Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vegan Work Travel

I have a job where I’m on the road almost every week for work – sometimes flying around my territory seeing customers, but often for large corporate meetings or medical meetings that involve business dinners in a banquet room.  My diet always seems to end up as a topic of conversation at the table.  Why?  Because when the waiters come out to the tables with rubbery chicken or overcooked steak for everyone else, they inevitably come out with some colorful array of veggies, beans and whole grains for me, drawing everyone’s eyes to my plate!

Last night, at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, I had this gorgeous mix of roasted veggies over couscous with a thick, bright orange slab of butternut squash, cooked just perfectly.  The night before I got a veggie tart with perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes on the side. 

How to make sure you’re served not just a vegan meal, but also a good vegan meal?  The answer is simple:  Call ahead to the hotel (or meeting planner), tell them exactly what you won’t eat as a vegan that they might not be aware of (butter, cream, milk products, etc) and then tell them what you do want.  I often politely ask for a whole grain with beans and/or veggies and not too much oil.  If you don’t want white rice with steamed veggies, tell them that as well!  Many a great conversation has started around the table based on people’s envy over my vegan dinner!  I’ve even had two customers go vegan after reading books that I recommended in those conversations!  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Veggie Ceviche

I’m not a huge fan of cooking, but I am a huge fan of eating!  However, because I really care about my health, I am forever looking for whole, vegan recipes that don’t use oil, margarine, or other added fats that aren’t whole foods by themselves.  Do you have any original, great recipes that fit these criteria?  If so, let me know so I can post them!

Here is my absolute favorite recipe, taken from my book, Vegan in 30 Days.  Even non-vegans beg for the recipe and claim it’s a hit at home!  I like it best cold, but if you want it warm for the winter, just heat it up (and add the avocado and cilantro afterward.)

incredible Veggie Ceviche

½ Red Onion, diced
3 Tomatoes, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 C Corn
2 Cans Black Beans (or pinto, or a mix)
1 Avocado, diced
8 Sprigs Cilantro, diced
3 T Red Wine Vinegar
Dash of Cayenne Pepper or Chipotle Powder
Juice of one Lemon
Dash of Tabasco Sauce

Mix first 8 ingredients in a big bowl.  Mix last 4 ingredients in a cup.  Combine and serve!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vegan Restaurants - What's YOUR Favorite?

I adore eating out at restaurants.  I’ll eat at fancy places and at dives, by myself or with other people … as long as the food is vegan and delicious, I’m in! 

I travel around the country constantly for work, and one of the best perks is the ability to try out vegan and vegetarian restaurants in different cities.  Here are some of my favorites … but I haven’t tried them all!  If you have a favorite that’s not on this list, let me know and we’ll post your recommendations too!

SUTRA, Seattle:  This place is so good, my husband and I become investors.  Good thing – Chef Colin impressed the producer of the Food Network so much (without even knowing who he was until dinner was over!) that the Food Network spent 14 hours in the restaurant video taping Colin at work.  He is a true master!  Dinner only, prix fix, nearly all local, organic and vegan.  Dinner is always different, and I have had some of the best meals of my life there

MILLENIUM, San Francisco:  Millenium is famous.  The food is incredible – you just want to stop and close your eyes and savor each bite!  Yet, even as a 100% vegan restaurant, it’s so good that you can take work clients there for a “fancy” dinner, and they will absolutely love their dinner and feel completely satisfied.

SUBLIME, Fort Lauderdale:  Another 100% vegan recipe on the high-end of the restaurant scale, Sublime has been written up as one of the best vegan restaurants in the country, and for good reason.  If you miss the taste of real macaroni and cheese, veal piccatta and sushi, Sublime will give them back to you … and you won’t be disappointed!  When I go to Ft. Lauderdale for a week every May for work, I will eat there 3 or 4 times!

WATERCOURSE, Denver:  I go to Denver more frequently than anywhere else, and I pick my hotel based on its proximity to Watercourse!  I’ve found their menu to be a little hit or miss, but when you hit it right, the food is amazing.  I have eaten their vegan Caesar Salad and Portobello Cap three times in the last three days!  If you want vegan “hot wings with ranch” – by god, you’ll never know you’re not having the real thing.

CARMELITA, Seattle:  Carmelita isn’t 100% vegan, but most items on the menu can be made that way.  They focus on in-season, organic food, and it absolutely shows in the taste.  I ate there a few weeks ago by myself, and was actually “Mmmming” and “Ahhhing” out loud!

NATIVE FOODS, Los Angeles:  If you like fast food, this is your heaven.  The Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger is astounding, as are the Scorpion Burger and Pizzas.  The do have healthy options – brown rice bowls with variations of veggies and sauces and some great salads – which are also delicious, so if you like “healthy food that’s fast,” you’ll love it here too!

CAFÉ GRATITUDE, San Francisco:  Nearly 100% raw, what you’ll like about Café Gratitude even more than the food is the vibe.  The raw lasagna is called something like “I am Adorable” and one of the brown rice and veggie bowls is called something like “I am Abundant.”  Although it sounds hokey, you can’t help but feel that all is right when the world when the waiter puts your plates down in front of you and your dining partner, saying, “You are abundant … and you are adorable!”

HERBIVORE, San Francisco:  A great diner-style restaurant, with delicious, fresh, inexpensive healthy vegan food.  The menu is 100% vegan and stretches for miles, giving us vegans more options than we usually get all year.  A great place to try!

ARAYA, Seattle:  Speaking of menus that stretch for miles, Araya also complies.  If you miss really good Thai, Araya is a Thai restaurant with very conscious and compassionate owners, dedicating to serving cruelty-free food.  If you know Seattle and like Wild Ginger, I think Aray’s food compares!  Perhaps not as high-end, but drop-dead delicious Thai.  Make sure you try the Pumpkin Curry and the Drunken Mushrooms.

FRESH MINT, Pa’ia, Maui:  Even on Maui and even in Pa’ia, known for it’s vegetarian community, it’s still hard to find a 100% vegan restaurant.  Fresh Mint, a Vietnamese restaurant fits the bill nicely.  It’s not fancy, but the food is good, and you’ll love how all the diners know each other, showing you the community side of Maui that the tourists haven’t found yet.  If you reach out and are friendly, you’ll likely get invited to multiple parties and potlucks while you’re on vacation!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Farm Sanctuaries

Do you have a charity that you just love, and want everyone to know about? Two of my favorites are farm sanctuaries.  What, exactly, is a farm sanctuary, you may ask?  A farm sanctuary is an animal rescue specifically for farmed animals.  Just like there are dog rescues and cat rescues, farm sanctuaries are rescues for farm animals.

Many farm sanctuaries, like Animal Acres in LA, situate themselves close to slaughterhouses and dairies; consequently, many of the animals they rescue were left for dead at the slaughterhouses.  For example, one sheep that I sponsor at Animal Acres, named Oliver, was found emaciated due to malnutrition and dehydration, with signs of typical slaughterhouse abuse from a California slaughterhouse.  Today, though his scars are very apparent, he is thriving, and has learned to love humans again – the species who tortured him so terribly earlier in life.

Leilani Farm Sanctuary is on Maui where there are not as many slaughterhouses, yet farmed animals still need rescuing.  Cockfighting is a common pastime among some people on the island, and general abuse abounds.  For example, Ned, a gentle goat, was tethered to a pole for 10 years before being rescued and brought to Leilani.  The star of the farm (for her cuddly nature) is Veronica, a deer who was rescued after her mother was shot in front of her by hunters when she was just a fawn.

But the best thing about farm sanctuaries, in my opinion, is that in addition to saving the precious lives that come to their farm, they save thousands more by educating their visitors on the vegetarian and vegan diets.  They explain how the animals are treated in factory farms, and how a vegetarian/vegan diet is not only the most compassionate diet for our fellow animals, but also one of the healthiest diets for humans. 

Learn more by googling “Farm Sanctuaries,” and make sure you stop at the websites of Leilani Farm Sanctuary and Animal Acres!  Most importantly, remember to schedule a tour when you are in town!