Review: Detox Market in Ankara

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Healthy eating options are popping up all over Ankara. New restaurants, businesses, and kiosks are catering to the gluten-free, dairy-free, and healthy eating crowd like never before. Our latest discovery was found while running errands at Bilkent Center. In both Turkish and English, I recognized the words “healthy”, “cold-pressed juices”, and “flourless”. When I stopped to inquire about the then ten-day old business, I met Selin, the lovely owner from Konya, who decided to bring the L.A. health trend she witnessed in America over to Turkey. Wasting no time, she bought high-quality, cold-press juicers, hired staff for a production facility, and set up shop just outside of a popular hypermarket chain called REAL.

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Aptly named Detox Market, Selin’s business focuses on prepared cold-pressed juices that keep the body alkaline and energized. Juicing is a part of her personal lifestyle and she recommends that others exclusively consume raw juices at least two days a week. Her juices have catchy names like “Ctrl Alt Delete”, “Skinny Jeans”, and “Green Gold”. Each of the green juices have spinach, with some adding parsley, cucumbers, ginger, or carrots. I personally love how Ctrl Alt Delete pairs tropical pineapple with fennel and cilantro. Green Gold is definitely the greenest option, while Green Beauty adds cucumber pulp to the mix.

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Other juices include a beet-based Skinny Jeans, a pleasant Fruity Blast that novice juice-drinkers and children would love, and a coconut water and cinnamon combination called Feel Better. Additionally, there are a number of creative snacks like gluten-free bread with spinach and beets, sesame and chia seed crackers, and, my personal favorite, chia cocoa cookies. Vegans should note that some of the other products contain organic eggs and/or honey, so be sure to inquire before making your purchase.

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With many thanks to Detox Market for sharing samples for this review. All opinions are our own.

Review: Padam Coffee Shop in Ankara

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Vegans in Ankara need a hangout spot. Not a pub or a living room but an inviting, neutral space where you can meet friends for tea, have stimulating conversations, and take a break from the city hustle. I recently found such an oasis at the newly opened Padam Coffee Shop near Kuğulu Park, right next to Dost Bookstore.  Entering downtown Ankara has been completely eliminated from my weekly routine, but now I have a reason to return. The nexus of nature, books, and vegan treats is enough to lure me to a side of Atatürk Boulevard I’ve never seen– away from the congested transportation hubs of Kızılay and Güvenpark. I’m glad to finally have a place to bring friends and congregate after playdates.

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Padam’s owner, Hande, is a sweet soul with a love for java. Having trained under Sam Çeviköz, owner and founder of Istanbul’s Federal Coffee Company and founder of Ministry of Coffee-Istanbul, Hande has rallied her family around the business she’s always dreamed of. From her homemade desserts, her mother’s homemade jams and her brother and sister-in-law’s helping hands behind the counter, I feel like an extended member of the family when I visit. Fresh orchids greet me as I climb the winding staircase to a cozy upper lounge with cushioned seats, curated art, and a wooden antique record player and radio that has been in her family for almost 100 years. I can feel Hande’s heartbeat—padam, padam—pulsing around me.

For non-coffee lovers, like myself, there are herbal fruit and flower teas to choose from. Paired with a tasty selection of savory, stuffed börek pastries and vegan cakes made by Ev Yapımı Vegan Lezzetler, I can enjoy a satisfying afternoon snack that is both sweet and savory, then tackle the rest of my day’s tasks. Stocked with almond milk, I look forward to chilled smoothies in the summer and hot cocoa in the winter, because I’m confident that Padam will be around to brave all of Ankara’s seasons.

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With special thanks to Padam Coffee Shop for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.

Review: Semotti’s Bakery in Ankara

Gluten-Free Granola sweetened with honey and dried fruits.

Two words–vegan baklava–was all it took for this bakery to get my attention. I was heartbroken when I discovered that most desserts in Turkey are made with butter and egg, including my beloved baklava. I was in denial at first, followed by grief, but then Semotti’s Bakery came and life hasn’t been the same.

Gluten-free granola in Turkey!

Semotti’s Bakery is primarily a gluten-free establishment. Their elaborately decorated cakes are covered with colorful icing and popular cartoon characters but have the unique quality of being gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or vegan. Similarly, their homemade walnut baklava looks and tastes like most other versions, except the homemade dough is a bit thicker and less crispy, perhaps because of the absent egg. Ground nuts are flavored with cinnamon and spread between layers of phyllo dough, then drenched in syrup that is refreshingly mild in sweetness. The baklava was more nourishing than decadent, while totally satisfying.

Loving my vegan treats from Semotti's bakery!

Including with my order of walnut baklava was a vegan sampler pack that included peanut butter, dried fruit, chickpea chips, and dried zucchini. The peanut butter was smooth and lightly sweetened with apple concentrate and vanilla. The dried fruit included thinly sliced oranges, pineapples, strawberries, peaches, apples, and plums. Our favorite, hands down, was the chickpea chips. They are an ideal snack for so many reasons. Made with chickpea and almond flour, they’re gluten-free and protein-rich. Instead of heavy-handed flavors, the chips are lightly seasoned with dried herbs, red pepper, and a touch of salt. We can’t wait until Moulay has enough teeth to chomp on them.

Semotti's has a great selection of dried veggies and fruits.

We saved the dried zucchini for last. Dehydrated vegetables are a new concept to us since arriving in Turkey. We’ve tried dried eggplants and green beans but haven’t quite gotten used to them. However, the dried zucchini was much better than we anticipated. Sliced thin and dried to a crisp, the chips are tasty and have their own natural sweetness without added sugar or salt. It’s every health-conscious parent’s dream to have their child snacking on Semotti’s treats.

Loving the decor at Semotti's Bakery in Ankara!

When you visit the bakery, prepare to swoon from the smell of freshly baked granola, their top-selling product. All of their beautifully packaged snacks are available for sale, but custom orders and dine-in reservations for gluten-free or vegan meals are welcomed too. With a handcrafted menu from the owners who themselves have encountered gluten intolerance or have children with dairy allergies, rest assured that they are meticulous about their work. They have dedicated gluten-free and dairy-free kitchens and their products are rigorously tested for allergens on a routine basis. Remember the name Semotti, because their brand is quickly spreading and might be reaching your location soon.

*Our vegan snack pack was provided by Semotti’s, but all opinions are our own.*