American diet even sadder than previously thought  »

While the vegan community continues to grow and thrive, it turns out that statistically, Americans in general are still making astonishingly poor food choices.

Though the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines actually features a dash of helpful information and a pinch of worthy advice—such as suggestions to avoid sodium and refined grains—it also includes some pretty scary statistics. 

In a chart on page 12 called Top 25 Sources of Calories Among Americans Ages 2 Years and Older, we learn what Americans are really made of.  And it’s not looking good.

The top 10 for people over 19:

  1. Grain-based desserts (“cake, cookies, pie, cobbler, sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts”)
  2. Yeast breads
  3. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
  4. Soda/energy/sports drinks
  5. Alcoholic beverages
  6. Pizza
  7. Tortillas, burritos, tacos
  8. Pasta and pasta dishes
  9. Beef and beef mixed dishes
  10. Dairy desserts

And if that’s not alarming enough, the top 10 for ages two through 18 are:

  1. Grain-based desserts
  2. Pizza
  3. Soda/energy/sports drinks
  4. Yeast breads
  5. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
  6. Pasta and pasta dishes
  7. Reduced-fat milk
  8. Dairy desserts
  9. Potato/corn/other chips
  10. Ready-to-eat cereals

You read right: The American population is currently made up of glazed donuts, fried chicken, and Red Bull. What’s worse, fruits and vegetables don’t even make the top 25, unless you count “fried white potatoes,” and you’d better not count that.

I don’t know about y’all… but I’m pretty sure it’s about time to stage a Nationwide Kale Intervention!

by Kori Ellis via She Knows]


Hong’s Kitchen: Outer Sunset doesn’t completely suck!  »

Ahh, ze French fry! Hoh hoh hoh! Zis ees mah french ax-awnt!

Sorry. I wish I were Parisian most days, and it is painfully obvious that I’m not. Regardless, I have more experience with the tried-and-true fry than the French have with annoying Americans (might be a lie). Once you’ve eaten fries at pretty much every food-slinging establishment in the Midwest due to lack of options, you start to either 1) develop a refined palette for deep-fried potato sticks, or 2) never want to eat a goddamn fry again. Now that I’m in a veg-friendly city, I haven’t had many fries due to the presence of more complex vegan food (read: big-ass burritos), but I never shun them. NEVER. And I know a good fry when I eat one.

Jesus, get on with it. The POINT is that I came across some fries lately, and not just any, but perhaps the best French fries I’ve had to date (of the classic variety—sweet potato and waffle fries are a different story altogether), and they’re right by my house. The craftsmen/women/people slice the potatoes up right when you order, deep-fry them on the spot, and coat them in so much beautiful salt, just for you. The fry-filled oasis is Hong’s Kitchen (or Dong’s, as the locals/I lovingly call it), and it’s the shit. Well, the Chinese food is kinda subpar and not worth your time, but shoooot, the fries are good! You get a takeout container overflowing with them—the lid won’t even close—and they’re so hot and delicious that when you greedily try to eat one (and you will), you’ll probably burn your mouth and/or esophagus. But it’s worth it. Enjoy anytime you need a sturdy $2 meal (around drinking times is good), and top with Tapatio, mustard, ketchup, Vegenaise, or whatever else you like. I’m a condiment whore, so I’ll take it all. You can also grab a 40 at the nearby convenience store (they are very nice people!) and have the best dinner that $4 can buy.

Oh, also, Dong’s is way the hell out by the beach so good luck dragging your ass out there. I’m really just throwing it in your face that I’m sitting on a French fry goldmine. *cue maniacal laughter* OUTER SUNSET FOR LIFE (or until my lease is up).

They’re also closed on Wednesdays, so don’t get stoned and try to call in an order. You’re going to be disappointed. Believe me.


Review: Hard Knox Cafe!  »

I’m all super-bummed that Souley Vegan is closed. Like, really fucking bummed. It was the only place in the Bay Area where a vegan could go for some delicious Soul Food. In observance of their closing, I will review a lesser Soul Food restaurant that can fill your need for Southern fried goodness—KINDA SORTA. Hard Knox Cafe is a meaty-meat Soul Food restaurant with two locations, one in Dog Patch and the other in the Outer Richmond. They have a few vegan items on the menu: the red beans and rice, black-eyed peas and rice, French fries, string beans, and the side salad are all vegan and all very tasty. They have an outstanding veggie burger that they make there with fresh veggies and it’s vegan. I mean, it has nothing on the mac n’ cheese or mashed potatoes of Souley Vegan. OR THE YAMS. The yams. I’d write those yams a sonnet. They tasted like Christmas. Or what I imagine Christmas tastes like in a family whose mother didn’t cancel Christmas every other year because she was having a psychotic breakdown. Alas, some things are better meant for therapy than they are for Vegansaurus. Lucky you, I don’t distinguish between the two so hey: I had a difficult childhood.


If you are a vegetarian or vegan or prefer to not die of animal-fat heart attack then you can get a big-ass plate of three vegan sides for only $7! Combine that with a jug of fruit punch (I usually have Diet Coke but whatever, I am not from the dirty dirty) and maybe some white sandwich bread and you, sir, have yourself a meal deal cheaper than Mickey D’s! And you’re not supporting the devil, you are supporting an adorable Vietnamese-owned Soul Food restaurant! That is not as good as Souley Vegan but it’s ALL WE HAVE. Ugh. So depressed.

ONE SUGGESTION FOR HOW THEY COULD BE MORE AWESOME: add a vegan po’ boy to the menu. Yes. Excellent idea.

[photos via yelp]


Review: The Front Porch!  »

The Front Porch has got to be the cutest restaurant I’ve ever been in. It’s like a puppy wrapped in a kitten and then sauteed in baby koala oil and served on a blanket of rainbows to a family of Care Bears. In addition to being the cutest, It has a down-home sorta sexy feel to it and you always leave kinda wanting to do it with whoever you came with. So don’t bring an ex-boyfriend you really want to have sex with again to this place because you will end up making a huge mistake. Or having a lot of fun. I guess that depends on your personal code of ethics and how much you hate yourself. Either way, mazel tov! What!

This place is always packed so be prepared to wait on their delightful front porch with one of their amazing, inventive cocktails or some delicious wine in a box (!!!). However, if you get there before 7 p.m., you might not have to wait. I’d say 6:45 is the perfect time to arrive because everyone else is coming at 7. If you do that, you won’t have to wait for a primo booth right in the front room. Sweet!

There are lots of vegetarian and vegan items on the menu and the wait staff is knowledgeable about what things are made with what. They always have a vegan special of the day, which might be a coconut okra stew or a sweet potato medley. Most of the time it is very delicious, except this one time when it was THE FUNK and we sent it back and the waitress took it off the bill and brought us about nine orders of their amazing thick-cut French fries with homemade ketchup as a replacement. Man, their fries are RIDICULOUS. A must-try. Must try nine orders. You also must get a side of the plantain fries if they’re on the menu along with the black bean soup with avocado. The sides are always changing but they make sure to have plenty of vegan-friendly options. If the coconut rice and beans are available, try them. If you’re not into the vegan special, you can easily make a dinner of the sides. A delicious dinner. That and their awesome cocktails and wine-in-a-box selection; this place is the shit.

One complaint: no vegan desserts. This has been known to SEND ME OVER THE EDGE in the past but this last time, the waitress did offer to bring me out the pickled pears sans ice cream. I was a little enticed but decided to head up the hill to Maggie Mudd instead. Hey! Million-dollar Idea: OFFER DELICIOUS MAGGIE MUDD VEGAN ICE CREAM AS AN OPTION! Because it’s not like they are making their own ice cream (it’s Mitchell’s!) and they are already serving lots of vegan options, so it would totally help draw in a larger vegan crowd. I mean, if they want our hot (read: fat) asses in there then they are going to have to put out (read: give me my soy cream, assholes!!!)

So, in conclusion, eat here on a date with someone you want to have sex with. Or just with a friend. Who you want to have sex with. Maybe not your brother or sister. Unless you are from Kentucky. Then whatever, that’s God’s Country, who am I to judge??

[photos via yelp]


Review: Jim’s Coffee Shop!  »

It’s not super easy to find truly old-school diners or coffee shops in the Bay Area. In New York City, you can find one on every corner. If you haven’t eaten coleslaw out of a vat infested with maggots, you aren’t really a New Yorker. I’m looking at you, Waverly Diner! Anyway, there is something comforting in sitting down in a place where the waiters speak Greek or Russian or Armenian and are slow AND rude and all there is for a vegan to order is a plate of hash browns the size of your face. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a true diner, then head to Jim’s Coffee Shop in Alameda. You will not regret it. Just don’t ask for soy milk. You will regret that.

Jim’s is also special to me because I saw the most awesome fight outside of this place. It started as a fender-bender and ended in…well, you’ll see. Here’s how it went down. This one car rear-ends this other car. Like a very light tap. I mean, if it had been my minivan, I would’ve waved the other dude good-bye, saying something like, “Have you SEEN my car? It might be a high-powered piece of automotive genius on the INSIDE but a ding on the outside? Keep moving, buddy!” because I mean, really. If I have one ding, I have a hundred. Literally. I have 100 dings on my Kia.

Anyway, the guy who is hit freaks out and motions for the other dude to pull over. Now, I’m watching this whole thing with some French fries in hand—I think this adds to the appeal of the whole thing, the entire time I am watching this, I am casually munching on french fries—the dude who was hit gets out of the car and he’s bright red. Like a scary, big, mean red man of anger and rage. I know some bad (if not interesting) shit is about to hit the fan. I inch closer. The other dude gets out, looking like your average middle-class white dude; he doesn’t seem particularly mad.

And so our story unfolds:
The Super-Agro Man of Rage (SAMOR) is all, “What the fuck, man? You put a dent in my Nissan, man! I just got this car fixed, man! That is fucked up, man!”

Middle-Class White Dude (MCWD) is all, “I’m sorry, let’s check out the dent and see if we can have our insurance talk it over.”

SAMOR is all, “Man, that shit ain’t right! Insurance talk it over man, nah. We’re going to deal with it right here.” (NO SHIT, THIS IS WHAT HE SAID)

MCWD and Laura B are all, “What?”

SAMOR is all, “You heard me, son! I’m about to fuck you up!”

MCWD looking around, obviously totally weirded out. “Uhh…”

SAMOR starts to move closer to MCWD. MCWD is backing away being all, “I think this is best solved through our insurance companies.”

SAMOR is all, “Didn’t you hear me, man? We’re gonna settle this now!”

MCWD is getting more annoyed and starts to roll up his sleeves and is all, “OK, dude,” and starts to move towards SAMOR, at which time SAMOR starts to yell, “HELP! POLICE! THIS MAN IS GOING TO ATTACK ME!!!!”

NO SHIT!!!! He starts waving his arms wildly and screaming for help. I could not make this shit up. Well, maybe I could but i’m not. I swear. There are witnesses. All of them dead or living in Canada.

MCWD is all, “Dang, you are crazy!” and starts to go back to his car, at which time SAMOR is all, “What? You scared of me, bro? You want a piece?” and proceeds to pick a bottle up off the ground and throw it in MCWD’s direction. MCWD whips around and starts heading back to SAMOR, and SAMOR once again starts screaming, “HELP! SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE! 911! HELP! POLICE!”

At this point, I literally drop my French fries and pull out my cell phone because I’m not quite sure some bad shit is about to go down, but I know some freaky shit is currently going down. I call the police.

MCWD is all, “Fuck this, you are crazy,” and starts to move back to his car, and SAMOR is all, “Oh that’s right, walk away you pussy bitch! I knew it, bitch!” and MCWD is just shaking his head, and SAMOR runs after him, passes him, hits MCWD’s car really hard with his fist and runs back around the other side of the car. At this point, MCWD just loses it and is chasing SAMOR around his car while SAMOR yells, “HELP! POLICE!”

The police finally arrive and I’m forced to give witness to what I just saw. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what just went down in front of me. I testify to the best of my ability and head back into Jim’s for another to-go order of french fries.

Moral of this story, kids? Stay the fuck away from meth.

[photo via yelp]


Review: Rick and Ann’s!  »

Rick and Ann’s is a good breakfast and brunch spot for vegetarians and vegans as the tofu scramble is delicious and they serve a yummy potato hash, made with sweet & white potatoes, sweet bell peppers, corn and apples! I like to get the tofu scramble and substitute the vegetarian hash for the home fries. HOWEVER, I also LOVE the french fries (of the shoestring variety, which you can get for breakfast!) but a word to the wise, the small fries would satisfy fat Oprah, you dig? You get the large and you’re wandering into Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man territory. And i don’t think any of us want that. Especially not these guys.

They also serve lunch and dinner but those are more meals that you would make do with if you had to go out with meat-eaters, not a place for a vegan to dine alone or in the company of other vegans. However, if you’re looking for a place to eat with omnis and you’re in the Claremont district at the Berkeley/Oakland border, it’s a decent choice. You can choose from their veggie chili, portobello mushroom sandwich (ugh, you again), veggie burger (it’s vegan…I believe it’s a boca burger) and a few fancified salads.

One warning. Rick and Ann’s can have some HORENDOUS wait times for tables, especially on the weekends. In fact, one particularly awful Saturday about a year ago, I had to wait 1½ hours for a table. ONE AND A HALF HOURS. It was especially terrible because it forced me to endure the following conversation with my mother:

Picture this: Me (Laura B) and my crazy mom (Crazy Momma B) sitting on a bench in-front of the nearby Peet’s, waiting for a table. Waiting and waiting and waiting.

Crazy Momma B: I have to tell you something. It’s a secret, you can’t tell anyone. NOT EVEN YOUR FATHER.
Laura B: Uh, okay?
Crazy Momma B: I mean it, Laura. You can’t tell ANYBODY.
Laura B: You’re pregnant?
Crazy Momma B: Laura, I’m being serious.  

(Please keep in mind that this is how my mom talks when she is about to tell me shit like she and my father are breaking up, and it’s over and he’s keeping the house and she’s going to rent a cute little flat in Berkeley and then I’ll meet her to go look at cute little flat in Berkeley and she’ll be like, “Oh it’s all patched up, let’s go to brunch!” Or say, when she told me she had BOUGHT a HOUSE in PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COUNTRY without telling my father. All true, I swear to god, as I live and breathe. Anyway, I’m so TIRED of the drama but you can’t very well get out of it when you want a free breakfast, can you?)

Laura B: Fine, Mom, what?
Crazy Momma B: I have $1 million in gold in the basement of the house.
Laura B: (spits out Peet’s coffee): WHAT?!
Cray Cray CRAY-ZAY Momma B: I have been collecting gold on and off for the past 20 years and now I have over $1 million worth of it. I keep it in the basement.
Laura B: WHAT?!
SHE IS FUCKING OUT OF HER GOURD Momma B: I just thought you should know…. You know, in case anything should happen to me.
Laura B: What the fuck is going to happen to you?
C-C-C Momma B: Cool it with the mouth! And you never know, you never know…
Laura B: Are you going to kill yourself? Are there loan sharks after you? Are the going to cut off your legs and feed them to me in a soup?!
C-C-C Momma B: Don’t tell your father.
Laura B: Oh yeah, this isn’t something you should share with YOUR HUSBAND OF 30-PLUS* YEARS.
C-C-C Momma B: Really, I don’t need the attitude, Laura.  

(Laura B practices her deep breathing exercises as advised by therapist)

C-C-C Momma B: Oh don’t pull that new age crap with me, Laura.  
Laura B: I’m gonna go check on our table.
Laura B (around the corner and out of earshot of C-C-C Momma B): And by check on our table I mean call Dad. HA!

So I whip out my phone to call my father and inform him of just how infuckingsane the woman he married is and he says, “Wow. A million? I mean, I knew she’d been collecting—she doesn’t know I know but I know—and I had NO clue it was this much. Time to get her a new life insurance policy. HAHAHA!”**


*I say 30-plus because I have no clue how long my parents have been married. Who’s the terrible mom now?!
**At least my dad had the good sense to get the gold moved to a lock box in a bank. Jesus Christ.

[photos via Rick & Ann’s]

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