Take the Vegetarian challenge: no meat for one day, one week or the entire month for Vegetarian Awareness and you may be a big winner!
Tomorrow, October 1 is World Vegetarian Day and marks the kick off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. The observance was started by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS), an non-profit organization that provides a community for and is a source of information on vegetarian lifestyle. So what is a vegetarian exactly? According to NAVS a person may call themselves vegetarian if they abstain from eating all animal flesh including meat, poultry, fish and other sea animals. Then you have an ovo-vegetarian who omits eggs from their diet, a lacto-vegetarian may eat eggs, but not dairy products, and an ovo-lacto vegetarian excludes both eggs and dairy products. A total vegetarian (or vegan) consumes no animal products at all.
There are lots of reasons and benefits to becoming a vegetarian. As far as health is concerned, diets high in animal protein can result in high blood cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. Fruits and vegetables (the main staples of a vegetarian diet) when organically grown especially are full of vitamins and nutrients. From an environmental standpoint the production that goes into the meat industry leaves a pretty big carbon footprint; from the meat processing plants to the deforestation that is a result of the expansion of cattle farms and fields of corn/grain that is specifically grown in order to become livestock feed. And of course there are spiritual, cultural, and religious practices that call for a diet free of meat.
NAVS has worked very hard to create awareness about Vegetarianism in the United States and since there is no rule against it, people sometimes eat vegetarian meals even if they don’t choose to adopt a full-time vegetarian lifestyle. That being said, a change in consumer interest and demand has resulted in the expansion of vegetarian options on restaurant menus, and most ethnic restaurants offer meatless options anyway as a part of their food culture.
To celebrate and promote Vegetarian Awareness, NAVS challenges all non-vegetarians to go veggie for as long as you can (a day, a week, or even the whole month of October) and you may be win a cash prize! And I’m sure they would also like to remind you that by going vegetarian you will already be a winner because you’ll be creating a better world by having a positive impact on your health, the environment and society as a whole. So go vegetarian! Think You Can Do It?
New York State passes law allowing alcohol to be sold at movie theatres.
Soon New Yorkers might be able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage with their movie-going experience thanks to a new state law that was passed stating that any theatre with a sitdown eatery on premises and a license to serve alcohol will be allowed to extend that license to include the actual theatre as well. This is great news for anyone that has been craving something a little stronger than diet coke to go with their Junior Mints.
AMC Theaters, one of the country’s largest movie theatre chains has “Dine-In” theatre locations where guests have access to a sit down dining area within the theatre and in some locations even special seating within the screening rooms which allow you to sit comfortably with a plate of real food as you watch a film. Right now there are only six “Dine-In” theatres in the country so it’s not surprising to hear AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan say, “We’re excited about the possibility of bringing AMC Dine-In Theatres to our guests in New York.” Boutique movie theatres like Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinemas in Brooklyn which also already serves food to movie-goers will benefit from the new law as well.
It has been said that state lawmakers are hoping his new law will boost sales for struggling movie theatres by “drawing in mature adults” who presumably are wanting to have dinner, drinks and see a movie all in the same place. Sounds like a good idea and but my thing is this, if the average movie theatre price of a bottle of water is $4 how much are they going to charge you for a mojito?! I don’t see moviegoers lining up to pay $25 for a rum and coke. And who’s to say all these adults who are now going to be rushing to go see movies are “mature?” On the other hand, at least a nice cold one would take the edge off of having to sit through another sappy rom-com. What do you think?
Laptop toting loiterers may no longer have an open invitation to sit and stay a while at the Coffee House giant.
Starbucks has always been a place where people have come to squat with their laptops for hours. They kind of built their brand around the idea that you can grab a coffee and stay for a while. Plus they have those cushy lounge chairs and convenient tables (some even have fireplaces) so it’s no surprise that people starting taking advantage of that free wi-fi. However it has been reported that some Starbucks locations are cracking down on all the loitering that has become the daily routine for many freelancers/writers/people who work from their laptops.
It started out with not so subtle hints like the covering of electrical outlets, but now “laptop hobos” are reporting that Starbucks employees are actively asking them to either buy another drink or leave. And that I believe is the main issue, times are tough so “hobos” are buying less, but monopolizing a chair and sucking up electricity for the same amount of time. And I can’t say that I blame Starbucks for becoming a little less hospitable after all the relationship is no longer as reciprocal as it once was.
Some of the tweets and blogs of these displaced “hobos” are really comical in their anger about what appears to be the new Starbucks company policy. They readily admit to buying only one beverage and possibly a snack while camping out for 7 hours, but are outraged when a barista asks them to make another purchase or please make way for other customers. Does their entitlement know no bounds?! You gotta feel for the Starbucks employee who now among their other duties has the joy of being the bearer of bad news to the guy who has become the fixture at the corner table. I’m sure there is a lot of messenger killing going on at many a mid-town Manhattan location.
Starbucks though is partially to blame, they kind of allowed it to happen, they let people get too comfortable. Either way it appears as though the “hobos” are losing the battle and having to relocate to places like (gasp!) parks and public libraries. It remains to be seen though if the “hobos” will make good on their threats to take their coffee business elsewhere and win the war by impacting the Starbucks bottom line.
Gordon Ramsay shows you what you don't want to know about the places where you dine out.
Season three of Gordon Ramsay’s show, “Kitchen Nightmares” premieres tonight at 9pm EST on FOX and I can’t wait! Yesterday I finally watched last season’s finale where Ramsay visited one of the worst restaurants I have ever seen, Oceana in New Orleans. His mission was to take this mouse infested, spoiled food serving, total catastrophe of a restaurant and make it a place where people might actually consider eating food. Of course the fun part is watching Ramsey as he shames the restaurant owners and chefs after touring their establishment and tasting their food. But they invite him to do this so he can come up with suggestions for improvements.
Ramsay to me is one of the most brutally honest, pulls no punches, borderline rude hosts on television. Between “Kitchen Nightmares” and his other show, “Hell’s Kitchen”, this man’s scathing remarks and bleeped out commentary make Simon Cowell look like a complete softy. But this is why it is so hilarious to see Ramsay on his other FOX show, MasterChef. Here he is one of three judges, mentoring a cast of amateur cooks who are competing for a life-changing grand prize, its network TV’s answer to “Top Chef.” And the Gordon Ramsay you see on this show is just such a contrast, he is patient and comforting, to watch him you’d think he’d never cussed a day in his life. Is this man a schizophrenic?
Either way there is no disputing the fact that Gordon Ramsay is an amazingly talented and successful chef who is awesomely entertaining to watch on TV. And quite possibly the hardest working man in the food industry with multiple TV shows and dozens of restaurants all over the world. Hmmm maybe that’s why he’s so nuts?! Have a look at the two faces of Gordon Ramsay and see for yourself!
There was a time when I was completely addicted to white chocolate mousse and I’m not talking about a cake or a cream pie, I’m talking about a wafer cone of soft serve from TCBY. And they didn’t always have the flavor in stock, every now and then swapping it out for strawberry or perhaps coffee which are also good but no white chocolate mousse. It was a very sad day for me when the store nearest to me closed its doors and I was forced to go without. However, to this day if I pass a TCBY in a mall or at a highway rest stop and they have white chocolate mousse I’m getting a cone!
30 years ago TCBY, The Country’s Best Yogurt, revolutionized the frozen treat industry by introducing entire generations to low/no-fat frozen yogurt as a healthier alternative to ice cream. As a thank you to the fro-yo enthusiasts that have stuck with them for the past three decades, TCBY is celebrating by offering customers special deals at participating locations on their anniversary, September 30th, $1.30 small cup or cone in traditional stores or only $.30 per ounce in self-serve locations. Also all month long you can sign up for the sweepstakes by liking the TCBY Facebook page. Fans will automatically receive a coupon for 30% off any item in September and every day this month two fans will be selected to win $30 gift cards, one lucky grand prize winner will receive a $300 TCBY gift card.
Over the years lots of competing frozen yogurt franchises have appeared, but TCBY is holding strong with over 600 locations both in the United States and abroad. A leader in their industry, TCBY recently introduced their healthiest option to date, Super Fro-Yo, a frozen yogurt packed with vitamins, probiotics, dietary fiber, protein, and calcium. So drop by the nearest TCBY and “give it a swirl!”
Share Our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry event is running all this week until Saturday, September 24th. To participate all you have to do is eat out at one of the thousands of restaurants and restaurant chains participating across the country to donate to the No Kid Hungry program. The main goals of the program include:
Getting food to kids who need it when the school year is not in session
Helping schools to provide nutritious breakfast options
Providing kids with healthy meals/snacks in afterschool programs
Connecting families in need to aid programs like WIC and SNAP
Teaching families how to provide affordable, healthy meals at home
We really like this program because not only does it strive to get food to those who need it, but it concentrates on two important factors that will help achieve their goal; getting public schools involved and educating families about quality nutrition. It seems like such a small thing, but the availability of nutritious meals is a basic need for growing bodies and minds. For example we’ve all seen commercials for healthy breakfast options for kids where the child who had a pop tart has no energy versus the one who has had a more complete meal and is whizzing through their day at school. Also since kids spend so much time at school, kids are eating two or more meals and snacks there a day so the responsibility of making sure there are quality meal options available for all kids lies with schools as well.
No Kids Hungry Program partners with public schools to improve meal options.
So many people are stuck in the mindset that fresh, healthy food is unaffordable or too time consuming to prepare; and too many kids are eating fast food and school food for three meals a day at least five days a week. And while a lot of fast food chains have added healthier items to their menus, meals prepared at home are almost always healthier and fresher. If you are dining out this week, find out where you can support this worthy cause and learn more about the No Kid Hungry Program.
Tapas restaurants, or small plates are a great way to spend the night out with friends. Do you tapas?
Tapas: a variety of snacks or small plates, they could be cold (like a cheese or olive plate) or warm (like calamari) and they are meant to be enjoyed socially and easily shared. Derived from the Spanish verb, tapar which means “to cover”, the original tapas were served in Spain; a slice of bread as an accompaniment to wine and cover the glass between sips. Before long meat and cheese were being served as well and that expanded into a small plates options that varied depending the region. In Spain lunch is typically the big meal of the day and dinner is customarily eaten between 9 and 11pm so tapas or smaller sized portions are a popular option for this meal.
Tapas style restaurants have spread to the United Sates serving Spanish cuisine as well as American and Asian themed small plates. Usually offering a generous wine and/or cocktail menu and a hip atmosphere, tapas restaurants and bars have become trendy hot spots.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite Tapas spots around the country:
So whether you’re looking for a late night snack, a cool place to have a sophisticated gathering for friends, or have a small bite while enjoying drinks, tapas might be just what you’re looking for. Fair warning though, small plates don’t necessarily mean small prices, so whenever possible take advantage of the happy hour.
Like your favorite restaurants on Facebook and you might be saving money the next time you dine out!
Restaurants are slowly but surely jumping on the social media bandwagon. Historically lax at marketing themselves, even the smallest of ‘Mom and Pop” restaurants may finally have found a type of advertising that works . . . and it’s cheap! With over 700 million users worldwide, the large restaurant chains especially are utilizing Facebook as a way to reach out to potential customers and let them know about specials, events, and even promotions & discounts. But social network marketing can be beneficial to smaller restaurants as well, word of mouth spreads exponentially faster through social media and most of a users “friends” will probably be in their same area, making them potential customers as well. And with this in mind, it makes sense for us diners to “like” places we actually like so that we can take advantage of deals and never miss another event.
For example, Applebee’s just recently launched their new “Check-In and Win” contest. All you have to do is go to Applebee’s on Monday night to watch football and check in through Facebook Places. The restaurant will provide a QR code to scan with your smart phone to make sure the check-in is valid. Each week you check-in gives you the chance to instantly win an Applebee’s Digital gift card for $5, $10 or $20. Also, every check-in is an entry into a sweepstakes offered by Applebee’s and ESPN where the grand prize winner will receive an “ESPN Full Experience Package.” The Grand prize includes three days and two nights in New York City (to visit ESPN headquarters) and Bristol, Connecticut (for a tour of the ESPN center studios.) The winner will also receive $200 worth of merchandise out of the ESPN exclusive store and an Applebee’s $200 gift card so they can enjoy the restaurant chain’s food while on their trip. All for doing what so many of us do anyway, talk about “eating good in the neighborhood?!”
Zagat conducts survey of chain restaurants in the US. Find out what fellow diners think and do you agree?
Zagat has a reputation for being a long-standing reliable guide and source for feedback about fine dining and upscale leisure activities. In recent years however, they have extended their listings to include more lower tier chain restaurant establishments offering both full and fast fast-food service.
This year’s Fast Food Survey is a great guide as to where popular chain restaurants in the United States stand with consumers. They have also taken the time to categorize the different chains, differentiating between establishments geared more towards “quick refreshment” or “full service”; and allowed consumers to vote on which establishments serve the best of a popular menu item, like burgers or coffee.
The big winners for “Best Overall Value” were McDonald’s and The Cheesecake Factory for fast-food and full-service respectively. But I think it’s a sign of the increased awareness for healthy eating that the most popular chains were Subway and P.F. Chang’s.
Curious to know where your favorite restaurant brands stand in the rankings? We were too, take a look at the 2011 Zagat Fast-Food Survey results! The most interesting part of the survey were the quotes that Zagat lifted from the comments left by consumers. So even though some of these restaurants came out on top of the “Best” list for a particular category, be advised that it may just be because they were the lesser of all the other evils that sometimes plague fast-food eateries.