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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vegan in NYC: Vegetarian Festival, the Seed Pop-Up Market & Sacred Chow!

Have you ever felt so stressed out and anxious that it started to affect you physically?
Maybe your skin is acting up or your digestion is off or your chest feels tight and constricted.

I was experiencing all this and more for the past few weeks or so. All the pressure from school, work and (too many) extracurriculars had reached a peak and gotten to the point where my life felt less than manageable. 

I'm not here to bore you with details of my overcommitment, but I want to drive home the importance of simplicity.

I have become happy living with less- but I'm just now starting to realize that this principle can apply to commitments, not just belongings. I want to give my full attention and energy to everything I am committed to, which means that I may need to reassess and cut back on what those things are.

My body was telling me that I was doing too much- spreading myself too thin.
As someone who has trouble listening to their body, it was hard at first for me to take these physical signs as warnings, but as the adage goes:

So I have been attempting to be compassionate with myself, live in the moment, and open my mind to the possibility of removing some activities from my life (at least for the time being).

This is not easy for me to do, as I am deeply attached to everything I'm involved with currently.
Hopefully my last few days of freedom (spring break) will give me some mental clarity to make this decision.

And while we're on that topic, I'll segue over to my spring break trip to New York.
It was full of friends and family that spoiled me rotten with love and vegan food!

Just what I needed to take my mind off of post-midterm unease and an ever-growing email inbox.

Fresh off the plane from NC, I headed straight to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival.
You can check out an overview of the festival here at Peaceful Dumpling.
I ate my way through the festival, took home a bunch of buttons (my secret obsession) and found out about a bunch of cool start-ups like Amrita Health Foods and NotMilk.
My button haul
It just so happens that the Seed monthly pop-up market was taking place right next door- and entry is totally free- so I checked that out as well. (And by checked out, I mean ate my weight in free samples).

One standout from the market was the Blue Mountain spirulina cheese from Cheezehound.
Lagusta's Luscious, Gone Pie, and Sweet Maresa's (gluten-free/vegan macarons!!) also caught my eye.
And if the Quintessence's samples of raw lasagna and tiramisu are indicative of the rest of their menu, then I will be visiting the restaurant very soon.

Speaking of restaurant, I checked one (yes, just one) out while in the city.
It was Sacred Chow in the West Village and it was the deal of a century.

(Thanks, Groupon!)

Vegan, Kosher, Mediterranean and Asian-inspired dining.
 I got three tapas- the Root Vegetable Latkes, three greens with sauce (I think it was some sort of mustard), and Indonesian Tempeh.
  My dining partner (and grandmother) got a Grilled Nama Gori panini in a GF brown rice tortilla with a side of home fries and another undisclosed sauce (that tasted like cocktail sauce).

Of course, we split both dishes so that we could sample everything. Who knows when we would be back?

And because we hadn't yet reached our Groupon voucher limit...
Blueberry upside-down cheesecake! By far one of the best cheesecakes I've had. It was sweet but not too much so and had a nice consistency. It was tofu-based, which I tend to prefer to cashew or "cream cheese". While the texture of the others might be smoother, they always leave me feeling a bit heavy.

Regardless, I was stuffed for days after this meal. It's a great spot to check out because the food is delicious, the waitstaff couldn't have been nicer, and the menu provides diversity that you don't find at lots of other vegan and vegetarian joints.
That concludes my trip up north. I am glad to be home and getting back into a stable routine but I am also very grateful for the opportunity to get away for a bit.
It was just what I needed. I hope that you also follow your intuition and take some time for yourself this week, in whatever form that may take.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

What I Ate (Vegan) in Costa Rica

As some of you know, I spent a few weeks of winter break in the beautiful Costa Rica.
In many pictures and not-as-many words, here are some of the delightful meals and snacks I got to enjoy while I was there. 
In an attempt to be frugal, I did not eat out much while there. However, sometimes I just can't pass up a chance to try veg-friendly cuisine abroad. Here are the spots I did dine, in case you are curious:

Vishnu in San Jose
Salad topped with soy cakes
Cafe Organico in Montezuma
Vegan gelato- avocado (on top) and chocolate mint (underneath)
El Sano Banano in Montezuma
**unpictured- Pesto Veggie Pizza on GF Yucca Crust**

Honestly, another reason why I was hesitant to dine out very much was because I was paying for meals at the ranch that were 100 times better AND fresher.
Green juice + oats with homemade jam and PB
Oats + fruit, GF pancakes + papaya/chia/black bean pudding
Veggie patties, patacones, papaya noodle salad, mango sauce
Fresh-brewed water kefir (infused with passionfruit)
Hand-rolled spring rolls, hummus-filled collard wraps, brown rice & miso soup (to the right)
Top: rice/greens/flax cracker salad, bottom: lentil falafel
Curry fried rice, black beans, platanos, all over katuk salad 
L-R: GF empanada, cuadrado ball, potato mash, falafel, balsamic kiwi chutney, rice tabbouleh salad, black bean dip, guac, hummus, olive tapenade, toasted corn tortilla
A sampling of this:
The wonderful goodbye spread for my travel partner and I. 
It was a sad sight to leave.

But I am already thinking about a return trip!
Have you been to Costa Rica? Do you have any favorite food memories to share?