Before I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, this was one of my favorite dishes. Since then I have never found a vegan version that I enjoyed, until now. The base is a combination of kelp and zucchini noodles, topped with mixed vegetables, pineapple, cabbage, tamari almonds, and a spicy tamarind sauce. I will definitely attempt to re-create this at home.

In addition to the amazing fresh food that was clearly made with love, the service was awesome. The servers and staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend The Cider Press Cafe to a friend.

 

If you are a #vegan or #vegetarian foodie in the #StPete or #TampaBay area you MUST go here. Click To Tweet

 

What are some of your favorite plant-based restaurants? They can be anywhere in the world. Let me know in the comment section below.

 

 

♡ Chelsea