Dos Caminos: Because I Craved a Big Bowl of Guacamole.

So I promised you a birthday-adventure rundown of events. So here it is. But it's not the quiet, sweet-toned night out I first imagined! ....And that's good.

The planned events included a 9PM dinner at an elegant, intimate, quiet and delicious vegan restaurant in the city. One of my fave restaurants. But it came upon 8 PM and I had a bold, pit-of-my-stomach craving for two things: an energetic scene and a big lava rock bowl filled with fresh, spicy, table side guacamole. And no we didn't go to Rosa Mexicana because I've had too many screaming kids/they took the one veggie dish off the menu experiences there. So-in the cab to our original destination- we grabbed the blackberry and cancelled our vegan-dining-bliss reservation.  We shouted to our taxi driver the location of our new destination address: 26th and Park: Dos Caminos. (Iwhispered to my understanding husband,  "Isn't life with me excitingly spontaneous?"  He smirked.  No doubt he agreed with my guac craving,  and being a seafood lover,  I'm sure he was dreaming of lime-marinated ceviche. 

Dos Caminos is probably my favorite Mexican restaurant chain in Manhattan. It's no Palapas (a favorite Santa Cruz, Cali hometown place) but DC does make an excellent table side guac. And an energetic scene is always a safe bet.

So our cabbie did a quick detour route to the 26th and Park Dos Caminos and the birthday deliciousness began.....

Dos Caminos,  Friday Night

Well my first craving for an energetic scene was indeed met. We could barely fit in the door of the Park Ave. Dos Caminos. The bar was filled to the brim with NYU students, young professionals and OK, a few of the touristy restaurant week crowd. (It is restaurant week here in NYC.) No Madonna and A-Rod in sight.  Although back in October they dined here,  as reported by all the TMZ-er's of the internet world.

Having no reservation, we hoped to get a table. This would thoroughly suck if they were all booked.  But they weren't.  They don't do,  so it's easier to just walk in off the freezing street. Luckily, the wait was only 30 minutes, said the host. Real time wait: about 45 minutes. Not bad.  And I did like my company,  so the pre-dinner chat was welcomed. Squashed in the small entryway/bar area, we waited, our tummies growling and our limbs still frozen from the twenty degree air. Each opening of the door brought in a swift gust of chilly air. And I was getting a little sick of the 'bag bumps' and "excuse me's" from push-n-shuvey bar bound patrons. But thoughts of guacamole kept my spirits high.


Yay. We were seated in a cozy table on the far end of the center of the dining room. This main room was packed with a lively bunch of diners. Just what I craved for my festive birthday dinner. A huge party of twenty-something girls to our left and a huge party of night-on-the-town guys to our right. Loud, but not too loud, music was playing on the speakers. A Counting Crows cover of Mr. Jones was my favorite bop-around-in-my-seat song,  but the eclectic mix of tunes was complimentary to the scene.  Great energy for a cold Friday night in the city.


So we immediately ordered a bowl of guac, spicy. And a pitcher of classic red sangria. My favorite celebration beverage. Oh and a salsa trio sampler and a side of corn tortillas. And some water, sparkling.


It's always an adventure ordering vegan food from a non-vegan friendly menu. Not even a vegetarian main entree dish.  And no asteriks of *can be made vegan.  Well duh.  I already knew this is the case here.  But I've ordered successfully  at DOS Caminos many times before, so I knew I'd be OK. And my husband eats anything on the menu except beans and rice.  (Yes he has his own food issues.)  My hubby got the tuna ceviche to start, white wine braised short ribs. A meat splurge for him,  since I so often bombard him with tempeh-infused Caravan of Dreams nights.  I got the pomegranate, beet, jicama salad, no cheese to start. And the tacos, done vegan style, lots of veggies and citrus tones. And a side of the red Mexican rice. We also ordered our favorite to share, the fried plantains, no cheese.


The wait was long for our food. But that was very OK because we were savoring the guac, and the trio of salsas was equally appealing. Something about the salsas tasted extra fresh today. And the red sangria-so easy to drink. And perfect to cool off a hot mouth.  "Sangria always hits me later." (I say this out loud to my husband as I chug down my first two glasses.)


So again, everything was extra delicious this evening at DC. The plantains were extra moist on the inside and charred crisply on the outside. The veggies in my tacos were extra flavorful. They had a Asian flair to them. My corn tortillas were definitely handmade-which has not always been the case here! And the second round of salsas were just as tasty as the first. Delicious! I had that spicy taste of lime, cilantro, chipotle and chile's on my palate and I was a happy camper. Just cool the tongue burn off with some sangria and I was in the zone of appetite-zen.

We finished the meal with some guava and pineapple lime sorbet.


So the moral of the story my friends, listen to your intuition.
(Especially if it origins out of your growling tummy.) And go with those cravings. I will definitely be back to the vegan place I flaked on, and I do apologize for the last minute cancellation,  but for this birthday feast, Dos Caminos was sublime.

I got that yummy 'bowl of guacamole' I had been craving all day.

Happy Birthday indeed.


Babycakes: Vegan Bakery NYC, My Review

Babycakes is genius. It's a tiny bakery on the lower east side of Manhattan. There are powder pink frosted vanilla cupcakes, jam filled biscuits, winter white iced pumpkin bread and even a few berry red heart shaped cookies. But this is no ordinary bakery.
From the Babycakes website:
"BabyCakes offers all natural, organic and delicious alternatives free from the common allergens: wheat, gluten, dairy, casein and eggs. Rest assured, all sweeteners have been chosen responsibly and used sparingly. White sugar will never be found in our bakery, nor will we ever use toxic chemical sweeteners."
Nice right?
Continue reading for my review of my birthday Babycakes cupcake. And more yummy photos....

Babycakes Cupcake, Vanilla with Pink Frosting

Shelf-Appeal: It's a complete sensory experience of vanilla aroma, rows of cupcakes and 50's diner-wear. Babycakes packs your cupcakes in perfect-sized to-go boxes that hold the cupcakes in place. No smashed or de-iced bakery goods when you get home!
Label Check: Well it's vegan. And the portion size is normal. Petite almost, which I like. All organic, 'good stuff' for a cupcake. I am unsure of the exact calorie and fat/protein/carb content, I can only imagine that each cupcake is around 300 calories? Total guess. It's a treat for sure. But a gold medal treat on the ingredients front.
Taste Test:Now for the fun part! Yum. Frosting is thick and incredibly creamy. Tastes like real vanilla. Not too sweet, yet definitely a bold burst of sweet vanilla flavor. The cake is firm. Not that mushy light fluffy kind of cake you might get from a supermarket cupcake. This cake has substance and texture. Easy to savor in a few bites. And quite filling for a cupcake!
Price: $3.25 each. Yes, it might seem a bit on the expensive side. But you get what you pay for. Babycakes is a high quality product. After you eat it, the price will seem cheap! (Plus the perfect packaging design is priceless.)
Last Word: Babycakes will satisfy your sweet tooth, minus the guilt, minus the allergy worry.

Lower East Side, NYC

Babycakes is just one of the fabulous spots to hit if you are doing a LES day in NYC. Other great spots include:
Katz's, The Pickle Guy, Doughnut Factory, Russ and Daughters, The Tenement Museum, Dumpling House, Organic Avenue, Teany, Mercury Lounge and Earthmatters. Oh and for a fun dinner to end your day, head over to The Stanton Social.

Visit the Babycakes website.


Happy Birthday to Me!

It's my 28th birthday! So happy birthday to me!

I already received a great present from you, my blog readers: My 20th follower!

Maybe with your help I can make it to 28 by the end of today????

To celebrate, I am going out to dinner tonight with my husband, to my favorite NYC vegan restaurant. I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

...oh and the cupcake in the photo is from a great LES NYC vegan bakery called babycakes. For my birthday, I will do a special review of a few different yummy cakes later today! Check back.

Want a few more fun facts about my birthday? Click ahead...
Kathy Birthday Fun Facts:

-This is my third birthday living in NYC. Last year I went to famous all-vegan restaurant, Candle 79. It was delicious. All the awards are well-deserved.

-Two years ago I went Craft. Tom Colicchio's NYC restaurant. Best mushrooms I've ever had. Yum.

-My mom always writes me the same cute note every birthday: "Happy Birthday to our beautiful daughter -- Hope you have a great day and a happy dinner tonight. You were born at 12:30 PM. There was a rainbow in the sky in the morning as we drove over the hill to the hospital."

-As a child I always had rainbow sherbet on my honor of the rainbow in the above quote. :)

-My birthday also coincides with my half wedding anniversary. I was married on July 30th, 2006 in Miami.

-I share my January 30th birthday with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gene Hackman, Vanessa Redgrave and I always like being sandwiched between Oprah (Jan 29th) and Justin Timberlake (Jan 31st.)

-My birthday usually falls on or very close to the NFL Superbowl.

-My favorite cake flavors? German Chocolate, Strawberry Shortcake and Carrot Cake.

Thanks again for reading my blog, and allowing me to share my Healthy. Happy. Life with you.


GOOP: Are You Getting it?

I just got my weekly GOOP newsletter, and once again, I love it. Written by Gwyneth Paltrow, a lifestyle/wellness guru if ever there was one, the newsletters cover anything from NYC and LA restaurants and family-homestyle meal recipes, to book recommendations by model, Christy Turlington and the fierce one herself, Madonna.

Get your GOOP delivered to your inbox by signing up on Gwyneth's GOOP website.

I don't always agree with the recipes-this week there was a garlic bread recipe with lots of butter. But then in the same newsletter she had some yummy bright green steamed peas. (And as I type this, I am munching sweet salted peas in my salad, simply because of the delicious photo in her newsletter.)

Keep reading for some of my favorite GOOP newsletter outtakes...

SEE: Books in winter

I love this intro from Gwyneth:
"I feel a bit swallowed up in January, the days are so short, the sky is so close and gray. The best way to escape (not to mention the least expensive, most hassle-free way) is to curl up by the fire with an amazing, transportive novel."

Recommendations for books:
Madonna: "The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger"

GO: NYC Restaurants
Gwyneth recommends these yummy places, most of which I also approve of: Babbo, Otto, Lupa, Angelika Kitchen, Gramercy Tavern, Balthazar and Taim.


This quote from Gwyn's favorite trainer:
"I exhaust the large muscle groups then call on the accessory muscles to become active and alert. This works wonders with skin tone and structure."-Tracy Anderson

You can read more great quips in the newsletters, all available on the GOOP website.

...and no I don't exactly know what GOOP means! :)

...No word yet if Gwyneth will be launching her NYC gym anytime soon, but I have a feeling us GOOPers will be the first to know!


Alyson Hannigan, Reverse Vegan: Hello Again Meat.

Alyson Hannigan, of American Pie and How I Met You Mother fame, recently revealed that her pregnancy forced her to go back to eating meat:

"I basically went from being a vegan to ... well, now it's meat and cheese. ... I didn't eat any meat or cheese before. Now, I have to." -Alyson Hannigan, US Weekly

Bloggers are quite fired up about the part where she says she "has to" eat meat now.

So I wonder: what's up with folks who go from being vegan or vegetarian to suddenly doing a 360 and it's back to eating meat?

And is it safe to be vegan during pregnancy? I have the answer, and a POLL for you to take. Let's discuss....

It is Safe for a Pregnant Woman to Eat a Vegan Diet

Yup, if you are a well-studied, successfully healthy vegan, a vegan diet is incredibly healthy during pregnancy. One blog commenter found this factoid:

"Statement from the American Dietetic Association concludes that she doesn’t have to give up being vegan while she’s pregnant. Here’s what they say at their website:

Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence. Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits…and have been reported to have lower body mass indices than non vegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.”

I would think that not eating all the toxic chemicals and antibiotics in meat and dairy would be the best thing for her baby." -blog commenter

Celebs Who Go Back to Eating Meat

Gwyneth used to live and die by her macrobiotic diet. Her raw food and juice fasts were splattered all across the tabloids. Then suddenly one day she's in Spain with Mario Batali eating fish, buttered bread and cooked veggies. Go figure.

Well, she's only human. For me to get confused or angry about a person going in reverse from veganism would be the same as a meat-eater (say Tony Bourdain) getting mad about a meat-lover going vegan.

We are humans and have to right to change our diets at anytime, without the approval of anyone.

It's one of the great freedoms of life: our diet.

However, the interesting part comes when we ask the question: why did you become vegan in the first place?

I suspect that if someone changes their diet for temporary health changes or superficial reasons like 'to lose weight' they might easily go back to eating meat. However, those people who do it for a religious, moral or heart-felt reason might find it harder to ever go back.

I can honestly confirm that I will never go back to eating meat. I started my veggie ways by my love for animals as a child. I had no idea about the many health benefits. But now i choose a vegan diet for both the planet, animals, humans and of course my own health.

Why did you first go vegetarian or vegan?

I started a poll here:


Dangerous Trend: Shock Value Food Goes Mainstream.

Forget raw food, small plates, Atkins, juice fasts, 'green' foods, or hot yoga.

There is a disturbing trend on the foodie horizon. Even the New York Times Style Section is buzzing about it, and it's not pretty my friends....

NEW TREND: Shock Value Food

This dangerous new trend involves shock value recipes, restaurants, television shows, menu items and even athletic events.

In this economy, more folks are turning to fast food as a dietary staple. Shock value food items clog fast food menus: Wendy's The Baconator-which contains 23 grams of saturated fat, McDonald's Double Quarter-pounder with cheese, Burger King's 1250 calorie triple Whopper with cheese or cleverly named Angry Whopper.

And the trend extends to television shows like Travel Channel's Man v. Food, where the host attempts food challenges like eating a thirteen pound pizza. And Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, where the host seeks out and eats the world's most bizarre foods.

Athletes are even jumping on the shock value bandwagon with the Krispy Kreme Challenge, a race which involves eating a dozen donuts mid-race.

There is even the shock value restaurant in Arizona called: "Heart Attack Grill." With its Quadruple Bypass Burger, featuring four burger patties on one burger.

And now the online foodie recipe community is embracing the trend:

The most emailed story on The New York Times?

"Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog." It's too disgusting to describe, but it's basically one of the most unhealthy meat recipes I've ever seen.


Whenever a new trend hits society it is common to ask why? My review? Many people are turning to fast food in recent months. Fast food chicken eatery Chick-fil=A boasted a 12% profit increase last year.

So, if you've just eaten a Whopper or served your kid a Happy Meal, it might make you feel a bit less guilty to see a guy chowing a thirteen pound pizza. Or read about America's Worst Drinks, like Baskin Robbins Large Oreo Shake at over 2600 calories...

In the long run, this trend is not a good one. The media should be focusing on stories about how to eat healthfully and deliciously in tough economic times.

Splattering images of the Angry Whopper all over the place only makes people more apt to think:

"everyone is eating fast food, everyone is eating unhealthy, so I can too!"

Well FYI, I am not turning to fast food, and most healthy eaters I know are even more passionate about staying healthy these days. Shock value food is not lending anything positive to society, and we are becoming very desensitized to food portions in America.

It still shocks me when I see the huge portion sizes at popular sit down restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, and no one bats an eyelash. Lots of food is so commonplace in the USA. When you travel to Paris or eat out at a gourmet restaurant like Le Bernardin, and you will be shocked by the smaller portion sizes!

...the salad appetizer at Le Bernardin, now that is some shock value food I can embrace.


Spiced Winter Citrus Apple-Pear Bread

Inspired by a seasonal smorgasbord of winter citrus, this recipe combines the bold zingy flavors of blood oranges with the mellow sweet flavors of canned Bartlett pear halves and peeled apples. The spices include cinnamon, spicy cayenne and even a topping on caramelized cinnamon sugar.

This bread makes an excellent morning tea bread or after dinner dessert cake. It is incredibly easy to make. You won't believe the complex flavors in this creation.

The vegan recipe after the jump....

Spiced Winter Citrus Apple-Pear Bread
w/pear, blood orange and apple fruits

1 box Apple Cinnamon muffin mix (Dr. Oetker brand is best)
1/2 can Bartlett pear halves (high quality brand)
1 small sweet apple (fuji, gala, braeburn, honeycrisp)
2 blood oranges
3 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
4 Tbsp orange juice from one of the blood oranges
2 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cayenne
1/4 cup canola oil
4 Tbsp. apple sauce
1/4 cup soy milk
2 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar sprinkle (white sugar and cinnamon)

In a large mixing bowl combine:

muffin mix, Vital Wheat Gluten, oil, soy milk, orange juice, cayenne, cinnamon, apple sauce.

stir in orange zest from blood oranges.

(keep several slices of fruits for top of bread garnish.)

Peel apple and thinly slice.

Add 1/4 cup of apple slices to bowl.

Thinly slice pears. Add to bowl.

Peel and thinly slice or cube oranges. Try to remove large seeds.

Add orange slices to bowl.

Fold fruit into batter.

Pour batter into oil-greased bread baking dish.

Design/Garnish on top before baking:

Add a design of leftover fruit slices to top of bread (see photos).

Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of fruit design.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until slightly browned/caramelized/crisp on top.

Store in fridge, or eat in a few days. Can also be stored in freezer.


For a fat-free version: Substitute oil with 1/4 cup applesauce.

For less spice: remove cayenne.

For more spice: add more cayenne, cinnamon and even some nutmeg. You can also substitute soy milk for spiced apple cider.

For non-vegan version: uses two eggs instead of applesauce.


Brown Rice: Super Food! White Rice: Not So Much.

Brown rice is a super food.

White rice is not.

Many of us forget how incredibly different the nutrient profiles are for white versus brown rice.

Much more on this nutty grain after the jump......

Brown Rice versus White Rice

We all know that a slice of white sandwich bread is much lower in nutrients than say a hearty whole wheat slice of bread. But we forget that the nutrients in rice is also highly affected by the color your choose!

Sometimes people actually think white rice is a 'health food'.
When in reality, it is incredibly similar to the dreaded-by-dieters ingredient: 'white flour'. True, white rice has more water content (better for hunger satisfaction) and is less pulverized than flour grains, but the nutrient degradation of the grain is very similar.

Fast Tip: When faced with the white versus brown rice decision, think of it in the same way you do white versus whole wheat bread. Choose brown rice for health, and a hearty nutty taste. Choose white rice as a sometimes food, with no considerable nutrient benefits.

Brown rice is packed with healthy nutrients including manganese, selenium, magnesium and B vitamins.

More Brown Rice Nutrient Facts:

From, WHFoods:
"Our food ranking system qualified brown rice as an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of the minerals selenium and magnesium. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. By law in the United States, fully milled and polished white rice must be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3, and iron. But the form of these nutrients when added back into the processed rice is not the same as in the original unprocessed version, and at least 11 lost nutrients are not replaced in any form even with rice "enrichment."

Brown Rice Nutrients:
per 1 cup
calories: 216
fiber: 4 grams
protein: 5 grams
carbohydrates: 45 grams
fat: 2 grams (unsaturated)
iron: 6% RDA
calcium: 2% RDA


Winter Citrus Smorgasbord!

I wasn't expecting to have a winter citrus smorgasbord at my fingertips today, but for my upcoming birthday, my sister sent me a Diamond Organics Winter Citrus Sampler.

And oh boy is it yummy!

Ten pounds of grapefruit, navel and valencia oranges, satsumas, tangerines, blood oranges, and more! I've died and gone to citrus, vitamin c, orange zest heaven!
Here's a slideshow of my winter citrus photos:

Yes, citrus is a superfood, nutrition details after the jump....
Health Benefits include:
All species are rich sources of vitamin C; they contain potassium and citric acid; and their peel contains valuable aromatic oils. Citrus pith contains bioflavenoids, needed by the body to absorb vitamin C.


Boogie Woogie Orange:


UPDATE: Vita CoCo Responds to Your Question About "Too Much Coconut Water?"

In regards to my original Coconut Water 101 post, I received this great question from a blog reader:

"Hey, what happens if you like drink 3-4 or maybe 5 coconut water drinks per day.. I've just noticed how much manganese is in it (checking the vita coco pack) and I've already had 3 today! Does that mean I can only have 2 per day!? (because recommended intake of manganese is about 4mg)" -Anonymous

I contacted ZICO, Vita CoCo and O.N.E.
Read ZICO's response here.
Click forward to Read VITA COCO'S response here.
...And find out just how many coconut waters a day those Vita CoCo folks drink...

Hi, I write a blog called Healthy. Happy. Life. and I am constantly discussing the benefits of coconut water. Many of my readers share a common question: With such high RDA's of minerals and electrolytes like manganese, magnesium and like potassium, is it possible to get too much of these good nutrients? Many of my readers drink 2-6 coconut waters a day! Any advice? Thanks so much, Kathy


Hello Kathy,

Thank you for your interest in Vita Coco. As far as we know it is in no way harmful to the body to get too many nutrients. We here at Vita Coco, also drink about six a day!

Vita Coco

**Thanks to Vita CoCo for responding to our questions!

Vita CoCo Website

.....I'm still waiting on O.N.E's response....


The Apricot: Superfood!

Apricots are tiny pocket sized fruit gems.

They are fuzzy peach on the outside and creamy golden on the inside.

They pack a a big punch of Vitamin A (one contains 18% RDA), which helps make your skin have a healthy glow.

Winter frost? No worries. Canned apricots are actually quite tasty.

Fun Fact! Apricots were originally brought over to the USA from China.

More fun apricot facts, a print-out fun facts sheet, nutrition stats and recipe ideas after the jump...

More Apricot facts (click image to enlarge):

PS....that is Prima Donna Apricot in the title photo. From The Lunchbox Bunch of course...


New from Amy's: Chocolate Cake and Tamale Verde!

I have long been an Amy's Kitchen fan

I used to live off of the brown rice, tofu and veggies frozen meal at work. And everyday before class at American U, I nibbled a warm Tofu Scramble breakfast pocket. And way back in the day, the tofu lasagna was my go-to meal before every high school babysitting job.

I don't live off of frozen foods these days, in NYC they really like to up sell the price at the corner stores. (an Amy's Roasted Veggie Pizza is $9.79 !) But those tofu pockets, among other Amy's products) still find a place in my crowded freezer. (Next to my always-on-hand, Spicy Chick'n Boca burgers...)

NEW! I recently saw Amy's new Tamale Verde with Black Beans at Whole Foods and was very excited. Then I noticed from the Amy's website that they are also coming out with two new dessert products, cake: chocolate and orange. Nice.

All vegan. My reviews ahead... I have not yet tried the cakes.

But I did try the Tamale Verde. Here's my review:

Amy's Tamale Verde

Shelf-Appeal: It's in a box, and frozen. But the photo looks yummy, as usual.
Label Check: 330 calories. 7 grams protein. 8 grams fiber. 1 gram sat. fat, 9 grams 'good' fat, 20% RDA iron. All good. However the 780 grams (33% RDA) sodium may not sit well with the low sodium crowd.
Taste Test: Yum. Good flavor. Mellow spicy salsa Verde tones. Amazing tamale texture for a frozen food. Rice is heart and nothing is mushy.
Price: Amy's says (SRP $4.29 - $4.99/10.3 oz) Not bad.
Last Word: Another winner from Amy's frozen meals. Still shocked that I love a frozen meal. Great for an office lunch, but at family dinnertime, always try homemade.


Mark Bittman: Conscious Eater. Sometimes.

"Wake up Mark, Conscious eating can't be done with a pen, paper and a brilliant mind. Conscious eating is done with a fork, knife and spoon."
-Kathy Patalsky
, aka the author of this blog.

We've been duped.You've gone mainstream Mark, bravo! Cater to the masses and reel in the big bucks right? Why cater to the anemic vegans when you can impress the Texan boys, Batali fans, slaughterhouse cheerleaders, Big Mac fan clubbers, and meat eating 'environmentalists' with your articles titled "Eating Meat is Only Human," and your recipe for Roman Veal?

Where did the Mark Bittman I first fell in love with go?

The Bittman who proclaimed loud and clear at the December 2007 TED conference:

"Too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking."
-Mark Bittman. (video above)

And today as I strolled through my local Whole Foods Market at Houston and Bowery in NYC, I noticed just the day before, January 24th, Bitty had done a signing of his latest book, (the cover has a big morphed apple-into-earth image on it.):

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman.

Huh? What? Try UNCONSCIOUS eating, Mark.

I recently watched in horror as you sat quiet-as-a-mouse watching Mario Batali wolf down tapas dish after tapas dish of meat, seafood and pasta. No consciousness there Mark. Not even a peep to Batali about possibly consciously thinking about the food he was stuffing in his face as fast as he could.

....and I'm not done....keep reading folks...

Mark Bittman: It's not really his fault.

Mark surely is not a vegan. He eats lots of meaty stuff on the PBS show Spain: On the Road Again. But he has frequently admitted that he thinks the world would be a better place if more people embraced a vegan lifestyle. But this fact is not what makes him a hypocrite.....

Mark Bittman is a hypocrite because he goes and nonchalantly writes a book with an apple morphed into the earth on the cover, and titles it "Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating."

Come on! Authorship 101:

If you don't embody, aka practice, the subject matter you are writing a guided how-to book for, you shouldn't be writing it.

That's also breaking rule number one of making a difference:

Thinking about making a change is not going to help the make the change.

Change requires action. Talk is cheap Mark.

Maybe you should've called your book, "Here's How to Eat Consciously, Even though I don't"

Classic Case of Repressed Vegan Syndrome

But Mark has a classic case of repressed vegan syndrome.
We vegans and vegetarians shut up about our beliefs because we are afraid that the world will put us in that category of:

"hippie-tree-hugging-tofu-loving-ooey-gooey-boneless-snobby vegan."

I've been there. I've simply shut up as my friends discussed the joys of deep south BBQ or had foi gras-gasms at french restaurants.

But when you get to be as big as Mark Bittman, Mr. New York Times Food Writer, you have an obligation to your fans on both sides, to define your moral food compass and stick to it!

The "Bitty" as Claudia called him, on the Spain show, was nothing like the Bittman at the TED conference. (video above) Or the Bittman who writes books called Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating.

Wake up Mark, Conscious eating can't be done with a pen, paper and a brilliant mind. Conscious eating is done with a fork, knife and spoon.

Read Mark Bittma's New York Times Blog, Bitten.

Spain: On the Road Again, my rave review. Minus the Bitty-with-no-spine factor, I actually love this show.


No Paparazzi Peas! Pea Soup Recipe.

Peas are incredibly healthy.

One cup of peas contains 9 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, 26% RDA of Vitamin A, 38% RDA Vitamin C, 14% RDA iron and zero fat!

What a super superfood!

So here is a warm and hearty way to make your peace with peas: pea soup!

Click on for my recipe for amazing No Paparazzi Peas! Pea Soup!

Here's my take on vegan pea soup. I love fresh pea soup. But that is tricky to find in the winter. I also love dried split pea soup. But for nutrient-sake, I love using frozen whole peas. Frozen veggies retain a very high amount of nutrients and taste. Buy a higher end brand of organic peas at Whole Foods for your best bet on taste. Here it is:

1 pound bag frozen whole peas, organic is best
1 vidalia sweet white onion
1 shallot
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. cayenne
1-2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. fresh ground back pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
4 large shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbsp Veganaise
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

To Make:
Saute olive oil with sliced mushrooms, diced onions, chopped shallots and half of carrots. (About 2-3 minutes, stir constantly.)

In a sauce pan, add peas, broth, salt, pepper, cayenne, bay leaves and veganaise. Bring to a boil.
Add sauteed ingredients.
Simmer for ten minutes, covered.

Serve in cozy hot bowls. (Remove bay leaves.)

Garnish with fresh parsley, fresh ground black pepper and a dollop of veganaise.


Protein-rich: To add even more protein to this soup, add cubed boca spicy chik'n burgers to top of soup when served.
Creamier: To make creamier soup: Substitute half of broth with soy milk. Add a few more scoops of veganaise.
Spicier: Add more cayenne.


Bourdain Quips: Wants Daughter to Eat Healthy. Says Batali/Paltrow Show, "Mesmerizingly Awful."

I may be one of the only vegans out there who adores Anthony Bourdain.

Well, maybe not, but I did start a thread on the Tony Bourdain website called "Vegans Who Love Tony," and it basically got bashed by foie gras lovers and parts-unknown eaters galore.

Anyways, I do love Tony. I have read and unapologeticlly loved, Kitchen Confidential and his follow-up book The Nasty Bits. Both great additions to my carry-on bag for a plane trip to Cali or train ride to DC. I also adore No Reservations, his culinary travel show on The Travel Channel, not that "other evil food channel," as Tony likes to joke in his blog. However, I do have for fast forward through those 'and now we're sauteing a cow's brain and liver' scenes. I know, reading about it makes you cringe. But if you've read Tony's books, you know his obsession for eating all-things-uncommon, origins way back to his youth. Tony used to gulp oysters and other strange things to get attention from his less-culinarily-adventurous family members. But enough history, onto the scoop-worthy Bourdain revelations.

I was reading an interview Mr.Bourdain did with the DCist, on his recent trip to Washington DC, and learned a few lovely, not nasty, bits of information about my favorite grumbly NYCer. Among the quotes I've found these facts:
-Tony has a young daughter, and wife, and he wants his daughter to eat "healthy and delicious" foods.
-Tony would love to do an Italy-themed "On the Road Again" style tour with Mario Batali, but he thinks the show on PBS with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Bittman, basically sucked.

...Tony's exact, bleepable quote to follow, as well as many more interesting Tony revelations, including his feud with Alice Waters, after the jump...

Tony Revealed:

Here are the exact quotes that I found interesting, and my commentary:

On Mario Batali and the Spain: On the Road Again Show:

"I would love to do something with Mario. It's been an unrealized ambition to produce a show for Mario, honestly. He's so smart. The guy knows so much. He's easily the funniest and smartest celebrity chef out there. The Spain show. I'm disappointed." -AB

"Okay, I'll just say it. I think the Spain show is f***ing awful. Mark Bittman comes off unsympathetic to say the least. Bringing someone who cannot or will not eat jamon [Gwyneth Paltrow] to Spain is a misjudgment. My crew grinds their teeth with rage looking at the crummy production values. Bad camera work, bad sound, bad direction. The whole thing sucks. It's unfortunate. It's mesmerizingly awful." AB

My Commentary: Wow. Mesmerizingly awful? I'll admit Mark Bittman, self-proclaimed vegan thinker, but not eater, does come off a bit screwy, but that's part of the PBS-produced, entertainment. And although Gwyneth and Claudia seem to be luke-warm friends at best, Mario brings the whole twisted group of misfits together for an entertaining, yet oddball travel and foodie show. But Tony probably has higher standards. He is the expert. And gosh a Bourdain/Batali in Italy show would be awesome. I heard Oprah wanted to come too....hmmm.

On His Desire for His Daughter to Eat Healthy, and for his family to possibly spend a year living among rice paddies in Vietnam:

"Bottom line: forget about social obligation, i.e. raise a well-adjusted daughter. I just think it'll be fun for her. It's a very child-centric, child-friendly country. They love kids. They indulge them. The food's delicious and healthy. I love the idea of her learning to use chopsticks. She eats a lot of what her mom and dad eat. From looking back on my own childhood, if I had that, it would have been a very cool thing." -AB

My Commentary:
Yay Tony. You may eat calf brains and foie gras, but you know better for your daughter. You may have lost your healthy eating standards for yourself long ago, your thirst for a good dry Papaya Dog and Papaya Drink is still strong I guess, but for your daughter: healthy eating ambitions! The world is alright.

On His Despisement of Alice Waters:

"Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me." -AB

My Commentary: You'll have to read the interview-in-full to read his entire analysis of Alice. But for the most part, I don't totally agree. Alice Waters was amazing in her day. But to stand in Tony's corner, I do think that the movement of healthy kids has gotten so dire, so fast, with childhood obesity becoming a forefront issue. Alice Waters is amazing, but the modern day fight need a swifter, more forward-thinking mind, more forward than the concept that school-based farm plots and such will save the kiddies and win the obesity battle. No hate mail though please. I do love Alice, I'd love to sit for a chai and organic farming chat with her.

Read the entire interview: Chewing the Fat-No Reservations With Anthony Bourdain, by DCist.

Read my review on the Spain: On the Road Again show, Tony may not agree, but oh well. Good fun.

Photo credit: wallpaper from Travel Channel, Anothony Bourdain Website.


Winter Reminder: Perk Up Your Palate with Fruit!

It's late January and the frosty air hasn't quite budged an inch from your windowsill.

You have just about drowned your palate in hot cocoa, hot tea, grande skinny lattes and Starbucks soy chai. You even tried that new London Fog drink for a taste of something new.

You have about worn out your soup bowl and spoon-they sit in your cabinet in the first row, right on the front lines for every suppertime meal. Your taste for winter comfort foods has grown dim, as these close-gray-sky days get very old very fast.

You're fed up with winter chill and winter menu monotony.
You feel a bit sluggish. You miss those summertime vitamin C highs from a Jamba Juice smoothie. And the zing of delight you get from biting into a fresh Georgia peach.

Perk your palate up with some fruit!

I know its winter. I know the summer berries are sleeping deep beneath their unsprung buds. But for gosh sakes, DO IT:
Break open a cantaloupe.
Slice a pink papaya.
Blend up a frosty fruit smoothie.
Shuck your "locavore ways" and indulge in that $5.99 box of blueberries. I won't tell.
Peel a banana.
Slice a honey crisp apple (sprinkle it with salt. yum.)
Suck on a mango.
Crack open a can of lychee's.
Crunch on a pippin apple.
Smell the aroma or a maple-drizzled pear.

Just a reminder from me to you: eat fruit.
It will make you feel better. I promise.
Need some ideas for winter fruit eats?Fruit Eating Ideas for Winter:

Berries and bananas in your oatmeal or cereal.

Salty Apples

Grilled pears on vanilla soy cream - a drizzle of Grade B maple syrup.
Warm figs on your bagel and vegan cream cheese.
Sliced winter citrus on your salad.
Fresh squeezed OJ or TJ of GJ (orange, tangerine or grapefruit juice.)
Melon in the morning-hydrating!
Buy some "gourmet" canned exotic fruits like lychee's, jackfruit or mandarins.
A fruit salad with lunch, grapes, kiwi, apples, lemon juice and pears.
Lime marinated grapefruit slices on the side of a burrito.

Get Creative. Go for the colorful fruits this winter. It will perk up your taste-buds and maybe your entire day!


Straight From the Coconut's Mouth, Coconut Water.

I talk a lot about coconut water.

I also talk about how shockingly delicious fresh coconut water is.

But most people don't know where to get fresh coconut water!

So here is a photo of where fresh coconut water comes from:

a cracked open coconut!

You may have seen these white coconuts wrapped in plastic wrap in your grocery store.

Buy one! And drink from it. And experience true coconut water bliss. Need tips on opening a coconut? -->

Coconut Opening Tips:

All you need is a small hole for a straw.
Use a sharp knife to, with one swipe, poke a hole.
Chop it as you would an apple-only harder.
You don't need to use the tip of the knife. Just a sliver-slice can create a hole for a straw.
A few angled swipes at the same spot on the coconut works well too.

Good luck!

PS. The tetra pack coconuts like ZICO, Vita CoCo and ONE are also very good substitutes for a straight-from-the-coconut water.

I like my tetrapaks half frozen. Super cold! Tastes like a Icee or slushee that way.


Creature Creations! Fun Food Recipes for Kids Big and Small.

Kids (big and small) love to eat fun foods.

What is it?! It's alive! It's got eyes!

What's better than a salad that looks like a happy monkey. Or a simple snack of toast and almond butter that comes to life as a sea creature lobster! Or even a funny face pizza.

Get creative and watch healthy eating come easily.

Keep reading for creature creation recipes.

Super Simple Lobster Toast
Funny Face Pizza
Happy Monkey Face Salad

Super Simple Lobster Toast
(pictured above)
two slices toasted bread
two spreads of almond or peanut butter
Apple slices cut in various shapes

Assemble. Cut toast into three even slivers. Long ways--see photo.
Move side ends up-to reveal claws. Add eyes and tail.

Happy Monkey Face Salad
(pictured above)
Base of face: Spinach or romaine lettuce
Ears: mushrooms
Eyes: orange slices, cut round
Eyeballs: beans or olives.
Mouth: Half-cut apple slice, onion for smile.
Scarf: Red bell pepper slice.
Fur texture: Shredded cabbage, parsley and arugula.
Nose: Onion cube.
Cheeks: Apple triangles.

Assemble and drizzle with dressing of choice!

Funny Face Pizza
Face background: 1 pita, toasted and covered in tomato sauce.
Skin: Cheese shreds melted.
Eyes and ears: Half cut mushroom.
Eye glasses: Onions.
Nose: Sliced baby carrot and small mushroom slice.
Mouth: Half-cut tomato slice and bell pepper.
Hair: shredded cabbage or lettuce.

Assemble and toast in over until warmed. (Or simple melt cheese in microwave.)

...super easy, right?

These are just a few ideas to get creative with food presentation for kids. You can make faces, animals and even cityscape's using creatively positioned food slices. Your kids (big and small) will get a kick out of it and probably eat more veggies!

...who can resist munching the carrot stick nose right off a funny pizza face!


On My Bad List: Food Additives to Avoid. (And One's to Keep.)

Ever since the Jett Travolta death and the controversy over carpet cleaning chemicals, I have been re-inspired to investigate the chemicals and food additives that are in the foods I eat and products I use.

Chemicals and food additives are everywhere. I was chugging a lemon-lime Gatorade and stopped dead in my gulp as I read the list of thirteen letter words in the ingredients: Sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, glycerol ester of rosin, yellow 5.

What are all these words I am chugging???

My overall mantra: go natural. It's like that old Breyers ice cream commercial where the little kids are trying to read the long chemical words on the brand-x ice cream. Then they read the Breyers ice cream label ingredients easily, and it's basically "cream, sugar, milk, chocolate, etc."
Keep reading for my food additives to avoid (and keep) list....

So if you don't know the word, it's probably best to stay away right? Well not always. There are a lot of long-lettered words that stand for basic safe ingredients. For example, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, is just a dough strengthener found in breads, but considered safe to ingest. But on the other end, a lot of those long words are harsh additives and can be dangerous to our bodies.

So I'm here to help. I made a list of safe (good) and unsafe (bad) food additives to watch out for.

Artificial colors, preservatives and thickeners are in everything from drinks and bakery goods to makeup and household cleaners. And I want to cut back on the chemicals I expose myself to. Not a new idea, but an important wellness goal to remind ourselves about once in a while. Especially in this economy when 'healthy, all-natural' foods seem to cost more than their less-healthy counterparts.

I first became passionate about staying away from food, personal care and household goods chemicals and additives when I read Marilu Henner's Total Health Makeover. She had a great chapter on chemicals. Then later she published Healthy Life Kitchen, which goes more in depth into how to live and eat chemical free.


Artificial sweetener: Baked goods, chewing gum, gelatin desserts, diet soda.

Found in a variety of foods.

Artificial sweetener: "Diet" foods, including soft drinks, drink mixes, gelatin desserts, low-calorie frozen desserts, packets.

Antioxidant: Cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, vegetable oil.

Fat, oil, shortening: Stick margarine, crackers, fried restaurant foods, baked goods, icing, microwave popcorn.

Flour improver: White flour, bread and rolls

Antioxidant preservative: Vegetable oil, meat products, potato sticks, chicken soup base, chewing gum.

Preservative, coloring, flavoring: Bacon, ham, frankfurters, luncheon meats, smoked fish, corned beef.


See a very comprehensive list here, Chemical to Avoid.

Not all food additives with crazy spelled names are dangerous.
(Although you may be allergic to certain additives.)

Here is a list of food additives that appear to be SAFE, from CSPI:

(Vitamin C)
-GLYCERIN (Glycerol)
-GUMS: Arabic, Furcelleran, Ghatti, Guar, Karaya, Locust Bean, Xanthan
-POLYSORBATE 60, 65, 80


Smarter Starter? Soup or Salad?

Here's your menu, you're starving. Before you get to the main course you're faced with a crucial decision:

Soup or Salad for your starter?

The decision may have more impact on your body than you think! Lets weigh the Pros and Cons:
Soup Starter Pros:
  • Liquid hydrates, calms hunger. Thirst=false hunger.
  • High liquid volume, satisfies.
  • Warm temperature stimulates efficient digestion, blood to stomach.
  • Healthy soups can be low in calories and fat, high in veggies.
  • Slows down drinking of caloric beverages or alcohol.
  • Easy to digest, less chance of stomach upset.
Soup Starter Cons:
  • Can be high in sodium, fat and calories (especially cream-based soups.)
  • Not possible to modify. Can't request a healthier version or to detract ingredients like cream, butter or heavy oils.
  • Hot soup can be low in live enzymes.
  • Possibly low in fiber, unless high veggie content.
  • More difficult to judge ingredients/health factor from menu description.

Salad Starter Pros:
  • Easy to modify/customize, dressing/cheese on side.
  • Raw live salads contain live raw enzymes. Will spur digestion naturally without taxing digestive system. Less need for body-provided enzymes.
  • High in nutrient dense veggies.
  • High in fiber, usually.
  • Requires lots of chewing which can signal your stomach that the meal has begun.
  • High volume satisfies.
Salad Starter Cons:
  • Sometimes prepared with low nutrient dense leaves.
  • If unmodified, may contain high calorie dressings, cheeses or toppings.
  • If low quality veggies, harder to digest, risk of stomach upset.
  • Cold salads don't warm stomach or inspire blood circulation to enhance digestion.
  • Mental handicap: "I just ate a salad,  I can go crazy on my entree."
Read more for my answer to this question: Soup or Salad?

And the starter is.....

Gosh it's quite a toss up isn't it.

I know you want me to say a definitive answer, a black and white decision that you can forever live by when starting a meal.

But food or life isn't that simple.

But I do have an answer for you.....

I say start with the salad.

...BUT do include a soup course if you can! 

Why Salad?

I vote for salad for three main reasons:

1. A raw salad will contain many live enzymes that aide in digestion. Raw foods at the start of a meal contain enzymes, thus your body will not need to tax itself by working hard to use and signal for body-made enzymes. Great rule: start your eating and chewing by chewing raw live foods. Even if the next course is cooked and hot, those first course enzymes will still be present to aide digestion for the entire meal.
2. Chewing. You have to chew a lot to eat a raw salad. And chewing is the first task for healthy digestion. It stimulates saliva and tells your body that a meal is on its way to the stomach.
3. Fiber. Salad will most likely contain more fiber. Thus making you feel fuller faster.

(oh, and everyone knows how to say no cheese, dressing on the side please.)

Why not soup?
Soup is indeed a great starter, but I still like my "raw first" rule. And the fiber factor is huge. Also, the lack of chewing during a soup first-course is not the best for digestion. And too many times I see soups on the menu that contain cream, butter, cheese or other heavy ingredients that you cannot modify. The chance of an unhealthy soup course is higher than an unhealthy salad course. And lastly, the high sodium content of many soups can lead some to feel hungry, and it can also effect sensitive folks blood pressure.

And like I said, use your common sense. Don't go choosing a Caesar Salad over a low-fat Veggie Miso soup. Or a Iceberg lettuce, ranch dressing, feta cheese salad over a clear broth noodle soup or low-fat butternut squash.

...your can't simply say, Kathy said salad! Gotta get the Deluxe Blue Cheese Chop Salad!

Most healthy choices are common sense. But the "raw food first" rule is a great one to remember.

What do you think? Soup or Salad?


Superfood: Goji Berry Secret!

If you are reading up on the latest SUPER FOODS and health trends you have probably heard of Goji Berries.

Research has shown that these super power berries can:
-Protects cells from premature aging through its powerful antioxidant action.
-Increases your energy and strength
-Promotes normal blood sugar
-Supports cardiovascular and heart health
-Immune support
-Higher in Vitamin C than oranges.

What's in a Goji Berry?
Goji Berries are a powerhouse of nutrition. 
The tiny red berries contain 18 of the 20 protein-building amino acids. They are also rich in complex polysaccharides, unique low-glycemic long-chain sugars which are currently being researched for their healing properties.

When grown under ideal conditions, goji berries are rich in disease-preventing polyphenols and flavonoids and are over 20% fiber. They contain more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, more calcium than broccoli and more antioxidants than any other food." 

The Goji Berry Secret
..I promised a it is.

A while back I bought Goji berry juice, after reading all the hype.  I also bought some dried berries and even a weird super goji tonic. I tried them all...excited about adding a new superfood to my diet...and BLAH!!!! I wasn't impressed with the raw eat from the package or bottle products.  
Hmmm....what to do?  Such a healthy berry must be eaten joyfully somehow!

....Then I discovered the secret to consuming goji berries with pleasure......

...Soften them up! 
The dry raw berries are quite tart and tangy and almost too strong to eat plain-although they do make a good trail mix ingredient...
but softened goji berries are divine! It's like raw garlic compared to roasted garlic,  much more mellow and palatable. When you rehydrate goji berries,  they really become tastier.
So my secret tips for goji berry bliss:

**drop a handful of dried berries in your morning tea...
*Add a few to a moist chocolate pudding
*Add to cream of wheat or oatmeal--as you would raisins.
* Or even add a few to plain soy milk--allow to soften...then add to a fruit smoothie

...the taste is soft and mellow and sweet tart and yum.

....The tea suggestion is the easiest and it only takes a few seconds for the berries to soften up in hot tea.

I love goji berries in my morning green tea.

ps...for some reason Goji berries--warmed and softened taste GREAT with raw walnuts....a little oatmeal  or cereal tip.


The Depressingest Day of the Year is....

happy couple in snow

We're Doomed? Curing the January 24th 'Most Depressing Day of the Year' Blues:

"Scientists have found that January 24 is the most depressing day of the year due to a number of contributing factors."

Read more to read my cure for this depressing day....

You're doomed.

Say scientists.

So why not be doomed together!

Host a Depressingest Day bash!

With gloom looming, and snow falling or gusty wind blowing outside..

Toast with your loved ones or friends!

STEP 1: Write out the most depressing thing that is bothering you that day...or month or year...then...

STEP 2: tear it up into a million pieces. Create some depressingest day confetti!!

STEP 3: Then follow that up by writing a list of all the exciting things to look forward to throughout the coming year.

Once you've hit rock bottom, you can only go up right?!

Oh, and if you are still on my FUN STUFF posts for some good times.