Chef Chat, Part 3: Matti Merrell and Rodney Perry of Green Seed Vegan

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Forget fat-bubbly steaks and cheese-drenched crab enchiladas. If there was one cuisine in Houston I had to dine on for the rest of my life, it would come from Green Seed Vegan. If you're just joining us, check out our chat with vegan chefs Matti Merrell and Rodney Perry here and here.

Even my McDonald's cheeseburger cravings, pounded into my brain and body after a childhood of drive-thrus before ballet practice, subside when I bite into the "dirty burque," a mega-size melee of veggies. The veggie pattie looks like meat, feels like meat, and is seasoned way better than meat. It's actually made mostly of buckwheat, a protein-rich grain. Spiced with cilantro and kicky peppers, it's a welcome alternative to patties that taste like, well, cow. It's solid but a bit mushier than its meaty brethren, and the texture is not at all off-putting. The pattie is decorated with green chilies, snappy arugula, avocado, tomatoes, raw white onions, and a thin coat of eggless mayo on a fluffy whole wheat bun.

Next came an antioxidant-packed drink from the super blends section, called "superacai." The frapped drink is filled with blueberries and acai berries, leaving behind tasty granules that punctuate their way up your straw. The fruits are liquefied by "banana mylk", which is almond milk plus a banana. Eliminating dairy is one of the fastest ways to feel better, says Merrell. And almond milk, in my opinion, is even better than the real thing.

Venturing down into the raw foods portion of the menu -- made entirely from uncooked plant food -- can be intimidating, but it's a trip I can't wait to take again. I got the "solburger," which gets its name from the process of being dried by the sun. The "bread" is really a sundried mix of sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds. It's crunchy and incredibly flavorful, like a healthy potato chip. Inside are tomatoes, white onions, and sunflower sprouts (with more protein than beef!) Just when you think you can't get any healthier, you realize your raw sandwich is coated with spirulina aioli, a creamy homemade spread accented with blue-green algae. Earthy, salty, and delicious.

I remember the first time I had a vegan dessert years ago: a dry, sawdust cookie whose flavor I can't recall, because it didn't have any. I steered clear of vegan treats until now, when I tried the raw blueberry cheesecake. You won't believe this, but it's almost wholly made from nuts. The sweet and firm crust is made of cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and dates. For the filling, Merrell soaks raw cashews with almond milk, until the mixture gets really creamy. She adds dates and vanilla beans, and then freezes the pudding-like concoction. The fruity topping is made of coconuts and locally harvested blueberries. Merrell keeps it frozen, so if you let it thaw for about 15 minutes, you'll have the creamiest, most delicious and utterly guilt-free treat imaginable.

In summary, Green Seed might just make you one banana mylkshake away from becoming a vegan.

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