With midterms coming around, I didn’t have time for a sit-down meal, but still wanted to indulge in a tasty, healthy, meal. That’s when I found Café Viva. I was struck by the variety of items they had, from vegan pizza and gluten free pizzas on spelt, corn, or whole wheat crust to salads to pasta and calzones. I finally settled on a slice of Zen Pizza (vegan) and a vegan Pasta Bolognese.
The order arrived within twenty minutes, thirty minutes earlier than Seamless had predicted.
Café Viva: Broadway Avenue (between 93rd and 94th Street)
Zen Pizza (Vegan):
Green tea herb, miso-tofu, green tea basil pesto, shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomato, and roasted garlic on a green tea herb spelt crust.
I didn’t expect much since I had never tried green tea and tofu on pizza, and had never really considered pizza as “healthy,” but I was pleasantly surprised.
The pizza had an overall herby scent, and the shiitake mushrooms and green tea worked surprisingly well together. The sun-dried tomatoes were rather acidic, however, and overpowered the other flavors. The miso-tofu was also rather dry and flimsy – by the end, I was just eating the tofu and mushrooms alone (san-crust). Despite the flimsiness, however, the flavors blended very well in a zen-like manner.
Pasta Bolognese (Vegan)
with homemade Seitan meat sauce.
Café Viva offers both Linguini and Penne Pasta options, and I ordered the Linguini option. The meat sauce was extremely fresh, and the pasta was the perfect texture.
The portion is extremely large (especially so after finishing a whole slice of pizza), and there was ample sauce. Although the pasta did not look particularly appetizing, it tasted heavenly.
The pasta came with bread, but it was overly salted on the inside and under-seasoned on the crust.
I will definitely go to the Café Viva store next time to sample some more of their other vegan pizzas and pastas.
Hours: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM (Mon-Thurs and Sunday), 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM (Fri-Sat)
I love healthy food, but I also love frozen yogurt. The compromise? Get a green smoothie from a frozen yogurt shop. I had bookmarked 16 Handles since the beginning of the semester for its raving reviews on Yelp. It did not disappoint.
Located on Amsterdam Avenue between 75th and 76th, 16 Handles was extremely easy to locate, especially with its lively music and brightly lit environment. There is a wide range of options for frozen yogurt, with low fat, fat free, gluten free, and vegan options, and fresh fruit amongst other toppings. What caught my eye, however, were their green smoothies.
I ordered an “Oh Kale Yeah!” smoothie made of fresh IQF pineapple, banana, spinach, kale, coconut water, and white grape juice. There are no artificial ingredients or ice. The staff was extremely friendly, inviting me to test out their new frozen yogurt flavors while I waited for my smoothie.
Expecting a more starchy bland smoothie, I was blown away. The smoothie was not extremely heavy, and provided a nice citrus-y freshness. While the banana seemed overpowering at first, it blends extremely well with the spinach and kale, which tone down its flavor. The natural sweetness of the white grape juice balances the acidity from the pineapple, allowing me to enjoy every sip I took. The spinach and kale substantiate the smoothie, making it slightly more filling. This was definitely the best green smoothie I’ve had in a long time, and believe me, I drink a lot of green smoothies! I am addicted! The “Oh Kale Yeah” would be perfect after a workout, or just for a slight healthy boost before shopping at the Sephora nearby.
Green smoothies in a frozen yogurt shop: unexpected, but extremely well-made.
This healthy little gem is located on 9th Ave, between 45th and 46th St. It’s not too far from the Times Square subway station, making it very accessible if you’re shopping nearby. This famous chain also has many other locations, including one on 117 W 72nd St, which is much closer to campus. While the physical store is quite small and has no seating available, they have a wide variety of options.
Need a quick pick-me-up? They have healthy juices and smoothies. Want something more filling? They have nicely portioned açai bowls, vegan lunch options (rolls, burgers, and noodles), and vegan pastries. What is unique about this chain is their “juice farmacy,” which is made up of small drinks with jam-packed nutrients. One such drink is the “lemon lozenge,” a blend of lemons, cayenne, and ginger, to help clear an irritating cold.
I ordered a “Green Guardian” smoothie and a “Jackpot!” açaí bowl, while my friend ordered an “I Heart Watermelon” smoothie, sweetened with agave and an “Almond Butter Bliss” açaí bowl. For smoothies, you have the option of almond milk or hemp milk and you can sweeten them with either agave or dates.
“I Heart Watermelon” Smoothie:blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.
Overall, the smoothie had a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, and was not too overpowering. The first note of the smoothie had a very strong raspberry taste with a subtle hint of watermelon that was gradually brought out upon further tasting. It was very light compared to the “Green Guardian,” with a more liquid texture (as opposed to starchy), and would be perfect for a post-workout refreshment.
The “Almond Butter Bliss” açaí bowl had an overall extremely nutty flavor that my friend thought was slightly overpowering. The bowl could have used slightly more acidity with the addition of more citrus-y flavors. Interestingly, she tasted a hint of chocolate milk, which could have been caused by the mixture of almond milk and banana.
The açaí bowl was actually more liquid-y than I had expected, and didn’t look too appetizing by looks alone. I was blown away by the taste. The textures in the bowl brought a nice variety and they struck a perfect harmony between the chewy and crispy granola, the tarte fruit, and liquid-y açai. The nutty flavor contrasts the typical sweet and sour açai bowl and provides a nice base note. Kiwi is an unusual fruit to add into açai bowls, but it definitely works here and provides the desired citrus-y acidity. The fruit used in my açaí bowl was really fresh. After eating this açaí bowl, I felt a lot healthier and even refreshed!
At first, I regretted my decision to order this smoothie. It was rather bland compared with the “I Heart Watermelon,” and I wished that I had chosen to sweeten the smoothie with dates or agave. The smoothie was rather starchy and thick. About half way through the smoothie, it was difficult to obtain any more liquid and I had to constantly poke around the cup. The more I drank, however, the more my opinion of this smoothie improved. The almond milk fragrance became more identifiable and there even seemed to be a banana-like taste in the background. Definitely sweeten the smoothie if you order this drink!
Juice Generation has a nice variety of healthy options and I can’t wait to try out the many other options that it offers.
This week I am finally moving from the stove to the oven with my Sweet Chili Salmon. This recipe is adapted from this recipe from Pinterest and an old family favorite from Mark Bittman, which consists of nothing more than butter, salt, and pepper. Like all my posts, this recipe is versatile and can be paired with nearly any vegetable, starch, or grain, especially my One-Pan Pasta or my Spinach Mushroom Quinoa Skillet.
Like my previous recipes, this is another one-dish wonder. It does require removing the dish from the oven a few times, which can be tricky to do effectively so as to not lose too much heat from the oven. This skill, along with the ability to gauge when to finish cooking the fish, is essential for mastering this recipe. Luckily for us, the rest of the recipe is extremely easy and cleanup takes about five minutes.
Salmon is my favorite fish for many reasons. Firstly, it’s incredibly versatile in that it can be eaten with flavorful sauces, such as teriyaki and sweet chili, but it also has wonderful natural flavors that be brought out with just a touch of salt and pepper. Furthermore, it can stand alone or be incorporated in salads, pastas, and many other dishes. This particular recipe utilizes both salmons natural flavor and it’s ability to pair with sauces to achieve a good balance. I also sautéed some greens quickly in a pan on the stove while the salmon was cooking as a side, which was done by heating some butter and garlic in a pan and sautéing the greens until wilted.
A side note before I get to the actual recipe, the recipe from Pinterest called for the salmon to be marinated, which could be great for the flavors, however it would make this recipe take longer than thirty minutes to prepare. Also, broiling the salmon as suggested in the Pinterest might create interesting textures, however I have not yet figured out how to use the broiler on my apartment’s oven.
And without further ado, here is the recipe.
1 3/4lb salmon fillet
2-3 Tablespoons of Thai Sweet Chili sauce
3 Tablespoons green onions
1-1/2 Tablespoons butter
Salt (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and place a small baking dish of butter inside to melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, remove from the oven and place salmon fillet flesh side down in the dish. Cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and flip salmon so the flesh side is facing up. Brush 2 Tablespoons of Chili Sauce over the top of the salmon. Place white part of green onions around the salmon and put back in the oven for 3-6 minutes (or if desired, remove halfway and add more chili sauce)
Home for spring break? Want to impress your family or treat your friends to a delicious dinner? I have the perfect recipe for you.
The other day, I was testing pesto recipes for work. When I say testing recipes, I mean testing A LOT of recipes. I can officially make pesto with my eyes closed. And yes, I still smell faintly of garlic. You may ask: what does one do with so much pesto? There are three answers: (1) Eat it on chips, (2) Jar it and give it to your boyfriend’s mom for extra brownie points, (3) Make something fabulous for dinner to go with it. We’re going to focus on number three.
This pasta is covered in a kale & almond pesto that I made with all my leftover ingredients from that day. For an added textural component, I threw in some larger pieces of kale. At the very end I tossed in some sliced grape tomatoes for brightness.
This recipe serves 2, but feel free to double or triple amounts for larger parties.
Kale & Almond Pesto
1 cup of roughly chopped kale
2 tablespoons of roasted almonds
3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (about half a lemon’s worth)
zest of a whole lemon
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt & pepper
Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you reach a spreadable consistency that isn’t too creamy. It should not be fully smooth!
To assemble the pasta…
1 more cup of roughly chopped kale
1 cup of grape tomatoes sliced lengthwise
Extra parmesan cheese & black pepper to top off
To make the Tagliatelle, follow the boiling directions on the package. I say this because it varies from brand to brand. If you can’t find Tagliatelle, Linguini would work great in this as well.
Roughly chop the kale and stir it in to the pasta after draining. If you put the lid to the pot back on for a few minutes, the kale will wilt perfectly.
Add the tomatoes and the pesto last and toss it all together until evenly mixed.
Serve and top with parmesan and freshly ground black pepper to taste! Enjoy!
I have to correct myself and say that this recipe wins the prize for most versatile, despite my praise for the One Pan Pasta I posted previously. Similar to the pasta, this is one of those recipes where you throw everything in and the rest is almost done for you. Just some light mixing with a wooden spoon or spatula to sauté the ingredients and it’s done in five minutes.
Although this recipe may seem bland (I mean, quinoa, spinach, and mushrooms don’t exactly have the reputation of being the most flavor packed ingredients out there), cooking the spinach and mushrooms brings out flavor many don’t know exists. For my version, I added ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and Sriracha to add a bit more kick to the dish, but it is really up to the palette of the chef and audience.
And the wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can alter the ingredients according to taste. I have always wanted to try kale for a bitterer, earthier taste, or chard to add some color. I use baby bella mushrooms, but portobello or shitake also can alter the profile dramatically, depending on the tastes. Lastly, something I meant to add this time around but regretfully did not, was cilantro. I, luckily, am not afflicted with the hatred of cilantro, and it would be interesting to try the combination of the earthier mushrooms with the cleaner bite of cilantro. Even if that didn’t work, the legendary combination of cilantro and Sriracha might be enough to save the dish.
Depending on how you cook your quinoa, this could takeover thirty minutes, however I have always been able to throw it together before passing the limit. Furthermore, the quinoa can be cooked previously, as it heats up in the pan once added. Cooking the quinoa the night before could make put the time stamp on this recipe at about five minutes, maybe eight or ten depending on the heat of your stove. Overall though, since cleanup is a breeze with the absence of sticky sauces and the use of only one pan (or two depending on when you cook the quinoa), the cooking time for the actual skillet recipe almost cannot exceed twenty minutes, unless you are really that determined.
With all that being said, here is the recipe for my Mushroom Quinoa Skillet:
Heat butter and olive in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes until mushrooms get soft and golden-brown color. Season with salt.
Add fresh spinach and arugula to skillet and reduce heat to low. As spinach begins to wilt, sauté with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa to the skillet and cook on low heat for another minute, allowing quinoa to warm and spinach to wilt more. Add Sriracha, red pepper flakes, and ground black pepper, and mix/sauté to incorporate.
If you’re like me, the warm weather could not come any sooner. The days are growing a little longer, the slush has disappeared from the streets, and that Spring Break count down is ticking by FAST. Yes!
I know what you’re thinking: the only thing that would make this situation better is a beautiful, yet confusing treat. One that looks like fruit, but tastes like ice cream. One that satisfies your chocolate craving, yet provides a variety of key nutrients. But could such a thing exist?
Introducing the Frozen Banana Pop! A chocolate-dipped banana, covered in sundae toppings, and frozen to perfection.
Here’s what you need to make these gems:
-1 bar of semi-sweet Ghiradelli’s chocolate (or milk chocolate if you prefer)
-2 over-ripe bananas
-A pinch of instant coffee or espresso (Because the Barefoot Contessa says so)
-Your favorite sundae toppings (I chose crushed pecans and sprinkles)
-1 old cardboard box you won’t miss (I used the box from my Sleepytime tea)
Step 1: Break down the chocolate into a bowl with the instant coffee/espresso and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted.
Step 2: While microwaving, poke holes in the cardboard box for your skewers.
Step 3: Peel the bananas and cut them in half. Then skewer them lengthwise.
Step 4: Dunk your bananas one at a time in the chocolate, using a spoon to help cover all the spots.
Step 5: Sprinkle on the goods.
Step 6: Freeze for at least 2 hours or until chocolate is hard. Longer is better though
That is all! Then invite your favorite friends over and pretend you’re indulging on something naughty.
If you are looking for a quick and versatile recipe to add to your collection, look no further. This recipe for one-pan pasta is probably my #1 go-to when I need to make something impressive. It can easily be prepped, cooked, and cleaned in less than thirty minutes, making it a perfect recipe for nearly any occasion.
Even beyond the speediness, its taste alone will make it one to ad to your bookmarks bar. Cooking all the ingredients together allows the water to absorb all the flavors, which is then absorbed by the pasta. Instead of having a heavy sauce coating the pasta, the recipe relies on the natural flavors to give the pasta a much lighter and subtler taste.
Something else I love about this recipe is that it can stand alone or be a perfect side to nearly any main course. One of my favorite pairings for this recipe is a lightly seasoned salmon. Just a light brushing of butter, salt, and pepper draw out the natural flavors of the fish, much like this recipe does for the pasta, making it a perfect match. And the recipe is highly malleable. I have tried different ingredients and found that as long as the proportions are right, there are very few ingredients that would pair poorly with this pasta. I altered my personal recipe based on food sensitivities and other preferences, so it’s good to try many different variations to develop a personal recipe for your taste.
One final thing I have to compliment this recipe on is that cleanup takes less than five minutes. The cutting board and knife can be cleaned while the water is heating, leaving just the pan, tongs, a fork, and a plate or bowl (unless of course you are sharing the pasta). And because there is no sauce, there is hardly any mess to take care of. Really, it is so simple it can be done in a matter of seconds.
Now onto the actual recipe I have been raving about.
12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
3 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 sprigs of basil
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 ½ cups of water
Combine all the ingredients in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs until water has nearly evaporated. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
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.
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!
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.
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.
As the semester draws to a close there are two things running through every student’s mind:
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!