Ethical Business Spotlight: Sunflower Diner

Hello again!

This week’s Ethical Business Spotlight features Hayette Bouras, Co-Owner of the all-vegan Sunflower Diner in Asheville, North Carolina! Discover more about Sunflower Diner’s journey to create scratch-made, vegan comfort food!

Let’s jump right into the interview!

Sunflower Diner, Asheville, North Carolina

1. What inspired you to create Sunflower Diner and what makes it unique?

Sunflower Diner is the culmination of a lifetime of interests for me. I have always been a lover of food and health and spent 20 years working in many different restaurants. Having been a vegetarian since age 7, it wasn’t until a few years ago that a nutrition course in college inspired me to go vegan. Sunflower Diner is unique in that it is the only 100% vegan diner in the area and that it is situated in an awesome local natural foods market.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup IG @sunflowerdineravl

2. Your IG feed features mouthwatering dishes like cornbread waffles with organic sweet potato and black bean chili, tacos with maple dijon seitan crumbles, Cuban sandwiches, baked goods, burgers, pancakes, and much more. If you had to choose just one menu item to represent what Sunflower Diner is all about, which would it be and why?

So hard! The mission of Sunflower Diner is to create vegan comfort food that anyone can enjoy, regardless of dietary preference. With that in mind, I really love our Westside Hot Mess dish. It’s one of our fluffy coconut cream biscuits, smothered in our savory mushroom gravy, topped with our tofu scramble, drizzled with our sunflower-cashew queso sauce and served with a vegan sausage pattie. It’s so comforting and yummy.

3. On October 1st, you celebrated Sunflower Diner’s one year anniversary. Congrats! What has been the biggest challenge and biggest surprise during your first year?

Not only was it the first year that we were open, it was my first time opening and co-owning a restaurant. There was no way of knowing what 2020 would bring and so navigating the pandemic was definitely the biggest added challenge to this already challenging learning experience for me. Luckily, we had the support of our customers, our staff, and the community of people who make the West Village Market continue to thrive. The biggest surprise for me has been the overwhelming enthusiasm for our vegan menu. The vegan community of our area and beyond are showing up and showing support – it has really been heart-warming and encouraging.

4. Asheville is a fun and artsy city situated in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains that is quickly becoming a destination spot for delicious vegan food! How has the community played a role in the diner’s success during this year’s shutdowns and restrictions?

As I mentioned before, we would be nowhere without the amazing community of vegans in our area. So many people reached out to us to buy gift certificates, and continued to support us through our curbside and takeout options. As restrictions were lifted, we were surprised to have many people from other cities and states coming to dine with us and appreciate every single person who makes the trip to our tiny little diner.

5. What’s next for Sunflower Diner?

Well, in the near future, we would love to expand our hours which were greatly reduced as a result of the pandemic. Further out, we hope to outgrow our little space and think about a stand-alone brick and mortar in a couple of years.

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Sunflower Diner is now open for take-out orders and delivery. Check out their Facebook page and Instagram for info and updates!

Head on over to my Instagram to enter to win a $20 gift card to Sunflower Diner!

Review: Simple Cafe & Juice Bar in Asheville, NC!

Hello, hello! I’m here to share my thoughts on a brand new café and juice bar in the cute and trendy West Asheville area!

Location: Simple Cafe & Juice Bar, 643 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806

Atmosphere: Simple Cafe & Juice Bar definitely draws you in. The overall vibe is laid-back, despite a steady stream of customers! The interior design is clean, comfortable, natural, and  minimalistic (totally my scene!). There’s seating at the bar along the window and cushioned seats in the main eating area. Upon ordering, we received a nice, friendly greeting from Suzie, one of the owners, who also let us know they would be launching some new seasonal items very soon. 

Food:  When I write these reviews, I usually take a few notes while I’m in the restaurant and wait a few days before posting. However, I enjoyed the food SO much, I wanted to post right away! You can find their menu here.

The first menu item I ordered was the Vegan Bahn Mi. Let me tell you, this sandwich was FULL of flavor and I couldn’t get enough! This bad boy featured house-made sietan that had a meaty, sausage-like flavor, tangy Vietnamese pickles, a nutty mushroom walnut paté, crunchy cucumbers and carrots, jalapeños and spicy mayo for some heat, and cilantro… all piled onto a fresh, soft roll. If I had more room in my stomach when I left, I would have ordered another!

Next, I tried the Supa Dupa Acai Bowl. I love a good smoothie bowl, I really do. I just don’t eat them very often because I don’t keep a ton of fresh fruit and toppings on hand. So, when I can get a great smoothie bowl, I truly appreciate it and this Supa Dupa did not disappoint! 

The base was a sweet Acai smoothie covered with bluebs, strawbs, and bananas. For some crunch, there were crispy coconut strips, chia seeds, and some sweet, cinnamon-y granola with pumpkin seeds. This bowl was fresh, healthy, and downright delicious!

Last, and not at all least, was the Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie! I honestly don’t know how this little gem was healthy, but it was! I made sure to ask if it was vegan, because the menu said it contained yogurt. Make sure you ask when you order and they can mostly likely create a vegan version, like they did for me.

Strawberries, bananas, cashew butter, vanilla almond milk, blended together and topped with graham cracker dust? Yes, please! I recommend ordering this for a sweet, rich dessert (it really did taste like cake!) or when you really want a healthy treat but don’t want to throw away all of those hours at the gym!

Dig it or Ditch it? Friends (deep breath), I must tell you Simple Cafe & Juice Bar has become one of my favorite places! Yes, the new kid in town has stolen my little vegan heart! I tend to return to the same handful of establishments because I know the food is great and I will be treated well.  The food, atmosphere, and service at Simple were exactly what I wanted it to be. Everything I ordered was fresh, healthy, and bursting with flavor. The owner and staff were friendly and helpful and the welcoming atmosphere will definitely make me return again soon. I 100% DIG IT!

I overheard they had vegan soup and faux lox and I can’t wait to try out their new seasonal items. I had my eye on their Carrot Cake Smoothie and some of their baked goods and coffee, so I’ll let you know how they are!

Thanks for checking out my Vegan Treasure Hunt! Please follow me on Instagram @VeganTreasureHunter

Del Vecchio’s Chicago Stuffed Pizza – The Answer To My Vegan Pizza Prayers

Helloooo Again! It has definitely been awhile since I’ve done a Treasure Hunt Location review, mainly because I haven’t been anywhere new! Well, my little vegan prayers have been answered and I found the BEST vegan pizza in my area of Asheville, NC.

Let’s jump right in!

LOCATION:

Del Vecchio’s Italian Restaurant

333 Merrimon Ave. Asheville, NC 28801

828-258-7222 delvecchiositalian.com

ATMOSPHERE:

Del Vecchio’s Italian Restaurant is located on Merrimon Avenue, one of the main streets in Asheville, NC. The vibe is laid back, friendly and inviting. It seems to be the go-to pizza spot for college kids. This small pizzeria has a long bar that takes up the majority of the restaurant and they have a few tables to sit down and eat inside and outside. The friendly staff greets you right away and the food is served quickly.

FOOD:

I’m originally from New Jersey, so I have some pretty high standards for great Italian food. I thought all was lost for authentic tasting pizza when I moved to Asheville. I had tried many spots, and the pizza was good, but I missed that zesty NJ/NY flavor.

Ooooh baby, I’ve found what I’ve been searching for at Del Vecchio’s! I ordered the 14″ Chicago Stuffed Pizza with vegan cheese, spinach and garlic for $24.99. It was an additional $3.00 for the vegan cheese. I know, I know, that’s a freakin’ expensive pizza, but I promise you from my head to the bottom of my cruelty-free shoes, it is worth it!

So what exactly is a Chicago Stuffed Pizza? Well, I had no idea but I live on the edge and ordered it anyway. It is a deep dish pizza that has cheese and toppings inside. It is topped with another thin layer of pizza dough and then tomato sauce. It’s baked until it the cheese is a beautiful melty mess and then served to you piping hot!

I’m not one of those people that eats pizza with a fork, but I made an exception for this one. Holy $hit this was amazing! Finally, my yankee tastebuds were reunited with zesty and tangy tomato sauce that I have so dearly missed. The cheese was creamy and melted to perfection. I actually asked what brand they used and it was Daiya! I was shocked because there was absolutely no aftertaste whatsoever.

The extra garlic and spinach inside really added another layer of mouthwatering flavor that I am daydreaming about as I type this. The dough itself was chewy and the crust had the perfect crisp to it. The showstopper tomato sauce on top was a train ticket to Flavortown and I never wanted to come back.

DIG IT OR DITCH IT?

DIG IT! I love everything about this pizza and plan to go back and try every vegan thing on their menu. The staff is great about preparing vegan and/or gluten-free options, which is refreshing. I’m not joking when I say that I daydream about this pizza. If you are in Asheville, you MUST try Del Vecchio’s and their fabulous Chicago Stuffed Pizza. It brought my sad, never-gonna-find-great-pizza-again thinkin’ heart back to life!

Zablong Peculiar Pizza

Zablong Peculiar Pizza

137 Brevard Court
Charlotte, NC

Atmosphere: This funky little pizza shop in Charlotte, NC is a perfect casual lunch spot if you’re looking for some quick and delicious food! This shop is located in a little alley way with other hidden away, hipster-ish coffee shops and bars. It’s a cafeteria style set-up, so after you walk in, you place your order and they make it right in front of you. There are many menu options, and you can customize your pizza as you like. There are plenty of vegan options, including vegan cheese, veggies, and flavored oils. What makes this pizza unique, is that it is oblong shaped (get it, ZaBLONG?!).

Food: OK, so it’s funny shaped pizza, but how did it taste?! The only description that kind of comes close is that it was a flavor explosion!! I ordered “The Woodstock” which came with Olive Tomato Pesto, Daiya Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers, Spinach, Fresh Jalapeños, Cherry Tomatoes & Crushed Red Pepper Oil. Of course, I added more toppings like sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, arugula, and rosemary oil! With all of these ingredients, I’m telling you, this was spectacular!

The perfectly cooked crust was crispy and chewy. The creamy cheese, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, bitter arugula, spicy jalapeños, with the fresh veggies and rosemary oil blended together to make what is probably one of my favorite (and messiest) pizzas ever.

Dig it or Ditch it? 

I DIG IT! The fun atmosphere and the fresh and flavorful ingredients make Zablong Peculiar Pizza a must try! I can’t wait to go back!

Blue Ridge Hemp Co. CBD Infused Product Reviews 

Company: Blue Ridge Hemp Co.

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“We have taken Industrial Hemp derived CBd and combined it with other ethically and sustainably source Terpene rich botanicals to form products that allow all people to harness the healing power of Cannabis.”

Products:


CBD Infused Roll-On Essential Oil Blend – Joint Care ( 10 ml, 50 mg CBD – $20.00 USD)

CBD Infused Massage & Body Oil ( 8 oz, 100mg CBD – $40.00 USD)

CBD Infused Salve ( 2 oz, 200 mg CBD – $50.00 USD)

All 3 Products – Joint Care Bundle (On Sale for $90.00 USD)

Info/Links:

So, if you’re anything like me, you may have questions about CBD. What is it? What is it used for? Is it legal? Don’t worry, Blue Ridge Hemp Co.’s website breaks this information down for ya! Click here for general info about the company/CBD or check out the science behind CBD.

Alright everybody, put your science hats on for a second. CBD (Cannabidiol) is a nonaddictive compound derived from Industrial Hemp that is known for its health effects, like reducing pain and inflammation and even improves anxiety and stress. It is not psychoactive (it doesn’t get you high) and does not contain THC (I told you, it won’t get you high!).  I highly recommend that you check out their website to become an expert, I mean, why not? This is interesting stuff!

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Reviews:

Alright, let’s do this! The first product I tried was the CBD Infused Roll-On Essential Oil Blend – Joint Care. It comes packaged in a super handy roller ball and contains 10 ml of product with 50 mg of CBD. Grapeseed Oil is the base of this product, along with Cannabis Sativa L. Extract (CBD). Turmeric and White Willow Bark amp up the pain and inflammation fighting ability of this product, and essential oils from Pine, Juniper Berry, Rosemary, Lemon Peel, and Peppermint give this a unique herbal, woodsy fragrance that I honestly freakin’ love and look forward to!

I used the Roll-On about 3-4 times a day on my hands (my joints always hurt), feet, and temples. I love how convenient it was to take with me and how quickly I could apply it wherever I needed it. How effective was it? Well, keep reading or skip to The Bottom Line at the end of this post.

 

Next up, is the CBD Infused Massage & Body Oil. You get 8 oz with a 100 mg of CBD. This oil has the same fresh and woodsy scent as the Roll-On, and it is a thin oil with a bunch of moisturizing ingredients. It contains Sunflower, Sesame Seed, and Jojoba oils, which will leave your skin feeling hydrated after you use it (who doesn’t like a multi-functional product?!). It is mineral oil based, so if you avoid that or are sensitive to it, I suggest you look into the other products in Blue Ridge Hemp Co.’s wide range of products.

I used this massage oil on my hands and feet to reduce joint pain and stiffness. I did, however, forget that I fired my personal masseuse (sarcasm, I’m so cute), so I did not get to use it on my sore back except for the time my boyfriend got home early and helped me out. Thanks, babes! It is important to note that this oil has a higher concentration of CBD than the Roll-On.

Last but not least, is the CBD Infused Salve that contains 2 oz of product with 200 mg of CBD. This product is Mango Butter based and also contains Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, and Menthol. The scent is similar to the others, but you also get fruity notes and hints of cocoa with a slight cooling sensation from the menthol. I really like this scent! This product has the highest concentration of CBD. I used it at night time before bed on my hands and feet. It has the texture of a thick balm and a little bit goes a long way! It melts into your skin quickly and leaves behind the awesome scent!

The Bottom Line

I am so glad I got the opportunity to try out these products from Blue Ridge Hemp Co.! They are made with good-for-you ingredients, the packaging is dope, and the company itself is aimed at helping people deal with pain in a natural, vegan, and cruelty-free way (Tylenol, who?). Pretty awesome.

I would say that I have pretty severe pain in my hands, and I do feel that these products have decreased the pain and stiffness over the past week. With continued use, I am sure it will continue to help. If you have severe pain like I do, I highly suggest that you select the products with the highest concentration of CBD, like the salve and gel or give a bundle like this one a try. If you are looking for a product that is quick and easy to use on the go, definitely try out the Roll-Ons! They have a range of products that address muscle pain, joint pain, stress, and more. There are also body scrubs, lotions, and even transdermal patches that I definitely want to try out!

I highly recommend these products and enjoy using them! Thank you, Blue Ridge Hemp Co., for generously giving me these products to review! I truly enjoyed meeting you and will be a customer for life! Head on over to their website to learn more about CBD and sign up for a $10 off coupon on your order! They’re also on Instagram @BlueRidgeHempCo. Let me know how you like the products!