special diets

Caribbean soul on fire at Red Bamboo

 Red Bamboo 11.18.08 017I am by habit a carnivore.  It's not a meal without meat, right.

But, that's changed since my recent dinner at Red Bamboo, a fabulous Fort Greene find that caters specifically to vegans and vegetarians.

Specializing in mock meat, the super ambient restaurant, located at the corner of DeKalb Avenue (271 Adelphi Street), could convert even hard core carnivores with its Caribbean soul infused signature dishes.

Try to get a seat in one of the discreet nooks upstairs (from Wednesay night on). Very speakeasy.

This should be illegal.  Thank goodness it isn't. Fantastic taste.Red Bamboo 11.18.08 008

Try these dishes if you try nothing else. Chef Billy Ahearn is skilled.

  • soul chicken, crispy panko breaded fried faux chicken
  • collard green rolls, spring rolls made with mock smoked ham and -- what else -- collard greens.
  • Mango chicken salad, vegetarian chicken, mango slivers, and mixed greens lightly dressed
  • grilled Portobello mushroom salad served on a bed of meclun
  • chicken parmesan & pasta     

       Red Bamboo 11.18.08 038Recommended drinks are:

  • Sorrel mojito (think sour-sweet wild strawberries and mint)
  • White Guava Sangria (wildly tropical and some of the best sangria around)
  • It's Not Your Mama's Fruit Punch 

For dessert, do Death by Chocolate or the chocolate ganache covered strawberry shortcake.

Here's A Big Boo-Berry, Doc!

Blueberries_img_2164 My family doctor thinks I'm a codger and I find it particularly annoying.

Next year I turn 50, gentle readers.  (Do I look like a Golden Girl? No!)  And at my last physical, my blood pressure and cholesterol were higher than my doctor would like. My weight has crept up too.  This is, of course, cause for concern but not immediate medication, in my humble opinion.  Just because I'll beg for Imitrex to wipe out a migraine doesn't mean I'm ready to become a pill=popping fool.

Nonetheless, my Doc was ready to whip out her prescription pad and write. But I convinced her to let me try diet and exercise before we break out the arsenal of pills.  Hence, my ode to the lovely cantaloupe and its luscious brethren, blueberries. 

This one is just the easiest breakfast ever.  Simply half a cantaloupe and clean out the seeds,  Fill the hollow with plump, delicious rinsed and cleaned blueberries.  Top with a dollop of plain or vanilla yogurt if you like and I like. At roughly less than 200 calories, it's filling and fresh and the blueberries offer the added bonus of being a superfood.

Already on soy milk for other ugly reasons that cannot be mentioned in polite company, I am ramping up my intake of fruits, along with my Wii Fit sessions, and veggies.  Be on the look out for more simple and easy (and -- um -- delicious) weight loss measures from yours truly.  I'm happy to say I've lost almost 5 pounds since my visit just a few short weeks ago.

Here's a big raspberry to my naysaying Doc.

Photo by Roswitha Schacht

Think Real Food for Real People

Sometimes it seems like bad luck is your middle name.  But then we find we do get what we deserve – and in the most unexpected ways.

Ella shops for onions At least that’s what happened to Ella Nemcova, chef and founder of  The Regal Vegan, a dinner delivery service in Park Slope that offers meatless and healthy alternatives to takeout.

Nemcova was slogging her way through the corporate world.  She'd been a copywriter for 10 years and found the task thankless.  Her apartment had been burglarized and her landlord was trying to have her evicted.

"It was breaking me," recalled Nemcova.  "...All of these things were happening. (I said) I get it. I've got to go."  So, the copywriter turned chef packed up her belongings and took off for a few months of travel, which resulted in year-long excursion that had her nibbling and noshing through Europe, India, Southeast Asia and Russia. 

On her journey, she explored new spices, textures and flavors in the markets of the places she visited and in the homes of the people she met. "When you're on the road, you have no idea what you're eating. I met these amazing Cambodian kids and they invited me home to eat," said Nemcova, laughing.  "I asked, 'What's this?'  And they said, 'We'll tell you later.' It had these really small bones."

Happily for those of us who associate the “V” word with strange entrees having the texture and flavor of sawdust, Nemcova returned home to experiment with her diet and her menus.  Soon her desire to eat well and feel  fantastic translated to her life's work, The Regal Vegan. 

Eating well and creativity in the kitchen were important to her. The fact that she was energized as well as sleeping and feeling better than she had in years, was no small bonus.  "I had to eat food that was  wonderful, that had fine quality.  You can't back away from flavor. It makes no sense," she said. 

Her detox diet, Ellavation, was developed to get her system back into shape after her travels. Nemcova sought help at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, learning to eat the best foods for the best health.

Her years in advertising paid off.  Nemcova's creative menus are as gorgeously explained as they are prepared.  The meals are composed from fresh, seasonal and organic ingredients and the menus vary weekly.  Clients can access her website or Nemcova will email the week's offerings.

You won't even miss the meat.

photo by: Lee Seidenberg