Marveling at Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato

Written for VegDining.com

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Pyramids of Mexico City

Venturing through Mexico is definitely doable, though it takes research and resourcefulness, especially as a vegan. Efforts are needed to avoid lard, chicken stock, and other animal ingredients while also dodging stomach issues that may arise from local unbottled water or produce that has not been cooked or disinfected. Speaking Spanish helps with asking wait staff questions, though there are no guarantees.

In enormous Mexico City, I was mainly fueled by beans, avocados, and steamed vegetables. In charming Coyoacan, the area in which Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived, I had a tasty grilled vegetable meal at Anselma Parilla Mexicana, with a broad view of the surrounding plaza and fountain. We soaked up other sights too, walking down Avenida Madero in the historic center and climbing the incredible ancient Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán, said to be the third largest pyramid in the world.

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Guanajuato Views

We were captivated by the colonial towns San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, which offered some decent vegan options. From Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende was about three hours by bus, and worth the ride for its gorgeous scenery filled with churches, plazas, and a European feel. Via Organica at Calle Margarito Ledezma 2 was our mainstay, a peaceful environment with many expatriate clients, an organic garden, a natural foods store, and a pretty upstairs patio. I enjoyed their tamales, soup, salads, and green juices. La Media Naranja at Hidalgo 83 is a small and bright spot that prepares a yummy “Mexican Eggs without Eggs” breakfast of spinach, beans, potatoes and pico de gallo, and nutritious juices with ingredients like beet, ginger, and celery. They serve falafel for lunch too. Nectar, at Correo #43, which had fish but was otherwise a vegetarian spot, was a refreshing change with a more gourmet touch. In a relaxing outdoor patio, we could choose quinoa, teff, and millet cereals with almond milk, a vegan meatball sandwich, or zucchini soup infused with lemongrass tea, among other unique vegan and gluten-free options.

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Mandala

Guanajuato was about a four hour bus ride from Mexico City. I was completely enticed by the steep alleys filled with colorful buildings and tranquil vibe. There were tours of mines, and creepy museums filled with mummies and torture devices used by the Holy Inquisition. Habibti Falafel at Sostenes Rocha 18 was a small funky restaurant that became a favorite, dishing up delicious falafel, hummus, grape leaves, and salads. Mandala, 32B Calle Sangre de Cristo, served flavorful Indian food in a cheery environment. They also had vegan brownies! Midi Bistro, in South of France style at Calle San Jose #4, had an appealing minestrone soup and couscous along with live music and art.

For more nutritionally-balanced trips, I suggest staying somewhere with a kitchen that enables you to prepare your own meals, and remembering that the joys of travel outweigh the lack of culinary variety.

Photos by Paige Newman, 2014

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December 15th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

The Yucatan Peninsula: Caribbean and Colonial Charm

By Paige Newman, written for VegDining.com

Merida

Merida

A week in Mexico’s delightful Yucatan Peninsula ended all too soon. I loved the clear Caribbean Sea and the small beach towns, and we lucked out with finding restaurants with healthy options.

Merida was our first cherished locale – a gorgeous, tranquil colonial city. The walkable plazas were vibrant with that Latin American essence, and amazing old trees. Vendors’ tables showed off attractive handmade blouses and jewelry, and pastry carts rolled by while musicians chimed in and couples chatted in silly swivel chairs. At first, finding veggie food in the heart of the city seemed hard. I resorted to one of my old travel tricks: scouting the local store for a can of refried beans and corn chips. Then the curtains parted when we discovered Amaro Vegetariano y Internacional on Calle 59. The herbivore-friendly menu, romantic colonial courtyard setting with live music, great guacamole, and veggie fajitas captured my heart. Amaro instantly became one of our favorite restaurants, ever.

El Vegetariano, Tulum

El Vegetariano, Tulum

We left Merida in a long-distance bus, an adventurous way to explore if you can ignore the ubiquitous televisions blaring with violent North American movies. We skipped the extreme tourist spots like Cancun and boarded a bus for about three hours to Tulum, our first stop along the Caribbean Sea. Don’t miss this land of ancient Mayan ruins on a cliff above the bright blue ocean. The beaches were stunning but packed. Back in the town of Tulum, we kept returning to La Hoja Verde. It’s a small and friendly place to grab a falafel, soy burger, or green smoothie, and it was conveniently close to the ADO bus station on Avenida Tulum, the main drag.  They sell t-shirts, vegan meats, and other household items. On the same highway but not as centrally located, El Vegetariano also offers falafel, salads, other vegan and vegetarian entrees, and fresh juices. You can watch the meals being lovingly prepared in the open-air kitchen.

Akumal

Akumal

Next we went off the beaten track to Akumal, a roughly 20-minute taxi ride from Tulum. We had an extremely windy stay with the ocean too rocky for swimming, but the Yal-Ku Lagoon was a refreshing spot to dunk into cool waters and view garden sculptures. Admittedly I didn’t do much research, and found no memorable veggie fare in a short visit.

Another beloved beach area was Puerto Morelos, a small town about an hour from Tulum. We liked the relaxing vibe and calm, turquoise waters so much we gave up braving the famous Chichen Itza ruins for a few more coastal days! El Nicho Restaurante on Avenida Tulum and Rojo Gomez had a delicious breakfast called “Vegan al Gusto,” containing beans, potatoes, toast, local greens known as chaya, and an oven-roasted tomato. La Terraza also on Rojo Gomez had fun art and serves wonderful salads, Indian soups and other veggie dishes.

Since meatless options are more limited in certain areas, I suggest doing research before venturing out, as with any international trip. It’s absolutely worth the efforts to experience the wonders of the Yucatan!

Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos

Another beloved beach area was Puerto Morelos, a small town about an hour from Tulum. We liked the relaxing vibe and calm, turquoise waters so much we gave up braving the famous Chichen Itza ruins for a few more coastal days! El Nicho Restaurante on Avenida Tulum and Rojo Gomez had a delicious breakfast called “Vegan al Gusto,” containing beans, potatoes, toast, local greens known as chaya, and an oven-roasted tomato. La Terraza also on Rojo Gomez had fun art and serves wonderful salads, Indian soups and other veggie dishes.

Since meatless options are more limited in certain areas, I suggest doing research before venturing out, as with any international trip. It’s absolutely worth the efforts to experience the wonders of the Yucatan!

-   Photos by Paige Newman, 2014

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November 13th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Following the Breeze

1916924_1189517811044_7613825_nThis post is in honor of our dear family friend Deborah Shemesh, the beautiful blond in this 2009 photo with her son Adam and I. Deborah passed away a few days ago after 34 years of warding off cancer. She’d hit the big 60 year milestone, was thrilled to have become a Chopra Center Certified instructor in recent years, and watched her son Adam turn into a wonderful man. She wrote this article in late September and had started signing emails “dying gracefully.”

She emailed me “life is such a magical mystery,” and suggested I keep following the breeze rather than go against the wind. I am so grateful to have known her and that she may now rest without so much pain.

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October 28th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Blogger’s Break

Life is full and I am on an indefinite break from blogging . . . may you enjoy the sunrises and sunsets.

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May 24th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Always Adventuring

nativefoodsThe first piece of exciting news in the San Diego region is that the beloved veggie heaven aka Native Foods is opening in Point Loma on April 29. I went to a delicious pre-opening event and was stuffed with tortilla soup and salad, while eyeing the amazing nachos and sandwiches others were eating.

I read that veggie-friendly Swami’s has taken over the beautiful North Park space that housed Casa de Luz. Sounds fun to fill up on pancakes, soy turkey and other items for breakfast.

Exploring nearby Tijuana is a fun way to get some culture and try new foods too. The indoor-outdoor Mercado Hidalgo has everything from a naturopathic-type store with herbs and incense to spilling-over containers of Peruvian beans unnamed(pictured) and chia seeds. There were long lines for freshly-cracked coconuts, and tables decorated with enormous jackfruits, mangos with chili powder.  And don’t miss the live concert with romantic ballads in blaring volume.

 

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April 27th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Yummy Yucatan

YucatanMarch2014 037A week in the wonderful Yucatan ended all too soon. I loved the clear Caribbean sea, the small beach towns, and hearing Spanish spoken everywhere. We also lucked out with great hotels and natural foods finds. As always, I looked to Happy Cow for some veggie options.

Merida was a favorite trip spot – a gorgeous, tranquil colonial city. At first finding veggie food in the heart of the city seemed hard, but then we came upon Amaro Vegetariano y Internacional and drooled over the beautiful setting, great guacamole, veggie fajitas, and live music.

When in Tulum: La Hoja Verde was a small and friendly place to grab a falafel, soy burger, or green smoothie, and was conveniently close to the ADO bus station on Avenida Tulum, the main drag.  On the same street but not as centrally located, El Vegetariano (upper photo) is an open-air restaurant also offering falafel and other vegan and vegetarian meals.

Another beloved beach area was Puerto Morelos. El Nicho Restaurante on Avenida Tulum had a delicious vYucatanMarch2014 087egan breakfast, pictured.  La Terraza serves wonderful salads, Indian soups and other veggie dishes (sorry, I don’t have the address, but it’s a tiny town so have no fear as to locating places).

Viva el Yucatan!

 

 

 

 

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April 9th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Ciao for Now

Saludos! I will be back in April after vacationing in Mexico soon and taking a break from writing. Ole!

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March 17th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Nuances of Nut Butter

unnamedThe timing was perfect. Just as I was becoming bored with the Trader Joe’s almond butter and peanut butter occupying space in the fridge, the package of Artisana Foods products arrived, to my delight. I was familiar with the company from snacking on their amazing coconut butter over the years, but the nut butters opened up a new world of protein options. The originality of the flavors and high quality of the walnut, macadamia, pecan, cashew and almond butters really stand out. Nutritionally speaking, the products are not only organic but raw, and lack gluten, dairy, sugar and salt! And who doesn’t feel good buying from a company that supports small organic family farms?

The smooth texture is the most noticeable feature of these nut butters, which are decadent and fresh-tasting additions to meals and snacks. One of the best breakfasts I have had in eons was a gluten-free banana pancake with spoonfuls of these spreads on top. For those indulging in chocolate, Artisana Foods makes a cacao bliss spread that looks great, as well. You will go nuts over these products.

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March 4th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Awesome Avocados

imagesPeople sometimes ask “if you were stuck on an island and could only have a few foods for days on end, what would you eat?” Have you pondered this question? My latest response is  avocados (and coconuts). Not only do avocados remind me of their tropical homelands of Central and South America, areas through which I have passionately ventured, but I never seem to tire of the dreamy fruits for meals and snacks at any time of the day. Luckily avos are not only versatile and great-tasting but contain healthy monounsaturated fats and nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and vitamin C.

I was excited to learn through this article that avocados, a favorite food of Southern Californians in particular, have less than a half gram of sugar. The divine fruit does not cause blood sugar crashes. Enjoy and ole!

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February 20th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Victorious on Valentine’s Day

heartsValentine’s Day is less than a week away, and some people are scrambling to find loved ones tokens of their affection. A dinner date or the typical roses and chocolate may fit the bill, but if you are feeling more creative or wanting to buy something healthy and ecologically-friendly, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, also known as Healthy Voyager, has outdone herself with this great article filled with resources. She names everything from a beer-making kit to green lingerie.

In San Diego, Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market, affectionately known by locals as People’s, carries organic chocolates, candles, and cozy socks, and they are selling some cute heart-shaped rocks with words like “kisses,” “adore,” and “sweetheart.”

 

 

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February 8th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »