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!





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.

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!

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.”



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).

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.


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!


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.

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.


December 8th, 2013 by veglady | No Comments »