Vegan eats in Tel Aviv | Restaurant review and tips

Together with VibeIsrael, i was invited on their vegan food tour (Gifted trip)

I was contacted a few months ago and at first i didn’t know how to respond… i must admit, i even thought it was just another spam mail. But with a little research i realized that Vibe is infact an established organization that has held many different tours.

I can say, i was honored to be asked to join… even if it was uncertain whether i could travel or not because of my studies. However, i can say now that the trip is over i am so glad that i decided to go, because it was an experience for sure.

If you want to see some of the food we ate and what we did, you can watch my 3 videos, PART 1, PART 2, PART 3 showing you the first 3 days of our trip 🙂

So, i am sure many of you have heard about Tel Aviv being a sort of vegan Haven? One of the top cities to visit if you are a vegan foodie. Not just aesthetically pleasing food, but delicious food. Because it is in the Middle East, Israel has food from many different cultures as well as having lots of fresh fruit and vegetables which often make it the center of the meal. Which i love!

I may be all for vegan soy burgers and fake meats, but there is something incredible about being able to make amazing dishes out of vegetables, spices and “natural/unprocessed foods”. Of course, natural doesn’t have to be better and it is fine with processed foods, but being able to make vegetables taste delicious and make meat eaters enjoy and like eating vegetables is definitely a talent. And we need more of that in our everyday lives.

So i can say, i am excited to bring back all the new food experiences and different meals i have tried. Maybe have vegetables be more in focus in my meals… but of course focusing on Swedish vegetables.

But, in this post i want to focus on some of the vegan restaurants we ate at. I am sure there are many more amazing vegan places to eat at, but these are the ones we went to.

There will be a mix of my own photos as well as photos from a proffessional food photographer, Amir Menahem, who you should check out and follow on his Instagram.

Bana:

A really cosy vibe and atmosphere. A place where you can go to eat and just sit there for hours, ordering in dishes to share among friends. We went during the evening, around 8pm so it was dark outside but still warm enough to sit outside. This restaurant gave me tapas vibes, i.e you order in a bunch of different meals which you share and try together with friends or family.

The food at Bana was my first taste of Israeli food and i can say i was not disappointed, however we got so many dishes served to us and we were so caught up in talking and eating that i didn’t always register what it was that we were being served.

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The menu changes based on what fruits and vegetables are in season, so the dishes i ate might not be there when you go to visit. But there was a sweet potato dish that was amazing, as well as an eggplant and tahini dish. Not to mention the desserts that were incredible, my favourite being the waffle with apples/pears and caramel sauce.

Vegetables are in focus at Bana, however i don’t think you have to be a vegetable lover to appreciate the food. However if you are a hardcore meatlover who wants that smokey taste and texture, then maybe this isn’t the place for you. But it is an amazing place to get inspiration for different vegetable based dishes.

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You can see some of the meals we ate at Bana in THIS VIDEO.

Opa:

Opa is a rather newly opened (when writing this) restaurant which is focused on vegan fine dining. Meaning high class, gourmet meals that use ingredients and ways of cooking, preparing and styling food you may not have seen or heard about before.

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

Gourmet and fine dining isn’t really my thing if i am honest. I keep my meals simple and don’t like to overcomplicate food and cooking, so this was definitely an experience for me, and a good one at that!

We got about 8-10 different dishes which two people shared. The vegetable was in focus, just like at Bana, and i think the menu changes depedning on the season and what vegetables are in season as well.

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Amir Menahem

There were so many new and different flavours and tastes, and you can definitely tell that it was not the same as home cooked comfort food. If you are into fine dining or just want to try fine dining experience then i recommend going to Opa. It is of course more expensive than a regular restaurant, but it is worth the experience and if you are in Tel Aviv, why not! It is also great for a date night or maybe celebrating an anniversary!

The chocolate dessert was BEYOND AMAZING. So if it is on the menu, then you definitely have to get it

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Photo: Amir Menahem

You can see some of the dishes are my experience in THIS video!

416:

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Photo: Amir Menahem

416 was one of my favourite places to eat while in Tel Aviv. It had very LA vibes…. loud music, lots of plants, friendly staff and vegan remakes of fast food.. but better than fast food. I.e not the greasy burgers and fries or pizza you get at maybe McDonalds or burger king, but the restaurant type of burgers and pizza which taste so much better.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

This is definitely the type of place you would go with friends, maybe before going out dancing. Or if you are celebrating a birthday or just want some good, filling vegan food. it would work great to bring your partner if they are sceptical to vegan food but willing to try as 416 offers vegan fake meat and remakes of different meatbased dishes.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

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I.e vegan ceaser salad, vegan sliders, vegan steak, vegan calamari, vegan filled pasta and of course THE DESSERTS. I highly recommend you leave space for dessert, and maybe order in more than one dessert.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

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Not to mention, they have a vegan cocktail bar meaning… all the drinks are vegan. Which is always a plus because then you don’t need to wonder or ask if the wine is vegan!

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Photo: Amir Menahem

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You can see a video from our dinner at 416, HERE.

If you like fake meats or vegan “fast food” i.e not necessarily just vegetables and plantbased, then i do recommend making time to go to 416.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

Price wise… i can’t really say. But it is in the middle/high class. and in general, Tel Aviv is rather expensive so i would recommend you save up before travelling there so that you can fully enjoy yourself and enjoy the food there – it is well worth the money 🙂

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

Citizen garden (brunch)

The last place we ate at was citizen garden, which is a brunch/lunch place and the first thing i have to say is that it is VERY INSTRAGRAM FRIENDLY. Of course, i am sure many don’t care about this…the important thing is that the food tastes good – which it definitely did! But it has amazing lighting, there is a cosy outside “garden” which you can sit in and of course the food both tastes and looks amazing… so yes, you will be wanting to take photos.

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It is the type of place you go to have brunch with friends, weekend breakfast with your partner (or solo!), go there to eat lunch, drink coffee and work for several hours… or even the place you go after a night out, feeling kind of hungover and just want a detox juice and salad… and some avocado toast (which was the case for myself and the rest of the group. A detox juice and plenty of coffee was definitely necessary!).

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I really enjoyed the food at Citizen garden and it is the type of food i make and eat even at home. Different bowls, toasts, drinks and cold dishes. You will want to order a little bit of everything, but i have to say that the bowls/salads are very large almost worth sharing.

So it could be a good idea to get a bowl and toast to share between two people, then you get to try more than one thing.

Price wise… well, it is worth the price for the food you get. It tasted very fresh and of course very nutritious. Not to mention lovely staff and atmosphere!

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Hummus HaCarmel in carmel market

Carmel market is the market in Tel Aviv, and there is plenty to see there. Lots of people, lots of stalls, lots to see and try… almost a little overwhelming. I do also recommend that you try to stay clear from the slaughter/meat/fish part of the market if you are vegan… it wasn’t the most pleasant to walk past that part.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

I did try some things from the market such as bread and sauce, some different sweet desserts and an ethiopian coffee. But the place i wanted to recommend was Hummus HaCarmel. I had never heard of this place, but apparently it is rather well known/a tourist place… which i noticed when we got there. There was a line waiting to eat and we had to wait about 15-20 minutes until we got to sit down and order, but it was worth the wait.

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Basically it is a hummus place. So they have different hummus with salad and you also get pita bread. it is basically a small “in the wall” resturants but it has quite alot of places to sit outside and you do get a place to sit, so it is not just to walk in and sit down.

The vibe is very fast paced… people walking by, people waiting, it is not a place you go to sit for a long time and just talk, instead you go there with a mission to eat your hummus and pita bread and leave rather quickly again. Basically a market place cafe.. it is what you would expect regarding the atmosphere.

But it is worth a visit if you enjoy hummus and are in Carmel market. Also, they do have a sink and antiseptic so you can wash your hands before eating which you will most likely want to do as you eat with your hands!

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Price wise… basically the price of a lunch. More expensive than typical market place food which is often rather cheap (according to me). So even if you just get hummus and pita bread it is rather expensive, but worth it atleast once anyway 🙂

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

Luna

So, Luna isn’t actually in Tel Aviv, it is in Nazareth (about 2 hours from Tel Aviv) so if you just plan to be in Tel Aviv you may not go here, but if you do have plans to travel around Israel and are in Nazareth, then i do recommend Luna.

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The focus is arabic food. Lots of falafel, tabbouleh, hummus, stuffed cabbage rolls, rice etc

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And the dessert, specifically the Knafeh, was incredible. We were all so full from lunch and our previous eats in the morning that none of us were particularly craving dessert… but one bite in and we all wanted more. So that was definitely a hit!

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

The atmosphere…? Definitely a place you go with your family. It was beside a shopping mall, so i am sure many go shopping and then go for lunch there or vice versa. It is definitely easy to eat a whole bunch at Luna and end up with a food coma deluxa.

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One thing i do have to mention is that the owner, Luna, was so incredibly friendly and you could tell that she was so passionate about the food and wanting us to really enjoy it. And it was like you could tell that the food was cooked with love…. hahaha, how true that is i don’t know. But it was a really nice experience eating there.

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Like Opa and Bana, no fake meats… only wholefoods and vegetables in focus. Lots of different spices, which is very typical in the middle easten cuisine. And of course, it seems like you order a bunch of dishes to share among many (though maybe you can order a dish just for yourself which you do in European restaurants).

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Photo: Amir Menahem

Price wise, unfortunatly i don’t know.

Other tips:

Anastasia

I never visited Anastasia, but apparently it has a great vegan brunch but there is usually a queue (specially on weekends), so you will want to go there in time and be ready to queue until you get a place to sit down.

Other places you can eat:

Order a Sabich (“Hole in the wall” restaurant)

Similar to a fish and chips shop in the U.K, i.e they have a small kitchen/cooking area where they prepare the sabich for you freshly when you order. Takes about 10 minutes to make as they fry the eggplant when you order. Typically Sabich is made with egg, but you can skip that if you want to make it vegan.

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Lots of fresh vegetables, Amazing fried eggplant. Delicious tahini and amba sauce. Definitely a meal you should try… and perfect if you just want a quick lunch before walking around Tel Aviv, or maybe one of those before going out partying meals.

I am not sure the exact address for this “restaurant”, but it was close to Carmel market so i am sure with some googling you may find it. Apparently the locals do want to keep it rather secret as well as they don’t want a bunch of tourists going there and ordering when they just want to eat their lunch!

Note, there are 2-3 benches outside to sit on… but it is one of those meals you most likely eat while stnading up or while on the go unless you bring it with you to sit somewhere else 🙂

P.s recipe for homemade Sabich HERE

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Betzavta, a Friday night dinner. Basically you eat Friday night dinner at an Israeli host. You contact Betzavta who match you with a host and then the host cooks you dinner and it is a lovely way to talk to people who are locals to share stories and just make connections! It was a lovely experience for me to have the Friday night dinner.

As each host is different and the food they prepare is different, everyone will have a unique experience. So my experience was a positive one, but it can of course vary depending on what host you get.

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

Pop up dinner at TheVeganItalianChef (i.e Nadia):

She hosts pop up dinners at her place where she makes vegan italian food. You can book a place during one of her dinners and she will cook you amazing food. I haven’t done this myself, but Nadia is wonderful and her cooking is amazing (we made brunch together with her), so i would definitely recommend you do this if you want to try different food and different food experiences rather than just restaurants and cafes.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

There you have a list of some places to visit if you want to eat vegan while in Tel Aviv!! If you have any other recommendations, comment down below. Or if you have any questions regarding travelling to Israel or my experience, comment down below or contact me via myInstagram (itsahealthylifestyle)

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Frill ice cream review |Vegan ice cream

This weekend i tried a new ice cream brand which i thought i would do a review of! 🙂

You can see other product reviews/recommendations in my tag HERE . Incase you want to see other products i have tried!
And of course, this is not sponsored, haha! I am always honest with my opinion, whether sponsored or not, and you can usually tell which products i love depending on how frequent i post about/eat them!

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Pros

Made from “natural” ingredients

No added sugar – and vegan of course.

I like the packaging as well!

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Negatives:

Some type of cardboard texture, HOWEVER tastes better when it has defrosted and is almost melted.

I didn’t think it was sweet enough. HOWEVER, i think that is just because i am used to ice cream with added sugar, so i am used to ice cream being sweet. But if you are someone who doesn’t eat alot of sugary products then you might find this ice cream just right for you/sweet enough.

I think it could have been better if the base was from cashews or coconut cream…. it wasn’t as creamy as i would have liked. However, that is just personal opinion.

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Will i buy this ice cream again? No, i won’t. I might buy their new flavour, nutty caramel and give it a try. But for the same price of €6 i can buy vegan ben and jerrys or 3 vänner ice cream which i prefer. And i feel like i could make this type of ice cream myself (Or even better) by using bananas, dates and cacao.

I give this ice cream a 5/10. It is tasty, and i will eat it… but it is not my favourite type of ice cream, not to mention it is very pricy and i don’t think the ingredients call for the price of the ice cream haha. (I.e, i can understand why some cashew based ice creams cost 6-10 euro, and that is because cashews are super expensive.)

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The ice cream DOES taste better if you let it defrost completely – you can even heat it in the microwave c.a 10-20 seconds 🙂

3 vegan chocolates – review!

For Easter my mother was so kind and bought me 3 different vegan chocolates to try! In normal food stores there aren’t so many vegan chocolate options to buy, only 1 or 2 as well as dark baking chocolate is usually vegan. Also the price of vegan chocolate makes it an extra treat when i do eat it!!

However when you go to certain vegan stores or eco-friendly stores that have a focus on eco friendly and vegan foods, then you realise just how many different vegan chocolates there are – as you can see in THIS post. Also if you want to know what other vegan chocolate brands there are, you can look at THIS post and THIS post.

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The first one was a hazelnut chocolate bar from Ichoc, which i have already tested before and i love it! Infact i love all of the Ichoc bars and they are the cheapest bars i have found (that isn’t just dark baking chocolate!) but also taste great according to me! Even my step dad agrees that it is similar to dairy milk. So if you are looking for a vegan chocolate, i recommend this brand… and their white chocolate and cookies&cream one are my favourites!

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Second was a raw bar from Love chock which i have never tried before. The flavour was mulberry and vanilla. I didn’t really know what to expect from a raw chocolate, but it wasn’t in my taste…… If you prefer sweet and kind of creamy chocolate like myself, then raw chocolate bars aren’t for you. It wasn’t smooth or creamy, it was almost crumbly and rather bitter….. and i didn’t taste any vanilla… so i was rather disappointed in the chocolate. However, it did sort of get better the more i ate it. The first 2 pieces i didn’t like, then the next time i tried another piece it was a little better and the last piece was actually ok. Maybe it is one of those tastes that grow on you….. But i think i will stick to my vegan “milk” chocolate!!

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And lastly, a vegan easter bunny from Rosen Garten which i had never seen before.

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The first bite all i could taste was the cocao butter….. it wasn’t sweet, almost like taking a bite of butter/margarine. However the more i ate, the more i liked it and the chocolate and sweetness began to appear. It wasn’t overally sweet which is a good thing – some chocolates it is like biting itno sugar they are so sweet. However this easter bunny had just a little too much cocoa butter taste for my liking. I finished it all, because well… it is chocolate. But i wouldn’t buy it again. The taste did grow on me though, so who knows…. maybe i should give their chocolate another chance and see if it tastes better!

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The bunny without his ears!

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New vegan foods!

 

I am not a materialistic person and can at times get bothered by the extreme consumerism that our society is based on. But also at times i think about how all the new products just add to consumerism and so much processed stuff. However i do also think that it is great with all the new vegan food available, not only for the existing vegans – making food choices a little bit easier, but also to help non-vegans eat more vegan. Because if the option and alternative is there – and tastes good – it is more likely that non vegans will eat it or atleast try it. So i think it is a positive thing, not to mention i love trying new foods. But of course there is a negative to it as well… but i am not going to focus on that…. instead i want to show you some of the new vegan foods i have stumbled across online. They may not be available in all countries – primarily USA i guess, but who knows maybe they will be available in your country as well!

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If you are vegan and use social media it might be hard to miss that Ben and Jjerrys have come out with 2 new vegan flavours!!  And i am SO excited. Especially for the peanut butter and half baked one – it sounds amazing. I am not sure when or if they will be availble in Sweden, but i don’t see why they won’t be importated some time soon…  i mean, the amount of vegans and lactose free people who want these ice creams is huge in Sweden!!

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And another new vegan ice cream on the market.  Vegan cornetto…. how amazing? All those summers where iw ould eat cornetto and now there is a vegan one available. However, from my understanding this won’t be available in Sweden anytime soon… but i can keep on dreaming anyway!!!

Two “new” chocolates. Not exactly new…. just new size. I love both of these chocolates so much so i am glad that there is a mini size going to be made available, because sometimes you just want a little bit of chocolate – and let’s be honest, when you buy 100g chocolate there is a high chance that it will all be eaten at once. Atleast if you are me!!! SO a little mini chocolate for on the go or when you just want a small chocolate is a great idea. But also great to give to kids as a treat – because then they get chocolate but in moderation!

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I know there is already vegan pesto available… but now there is one that clearly says vegan which is amazing. Because i find it a little tiring when i have to look at the ingredients of 7 different pesto’s to find which is vegan…. and i still haven’t found one (but i know there is one available in Sweden!). I love when foods are clearly marked vegan because then you don’t even need to check the ingredients. HOWEVER, if it just says vegetarian then check the ingredients just incase because some companies mark foods as vegetarian even if they contain egg or milk. But also the vegetarian society marking is very similar to the vegan marking, so double check those products as well 🙂

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And two new chip flavours available in Sweden. Gårdchips even made a 3rd lentil chips but they have parmesan so not vegan… which kind of sucks, i mean was it necessary to add the parmesan? But nonetheless, two new chips to try out someday!! 🙂

 

There you have some of the new vegan products i have stumbled across the past week!! I personally like making these posts because it shows new foods that are available, but even shows the progress and demand for vegan food is increasing!! If there was ever a time to go or try veganism, now is the time!!! Of course, a diet that consists of just chocolate and ice cream and chips isn’t to be recommended… but i am glad that they exist and as a part of a balanced diet it can be nice to be able to buy ice cream or chips and not have to make your own from tortilla bread or bananas!!!

 

Seitan – What is it? Nutritional value?Is it good or bad? And first time mistakes at making my own seitan.

Seitan…. something i had never actually heard of until last year when i kept seeing the word and food appear in vegan groups. Not to mention lots of people talking about how seitan is a great protein source.

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So let’s start off with… what even is seitan? Well it is made from gluten protein – meaning that people with celiac can’t eat it because well… it is as far from gluten free as you can get, haha. Seitan can be brought pre made from different brands which you then heat up and cook or you can make seitan yours using wheat flour and different sauces and seasonings or by using white flour which takes alot long as you need to keep washing away the starch from the flour so you are left with only the gluten. The process from white flour to seitan can take 4-6 hours or longer but is cheaper than using gluten flour which can take 1-4 hours or more, depending what type of dish you want to make! However you can get cheap gluten flour from certain bakeries!

Seitain is usually called wheat meat, wheat protein or wheat gluten and is usually a good replacement for meat because of its texture, taste and size which can vary alot. It is easier to mold and form and flavour compared to other vegan options.

What about the nutritional value of seitan? (Note, the nutritional value depends on how you cook it and what ingredients you use to marinate it!)

Well one serving (3 ounce c.a 85g) has around 20-24g protein, 2-5g carbs, 0-2g fiber and fat varies depending on if you fry the seitan or what sauces you use (same goes for carb content!). Despite seitan having alot of protein, it is not a complete protein meaning it doesn’t have all the essential amino acids (lacks lysine!). So… if seitan and rice and broccoli is the only 3 foods you eat or if you only eat lots of seitan and other grains then you might not be getting all the essential amino acids. But considering that most people eat varied, and by adding some hummus to your meal with seitan or adding a bean mix or even some lentils you will have a meal that has all your essential amino acids. (Also NOTE…. as long as you eat varied over a whole day you don’t need to eat complete protein sources every meal. However if you are serious about strength training and building muscle, then it can be good to think about but for normal people who eat varied, not so much!) Also people say seitan is a good source of iron, well 100g seitan is around 5,2mg iron and the recommendation is around 8-10mg for men and 15-20mg per day for women, so i wouldn’t say it is a great source of iron not to mention it is not as bioavailable so the absorption rate is rather low.

Another note, one thing about seitan which you might want to be vary about is the amount of sodim as it is often cooked in a broth as well as in soya and numerous other seasonings and salts. So the sodium amount can be rather high… however, as long as it is eaten in moderation it isn’t something to worry about, but maybe you shouldn’t add extra salt on top of the seitan!!

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I know gluten has gotten a bad rep, but the truth is that most people don’t even know what gluten is, where it is found or what it does in the body. That is not something i am going to get into in this post, instead i can make a post about gluten another time if people are interested, but i wanted to at least mention something about gluten.

I do however need to mention that as long as you aren’t sensitive to or intolerant to gluten then it is ok to eat seitan. However i wouldn’t have it as my only protein source because too much of anything isn’t good and considering it is pure gluten, it can be good to have it as a small part of your diet but combine with other protein sources such as beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh etc 🙂

It was my first time so i of course made alot of mistakes, but hopefully if you try making you can learn from my mistakes!!! I followed THIS recipe (you should be able to google translate!). Next time i am going to try another recipe and try cooking it another way…. yesterday i just made the mix, boiled it in broth and then fried and the result was ok… but nothing like the store bought seitan i have had and it was a little too spongy for my liking.

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Here are some of the mistakes and tips you can learn from me!

  1. You need ALOT of flavour… if you marinate the seitan it will have more flavour, but if you don’t marinate for a few hours and just make the mix at once then use more seasoning than you would think.
  2. I think i should have added more liquid to my mix so that it would be easier to form into shapes and maybe not as spongy or compact and hard to cut or mold.
  3. If you decide to boil the seitan in a broth then make SMALL pieces. The pieces will expand alot and won’t get all the flavour if its too large pieces. Also makes it easier to fry when the pieces are smaller.
  4. Don’t fry on too high heat… burnt seitan tastes awful. So fry on medium/low heat with lots of oil to make the exterior have a crunch!!

 

Hopefully the next time will be easier and i will update if the results turn out better!!  But i am going to eat the seitan i made (hopefully it wont make me sick as i think some parts aren’t fully cooked!).