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June 2012
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Takeout Artist: Branch Out Foods

Story and photography by the Takeout Artist

One can't help but notice there are new eateries popping up around Paducah all the time these days â ¦ and I'm certainly not complaining! As someone who quite obviously eats out a lot, it's exciting to always see a new dining option around the corner. One of our town's newest spots happens to be the first of its kind. Branch Out Foods is a vegan deli and bakery offering a variety of high quality plant-based and gluten-free items in a cozy-yet-modern atmosphere.

In case those of you who read this column regularly haven't noticed, I do not eat vegan. Or gluten free -- far from it. That said, I do appreciate a good, healthy vegan and/or gluten-free dish from time to time. If you also fall under this category or adhere to certain dietary restrictions, this place should definitely be on your list of regular lunch spots.

First, let's talk about the soup. The soups change regularly, but I don't see how you could go wrong, especially since a lot of soups are already vegan and gluten free, and these guys know what they're doing!

The sweet potato coconut curry soup caught my eye first thing (I'm a sucker for all things curry).

It was fantastic -- hearty with a ton of flavor from the sweet/spicy combination of ingredients. I could eat this soup weekly, and I'm confident it would keep me full all afternoon!

I got to try the soup as a side with my tacos, which were equally delicious, and so filling! The "meat" consisted of black beans and quinoa, and while I must admit I was the slightest bit skeptical, I truly did not miss the meat. I happen to be a fan of both quinoa and black beans, so the texture was great for me, but I think they are worth trying even if you don't think you like these ingredients. Think about what taco seasoning does in terms of flavor--it's quite the transformation. "Meat" aside, the toppings were actually my favorite part. Both Branch Out's pico de gallo and guacamole were among the best I've ever had, and I'm including a few trips to Mexico. Definitely give the tacos or nachos a try!

Even when there are no eggs, milk, or butter involved, where there is sugar, I am powerless. I was also genuinely curious about Branch Out's cashew cheesecakes (that is, cheesecakes made with vegan cashew cheese). I opted for the Coconut Cream, and as somewhat of a pastry aficionado, I was genuinely impressed. The texture was naturally different from any true cheesecake, but silky, creamy and sweet. What more do you need? And best of all, I left Branch Out feeling full, satisfied and not the least bit heavy or regretful.

The next time you're looking to eat clean, refreshing food, check out Branch Out Foods! n

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