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All About Food: Vegan food healthy and tasty

August 15, 2012|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz | By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Phoney Baloney's Cali BBQ is prepared with grilled beef slathered in cherry chipotle BBQ sauce, topped with slaw, pickles and mustard on a sourdough sandwich roll.
Phoney Baloney's Cali BBQ is prepared with grilled… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

Kyle Domer, owner of the cleverly named Phoney Baloney's, a vegan sandwich shop in Irvine, is passionate about his food.

After his parents' divorce when he was a young man, he gained about 45 pounds from eating fast food and had health issues.

In college, ready for a change, he talked to people who recommended he try a vegan diet.

This meant cooking at home. He soon found that he enjoyed it and in just four months lost the weight and was feeling much better.

Experimenting and creating new recipes also excited him.

He began to think about starting a vegan restaurant with a good price point but it took eight years before everything fell into place. He had business experience but none in the food industry. So he wisely started small. When what had been a juice bar in Custom Bodies Fitness became available, he jumped at the opportunity.

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We had the pleasure of sampling some of his inventive products and were impressed by their tastiness, for instance the "bacon" that he uses in his Elvis sandwich (consisting of peanut butter, bananas and house-made coconut bacon on toasted whole-wheat sourdough). This faux pork creation is marinated, smoked and toasted coconut flakes and almost tastes like the real thing.

The buffalo chicken sandwich features Phoney's spicy grilled buffalo chicken with lettuce, red onion, celery and their flavorful vegan ranch dressing on a sourdough sandwich roll. Gardein makes the "chicken" from soy protein and wheat gluten, and Elle is becoming a convert, using it as a base for meatless meals.

Meat lovers might be persuaded to switch once they taste the Cali BBQ sandwich with Phoney's beef, slathered in cherry chipotle barbecue sauce, topped with slaw, pickles and mustard on a sourdough roll.

Yelp voted the grown-up grilled cheese with apples, onions, fig butter and Daiya brand pepperjack one of the best vegan sandwiches in Orange County. A trick we learned from Kyle is to use a sprinkling of nutritional yeast (an inactive form of yeast) along with vegan cheese to help it melt more smoothly and also to enhance its flavor with a pleasant nuttiness.

You will also find salads, smoothies and vegan cupcakes from Life is Sweet bake shop, with a different flavor every day. Gluten-free options are available.

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