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 »

Helping and Hugging the Homeless

Handing out donated food

Handing out donated food

Last year, San Diego’s homeless population was estimated at nearly 9,000 people – no small matter. My friend Jacqueline Penhos of Art of Being You came up with a great solution to improve the lives of the local homeless:  a monthly event called “Hugs and Bags.”  Our team of volunteers, which has grown to include adorable children learning the virtues of giving, handed out donations of clothing, food, toiletries and other goods, both new and used. Homeless people and veterans in downtown San Diego lined up eagerly to receive not only warm hellos but the bags filled with useful items.

Hugs and Bags, held on the last Saturday of each month, is growing. The first time we hit the streets last December, we only had treats for women; the Jan. 25 event honored men as well.  Jacqueline did a great job securing donations of not only clothes, toiletries, and condoms, but kids’ toys, bagels, sandwiches, and fruit, and even had a lovely musician perform last time.

For more information or to volunteer or donate items, contact Jacqueline at (619) 200-2708 or through her Facebook page (link above).

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January 28th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Appetizing African Flavors

San Diego is bringing smiles to those with adventurous palates – there are restaurants with everything from Persian to Mexican to Moroccan to Vietnamese cuisine.  Some of us are crazy about highly flavorful and sometimes spicy meals at local East African restaurants, most of which are in the North Park and City Heights areas.  I have long been sharing healthy Ethiopian and Eritrean meals with local friends, using the injera flatbread to scoop up delectable lentils, greens, potatoes and salads.

Recently I tried something similar, composed of lentils, collard greens, and other veggies, but with different seasonings. Also, instead of injera, the meal was served with freshly made delicious chapati bread like I had when in Uganda. The Kenyan owner and his staff are very friendly at Flavors of East Africa. If this is not the time for a vacation, we can always take one in our own town, and for a few hours, feel like we are in Africa or other foreign lands.


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January 15th, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Crepes and Hot Springs = Happiness

crepeTwo weeks off at the holidays gave me the freedom to take a few short road trips. First, I saw some of the huge family in L.A. and made a long-awaited stop at LA Vegan Crepe for a late breakfast buckwheat crepe with Daiya cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and other veggies. Though the meal was delicious and unique for a longtime herbivore, the restaurant seemed short-staffed and service was rather slow. However, pleasing customers at a vegan (or any) business is not a piece of cake. Overall, I support their original concept and was pleased with the meal and the ambiance.

My next adventure was about an hour East of San Diego. When I lived in Colorado, natural hot springs were a frequent jaunt, and some were gorgeously located outdoors with mountain views. San Diego doesn’t compare, but just an hour away is the tiny town of Jacumba and the laid-back Jacumba Hot Springs Spa and Resort, where I chilled out for a night, soaking in the mineral baths along with other travelers. The sulfur’s healing properties soothe arthritis and soften your skin. I suggested they have more veggie options at the hotel restaurant; luckily there is a Subway a few miles away and a little store across from the spa for nuts, drinks and so on. Enjoy!


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January 3rd, 2014 by veglady | No Comments »

Optimum Health Institute – A Great Resource

ohiI finally made it to a free Sunday open house tour (and dinner) at Optimum Health Institute (OHI), a gem in the Lemon Grove area of San Diego that focuses on a balance of body, mind and spirit.  All spiritual traditions are welcome at OHI. The San Diego spot has a nice relaxing atmosphere and hosts about 100 students; they also have a center in Austin, Texas, which usually has around 20 guests.

To help guests detox from numerous health issues, OHI serves raw vegan food — what they describe as light, easy to digest, and high in nutrients. OHI provides as much organic and local food as possible to the guests passing through for what is typically a three-week stay (they say it takes 21 days to change a habit). Some people attend for one week and return later in the year, depending on their schedules.

One of the first things I spotted when entering the main building was an interesting drink called rejuvelac — sprouted grains fermented with lots of digestive-healthy probiotics such as rye and quinoa. We saw the wheatgrass room where students learn to grow their own green nutritious juice, and heard about classes in digestion, gardening, and many other areas of interest. We passed a colon hydrotherapy area, along with a spa and massage rooms.

Here’s more info on the open houses on Sunday afternoons.

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December 21st, 2013 by veglady | No Comments »

Pumpkins R’Us

unnamedMy first job as a teenager was baking unhealthy but oh-so-yummy muffins early in the morning at an L.A. shop. Decades later, I am still a fan of baking and sweets. Nowadays I experiment with healthier alternative sugars like coconut nectar syrup and coconut sugar, and gluten-free flours from buckwheat to chickpea to brown rice flour.  These products feel better going down and the alternative sugars do not cause sugar crashes.

With the holidays here, pumpkins are all the rage and a flavorful addition to baking. One non-bake holiday recipe I enjoyed was this gluten-free pumpkin “fudge” by rather creative Ricki Heller. It is not a fudge in the chocolate sense, but is tasty and fitting for people who love coconuts — it’s composed of coconut butter, coconut oil, and coconut sugar, among other high quality ingredients!

Try these delicious pumpkin muffins that are not gluten-free but could be adapted. The Internet is exploding with recipes for all diets and preferences, and Google is your friend.


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December 8th, 2013 by veglady | No Comments »

Grateful and Healthy

1450968_421835091277145_1270584050_nIt’s the time of year for spending chilly days with loved ones and focusing on gratitude. As Oprah says, being grateful is by far the most powerful thing you can do to change your life. I keep a daily gratitude journal, noting even the small things like a colorful candle on my table or a nice compliment received. What are you grateful for?

During Thanksgiving and other holidays, it can be easy to over-indulge in all the chocolate, candy canes, and other sweets being thrown our way.  It’s important to enjoy life, but also wise to maintain a foundation of health as we are vulnerable to winter colds and flus.  Cups of ginger tea keep us warm and well; likewise, chefs worldwide are always inspiring us to eat with nutrition in mind.

This article from Vegan Mainstream features a new e-book, Twelve Terrific Thanksgiving Recipes by Stephanie Weaver, filled with some veggie-friendly and gluten-free ideas for late November feasts. Enjoy!





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November 27th, 2013 by veglady | No Comments »

Support Refugee Causes, Especially at Holidays

jalI had the pleasure of seeing Emmanuel Jal (pictured) speak and perform last weekend. A refugee from Sudan, he tells powerful stories of growing up in a war zone and refugee camp, losing relatives, and suffering from starvation. He motivated the crowd to make a difference through local youth programs and activism.

International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a well-known humanitarian nonprofit organization supporting refugees around the world. Sunny San Diego is a main hub for refugees, and we are lucky to have an active branch of IRC.

IRC is having a Peace on Earth Holiday Bazaar on Dec. 7. from 10 am- 2 pm.  Another  wonderful way to support some of these refugees who start their own businesses once they come to the U.S. is to purchase their veggies, fruits, crafts and other products at the City Heights Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 9 am- 1 pm at Fairmount Ave. and Wightman Street in City Heights.


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November 16th, 2013 by veglady | No Comments »

Special Weekend for San Diego Veggie-Lovers

orblogoIt’s an exciting time in San Diego for herbivores and their friends.

For years, many other cities have had vegetarian festivals; it is wonderful to see San Diego catching up with the trend. This weekend is the second annual San Diego Veg Festival in North Park along Herman Ave between University Ave. and North Park Way. The main event is Saturday, Nov. 9 from 10 am –  5 pm but there is also a Sunday brunch at Casa de Luz from 10 am – 2 pm. Saturday’s gathering will have speakers, food demos and samples, an eco-friendly fashion show, and even features as specific as making your own dog biscuits and vegan cheese making!

Also, Moncai Vegan is opening a restaurant any day in North Park and fans are eagerly awaiting.  Their spot will be 3131 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104. Their brunches at San Diego Public Market and food at other farmer’s markets receive raves.

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November 6th, 2013 by veglady | No Comments »