The Pint-Sized Vegan, Jenny Rodriguez | Photo by Angel Leal | Photo courtesy of Jenny Rodriguez
Westchester food blogger Jenny Rodriguez, The Pint-Sized Vegan, walks us through why and where to score the best plant-based eats in the county.
As ever more foodies make the switch to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, Westchester County chefs work to make their menus more accessible, crafting more intricate and varied dishes that, consequently, make it a heck of a lot easier to go plant-based even just one or two days a week.
By day, Rodriguez, a lifelong Westchester resident, works as an aide for the Yonkers Public School District, an occupation that provides her ample opportunity to sample some of the county’s most diverse and delectable offerings. She went veggie in the summer of 2013 and transitioned to full vegan just about four years later.
“There’s a lot of chronic illnesses in my family, and meat wasn’t making me feel well,” she says. “I always knew about animals being killed, and when going vegan I did more research on that as well the environment. Now, I am vegan for all the main reasons: health, the animals, and the environment.”
“I started off my blog as a food diary up until around the beginning of 2019, as I noticed that food blogging is something that can be done seriously,” Rodriguez says. “So, I started going to places that have vegan options and showcasing them, as well as helping out places that have potential, so more Westchester vegans have more places.” She adds, “There are actually plenty of Westchester vegans, more than a lot of restaurants think.”
Recently, Rodriguez has worked with The Bit in Dobbs Ferry, crafting an entirely vegan four-course tasting menu that included avocado tartare, chipotle sweet potato tacos, vegan chorizo and vegetable paella, and oat crumble pecan apple crisp.
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“My biggest accomplishment was with Crotty’s Cheesesteaks in New Rochelle,” says Rodriguez. “The co-owner wanted to add a vegan cheesesteak for quite some time, especially being vegetarian herself. We talked back and forth for months about what products to use and where to get it from. I truly thank my lovely vegan friends for helping out as well.”
The vegan cheesesteak is made with Beyond Meat and Vevan vegan mozzarella on a vegan-friendly garlic hoagie, along with optional fresh veggies that can be added either on the sandwich or as a side salad. Introduced last summer, the sandwich was such a hit it was ultimately added to the permanent menu.
So where can you grab some of the premier plant-based plates in Westchester? Here are five of The Pint-Sized Vegan’s personal favorites:
Spicy Cauliflower Appetizer from Greca in White Plains:
“It’s perfectly cooked, and I enjoy all the sauces and the seeds that are on top of it. Presentation is also amazing.”
Vegan Bolognese from Divino Cucina in Hastings-on-Hudson:
“It’s mainly a Vegan Wednesdays special, which is another project I have helped with for restaurants in Westchester. It is exactly what you would expect from the original item.”
“The crunch, the veggies, the sauce, the crisp…all of it is amazing and I tell everyone to get it fried instead of steamed. Totally worth it.”
Vegetarian ramen from Kishuya Ramen Noodle Bar in Hartsdale:
“It says vegetarian, but it is completely vegan and uses spinach ramen noodles. Packed with amazing veggies and tofu — and if you love spice, I highly recommend getting the spice bomb.”
Vegan Ice Cream at Cookies N Cream in Bronxville and Yonkers:
“They have a good amount of sorbet from Longford’s, and creamy options from Emack and Bolio’s. They also make a vegan cookie and carry non-dairy milk. Shown here is the Chocolate Pudding flavor of ice cream.”