Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Raw Revolution Bars

I picked up a variety of RAW Revolution Bars at Food Fight Grocery and decided to try them out. Because I end up eating a lot on the run, I'm always looking for my new go-to bar. These sounded promising- 88-99% raw, USDA certified organic, 190-280 calories, 4-8 g of protein. Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free. The base for them is usually some sort of date, cashew, sprouted flax seed and then additions. Unfortunately I don't think these will be a repeat purchase. All and all I did not like the flavors, or the texture. A lot of them have added agave, which I don't feel is necessary, since they're all so sweet as is! I'm still holding true to my good ol' Lara bars!

Here are the bars I tried, starting with the one I liked best:

Tropical Mango- One of the smaller ones-this one had 190 calories, and no agave syrup. It was 99.5% raw (!) and the ingredients were dates-cashews-almonds-mango and sprouted flax. The mango was a pleasant taste and something you rarely see in these types of bars. This is the only flavor I would consider buying again.
Coconut and Agave Nectar-One of the bigger ones-270 calories 7 g of protein, 89.4% raw (they like to be precise!). Flavor-not so great, seriously these all taste like Malt Power Bars -if you've ever had one. I guess its the cashew base. I love cashews, but just not in this form. Also Coconut and Agave aren't anything special.
Chocolate and Cashew Big sized-280 cal, 8 g of protein, 91.7%raw. Like above, but with a chocolate kick. Again, why the agave? I'm pretty sure the dates would make it sweet enough!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-I was most excited about this one- Cookie Dough is usually the best flavor right? But this was too sweet and the choc chips were just ok. It only had 4 g of protein, and 200 calories. 88.5% raw
I did notice on the website that they have a hazelnut chocolate flavor-which I may try someday. Maybe, just maybe, it will taste like Nutella!!

The Sun was back today! Midterms are over!! Now I can get back to the fun stuff in life!
Chocolate Covered Katie is having the cutest giveaway ever! Her blog is adorable!
Ok coming soon: more bar reviews, future of food synopsis, more restaurant reviews and Taste of the Nation goodies!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Harvest Cambridge

I had a delicious lunch at Harvest Cambridge with three lovely ladies on Friday. We just barely caught the end of Restaurant Week and I'd been meaning to try Harvest-so best to do it when there's a discounted Prix-fixe!! The menu had vegan-friendly options, which I loved! The appetizer was a Market Greens Salad with candied walnuts and granny smith apple. Yes, my dressing is on the side. Salad Dressing doesn't do anything for me. I know that I may not be absorbing all the fat-soluble vitamins without it, but I just don't enjoy having that texture on my greens! Besides Mustard, Braggs, and Balsamic Vinegar- I'm not a condiments type of girl. The entree was a Forbidden Black Rice Tart which had Baby Carrots, Baby Turnips, Bok Choy & Hen of The Woods Mushrooms. It was so rich tasting! The forbidden rice was perfectly cooked, and we deduced that the orange oil was a Toasted, Roasted Peppper Oil. So good!
My third course was a delicious Raspberry Sorbet served with a Sesame Almond Crisp. Delicious!!Yes, it probably did have white sugar. But there's an exception to every rule, and fabulous meals out tend to allow for bending. Its all about moderation.
The atmosphere and decor was great-wonderful tans and browns. I loved their open kitchen. The lunch was much cheaper than it would have been- $20 for a three-course lunch. MMMM-the perfect study break.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

PB2 and Body Appreciation

Annabelle went on a little expedition over her spring break to find the elusive PB2. She tracked it down in a small fitness club about 30 minutes outside of Boston and picked us both up a jar.
2 tbs is only 53 calories compared to 200 of regular peanut butter, and since I LOVE peanut butter and can easily consume copious amounts, I really wanted to give it a try!
Unfortunately I was not pleased with the product. Verdict=not good. Taste is not as great- its really difficult to get a good consistency! Mine usually ended up a little too watery. It really just taste like reconstituted peanut butter. Eating it plain is not recommended, but mixed with oatmeal or in home-made power bars- its acceptable.
I do not like how processed it is-its just not "natural"! Plus, its ridiculously expensive- about 7 dollars per jar. Also, they do not make a version without added sugar- apparently there is not "not enough demand." I just need to learn how to ration my real peanut butter, I could buy 3 jars of organic, sugarless pb for the same price!
Conclusion-it was an interesting experiment, but I won't be buying any more.
There's a great sideshow at Glamour about accepting your body- I highly recommend checking out the suggestions! While we may not be 100% satisfied with our bodies- the more you focus on the positive aspects, the greater you life-outlook will be. Everyone has their insecurities-my belly and I have never been best friends-but I am constantly amazed at the things my body can do, even with the stress I sometimes put it through! Appreciating and be grateful for what you have, instead of focusing on your imperfections will lead to a much better life! Think about all the time you waste zeroing in on negative aspects, and all the extra time you would have to devote to an activity you enjoyed if you cut that out!

I can not wait for next Tuesday-at 10pm when my life will be slightly less stressed!!! Organic Chemistry reactions are killing me- Chem is definitely not my forte! I'm off to purify Cholesterol in Lab- which is absolutely disgusting. I am so glad I do not consume any! I should have taken a photo-it looks like the by-product of Liposuction!

One of my favorite Boston bloggers Carrots N' Cake is having a great giveaway- An assorted case of PureBars!!! Tomorrow I'm going to buy a few to try- Word on the streets is that they are just as good-even better (gasp!!!)??? than Larabars. I'm Game!

Have a Wonderful Thursday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good Food Causes

Feeling a bit of a crunch as of right now: I have 3 Mid-terms in Organic Chemistry, Food Science, and Lifecycle Nutrition next Monday and Tuesday, and I'll be busy all day Saturday at the Future of Food and Nutrition Conference. I had two of the most relaxing stress-free weeks ever and now its back to the "grind" oh well, only 5 more weeks and then I'm half-way done with my undergrad degree, and Spring appears to be staying, for now!

Good Foodie Causes:

Real Food Challenge is trying to win a grant from IdeaBlob: I voted and think you should too! RFC hosted Real Food Summit earlier this semester and they are a great organization centered around bringing real food-food that is good for us, good for the environment, and good for the workers into High Schools and Universities across America. "Created by youth, for youth, the Challenge is building a national network of young leaders ready to tackle one of the most important issues of our generation: our food. "

Taste of the Nation is in Boston next week, and I can't wait to Volunteer! 100% of ticket sales from Taste of the Nation are granted Share Our Strength, which is one of the most effective anti-hunger organizations working to end childhood hunger in America.

Running: I finally got an account at MapMyRun which I am loving!!!!! I got some books from the library about training for marathons, and once this hell week is over, I can start to work on that-something which I am very excited about!

I also broke down and got a Twitter account. I am actually enjoying it as well!

I will have a better post soon, I promise!!
Hope Spring is Gracing you with her presence!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chickpea Blondies

I have found a new love.
Once upon a time I tried some variation of Weight Watcher's Black Bean Brownies and was sorely disappointed. I loved the concept-replacing fat and flour with beans, but the product left MUCH to be desired. Then I found this recipe from have cake, will travel and forever changed my feelings about baked bean treats. They are amazing!!
Gluten-free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Animal-Free (and could be totally fruit-sweetened) !
A totally guiltless treat!!
This is her recipe with a few modifications by moi:

Chickpea Blondies
Preheat oven to 350°F
Line a 8-in pan with parchment paper. In a food processor-puree
1- 15 ounces can of garbanzo beans
1/2 tsp of stevia

1/2 cup jam (I used my Mom's Homemade Chokecherry preserve)
1/4 cup no-sugar or salt added peanut butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flax meal
2 TBSP Vegan Protein Powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Once they are well blended, pour into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. The can be enjoyed warm, cool, or frozen!

My were not as pretty's as Celine's, but they tasted delicious!!! She has some great recipes-be sure to check her blog out!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2009 Nike Women's Marathon!

I am ecstatic today because I found out at 3 am that I am one of 20,000 runners randomly selected for the Nike Women's Marathon on October 18th in San Francisco!! I can't wait!! Running a Marathon is one of my life goals, and I've only done 2 half-marathons. I'm registered as a "group" with a good friend here, and I'm excited to start training with her now, and continue over the summer in Boston. The route is gorgeous and once you finish you get a Tiffany's necklace! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If anyone has any training suggestions I'm all ears!! Vegan Athletes?I think a trip to Marathon Sports is in my near future. Stay tuned for more training posts!

Friday, March 20, 2009

White House Garden

In case you haven't heard the news- Obama Foodorama broke the news that there will be a White House Garden soon!
It's wonderful having a President and First Family who care about food, and making it sustainable! As our leaders take the initiative hopefully it will bring awareness to more people and motivate others to start their own garden! I wish I had the space, but Urban Gardening is difficult-but not impossible. Roof Garden anyone?

On a totally not food related note- if you're in Boston anytime before August 16th- I highly recommend a visit to the ICA to see the Shepard Fairey Exhibit! Very thought-provoking graffiti/art from the artist of the iconic Obama Hope stickers.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Like Plants, We need Sunshine to Live!

If you are what you eat, then I'm definitely a plant. Maybe because everything I eat is plant based, but I need sunlight in order to feel good! Thankfully Boston gets a decent amount of sunshine even in the winter and I try to brave the cold even for just a little bit to let the sun kiss my face. Without Sunshine I definitely think I would have SAD. But now that spring is coming, that means even more sunshine!! Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous, and while it appears that rain is pending today, hopefully the sun will return tomorrow.
Besides generally boosting mood, Sunlight is also important for the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body. Vit. D is used for the maintenance of Calcium and Phosphorus in the blood. Deficiency can lead to Rickets, and Osteomalacia. But only a few foods contain high levels of D, namely fatty fish and eggs. Milk is fortified with it, and the FDA recently approved the fortification of soy products as well. Luckily, humans can also synthesis vitamin D from cholesterol-when exposed to Sunlight! (The amazingness of the human body never ceases to amaze me). Season, Location, Sunscreen, and Time of Day will affect the synthesis in each individual. To get sufficient levels of D this way you must expose the forearms and face for5-30 minutes of sunlight several times a week. Sometimes this is difficult in the winter, and in Boston (and anywhere north of 42 degrees north latitude), the UV energy is not high enough Nov-Feb to get adequate levels. Supplementation is often recommended. It is important to be careful with supplements though, because it is a fat-soluble Vitamin, and large amounts can be stored in the body, overdosing is toxic. Excess sun exposure will not lead to toxicity, but supplementation can. Guidelines for intake can be found here. Skin cancer is also a concern, so excess sun exposure should be avoided. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that older adults, people with dark skin, and those exposed to insufficient sunlight consume extra vitamin D from vitamin D-fortified foods and/or supplements. Individuals in these high-risk groups should consume 25 μg (1000 IU) of vitamin D daily.
Of course, I am not yet a registered Dietitian, so you should continue to do more research and contact a RD if you believe that you are not getting enough vitamin D and before you begin supplementation!
Rain Rain Go Away (or don't come at all) and Give Me My Sunlight!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Green On St. Patty's Day!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!
A wonderful day to celebrate the little bit of Irish in all of us! I used to love my mom's Corned Beef, Irish Pasties with Grandma in Butte, MT, and I admit that I had the Green McDonald's "Shamrock" Milkshake as a teenager-but those days are far behind me! Now I'd much rather eat leafy greens!! Kale, Spinach, Peas, Beans, Cucumbers, Apples, Lentils, Split Peas Brussel Sprouts-all Green things that I love!
I wish I could have made Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread or this Corned Beef Seitan to celebrate- but I have class from 9am-10pm. I am most definitely wearing green though!
But what I'm eating is "green." I'm going to take this opportunity to explain why I believe that Organic Vegan food is much better for the environment than the typical American Diet.
The greatest percentage of energy in America is devoted to raising livestock. It takes 7 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of meat, and deforestation occurs in parts of the world to make room for grazing herds. The production and transportation of meat and dairy, particularly if you include the grains that are fed to livestock, is very energy intensive. Animals also release methane and nitrous oxide that are up to 30 times more damaging than carbon dioxide. According to a 2006 United Nations report, internationally the livestock sector accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions -- more than the transportation sector. Gideon Eshel and Pamela Martin of University of Chicago did a fascinating study on on Diet, Energy and Global Warming (which can be read in full here) The average person consuming a mixed American diet cause the emission of 1,485 kg of CO2 than a person eating the same number of calories, but entirely from plant sources (Eshel 2005). Of course not all meat is created equally. The biggest impact is from large-scale industrial animal farms, and meat can be raised more ethically, and sustainably in smaller-scale ranches. My omni-family buys meat from a local free-range rancher who does not use any antibiotics or hormones. They buy a cow every year, and get it butchered locally. But, that is not fesible for a lot of people (the West has a lot going for it, in terms of land, and wide open spaces)
But, eating only plant-based foods isn't a free ticket to a more sustainable life. Organic Agriculture management promotes healthy eco-systems and prohibits GMO seeds, swage sludge, and commercial pesticides and herbicides. When done correctly it supports a biologically diverse, healthy environment. As Pamala Ronald and Raoul Adamchack write in Tomorrow's Table: the goal of organic farming is the health of soil, crop, farmer, environment and consumer, while the goal of convential farming is high yield and inexpensive food. It takes the energy equivalent of 30 gallons of gasoline to produce the pesticides for 1 acre of convential farm. Each year, 6,000 sq. miles of dead zone at the base of the Mississippi River is due to high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from upstream farms (16).
But as organic farming becomes corporate (The largest farms are owned by General Mills, Dole, Kraft and Coca-cola- Check out this awesome graphic!) and the demand for exotic "organic" produce increases, some of these idealistic principles can become hazy. organic bananas flown in from Ecuador negate some of the environmental benefits of organic growing. The carbon emissions from transportation are another factor when assessing the environmental impact of the food we are consuming. Conventional Local Food is less damaging than organic food that has traveled across continents.
I'm not sure that I am able to tell the difference in Taste between Organic and Conventional Produce, but Hammy the Hamster sure can!
Obviously, Local Organic farms are ideal, and then each item should be evaluated individually. Personally, I do buy Organic apples from Washington and Oranges from Florida. But I haven't bought avocado, papaya, melon, or pineapple (South American-organic or not) all winter. In the summer I buy from local farmers who may not be USDA certified Organic-due to the cost of certification, but who still practice sustainable agriculture. I definitely support their efforts.

There are so many little nuances to consider when choosing to eat more sustainably, and try to protect our fragile environment. I strongly believe that it's important to enjoy food in the short term but to also think about its impact over the long-term.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Portland, Oregon- Vegan Mecca.

I spent the second half of spring break in Portland, OR visiting another good friend. This was my first time in Portland, and really enjoyed it. I’d heard that it was a Vegan Mecca and everywhere was very Veg friendly! The city is great--very hip, and a great place to wander around. Homelessness is a big problem there, but food and shopping-wise I loved it! My omni-friend has a new-found love of cooking, and she graced us with some amazing vegan meals, after doing her research about veganism. Love her! Mmmmm Vegan Mexican Fiesta, Miso Soup, Beautiful Salads, Oatmeal “parfaits” mmmmmmmmm. Eating her meals I realized how important presentation is. Often when I’m eating at home I don’t put any effort into making my food look delicious even if it tastes that way. Even when I’m just cooking for myself I’m going to try to make my food more aesthetically pleasing!

The Portland Whole Foods carried a lot of local vegan and raw products which I brought home to sample/review. I tried a Lemon Poppyseed muffin from Everyday Cake and the GimmeGreen Amazake Rice Shake for lunch mid-Pearl district shopping expedition. The Poppyseed muffin was delicious and had great ingredients- all-organic pumpkin puree, agave, whole wheat flour, brown rice flour, olive oil and favorings. I have been wanting to try Amasake and the shake was sooo good! Its very sweet but has no added sweeteners-just the brown rice, banana, and wheat, alfalfa, oat, barley and kamut grass! All sorts of wonderful beta-carotene, calcium, chlorophyll and fiber!

We had an amazing Lebanese meal at Nicholas’s in Southeast District. They brought out a HUGE slab of pita which was great. Their Baba Ghanoug (how many different spellings of roasted eggplant spread are there????) and Lentil soup were great.

In the southeast district is also one of the greatest blocks on earth- Sweet Pea Bakery, Herbivore Clothing and Food Fight Grocery, all in a row!

We picked up two cupcakes for dessert at Sweetpea

got a zine at Herbivore

and stocked up at Food Fight!

Food Fight is an entirely Vegan “junk” grocery store!!! AHH!!! But it isn’t all “junk” food- I found the one thing I have been searching aimlessly for- gummi “bears” made entirely of fruit juice-no added sweeteners!!!!! Of course they’re not even made in the States-imported from Germany. They were quite tasty-not as sweet as a gummi bear of course, but still pretty tasty and adorable chick-shaped.

I also bought a few Raw Revolution Bars- they were much cheaper than I have ever seen them at Whole Foods which surprised me. On sale they had these “Cool Fruits- Fruit Juice Freezers” which are like “Otter Pops” but made entirely of fruit juice! It may not be summer time yet, but popsicles are good year-round, right?

It was such a relaxing spring break, I didn't study at all, which will probably be my downfall about 3 weeks from now, but I had a wonderful trip! It was nice to get out of New England and soak up the sun on the West Coast. And Boston is spoiling me with lovely weather now that I'm home! Only a month and a half of classes and then its Summer!!! But in the meantime, Spring is my favorite season and I'm ready to get out in the sunshine and start my longer runs! Farewell Winter!

California Dreamin’

I had a wonderful first half of spring break in Sunny California at with my sister, her family and one of my best friends from home! We missed a bout of rainy weather they had been having, and the sun was shining the entire time. I love the San Francisco Bay Area and can definitely see myself living there after school. It’s so progressive and the availability of fresh, local, organic produce for the majority of the year is so uplifting! We ate delicious food and went on beautiful runs and walks. On Tuesday we ran from Pier 39 over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and walked/ran back which was so much fun! (15 miles round trip??) We tried FRS (low-cal citrus pomegranate) on our snack break in Sausalito, and it tasted great. Its very high in antioxidants and the company claims that quercetin helps you sustain longer, harder work-outs. After the run we walked by TCHO, a teeny-tiny “flavor driven” chocolate boutique at Pier 17, and tried their mini dark chocolate squares. They don’t add flavorings to their chocolates-rather they adjust the fermentation, drying, roasting, and finishing of the beans to achieve a spectrum of flavors. I had “fruity” which was a very subtle taste, but delightful.

My favorite meal was at Café Gratitude in Berkeley! It’s a Vegan, mostly Live/Raw restaurant where all the entrees are named “I am….” Its centered around positive outlooks and appreciating what you have in the land of plenty. They also focus on using organic, locally grown ingredients. I love their “mission statement”: “Our food is prepared with Love. We invite you to step inside and enjoy being someone who chooses: loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful every day, and experiencing being provided for. Have fun and enjoy being nourished.” So WONDERFUL! We were Honored” to start with the most amazing raw nachos ever. The cashew “sour cream” and guacamole were more delicious AND nutritious than the real thing!

I was in the mood for something sweet so I was Great (Raw Granola with Young Coconut Yogurt) I must turn my next young coconut into yogurt-amazing!

If you're ever in Palo Also, I definitely recommend Pluto's-they have great, HUGE fresh salads for pretty cheap! We stayed at Stanford for a day and made our host take us.

It was so nice to get out of New England for a week and go back to the West! I spent the second half of break in Portland OR, which I have more to talk about tomorrow! Now I'm back in Boston and trying to catch up on all the things I've put off! But the weather is beautiful and I'm loving this daylight savings thing! Countdown to St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Raw Organic Food Bar- Cinnamon Raisin

I love all things raisin
But I was not impressed with the Cinnamon Raisin Raw Organic Bar

It tasted like I remember my dad's power bars tasting. Pretty sweet and a mealy texture. It didn't feel or taste like any raw thing I have ever had before. They're made from (all-organic) cashew butter, dates, agave, brown rice protein, raisins, flax and quinoa sprouts. It has a good amount of protein for a raw bar though-7g. But the taste just wasn't winning me over- I'll just stick to my Larabars!
My little exotic treat today was a passion fruit! I've never eaten one plain before! Definitely not local, but it was grown in the United States! A nice little tart treat!

Getting excited for Spring Break- As long as CA is warmer than here- I'll be more than happy!!
One lab tomorrow and then I'm FREE!! I'm so excited to see some amazing people and eat delicious food!

Monday, March 2, 2009


Despite the continued snow I'm still rooting for spring. Spring is so wonderful, days are longer, its warm but not too warm, and things start growing!!! Seeds are amazing, they lie dormant and then when conditions are right they metamorphose into a living entity! I'm trying to eat 100% raw this week, and so I'm sprouting! It is so easy and the living sprouts are so good for you! When you sprout seeds you make them much more digestible-the proteins begin to break down into amino acids, and the carbohydrates into their simple sugars. Enzyme and vitamin levels also increase, helping your body metabolize and digest the sprouts. The result is an easily digestible superfood!

Really it couldn't be easier. I buy my grains in bulk and 1 cup of the grain will yield 2-4 cups of sprouts! Basically, soak, rinse, let sprout, rinse, repeat for a couple days-the timing varies depending on what you are spouting (here's a sample chart.) With Wheat berries you soak them for 10-12 hours, and then drain and rinse, then let them spout for 3 days, rinsing and thoroughly draining 3 times a day (you don't want any mold!). Quinoa is even easier. You just let them soak for 3 hours and then let them spout for 1-2 days. I accidentally let mine soak for 8 hrs yesterday and they sprouted in record time. I am currently sprouting in jars, with a plastic sprout covers, and tilting them at a 45 degree angle, out of direct light. There isn't room in our dish rack to let them chill out, so I put them on my desk with a towel to pick up any lingering water.

Now what? Well, I've been tossing them on salads with Braggs Liquid Aminos, thyme and oregano or thai chilis.

I also made a pseudo manna bread by mixing the wheat berries and 2 dates in the food processor and adding cinnamon. I'm dehydrator-less, so it was more of a "dough" than a "bread" I guess.
Random: We had a snow day today which was very exciting! and its National Nutrition Month! yippee!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slaughtering A Young Coconut

It was snowy and cold today, and to fufill my desire for it to be warm again, after Bikram Yoga I killed my first young coconut. It was fairly exciting, and no blood was spilled! Picked the little guy up from Super 88- an Asian Grocery store close by. The only hurdle you have to overcome is getting the good stuff out! There are tons of youtube videos with slightly different techniques, but they all have the same gist- cut away the outer white "husk" to reach the hard brown shell, and then chop/pry the circular top off. (I used this technique) Inside coconut water and coconut meat await!!! The water is very high in electrolytes and minerals, especially Magnessium and Potassium. The meat has a gel consistancy, and today I just ate is raw rather than make a smoothie or be more creative! The meat is high in protein and enzymes and is very easy to digest. One young coconut has only 140 calories and provides 17% of the RDA for calcium. It has 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. mmmmm delicious superfood! If anyone has any recipes for coconut meat, I'd love them!! I have a feeling many more young coconuts lie in my future.