Tea Time

indexAny techniques that help humans slow down and savor the moments in our fast-paced lives should be taken advantage of. Whether we twist ourselves into unimaginable yoga poses, walk along a beach, or sit still for a few moments of peace, self-care is always beneficial. For thousands of years and across the world, one way that people have relaxed is by sipping a cup of tea. Teas also offer many herbal properties that I love to put to use.  Mint and ginger soothe stomachaches, lavender and chamomile calm our nerves, and African rooibos gives a little buzz without the side effects of caffeine. With the conveniences of modern life, there are instant water heating devices that make boiling water incredibly easy.

Over the years, my younger sister Blair and I have mailed tea bags to each other across the country, adding a personal touch to our letters and cards. My other younger sister Tara moved to London and sweetly gifted me with this box (pictured) which I immediately filled with various tea bags. Now something as simple as drinking a cup of tea feels like a special ritual.  Tea, anyone?

March 22nd, 2016 by veglady | No Comments »

Real Food Daily Rocks Repeatedly

2I must confess I can’t seem to go to my hometown of Los Angeles without stopping by Real Food Daily. Whether it’s the Santa Monica or the West Hollywood location, I love the creative, delectable food and the stylish atmosphere.  My family, a mix of vegetarians, pescatarians and carnivores, enjoys dining at Real Food Daily often. Someday we need to try the Pasadena spot.

indexAt the Santa Monica locale, the bakery display shines and tempts. Yesterday I happily started my day with an herbal caffeine-free coffee called Teecino, along with a Breakfast Sammie filled with tempeh bacon, chipotle aioli, vegan cheese, avocado  . . .the list of yummy ingredients goes on. It was great; a lot of other menu options would have taken the cake as well.

The only thing wrong with this place is that it’s not in San Diego. Our fine coastal city boasts many more herbivorous choices these days, but having a Real Food Daily would move us into the category of a truly veggie-friendly and hip city.

February 23rd, 2016 by veglady | No Comments »

Puerto Vallarta – Healthy Options by the Sea

sunset2Puerto Vallarta may have been crowded at Christmas, but my boyfriend and I had a great time walking along the vibrant malecon, exploring nearby beaches by bus, and cafe-hopping. This was my first Puerto Vallarta vacation, but I have been to Mexico several times, slowly discovering more of the beauty and inexpensive travel not far from home.

Armed with my list researched on the web, I found a decent array of veggie options; I wish I could have made it to more of them. A favorite was Restaurante Vegetariano Mary (inside Hotel Paloma del  Mar), where you are greeted by a lovely owner and a casual buffet that makes you feel like you are in someone’s home. Mary told us about her powerful change of heart – she went from owning a carniceria (butcher shop) to practically giving the shop away once she felt compelled to go vegetarian.

planetavegAnother bright buffet in a peaceful setting is Planeta Vegetariano, conveniently close to the Lady of Guadalupe church and the ocean.  Not fully vegetarian — but still a mainstay in the Zona Romantica — was Salud Super Food, a popular place owned by expats from the U.S which served up wraps, smoothies, and used health-conscious items such as chia seeds, quinoa, and alternative milks like almond milk.

veggietableAt the Saturday farmer’s market in the Zona Romantica I caught not only some lovely local art but a vendor called Veggie Table that dished up veggie tacos, soy meats, burgers and such. They have a new shop in town too.

Even though I wasn’t eating as abundantly as I do in San Diego, I had many fine meals with a Mexican flair, and enjoyed the sunshine, ocean, and lively streets, as often happens in Latin America.

January 21st, 2016 by veglady | No Comments »

Helping Create a Community Park

12376605_10156329239130483_7929877980172315683_nI’m fortunate enough to be prepping for a holiday vacation in Mexico so I won’t say much, though I wanted to share a lil’ something we have been working on in the low-income area of Logan Heights near downtown San Diego. The dynamic project involved design input from the community, after which me and other people recruited hundreds of volunteers (especially high-schoolers) to build the Gilliam Family Community Space and Garden on Imperial Avenue. The 5,000 square foot space includes an amphitheater, maze, huge treehouse, picnic benches, and a teaching garden, among other unique features.

Check out the video:


The space tentatively opens in January 2016. The part at the end of the video about the fence coming down was a mistake by the reporter. Feliz fiestas!


December 20th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Chocolate – How I Love You

chocolateI will admit it feels like something is missing if I don’t have a piece of chocolate each day. Not a coffee drinker, I choose chocolate for a bit of a wake-up as well as to savor something decadent. Nowadays there are chocolate bars flavored with everything from mint to raspberry to hazelnut so almost anyone can join the fun.

The good news is that chocolate is increasingly touted for its health benefits, and the list keeps growing!  Want more physical energy and alertness? Hunting for an aphrodisiac? Looking to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, or diabetes, or to live longer? Would you like to improve your gastrointestinal flora? Amazingly, chocolate takes the cake.

The higher quality and darker the chocolate, the greater the health benefits. So cacao products and minimally processed chocolate products are reportedly the best bet. It’s also important your chocolate doesn’t have too high a sugar content; Trader Joe’s makes some yummy sugar-free chocolate bars.

Treat yourself!

November 17th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

African-Inspired and Woman-Powered Crafts

Photo – Southern Journeys Collective

I wanted to repost this article on an interesting and worthwhile pursuit – a worker-owned social enterprise inspired by weaving, piece sewing and quilting traditions originating in the rich cultures of West Africa and rural African American communities in the US south. Enjoy reading about Southern Journeys Collective in this intervew with Lara Jealous, textile designer.

What inspired you to get involved with this project?

There is so much that inspired me and made me want to be part of this project!

I have a passion for crafts.  As a textile designer, I work with large companies, developing textiles and products all over the world.  I was thrilled to be asked to support the Southern Journeys Collective – a sustainable social enterprise that celebrates American textile traditions and empowers women artisans.

I first met the members of the Southern Journeys Collective during a trip to rural Georgia nearly two years ago.  We met in their communal sewing room and I was immediately inspired by their dedication to their craft, the historical references they draw from and their deep desire to share their sewing and quilting traditions with the next generation.

In addition, I come from a long line of women who sewed, quilted, crocheted and embroidered.  Sometimes all this making was due to necessity and sometimes it was because it was a way to express their creativity and love. Their creations are family heirlooms and treasures that link me to them and our family history.  When I talked and worked with the women in Southern Journeys, it was like sitting with someone from my family. Because of this, my connection to the project is very personal.  The more time I spent with the women who are part of Southern Journeys, the more touched I was by their sense of community,  friendship and mutual support.

Did any of the women have stories of their lives that particularly stood out?

The story of each woman is unique.  I find their perseverance and dedication, despite extreme challenges and obstacles, both admirable and humbling.

11218714_912001582169184_2599130554640094778_nHow does a purchase make a difference in their lives?

Southern Journeys Collective grew out of the work of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative.  SRBWI facilitates rural women’s access to resources and community-centered economic development.  It empowers black women in 77 counties spanning some of the poorest and most remote communities throughout Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  A purchase of a Southern Journeys product provides fair wage income to women with very limited earning opportunities.  In addition, Southern Journeys makes the textile traditions and its members’ stories seen, enjoyed and heard. This, in itself, makes a difference.

Their products are handmade from recycled natural fabrics including denim, cotton and silk as well as reused burlap coffee sacks, and hand dyed cotton.  The hand dyed fabrics are sourced from a women’s collective in Acessa, Ghana which in turn provides income and educational opportunity to local African women.

For more information, see the Facebook page, and to make a purchase, go to their website. Bags can also be purchased at ABC Carpet and Home in NYC and Global Exchange in Berkeley, CA.


October 23rd, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Lyfe in Los Angeles

lyfe3We just took a quick trip through the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, where I spent my first years of childhood. Of course I had to explore any new culinary options on the horizon and something that came up quickly using everyone’s friend Google was Lyfe Kitchen on Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana. Conveniently a few doors from Chipotle and Whole Foods, Lyfe hit the spot. They had comfortable seating, fresh juices with all the trendy nutritious things from kale to chia seeds, and inspirational quotes on the walls. My veggie scramble with tofu was good, though that and my friends’ meals all were small portions.

lyfeLyfe has a handful of restaurants across the country, and claim to be LEED-accredited, with low-voltage lights and chemical-free paint. And who wouldn’t appreciate the tabletops and chairs made from fully recycled materials? Eco-friendly is the way to go. The wall of herbs as you enter (pictured) is a feast for the eyes, too.

September 12th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Always Something for the Adventurous

Happy August. I have been delighted with the growing list of places in San Diego that are either entirely vegetarian or vegan or have separate menus or entrees for herbivorous meals.

A big breakfast fan, I eagerly made it to Gelato Vero Upstairs.  The food is all vegetarian and vegan and was uniquely delicious. I loved the “eggs”made of chickpea flour, the cashew cheese, and the pesto that accompanied my Chickpea Faux-Juevo Breakfast Burrini (that name should win an award). Their waffles looked AMAZING but I am on a low mail.google.comsugar kick. The chef/manager Kirstin Green is a kindred spirit also into humanitarian efforts, leading a project in Ghana to establish an afterschool library and study center.

Cafe Gratitude, the restaurant known for dishes named with affirmations, has come to Little Italy! We loved the Awesome eggplant parmesan panini, and the place had a nice atmosphere, even when packed. Also new to Little Italy is Civico 1845, an Italian restaurant with a separate vegan menu I can’t wait to try.

mail.google.com2Khyber Pass, an Afghanistan restaurant in Hillcrest, is highly recommended for its peaceful setting and vegetarian platter with beautiful rices of different colors, okra, spinach, eggplant and other veggies, pictured.

The Purple Mint Vegetarian Bistro is another relaxing place to have some chow. This place opened recently on Mission Gorge. Some people say it’s great.

In other news, Moncai Vegan moved to 3531 Adams Avenue; more space is a good thing!

August 17th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Colombian Comida and Charms

Colombian foomail.google.comd brings back memories of my months in  South America years ago – delicious, warm arepas (corn cakes), and tropical nights in colonial Cartagena where green mangoes were sold on the street corner and salsa music blasted from the stores.

For a taste of Colombia in San Diego, go no further than Antojitos Colombianos in Logan Heights. The family-owned restaurant is on Imperial Avenue down the block from the upcoming Gilliam Family Community Garden and Park (more info) to be completed this Fall. Antojitos Colombianos staff fixes herbivores up with a delicious vegetarian plate of amazing empanadas (without cheese is also possible), fresh salsa, rice, beans, and cooked sweet plantain, a wonderful combination of flavors. They can also make cheeseless arepas for vegans.

11401387_969169786448684_4119538231794599607_nThe food is authentic and it would be hard to not enjoy the friendly, homey environment! Impressively, owner Javier Rodriguez recently attended the CA Small Business Day 2015 in Sacramento as Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Small Business of the Year honoree. Why not try a culinary adventure in your own backyard?

July 8th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »

Knockout Kauai

unnamed2Having returned from a recent visit to Kauai, Hawaii, I am happy to share some news on the island’s healthy food scene.

As always, my favorite on the island is Postcards Cafe (visit the Facebook page), where I feast on “El Sombrero,” fresh organic green salads, and the famous chocolate silk pie, pictured. Did I mention my parents own it? Regardless, it tops my list for both the delicious dinners and the romantic, cozy atmosphere.

unnamed As for updates, Common Ground in Kilauea has closed their cafe. My food ventures were mostly in Kapaa on this vacation. I spent time at Papaya’s Natural Foods and in the same mall, noticed Tropical Dreams Ice Cream serving up vegan flavors. A new place on the scene is Cafe Nirvana, a small stand with Indian vegetarian food and a few little seating areas. Nearby is Shivalik Indian Cuisine where I enjoyed the vegetarian lunch special. Also in Kapaa, the cafe Java Kai sells falafel, salads, a bagel with hummus, and some pretty desserts. The vegan chai latte cupcake and gluten-free chocolate mint mousse squares looked tasty! Rainbow Living Foods is the place for superfood smoothies, wraps, salads and other healthy fare.

With Kauai’s beauty and healthy lifestyle, and thus food choices, it would be a shame for anyone to not visit.



June 8th, 2015 by veglady | No Comments »