Tag Archives: vegan

Favorite eco-friendly meal subscription service in NY/SF?


Photo:  via Purple Carrot


There are plenty of sites comparing the major players such as Blue Apron and Plated, but not many focusing on the eco-friendly (e.g., sustainably/responsibly sourced, organic, great selection of plant-based meals, healthy, eco-friendly packaging, delicious, interesting) aspect. After reading about the cost-effectiveness of meal subscription services for busy foodies, I would like to try a basic plan for my partner and myself! The appeal of trying new recipes, curated by chefs/nutritionists is also a plus. I’m looking at:

Green Chef

Purple Carrot


Sprig (SF)

Terra’s Kitchen


  • What is your favorite eco-friendly meal subscription service in New York City and/or San Francisco bay area?
  • If you only tried one: Which one was it? Was it worth it? Did you like it and would you subscribe again?


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Gather restaurant, Berkeley, CA

My husband and I dined at the new local restaurant Gather for the first time, last Saturday night on the second day of 2010. It was packed!  The DJ was playing serious beats and the food had some creative, fresh presentation. It felt like a less pricey, more chill Chez Panisse — updated for a younger generation. The design has clean modern lines with a warm, comfortable wooden furniture, an open kitchen, and warm lighting that was intimate, yet allowed one to see and appreciate the food and dining partner.  It’s about time a new resto like this opened in Berkeley. We’ve been looking for an alternative to Herbivore and Gratitude.

The Gather website says “offerings are 50% omnivore, 50% vegetarian, and a strong vegan component.” Gather focuses on sustainability from its building materials to its food ingredients.  At this restaurant, vegan food is not an afterthought. In fact, the vegetarian food was of high quality and presentation. The SF Chronicle reports that the offerings are from chefs Sean Baker and Amy Pearce from the stellar Millennium restaurant in SF, specializing in vegetable-based cuisine. We are Millennium fans and cook from its Artful Vegan gourmet cookbook for special occasions.

We ordered the house made bubbly water (complimentary), chai cola, special  tuna appetizer, vegan “charcuterie,” tomato pizza, mixed lettuce salad, chocolate layer cake with cashew ice cream, and chocolate Pu-erh tea with soy milk. The vegan charcuterie was made up of intensely flavored, small piles of artfully presented vegetables. Everything was yummy, super fresh, and had a nice presentation.  An extra bonus for us (since we avoid dairy) was that the pizza and chocolate dessert both had a rare combination of being vegan, but also light and flavorful! It was the first time we tasted Numi chocolate tea. It had a delicious deep flavor that had us hooked. (I plan to head over to the Numi tea garden, Oakland to buy some for home.) The vegetarian parts of the meal were the best. There were so many delicious-looking items on the menu. I definitely want to try their house made sodas, house made frites, and heirloom bean ragout on my next visit.

The service was relaxed, cordial and easygoing, but also professional. We were pleasantly surprised to find such a delicious new place close to home with a lively crowd of all ages and good DJ music. We will be back in mid January to try lunch when Gather opens their more affordable, more casual, cafe area.

It was a great first meal out for 2010. Happy New Year!

Gather restaurant
2200 Oxford St., Berkeley, CA

Tips: Reservations are recommended.
Parking:  street, four lots (validation available), outdoor bike parking

Photo: Gather restaurant via Yelp.com



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Why Filipino Americans do it better

Why Filipino and Filipino Americans do it better
and other findings on Filipino American health


I recently heard a disturbing story from my aunt, a nurse with a Bariatric surgery team in CA. She recently got injured from holding up the weight of the fatty flesh of a patient undergoing reduction surgery for hours. My aunt was prescribed pain killers, and is on indefinite sick leave. (It sounds like a scene out of a surreal indie film, not reality.) Obesity is an epidemic in the US. I knew that, but I never heard of the field. Bariatics is “a field of medicine encompassing the study of overweight and its causes, prevention, and treatment.”

I noticed many of my relatives had health problems and wanted to learn about the causes and solutions. I found that Filipino Americans as a group are at risk for obesity — along with conditions such as diabetes and cancer. Tita Loreta, my hero and a breast cancer survivor, recently alerted me to the alarmingly high breast cancer rate among Filipina Americans. Tita Loreta is a nurse, manager, and facilitator of a breast cancer support group at UCLA.

Research: The bad news

Here are some research findings regarding Filipino American health issues. Note the interesting comments on Filipino American males and females, respectively.

“Filipinos had the highest incidence and death rate from prostate cancer and the highest death rate from female breast cancer” among Asian American groups in CA, where most Filipino Americans are based.
Source: “Cancer Incidence, Mortality, and Associated Risk Factors Among Asian Americans…,” A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, American Cancer Society

“Filipino adults are 70% more likely to be obese as compared to the overall Asian population.”
Source: “Obesity and Asian Americans,” US Dept. of Health and Human Services

“Filipino immigration to the U.S. is associated with changes in eating patterns and tendency to develop eating pathology. Eating disturbances are important to examine since Filipino Americans show high rates of hypertension and type-2 diabetes relative to other cultural groups. Research on Filipino Americans has indicated a surprising gender difference in risk of eating pathology. Filipino American males show a pattern of eating disorder symptoms and body dissatisfaction similar to that of White American females.”
(footnotes omitted)
Source: “Eating and Acculturation…,” North American Journal of Psychology

To add to this, there is the “colonization” of the Philippine culture by the food and pharmaceutical business. (I have observed that processed white bread, white rice, white milk etc. is often perceived and presented to be superior to the nutritious whole foods of the traditional Philippine diet.) I’ll save this topic for another time, since I’ve already presented an overwhelming amount of information.

Research: The good news

“Working as a plantation doctor between 1973 and 1976 on the Big Island of Hawaii gave me insights that saved my life and the lives of many others. My first generation Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese patients lived on rice and vegetables (foods they learned to love before they moved to Hawaii) – no dairy and little meat – and they were my trimmest and healthiest patients – no diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or prostate, colon or breast cancer. Their children and grandchildren, who were raised from birth in Hawaii, learned the American diet, and as a result became fat and sick.”
Source: “Logan Ginger,” Dr. John A. McDougall

Dr. Mc Dougall observed Filipino men thriving on vegetables, fruits, and rice. They had, what he describes as, “natural Viagra.”

“Men in their 70s and 80s were starting new families and demonstrating physical functions many American men only fantasize about after their 50s. These Filipino septuagenarians also expected to see their young children grow into adults, and they did. This virility and optimism was from their simple diets.”
Source: “Basic Nutrition from My Plantation Patients,” Dr. John A. McDougall

For Filipino Americans (and other populations) to thrive, Dr. McDougall makes a compelling case for nourishment from meals based on vegetable, fruit, and grains.

Related links
FiLipino American Vegetarian Association (FLAVA)

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Green cuisine in Emeryville, CA

Urban Emeryville, CA became our new neighborhood a few weeks ago and I immediately set out to look for local places that serve organic and/or vegetarian-friendly food. There were only a few restaurants listed in the SF bay green business directory. I did some investigating, and was surprised to discover quite a few places tucked into a land dominated by warehouses, businesses, and former factory spaces converted into dwellings.

Organic and vegetarian offerings
Arizmendi bakery +  — A workers cooperative associated with the famous Cheeseboard pizza collective. Offers coffee, food and ingredients made with fair trade and sustainable practices. The rich chocolate cookie made with chocolate chips and a hint of mint was divine. (It happens to be vegan.) The bread made with cherries and dark Guittard chocolate is also recommended for chocolate lovers.
Cafe Biere — In addition to an extensive beer menu, Biere offers organic greens and food from local sources.
Manzanita macrobiotic restaurant — The food here was fresh, nourishing, and thoughtfully prepared mostly vegan fare.

Vegetarian-friendly places
(recommended by friends)
Wally’s Cafe — A tiny, hidden place serving Mediterranean food near the Bank Cafe. Yelp reviewers reported that a poster for the film “Wall-E” by Pixar hung on a wall, and that its employees frequented the place. (The company is a few blocks away.)
Hong Kong East Ocean — Mainly a special occasion banquet and Dim Sum place with a nice view of the bay.
Pamir Afghan cuisine — It’s in the Emeryville Public Market+
I’ve only eaten at Manzanita and Arizmendi so far. I look forward to trying the rest of the places on the list!

Back to Earth +
Paulding +
Amiee Alan

Grow your own

Photo: J. Hanson, via flickr.com

Photo: J. Hanson, via flickr.com

Emeryville Organic Community Garden
I was told by a community member that she’s been on the wait list for years! I plan to sign up for a plot and wait patiently.

Beyond Emeryville: Recent finds in the East Bay
— Best freshest organic falafel I have ever had. Tasty salads too. The menu says: Chickopeas uses over 90% compostable utensils. Organic ingredients when possible. The menus are printed on recycled paper.
Thai Thai — Best Thai food I’ve tasted in the East Bay. Wild brown rice available. Fresh and organic. Take-out only. It is located in the Epicurious Garden building.
Berkeley Bowl West (BBW) market — “About one-quarter of the produce section is organic, with much of it coming from family farms.” Natural and organically raised meat too. Source:“Berkeley Bowl West Opens,” sfgate.com
Tofu Yu vegetarian and organic cafe — Located one block from BBW.
Note: Also see post reviewing Ajanta+ & Zatar+ restaurants in Berkeley.

Burma Superstar, Temescal — Most dishes can be made vegetarian upon request. When I visited, the food was lighter (less oily) and more delicious than the SF branch.

Kaiser Oakland Farmers’ market — I usually shop at the all organic farmers’ market in Berkeley, which was closer to my former home. I found the webpage for Kaiser Oakland organic farmers market, which is closer to Emeryville.

Bon appétit!

+ Denotes places listed in the SF Bay Area Green Business Program directory. These “local businesses comply with all environmental regulations and take actions to conserve resources, prevent pollution, and minimize waste.”


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Pumpkin pie & creme brulee recipes

The orange kabocha squash has bright orange flesh and a wonderful natural sweetness

The orange kabocha squash has bright orange flesh and a wonderful natural sweetness. This one is from the Berkeley Organic Farmers Market.

Why write about pumpkin pie recipes in the spring?! According to the USDA, pumpkin growing seasons are “from April 1st – July 31st and August 1st – November 30th for California crops.” Pumpkin is a beneficial food, high in antioxidants.

I recently made a delicious pumpkin pie for my husband’s colleague Raph and would like to share that recipe and other recipes. I use organic Kabocha squash in dessert, tempura and soup recipes because of its natural sweetness, depth of flavor, and because it is a favorite among chefs. (The rich gourmet Kabocha star anise soup in the Artful Vegan cookbook is to die for.) In my experience, the Kabocha is superior to the common pie pumpkins seen in markets in the fall. The delicious low-fat pumpkin filling recipe is from top natural chef Nava Atlas and used as a basis for the recipes. Nobody has missed the dairy when high quality ingredients are used.

Easy Vegan Pumpkin or Squash Pie
by Nava Atlas
modified by RB

Makes one nine-inch pie, six servings

2 cups well-baked and mashed Kabocha pumpkin
(Orange is preferable, but green is ok too. See Notes)
3/4 cup silken tofu (about half of a 12.3-ounce aseptic package)
1/2 cup natural granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp. each ground nutmeg & ginger)
2 tsp Allspice
9-inch good quality graham cracker or whole grain pie crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Red Kuri squash, or  butternut (less flavorful) squash may also be used.
The best silken tofu is Korean style.
Use all organic ingredients. Freshly ground spices are preferred and liven up the pie.


  1. Combine the pumpkin or squash pulp in a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except crust). Process until velvety smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into the crust.
  3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the mixture is set and the crust is golden.
  4. Let the pie cool to room temperature.
  5. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges to serve.
  6. Optional: Serve warm with delicious Wholesoy vanilla yogurt ice cream on side

How to prepare the pumpkin: Halve the squash or pumpkin (you need a really good knife to do so!) and scoop out the seeds and fibers. To quick cook the pumpkin or squash, pressure cook on high for ten minutes.

Orange kabocha squash after it is cooked in the pressure cooker. This method of cooking pumpkin saves time and energy.

Orange kabocha squash after it is cooked in the pressure cooker. This method of cooking pumpkin saves time and energy.

Second cooking option: To bake, place the the halves cut side up in a foil-lined, shallow baking dish and cover tightly with more foil. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp and discard the skin. Use any leftover squash or pumpkin pulp for another purpose.

Pie Crust Made with Oil
by Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons milk, soy milk or water

Mix the flour and salt together in one bowl, the oil and the milk in another. Gently stir the liquids into the flour until the dough comes together. Shape the dough in a flat disk, then roll it out between two sheets of wax paper, 1/8 inch thick. Peel off the top sheet of paper, invert the dough into a pie pan, and carefully remove the second sheet. If any tears occur — and they probably will — simply press the dough back together.

RB Tips
Flour options:
a.  Use 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus 1 cup white flour
b.  Use Arrowhead Mills organic gingerbread cookie mix instead of flour for an amazing cookie crust that goes well with pumpkin pie. (Usually sold in the fall, around the holidays. We ran out of flour for pie crust and used this on a whim — with tasty results.)
c.  Arrowhead Mills also makes a gluten-free all purpose baking mix.

Vegan Pumpkin Custards
Notes: Use the custard ingredients from the superior recipe above.  The following instructions are from Vegan Visitor.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Set a kettle of water to boil.
  3. RB Tip: Add soy milk to pumpkin filling from recipe above to make a more custard-like consistency.
  4. Pour the prepared custard mixture into six 3″ ramekins or similarly sized oven-safe serving cups, about 3/4 full.
  5. Place the cups on a baking dish with raised sides.
  6. Transfer the dish to the oven and pour the boiled water into the baking dish to surround the ramekins, in a bain marie, about 3/4 the way up.
  7. Bake for about 40 -45 minutes or until the centers are fairly firm and no longer jiggling.
  8. Cool before serving and top with soy whipped cream or alternative and a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.

Vegan Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
John’s dad and our nephews enjoyed torching their own custards during the holidays.

  1. Follow the instructions above for the custard, omitting the topping of the cream.
  2. Once the custard cups have completely cooled, evenly top about 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar per cup along with a light sprinkling of ground cardamom, if desired.
  3. Caramelize the sugar to a hard, golden, crackly crust with either a brûlée torch or under close watch, beneath the broiler.


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