07/29/10

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

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1 heirloom tomato from Avalon Acres CSA
1 handful of fresh picked basil leaves from backyard
2-3 ounces organic mozzarella
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of salt & pepper

Perfect late lunch Saturday afternoon.

07/25/10

Field of Green’s – Houston, TX

Field of Green’s Healthy Cuisine
2320 W. Alabama
Houston, TX 77098
Phone: (713) 533-0029
http://www.fieldofgreenscuisine.com/index.html

When I pulled into the parking lot and saw the large sign reading “Field of Green’s” I was afraid that I had made a grave mistake. Surely a place that paid such close attention to organic and vegan ingredients would also be aware of basic spelling and grammar. I was relieved to quickly the learn the full name was actually “Field of Green’s Healthy Cuisine.”

This place is tiny; it’s a very bare-bones restaurant located in a strip center near Whole Foods. The ambiance is very simple, but the service is super friendly and the music was hip. The crowd appeared to be younger, but I’d bet the location attracts a variety of ages.

The menu offered a good variety and considered fish eating vegetarians by offering salmon in some dishes. I had so much trouble deciding from all the options, I had to ask my server for a suggestion. I finally settled on the VEGAN FISH TACO PLATTER. The dish consisted of grilled seaweed soy fish, pico, lettuce and lemon dill in a whole wheat tortilla. It also came with a small salad. This meal cost $11.

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I should have read the menu a little more carefully before ordering. I was imagining soft tacos for this plate, so was slightly disappointed. I’ve since realized that I don’t care for soy fish of any kind. Despite these two oversights, I could taste that the ingredients were fresh and I ate half the meal. It wasn’t bad, but I’d definitely order differently next time. I only wish that I had the opportunity to give this restaurant a second chance. I can tell this is a staple of the Houston vegetarian scene.

Field of Greens on Urbanspoon

07/25/10

Bless Your Heart – Lubbock, TX

Bless Your Heart
3701 19th Street
Lubbock, TX 79410-1204
(806) 791-2211
http://blessyourheartlubbock.com/

When I initially learned I was going to Lubbock, I worried about what I would eat. I had been to the city once before and couldn’t remember any healthy options. After a quick search on Yelp, I realized my perception of this sleepy West Texas town was only half correct.

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Bless Your Heart opened in Lubbock in 1989 and was one of the first to offer healthy dining options. It’s lighter meals – soups, sandwiches and salads featuring fresh fruit and vegetables. Everything on the menu is low fat. The atmosphere is casual and the service is friendly.

I tried a simple meal – a bowl of vegetable soup, slice of fresh baked wheat bread and unsweetened green tea. It was light, refreshing and less than $5. It was the perfect lunch.

Bless Your Heart Restaurant on Urbanspoon

07/18/10

Cafe Gratitude – Berkeley, CA

Cafe Gratitude
1730 Shattuck Ave (@ Virginia)
Berkeley, CA 94709
Phone: (510) 725-4418
Hours: 10 am to 10 pm
http://www.cafegratitude.com/

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To the average diner, the attitude of this restaurant might seem a little intimidating. The concept began with a couple who challenged one another to “live their lives together following and trusting intuition.” Their commitment inspired the development of the Abounding River Game. It’s an interactive game to share with a partner based around what they believed were important qualities to aspire to: Love & Acceptance, Generosity, Worth, Gratitude, and Creation or Responsibility. Cafe Gratitude was created initially as a meeting place for others to play this game.

Then, one of the owners stumbled upon a book about live foods and they experimented with this lifestyle for a month. They felt so good, they decided to create a menu for the cafe. Most of the food at this restaurant is organic, raw and vegan.

Sound like a lot to take in? I thought so, too, but once I arrived with my family my skepticism subsided. The Berkeley location isn’t large. Most of the tables were full on a Saturday for a late lunch. We were offered a cozy area with two couches and large coffee table connecting the space. Overall, the ambiance is calm, even soothing and casual.

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We started with the I AM ABUNDANT sampler plate. For $16, you’ll receive sprouted almond hummus, Asian kale-sea vegetable salad, hempseed pesto crustini, spicy cashew nacho cheese w/ flax chips, olive tapenade, buckwheat crackers, spring roll & mini house soup served on a large plate for sharing. These items taste great paired together. I especially liked the house soup and almond hummus.

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For my entree, I tried I AM WHOLE. This macrobiotic bowl contained shredded kale, sea vegetables, house made kim chee, sprouts, teriyaki almonds, quinoa, brown rice and a garlic-tahini sauce. I strongly recommend the 1/2 order ($10). Despite my best efforts, I was unable to finish. I felt satisfied, but not like I had overeaten.

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I AM RAPTURE completed our meal, with a scoop of creamy vanilla nut-milk ice cream. It was extremely had to believe this chocolate layer cake was vegan or raw. Bravo!

Without experiencing this place, the concept seems easy to ridicule, however, I encourage skeptics to open their mind and try it. The food is delicious and you’ll experience of the best feel-good meals you’ve had in a long time.

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon

07/17/10

Greens – San Francisco, CA

Greens
Fort Mason, Building A
San Francisco, CA 94123
415.771.6222
http://www.greensrestaurant.com/

Greens is located in a converted warehouse on the grounds of Fort Mason. The warehouse also houses a variety of other cultural and non-profit environmentally friendly organizations. The Greens space is ideal for a dining room. The main wall is floor to ceiling windows and offers amazing views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Even if the area is surrounded by fog, the ambiance is airy and art filled.

After Millennium, the bar had been set pretty high, but I read a number a positive reviews of the Mediterranean, Mexico and the American Southwest influenced foods of Greens and insisted we give it a try.

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From the recommendation of our server, I opted for their signature dish, MESQUITE GRILLED BROCHETTES. This dish contains mushrooms, yellow finn potatoes, peppers, red onions, yams, sweet corn, fennel and Hodo Soy tofu with charmoula and cherry almond quinoa. My favorite of the skewered items were the tofu and sweet corn. Everything was seasonal, fresh, expertly marinated and grilled. The quinoa was the perfect pairing. This meal could have easily fed two guests and was fairly priced at $21. I would reorder this every time I came to this restaurant.

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Greens has been favorably reviewed by many top vegetarian food experts. I have hardly “discovered” something new, but if you ever stop through the Bay Area, Greens is a must.

Greens on Urbanspoon

07/8/10

Pasta Substitutes?

First, I discovered the Summer Tomato video blog about summer squash noodles. Then, I found the cucumber noodle recipe on the kitchn and Gourmet. Since cucumbers have been so abundant lately, I decided tonight was a great opportunity to try one of these. The cucumber noodle recipe, featured on Gourmet, seemed simple enough.

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I began enthusiastically peeling the skin off the cucumber and then slowly peeling “noodles” into a pan. Next, I blanched them in boiling water for one minute, drained in a colander and immersed them in a bowl of ice water for two minutes. I drained them again and dried off with paper towels. Then, I created a light sauce with margarine, spearmint, lemon, salt and pepper. I sauteed the “noodles” just until they were warm and coated with the sauce.

Here’s where I cheated:

1. I had no fresh lemons, so no lemon zest.
2. I foolishly grew spearmint in my garden this year, so I used that instead of regular mint.
3. I used margarine instead of butter.
4. I didn’t have the special equipment (adjustable-blade slicer with 1/4-inch julienne blade), just a normal peeler.

But, behold:

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Looks delicious, right? I lovingly photographed the finished product with visions of serving it again as a unique (and popular) side dish at future dinner parties. I couldn’t believe I had found a diet-friendly pasta alternative! I was pretty proud of myself until I tasted them…

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I choked it down and wiped away a single tear. Was it the half-hearted attempt at this easy recipe that led to its demise? A tiny seed wedged in a thin crack in the sidewalk, never to receive proper water and light?

Alas! The idea was too good to be true. My Italian taste buds rejected this pasta impostor almost immediately with a self-satisfied smirk. On the bright side, I can think of endless decorative uses for these cucumber “ribbons” for the future.

07/5/10

105degrees – Oklahoma City, OK

105degrees
5820 North Classen Boulevard
Suite 1
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
(405) 842-1050
105degrees.com

After my recent raw tiramisu adventure, I found this place on Yelp and I immediately became interested. I stopped in on a Thursday afternoon for lunch and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people dining. I loved the open, modern decor – steel frames and large glass windows throughout. The architecture alone may have tempted me to walk in and peruse a menu.

I spotted the CHEDDAR KALE CRISPS one table over and knew I had to try them. They were generously coated with cheddar cheese and baked to perfection. I felt jealous that I hadn’t thought of this fabulous use for kale when the never-ending-kale reared its ugly head during the first month of our CSA. Let’s face it, there are limited creative uses for kale; this recipe is fantastic and it’s perfectly priced at $5.

Next, I tried the RAW ARRABIATA. This was a wonderful combination of ingredients: gnocchi, crushed chili-tomato sauce, wilted spinach, aged chevre and basil. Being Italian, I felt nervous trying gnocchi in the raw form, but it was incredible. I was full after eating only half and felt this was also well-priced at $11.

I loved everything about this restaurant except for the service. They were slightly pretentious and not very attentive. They did suggest my entree, however, and I didn’t need much, so all was well. This place was much more than just a restaurant. It also offered a healthy living store and cooking classes. I would have loved to learn more if my time were not limited.

105degrees Academy

You win, Oklahoma City.

105degrees on Urbanspoon

07/5/10

Building Broccoli – Update!

A few of you may remember our two flickr albums – Building Broccoli and Building Broccoli – Part Two.

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Building Broccoli

Building Broccoli – Part Two

We built a raised bed garden in late April and planted a variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs shortly after. The garden (mostly) survived the Nashville Flood, periods of record heat and sporadic care. There have been some surprising successes and dismal failures.

Here’s a two month update:

1. Peppers (banana and green bell)

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I’ve seen no signs of either sets of plants bearing fruit, but the ones located on the porch have stayed much healthier. The backyard bed receives full sun all day and the the porch receives partial shade, but it’s hard to know for sure if that’s the issue. I’ve been more consistently watering and removing bugs from plants on the porch. It’s a poor experiment, but the results are still worth noting.

2. Strawberries

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On intuition alone, I decided the strawberries needed a little more TLC, so I replanted them on the porch in these cool planters I bought at Home Depot. There have been many flowers on these plants and very small strawberries. I think it’s a little late in the season to be optimistic about much more, but I’ll try my best.

3. Watermelon

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I can’t believe how well the watermelon have done. Almost all four plants look great. With some of the other vegetables dying and being transplanted, they have much more room now. I’m having a party if a large watermelon actually grows!

4. Summer squash

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The success of this plant was also unexpected. The other 3 have died.

5. Herbs – Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Spearmint and Rosemary

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R.I.P. cilantro! It was sad to say farewell to my favorite of the five. I think it did better in partial shade, in a pot on the front porch. The other four are doing well. The basil looked healthier on the porch, so I need to keep an eye on that one.

6. Bok Choy

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It looked great at first, struggled and now appears to be growing some smaller sprouts.

7. Tomatoes

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I’m fully convinced there is no way to screw up tomatoes. I can’t wait to eat these.

8. Onions & Broccoli

R.I.P. I don’t know what the problem was with these.

Important notes for next year:

1. Read the care instructions for each plant and make an effort to follow them.
2. Read the spacing instructions for each plant and make an effort to follow them.
3. Try composting to boost the soil a bit.
4. Find an organic method for repelling insects.
5. Buy rain barrels! We really missed out this year on water we could have saved from all the rain!

06/24/10

Wild Cow – Nashville, TN

The Wild Cow
1896 Eastland Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 262-2717

http://www.thewildcow.com

I’ll admit it; I would like this place no matter what, based solely on its close proximity to where I live. It’s great to have restaurants within close walking distance – it’s part of what I really like about living in East Nashville. The fact that it is vegetarian makes it even more attractive. The Wild Cow is one of only two vegetarian restaurants in this city and I really admire the way they have reached out to connect with the community. Months before they had opened, they already had hundreds of Facebook fans anxiously anticipating their opening celebration / benefit party for East C.A.N.

Sadly, I haven’t tried most of their menu. This is hardly intentional; I’m out of town fairly often and I really enjoy cooking at home with fresh vegetables from our CSA when I can! Last night, after a visit to the beloved, Mas Tacos Por Favor, I noticed that someone tweeted about the raw tiramisu Wild Cow has had available and my curiousity was captured.

Does this look raw to you?

raw tiramisu

Wild Cow is also unique in Nashville for being one of the first to embrace the raw lifestyle. I have recently become increasingly interested in what the diet and the preparation of raw food entails. I find my quest for healthy eating to be continually evolving. Although somewhat pricey, ($9.25 with tax), this was delicious. I can’t imagine the amount of time it must have taken to gather ingredients and prepare this delectable treat.

After this delicious experience, I started following Wild Cow on twitter – TheWildCowVeg and now have daily updates on all kinds of vegan and raw desserts. Matcha Green Tea Chocolate Cupcakes? Carrot Cupcakes with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting? Yes, please! With an ever-changing menu of daily specials, friendly and charitable staff and an unbeatable location, I really need to get to this place more often.

The Wild Cow on Urbanspoon