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A Very Veggie Thanksgiving

21 Nov

"Tofurkey" or turkey flavored tofu, reasonable vegetarian/vegan turkey substitute or against God's plan?

On Halloween weekend I made the mistake of watching my version of a scary movie, a documentary called, “Forks Over Knives.” In this film two Vegan nutritionists give their professional opinions on why meat as well as any animal food products are bad for you and demonstrate how  ingesting of them negatively affects our bodies. And I gotta say I was a little disquieted by what they had to say about how eating meat affects our circulatory systems and can cause cells to become cancerous.

As a meat enthusiast, it’s not uncommon to eat either chicken, pork, steak, veal, or fish once a day at least; or I’ll have eggs or yogurt and I love cheese. I had thought myself to be a pretty healthy eater despite that; nothing fried, I buy organic (mostly) and I don’t eat too many sweets. So it was really shocking to think that after being so “good” I could still be doing my body harm by having a piece of plain grilled chicken over my salad or a cup of greek yogurt!

Inspired/terrified by this new information, I decided to challenge myself and abstain from eating meat until Thanksgiving. I look forward every year to turkey with gravy, homemade mac & cheese, and the dessert splurge so there was no way I could forego all that but from November 1 until this coming Thursday I have followed the dietary guidelines provided in “Forks Over Knives.” And I discovered that a meatless and even a dairy/egg free diet is not that difficult to follow!

While having brunch this past weekend at Cafe Blossom (known for their organic and veggie-friendly menu) I noticed that they have a Turkey Day menu and I must say the absence of “tofurkey” and the special festive dishes were quite enticing. And I started wondering if a vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving would really be so bad after-all?

For the moment I am not resolved to quit meat or dairy forever because steaks, cakes, and shish-ka-bobs are just too delicious, but for the sake of my health I’ve decided to cut down on my meat intake. The benefits of doing so are great, especially if you have or have a family history of diabetes, cancer or heart disease. I’m not trying to scare anyone with this post because it’s Thanksgiving soon and the holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy, but I will be adding more vegetables to this year’s Thanksgiving menu because if there is one thing that I am always thankful for (besides family & friends) it’s my health!


Thankful For Restaurants

17 Nov

It looks like there will be fewer turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving as more people are making restaurant reservations this year and won't have the famous leftovers.

Thanksgiving is just a week away! It’s a favorite amongst holiday enthusiasts because it’s for everyone regardless of religion, there’s a four day weekend, it kicks off the holiday sales, and an abundance of good food is guaranteed. But having all that company over for Thanksgiving dinner and cooking for all those people can be a lot of pressure on the family chef. That’s why more and more people are making reservations at restaurants or ordering prepared food to-go from their favorite eateries.

I remember growing up most restaurants were closed on Turkey Day and sometimes even the Friday after. As if there was some unwritten rule that Thanksgiving is not only a day of thanks but also a day for mom to prove her culinary prowess and overall awesomeness by slaving over a hot stove. But now it’s socially acceptable to forgo all the hoopla and take the fam out to eat for the nearest Thanksgiving menu offering. Maybe today’s moms are secure enough in their “momhood” to not feel threatened by somebody else’s cooking?

According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, approximately 14 million Americans will eat at restaurants this Thanksgiving and an additional 16 million Americans will order take-out.  Besides the convenience factor (no cooking means no cleaning!) what are the other pros for eating out? Could it be that Boston Market’s mac & cheese is better than yours? Is Cracker Barrel halfway between your and your aunt’s house?  Or is the pre-fix menu at Ruth’s Chris healthier than your cousin’s usual heart attack inducing dishes? Eating out definitely leaves more time to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, catch the football game or go out to see the latest Muppets movie. Whether you are going five-star, family style, or carrying out you better start making your plans fast because you are not alone!

Occupy Wall Street, Get Free Pizza!

11 Oct
occupy wall street protestor

Occupy Wall Street protestors claim that only 1% of Americans benefited from the bailot received by the Banks in 2009, leaving the rest of us to resort to drastic measures.

Protestors have been occupying Wall Street for just over four weeks now demonstrating against the fact that while big banks have received huge government bailouts, none of that relief has trickled down to the middle and lower class in the form of loan grants and lower credit rates like it was intended to. Instead, the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors say that the banks and hedge fund companies are using that money to pay inflated salaries and bonuses with tax payer dollars. Which is a pretty bold move considering that most blame the banks for getting us into this economic mess in the first place!

Four weeks is a long time to be protesting and while a lot of the demonstrators have been lending their support at lunch, after work, and on the weekends; there is a dedicated group who has been camped out in downtown Manhattan the entire time!  Causing many to ask questions like where do they shower? And what do they eat? Well thanks to Telly Liberatos, they eat pizza! Liberato’s Pizza, located on 17 Cedar St., is selling what has come to be called “Occu-Pies” and encouraging those physically unable to participate with the “Occupy Wall Streeters” to contribute by having pizzas delivered to the protest site. For $15 a pop people from around the world have been ordering these 18-inch pepperoni pies to show their support for the cause.

Owner, Telly Liberatos has told reporters that, “I have nothing to do with the protest. I don’t take sides. It was

Protestors eating one of Liberatos' "Occu-Pies."

a very slow summer. I’m trying to run my business.” Which frankly takes some of the “feel-good” out of ordering a pie through him, but you have to give him credit for excellent business sense! And when you come down to it, if you do want to support the Occupy Wall Street Movement, but can’t support the time commitment I’m sure those who are camped out would appreciate a free slice on you!

Restaurants Support Breast Cancer Awareness

6 Oct

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, find out how you can give back while dining at your favorite restaurants!

Restaurants are going Pink this October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All over the country there are restaurants donating a portion of their revenue to local and national breast cancer research foundations. So before you make your reservations this month, check to see which of your favorite eateries is taking the time to give back.

We took the liberty of finding a few for you so if you are in New Orleans, DC, or Chicago check out these links and put your dining dollars towards a good cause!

New OrleansNOLA Goes Pink: 31 New Orleans restaurants will be offering $31 prix fixe dinners in support of breast cancer awareness throughout October. 10% of each sale will go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, New Orleans affiliate.  Participating chefs have pledged that their menus will feature clean, healthy, non-cancer-causing ingredients from produce purchased from local farmers’ markets and vendors. And, as evidence of their support, the chefs will wear pink chefs’ coats.

DCTake A Bite Out Of Breast Cancer: All month long over 24 restaurants will donate a portion of their proceeds to the first annual Take A Bite out of Breast Cancer to support Pink Jams!, an outreach and fundraising campaign focusing on early detection in young women (and men!) under 40 years old.

ChicagoIn Good Taste: Participating restaurants will donate $1 per check (or more if you desire) to the Lynn Sage Scholars Program at Northwestern University.

We know that there are many more areas that are taking this opportunity to give back. Let us know what’s going on near you!

This Week Dine Out For A Cause

19 Sep

No Kid Hungry Dine Out logoShare 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.

school cafeteria line

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.