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I grew up in Nebraska. Omaha, the “liberal” city in a vastly red state had very few options for me as a vegetarian and later, a vegan. Thankfully a lot of that has changed since Isa Chandra Moskowitz and a few other amazing vegan folk have opened restaurants with great options. I was actually just in town a couple weeks ago to visit my parents, and my mom and I hit up ALL the stops.
First, we went to Saddle Creek Breakfast Club – a newish joint that has both omni and vegan options. The spot is super cute and was recently named “Best Breakfast Spot in Nebraska” by People Magazine. Omaha is one of those towns where you almost always bump into someone you know when you’re in public and sure enough, a buddy I went to high school with, Katherine, is the manager there. We caught up for a bit while I ate my chickpea omelet which was quite delicious. I also enjoyed their house-made mixed berry jam with my English muffin along with my black cup of joe roasted by Amateur coffee. Overall I had a great experience there and would recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Vegan breakfast joints are hard to come by and it’s cool that one exists in such a small city.
My dad swiped us from SCBC and took us to Amateur Coffee. I discovered this place the last time I was in Omaha. The spot serves up vegan baked goods and waffles along with coffee and wellness tea lattes. My mom LOVES this place so anytime she’s close by we have to stop. She and my dad got mochas and I ordered an iced maple latte. The cool thing about Amateur is their passion for building local community. They have specific blends for all the places they roast for including SCBC and Modern Love. I also swiped a bag of Vala’s Harvest Blend which is a collab they recently made with the Vala family who owns the city’s most beloved pumpkin patch. (I also went to grade school with the Vala’s – yes I know you are unimpressed because everyone in Omaha knows each other.) I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m super excited to do so!
And lastly, my mom, brother, his girlfriend, and I hit up Modern Love. I’d only been to the old location once, but this new joint is super cute. Located in Midtown where some failed burger place used to be, Modern Love has great curb appeal and a fine dining ambiance. Isa was at the host podium when we arrived and we exchanged smiles but nothing more. I know my story isn’t much different from most people who went vegan 10 – 15 years ago, but her website, The Post-Punk Kitchen and book Vegan with a Vengeance made veganism super accessible and affordable for a nineteen-year-old living in downtown Chicago. We tried half the stuff on the menu, so I won’t get into deets, but my family loved our dining experience at Modern Love and I know they’ll be back without me which is a huge win!
Sorry for blabbing – the main reason I actually wanted to talk about Nebraska is because there are three things we can’t get enough of 1. Corn 2. Beef (But we’re working on that with all the great vegan options in Omaha!) 3. Ranch Dressing. I swear the fields of Hidden Valley were located right in my parents’ backyard! Growing up, it was always around and tossed on everything – salad, corn, pizza, sandwiches, brussels sprouts, you name it.
I used to always make ranch with Vegenaise but have been trying to cut down on oil for half my meals, so I developed this Oil-Free Hemp Seed Buttermilk Ranch Dressing! It’s super easy to make and a little runny which I personally like because it spreads easier across your choice of greens. Then you don’t have to use as much!
And also why not add some protein to your salad dressing while you’re at it? Salads can sometimes be challenging for a vegan. Without the protein, we resort to carbs and fat to fill us up, but having an extra protein source in the dressing can help balance it out.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment or tag me at #hellyesitsvegan on Instagram. Cheers!
Oil-Free Hemp Seed Ranch
- ½ cup hemp hearts
- ¾ cup unsweetened original almond milk
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Store refrigerated. You’ll find the mixture thickens once cold.