Viva Las Vegas and Ronald’s Donuts!

There was a time in my life that I was quite the donut-phile.  I was known to drive with a singularity of purpose to a certain donut shop at 10:50 pm so that I could still catch their donuts while they were “hot now.”  My husband, then-boyfriend, wooed me by showing up at my apartment unannounced on a Saturday morning with my favorite varieties.  For Valentine’s Day that year I even bought him donut-patterned boxer shorts.  (Too much information?  Sorry.)  Then I went vegan, and I figured my donut-eating days were behind me…  While there are a few shops and companies selling cake donuts that are free of animal products, that was never really my bag.  Raised donuts – glazed or crème filled – was where it was at.  Hasta la vista, Long Johns and bye-bye, Bismarcks.  I gave a goodbye to glazed and didn’t look back…  Until, that is, I heard murmurings through the blogosphere about the mythical Ronald’s Donuts.

To look at it, Ronald’s is your typical mom and pop donut shop in every way – non-descript booths, locals reading newspapers while they slurp cups of coffee, and a long case of donuts.  But what differs is that about 70% of their offerings are vegan.  Yeast and vegetable shortening replace animal ingredients.  Interestingly, in and around the shop there are no signs anywhere noting their veganosity.  Only about 10% of Ronald’s customers are vegan or lactose intolerant, and they don’t want non-vegan donut enthusiasts to reject theirs before they’ve tried them.  So the other customers suck down vegan donuts unaware, and Ronald’s counts on vegans to spread the word to other vegans– and that they do.

For longer than I can remember I’ve been hearing tales told about Ronald’s Donuts.  There was even one time that I thought I’d procure a donut without a 4-hour drive ahead of it.  A friend of a friend was going to Vegas, and word was she was going to bring back donuts for us too.  Somehow we never received those sweet pastries…  Very suspicious.  So when we set out on our cross-country adventure, the first stop had to be Ronald’s Donuts.  One word of warning – they’re not healthy.  They’re not organic.  They’re donuts.

We pulled into the strip mall that houses Ronald’s, and when I walked inside I was greeted by one of the owners behind the counter.  I asked her which of the donuts were vegan, and she indicated the top two very long rows.  With that, I set about making some difficult decisions.  I finally pared it down to a glazed twist, a chocolate-covered soy custard filled, and a raspberry filled all to share with my husband, who was waiting in the car.

We had plans of saving one of the donuts for later, but those ideas were quickly squelched with our first taste.  The chocolate-covered soy custard filled reminded me of a Boston Crème donut – very light with a soft, almost sour crème inside.  The twist was airy and not overly sweet, but the very best of the bunch was the raspberry filled.  The strong raspberry jelly stood out against the mild yeasty donut.  In no time at all, all of the donuts had vanished, and we were headed down the highway.  The casinos and crowds of Vegas have never been a pull for me but one thing might bring me back someday – and that thing is Ronald’s Donuts.  It’s probably a good thing they don’t serve them hot.  The petrol costs might kill me.

Ronald's Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

On the Road Again – Tips for Road Trippin’ Vegan-Style

Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time on the road.  There’s something romantic about road trips – crossing the country, seeing new places, watching how the terrain changes, and getting in touch with your inner Willie Nelson.  Still, nothing can make a trip breakdown quite like a lack of food, and nothing can perk it up like a stop at a cozy homegrown restaurant or a picnic in a park.  When I’m heading out on a long-distance road trip, I like to be prepared.  Before leaving home, I pack meals and snacks to eat along the way in addition to finding vegan and vegan-friendly establishments on Happy Cow or Google.  With directions in hand and a car filled with plant-based provisions, fire the engine and let the fun begin.

Here are some ideas of things I pack (with the amounts varying, of course, depending on how long of a journey is ahead).

Meals

  • Cereal & several single size servings of plant-based milk (also good to have for coffee or tea shops in places that may not offer it)
  • Fixings for sandwiches made with hummus & fresh vegetables
  • Fixings for sandwiches made with Field Roast slices, avocado, spinach, pickles, and a good slathering of mustard
  • Fixings for sandwiches made with homemade pesto, artichokes, roasted red peppers, and slices of tomatoes
  • Better Than Tuna salad (I like it with chopped chickpeas, veganaise, chopped celery, carrots, walnuts, pickles, and a dash of celery seed) served with crackers, tortillas, or lavash
  • Asian kale salad (steamed kale tossed with sautéed garlic, rice vinegar, tamari, and a drizzle of sesame oil) with or without baked tofu
  • Mexican salad with spiced black beans, carrot shreds, chopped spinach or romaine, tomatoes, onions, and corn chips

Sandwiches with Field Roast slices, pickles, spinach, and whole grain mustard on seed-covered bread at a rest stop along the highway.

Better Than Tuna Salad with sunflower seed bread on elegant lap-side dining!

Snacks

  • Sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, broccoli, and carrot sticks for snacking and dipping
  • Homemade or prepared hummus
  • Single-serving guacamole or avocadoes
  • Strawberries, grapes, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries in packages that won’t get crushed
  • Bananas, apples, oranges

Other necessities:

  • Stainless steel water bottle
  • Swiss army knife for slicing avocadoes, opening wine, and you know, other emergencies
  • To-go ware container tiffin, bowls, and/or plates for salads, cereal, and sandwiches
  • Forks & spoons
  • Chip-clips to seal bags of nuts, spinach, crackers, etc.

Even this little market in one stop town Logan, New Mexico – population 1,094 – had avocados, salsa, chips, and cereal with two choices of non-dairy milks. Miracles do happen!

Even the best laid plans bring surprises, and if I find myself on the third or fourth day of a trip that has gone on longer than I’d planned, it may come down to a trip to the local grocery store or even seeing what can be scrounged up at a gas station or convenience store.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament, consider these gas station possibilities to keep you satiated until your next stop:

  • Cereal & nondairy milk
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Tortilla chips and jarred salsa
  • Bananas, oranges, and apples

Stay tuned in the upcoming days while I write about the many vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants we visited along the way.  One thing is for sure, these two vegans didn’t go hungry!

In the meantime, tell me, dear readers, what are your favorite vegan meals and snacks to eat on the road?