Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reading in the Rain

Due to long days of inclement weather (aka it's cold and rainy) thus killing any motivation to venture outdoors except to the gym or work or the grocery store, I've been doing lots and lots of reading.  Fortunately, my library is close and often has a decent selection of books and the capability to transfer books from other libraries in my county.  I've always been interested in nutrition but I've never done much research into vegetarian/vegan nutrition.  And I've realized that I'm not eating enough during the day.  I've also discovered that RDs and nutritionists are incredibly expensive even with help from insurance (over $100 for 45 minutes...I don't think so).  So what's a modern girl to do?  Pull out her library card and do research!  I didn't go to college for nothing...lol.  So I found this book Vegan & Vegetarian Faq: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions edited by Reeds Mangels and Davida Gypsy Breier with the Vegetarian Resource Group.   I greatly enjoyed reading this book especially all the questions that were answered by the authors.  Questions range from nutrition questions to questions regarding vegan tattoo ink.  Though this book did not provide advanced nutritional facts/plans for Vegan/Vegetarians it did provide an insight into the Vegetarian/Vegan lifestyle.  I highly recommend this book if you are a vegan/vegetarian, contemplated becoming a vegan/vegetarian, or just have questions regarding a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.  I would like to find a good Vegetarian nutrional book that would give me meal ideas and tricks to eating properly throughout the day.  Any suggestions?

On a more serious note, I seem to have a problem  eating enough during the day so I often over eat at night for example I ate an entire container of hummus with rice cakes this afternoon!  I work all day with limited access to food (unless I bring it in).  Do you have suggestions for good snacks or meal ideas that will help me eat more throughout the day?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

DC Vegan Cafe

In case you were wondering, I survived the massive blizzard that overtook Washington DC.  I bunkered down in my parent's house which is closer to my office than my apartment where I basically slept, ate, read, watched TV, repeat.  Fortunately I managed to get some gym  time in thanks to my mother's SUV and Michigan winter driving skills.  Plus hiking in snow up to your waist for a couple miles is a fantastic workout. And walking up and down the stairs for an hour gets your heart-rate going even though your parents look at you like you're crazy...

Just for an idea of how much snow the DC metro area received here are some comparison photos.

My little Hyundai Accent Friday night in the first couple hours of snow fall:

Here's my car Saturday morning as snow still kept falling:

Needless to say my car would not move without massive assistance.  So my Dad and two teenage brothers removed all the snow from around my car and moved it into the driveway...while I sat in the warmth of my parent's house stamping cards with my mother!  My mother provided a bounty of food including 30000 containers of hummus which I proceeded to devour over the next week (some with veggies and some with massive amounts of pita chips).  But after a couple days, I got massive cabin fever and finally managed to return to my apartment and make a connection with the outside world!  So when my friend E. asked me to go to another Vegan cafe in downtown DC, I became ecstatic to be a social human being (not that I don't love my time with my family) and finally try Java Green!

Java Green considers itself an organic eco-cafe that does not serve any products with meat, fish, or eggs.  Plus there are numerous Vegan, Gluten free, and Raw options for everyone (well except omnivores looking for steak).  Plus all of their takeout silverware and dish ware are biodegradable and the cafe provides recycling bins.  It's a tiny cafe perfect for grabbing a quick healthy lunch (though seating is limited so I wouldn't go during the week during prime lunch hours).  After browsing the menu (so many yummy options) I finally chose the seaweed soup with kelp, seaweed, mushroom, and scallions in veggie broth.
And trust me, it's as delicious as it looks!  A huge bowl of soup on a windy, winter day in DC satisfied my soul plus reminded me that I still knew how to behave in social situations and wear real clothes not just my brother's sweatpants and a ratty hoodie. My friend E. chose the organic tofu scramble (which is a very popular brunch item...yum vegan brunch).

She seemed to enjoy the scramble (she spiced it up with Java Green original hot sauce) but I had a little taste and I thought it needed some kick minus the hot sauce as I am a spicy wimp.  I would have covered the scramble in garlic (as I typically do with all food I consume including popcorn).  We both sipped on brewed hot teas and chatted about how we survived the blizzard of 2010!

I immensely enjoyed Java Green and contrary to some opinions on Yelp, I found the staff to be friendly and knowledgeable about the food and customer's dietary restrictions.  I am definitely returning (even though the food prices were a little pricey-$10 for my huge bowl of soup) because there are so many other options I want to sample including raw pizza, mango kale salad, etc.  Plus I'd rather pay a little more money for food that is good for me and the environment!  Though I typically will avoid all the dishes with faux meat products.  I've found that many faux meat products are too processed for my taste though I love Quorn's frozen "chicken" tenders.

Have you tried any faux meat products?  If so what are you favorites or which ones don't you like?  And do you have any tips for surviving long snow days without eating your weight in hummus?

And if I can get my act together I should be back sometime this week with a book review!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Eco-Vegan-Vegetarian-Carnivore Friendly Haven

As a vegetarian, it can be difficult to find restaurants that will satisfy my culinary demands as well as my meat eating friends.  For example-Outback Grill last weekend...I'm not paying $10 for an iceberg lettuce salad!  One of my co-workers (he's a vegan) told me about a restaurant in Arlington (VA neighborhood right outside of DC) called Toscana Green (Grill).  So one of my friends and I decided to check it out one night after happy hour.

Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the interior but picture a smaller, cozier restaurant with lots of booths and various shades of green...really cute :) It wasn't crowded and our waiter was incredibly attentive.  Both my friend and I just drank water (boring but healthy) and munched on some whole grain bread appetizers.  I didn't try the oil-so I can't pass judgement:
 Finally our meals came.  I love the idea of pasta but pasta typically upsets my stomach...it's too heavy for me!  But when I saw raw zucchini pasta with basil marinara I knew I had to try it!!
The dish was super yummy but the marinara sauce was a little watery yet the fresh basil was an amazing addition to the sauce.  I'm going to add fresh basil to all of my tomato sauces!! But I was still really hungry after I finished all my meal (and I hardly ever finish a restaurant portion meal).  I need some non meat protein and fat (so I might have snacked on some hummus when I returned home).

My friend ordered the curry risotto which included mushroom, onion, and carrots in a curry cream sauce over brown rice.  
I stole a little bit and I loved it!  Typically I'm not a huge rice fan (I prefer to get my grains in the form of popcorn...lol).  The curry tasted amazing: not too heavy and creamy and complimented the veggies and brown rice perfectly.  I'm definitely going back to Toscana Green and sampling some of the other vegetarian/vegan dishes.

What's amazing about Toscana Green is the variety of options!  There are pasta dishes, entrees, salads, soups for every diet including carnivores, vegans, vegetarians, gluten free, raw foodies, etc.  It's the perfect place for a mixed group of culinary demands.  Prices were typical for a more casual DC restaurants (I paid around $15 for my entire meal including tip).   Though my pasta was not super filling, I loved the flavors of my dish and the risotto.  And I definitely have a couple ideas for my next meal at Toscana Green: the asparagus risotto caught my eye.

Do you eat a different diet from your friends?  And if you do, how do you pick restaurants that everyone will enjoy??