Sunday, July 31, 2011



In Madison Square Park, not far from the Empire State Building, a festival is held every year by Pakistani-American to celebrate their culture. Food and clothing are sold, music from Pakistan is heard all day. Above left, a beautiful shalwar kamiz, a loose tunic paired with draped pants, the native dress worn by both men and women of Pakistan. Above right, the makings of roh, the national drink of Pakistan. It is the juice of freshly cut sugar cane, and no one was more surprised than I to find a truck full of cane, and with a traditional juicer on board as well. Below, the making of roh, right in midtown Manhattan. New York never ceases to amaze and delight!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


L A T E * T O * T H E * J U I C E * B A R

While the rest of the world was getting healthy and making various juice bar owners rich, I was home preparing and eating salads for eight. Eating them myself, I mean. Needless to say, there was a lot of peeling and chopping and slicing. I practiced my pathetic knife skills, I asked for and received a mandoline for my birthday, but no matter what the rest of the world was up to, I refused to juice, despite how much time it might have saved me.

Being a member of the Weight Watchers tribe, I would always feel guilty ordering a carrot beet and ginger juice as the beverage for an already calorific vegetarian meal (vegetarians have been known to pig out, too, when they splurge for a meal). I knew there were vegetables, and then there were delicious, red, orange, high sugar vegetables. The one time I tried a green juice, I threw all of it out after the first sip. I just felt, for so many reasons, that juicing was not for me.

And then I met two people who changed my mind. One in real life, and one in a movie. First, Ali Segersten. This is her wonderful blog, Nourishing Meals. We met in Colorado and when she gave me a small glass of a kale, apple, ginger drink she'd made, I loved it. Kind of opened my mind. But it wasn't until I met the second person that my diet started changing.

I think it was a tweet that led me to this movie by and about an Australian guy called Joe Cross. I watched the movie once, and the trailers a couple of times. It was that inspiring to me. And although I am neither fat, sick or near death, I brought my old juicer out of hiding and have been having a great time experimenting because of a movie I stumbled on about how juice fasts saved two men's lives.

I'm not fasting, just drinking the good the bad and the ugly juices I've been making, and which sometimes replace salads or entire meals for me, without my experiencing any hunger pangs (friends tend to think of me as a middle-aged baby: I MUST be fed every two hours, but not recently). I love all the juices I make, really, which has been the greatest surprise to me. Here's the trailer for the movie (I have nothing to do with it financially--just a fan), Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. If you are already juicing (you probably are, considering how late I am to all of this) then the movie will help you spread the word, and if you're not maybe you'll get on board.

The juice you see above was made from three carrots, three large beets, way too much ginger (maybe a 1.5 inch length!), one large sweet red pepper, probably about 6 cups of rainbow chard, and, in the end, to try to mute the ginger, a cup of fresh pineapple cubes and two cups of spinach. It was still pretty gingery so I drank it over ice which was fantastic!

And yes, I even love green juice now, too. The other day I made a wonderful kale, celery, parsley, cucumber, cilantro, kiwi and granny smith apple juice. Drank every drop, no lie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Although inspired by Marc Bittman's idea for a watermelon salad, to me, this would hardly be worth mentioning if it were not for the Persian cucumbers the watermelon is combined with. These cucumbers take the Kirby to another level: smaller cukes, even smaller seeds and much sweeter, too. Shred some fresh mint leaves, and you're done. Dressing? Not for me, but if you prefer one, I'd suggest the simplest of vinaigrettes with a mild vinegar, perhaps a rice wine vinegar. But, as I say, in my opinion, it needs absolutely nothing else but a fruits a vegetable, and an herb.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Apart from all the cheese cubes and chocolate truffles I tasted at this year's Summer Fancy Food Show, I did my share of what I hoped would be healthier snacking. Here are some samples of the crunchy snacks, made without gluten-containing ingredients.

You're probably familiar with the widely distributed Pirate Brands snacks. They're cheezdoodlish without the orange mess. Gluten-free and trans fat free as well. The Pirate's Booty is somewhat lighter (lower in fat and sodium) than the Smart Puffs snack,but both have a pleasant cheese flavor and crunch.

These snacks were the lowest (Popchips) and highest (Banana Chips) fat snacks I tried. Both were sinfully (with all their salt and crunch)delicious, but, sadly, although both contain no gluten ingredients, neither is labeled gluten-free. This is especially disappointing in the case of widely available Popchips, who, at the Fancy Food Show two years ago, told me they were "this close" to gluten-free certification.

What can I say? Chickpeas are my favorite beans. Naturally sweet.
Versatile. Falafel, socca and now, chickpea chips for your hummus--double the fun! The roasted red pepper is the spicier of the two, and although both are delicious, I prefer the pure chickpea flavor of the plain variety. Made in a plant that processes wheat, but tested (ELISA Assay) and gluten-free.

I'm assuming the beautiful nuttiness of these
crackers is derived from the combination of
quinoa, flax, sesame and amaranth seeds, but
whatever is the source, it's great!

The sweet and salty combo is something you
don't often find in a cracker, but here it is.
So interesting on their own, I've never found the
need to decorate them. Gluten-free.


This is the breakfast I have almost every day. It may look like a dieter's breakfast, but I have this as my first meal even when I'm not trying to peel off the pounds. Breakfast, clearly, is not my problem area. In fact, I'm a night binger. Not every night. But those tend to be my difficult hours. Since I figure I need to stay on track as long as I can during every day, this breakfast is a useful tool for me in my constant, although not always successful, attempt to manage my weight.

In the photo are sliced grape tomatoes with whipped lowfat cottage cheese, chives and soy bacos. The juice is a vegetable mix, and the (black) tea has Splenda and fat free milk in it. The rice cakes, two of them, are plain but salted. I hope this doesn't look too much like a dieter's prison meal, because I really like the way it tastes, despite the fact that it's low fat, full of vitamins, protein and bit of carbs for the carboholic in me. I know it's not perfect, so don't bother pointing out that I should be weaning myself off the Splenda and red dye in the bacos, because I already know that, and I'm doing the best I can! Maybe I need for this to also be my nighttime snack? Could this be the solution? What do you think?

Any other night-eaters of the gluten-free vegetarian persuasion out there with tricks to share? I would love to conquer this once and for all!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


What is luscious with lemonade?

What complements coffee?

What has been marvelous with milk, forever?

What is terrific with tea--iced, hot, green, black or white?

C H O C O L A T E !

These gluten-free and vegan chocolate treats are available at GlutenfreefromNYC.

Deliciously decadent.


I live in New York City, which has a huge number of wonderful museums, but from the moment I read about the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, I knew I wanted to visit it. Laziness, busyness, who knows. I never got there until I was on my way to the capital for this year's Fancy Food Show, and I am so glad I made time for the side trip. This museum is beautiful in every detail (doors, elevators, truly every aspect of it!) so be sure to pay as much attention to the small surprises of inspiring design as to the impressive exhibits themselves.

I had read that there would be vegetarian and gluten-free food in the museum's cafeteria, called the Mitsitam Cafe (Mitsitam means "Let's Eat!" in Piscataway and Delaware languages), but I wasn't prepared for how clearly marked the ingredients are on EVERY dish. For someone who is constantly having to interrogate food providers, what a relief that was!

The cafeteria's arrangement is fun, too. There are booths for each part of the Western Hemisphere: Northern Woodlands, Great Plains, Northwest Coast, South America. I gravitated towards MesoAmerica but it was possible to grab a tray and choose from a variety of food traditions. Plenty of salmon and buffalo for meat-eaters, but as a gluten-free vegetarian, I didn't feel deprived at all, and everything was delicious. Yucca with queso fresco, summer squash with pumpkin seeds, wild rice with carrots and greens are pictured below. There's even a cookbook.
Apart from the beauty of the art and architecture, this museum trip is one I'll always remember for several reasons. I only had a couple of hours to spare for my trip there, and yet I feel I learned so much. There are short documentaries everywhere you turn. Free guided tours you can tag along with. Exhibits that by their very design pack an emotional punch that just reading would never do. One example: a wall. maybe 30 feet long and 20 feet high with all the names of all the tribes of the Western Hemisphere's native peoples forming a map of the Western Hemisphere. A powerful image of the magnitude of loss Native Americans have endured; in so many cases, only the names--as cities and towns we know well-- have survived.

I know there are many museums in Washington, but, please, make sure you don't miss this one!


Gluten-free pizza. Mere years ago, believed to be a rare, undercooked, soggy event. Now: competition has bred bread that is crunchy and delicious with toppings that top those of the most glutenous pies. Here are links to other Still Riding gluten-free pizza crusts, surprisingly varied in their preparation!


Our nation's capital is no exception. Here, Still Riding at Ella's Wood Fired Pizza in DC:
This is the Napoletana, with a substitution of mushrooms for the anchovies, since I'm vegetarian. Note the creamy fresh mozzarella. The tiniest of capers. The super-fresh basil. Oh, and the mixed green salad (not pictured) which I ordered to accompany this beauty? Huge and delicious! Ella's, on 9th St between F ad G Streets is practically around the corner from Ford's Theater (if you're sightseeing). Friendly, allergen-knowledgeable service. Recommended!

It was hard to decide which variety to order. Here they are, all available gluten-free, and with substitutions cheerfully made for vegetarians:

ella's cheese
tomato sauce & fresh mozzarella

tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, basil, olive oil & sea salt

tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, olive oil & sea salt

tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella & pepperoni

tomato sauce, mozzarella & sweet italian sausage

quattro formaggi
four cheeses, garlic & parsley

tomato sauce, mild goat cheese, red onions, olives, roasted yellow peppers, & eggplant

sun-dried tomato puree, parmesan, roasted artichokes, black cured olives, & basil

wild mushroom
tomato sauce, mild goat cheese, wild mushroom & spinach

roasted garlic puree, wild mushrooms, roasted tomatoes & fresh thyme

caramelized onions, gorgonzola & rosemary

di mare
pesto, shrimp, roasted peppers & pine nuts

tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, capers, white anchovies, & fresh basil

salsiccia piccante
tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, spicy italian sausage, pepperoncini & red onion

fresh mozzarella, salami, tomatoes & roasted peppers

tomato sauce, parmesan, sweet italian sausage, fennel & roasted red peppers

tomato sauce, parmesan, sweet italian sausage, fennel & roasted red peppers

tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, prosciutto & fresh arugula

pesto, parmesan, fingerling potatoes & prosciutto