Tag Archives: vegan

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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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!

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.

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.

Vegan Finds: Sun in Bloom!

This week, my sister was in town visiting from her semester away in California, and to catch up we went decided to try a new vegan restaurant together. Sun in Bloom has two locations. The location in Brooklyn is a full-time restaurant, and the one located in Tribeca is a take-out cafe style restaurant. Sun in Bloom offers gluten-free vegan options, both raw and cooked. The Sun in Bloom cafe in Tribeca offers juices, small entrees, desserts, chia puddings, and other typical vegan foods. When eating vegan, you begin to notice trends in vegan cuisine.

While I would have loved to try the full-time restaurant, we decided to stay in Manhattan and test out the cafe. I had the Shitake Bacon BLT, which was made to imitate a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, but completely vegan. Roasted tomatoes, shitake mushroom bacon, raw almond mayo and crispy romaine, were wrapped in raw collard greens. The roasted tomatoes was extremely flavorful, and the shitake “bacon”, was seasoned with yeast to replicate the salty taste of bacon. The perks of vegan eating is that one gets filled and satisfied, but avoids the feeling of a “food coma”.

Here is how the Shitake BLT comes packaged
The delicious shitake mushrooms look just like bacon

For dessert, Steph got a vegan pumpkin cupcake. It was absolutely delicious, and did not taste “vegan” at all. It takes skills to avoid vegan desserts from tasting bland. I find “Babycakes” cupcakes on the Lower East Side, for example, to suffer from this kind of blandness. However, Sun In Bloom’s cupcake can easily pass for a non-vegan cupcake.

Pumpkin cupcake topped with a pumpkin seed
A spoonful of blueberry cheesecake and nut crust

As for my dessert, I got the raw blueberry cheesecake with a nut crust. The cheesecake, while having a similar consistency to dairy cheesecake, does taste extremely different. It has somewhat of a tangy taste, The blueberry cheesecake does fulfill the craving – as a vegan, good desserts are always hard to find.

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here’s the whole slice before I gobbled it all up, this is how everything is packaged

Overall, my experience at Sun in Bloom was great. The customer service was really great too. The cashier was super patient, and sweet. I recommend taking a seat in the small cafe facing the city. The food was extremely tasteful, light, and satisfying, the three major requirements for vegan cuisine. I look forward to one day trying the full time restaurant.

Veggie “Hand Roll” with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Hello again everyone!

This week we’re going to move out of the realm of dinner and explore a lighter, and usually more rushed, meal: lunch! The goal is to show you all that lunch doesn’t need to be a rush job. Instead, it should be the mid-day break that you look forward to. So here’s your challenge: pick a day next week that you’re going to forgo to protein bar and on-the-go yogurt and make lunch in the morning. If you need some help deciding what to make, I can help!

Today I’m sharing with you Veggie Wrap “Hand Rolls” with a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce. This recipe is an obvious play on sushi. We’re going to put a ton of fresh, crunchy veggies and hummus in a crisp seaweed wrap. Our “soy sauce and wasabi” is going to be a deliciously sweet and savory honey mustard. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s so good.

Here’s what you’re going to need to…

Wrap/Hand Roll

1 Raw Nori Seaweed Sheet

1 Red Bell Pepper

2 Carrots

2 Leaves of Kale

A heavy dollop of your favorite hummus

 

Dipping Sauce/Soy Sauce

1 tsp. Dijion Mustard

1 tsp. Honey

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FIRST… Wash your veggies well. Julienne the pepper and carrots (cut them into long, thing strips as seen below.) Cut the tough, center core out of the kale. Then, just rip the kale into bite-sized chunks.

When all is said and done, your cutting board should look like this…

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TO MAKE THE SAUCE…Put your teaspoon of both dijon mustard and honey into a small bowl. Mix it up. (How easy is that?!) You can use another kind of mustard if you have no other choice, but I strongly encourage the dijon. The difference in flavor is really noticeable.  The dijon has a kick that plays off the honey brilliantly. It’s borderline magic.

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NEXT… Toast your seaweed. You can do this several different ways. If you have a convection oven, that’s the easiest. Pop the sheet in there and toast it for about 30 seconds, or until it turns green and is flexible to the touch. The change from toasted to burnt happens really quickly, so keep your eye on it. Other ways you can do this is holding the seaweed in tongs over an open flame or in a dry pan on your stove top.

TO ASSEMBLE… Do this quickly while the seaweed is still malleable. First spread a generous heap of hummus into the middle of the wrap on the diagonal (because thats the direction you’re going to roll it.) Then, add your cut vegetables. You can put as many as you feel comfortable with. I like to really load it up. If you have extra, just make another wrap, or dip it in more hummus!

Roll it all up on the diagonal, using your fingers to scrunch in the veggies and keep the roll tight. Channel your inner Chipotle worker. Then, slice it down the middle and you’re ready to eat!

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Happy lunching everyone! Let me know how this works for you in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!

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Acai Bowls at Juice Generation

Yup, ladies and gents, today I am going to assess Juice Generation. It is a chain – I am not kidding when I say I love Juice Generation. If you’ve never been, the name gives most of it a way. It’s a juicery that also has some raw and vegan snacks, acai bowls, and gluten free baked treats.

Today, I will review the acai bowls, which are made of pureed acai berries mixed with other things (could be bananas or soy milk) to form a thick consistency. Juice Generation offers five different types of acai bowls. The texture is the same as a smoothie; but an acai bowl may contain other ingredients to change the base flavor. Juice Generation’s acai bowls are super filling while light at the same time. After eating one, you’ll be totally satisfied but also not feel completely bloated.

The differences between each bowl are slight but different bowls fit different moods. The five bowls offered are the “Almond Butter Bliss” bowl, the “PB Acai” bowl, the “Coco Acai” bowl, the “Aloha Acai Bowl”, and the “Amazing Green” bowl. They all contain acai, banana, and either almond or coconut milk. The Almond Butter Bliss bowl contains almond butter, coconut, and hemp granola. The PB Acai contains peanut butter, cacao nibs, and hemp granola. The coco acai bowl is made of coconut flakes, and hemp granola. “Aloha Acai” has pineapple, bee pollen, and hemp granola. The “Amazing Green” includes hemp granola and seeds, kale, and spinach.

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I recommend the almond butter and peanut butter bowl – especially if you’re looking for something more filling, and the others are super light. While they are all filling, I love the almond butter bliss because it hits the spot completely. I promise, that having something cold is totally worth it even though it’s winter.