Vegan Roadtrip: Chicago!   »

The rainy season is upon us, and combined with much shorter, winter days, I’m longing for the fun and daylight of summertime! So in an effort to cheer myself up, I thought we could look at all of the places I ate this summer, when I went to Chicago. That’s fun, right?

First, I tried El Nuevo Mexicano. I’d written about them in the past, on this very blog, and finally my opportunity to try it had arrived!

Of course my party had margaritas! My love of the margarita was born in the city of Chicago. They’re so delectable there.

For dinner I had this beast of a quesadilla. Not too shabby, eh? Their menu vegan menu changes periodically, but I’m pretty sure these were filled with seitan, Daiya, pico de gallo, and sauteed onions and bell peppers. They were delicious and very filling!

The next two days were a little scattered and uninteresting as far as food goes. My friend and I hightailed to mid-Michigan for a friend’s wedding, and it was slim pickings. My wedding meal looked like this:
Actually, the bride was very considerate of my diet, and a long-time vegetarian herself. Not pictured is some beautiful white squash with basil and oh so much wine.

Back in the city, I went to The Handlebar, as it’s one of my all-time favorite places to be! Now, usually when I’m there, I get the samosas for an appetizer and the buffalo “chicken” ranch wrap as my entree. For this visit, I decided to go a little crazy and mix things up!

I know you won’t believe this, but pictured above was my first foray in to the world of fried pickle spears. I fell fast, I fell hard, and now I order them anytime they’re available on a menu. I would also like to say, loudly and proudly, that I am Team Pickle Spear, but who am I kidding; I’ll gobble up deep-fried pickle chips like nobody’s business.

Then, there were fried avocado tacos. Deep-fried avocados—please, it was a no-brainer. As much as I may have liked them, I’m still head over heels for my buffalo-chicken wrap. It’s good to try new things, as sometimes it validates your love for the tried and true, right?

And then, the next night, IT HAPPENED—I tried Native Foods Cafe for the first time! I will now long for the Oaklahoma bacon cheeseburger every day until we are reunited again. Oh man, the cheddar sauce alone … Why must you live so far from San Francisco, Native Foods?

Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park!

My friend Stephanie ordered the sweet potato fries.

My girl Nora got a massive plate of nachos!

Buffalo chicken strips are MY JAM, so of course I ordered them!

Last but certainly not least — the Oaklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, in all its glory!

The next day, I tried to go to Quesadilla: La Reyna del Sur and it was closed! How dare you get in the way of my vegan gorging, Fourth of July? Instead, I went to my old late-night post-bars standby, Lazo’s tacos. It was all right. It’s much better at 3 a.m., but I appreciated the flood of memories I had walking in.

Decent, but is much tastier as an after-hours-everything-else-is-closed meal.

That concludes my Chicago trip! I know there are a lot of places I didn’t go, as time and also room in my stomach didn’t allow for it. I know you guys get super-excited about reccommending the Chicago Diner as well, but believe me, I know about it! I ate there almost every day when I worked there as a baker in 2006-‘07.


The Vegansaurus Top 15 vegan celebrities!  »

LA Weekly just posted their top 10 vegan celebrities, which got me wondering why they should have all the fun. As many of you pointed out, a few of those celebs aren’t even vegan anymore (Alec and Olivia, I’m looking at you.) So … drum roll, please … we at Vegansaurus have put together our own top 10 list, only it contains 15 of our favorite vegan celebs! What do you think? Does this make you love us more? Hate us? Feel nothing? Ha! I bet you can’t stop reading anyway!

In no particular order (I’m very sensitive myself and do not want these beautiful specimens of veganism to feel jilted), I present you with…THE VEGANSAURUS TOP 15 VEGAN CELEBRITIES! 

The first two are the winners of a little poll we conducted around the first of year, asking you about your favorite vegan musicians. You guys went totally bonkers for

1. Moby! This guy has been vegan for what feels like forever, which roughly translates to about 18 years. He’s co-owned a vegan cafe and co-written a book, all the while working as a recording artist, hot dang! I went to a BBQ he hosted at SXSW last year, which was pretty fantastic, and maybe one of my favorite meals from 2011. Keep doing you, Moby; keep doing you. 

2. Ted Leo! Now, don’t get upset, but I don’t know much about this guy. That doesn’t matter, however, because you, our lovely readers, LOVE this guy. You couldn’t hold back your devotion in our poll! Please, feel free to school me about Ted Leo in the comments, I will not mind. According to this interview, he loves Millennium (holla!). Maybe us S.F.-dwellers will run into him there. Jealous?

And now for our picks:

3. Bill Clinton! Need I say more? The Vegan Fox (formerly Slick Willy, right?) is on Team Vegan, hurrah!

4. Fiona Apple! Angst sounds so sweet mixed with a vegan diet. My Tumblr and Twitter feeds are still filled with people going nuts about her new album, and that dropped like four months ago! Has anyone seen one of her epic onstage meltdowns? I’m not hating—I have epic meltdowns every day of my life, as witnessed by my friends, family, roommates and co-workers.

5. Alicia Silverstone. She videotaped herself feeding her kid like a goddamn bird, which grossed out pretty much everyone who saw it. I still shudder, thinking about it. In other news, she loves Food For Lovers queso, wrote a pretty awesome vegan lifestyle book, and STARRED IN CLUELESS (not to mention those Aerosmith videos).

6. Woody Harrelson. Raw vegans tend to be pretty sexy (hey Sarah E. Brown, I’m winking at YOU), and he especially did not disappoint while kicking undead ass in the movie Zombieland! Looks like he even got his hands on some vegan Twinkies for a scene in said movie. HEY WOODY, I MAKE THOSE FOR A LIVING!

7. Tony Kanal, the bassist for No Doubt! This one’s for me and my girl Tashina, the biggest No Doubt fans you may ever meet. Don’t hate, celebrate! Gwen Stefani was just photographed leaving a vegan restaurant in L.A.; maybe that was Tony’s influence? (Though I hear Gavin’s a longtime vegetarian.)

8. Joaquin Phoenix! He narrated Earthlings! He’s totally crazy (by which I mean a crazy-talented actor)! Isa Chandra Moskowitz has made eggrolls for him!

9. Emily Deschanel! She’s so beautiful and articulate, and her penetrating stare scares the shit out of me! She weathered a vegan pregnancy AND LIVED TO TALK ABOUT IT! Take that, everyone who says it’s not possible! Ha!

10. Scott Jurek, because vegan athletes/authors are superstars! Read all about Rachel’s love for Scott here! To quote the post, “Scott Jurek could basically kick your ass any day of the week, including days where he hasn’t slept the night before, has a broken ankle, and already ran 75 miles.” Dang.

11. Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres! They are so great about making veganism look fun and accessible. There is so much to love about this superstar couple and the work they do for animals. Too bad about the restaurant deal falling through, but yay for vegan dog food!

12. Erykah Badu! She’s every vegan jazz musician’s No. 1 crush, or maybe that’s just my old roommate Jeremy. Remember when she busted onto the scene with “On and On" then sent everyone into a flurry  with her video for "Window Seat”? This “Queen of Neo-Soul” is truly an inspiration when it comes to forward thinking politics and raising her vegan family!

13. Alanis Morisette! I had a co-worker at the Chicago Diner who thought the lyrics to You Oughta Know were “… and the cross-eyed bear that you gave to me”. HA! Now you’ll always sing that, instead of the right words, JUST LIKE ME! It’s a curse I bestow on you. Also, Alanis is quite lovely, and wasn’t she great on Weeds? Oh yes, and of course You Can’t Do That on Television!

14. Russell Simmons! Man, do you follow this guy on Twitter? He’s like a guru for people who don’t believe in gurus (me)! And seriously, wasn’t the best part of Kimora Lee Simmons’ show when he came on and moderated the crazy? Our Megan is always covering Russell’s vegan moves here on Vegansaurus, so I’ll just direct you to one of my favorite posts of hers, also featuring Martha Stewart! Keep giving us your vegan recipes, Russell! Keep giving us your wisdom!

15. Thom Yorke! OBVIOUSLY, right?! Most everyone’s favorite band has been Radiohead at some point, hasn’t it? He ate at Café Gratitude once, when I was working in the Central Kitchen of Scandal. Everyone went nuts, as to be expected. I’m never around when the celebs come to the restaurants I work at and it’s not fair, because I just love them so much! Actually, scratch that—M.C. Hammer came into Source recently (and I didn’t recognize him without his signature pants).

Honorable Mention:

Brad Pitt! I was shocked to find out he’s vegan. On second thought, it made sense. He would just quietly be vegan, helping to rebuild New Orleans, raising a family, and avoiding Jennifer Aniston’s rabid fan base of haters.


Interview with Dr. Brian Clement of the Hippocrates Institute!  »

I went raw once, for five months! It was the absolute best I’ve felt in the four years I’ve been vegan. The energy! The new and exciting foods to try! Living in Chicago at the time, I was able to gorge on all sorts of delicious raw fare from Karyn’s Raw, Cousins IV and The Chicago Diner (do they still serve raw food, Chicagoans?). I used Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Kitchen and Matt Amsden’s The Rawvolution as my how-to guides at home. Life was good, though it’s much easier to be raw in the spring and summer in Chicago—you can assume what happened once winter started to set in.

Three years later, I’m living in beautiful San Francisco, and I still go off and on with this raw food thing. I JUST CAN’T STICK TO IT. I think every person’s body has individual needs and sensitivities, and for me personally, the raw food diet works best. I’m a huge advocate.

But this post isn’t about me (what?), it’s about the healing powers of being raw. Recently, Dr. Brian Clement spoke at San Francisco’s New Living Expo in a lecture titled “Raw Foods and Cancer.” Dr. Clement is the director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, which uses raw vegan diets to help people recover from serious illnesses and heath challenges. Dr. Clement has been a vegan for 38 years, and a raw foodist for 36! Talk about motivation to get back on track and buy ingredients for a salad (and a slice of tiramisu from Cafe Gratitude)!

Dr. Clement was gracious enough to offer us at Vegansaurus some insight about raw foods, the Hippocrates institute and his favorite go-to raw recipe!

Vegansaurus: How long have you been vegan? How long have you been a raw vegan? What inspired you to initially become a raw foodist?
Dr. Clement: I began as a vegetarian 41 years ago and a vegan 38 years ago. Thirty-six years ago I adopted a raw/living diet. Long before it was accepted to be obese, I was—carrying an extra 120 pounds and smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. When taking the first step as a vegetarian, I saw exceptional improvements and organically, moved to a raw vegan diet that opened my eyes to the potential food has in prolonging life and warding off disease.

What exactly is the Hippocrates Institute? Does it serve as both a raw food retreat and cancer center? How long have you been there and what do you do?
Hippocrates Health Institute was the first and is the foremost natural health center globally. We pioneered the field of complimentary healthcare and opened our doors 55 years ago in Boston. We have attracted guests from all corners of the globe that attend the Lifechange program for one of two distinct reasons: first, to conquer the disease they are harboring (cancer, heart, diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s, HIV, autoimmune, etc.); second, as serious health-seekers who do not want to fall victim to such maladies. Everyone from Olympic athletes to stage-four cancer patients by the hundreds of thousands attended our program, for the first 30 years in Boston and over the last 25 here in West Palm Beach, Fla. My tenure began in the mid-’70s and I thank God every day for the passion-filled, fulfilling work I pursue.

How do you feel people can take control of their lives and their health by eating raw foods? In your opinion, what are the benefits? Why go raw?
Every creature on earth, except domestic and displaced animals, lives on a 100 percent raw food diet. Here at HHI, we have clinically proven for more than half a century that such raw vegan fare slows aging, prevents disease, and even helps to reverse it. The core science on why these raw green foods afford such attributes are the: HORMONES, OXYGEN, PHYTO-NUTRIENTS, AND ENZYMES that they contain. In addition, proper selection provides the highest source of complete protein, essential fatty acids, and ultimately the most nutrient-dense energy filled foods on earth.

What does a typical day of meals, snacks, and juices look like for you?
Although the diet end of the HHI program is tailored for personal needs, most maintenance cuisine would look a bit like this: Fresh raw vegetable and sprout juice that may include wheat grass in the morning, followed by sprouted cereal or fresh ripe organic fruit, etc. A mid-morning snack may be sprouted and dehydrated nuts and seeds or some type of sprouted cracker or raw bread. Lunch should begin with a hardy large green and sprout salad adorned with your favorite dressing (vegan thousand island, Italian, Mediterranean, etc.), a nut and seed or grain and bean burger or loaf followed by some raw dehydrated raw cookies or cake seasoned with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and the legal sweetener, Stevia. Mid-afternoon snacks may include seasoned sprouted seeds and or ripe organic fruit. Dinner should begin with a nice fresh raw vegetable and sprout juice, a delicious raw carrot soup, a moderately seasoned bean and green salad, and tiff and quinoa sprouted grain croquette. You can find a wide array of delicious choices in Dr. Anna Maria’s recipe book Healthful Cuisine.

How do you feel about a raw food diet of solid foods versus a juice “cleanse?” Are they necessary? What about an alkaline cleanse?
Proper juices made from nutrient-dense foods like sprouts and fresh green vegetables provide an extraordinary amount of nutrition. This does not preclude the need to eat solid raw food preparations. This body building cuisine will assure that the metabolism will maintain solid weight so that one via exercise can have a strong skeletal and muscular system.

Is it important or necessary to take supplements on a raw food diet? Is the food enough? If supplements are necessary, which ones?
After researching hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom have lived on healthy diets, we have found that our high-stress, unnatural and polluted lifestyles require us to embrace good whole-food supplements. Whole-food forms of algae, sea and fresh water, raw pollen’s living green powders, bacterial forms of B12 and in many cases, targeted whole food supplementation boost the immune system and are examples of what one may require after a good nutritional evaluation.

Any favorite recipes you’d like to share with the Vegansaurus readers?
Our busy lifestyles limit the time most of us spend preparing foods so quick-to-design are our favorites. Worldwide, you can walk into green markets and purchase an already washed variety of salad greens. Mixing them together with fresh herbs, healthy oils, and easy to purchase sprouts manifest a power salad in two minutes. Opening a package of arame seaweed and soaking it in fresh water for a short time and draining it affords an opportunity for you to cut scallions, chives, or sweet onions into the delicious vegetable so that you can crush garlic and place olive oil over this main course fare. This takes less than four minutes to achieve. Everyone’s favorite desserts can be easily manufactured with a dehydrator (does not cook, dries) a bowl of your favorite raw dough (as an example, sprouted oats placed through a good juicer with a blank affixed-run these sprouts through so that they homogenize into a dough). In the bowl, place your favorite seasonings and or sweet oils and form into cookies you can fill your dehydrator with these treats so that you will have fun, healthy foods for days or weeks to come.

Thanks, Dr. Clement! I wonder if they offer work study programs? I could use some time in Florida to go raw. Anyone want to sponsor me?

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