by Kate Strong, World Champion, Long-distance Women’s Triathlon
The Importance Of A Great S-T-R-E-T-C-H Routine
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going – Jim Ryun
I am a sucker for books, not downloaded content from iTunes or on your kindle, but the real paper variety. I love visiting independent bookshops and scrolling through the titles randomly selecting my next companion for my trips, to sit loyally on my bedside table and sneak into my handbag whilst out dining alone. I adore the smell of a new book as I turn the first page and the feeling of a well-loved book where the stains and marks on the pages are as completing a story as the content.
I digress… I’m losing myself in another passion!
What never ceases to amaze me is the number of self-help books available in the book stores. It seems almost daily there is a new author and title promising great transformation in just 30-days. The area of your life promised to change varies wildly; from weight management, career, relationship with your partner or children… Whatever complication in life, there is a book to assist.
What drew my attention to these books, is the vast majority of their content speaks of one commonality: they all focus of a set period of time to break an old habit and introduce a new and hopefully better one.
This got me thinking about what actions I wanted to create as second nature that would enrich my life. Could I add a task to my daily routine that would benefit me?
Currently, I wake up, check social media on my phone (terrible, I know!), shower, brush my teeth and get dressed almost on auto-pilot; why not add a 10-minute task that will benefit my body to this routine? Social media is checked automatically, and I have only had an on-line presence for 3 years, so there must have been a day without this sub-conscious action…
One area I know I lack the willpower to complete regularly is stretching. The jury is still out whether your muscles greatly benefits from stretching. Some articles state that dynamic stretching is required, or stretching after exercise because the muscles are warm, or static stretching 15 minutes prior to exercise… the variables are endless. It is easy to get lost in the research and justify doing nothing!
I personally feel a benefit from stretching. I do feel more flexible and when I stretch regularly, I notice an improvement in overall flexibility, which might reduce the possibility of sustaining an injury. Using this motivation, I have created a 10-minute stretching routine that I can do pretty much anywhere and don’t require any equipment.
The ten stretches focus on the main muscles used in swimming, cycling and running; which covers your whole body pretty much!
The key is to carry out these stretches daily for 30-days and instill this activity as routine; something I complete without thinking and with minimal effort.
Are you going to take up the 30-day stretching challenge with me? Please let me know how you did!
by CD Davidson-Hiers
Ukrainian East Village is situated off 2nd Avenue in New York City, down a starched white hallway and around a corner to the left. On the right is a sign leading to the bathrooms down a set of stairs where the air sits cool, anticipating. The double doors to the restaurant are wood, which open into a room that, true to its name, is similar to a small village where diners can enjoy food as close to the Ukrainian original as possible.
We waited for a moment before being escorted to a table where we were handed menus full of options: pierogis, kasha varnishkes, blintzes, and nalysnykys. We referred to wikipedia more than once to determine the ingredients of the Ukrainian staples. Though this restaurant did not have any listed vegan meals, there were a couple vegetarian options that the chef, on Christmas Day when the restaurant was slam-packed full of festivity-seekers, was more than happy to tailor to suit our vegan requirements.
Danielle ordered the Ukrainian borscht, served warm, with beets, carrots, red kidney beans, and very little oil. I had a taste of the soup and wished I had a larger stomach to justify ordering a second round. I ate the vegetable soup which had its own flavorful taste, but lacked the heartiness of the borscht. The vegetables in my soup were primarily green, topped with a sprinkle of dill in a warm vegetable broth. It was a filling first course that went well with the bread served.
There were two types of bread served in a bread basket. One was reminiscent of sweet French bread, but was light and fluffy with a brown exterior. The other type was more of a darker, wheat color with a sharper taste. Both went very well with the soups.
The meals were of a variety. The carnivores in our group catered to their meat palate by ordering pierogis stuffed with meat and a ruben with fries. The vegan meals were delicious and tailored to our dietary needs, as we had told the waitress that we followed certain dairy and meat restrictions. The kitchen was more than willing to cater to our needs, customizing their vegetarian meals so that the food did not include butter, milk, or cheese. Danielle ordered mushroom and rice stuffed cabbages that I followed suit in requesting. We also asked that the mushroom sauce over the cabbages be replaced by a tomato sauce so we avoided the dairy cream. It was served with kasha (made from buckwheat and tasting slightly of black-eyed peas) that was a substitution for the mashed potatoes the meal usually comes with. Rich ate a potato patty stuffed with cabbage and carrots (or, perhaps, sweet potatoes) with a lightly breaded, lightly seared outside. The patty was the best meal of all the things we ordered, and I’m tempted to go back for several more to take home.
This place was a life-saver. We had been trekking through the streets of New York City searching for a certain restaurant called Veselka that had been recommended by a family we had met earlier on the ferry over from Staten Island. They raved about the food Veselka served, but when we arrived, the cook informed us that they had no food lacking in dairy or meat products. Turned away and hungry, we found the sign for Ukrainian East Village and followed the arrows inside.
Though we could not offer a 100 percent guarantee that none of the foods there were prepared with dairy, we took the waitress’s word for it, could not detect flavors of animal products in our food, and none of us suffered the after-effects of ingesting animal products.
Here is the video of how to make Paper Masala Dosa from Dosa Garden in Staten Island. We hope to have the full recipe posted soon.
How To Speed Up Recovery
by Kate Strong, World Champion, Long-distance Women’s Triathlon
It is many athletes’ dream to win every race they enter. Unfortunately, there are many stories where sportspeople lose their way and turn to illegal enhancers to gain that extra edge over their competitors and a higher possibility of winning.
Personally, I feel any person who turns to illegal drugs to win is missing the point of why we compete in the first place.
Yes, it is great to earn a podium position, but the primary drive to compete should be to better ourselves not to amass gold medals. In every race I enter, I am competing to be the best I can be and if that merits a podium finish then great; it’s the icing on the vegan cake! If not, then at least I know that I delivered my A-game and there just so happened to be someone better out there on the day. Entering a race knowing I’ve cheated defeats the objective of competing and why I am on this sporting journey. In essence, I would see the victory as hollow as I would have cheated myself first and foremost.
In saying that, I am constantly striving to improve myself and discover the most effective (and legal) way of achieving that small edge over my competitors by assessing my daily physical, mental and nutritional routine.
It seems the main difference between professional athletes and us ‘regular competitors’ isn’t necessarily the number of hours they train weekly, but the amount of time they can spend resting. It seems that winners don’t train more; they rest more.
By reviewing my lifestyle and comparing it to the lifestyle of a professional, I’ve highlighted four main areas that I can apply to allow my body to recover quicker after a hard day training.
By soaking our legs in ice water, or cool water with Epson salts, for 10-15 minutes increases blood flow to our legs activating muscle repair quicker than doing nothing at all. If I’m near the ocean, I cheat and use a local salt bath: the ocean!
2. Sleep or Rest
Our body repairs itself during sleep. If your lifestyle doesn’t permit sneaky afternoon siestas or regular early nights, the next best thing is to reduce the amount of physical activity you carry out during the day: rest or sit down more, walk slower and avoid doing more sport.
3. Stretch or Recovery Training
After a workout, our muscles contract and restrict blood flow which, in turn, reduces the speed of recovery for our body. After a workout, I follow a quick stretching routine that covers the main muscles I use during triathlon. If I am unable to stretch due to time limitations, I ensure within 24 hours, I carry out light recovery training in the same sport the next day.
What we eat within 30 minutes after exercise is of paramount importance. Eating a high protein meal or snack in this 30-minute window stimulates muscle regrowth and repair.
To put into action the above, I have to get organized. Leaving preparation to last-minute invariable meant I either carry out everything too late, or not bother as I’m too tired.
The key is planning. Every Monday, I sit down and write my shopping list. That same evening I bulk-cook and portion the food to ensure it is sufficient for all my training sessions that week.
For sustenance, I created some delicious vegan recipes for a quick and easy protein fix including chia seeds, quinoa, salad or beans. These are available at Strong Kate!
Until next time… Enjoy!
Getting Fit 2015! We Are Never Too Old To Become The Persons We Were Always Meant To Be. Take The Challenge – It’s Time For Change!
I was healthy until I wasn’t. When a surgeon inadvertently severed a crucial part of my anatomy during a procedure he assured me he could “do in his sleep,” my life plummeted into an abyss of illness and infirmity. For six years I was on a roller coaster of pain, medications, multiple surgeries, complications, and near-death experiences. Thanks to discovering plant-based nutrition I was able to give my body the nutritional support it needed, which allowed me to hang on until a final procedure, performed by a talented group of surgeons from Florida Hospital in Orlando, repaired the problem. Finally I am able to live a normal life. While not entirely pain free, I am at a point where my life is manageable and I no longer need antibiotics just to stay alive.
After years of relative inactivity and with my 60th birthday come and gone, I am looking forward to doing things I could never dream of six years ago, when I needed help from my 94-year old friend just to shop for groceries! With my 61st birthday only two weeks away I thought, “What better way to celebrate the new year than to run a marathon!” Then my better judgement stepped in and scolded, “Baby steps, Danielle, baby steps!” OK, then, a half-marathon.
Inspired by VOAA’s new writer, CD Davidson-Hiers, a fit and sassy 20-year old triathlete with a wealth of knowledge about training to prevent injury, and our own Kate Strong, 2014 World-Champion Long-Distance Triathlete, I have decided to give it my best shot! With ever-game husband, Rich, and my two beloved monsters, Coal and Phoenix, at my side and our friend Dave Corman coming to train with us periodically, we are signing up for the Roanoke half-marathon on March 1st! According to some running manuals we are exploring, we have just enough time to train safely if we begin right away!
There are some caveats to this plan. My legs have atrophied to an alarming extent and I have some physical obstacles to overcome. I have a rod in my leg from a ski injury 15 years ago, in which I also compromised the cartilage in my right foot. I am hoping with gentle training, my foot and leg will hold up. Also, before we begin the program outlined in the manual, we have to already be capable of running 3 miles. So… I have until Sunday, January 11th, to get up to three miles or I have to scale back my goal to complete a 10K run, rather than the 13.1 mile half-marathon. It’s all good! Baby steps, Danielle, baby steps! If my foot fails entirely, we’ll switch to swimming and biking. There is always something we can do!
Join me in a commitment to make 2015 our healthiest year ever! Let’s turn back the clock on aging. We never know when our lives will be snatched away from us so let’s grab all the joy and love and radiant health our bodies and souls will allow while we are still on this amazing ride called life! Let 2015 be the year we prove that age is just a number; that we are still capable of running, dancing, swimming, and having fun in bodies created for expressing boundless energy, enthusiasm and joy. What the heck are we waiting for! Let’s DO IT!
Veggin’ Out And About! is delighted to welcome the newest, as well as youngest member of our writing team. Catherine Deborah Davidson-Hiers is an accomplished writer, equestrian, musician and athlete. Favored with great charm and humor, CD brings to the table a quirky style that is all her own. A new vegan, she has a burning curiosity about the health components of plant-based cuisine and an insatiable thirst for information. Look for CD’s articles and restaurant reviews. This kid is going places!
About Catherine Deborah
Over the summer between her first and second years in college, Catherine Deborah (CD) worked as a lifeguard in Florida during one of the hottest summers in record.
Due to extreme heat and sun exposure, she began developing chronic migraines that persisted into the fall semester in college. Dropping to one class to retain her status as a student, Catherine Deborah was forced to rework her life to accommodate wracking head pain that lasted for over fourteen days (as long as twenty-one). Late into the school year, she met with Danielle Bussone who suggested she try a plant-based diet, and after hearing Danielle’s wonderful success story, Catherine Deborah decided she had nothing to lose by trying. Two days later, she was pain free and optimistic again.
Two months without a headache, Catherine Deborah signed on as a staff writer to write for Veggin’ Out and About! She lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where she is majoring in French and English at Florida State University. With a desire to accomplish much within her lifetime, she travels quite frequently (even if it’s only a day-long road trip to a Georgian field). She passionately pursues a career as a novelist and is working on her first collection of short stories and other longer works. She plays Irish fiddle, works as a Starbucks barista on her school campus, and on the weekends hops over to a farm in the Tallahassee area to ride horses. She also regularly competes in triathlons through a school organization that sponsors student athletes.
Contact Catherine Deborah to recommend a restaurant, talk about anything plant-based, discuss literary works, or even pose an unanswerable philosophical question.
by CD Davidson-Hiers
Candle 79 is one branch of a triad of higher-end restaurants in New York City that offers a selection of organic vegan options. The entire menu is vegan, and that was a novelty I had to quickly adjust to after asking Elena, the manager, “so…your ice creams don’t have dairy, right?” She smiled and said again that dairy is an animal product, so no.
It was by chance that my parents and I stumbled upon Candle 79 on the corner of East 79th Street and Lexington Avenue. I had Googled vegan restaurants in NYC. It was the first on the list and by that time I was so hungry I zombie-walked my way to the front door without hesitation. They were pretty full at 5:30pm on a Sunday night, but fortunately, the manager standing near the entrance suggested that we dine in at the bar where there just so happened to be three empty seats.
The ambiance of the restaurant was seductive in the way that restaurants are when you can tell by the lighting that you are about to be dietetically pampered. Even my mother with her taste for fine-dining and antipathy toward the efforts of the plant-based goes on record for saying “if you [my daughter] bring home vegan food like what is served here, I will never eat meat again.”
To start off the night, my 20-year-old self ordered a non-alcoholic beverage consisting of chia seeds, mango, pomegranate seeds, and Fresca. I ordered another one with dinner. My mom had a glass of an organic Cabernet Sauvignon (who knew there were organic wines?), and my father a margarita. An amuse-bouche was brought to us before we opened our menus to whet our palates and give us a sample of the restaurant’s fine dining. I would guess it to have been a mix of vegetables, but before I had the time to analyze the ingredients, my father had swallowed it whole.
We sat pouring over the menus for a solid fifteen minutes, not quite believing in our good fortunes that we did not have to interpret what was being served. Almond cheese, cashew cream, wheat balls. The novelty was this: there were names on the meals labeling exactly the ingredients. The main problem non-vegans have with trying a plant-based diet is that the meals attempt to emulate a carnivorous platter. Candle 79 broke with tradition by saying instead, ‘look, we’re going to give you a recognizably familiar dish, but remember it’ll be wheat, not meat. And the ice cream is soy and coconut milk.’
The food, stated quite simply, was utterly fantastic. This comes from someone who eats all her meals homemade and fresh. I ordered the spaghetti pasta with truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach, and cashew parmesan.
As a side, using this review as an excuse to eat more food, I ordered roasted brussel sprouts with shallots and almond cheese.
My parents also joined the festivity of sampling food for a cause and requested guacamole timbale (poblano-guacamole, chipotle black beans, jicama-cucumber salsa, plantain chips, ranchero sauce), polenta fries, spinach ravioli (cashew cheese, fall vegetables, sautéed broccoli rabe, cashew parmesaon, truffled tomato sauce), and herb-roasted fingerling potatoes.
While we were eating, I made small talk with Max, the bartender who liked to pretend he did not speak fluent Spanish, and Rebecca, his lovely protégé whose specialty is chai latte mixed with spices that tickle the back of your throat and drag warmth down into your chest.
We finished our experience with desserts of sweet potato pie with caramel pecan ice cream and coconut whipped cream, alongside a Mexican chocolate brownie (caramelized bananas, French vanilla ice cream, candied pecans, chocolate-ancho sauce).
“Yes, it’s dairy, free,” Elena (the manager) said with a patient smile when I asked. “It’s a vegan restaurant.”
Candle 79 is one of the better restaurants I have been to, and one I certainly would revisit if and when I have the chance. Their prices reflect the quality of meals they serve, and a reservation prior to arrival will give you a better chance of sitting at a table, but dinner at the bar will by no means inhibit your experience.
Make time when visiting New York City to stop by and say hello to Max and Rebecca behind the bar, as well as Elena up front who’s available for a chat even on a busy night. Give them my best.
Danielle Bussone’s Book — Time For Change — Whole Foods For Whole Health! Just Released on New Year’s Day, 2015!!
A Note From Author, Danielle Bussone
Becoming a vegan was a life-saver for me. A surgeon inadvertently severed a crucial part of my anatomy, creating for me six years of pain and suffering, numerous surgeries and hospitalizations, multiple life-threatening complications, and a few near-death experiences. Discovering plant-based nutrition turned my health around and allowed me to not only survive, but to thrive.
In my book, TIME FOR CHANGE – Whole Foods For Whole Health, I tell my story of injury and recovery. I also explain why a plant-based lifestyle is an appropriate option for everyone; why one should consider adopting a plant-based lifestyle, or at least add more fruits and vegetables to one’s current diet, in order create a healthier and more energetic body.
TIME FOR CHANGE is comprehensive primer on to how to deal with the minor inconveniences of this life-style choice, how to deal with social situations, what new foods you’ll encounter, how to stock your kitchen, tips on preparing and cooking vegetables and, finally, delicious recipes to get you started. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your health will improve by making some small changes to the way you currently eat. I’ve lost 65 pounds, I no longer have acid reflux, and I no longer need blood-pressure medication (or any medication at all). I am well and healthy, and the foods I prepare are delicious and satisfying. Please join me in making the next years of our lives the most productive, energetic and radiantly healthy years ever!
Click Time For Change to get your copy just in time to support your New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier in 2015!
TIME FOR CHANGE
Whole Foods For Whole Health!
by Danielle Bussone
Danielle Bussone’s journey through medical errors and complications devastated her health and nearly claimed her life. In severe chronic pain and disillusioned by the medical industry, Danielle turned to foods to recover her health.
In “Time for Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health!,” Danielle Bussone shows us that becoming vegan is an exciting expedition into a new world of flavors and cultural culinary experiences. Whether you wish to fully embrace a WFPB lifestyle or would just like to add healthy foods to your current diet, Bussone arms the reader with mouthwatering, healthy recipes which will make the inclusion of whole foods easy, delicious and restorative.
ISBN:13:0615794793 / 9780615794792
Paperback: 6″ x 9″
List Price: $19.95
Order your copy of Time For Change in time to support your New Year’s Resolution of becoming a healthier you in 2015!
What People Are Saying About
Time For Change!
“Time For Change” is a comprehensive, engaging and passionate book by an intrepid woman who fought through years of catastrophic medical events. By continuous reading, research, and diligently listening to her body, Bussone has found her way back to good health by means of a plant-based diet. Here she shares her story, her research findings, her contagious enthusiasm and her wonderful methods and recipes of vegan cooking. This book is also a fervent cry against pesticides, genetically modified, and highly processed foods. — Patricia Kandle, MD
Horrific. Heroic. A must read for anyone who has to deal with doctors and hospitals. — Bill Kaiser, Journalist, Author of “Bloodroot” and “Hellebore: A Novel of Reconstruction”
Until Danielle Bussone introduced me to a plant-based lifestyle, I suffered from crippling migraines, was an avis carnivore, a triathlete with a terrible diet, and a college kid who didn’t sleep enough. Unwilling as I was to embrace a vegan diet, I managed to restrict myself for two days to “give it a go.” Forty-eight hours later, I was migraine-free! Meat looked wholly unappetizing; I felt stronger, slimmer, faster, harder, and was refreshed after a full night’s sleep. Danielle could tell you exactly what it is about plants that revitalizes the human body, but for me, her book, freedom from debilitating headaches, and a fitter body is enough to keep me motivated. — Catherine Deborah Davidson-Hiers
Turning to a healthy whole foods plant-based diet can raise many questions and a few eyebrows. Danielle Bussone, in her well-written and information-packed book, “Time For Change,” helps to make the transition in a well-informed and healthy manner. This book answers many of the questions often asked of individuals living a whole food plant-based lifestyle, such as: “Where do you get your protein?” Each chapter is filled with personal insights and guidance. Thank you, Danielle, for pouring your heart and soul into this book! — Lisa Harris, ND, Author of “Rebuilding the Temple: A Practical Guide to Health and Wellness”
This book shouts, “Wellness happens!” An intelligent and enjoyable read for both laypersons and medical professionals. “Time For Change” offers a vegan lifestyle that creates and sustains vitality. Ms Bussone has done her research. Everyone should read this book! — Teresa Wood, DDS
Danielle’s story of adopting a vegan diet to recover her health is an inspiration. “Time For Change” offers a strong foundation to the benefits of a plant-based diet and is filled with delicious recipes to whet your appetite. This book is a must-have for every pantry and bookshelf! — Kate Strong, Vegan Athlete, 2014 World Champion Women’s Long-Distance Triathlon
Danielle “stirs” an inspirational story of transitioning to veganism, a glossary of terms for new vegans, numerous delicious multicultural cooking recipes, awesome tips towards healthy living and more in this one-stop Go Vegan book for beginners and seasoned vegans. –- Omowale Adewale, Vegan Athlete, Super-Middleweight Boxing Champion
About The Author
Danielle Bussone is a free-lance writer, professional artist and certified wellness coach. After discovering the healing powers of food, she became fascinated with creating dishes that were not only health-promoting but bursting with flavor. Danielle completed eCornell’s certification program in plant-based nutrition, in conjunction with the T. Colin Campbell Foundation, and along with her husband Rich, co-founded Veggin’ Out And About!, a food and travel blog for plant-based diners.
She serves as a restaurant reviewer and writer for Veggin’ Out And About!, as well as editor for contributors from across the globe. She is a former book review columnist and has contributed articles and short fiction to various media outlets.
Danielle is currently working on several cookbooks of plant-based cuisines from the US and around the world as well as an historical fiction novel based in New Orleans. Danielle and Rich divide their time between SW Virginia and East Tennessee, where they live with two dogs and two cats, collectively known as their “Beloved Monsters.”
Follow Danielle’s blog or contact her with your questions or comments at www.vegginoutandabout.com.
Our second stop in our celebratory trip New York City, Veggin’ Out and About! visited Ethiopic in downtown D.C. By now you should be aware that we at VOAA have noses for Ethiopian cuisine and like hungry blood-hounds we single-mindedly pursue the scent to unearth some of the healthiest, most delicious food on the planet.
As vegans we’ve learned that Ethiopian cuisine is always a safe bet. When visiting an Ethiopian restaurant it is never necessary to ask whether the vegetable dishes contain animal products; they won’t. Ethiopia has a long history of plant-based dining in their culture. Because of the numerous fasting days dictated by their church, in which no animal products are allowed to be consumed, animal-free dishes are a natural part of Ethiopian cuisine.
Ethiopic rates among the very best Ethiopian restaurants we’ve visited to date. We ordered a vegetarian combination platter for two, which consisted of seven different dishes served on a spongy flat-bread called Injera. Injera, if you’ve never tried it, is a wonderful, stretchy, spongy bread made from Teff, arguably one of the smallest grains in the world and one of the highest in nutrients. The dough is fermented for several days and is then poured onto a special griddle called a mitad. Bubbles form as it is cooking, creating small holes in the bread called “eyes.” These eyes are what give the injera its stretchy, spongy and absorbent qualities. Injera is a thin bread with a consistency somewhere between a crepe and a pancake and has a slightly sour flavor. Stews are arranged in little piles on top of the bread and served with a basket of injera on the side, rolled up like cigars. These are to be torn and used to pinch bite-sized pieces of the stews between your fingers. Then pop them into your mouth! No utensils are needed or offered at most Ethiopian restaurants.
Ethiopian food is typically spicy and can bring on some serious heat if one is not prepared. We love spicy food and adore the kick Ethiopia brings to the table, but many restaurants reduce the heat to accommodate the sensitive American palate. The sour injera mitigates the spiciness as well, though I can’t explain how it accomplishes this. It just does.
Ethiopic has a charming, relaxing decor with a pleasant, knowledgable staff. The food was some of the best we’ve sampled anywhere, and we’ve experienced some great Ethiopian meals! There were a couple of dishes we had never before seen and were excited to try them. One was a garlicy potato dish called Dinich Wot. Absolutely delicious, Dinich Wot is a stew of large chunks of curried potatoes simmered with red onions, garlic, jalapeno peppers, olive oil, and fresh herbs and spices. The potatoes were cooked to perfection, practically melting in our mouths while titillating our olfactories with a subtle aroma of garlic. The peppers are not broken, which allows the potatoes to be infused with the subtle flavor of peppers without adding heat. This is a very mild dish.
Another entree that was new to us was Shimbra Asa Wot (Wot meaning stew), spicy chickpea dumplings seasoned with red onions, garlic, red pepper, olive oil, and spices. The remaining dishes are old favorites, juxtaposing mild with spicy, there is something for everyone. Miser Wot with spicy red lentils, Gomen Wot, fresh stewed collard greens, Kik Aletcha – mild yellow split peas with turmeric and coriander, Fasolia – caramelized green beans and onions, and Tikel Gomen – a mild cabbage and carrot dish. For lighter appetites one can order a smaller platter with only four vegetable options. Finally, always served in the middle of the platter was, Timatim, a salad of freshly diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and spices. I think of this salad as a palate cleanser to be eaten between bites of stews.
Another treat we discovered at Ethiopic was an array of Ethiopian beers. Rich and I tried the one called “Amber” which had a slightly honey flavor, while my beautiful niece, Rae, enjoyed the lager. All in all, I’d say this was a high quality dining experience at a medium price range. Check out Ethiopic the next time you are in our nation’s capital. Within walking distance from Union Station, you will be glad you made the trek.
Our first stop on our sojourn to the Big Apple is a restaurant we’ve shamefully overlooked for far too long. Firefly Fare is located in downtown Roanoke in the busy Market Square and is the very best place in the area to get good plant-based cuisine. We’ve stopped there many times to and from other parts of the country and it is high time we paid them their due.
Located in the historic City Market Building, smack dab in the heart of downtown Roanoke, it is less than 10 minutes from I-81. Parking is not always a given and you may have to circle the block a few times before something opens up. But it is worth that minor inconvenience to experience the fresh and flavorful cuisine served up at Firefly Fare.
Over time we’ve tried just about everything on the menu and I can honestly say there wasn’t a single thing we didn’t enjoy. Firefly Fare also offers a fresh juice bar with concoctions such as Gingered Grasshopper, a refreshing blend of spinach, celery, cucumber, kale, apple, lemon and ginger.
Firefly Fare offers a set menu with daily specials. Their ingredients are sourced from local farmers, which also means the menu is likely to change according to what produce is currently available. From Farm To Table is the watchword for Firefly Fare. Good food comes from fresh ingredients and you can’t get much fresher than this, not unless your grow your own vegetables.
There is outdoor seating for people-watching in excellent weather and also a small interior dining room where Kristen, our favorite waitress, will take good care of you. It is an animal and children friendly establishment and Kristen will happily bring water for your critters in the patio area. For those wanting a grab and go meal, the restaurant can be accessed from within the City Market Building where permanent tables are available to service numerous restaurants in a food court environment.
Now to the most important part, the food! For plant-based diners Firefly Fare offers a delightful fresh salad of baby greens, tomatoes, black bean & corn salsa, roasted red peppers, red onion and fresh herbs, which can be ordered in small ($6.25) or large ($10) portions.
One of our favorite entrees is the Indonesian BBQ Tofu Bowl, a sweet and spicy concoction of seasonal sautéed vegetables and tofu over Firefly’s signature rice and quinoa.
If you are not a fan of tofu, another excellent choice is the Incan Bowl, a sweet and savory mixture of black beans, sweet potatoes, grilled corn, quinoa and jasmine rice. The quinoa and rice are a brilliant paring of flavors and textures as well as nutrients. I’ve not see this pairing before and I plan to try this one at home!
For sandwich lovers, Firefly Fare offers several vegan options. If fried food is your thing, you can’t beat the falafel pita, a fat, garlicy pita stuffed with three garlic falafels resting on a bed of baby greens with a cucumber-mint sauce, then topped with fresh tomato slices. If you are vegan, ask for it without the feta cheese. I neglected to ask if the pita wrap is house made but it certainly tastes like it is. I make pita myself and I can assure there is a world of difference between store bought pita bread and homemade. The texture is soft and chewy and the flavor of freshly baked yeast bread is unmistakable.
All the sandwich dishes are served with your choice of sides, which can also be purchased individually with other dishes or on their own for $3.75 each.
Black Bean & Corn Salad
Herbed Potato Salad
Asian Almond Slaw
Sweet Potato Fries
The California is a hearty burrito filled with black bean and roasted corn salsa, baby greens, tomatoes, onions and avocado slices.
A dish we’ve not photographed, but which certainly should be mentioned because it is absolutely delicious, is the grilled veggie pita. Stuffed with seasonal veggies, fresh herbs, tomato and mixed baby greens with a remoulade sauce, it is to live for! Ask them to exclude the mozzarella and add extra veggies in its place.
Firefly Fare is a mecca for plant-based cuisine at a reasonable price. There are also plenty of options for your carnivorous companions who have yet to see the light. Let them try a bite of yours and you just might create a few converts!