Monday, April 25, 2011

Healthy Vegan Eats in San Diego: La Jolla Open Aire Market, Peace Pies and Trader Joe's

So we are back from our San Diego trip but I wanted to do a quick post with photos of some of the yummy food we had at La Jolla Open Aire Market, Trader Joe's and Piece Pies Raw Vegan Restaurant.

Not the best photo but everything behind me is organic and as you can see there is lots of it! 

Organic greens were a plenty at La Jolla Open Aire Market! 

Have you ever tried a Strawberry Tamale?  We had one from "The Tamale Guy" at La Jolla Open Aire Market.  So yummy, Gluten Free and Vegan.  They tasted like cake, so we took half a dozen home.  These were so good I am looking for a recipe for them online and I hope to be making them soon because I already have the corn husks!

Peace Pies was "Rawsome"!  Seriously, I loved the very relaxed environment that is typical of a beachside cafe.  They had lots of prepared foods that you could take out including raw desserts.  Pictured here is a Collard and Faux Tuna wrap with a slice of raw pizza.  The crust was made with flaxseeds and cornmeal.

Here Anika is enjoying the Raw Kale Salad.  She has yet to find a Kale Salad she didn't like :)

Everyone talks about how great Trader Joe's prepared food is...well they are right!  I found some really interesting stuff at great prices.  Below is a Vegan Bento Box with squash, green beans, soba noodles, tofu, mushroom, edamame and different flavored brown rices.  A perfect little Macrobiotic meal.

My kids enjoyed vegan sushi and a tasty cabbage and buckwheat "Country Salad", along with some canned artichoke hearts and Zico Coconut water.  Dinner for three was under $20 and there was food leftover.

All in all I would say that San Diego is a super Veg Friendly City!  We can't wait to go back again :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Healthy Vegan Eats in San Diego: Ocean Beach Cooperative Store and Cafe

I love it when I stumble upon something really great!  I happened upon the Ocean Beach People's Organic Foods Market after driving to Stephanie's Bakery and Cafe on Voltaire Street and finding they were closed. According to Stephanie's website they offer Vegan and Gluten Free options but I did not notice they are open from 11-7 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only!  We never did make it over there during those hours, maybe next time.

We started to drive back to the interstate when I saw the big sign for Ocean Beach People's OFM.  They are a food cooperative that started out of a woman's home back in the 70's!  They have slowly grown to occupy 6,000 feet of retail space with more than 11,500 member/owners. They offer the same prices to anyone out of the area who belongs to a food buying coop. So I told them about Seminole Buying Club and I was given the member discount for the store and the cafe!  A 10% savings :)

These are photos from our visit to the Cafe and some of our finds in the store...

This was the Kale and Beet Root Salad.  So super yummy!  I could have eaten three containers this size.  They have another Kale Seaweed Salad that is equally good.

Anika had the Vegan Leek Soup.  It was a little too low sodium for her taste but with a little Bragg's it was really good.

My little raw foodist had the salad bar.  Bell peppers, artichoke hearts, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and lettuce, no dressing.

Apples were $1.21 a pound!  Haven't seen these kind of prices on apples in a loooong time.

Ksenia found the Vegan chocolate bunnies.  "Ksenia, the Easter bunny will bring you one of those on Easter, but good find!"

Anika found Gluten Free Vegan Raspberry Muffins that were fruit juice sweetened :)  Yeah, we bought those!  How could I say no to that face?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Healthy Vegan Eats in San Diego (Encinitas): Lotus Cafe

For those of you just stopping by my blog, I am on a two week vacation in the San Diego area through Earth Day!  While on vacation I like to review the vegetarian restaurants we eat at. Last week when we were at the Ocean Beach Cooperative I noticed a flyer with a list of recommended vegetarian restaurants.  Of course I researched all the vegetarian restaurants in the area before flying out to San Diego, but I like to find out through the locals which places are really good and which ones have normal business hours.

Lotus Cafe was one of the recommended restaurants, and then when I talked to my old college room mate, Kam Singh, who lives in Encinitas, she also recommended Lotus Cafe.  We were thinking about going to the Botanical Gardens but Kam convinced me that the meditation garden by the ocean would be much better. So we made the 25 minute trip out for a visit to the Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Garden and lunch at the Lotus Cafe with Kam. 

I'll share some photos from the Meditation Garden visit since it's not too off topic for my blog. 

If you go to San Diego, make the trip up north to Encinitas to see the SRF Meditation Garden.  It is free, but you can donate to the Self Realization Fellowship. It directly overlooks the ocean and there are koi ponds and all types of beautiful native and tropical trees and plants.  I can imagine it is really crowded here on the weekend.  It is just so beautiful.  We visited early on a Friday morning and there were only a dozen or so people in the garden.

There are lots of benches to sit and meditate on.  Here my kids are demonstrating how they meditate :)  

Lotus Cafe specializes in Organic vegetarian and vegan food.  The space is gorgeous, with lots of natural light on the inside.  They also have lots of patio seating under umbrellas.  They are located directly off Highway 101 in "The Lumberyard" plaza in Encinitas.

I had the "Spiritual Spinach Salad", with  carrots, olives, artichoke hearts, radish, veggie-bacon bits and sprouts. It comes with Feta cheese but I asked them to leave that off.  The dressing was Vegan Lemon Tahini.   It doesn't look like it in the photo but this salad was HUGE.  The lettuce and everything was super fresh and delicious, I loved it.

What I ordered for the kids was probably not the best option, but there were 30 people lined up behind me when it was my turn to I felt some pressure to hurry on my decision.  They eat the hummus platter at Dandelion Communitea all the time, so I ordered the "Humble Hummus and Pita".

Well the hummus was outstanding!  It was a little on the spicy side, but really smooth and delicious.  I used some for dressing on my salad when I started to run low.

The kids ate all the veggies and left the pita bread, which I should have asked them to leave off.  And the line never got any shorter so I shared some of my salad and fed them a second lunch when we got home :)

Got a favorite vegetarian or vegan restaurant in the San Diego area?  Post in the comments section and let me know about it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Central Florida Earth Day 2011

Earth Day is quickly approaching, Saturday April 23rd, and it's the best time to start making changes with your diet :)  Eating a plant based diet with minimal to no animal foods make the biggest impact on reducing your carbon imprint. 

An article from 2007 in the New York Times states:

"Production and consumption of meat worldwide has more than tripled since 1961 and could double from now until 2050 as standards of living increase and the population doubles.

As a result, vast swaths of forest are being cleared for pastures, robbing the planet of trees, which absorb carbon dioxide. Cattle and sheep also release vast amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations produced startling findings: The animals' burps, the nitrous oxide gases from their decomposing manure and other factors, including the energy needed to store and transport meat, were responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions - more than the entire transportation sector."

Stop by the VegCF booth for information on how to substitute for animal foods and stop by the Florida School of Holistic Living booth for information on my classes.  You might even catch me there :) 

I will also be giving a food demonstration from 4-5pm.  I will be putting together easy raw food snacks for kids.  So bring your kids by and have a sample :)

How To Make Almond Milk Yogurt, Renegade Health Show Video

I was introduced to the Renegade Health Show through one of Frederick Patenaude's Raw Teleconferences about a year ago.  There's a lot of great videos on their site as far as how to prepare different raw food dishes including Almond Milk Yogurt, which is technically raw since it is not heated past 118 degrees.

I posted about finding Almond Milk Yogurt in the La Jolla Whole Foods store and one of my readers asked if I would teach them how to make it.  Well here you can watch Kevin and Ann Marie prepare it in their tiny motor home kitchen!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Healthy Vegan Eats in San Diego: La Jolla Whole Foods

The kids and I are on vacation in San Diego for two weeks while Vineet starts work at Qualcomm. Yes, we will be having lots of fun adventures, especially those of the veggie kind, whilst Vineet works hard at his new job. I don't feel bad about it because I think he is having fun too :)

So the first place I needed to go to upon arrival in San Diego was Whole Foods!  Not because it's my favorite store (it's not) but because it was 5 minutes from our hotel.  Trader Joe's is a little further, but we will be going there sometime this weekend or next week.

I made sure that we stayed in a hotel with a full kitchen so I could stock up on lots of fresh fruits and veggies to have on hand for snacks and salads.  I really wanted to bring my Vitamix with us.  We just had too much to carry without bringing it. 

Eating healthy on a vacation is key for me to have a good time.  I cannot have fun when I feel like crap from eating processed food, heavily oiled/fried food or minimal variety due to a lack of vegan options.  And my kids like to eat super healthy too.  Give them a choice between chips and celery and they will always pick the celery.  They don't like to feel yucky either. 

Some people like to eat like a "gourmet foodie" or like they are at a 24/7 Birthday Party while on vacation.  It's their time to go wild.  Whatever floats a person's boat, but that is not us!  If we indulge, it's something like a vegan smoothie, non dairy ice cream or a raw vegan dessert.

Upon arrival at the La Jolla Whole Foods we discovered the beautiful local organic berries.  These were from Carlsbad Farms only 19 miles away and they were $10 for a set of three different berries.  We jumped on that deal and will be going back for more.

I thought this was a fresh idea!  A prepared Kale Salad with a recipe for the dressing on the back.  We don't have this at our Whole Foods in Florida.

Can you believe how freaking red and shiny these tomatoes are? These were local too. It's been a long while since I've seen tomatoes beyond my backyard look this fresh.  And they were juicey!

And here's something you can't find in Florida...Cultured Almondmilk Yogurt!!  Whole Foods corporate website says they are carrying it in all of their stores but I guess they are starting with the west coast first?  We got the Peach, Blueberry and Strawberry flavors.  Ksenia and I love them.  They are similar to the cultured coconut yogurts.  I will be requesting these at our Whole Foods and Hoover's Essential Health Market when we get back to Florida.

There will be a series of posts on our San Diego trip, so check back again this week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Experience at Food Blog Forum in Orlando

Food Blog Forum Reception at Whole Foods in Bayhill.
 I attended the Food Blog Forum in Orlando on April 9th at the UCF Rosen College near the Orlando Convention Center. It was a full-day seminar for online food publishers, food bloggers ("newbies" and established) and food photographers. I went into it without expectations, and after all, I'm not a "foodie" or even a serious blogger! I did find the information helpful in terms of growing and improving my blog.  The presentations came from a variety of speakers with backgrounds in food reporting/publishing, web design, SEO, photography, and professional blogging. 

I was so happy to find this seminar in my own backyard and I was surprised to find several bloggers from out of town, out of state and out of this country! I met Julie Cove, author of The Alkaline Sisters, a blog about alkaline diets. She's from British Columbia and can you believe she is writing a guest post for Kris Carr's Blog! I also met Asha Pagdiwalla, professional food photographer and author of Fork Spoon Knife. She's originally from India and now living in New York City.

After listening to professional food photographer Helene Dujardin speak and demonstrate her style in food styling and photography, it made me realize that I do have an interest in food photography.  I mean I do take multiple shots when I shoot for this blog, even though it's with an old point and shoot.  I am always concerned with lighting and positioning of food.  Sometimes I spend up to 20 minutes messing with it and if I don't get a good photo, I don't post!  I just wait until I make the meal again and shoot again. 

So I will take Helene's advice and buy a "big girl camera". Time to take a visit to the camera store and start looking into a camera that will take my photographs up a notch or two :)
Helene Dujardin demonstrating tethered photography during a mini food photo shoot
The seminar was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed the time to network with and learn from a passionate group of people.  So where do I go from here? I'd love to hear from anyone who's been to BlogHer Food Conference in Atlanta next month.  I heard from Jaden Hair, the organizer of the Food Blog Forum that BlogHer has around 70 Vegan Food Blogers that attend the conference. 

If I can find another local blogger who wants to split the gas driving up from Orlando, I will seriously start making plans to go!

Garden Goodness: Okra Sprouts are Planted

Before leaving for San Diego, Vineet planted the Okra seedlings. For my Florida friends, Okra is the best thing you can grow in the summer! It stands up well to the summer heat and it is a super healthy green vegetable to add to your diet.

Okra can be used in soups, stews and curries.  It can also be steamed and tossed in a mixed green salad or served in a rice or quinoa bowl with various sauces. 

Here are some of the health benefits of okra:
  • Rich source of dietary fiber
  • Good source of folate (yeah, you don't have to supplement folate when you eat the right foods!)
  • Contains 36% of RDA for Vitamin C
  • Rich in B-complex vitamins
  • Contains important minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium
  • Contains Vitamin K, which is important for making blood clotting enzymes and strengthening bones

If you don't have a garden, start looking for okra at the grocery store.  The harvest season lasts from May to mid August.

Do your kids love okra?  Let us know in the comment section below!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vegan Book Giveaway

The Book Publishing Company is giving away several great books on Vegan Cooking and lifestyle in the coming months.  The titles include: Vegan in 30 Days, The Natural Vegan Kitchen, Becoming Vegan, The 4-ingredient Vegan, Vegan Body Building and Fitness, and Speed Vegan.  I make no money on this, I just thought my readers would like a chance to win a free book :)

Go to their website to enter the giveaway by clicking on the graphic above!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Raw Snacks for Kids: "Fairy Cakes"

This is a simple raw food snack kids can make themselves.  My daughter has been making this one by herself for a couple of years.  You simply take a banana and slice it up.  Dust it with cinnamon and then roll the banana slices in raw shredded coconut.  You can stack the slices to make what looks like "little fairy cakes".  These are fun snacks that the kids can make for a tea party too!

For a frozen treat you can toss frozen slices of banana in cocoa powder and it gives you a much healthier version of the "chocolate dipped banana".