Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Persimmon Season + recipe

As a little girl my Nana, an unlabeled vegetarian/ health nut/food activist. Introduced me to a world of organic, sustainable fruits and vegetables through her garden. She put her soul into her garden. On her knees, in the dirt, for hours she'd hum and sing as she planted collard greens, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. Not to mention our backyard had a peach, orange, and grape tree that we'd make pies, jellies, salads, and casseroles from. 

Nearby my Aunt Faye had trees full of pecans, figs, and persimmons, (what I thought were orange tomatoes). I lived like a country girl in the city which indirectly taught me the importance of organic farming, sustainability, and food justice.  Although, I had been exposed to a world full of delicious fruits and veggies the orange tomatoes stole my heart with their mild sweetness, hint of spice, and chewy texture.

There are two types of persimmons Fuyu and Hachiya. Fuyu persimmons are shaped like tomatoes, with a tough outer skin, with a mild sweetness, and can be eaten anytime. While Hachiya persimmons are acorn shaped, with a soft outer skin, and can only be eaten when very ripe (or you will get cotton mouth).

One of the great things about persimmons are their versatility. They can be eaten raw, baked with spices, canned and jellied, and even blended into a smoothie. One of my favorite persimmon treats is my Raw Vegan Persimmon Pudding.

I’ve included the recipe below:

2 Large, ripe persimmons
2 Frozen ripe bananas
4 Medjool dates
1 tsp. Vanilla
4 tbsp. Chia Seeds
4oz Coconut milk 

Combine all ingredients in a blender on low speed until liquefied. Remove from blender and pour in a container with a lid. Cover and put into freezer for 20 minutes. Remove from freezer, serve with a mint and Chia seeds for garnish. 
(Picture coming soon) 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Restaurant Review: Golden Lotus

Me and Thai Iced Tea
I love to eat. Although, many in my circle tease me for eating like a rabbit. Little do they know that not much can put a smile on my face like good quality food. My weeks are full of smoothies, fresh juices, salads, beans, quinoa, fruits, veggies and nuts- but sometimes- (like once every month for about a week)- I crave heavier, rich, filling foods. When these cravings come on there are few restaurants that meet my standards for quality, taste, and health under one roof.
Vegan Veggie Pot Stickers with Peanut Sauce
A place I often turn to when I have meat eating visitors or when my palate is craving faux meat is Golden Lotus Restaurant. One of Oakland, California’s most popular vegan restaurants. They are located in the heart of downtown open for lunch until late into the night. Their extensive menu will have you wishing you were hungrier, richer, or available to return the next day. The warm family style atmosphere is light and jovial. The wait staff is attentive and friendly. The Golden Lotus menu creatively names their dishes after popular meat dishes, although everything is vegan. This place is great for large groups, couples, and even a solo date. 
Sweet and Sour Chicken with Brown Rice
Gourmet Spicy Lemongrass Chicken

I have frequented this place for over six years now. After trying many different entrees still I return to my favorite: Special #16 Gourmet Spicy Lemongrass Chicken with a side of brown rice and a vegan Thai Ice Tea. I top it off with my favorite dessert of all time: Sweet Sticky Rice and Mango. YUMM!!!

Check this place out and share your experience here. Happy Eating!!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Life G.P.A

I want to thank everyone for their patience with me... I have an inbox full of messages, calls I have to return, a home I need to clean, a gym I need to attend, and a stack of assignments to complete. I chewed off a lot this year by deciding to return to school while balancing 2 jobs. Now, 2 ½ months into the first semester things are getting REAL.

At the end of a long week of studying for 3 days straight, flashcards, little sleep, and 2 jobs nothing feels better than to see an A on an exam. I live for the grade. When it’s all said and done the grade reaffirms that all of my hard work and sacrifice isn’t in vain. I find this need for a grade spilling over into my personal life. Now that I am back in school I find myself wanting an A-F grade for everything. How clean is my room? A-F, How neat is my handwriting? A-F, How is my outfit? A-F, How well do I kiss? A-F......Seems I always need to know the grade. Of course If it’s less than an A I’m hurt yet even more determined to earn one. I want a 4.0 in life (and a few AP courses wouldn’t hurt either).

I am a Capricorn, and we love to be productive, organized, and accomplished. Although, I am making A’s in my classes. The rest of my life report card is suffering:

School A+
Work A-
Gym B-
Returning Calls C
Returning Emails D
Cleaning House F-

My life G.P.A is not looking good. (Anybody want to calculate it?) Not, to mention I only posted one post last week which utterly hurts my heart. Whether I have a million followers or not this blog grounds me. In many ways it gives me balance and motivates me to continue on my own journey toward total health and wellness while inspiring others.

I believe goal setting is important and effective for success  yet  I can’t help but wonder if a grading scale is necessary for every aspect of my life. Is it healthy or unrealistic and ultimately detrimental to all of my efforts? What are your thoughts on it?

In the meantime, as I struggle/strive to make the grade I appreciate all of your patience, support, comments, emails, invites, and love. You are noticed and appreciated please check your inbox soon for a reply message from me.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Terrace Room: Vegan Sunday Brunch

Nestled between downtown Oakland and the perimeter of Oakland’s Lake Merritt is the Lake Merritt Hotel which houses the Terrace Room Restaurant. This restaurant is known for hosting weddings, extravagant parties, holiday dinners, and my favorite Sunday Brunch. What I love most is the grand view of the Lake Merritt, bottomless Mimosas, and their new vegan brunch option.

The Terrace Room believes they are an upscale restaurant and I don’t mind pretending they are too, because the service is consistent and unpretentious. White tablecloths, silver cutlery, curtains, and a carpet that reveals how historical this place is - adds to the fine touches of this Oakland treasure. Here is where I bring the people I care for most.

My usual order was an Earl Grey tea with cream and sugar followed by pancakes topped with blueberries. After becoming vegan I frequented this place less for other places that offered a larger variety of vegan options. Yet, just last weekend a friend suggested this place and I agreed under the impression I 'd just order fruit as a social sacrifice.

Once we arrived I noticed the menu changed- still many great options for meat eaters and vegetarians- and YAY!!! one option for vegans: Vegan Tofu Scramble (with fruit on the side). I ordered it with fresh squeezed orange juice and everything was so delicious. 

I was full, satisfied, and I felt even better about this option over my usual pancakes and blueberries.The Terrace Room will again be among my top picks for  Sunday Brunch. 

Give them a try and come back share all about your experience. Happy Eating!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

How do you Prepare for Success?

It’s easy to give into being too tired, too busy, too something and not follow through with our wellness goals. I try to create a game plan for when these times arise. A few things I do to prep myself for success are:

  1. Set out exercise clothes the night before, including shoes, socks, fully charged ipod, ipod arm strap, and keys.
  2. Set my alarm same time everyday including weekends (after a while I just get up on my own)
  3. Create a set exercise routine for each day of the week
  4. Prepare all meals for the week on Sunday
  5. Track my exercise and food in a journal

Please, share your strategies on how you organize and balance health/wellness into your life. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Wholesome Simplicity of Shangri-la Vegan


I strive for simplicity in my life with the exception of my 500 book collection, 2 dozen pairs of jeans, and a collection of magazines I just can’t seem to part with. Remember, I merely said I STRIVE for simplicity I am not quite there yet. However, there is one place that provides me with all the simplicity I need in a meal.

This is my favorite place to lift my fork and sip tea. There is nothing extraordinary about the decor just chairs, tables, and a set menu written on a chalk board it is very humble, simple, and divine.

The servers/cooks are very warm, genuine, and friendly.  It is ran and owned by a Tibetan man whose vision directly inspires the wholesome simplicity of each daily menu. If I could, I would eat here everyday and actually there was once a time when I did. Now, I aim for at least once a month and twice if I’m lucky. 

Shangri-la is unlike any other restaurant, they are so confident in their food they provide a set menu daily. One for lunch and one for dinner. These meals have three different variations: Simple plate without seasoning or oils, Moderate plate which can feed an average person with a good appetite and Full which can be shared between two people or someone who hasn’t eaten in months. The prices vary for each variation. Initially, I thought it was too pricey yet, as I learned more about health and wellness I realize this place is perfect as it is. 

In addition, for all us of vegetarians and vegans out there another great aspect of this place is that the moderate plate supplies us with complex protein, complex carbs, and 3 servings of vegetables. It’s a complete balanced meal and they do it so effortlessly.

Finally, to wash it down their mild tasting tea is pleasant and self serve. Oh! and their vegan desserts are delicious (trust me I've tried them all). So, do give them a try folks and come back to share your thoughts. Happy Eating!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

At Home Chef: Raw Pesto Pasta

During the week I rarely cook extravagant meals, I like quick and simple. I was craving pasta a few weeks ago so I whipped some up. I only used two main ingredients and a little gadget to get my desired results. Below is my raw vegan pasta dinner with a raw Cajun cucumber-tomato salad.

Raw Pesto Pasta with Raw Cajun cucumber-tomato salad

Spices (Black pepper, Himalayan salt, Kelp granules to taste)
Raw Pesto
Diced tomatoes for garnish

1. Cut off ends of zucchini
2. Place zucchini in spiralizer
3. Drain and season
4. Place spiraled zucchini in a bowl or plate.  
5. Mix in raw pesto top with tomatoes for garnish 

My friends and I love this meal and I turn to it time and time again for vegan potlucks and even holiday dinners. I usually make a fresh tomato sauce for this recipe however, I was asked to sample a product called "Raw Pesto" which I will be reviewing for you all soon.  Feel free to add your own variations and please share how it turns out. Happy Eating!!!