My second trip to NYC using the Treatmo app to pay for food, juices, smoothies, and desserts start today. Going wallet free while dining elevates the experience to a social interaction at innovative plant-based restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It's fun and friends can participate on the Treat Feed (or news feed) in the app. See what I discover in real time. Don't have time to join, you can view my favorites by downloading Treatmo and searching 'MakeSimpleVegan Treats'. Lots a great treats! Here is a sample:
In late December, I travelled to NYC to experience the full power of the Treatmo app. I wanted to discover amazing plant-based food in fun neighborhoods and, most importantly, not carry a wallet. This mobile phone technology liberates people from searching for ATMs or carrying credit cards when they want to eat out.
I also wanted to discover unique places without spending a lot of time doing internet searches. Lastly, I wanted my friends at home to participate - to see what was happening in real time and have the chance to purchase food for me even as they sat in front of the TV or at the office.
Treatmo made it possible and convenient and created an entirely new dining reality while in Manhattan and Brooklyn, both centers food innovation. When you have a chance, you can read about my food trip post on the Treatmo website here. Have a great day!
The C subway stop of Franklin at the edge of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant seems far removed from the bustling Union Square subway stop in Manhattan where I started. Gone are the musicians giving passengers a spring in their step. Gone are the business professionals in tailored attire speeding across the platform to their next meeting and gone are the tourists unfolding maps, taking photos, and drinking bottled water. In fact, there isn’t much of anything except for a touch of bleakness.
Out on Fulton Street it’s not much different - a few more people, the clatter of disjointed traffic, and, like many places in the city, perpetual sirens in the distance. This is not a neighborhood where healthy food has ever been in abundance or easily accessible to the residents. The term ‘food desert’ would describe these hard tense streets and barren shop lots that depict the challenges people face daily to eat well. For most the only options are deep fried meals at jaded, unmaintained fast food outlets or sugar and salt driven packaged snacks from corner ‘supermarkets’ which are anything but super. For some, it may be nothing at all. But things are changing.
The food movement has gained such momentum that it’s no longer defined by neighborhood or zip code. It’s penetrating places previously thought so forlorn, they repelled business instead of attracting it. Once the hallmark of upscale trendy districts, health food merchants are now popping up in commercial areas known mostly for blight instead of prosperity. Even more outstanding, demand for cold-pressed juices and organic salads among those who have the least discretionary income and who may have been raised solely on processed foods is growing.
In Bedford-Stuyvesant, this is evident just one block away from the metro station where I arrived early in the evening. A bright colorful newly opened juice bar takes up the bottom corner space of a building shop that had been vacant. It offers fresh blended organic juices, vibrant salads, wraps, and nutrient dense desserts. Fuel Juice Bar was the idea of young owner and native Brooklynite, Jorge, who wanted to bring healthy eating to his neighborhood. In stark contrast to the other processed food options on the street, residents can consume food with ingredients such as goji berries, coconut meat, avocado, chia seeds, raw turmeric, and seaweed.
Business is not just good for Fuel Juice Bar, but growing steadily. With reasonable prices compared to other parts of the city (and nationally), this health food cafe is creating real access to nutrition and changing eating habits for the better. It’s proximity to the subway station reduces street time to get there and makes it convenient for those walking home. The bright colorful glow from the shop windows in the early evening is more than good lighting, it’s the emanation of a furnace powering health and transformation in a section of Brooklyn that needs it.
Several subway stops away after a line change from the C to the 5, is another juice bar pioneering health in the changing neighborhood of Prospect Lefferts Gardens. On the east side of Prospect Park and bordering the Crown Heights and Brownsville areas, food options for local residents is similar to Bed-Stuy - very limited access to fresh, organic, minimally processed food. House of Juice, located at Rogers Avenue and Parkside Street, offers unique fresh blended juices with ingredients sourced from farmers markets usually out of reach of the local community, but made available in their menu items - ingredients such as Mandarin oranges, Kyoto carrots, sorrel, and hibiscus.
House of Juice even brews their own kombucha, a probiotic-heavy fermented tea drink, that improves gut health and eventually mental health. Kombucha may not be available in the nearby markets, but the juice bar creates availability for the neighborhood and educates those about the positive effects of the beverage.
Bringing health to these neighborhoods in Brooklyn, however, has not been easy. The owners of House of Juice did experience tensions after opening a health themed business in that area, but have persisted and now run a program to introduce young children to the flavors and benefits of eating healthy food. By showing that green food and drinks make you feel good, they are changing the neighborhood from the ground up and for the next generation.
Places like Fuel Juice Bar and House Juice have been aided by the migration of younger professionals moving into eastern Brooklyn neighborhoods from Manhattan where rents have become too high to be sustainable. The new residents have brought with them the demand for high quality food. The net result, though, has been greater access for local residents to food that tastes wonderful, supports long term health, and inspires with signs of progress.
After finishing my Pico de Gallo Salad at Fuel Juice Bar, I walked back to the the Franklin subway station feeling great after eating well made, nutritious food. Finding a delicious plant-based meal in Bed-Stuy at affordable prices, and run by local residents, was a treat and gave me reason to come back.
New York City is enjoying a mild winter this week, so it's a perfect time to take in the seasonal atmosphere and indulge in the amazing plant-based eats. The wide range of delicious and exciting food spans the culinary spectrum. Whether it's delicious vegan crepes in Williamsburg, a double veggie All-Amercian burger in the East Village, or Gingerbeer Kombucha in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, it's bound to surprise and inspire.
You can follow my journey through Manhattan and Brooklyn on Treatmo. Download the free app for iPhone or iPad here. Friend 'MakeSimpeVegan Treats' in the app and discover unique vegan cafes and neighborhood juice bars as I visit them. See photos and messages about the food and participate. If you reside in NYC or plan to visit, favorite an item and you may just be treated!
The attention given to eating healthier and choosing better ingredients at home seems to be making an impact. According to this opinion piece in the NY Times, the major packaged food brands are seeing sales decline of their most popular products.
Per capita soda sales are down 25 percent since 1998, mostly replaced by water. Orange juice, a drink once seen as an important part of a healthy breakfast, has seen per capita consumption drop 45 percent in the same period. Source
Sales of packaged cereals, also heavily sugar-laden, are down over 25 percent since 2000, with yogurt and granola taking their place. Frozen dinner sales are down nearly 12 percent from 2007 to 2013. Sales per outlet at McDonald’s have been on a downward spiral for nearly three years, with no end in sight. Source
Even more fascinating, shelf space at supermarkets for the major food brands, which is the most vigorously protected real estate in business, is being lost to healthier new-comers. The large food producers are reacting by trying to reduce harmful ingredients, lower sugar content, and offer healthier options. But with skeptical consumers on the rise, it may be hard to reverse the sales trend.
More importantly, it shows that cooking at home and and eating with the best ingredients does impact the top line for companies that target sales over health. The long term result is improved wellness for families and better options for everyone!
If there was one cuisine I'd recommend for anyone trying vegan food for the first time, it would be Mexican. Loading up a burrito with spiced rice, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and perhaps some form of sautéed tofu or soy crumbles is a delight to eat and packs enough flavor for everyone to enjoy.
In fact, there are so many Mexican style dishes that lend themselves perfectly to vegan versions that it affords the first timer to plant-based food a nice culinary platform to experiment with different ingredients with little downside. Since Mexican food is built upon the combination of so many basic ingredients, leaving one out, like meat, or replacing it with faux meat or grilled veggies has little impact on the enjoyment of the meal.
To this point, the concept of vegan Mexican food appears to be gaining ground. The success of Gracias Madre, a vegan Mexican restaurant in LA, is a good example. One might argue that vegan Mexican food could become one of the most popular ways to eat vegan food in the future, owing to the popularity of the traditional cuisine now. As people move away from meat, they still won't want to give up the enjoyment of burritos, tacos, and nachos. With plant-based Mexican food, there's little sacrifice in making the switch. As a vegan, many of my meals during the week have a Mexican influence and the cuisine has wonderful value for anyone dabbling in plant-based fare for the first time!
When British footballers go vegan, it's an open goal for health! A National League Team called the Forest Green Rovers, which have a vegan owner, went vegetarian in 2011 and also stopped selling meat burgers at the same time in the stadium. Since then, they've cut out fish and chicken as well, and now have gone entirely vegan. All dairy has been replaced with soy milk or oat milk. Eggs and honey have been also completely removed from the teams menus and stadium food according to the BBC.
It just may possibly be the first sport club to go completely vegan and is an amazing example for the athletic world to follow. Stadiums across the U.S. have added more vegan options to menus, but this case demonstrates that an all vegan stadium is entirely possible. It also just may influence fans to be happier and more peaceful regardless of how the team does!
Shop on Treatmo for Amazing Eats Across the U.S.
The World Health Organization published a report in October that classifies red meat and processed meat as carcinogenic to humans. Both substances fall into the same classification as tobacco and asbestos. Further description of the statement is posted below from a Q&A report.
8. Processed meat was classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans. What does this mean?
The Q&A continues to explain that within the Group 1 classification, there are still different levels of risk to cancer for each substance. However, the definition of Group 1 is to inform people that the risks of chronic illness are heightened when exposed to those substances. The most likely oncological disease linked to red meat consumption was colorectal cancer. The results of the epidemiological studies are consistent with a 2002 report by WHO recommending less meat in human diets to prevent chronic illness.
It's not hard to replace meat in a diet with a variety of plant-based options full of flavor and with a range of textures. Plant-based ingredients have been shown to halt the initiation and promotion of cancer and potentially reverse problems associated with red meat consumption as described by the WHO report. Start with one meal a week and then try two. Healthy food can be enjoyed greatly and may reduce chances of long term illness.
Fine & Raw Chocolate in Brooklyn, New York, has mastered the craft of making exquisite raw treats. When you try their chocolate bars or truffles it feels like you are eating food rather than chocolate. Chocolate making is an art form and they have fun at it as well. If you are trying to satisfy your chocolate fix, searching for the perfect vegan gift to send someone, or plan on treating yourself or others this Halloween, find Fine & Raw on Treatmo. Your chocolate will be on its way in just a few taps. The treat stream let's your friends see what you've bought as well so you can share the experience!
Vegan sushi options in the past have usually been limited to cucumber or avocado rolls. However, with the popularity of nori seaweed as a health food and its use to make nori rolls, the rise of creative and delicious vegan seaweed rolls is growing unabated. In fact, you could argue that the concept of sushi is much better suited for vegetables than for fish or other seafood.
First, it takes much less effort to harvest and chop a few vegetables from the garden than to cultivate an entire fishing industry to make this meal. Second, you can combine many more ingredients with thin slices or strips of vegetables than wrapping up a singe piece of fish or processed crab resulting in more robust flavor. Lastly, it is much healthier and cleaner eating! So enjoy the rainbow of plant-based food options wrapped in nutrient dense nori and keep a look out for the expanding options of nori rolls at plant-based restaurants around the country!
Make Simple Vegan Meals