Key West Trip 2012!

Here is the promised recap of my mother-daughter trip to tropical Key West, Florida! We had an absolute blast and, with this being our third trip to the island, we were able to try out some new activities (like kayaking and snorkeling!) as well as take a lot of time to unwind by the pool. A much needed respite!

But I'm here to tell you about the excellent vegan food options available in the Keys. Who would've thought? The last time we visited I was vegan and we were able to explore some of the specialty cafes. We revisited some and also found some unexpected gems elsewhere.

We flew into Miami and then rented a car for the rest of the trip down. As we passed through Marathon, about an hour away from our destination, I was psyched to stop by Food for Thought, a wonderful vegan health food store with a raw cafe serving wraps, entrees, raw desserts, and fresh juices.

My mom ordered the garlic hummus and balsamic wrap.

And I got the raw Pad Thai wrap - the sauce was mildly spicy and was made with almond butter. Both wraps were stuffed with fresh veggies, greens, and sprouts.

Our money-saving plan was to visit a grocery store to stock our guest house kitchen so we could nosh on some healthy snacks during the day and eat out on the town at night. I picked up some delicious pizza-flavored Flax Snax by go raw, perfect for dipping in hummus. Publix had a fantastic jalepeno-cilantro flavor which I would love to reproduce at home!

Now it wouldn't be snacking without some top quality chocolate, right?

The Cafe is a beautiful pescetarian restaurant which serves many vegan options. We dined there many times and were both very pleased with our meals. My mom ordered their tomato soup every time and tried, however unsuccessfully, to coax the recipe out of the staff!

Our first night I ordered the cold soba noodles in a spicy peanut sauce. With plenty of edamame, red peppers, and scallions this dish was perfect for a hot day.

Another visit provided a perfectly balanced grilled Mediterranean sandwich: artichokes, portabellos, roasted red peppers, greens, onions, and balsamic vinaigrette. Add bean salad as a side and a wonderful dinner is made.

Our last dinner on the island also took place at The Cafe. I ordered a bunch of small dishes, including these scrumptious spinach gyoza with ginger-soy dipping sauce.

With sweet potato fries and a side salad? Magnificent!

Could we walk away without ordering the vegan carrot cake? Absolutely not.

In the mood for some spice we dined at Amigos one night. This spot boasts a large menu with a wide range of ingredients and toppings. The veggie burrito filling is naturally vegan and included grilled veggies and corn roasted salsa. Paired with a fabulous guac and mild, homemade salsa this meal was incredibly satisfying.

Willie T's was a spot we visited our first year, when I was a vegetarian, and we remembered them serving a tasty veggie burger option. We stopped in this year and found that their veggie burger selection was labeled as *vegan* and included sweet potato fries (woo!) and red pepper jam. The burger was very hearty and was made of lentils and sunflower seeds - not for a puny appetite!

One afternoon we meandered over to Help Yourself!, an organic omni restaurant off the beaten path. This place is a small oasis in its surrounding residential area with its own vegetable gardens and small health food store addition.

I had a taste for tempeh and ordered the TLT wrap with chipotle mayo... creamy, smokey, and drool-worthy.

If you are ever thinking of visiting Key West, do some research on Happy Cow and Yelp to find some great vegan foods hidden away behind all the seafood-heavy cuisine. And another tip: Get out on the water! Danger Charters gave us an incredible morning of kayaking and snorkeling on the reef and their crew was knowledgeable, entertaining, and so much fun (they also served us fresh fruit, beer and wine, and chips with salsa and hummus!).

Until next time, Key West!

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