Saturday, June 19, 2010

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The Healthy Voyager

Friday, June 18, 2010

You Mexi-Can Eat Healthy South of the Border!

So I've already raved about the healthy yet delicious options I found in Cancun. But as promised, there is more!!  And this time, I'll be chatting dining out as well as dining on the adventure tours. Let's roll!

 In the La Isla Shopping complex, neat The Taco Grill, you will find Mr. Papas. A potato house and piano bar, you'll eat well and be entertained without a doubt. Very accommodating to special diets seeing as how you can customize your potato any way you like, Mr. Papas is a fun night out. Even if potatoes aren't' your fave, their expansive international menu is bound to have something for you.

In the main party zone, there are tons of American chain places like Chili's, Rainforest Cafe & Hard Rock Cafe to name a few. You can absolutely find healthy options there if you're not willing to eat local cuisine and I've covered these joints in a previous post of chain restaurant dining.  But, if you are willing to try something new but want to stay in the thick of the action, try Mex-Treme. They got live music and dancing so you can get your preliminary groove on while dining.They can hook you up with plenty of vegetarian options as well as some fun beverages to get your party started!

Hacienda Sisal Mexican Grill is not only a grand looking place,  it boasts a super neat dining and entertainment club whose setting rivals that of Disney World. The faux, outdoor dining area is a large courtyard complete with the "sets" of pueblo apartments surrounding the tables and the large stage. Featuring live entertainment, dancing, music and local folk artists, Hacienda Sisal feels like you're really getting a slice of Mexican culture along with your guac ; )  The food isn't to shabby either!  I loved my sizzling veggie fajitas and yeas, of course, a large helping of fresh, made at my table guacamole.

The coolest thing to do in the Yucatan aside from eating, drinking and lounging, is the tours to the Mayan ruins and villages.  We especially love d our All-Tour-Native Tours to Coba. The Maya Encounter tour to Coba is the only ruin in the Yucatan that you are still allowed to climb and on this tour you get to zip line, rappel and swim in an underground, freshwater lake called a cenote (sen-oh-teh).  Since you are on an all day excursion, they include lunch at a traditional Mayan village. A lunch I was afraid of so I packed lots of vegan bars. But, I was pleasantly surprise with the wide variety of veggie options that were made super fresh. A hearty veggie soup, veggie beans, rice, salsa a guac. That's all I needed to keep me going through my journey into the past ; )

A can't miss is the Chichen-Itza Tour. One of the new 7 wonders of the world, Chichen-Itza is one of the most recognized Mayan ruin villages around.  Unfortunately you can climb any of the structures but regardless, it's impressive. The ball field and main pyramid are breathtaking and the stories behind them are mega fascinating.  On most of the tours they take you to a super neat cenote near by to swim and they too provide lunch. A large buffest full of veggies, salads, beans and other goodies, you won't go hungry.

That's a wrap on Cancun but not of the state of Quintana Roo! Join me when I summarize the best of Playa Del Carmen!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Funfilled Father's Day

Nothing makes my dad happier than a day at the beach, surfing and just enjoying the sun and ocean. Luckily, Father's Day falls in the summer so it's a great time of year to get outdoors and spend some quality time with the dads in your life (fathers, hubbies, brothers and buddies).  Nothing is more appropriate for a fun filled Father's Day then some outdoor dining and adventurous activities.  You can get your dad any number of ties and gadgets but giving him an experience and memories beats any wrapped gift ; ) So,  I've whipped up a few dad approved recipes as well as some ideas for activities that might put a smile on his face this year!

First of all, think about what kind of guy your dad is.
  • Water sports enthusiast - If so, then consider Fathers Day gift ideas such as a jet boat ride, a day of scuba driving, surfing or a trip down the whitewater in a kayak. 
  • Speed guy - If that's the case then the way you should go is a day spent driving a rally car or an experience in a unique V8 supercar. If, on the other hand, dad is the type who likes the sky, then consider Fathers Day gifts like paragliding, hot air ballooning or sky diving. 
  • Outdoorsman - How about a family hike or camping trip?
  • Sports freak - Get tickets to his favorite team's game or take him out to play. Shoot some hoops, play some golf, whatever his sports persuasion, gather the family and do it together
  • Dare devil - Try rappelling, zip lining or spelunking
If you want to top off a great day of fun or are just thinking of taking it easy that day, either way, cook up a storm of love that dad won't soon forget!

Mediterannean Medley Potato Salad

1  pound whole tiny new potatoes
1/3  cup veganaise
2  tablespoons lemon juice
1  clove garlic, minced
1/4  teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4  cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2  tablespoons capers, drained
2  tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1/2  of a small red onion, sliced and separated into rings

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; add water to cover and, if desired, 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until just tender. Drain well. Cool slightly. Cut potatoes into quarters and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, for dressing, in a small bowl combine veganaise, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper. Stir in olives, capers, and green onion. Pour dressing over potatoes. Add onion. Toss gently to mix.

Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours, stirring salad occasionally. Makes 6 side-dish servings.

Green Kabobs

8  green onions
12  baby green pattypan squash
12  baby zucchini
1  cup sugar snap pea pods
1/3  cup olive oil
3  tablespoons red wine vinegar
3  tablespoons snipped fresh oregano or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
1/4  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoons pepper

Rinse and trim vegetables. Cut a 3-inch portion from the bottom of 6 of the green onions. Save remaining onion tops for another use. Place pattypan squash, zucchini, pea pods, and 3-inch green onion portions in a plastic bag set in a shallow dish.

Finely chop remaining 2 green onions. For marinade, in a screw-top jar combine olive oil, vinegar, finely chopped green onion, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cover and shake well. Pour marinade over vegetables in the bag. Close bag. Marinate vegetables in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Drain vegetables, reserving marinade. On 6 long bamboo* or metal skewers, poke vegetables in alternating order. Cook vegetables on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 8 to 10 minutes or until browned and tender, turning and brushing with reserved marinade occasionally. Makes 6 side-dish servings.

*Note: If using bamboo skewers, keep them from catching fire or charring by soaking them in water for at least 30 minutes before use.

Best BBQ Veggie Burger

4 tablespoons hickory barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon oat bran
2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped canned beets
1 teaspoon beet juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 egg replacer
2 teaspoons olive oil
Vegan cheese of your choice

Stir together barbecue sauce and molasses. Set aside.  In a large bowl, mash beans. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the barbecue mixture (reserving remaining for brushing) and remaining ingredients -- rice through egg replacer. Form into four 6 oz patties.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium. Grill burgers for 2 minutes on one side. Turn and brush with remaining barbecue/molasses mixture. Top with vegan cheese and grill for another 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and mustard on a bun which has been grilled in vegan butter.

Peanut Brittle-y Bread Pudding

2-1/4  cups soymilk
4  egg replacers
1/2  cup granulated sugar
1  tablespoon vanilla
1  teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon
4  cups dry French, Italian, or sourdough bread cubes*
1  cup coarsely chopped  vegan peanut brittle
1/3  cup vegan butter
1/3  cup packed brown sugar
2  medium bananas, sliced
1/8  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1  tablespoon rum or orange juice
1  tablespoon banana liqueur, creme de cacao, or orange juice
  vegan vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl beat together milk, egg replacer, granulated sugar, vanilla, orange peel, and cinnamon. Place bread cubes in an ungreased 2-quart square baking dish. Pour mixture evenly over bread cubes. Sprinkle with chopped peanut brittle.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Serve warm with Bananas Foster Sauce (below)and vanilla ice cream, if desired. Makes 8 servings with 3 tablespoons sauce.

Bananas Foster Sauce: In a large skillet melt vegan butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar until melted. Add bananas. Cook and gently stir over medium heat about 1 minute or until heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon, rum or orange juice, and banana liqueur, creme de cacao, or orange juice. Serve immediately with bread pudding. Makes 1-1/2 cups sauce.

*To dry bread cubes: Place bread cubes in a large pan and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until dry but not brown, stirring twice.

Have a wonderful yummy and adventurous father's day!! xoxo

Friday, June 4, 2010

Can-cun Honeymoon ; )

Nothing screams honeymoon like lying on the beach, soaking up the sun, eating to your hearts desire with a drink in your hand. A drink with an umbrella in it, of course ; ) We decided to go south of the border for some sun as well as some adventure as we knew that the Yucatan had plenty of it. I'm not much for sitting around the beach for a week  so I'm glad we picked a spot that had tons to offer outside of the beautiful ocean.  So much history, great food and great fun, I couldn't have asked for a better place to get away with my new hubby!

On our first evening, of course I wanted Mexican food so we went on the lookout; ) Oddly enough, it was tough to find!! The Cancun area is pretty much the U.S. Laden with American chain restaurants, I refused to partake and hunted down the first local(ish) spot I could. Taco Grill satisfied my craving for local fare and exceeded expectation. A cute outdoor eatery, on the bay, Taco Grill served up some great veggie options. My dinner was complete with a large helping of fresh guacamole, a nice sized marg ; ), and the best grilled veggie burrito I've ever had! It was oozing with sauteed veggies, mushrooms, avocado, beans and delicious sauce. I'm craving one right now! Taco Grill is located in the La Isla Shopping Center.

Now, you wouldn't think that going out for Italian in Mexico would be a good thing but Limoncello was great! Right across from our hotel was this cute, fine dining-ish, locale, right on the water. They even have a private gazebo on a dock for special occasions - very nice! I was delighted that they had my favorite dish, Gnocchi, and I was able to get it with a really great tomato sauce. their bread was a nice touch as well as it came out like a flatbread on a griddle - warm and melty ; )  We really enjoyed the food and the ambiance of Limoncello so don't fret about getting some variety.

If you're looking to do some tequila tastings while enjoying a flavorful, waterfront meal, then La Tequileria is the place for you! So veggie and special diet friendly, I really enjoyed the live music and varieties of their local beverage ; ) Their salads are all veganizable and mega tasty and there's no denying yourself some guac and chip!

I need of curbing a sweet tooth, I stumbled upon Ah Cacao, an all chocolate cafe! And I was able to partake as they could make the cacao goodness vegany. I got a soy Mexican hot chocolate and it ruled! The company is super green and offers the best quality cacao products from the Mayan regions. See, chocolate can be green, helpful and healthy!

Nothing shows the magnitude of the health movement like finding a natural foods restaurant in the heart of Mexican part town. Natura is located on the main drag of Cancun and offers up all sorts of natural dishes, fresh juices and a ton of vegetarian options. Even though it was crazy hot out, I had to try their veggie soup and I followed that with insane vegan nachos. I also imbibed a super green juice and was very happy that I could get one anytime as it was in walking distance of our hotel ; ) Stop in for a healthy meal at Natura - Boulevard Kukulcan Km 9.5, Zona Hotelera, CancĂșn. 77500
Mexico Tel +52 998 8830585.

There's way more to come as I have more rave reviews for Cancun and the surrounding cities in the state of Quintana Roo!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lovin' Leeds

On our way back to London from Blackpool, we made a pit stop in Leeds. A historic English town that is also home to University of Leeds, I hopped off the train in downtown and was smack in the middle of beautiful buildings, shopping centers and eateries.  Surrounded by countryside, this city has the best of both worlds. And with that, comes great dining!

Steps away from the train station you will find the old post office building, in the heart of city square. Now remodeled, you will find The Restaurant Bar & Grill inside, modern and sophisticated. This beautiful space hosts a large bar and gourmet menu. I veganized the Mezze appetizer platter and gobbled it right up. This large plate was a Mediterranean tasting menu with a neat twist. Covered with falafel, oloves, hummus and pita, my favorite were the butternut squash fritters, mmmm! I could have eaten a whole plate of those for sure!  Save your appetite and as soon as you arrive in downtown Leeds, make a beeline to The Restaurant Bar & Grill.

I stumbled upon Roots & Fruits
and figured it would be a great veggie friendly joint, and I was right! It dishes up a fully vegetarian international menu of goodness from Mexican to Indian, accommodating vegans easily. I devoured my wild mushroom pate on sun-dried foccaccia sandwich along with a hearty bowl of Mexican bean & tomato soup. It totally hit the spot and beat the chill quite nicely!

You can rarely go wrong finding healthy and/or veggie meal at an Indian spot. And especially when it's a completely vegetarian spot! Hansa's Gujarati Vegetarian Restaurant specializes in cuisine from the western coast of India and has been rockin' for over 20 years. Outside of their fresh fare, they also cater, host phenomenal cooking classes and are well known for their fabulous cakes.  And if you can't make it into Hansa's, they have their own cookbook. Eat with your fingers or eat with a fork but either way, eat at Hansas's!

I'd love to spend some more time in Leeds as the historic architecture is gorgeous. Plus, I think there is plenty more to eat in this bustling metropolis tucked away in West Yorkshire, England ; )

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Healthy Voyager Radio - Urban Gardening and Low-Fat Cooking

Listen to the Healthy Voyager Radio right here!! Featuring urban gardener, Mike Lieberman and The Happy Herbivore, Lindsay Nixon:

Next show we chat with vegan bodybuilder, Robert Cheeke and veg travel pioneer, Happy Cow's Eric Brent !!