Tag Archives: restaurants

Portion Control… also key to good health

14 Aug

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Sometimes we eat more with our eyes than with our stomachs…  we miseducate our bodies into believing more food equals more health and that is an erroneous notion.  it is not the quantity of food, but its quality, that creates a positive equation for our long-term health.

Eating more than we should brings a slew of issues – obesity or being over weight, digestive issues like reflux disease, which might bring forth other issues like insomnia, lack of restful sleep, lethargy, lack of energy, indigestion,  etc.

Let’s re-educate ourselves into eating more healthful portions:

  • Serve yourself in a smaller plate… the plate will be full with less food and you will train your brain into thinking this amount of food IS ENOUGH for you.
  • Learn to fill yourself up with fresh salads.  If you still feel a small plate is too little to start your transition, complement your small plate with fresh veggies which carry lots of phytonutrients. Also, add fresh fruits to your breakfast or even as snacks…
  • When eating out, order a 1/2 portion – many restaurants offer 1/2 portions.  Ask for them…  And if even that is too much share a meal with someone or only eat half of it now and save the rest for later.
  • Take a walk after a meal.  This will increase your physical activity, help your digestive system do its job faster and increase your overall health.  When people eat large meals and immediately stay at rest or even take a nap it prevents the digestive system to do its job promptly because you’ve ordered your whole system to rest,,, so all that food stays in your stomach to ferment… not fun!
  • Do not eat a full meal too late at night – for the same reason as above.

 

Let’s take control of what we eat and the quantities we eat and over time you’ll see it in your health and possibly even your waistline…

 

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Buenos Aires Vegetarian Restaurants – Naturaleza Sabia

18 May

Can a vegetarian eat well in Buenos Aires, the land of the Parrillada??? OF COURSE!!!!

From the moment I started mentioning to people I was traveling to Buenos Aires, people were questioning and worrying, where would you eat?? I never worry about these things because I know that I will learn how to navigate the local menus to be able to:

  1. Eat the local favorites
  2. While still maintaining my vegetarian diet and lifestyle intact

They say in life there are NO COINCIDENCES… Adriana, the tour guide I had been in contact with over email, happened to be a long-time vegetarian too. She even had a vegetarian restaurant for a little while a few years back. She offered to provide us with information on vegetarian restaurants in the city… JACKPOT!!!

Adriana took us on a walking tour of Buenos Aires… we WALKED for about 7 hours that day. We visited all the major touristic points in the city on foot – the Recoleta Cemetery, Ave. 9 de Julio, Florida Street, Plaza de Mayo, Casa Rosada where Evita saluted her people… and believe me, after all that non-stop walking you get hungry.

So Adriana took us deep into the San Telmo area for lunch to savor our first vegetarian restaurant experience in Buenos Aires – Naturaleza Sabia.

Naturaleza Sabia is a nook of tranquility from the bustling streets of Buenos Aires. The décor is simple and serene. I loved the chalkboard menu with all the favorites of the day…

They welcome you with a selection of dips with crostini – lentil, broccoli and carrot. They were all delicious, but my favorite by far was the lentil one. Kinda like a lentil hummus, if you will. I particularly loved the toasted sesame seeds on top.

We stayed in the realm of the vegan dishes to make sure no egg was included in any of the recipes.

My mom and I ordered two dishes to share – the House Salad and the grilled tofu with mixed vegetables sautee. This tofu is one of the best tofu dishes I’ve had in my life. The tofu was well seasoned and the crust in the outside gave it real nice character. It was really nice…

Between the dips, the salad, the tofu and the strawberry lemonade I ordered, I was too stuffed to be able to order dessert. I was even looking forward to the rest of our walking tour to be able to take care of the stuffiness…

Buenos Aires may be “the land of meat”, but they certainly know their vegetarian stuff too at Naturaleza Sabia.

Naturaleza Sabia
Balcarce 958 1064 San Telmo, Capital Federal, Argentina
(0)11 4300 6454

Taquería Los Pioneros… Ándale, ándale!!! Arriba, arriba!!!

14 May

Ever since Cinco de Mayo week I’ve had the worst taco cravings EVER!!!

I was traveling in Dallas recently and with all the work we had, I was not able to enjoy as much TexMex fare as I wanted. So as soon as I landed back in Puerto Rico, all I wanted was TACOS. And the best tacos in Puerto Rico are at Los Pioneros.

I learned about Los Pioneros from my Mexican friend Carla. She worked with me in P&G and Los Pioneros was her favorite place to get her Mexican food fix whenever she was feeling home-sick. To me, the measure of great ethnic food is if people from that region/country love it. If Mexicans loves Los Pioneros, then it has to be as authentic as can be.

I don’t know why I don’t visit Los Pioneros more often, because I drive by it almost every time I visit the Yoga Center. They’re located on Piñero Ave. in Puerto Nuevo. It’s super casual… you order at a window and sit in one of the wooden tables with benches until they call out your number.

Los Pioneros have a full menu of Mexican delicacies… but I usually go for the Vege-Tacos. They have 3 options to choose from:

  • Tacos de Nopales – Cactus Tacos
  • Tacos de Espinacas y Setas – Spinach and Mushroom Tacos
  • Tacos de Calabacitas – Zuchinni Tacos

I have ordered the spinach tacos, but by far my favorites are the Nopales Tacos. They remind me so much of the nopales sauce I had in Guadalajara over my chiles rellenos. They’re cooked with slices of mushrooms, onions and large pieces of jalapenos. If you’re not too find of eating chiles directly like me, I suggest you look thru your filling to make sure there aren’t any big pieces of jalapeno you prefer not bite into.  Can you see the piece of jalapeño right there, with the stem still attached???

They’re sold individually and you order as many as you want. They give them to you in a platter and you go to a station where you can pick your favorite condiments to eat them with: Lettuce, raw onions, and your selection of salsas that span from the mild tomatillo to very, very spicy versions I don’t even dare to look at. Remember I am the spice WIMP.

I usually order just 2 tacos, but the last few times I have been left wanting more… like a pregnant woman that just can’t get enough of her craving. And for the record – I AM NOT PREGNANT!!! But I have made a conscious decision I will start ordering 3 tacos from now on…

So if you live in San Juan’s Metro Area or if you’re visiting and get a Mexican food craving… all you need to do is visit Los Pioneros and you will not be disappointed at all. It’s not a vegetarian restaurant, but their vegetarian options are as authentic as they can be.

Have you eaten at Los Pioneros?? Do you agree with my recommendation??? What do you love to order??? Please share your vegetarian recommendations, because if they’re not, I won’t be able to try them on my next visit…

Los Pioneros
1511 Ave Piñero
Río Piedras, PR
787.781.6495

Vegetarian Vegas – MESA GRILL

9 May

My sister and Brother-in-law ROCK!!!!!

At the end of last year they decided to give my mom and me their time-share because they would not use it and they didn’t want it to go to waste. We debated and debated where to use it and after a huge search we settled for Las Vegas. This would be my first time in Las Vegas… Yes, I was until last month – a Vegas Virgin. I had been to Reno, NV when I was about 14 or 15 yrs old… but it has rained quite a lot since then.

I am not into gambling. We have casinos here in Puerto Rico and that’s not something that entices me. I have played a bit, I have won some too, but usually using other people’s money… but that’s an entirely different topic. The thing is… what do you do in Las Vegas if you are not a gambler and are traveling with your mom??? We both like to have a good time, but let’s face it, traveling with your mom is not exactly the equivalent of Party Central… And because we didn’t have to spend $$ on Hotel or Airfare (I told you, my sister ROCKS!!!!!), we decided to invest in 2 things – Shows and Food.

To me, the best restaurant we went to was MESA GRILL, yes, of Bobby Flay’s fame. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting all that much, but the ambiance, the service and the food were awesome. Had we had the chance, we had eaten here again…

Mesa Grill is located at the Caesar’s Palace Resort and just like most any restaurant in Las Vegas, it’s nestled in between the casino’s slot machines and game tables. We missed it the first time around we were looking for it. We went for lunch because we were into having big lunches and smaller snacks for dinner… that way we had the chance to eat at these celebrity restaurants at a fraction of the dinner prices. Besides, coordinating show times and dinner reservations was giving me stress and we opted for this arrangement.

One thing that helps us vegetarians is when eating at these restaurants, is we usually have to pick from options in the salads and appetizers menus. The restaurant guides tell you these are $$$ or $$$$ restaurants, but because you’re not ordering from the meat-heavy entrée menu, our bill was usually less than the average price the guides said.

This is what we had at Mesa Grill, and everything we ordered we split between my mom and I:

Being that we were in a fancy Bobby Flay restaurant, I wanted to order something nice to drink. Nice but non-alcoholic, it was still 2:30PM… so the server brought his recommendation. Don’t ask me what combination it was, but it was citrusy, tangy, sweet and yummy. And pretty-looking too, no??

While we waited for our salads, we received a basket filled with breads and these cornmeal muffins. Half the muffin was yellow cornmeal and half was blue cornmeal or a combination of the two. It had corn kernels in the batter, they were spectacular. I was a bit hungry so I asked for 2 more… my apologies for not writing down what was in the butter, but we did not have just plain butter with his corn muffins… Again, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!!!

 

Gala Apple Salad with Maytag Blue Cheese and Ancho Chile Vinnaigrette

I could have eaten a whole salad… and even though I am a spice wimp, I could tolerate the heat in the dressing. This was scrumptious and delectable. Big adjectives here…

 

Cremini Mushroom Quesadilla

This was so big we almost couldn’t finish it… It’s a 3 tier quesadilla, with roasted cremini mushrooms in between 2 tortillas and melted cheeses in the other middle between tortilla 2 and 3. I can’t remember what was in the Salsa Verde, but it was not cilantro heavy and it was delicious. We ordered it without the egg on top… and even without the egg, it was delicious with the crema Mexicana squirts on top… Mmmmm.

 

 

Goat Cheese Queso Fundido with Blue Corn Tortillas

OMG!!! Que rico!!!! This was “to die” for… I can’t tell you what’s the other cheese, but the regular melted cheese mixed in with the tanginess of the goat cheese and the pepper rajas on top… perfection!!! A standing ovation to Mr. Bobby Flay… My mom and I were fighting over the pepper rajas… Again, we are chiles wimps, but these rajas were the perfect balance to all that creamy cheesiness. I ate ALL of it… ALL OF IT!!!

We didn’t get a chance to have dessert… I wanted to try the CHURROS, but they were out of them already at the lunch service. And the rest of the desserts were egg-heavy so we said PASS. Besides, we were full already… ordering dessert would have been gluttony.

I am seeking MESA GRILL the next time I travel to NYC… I certainly did not expect to eat as well as I did. I am always skeptical of places with lots of hype… And the server, when I mentioned I was vegetarian, went out of his way to point out what I could order and what I should stay away. During my next visit, I want to order the Chiles Rellenos filled with Roasted Eggplant and Manchego Cheese, part of the Entrée part of the Menu, and they sound especially appetizing – kind of like Mexico and Spain meeting in the middle.

I am so pleased big name chefs, like Bobby Flay, have vegetarian alternatives in their menus… for us vegetarians to enjoy the mastery of their cooking skills and flavor combinations. I wish more local chefs would take notes from these hi-profile chefs and be more open to vegetarian patrons.

Stay tuned, next we’ll be sharing our experience at Otto, from Mario Batali…

Mario Batali supports Meatless Mondays in his Restaurants… NOT!!!

10 May

I recently read through an email I received from the Meatless Mondays campaign people that Mario Batali now joins the Meatless Mondays movement by offering at least 2 vegetarian options in all his 14 restaurants across the US every Monday.

         

 

This is the quote straight from the press release:

“The fact is, most people in the U.S. eat way more meat than is good for them or the planet,” maintains Batali. “Asking everyone to go vegetarian or vegan isn’t a realistic or attainable goal. But we can focus on a more plant-based diet, and support the farmers who raise their animals humanely and sustainably. That’s why I’m such a big believer in the Meatless Monday movement.”

“Every Monday, there will be at least 2 vegetarian dishes served, such as pasta or pizza.”

 

Photo from www.mariobatali.com

Initially sounds like a great idea and initiative… no?  Hey, big chef Mario Batali is making this big statement.  However, when you think about it in detail… is it really???

I don’t think so!!!!!

 I like the exposure the Meatless Monday is getting by associating with Mario Batali.  And in all honesty, I like Mario Batali’s TV shows, his recipes and hey, I have eaten at several of his restaurants already…  However, committing to have at least 2 options in a menu, which on average has between 60 and 70 items to choose from, represents a mere 3% out of the total menu options without counting desserts.  Not a big change or statement in my opinion. 

 To me, ANY successful restaurant that wants to cater to a wide audience should AT LEAST have 2-3 vegetarian/meatless options EVERY DAY!!! Not just on Mondays…  I know I like to eat out any day of the week.  I am sure all other vegetarians also feel this way…   And please notice I say vegetarian-suitable options, not just meatless… because the vegetable soup made with chicken stock or the pasta made with pancetta drippings or veal stock does not count and does not qualify to be on the Meatless Mondays list, in my humble opinion.

 Now, if Mario would have said ALL 14 restaurants, or maybe even just some of them, ONLY OFFER vegetarian/meatless dishes all-day Monday, every Monday, now that’s an initiative truly embracing the Meatless Monday’s concept.  Eradicating meat dishes from all restaurants on Mondays would demonstrate his true commitment and would make a real statement and impact on the environment and on public opinion.   But just 2 dishes on each menu?????  Give me a break…

 And why does Meatless Mondays agree to this??  Just to ride on the curtails of Mario Batali’s fame and media-draw?? 

“We’re delighted that Maestro Mario is helping to move the movement,” declares Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of Meatless Monday, an initiative of The Monday Campaigns. “If anybody can entice meat lovers to enjoy their veggies as well, it’s Batali!”

Because if I were Sid Lerner, I would try to work my charm to convince Mario to go big or go home.  I think the statement above is just using Batali’s fame to promote the movement.  And not lobbying to get Mario and his restaurants to do more is just wimpy in my opinion.

 And a question I would like to pose Mario himself…  Do you embrace Meatless Monday in your personal daily diet??  Do you cook meatless dishes every Monday at home?  Do you teach your children that meat-products are not necessary in a healthy daily diet and that they’ll start with Meatless Mondays??

 Now that’s something inquiring minds like me want to know…   Please feel free to share your comments about this news here.  I will make sure the Meatless Monday people get the message from me and you.

 Thanks in advance.

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