The Vegan Virgin Tastes Tempeh in Newport Beach


Newport Beach, California

My sister-in-law, Jeanne (AKA – The Vegan Virgin), is visiting from snowy New Hampshire so my husband and I are giving her the Southern California Vegan Spectacular Tour (that’s our plan, anyway).

Today we toured beautiful Newport Beach. We started with a beach walk, and Jeanne had fun going barefoot.


Until a wave caught her anyway.


Then we had lunch at Native Foods, an awesome vegan chain. Jeanne ordered the Portobello and Sausage Burger, my hubby got the Greek Gyro Bowl and I got the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl.


Sesame Kale Macro Bowl

When our food arrived, Jeanne asked, “What’s that?” as she pointed to the stuff skewered on top of my dish.

“It’s tempeh,” I said as I gave her a sample. She loved it! She also liked her burger and lamented that there were no vegan restaurants like this where she lives. Paul and I enjoyed our dishes too, but we knew we would (we eat at Native Foods all the time).

After lunch we went to Balboa Island, which, by the way, is an actual island.


Balboa Island is known for their frozen bananas


Statue outside Balboa Island beach house

Balboa Island is famous for their frozen bananas, they were invented here.

After Balboa Island, we came home to rest. I was planning on making veggie burgers and sweet potato fries with gravy for dinner (a recipe Flo suggested), but I was too tired to even do that. So, I talked my hubby in taking us out for Thai food. Then we came home and indulged in  Chocolate Mousse Pie.

A fabulous day, but I have to share that Jeanne couldn’t maintain being vegan today. She had cream in her morning coffee and then ordered a Thai Iced Coffee, which is made with cream, at dinner. Oh well, nobody’s perfect!

About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
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14 Responses to The Vegan Virgin Tastes Tempeh in Newport Beach

  1. Flo says:

    I am so jealous of all those great restaurants!

    • I suppose we are a little spoiled out here, but that’s why I’m blogging. I want to spread the plant-based, vegan way of life everywhere. I want vegan restaurants to be as common as Starbucks. I hope that someday soon, some good vegan restaurants come to your neck of the woods Flo.

  2. That macro bowl looks amazing. I’ve had gluten free tempeh a couple of times now and I love it. Unfortunately they don’t sell it in my area, but I’m on a mission to find it. Tell your sister-in-law it’s about the baby steps. 🙂

    • I could eat the macro bowl everyday! I don’t know how they get the kale to taste so good – it doesn’t taste the same when I make it at home. Good luck with finding gluten free tempeh! And you’re right, it’s about the baby steps. I think I needed to be reminded of this. I’ve been eating plant-based for awhile now, and sometimes I forget how hard the transiton was for me in the beginning. I’ve been so excited about teaching my sister-in-law how to eat plant-based that I might be overwhelming her a bit.

      • I have to remind myself it’s the baby steps that count. I know when I first started transitioning I’d be going along and then I’d eat a bunch of unhealthy, processed food and beat myself up. Now I’m finally in the groove.

        I’ve read that “massaging” kale makes it taste better/absorb flavours better. I haven’t tried it. I tend to just turn my kale into kale chips.

    • I have a recipe for kale that’s massaged with avocados. I haven’t tried it, but maybe I should. Thanks so much for your comments!

  3. My old stomping grounds! I used to walk around Balboa Island all the time. Back then I wasn’t vegan though…had way too many Starbucks there!

    • That’s cool that you used to hang out at Balboa Island! I’ve lived in Orange County for a year and a half, and I only recently discovered it. It’s such a cute place, but you’re right – it’s not vegan friendly! Thanks so much for your comment!

    • Peet’s is my favorite chain coffee shop! I especially love the Santa Cruz location (ever been there?). I’ve never been to the UCI Peet’s, and don’t know if I’ll ever get there (I tend to go to places right on the beach). Still, who knows, I may get there one of these days. If I get there and Nicole is still working there, I’ll certainly say, “Hi” for you!

  4. Jeanne Allen says:

    I really enjoyed the Native Food restaurant. My portabello burger and fries where great. Yes you can have a vegan restaurant that have food taste great for vegans and carnivores alike. Unfortionally there is no Native Food Restaurant in my area and someday will come to New England open a few. But I think that will be 10 yrs form now

    • Hi Jeanne! It was awesome to have you visit – I had so much fun. Maybe next time Bill will come out with you too! Anyway, you did great with the vegan transition while you were here (a little dairy here and there, but not too much). I know that it’s easier when you’ve got vegan restaurants you can go to. I think veganism is growing, so maybe you won’t have to wait a full 10 years to get a vegan restaurant near you. That’s why I’m blogging anyway, to spread the news about veganism and to hopefully spread it around. I’ll be sharing a lot more about your visit over the next few days, so stay tuned!

  5. “The Vegan Virgin” — that is freakin’ hilarious! Would make a great t-shirt. LOL. Too funny!

    I was revisiting this post because I remembered you wrote about Balboa Island and was hoping for some vegan-friendly restaurants, but I guess they have some catching up to do.

    • Hey Cowgirl! I really have to start selling t-shirts on my blog – one of these days. Anyway, we’ve never had a meal on Balboa Island because none of the restaurants seem even remotely vegan-friendly. They do have a Tutti Frutti that has soy frozen yogurt, but that’s about it. When we’re in that area we like to eat at True Food Kitchen. Have you been there? They don’t have a lot of vegan options, but the ones they do have are yummy! Here’s their Yelp reviews:

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