Smoothies are my new obsession. I have come across a couple smoothie places I absolutely adore in the city. I am not a huge fan of Jamba Juice. I feel its smoothies have an artificial, sugary taste to them. However two places have won me over – Organic Avenue and Green Bean Café.
Organic Avenue is a little on the pricier side but has more interesting ingredients and serves the fruit-veggie cocktail in an adorable glass jar. Note – you are charged a $2 “rental fee” until you return the jar. Definitely motivation to recycle! I have become addicted to the Green Embrace Smoothie. It isn’t much to look at with its dark olive hue, but it tastes wonderful and gives you that great full-without-being-stuffed feeling. The Blueberry Spirulina Smoothie is also good, just less filling. The only downside is that Organic Avenue’s smoothies are prepackaged so you cannot substitute ingredients.
Green Bean Café is a little gem in the Upper East Side. It offers organic coffee, vegan baked goods and wonderful smoothies. And, they make the smoothies right in front of you so they are customizable. As an added bonus, the same owners run Beanocchio’s (coffee and food place) a few doors down. Beanocchio’s has much more seating, so I usually bring my Green Bean delights there.
I’m trying to drink more of these in general to get my dose of fruits and veggies, so having two favorites is very helpful.
While summer isn’t officially over yet, Labor Day weekend signifies the end of the sweltering season. I personally am looking forward to the autumn months and welcome fall with open arms. I love all things about fall – football, pumpkin-flavored everything and the long-awaited breeze New Yorkers have been waning for since June.
To get me in the spirit, I had a cup of Tazo’s Sweet Cinnamon Spice caffeine-free tea. It is absolutely wonderful. It is a little on the strong side and, as such, requires no additional sweetening. While nothing captures the flavors of the season quite like a heaping slice of pumpkin pie (topped with Cool Whip, of course), this brew comes pretty close. And since I can drink this spicy goodness guilt-free, both my body and heart are warmed.
Lord knows this isn’t easy. There is always leftover food from meetings or someone decided to bake. It is so hard to stay good. I must admit, I fall off the wagon more times than not.
There are a few things we can do to minimize damage, though. Whenever possible, try to pack a lunch. This way, you know exactly what ingredients are in your meal and avoid hidden calories.
Next, it is always good to educate yourself with what is around you. Around the corner could be your new favorite spot you never knew existed. It is NYC – there are tons of healthy options outside the office beyond the oh-so-boring salad bar. My office just moved downtown, so I am beginning to do just that. I went exploring this week and expanded my horizons to the increasingly popular food truck. I tried Rickshaw Dumplings and it BLEW my mind. Its vegan dumpling is beyond amazing. It is a little pocket of heaven stuffed with mashed edamame. I highly recommend.
Finally, when all else fails, get a buddy. It is so much easier to stay the course when you have a partner in crime.
I was perusing recipe websites this week looking for some culinary inspiration when I came across a recipe for almond butter cups on RecipeGirl.com. While the original recipe wasn’t non-dairy, all it took was a little substitution to make my chocolate dreams come true.
I went to A Matter of Health on Friday and found non-dairy chocolate chips. I grabbed a bag and began on my way. After microwaving the tiny morsels in a few 30-second increments, I soon had a warm sea of chocolate goo to fill the mini muffin cups. After spooning the chocolate mixture into the cups, it was time to prepare the filling.
I used maple almond butter instead of the traditional spread and mixed it with powedered sugar until it could be easily rolled into dough-like balls. Next time, I will use more almond butter as my cups turned out a little too chocolatey, so make sure to prepare an ample amount of filling. No cooling time is needed, you can drop the mixture directly onto the chocolate in the cups. Finally, I just topped off the cups with the remaining chocolate. Voila! After a 20 minutes or so in the fridge, the almond butter cups were ready.
After years battling with foods that make me feel gross inside and out, I decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle (at least for the next month or so). After a month I can revisit the plan; but for now, whole grains and veggies here I come! This is a perfect time for me to pay more attention to food labels to spot any hidden ingredients that may be invading my body without my knowledge.
For the most part, this shouldn’t be that drastic of a change. I am not a meat lover, and I don’t eat dairy as it is. However, two things I will greatly miss are fish and eggs. I live on sushi. LIVE. I at least can get a vegetable roll, but I fear this may not satiate my cravings. What is motivating me is that in a month if I still feel the urge, I can dive face-first into a platter of salmon avocado.
Luckily, living in New York City gives me the luxury of having all sorts of specialty foods at my fingertips, so I can avoid sushi joints at all costs to ensure I stay the course. There are vegan restaurants, specialty grocery stores, even vegan-friendly coffee shops all within a few blocks of my apartment. Local restaurants usually have an option or two, but there is nothing like scanning a menu and realizing you get to choose a dish based on style and preparation rather than ingredients alone.
Tonight, I opted for a “normal” restaurant. Mainly because my carnivore boyfriend was in tow, and there are only so many nights in a row I can make him eat black-bean tacos or meatless balls and pasta. We went to Spice (locations are all around the city) and I ordered the avocado salad and the Coconut Galanga Tom Kha soup. We also split the Emerald Vegetable Dumplings (filled with broccoli, spinach and topped with a black bean vinaigrette).
The salad and dumplings were good – pretty standard. I really enjoyed the ginger miso dressing that accompanied my leafy greens, and the avocado was just ripe enough. I knew I would like these both, so the only thing I was curious about was the coconut soup.
Unfortunately, the waiter brought my soup out with chicken instead of tofu. I let my boyfriend go to town on the meat, but I did try the broth. Delicious! The waiter assured me there was no real milk in the dish, but he could have fooled me with such a creamy texture. Next time, I will be sure to repeat “tofu” over and over again. All in all, it was a pleasant experience.
I will be making vegan almond butter Reese’s-style cups tonight. Recipe and review to come tomorrow!