Tag Archives: healthy

Blossom Du Jour: Fast Food Vegan Style

For my last post of the semester, I wanted to find something a little different from the other vegan restaurants I had been going to. Most vegan restaurants are sit-down restaurants, whether they are fancy or more on the casual side, but Blossom Du Jour is a healthier and vegan version of a fast food restaurant. They have five locations, one of which is not too far from Columbia, located at 449 Amsterdam Avenue between 81st and 82nd Street.

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The restaurant was very small inside with a decent amount of counter space. A lot of people get take-out, but many also sit at the counter to eat. If you sit at the counter, there is a nice view of Amsterdam Avenue through the windows. It is a nice spot to eat alone, but you can also bring a couple of friends to enjoy the food with.

I decided to try the Strawberry Banana Burst smoothie and it was truly amazing. It was made with strawberries, bananas, and apple cider. I couldn’t even tell that there were no diary products used to make the smoothie!

Strawberry Banana Burst Smoothie
Strawberry Banana Burst Smoothie

I also tried the Midtown Melt sandwich, which is made with cajun spiced seitan, vegan cheese, agave, guacamole, lettuce, and chipotle aïoli. I could not even tell that the cheese used in the sandwich was vegan! Also the guacamole and chipotle aïoli tasted great together, along with the other ingredients in the sandwich. I would have to say the best part was that my food was all made in under five minutes and it tasted like food that I would order at a restaurant, which would take more than quadruple the amount of time to make.

Midtown Melt
Midtown Melt

I really enjoyed going to Blossom Du Jour, and I will definitely be going back sometime soon! I have never been to a vegan fast food restaurant before, and I’d have to say that it was a great experience. I recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a quick and delicious meal in a casual and comfortable atmosphere.

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Avocado Egg Boats

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Hi everyone! 

As the semester draws to a close there are two things running through every student’s mind:

  1. WINTER VACATION
  2. Finals. Finals. And more finals.

So, because we’re all so busy right now, I wanted to share one of my simplest, healthiest, and tastiest recipes. It’s a hearty, filling treat that takes almost no time and will keep you kicking through these final few weeks. 

An Avocado Egg Boat is basically an egg baked inside an avocado half. There are a few simple steps, and all you need is one avocado and two eggs.

Preheat oven or toaster-oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with tin foil.

First, cut a ripe avocado in half. Remove the pit carefully by piercing it with the knife and pulling it out. 

Next, scoop out another fourth of each half around the pit. You just want to make a bigger hole than there already is. 

Place each half on the tin foil covered sheet.

Then, crack an egg into the hole you just made. One egg goes in each half. Carefully, put baking sheet in the oven.

Cook for 30-40 minutes. Note that a toaster-oven will cook on the faster side.

Finally, top the finished product with salt and pepper. If you have some fresh herbs, add some on top for a bit of freshness!

Eat up, stay nourished, and good luck on your finals! 

A Vegan’s Heaven in the Village

This time when I chose a vegan restaurant to visit, I decided to stray a little further from campus and I found Red Bamboo on 140 W 4th Street in the Village.

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The restaurant has a very calming and cozy feel, making it a very nice place to go if you are stressed. I decided to get take-out from the restaurant and it only took them 10 minutes to make my food! So, if you are very hungry after making the trek from Morningside Heights, luckily, you will not have to wait long! And my trek was truly worth it!!

Popcorn shrimp
Popcorn Shrimp

I decided to start off my meal with an appetizer. I chose the popcorn shrimp because one of the things that I miss the most after becoming a vegetarian is shrimp. The vegan popcorn shrimp were absolutely amazing! The shrimp I got had the same texture and taste of real shrimp! The shrimp were fried perfectly and the sauce that came with them complimented them very well. I will definitely be going back to get more!!

Classic blt
Classic B.L.T.

I got the classic BLT for my entrée because I was really interested in trying Red Bamboo’s version of bacon. The tempeh bacon was also really good and it  had a very similar taste to real bacon. The sandwich also included whole wheat bread, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and vegan mayonnaise. The mayonnaise didn’t taste exactly like real mayonnaise, but in some ways it was actually better. It was a little less thick than real mayonnaise and had a little bit of a different taste, which actually went better with my sandwich than real mayonnaise would have. I definitely will have to get this sandwich again!

I loved everything about Red Bamboo and I will definitely be going back sometime very soon. Everything I tried tasted absolutely amazing and now I know that there is a place that makes great substitutes for the food that any vegan or vegetarian misses. I will definitely be recommending this restaurant to everyone I know, whether or not they are vegan or vegetarian!

Peacefood Cafe: Any Vegan or Non-Vegan’s Paradise

Everyone loves dessert, and luckily, Manhattan is home to numerous bakeries for all of us dessert lovers in the city. The problem is that it is almost impossible to find a good vegan bakery, even in Manhattan. I made it my mission to find a good vegan bakery and I found the Peacefood Cafe, which is both a vegan restaurant and vegan bakery.

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The cafe is a nice, casual, and cozy spot to have a meal with a friend, while enjoying their many vegan options. It is definitely a stress-free atmosphere! It is located in the Upper West Side on Amsterdam and 82nd, so it isn’t too far from campus. They also have another location in the Village.

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The bakery part of the restaurant had many vegan desserts, which all look like they must be made with diary products. Upon walking in, I even wondered if their desserts were actually vegan! In place of the dairy products normally found in these desserts, the Peacefood Cafe uses healthier options, such as avocados. Not only are these desserts vegan, but also many of them are even gluten free.

From left to right: chocolate chip cookie sandwich and raw chocolate mousse pie
From left to right: chocolate chip cookie sandwich and raw chocolate mousse pie

I had a chocolate chip cookie sandwich and a slice of the raw chocolate mousse pie. The chocolate chip cookie sandwich was two large cookies with chocolate inside, which made them stick together. Without the chocolate inside, the cookies were some of the best I have ever had. The chocolate inside was so rich in flavor that it made the cookies taste even  better. The mousse pie was made with avocado, which made me a little nervous to try it, but it was amazing! The taste of the avocado was undetectable and if anything, it made the chocolate taste even richer in flavor. I will definitely be going back to the cafe to get both of these desserts again!

Mango Lassi
Mango lassi

I also had a mango lassi while I was at the cafe, which I was a little nervous about because it is a yogurt-based drink. The mango lassi was pretty good considering it was vegan, but it wasn’t as good as the non-vegan ones I have had in the past. The yogurt used in the drink tasted like regular yogurt, but the lassi tasted too much like yogurt and did not have enough of a mango taste. Overall, it was good, but I think I will try a different drink next time.

I look forward to going back to the Peacefood Cafe to try more of their vegan options! I definitely would recommend this cafe to anyone looking for a nice to spot to eat and hang out with friends or anyone looking for a good take-out place. This cafe is great for both vegans and non-vegans, alike!

Pantry Shakshuka

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The best thing about shakshuka is how simple it is to make. It’s pretty quick, completely satisfying, and can me made with just a few basic pantry ingredients and whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. I’ve made this one with spinach and bell peppers, and it was delicious! However, fresh tomatoes, kale, mushrooms, and squash would have all been great options too.

Here’s what you need from the pantry:

-can of diced tomatoes

-tomato paste

-Italian dry spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, & thyme would all work)

-garlic powder

-olive oil

-bread (I use gluten-free of course, Udi’s is good!)

Here’s what you need from the fridge:

-onion

-bell pepper (any color, but I used yellow)

-spinach

-egg

First, dice half an onion. Heat olive oil is a frying pan. Once oil is hot, add the onions and cool them until they’re soft and slightly translucent. Add chopped pepper and spinach (or whatever vegetables you choose) and cook until soft.

Then, add the can of tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste and stir thoroughly. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes. 

Finally, make a dent in the mixture and crack in an egg. Cover the pan and let the egg cook for about five minutes or until the egg white is just opaque. Any additional cooking would affect the yolk. So, if you like it runny, definitely stop the cooking as soon as the white turns solid, but if you like it harder keep it going for another minute or so.

In the meantime, toast your bread. 

Add hot sauce for an extra kick!

Enjoy! Break into that yolk and scoop the mixture onto your toast. If you haven’t tried it before, you’ll be an immediate convert. It’s so savory and comforting, you’ll want to eat it for every meal of the day. Happy cooking everyone!

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Coffee, Tea, Muesli? Chalait’s Healthy and Vegan Offerings

As an avid espresso finder, I have traveled around the city finding my favorite cappuccinos, macchiatos, cortados, and lattes. Each borough has always rewarded me with amazing cups of jittery happiness, but then I’m usually hungry for a snack to go with my cuppa.

But when I look at the glass counter for a sweet treat to pick out, all I usually see are chocolate croissants, sugar covered pound cakes, huge chocolate muffins, and the bigger-than-your-head cookies. As a health-focused consumer of foods, what am I supposed to eat at these places? Am I supposed to stick with the cantaloupe and pineapple filled fruit cups every time?

Chalait in the West Village offers some other options.

I like to study around NYU quite a bit, and one time I popped into a very bright and very minimalist decorated coffee shop called Chalait, and I’m so glad I did. As I walk in I do see the croissants and muffins in a small shelf, but then I look up and see a huge menu of healthy options, as well as some shelves on the side of the store bursting with raw bites, quinoa salads, and chia puddings.

I sighed with happiness, ordered, and sat down waiting for deliciousness to come to me.

Muesli Toast with Agave, Pumpkin Seeds, and Seasonal Fruit!

Chalait offers different kinds of “toasts”, whether it be avocado, sunrise, or plain Nutella. I ordered the muesli toast with fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and agave for that morning. I couldn’t even believe that what I was eating had ZERO preservatives, and was made of such pure ingredients. They even spent so much time meticulously plating each dish to keep the dishes looking as beautiful as their latte art.

Aside from their toasts, each of which I tried every time I visited here, Chalait also has many raw snacks, and one of my favorites is the Tangy Pineapple and Cocoa Banana Bites. They are completely raw, vegan, and gluten free, and best of all, guilt-free!

Tangy Pineapple and Cocoa Banana Bites PC: @chalaitnyc
Tangy Pineapple and Cocoa Banana Bites PC: @chalaitnyc

These are just a few of the many delicious and healthy options you can pair with your favorite espresso at Chalait, and I definitely will be returning next week to try something new! While every coffee-shop may not have raw brownie bites and chia puddings, you can always find something guilt-free to go with your coffee. If not, enjoy your well-made cortado and grab a snack from the bodega next door!

Everyone’s Favorite Foods, Veganized

For my first attempt at finding a vegan restaurant in Manhattan, I decided to begin with a place fairly close to campus. With a quick Google search, I found numerous vegan restaurants, but the Seasoned Vegan on St. Nicholas Avenue caught my eye. After I saw their catch phrase: “The food you love, veganized,” I got really excited.

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The restaurant is really cozy inside and it is definitely a relaxing atmosphere. The waiters and waitresses are so nice and really make you feel at home. One waiter I met is taking classes at Columbia and tried to give me advice on what classes to take!

The best part about this restaurant is that they have both vegan versions of a lot of comfort food and also vegan versions of more upscale entrées. Any vegan or anyone just going vegan for the night, can find something they want to eat.

The problem with a lot of comfort food is that it normally contains either dairy products or meat products. As a result, a vegan cannot easily find comfort food options at home, but at the Seasoned Vegan, they have variations of numerous comfort foods that any vegan would be nostalgic for. I’d have to say that one of my favorite comfort foods is macaroni and cheese and the Seasoned Vegan has it! As a vegetarian, I have always told my friends, “I could never go vegan. There is no way I could give up cheese!” Although, if I could eat this whenever I wanted, I could definitely do it. The “cheese” tastes very similar to regular cheese, but it does have a little bit of a different taste and texture to it.

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After having the macaroni and “cheese,” I was very excited to try my entrée because I ordered a “tuna” melt, and being a vegetarian, I haven’t had tuna in a long time. The “tuna” was a really good substitute for real tuna. It had a really similar taste and texture, and the seasoning was amazing. The salad that came with it went really well with my sandwich.

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I would definitely recommend this restaurant to any vegans looking for a good vegan restaurant to go to, as well as anyone looking for a healthier option to the food they know and love.

“Eat your greens, kids”: MoHi’s Brand New Clean Eats Spot

This summer I fell in love with a new type of cuisine: clean eating. A day in the life of a college student often includes a morning trip to Ferris (if you wake up that early) for bacon, cereal, and everything with Nutella, then lunch at Chipotle, followed by plenty of JJ’s mozzarella sticks. Now while I loved eating all of this, I was a runner, so my body didn’t quite agree, and I often felt fatigued or not fully satisfied.

That’s when I discovered the beauty of eating clean. Now, eating clean takes many forms: eating vegan, raw foods, vegetarian, gluten-free, and more. It takes a bit of time to find clean eats, but after I started making the change to find them, I couldn’t turn back! (Note: most of my diet is clean dishes, but I do like to indulge sometimes!) It also worked with my runner’s lifestyle, because my workouts improved when I was putting only natural things in my body.

Luckily, around my internship this summer, there were plenty of clean and healthy options that I could choose from, but coming back to campus proved to be a challenge. Where was I going to find my daily juice and date brownies? Will I have to stick with Milano salads and Dig Inn forever?

Enter Sweetgreen. There was a Sweetgreen across from my work this summer, and I would eat there two to three times a week. Their menu mostly consists of salads and “grain bowls”, but they have a few soups and some amazing natural teas and refreshers as well. When I heard that one was opening up at Columbia, I was ecstatic, and I went right on opening day.

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Spicy Sabzi Bowl with Raspberry and Mint Inflused Water.

I ordered my favorite greens bowl: the Spicy Sabzi bowl with chicken, and treated myself to a raspberry and mint infused water. This bowl was chock-full of veggies including spinach, kale, beets, bamboo shoots, carrots, and broccoli, and also included a heaping scoop each of quinoa and chicken. Then they topped it with this masala-like sauce, and while they usually add Sriracha, since I was eating clean I had to ask them to not add it to my salad.

This salad was heaping in protein, iron, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and was delicious at the same time! This was just one of many of their healthy greens bowl options that you can choose from, and depending on whether you want your bowl to be completely raw/clean, ingredients can be removed from their salads.

Thank you Sweetgreen, for providing me with clean eats right at my doorstep.

 

Location:

115th and Broadway.

Ultimate Green Smoothie

The sun’s out, birds are chirping, the world is blooming and for healthy foodies this all means one important thing: smoothies are back!

Personally, the emergence of spring is not only an opportunity to spend more time outside, but also an excuse to break out the blender. Nothing beats a cool, refreshing, nutritional boost on a warm spring day.

I’m giving you my all-time favorite smoothie recipe today AND three different ways you can use this delicious blend. Yes, three! 

But first, here is your recipe:

  • 3 Leaves of Kale
  • 1/2 Orange (or a whole one if its tiny)
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 2 Dried Dates (for sweetness)
  • 1 Cup of Coconut Water

BLEND… all these ingredients in a blender, and add extra coconut water if the mixture isn’t moving smoothly in the blender.

Voila! Smoothie done.

Now, the first variation is the standard, drinkable form. It is perfect for anytime of day to accompany meals or serve as a delicious snack. I top mine with chia seeds for an extra boost of Omega-3s and fiber. 

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The second variation, is a good mid-day snack. It’s a fruit topped smoothie bowl! For this, all you need to do is pour the smoothie into a bowl, and cut up a bunch of fruits or berries to put on top. This gives the smoothie a little more substance, and it’s also just fun to eat! Sometimes drinking a smoothie doesn’t completely satisfy your cravings, but adding a bite can make you feel like you’re eating more. Sometimes we just need to chew! However, remember that this is best to eat in the middle of the day or later. It’s not quite enough to get you going in the morning.

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The last variation, and my personal favorite, is the breakfast smoothie bowl! You can add fruit to top this one too, but the most important additions are nuts, seeds, and oats. Seeds are more nutrient dense than budded and grown plants and will make a smoothie into a sufficient meal, especially to kick off your day! I use walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seed shells, chia seeds, and raw oats (pssst, that homemade granola from last week would be awesome here too!) This bowls fills you up, and keeps you full. If that’s not enough, it tastes amazing!!

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Try one, try them all! Let me know in the comment section below what your favorite variation is! Happy blending!

Simple Homemade Granola

Since we’ve covered lunch and dinner, I thought it would be only natural if we paid a little tribute to breakfast. 

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Hands down. There are so many delicious oatmeal and smoothie bowl recipes that I’m dying to share with you, but I realized that there’s one thing we need to do first. This staple is something we all know and love, and is best when piled on top of all of those other delicious recipes I just mentioned. I’m talking homemade granola.

A good granola recipe is something everyone should have, especially my gluten-free peeps out there. The best part? It’s easy, its fast, it lasts for weeks and the recipe is super flexible. This is an eye-ball-it kind of recipe, and as long as you’ve got the base ratio down, you can add however many mix-ins you desire.

Personally, I have a few granola recipes I like to make. However, the one we’re doing today its the easiest to do in a dorm kitchen. It’s protein-packed, and coconut oil-based. Really filling, healthy, and delicious.

Here’s what you need…

Base:

  • 4 Hand-Fulls Rolled Oats
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Protein Powder (I used vanilla flavored to make it a little sweeter)

Nuts & Seeds:

  • 1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/8 Cup Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)

Fruits:

  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Dried Dates
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Dried Cherries
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries

Directions:

1. PREHEAT… the oven or confectioner’s oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. CHOP… all your dried fruits and nuts as indicated in the list above.

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3. MELT… coconut oil for 30 seconds in the microwave. Then mix all the base ingredients in a bowl until completely combined. All oats should be damp.

4. MIX… nuts and seeds into base mixture. Then spread the mixture on cookie sheet.

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5. COOK… for 20 minutes on 325 degrees, stirring occasionally.

6. ADD… fruits to mixture once done cooking. This is important! If you add it before, the fruit gets really hard and dry. You could honestly chip a tooth.

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7. If you like your granola sweet, drizzle a little honey, or maybe even some cinnamon on top. Let everything cool, OR eat it hot with some cool milk. Mmmm! 

8. Finally, use this on top of everything! Or eat it dry by the hand-full. It’s a great, filling snack or meal whenever you want.