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!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's on your Workout Playlist?

Music can make or break a run (at times)- which is why I have many different playlist for different race distances, speeds, and moods. But, there are a few songs that will always be on my playlist to keep me pushing, motivated, and inspired. I will share mine below and be sure to shares yours too.

  1.  The Roots and John Legend-The Fire
  2. Santigold-Unstoppable
  3. Janelle Monae-Violet Stars Hunting
  4. Kanye- Power
  5. Mos Def-There is a Way
  6. Kanye-Stronger
  7. M.I.A-XR2
  8. Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kanye: Lift off
  9. Kanye-I Wonder
  10. Janelle Monae-Many Moons
  11. M.I.A-Bamboo Banga
  12. Prince-Lets go Crazy
  13. Kanye and Rhianna-All of the Lights
  14. Santigold-Creator
  15. Janelle Monae-Faster
  16. Little Dragon-Runabout

This is my Marathon (26.2 miles) playlist. Although, only 4 Fela songs got me through my first half marathon (13.1 miles) because his songs are super LOOOOOOONG.

Okay your turn share...share...share...what gets and keeps you going?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Vegan in Atlanta Part 2: R. Thomas Grill

 It is my goal to visit every vegan friendly restaurant in my vicinity be it my home town, my new home, or any place I maybe visiting that feels like home. I love healthy food, I love trying new things, and I love sharing the experience with others. So here goes. I knew I'd be traveling to the Atlanta and would need to eat so I researched all of the vegan restaurants in ATL and the one closest to my hotel was R. Thomas Grill.

R. Thomas Grill is unlike any place I've ever been its has the laid back flare of the South with a California inspired menu. The outside looks like a pumpkin patch with pumpkins, scarecrows, caged birds, grassy hay, and the occasional skull here and there. (Think of Halloween year around) Inside, is like a busy cafeteria, picnic style tables and even more of the pumpkins and skulls decor. 

Southern Vegetarian Bowl: Vegan Green, Mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, smashed sweet potatoes, corn bread
 The place was amazingly busy not to mention there was a line out the door to get in. The harried wait staff bypassed greetings and asked that I shout out my order. Although, I had reviewed their menu online at least 20x before (which is kinda my thing just to be sure meals fit into my daily nutrition and caloric needs) being there live and in the flesh required I place a little extra attention on the desserts. Yum!

The great thing about R.Thomas Grill is that it caters to every type of eater from carnivore, pescatarain to down right raw vegan. I mean truly you could order a burger, fish, vegan bowl, to a raw pie all in one menu. As I hear it this place also happens to be popular to Atlanta's rich and famous such at Ludacris, Usher, and Andre 3000 to name a few.

I digress.

 After shouting out my order I waited patiently taking in the ATL restaurant vibe- I can't say it was much different from the Bay yet I can say I am glad the Bay is culturally diverse. First arrives my Donkey Kong Smoothie (which I sipped up so quick I forgot to take a picture of it). While sipping I watch the owner circulate the room with baby birds in which people were eager to hold and touch. He seemed very kind and warm-hearted. Shortly after my food arrived and it was good; my server Michael who happened to be a former athlete was very friendly and introduced me to the Souths well known Southern hospitality. I thoroughly enjoyed my smoothie, my entree was okay, and my dessert  was delicious. Overall, it was  a great experience and I am so glad I went.

Mango Pie (which I later learned is NOT vegan)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Make Acheiving Fun!!! Goal Setting with Rewards


Studies show that people who set goals with an incentive attached are more likely to accomplish the goal, than those without an incentive. For instance athletes look forward to shiny trophy's and bronze medals just as much as models love free merchandise after their shoots.

Incentives can take on many forms but say you could create your own incentive in an effort to propel you further in accomplishing your goals. This is what I do often to keep myself on the right track. I give myself rewards for accomplishing fitness, career, lifestyle, and weight-loss goals. Below are the steps I follow to make goal setting fun and rewarding.

1.     Create a list of goals (that will take at least a week to accomplish)

2.      Develop a budget for how much your willing to reward yourself as each goal is accomplished.

3.      List as many rewards as you did goals.

4.     Match the goals with the corresponding reward in greatness and importance. i.e smaller goals=smaller rewards and larger goals=larger rewards. Below is my own personal example in steps:

Step 1: Healthy Lifestyle Goals
1.     Drink 9 cups water daily
2.     Take all vitamins daily
3.     Get to bed by 11pm
4.     Exercise 6 days a week
5.     Do 100 ab crunches daily
6.     Do 50 push ups daily
7.     10 minutes of morning meditation
8.     Try one new exercise
9.     Stretch before and after exercise
10.  Jog an 8 minute mile

Step 2: Under $15 for each reward
Step 3: Rewards under $15


Step 3: Rewards under $15

1.      OPI nail polish
2.     Magazine subscription
3.     Candle
4.     Manicure/Pedicure
5.     Logo running t-shirt
6.     Running Socks
7.     CD or DVD
8.     Flowers
9.     Book
10.  Alba or Burts Bees lip gloss

Step 4: Healthy Lifestyle Goals and Rewards
(I reordered the ones I know maybe harder to implement due to my schedule or fitness level)

GoalRewardDate Accomplished
Drink 9 cups water daily
Flowers $10
Take all vitamins daily
Book $15
Get to bed by 11pm
Candle $15
Exercise 6 days a week
Manicure/Pedicure $15+
Try one new exercise
Magazine subscription $15
Do 100 ab crunches daily
CD or DVD $15
Do 50 push ups daily
OPI Nail Polish $9
Stretch before and after exercise
Running Socks $10
10 minutes of morning meditation
Alba /Burts Bees lip gloss $8
Jog an 8 minute mile
Logo running t-shirt $15+

Another example below is when I’m doing weight loss goals with a larger budget. Key thing to remember NEVER reward yourself with food.

Weight-loss Goals and Rewards

Starting Weight: 138lbs Goal: 124lbs
Rewards for every 2 lbs lost
GoalRewardDate Accomplished
Roses $20
134lbsSpa Manicure/Pedicure $45
Carols Daughter Body Products $70
Race Medal Holder $40
Running Charm Necklace $50
Shopping Spree $450
Spa Day $400

    Goal setting is an integral part of success. Truth is we are going to spend money in life why not spend it on ourselves sometimes. My idea of rewarding myself so frequently never stemmed from vanity or greed rather from the fact that I rarely bought myself anything besides the BARE necessities; and I rarely gave myself a pat on the back for all I had accomplished.

Creating an actual structured list encouraged me to be accountable for thanking myself. It allowed me to take a breath, and acknowledge my achievements. In the beginning, I was so bad about doing things for self my list of goals included: take a bath once a week, do nothing for thirty minutes, and wait 24 hours before returning calls.

    I learned through this process that by not taking the time to acknowledge my accomplishments downplayed all my hard work. Even in my professional life I'd accomplish one thing and without acknowledging it I was on to the next project. I am now committed to wellness in all aspects of my life and goal setting and rewarding is just another way I make wellness a priority.

How do you reward yourself for your accomplishments?