Big, Easy Bites

by Gena on March 6, 2012

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Hello from NOLA!

As many of you know, my BFF, Chloe, lives in Crescent City. I love New Orleans almost as much as she does—the culture, the music, the energy! Until recently, however, I couldn’t exactly share in New Orleanians’ passion for their cuisine, which is one of the city’s primary attractions. World renowned though the local food is, it is historically not the most vegan friendly fare: fish, mayonnaise, Andouille sausage, and butter make frequent appearances in nearly all of the city’s most iconic dishes.

Like most cities, however, New Orleans is becoming ever more accommodating to compassionate diners. Every time I visit, there’s a new vegan or vegetarian restaurant to try. The city has always had numerous ethnic food options—Susan has blogged about many of them—but nowadays there is also vegan comfort food and even raw food to be had (for more on that, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!). The last time I visited NOLA, the Metairie Whole Foods even carried fresh pressed green juice! All the more proof that it has never been easier to be a vegan traveler in our world.

I woke up around 5:30 am today for my journey south. After ample coffee at the airport, along with a sunflower seed butter and banana sandwich on Ezekiel sprouted grain toast, I made my way to Atlanta. During my connection, I responded to work emails and munched on some homemade, raw vegan “chunks of energy” style snacks—recipe to come!— and then hopped on board a flight to Louis Armstrong Airport, where Chloe met me with a smile!

It took us all of five minutes in the car to establish that we were both, predictably, hangry. Chloe mentioned a vegan-friendly lunch spot in the Bywater called Satsuma. It had big salads, she said. That was all this hungry traveler needed to hear! Little did I know that this charming café also has a fresh juice menu:

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There is absolutely nothing that beats a cold, fresh juice after the exhaustion and dehydration of airplane travel! As my giant grin in the photo above demonstrates. I got an elixir of kale, celery, ginger, carrot, lemon, and parsley. It was heavy on the lemon, but perfect.

As you can see from the online menu, Satsuma is incredibly vegan friendly—many of the salads and sandwiches contain cheese, but all could be made without it.

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The vibe at Satsuma is artsy and eclectic. And the décor is incredibly cozy:

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I was torn between two salads: the Satsuma salad, which was a medley of satsuma, beets, and arugula with walnuts and vinaigrette, or the quinoa salad with edamame, carrots, red onion (only a tiny bit, phew), olives, basil, and sprouts. One had more greens, the other had more sustenance. Given how hungry I was, I decided not to choose:

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Yum!

I often find that my appetite exceeds a single menu item, but feel badly ordering two things. What I’ve learned is that it’s much, much better to have leftovers to enjoy than it is to have an inadequate meal—especially when the food is as terrific as this food was! And I didn’t have leftovers, which means I needed the fuel. The Satsuma salad was a classic—tangy balsamic dressing, sweet roasted beets. The quinoa salad was even more of a knockout—I loved how the salty olives contrasted with the sweet carrots and peppers, and the avocado (which I added to both salads) leant a creaminess to both dishes. I’m not typically a fan of olives, but they hit just the right note here. It was so flavorful that I didn’t even need much of the lemon herb dressing, though it was very good.

For her part, Chloe ordered the grilled vegetable sandwich:

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It looked great. And lunch was made all the more pleasant because the weather was balmy, and we sat outdoors:

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After lunch, we came back to Chloe’s for some rest, some work, and I got to have a little time on the elliptical. Before we knew it, dinnertime had rolled around. We’d strolled at Whole Foods on the way back to Chloe’s place, where I’d tasted some red grapes that were on sale. I started thinking about how I could work them into a particularly tasty salad, and knew immediately that avocado would have to be involved. So too would jicama, which caught my eye as we shopped. And for a little more nutrient density, some cannellini beans, which I found boxed, for once, rather than canned!

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Canned beans are a big weakness of mine (and by that I mean, I should be cooking them from scratch!). I always buy Eden organic, which is BPA free, but I love the idea of an organic, boxed brand. With zero added sodium to boot! I’ll have my eye on Fig Food Co from now on!

A splash of white balsamic later, a glorious new salad creation was born.

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Avocado, Grape, and Jicama Salad with White Balsamic Vinegar (vegan, high raw, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 1

3-4 cups mixed greens or baby romaine
1/2 large avocado
1/2 cup grape halves
1/2 cup chopped jicama
1/3 cup chopped cucumber
2/3 cup cannellini beans
White balsamic vinegar to taste
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Optional add ins: quinoa, beets, spring potatoes

Mix all ingredients together until the avocado has coated everything. Serve with a grain of choice, some raw crackers, or–my choice this evening—some white bean dip with rice crackers! Delicious:

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At dinner, I also tried Buddha’s Brew, a regional kombucha from Austin, TX. It was the blueberry flavor, and I liked it a lot:

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Hopefully I’ll spot this brand at more stores very soon. Dinner was made even nicer by the fact that my childhood friend Matt, who I hadn’t seen since Chloe’s wedding, joined us for a while. Fun to catch up and catalog our favorite NYC restaurants—we’re all clearly still children of the Big Apple.

In all, a fun day by the Gulf. I look forward to more good food, as well as coffee with my good friend Nat, tomorrow. Most of all, I look forward to sampling the citrus and ginger-kissed chia seed pudding that I just watched Chloe blog about. Cause it looks fantastic.

See you back here tomorrow!

xo

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga March 6, 2012 at 12:17 am

blueberry kombucha…yum!

And the fact that you were able to spend time with Chole, eat outside, eat great food, soak up a bit of R&R, so happy for you, Gena!

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PatronStOfTofu March 6, 2012 at 12:29 am

Dear Gena,
Welcome to NOLA! I have been here since August (so definitely a newcomer) and am amazed by the vegan dining options.
If you’re looking for more places, I would whole-heartedly recommend O! Vegasm (serves dinner on weeknights and a Sunday brunch) and The Wandering Buddha – the two vegan restaurants in New Orleans. Both are located in the St. Roch neighborhood, close to Satsuma. As a note, both are located inside bars that allow smoking, though Wandering Buddha is mostly on a patio. Additionally, Meals from the Heart in the French Market is run by the nicest people, and has yummy vegan pancakes!
Enjoy your time here!
Jessie

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Gena March 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

It’s amazing how much the vegan options have multiplied since I started coming here! I’m going to Wandering Buddha tonight, and as a former heavy smoker, I admit that the secondhand doesn’t bug me.

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Christine (The Raw Project) March 6, 2012 at 12:54 am

Wow, what a great trip all ready! Kudos for getting in a workout on a heavy travel day and all your eats look wonderful! The salad and blueberry kombucha sound fabulous!

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Ali March 6, 2012 at 1:26 am

What a fun day! Your salads all looked amazing.

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Ela March 6, 2012 at 2:11 am

Yay–good for you! I’d just been thinking I hadn’t had jicama in ages–I go through spells of obsession with it–must go look for some. Envious that you’re sitting out in sunshine–snowy here!

So happy for you, and great modeling on not going without on the beautiful salads.
Blueberry kombucha sounds so good…
love
Ela

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Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! March 6, 2012 at 4:35 am

That salad looks amazing – so refreshing! And I’m very happy to see you’ve discovered Fig Food Co. They’re my go-to for packaged soups and beans. And my uncle owns the company ;-) I love knowing that I can trust the ingredients in a box.

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Gena March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

No way! Fantastic company, kudos to your Uncle.

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Amanda March 6, 2012 at 8:54 am

I had no idea you could even buy beans in a box. I will definitely be on the lookout for those near me.

Blueberry kombucha sounds fantastic! I’m currently looking into brewing my own…fingers crossed it works, because I’d love to drink kombucha more often and not have to pay nearly $4/bottle.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale March 6, 2012 at 9:03 am

There are so many good things happening here!
1.) Your smile is contagious.
2.) Extra lemon in green juice = heaven.
3.) I am guilty of using canned beans (but organic!)…always.
4.) Your hispters comment made me LOL.
The end. <3

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Lauren March 6, 2012 at 9:19 am

Love that you ordered 2 salads, totally something I would do! They sell a few varieties of those beans (even a vegan baked beans) at my Whole Foods, but they are more expensive then Eden so I haven’t tried them yet. Fig Foods is awesome, love their soups!

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Alexa March 6, 2012 at 11:00 am

There are totally hipsters in DC!!! We just all commune at the Corcoran College of Art and Design…and most all the bike messangers are totally complete hipsters……and some hipsters commune in Dupont Circle :)

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Gena March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Alexa,

I know it. It was a dumb joke (see response to Holly, below). Sorry if you took offense, but thanks for the comment/reading!

G

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Anonymous March 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm

No offense at all I love your blog! I’m no hipster I just miss my DC hipsters :) I used to live in DC and go to the Corcoran but I moved recently to Iowa to be near family :( I miss DC

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Alex @ Raw Recovery March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am

I just had my first Kombucha a few days ago and loved it. So refreshing without being overly sweet. I just read an article though on mayoclinic about staying away from Kombucha because some people had bad digestive reactions to it. Any thoughts on that or evidence that it’s good for us?

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Sarah Branch March 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hey Gena! I’m one of your faithful followers and I reside in NOLA! A big, hearty, jazzy welcome to you! Another fantastic and new salad joint you should check out is City Greens, 900 Poydras (on the corner of Poydras and Rampart). Enjoy your stay in our great city and thanks for your inspiration and common sense approach to a plant-based lifestyle :)

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Gena March 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Thanks Sarah! I love your hometown :)

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Holly S. March 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Oh Gena, how I wish you would venture outside of Georgetown! As a longtime DC resident, I cringe at your off-hand (and not infrequent) mentions of the culturally defining things we lack. We may be no NYC, but DC certainly has its fair share of hipsters. It is unfair to judge the city as a whole based on Georgetown or the Northwest quadrant, which from the blog seems to be the area you stick to. There are three other quadrants that make up the city, all of which are much more culturally, racially, and economically diverse–and yes, they have hipsters (also, haven’t you heard of Columbia Heights in NW? Try going there and telling me there aren’t hipsters!). Admittedly DC is more uptight than New York–of course it is, it is a city of politicians, not artists. But DC does have a flourishing arts scene and more lifestyle diversity than you’ve represented on your blog. I encourage you to get out and experience it!

I suppose this comment was slightly out of the blue given that this was a NOLA post, but I have been thinking it for a while!

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Gena March 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Holly,

Point taken! I deleted the comment, because it’s clearly unfair. I wish school gave me more time to wander about, but sadly, I spend most days not only in Georgetown, but in the Georgetown science library.

In any case, I’m well aware of the fact that DC is racially and culturally diverse, and I know that there’s a flourishing arts scene. I’m more referring to what feels like the overall mood of the city, just the way people often assume that the overall mood of NYC is essentially impatient, or artsy, or neurotic (none of which I take offense to, though of course I’d suggest to anyone who spoke in those broadstrokes that New Yorkers can also be conservative, preppy, relaxed, etc.). I really didn’t mean the comment to sound damning, but rather humorous, and self-consciously reductive. But humor fails sometimes. Thanks for the rejoinder. I’m comfortable sharing my honest impressions of the city, but I’ll try to be mindful of unecessary innacuracies.

G

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Holly S. March 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Gena, thank you so much for your thoughtful response! You truly are a treasure in a sea of inattentive and inconsiderate bloggers. I definitely get that the overall sense of DC (especially Georgetown!) is more stodgy and uptight–and I like to think we are self-aware enough about it to laugh about it! But I appreciate your mindfulness regarding unnecessary generalizations–people unfamiliar with DC and all it has to offer might take them literally. Thanks again for your thoughtful response, and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on the city once you have time to experience areas other than Georgetown!

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Gena March 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Thanks for circling back, Holly! I’m really lucky to have readers who are smart enough to catch me when I’m being flippant. Which is why I appreciate what you said.

I’ll have more time to explore next winter and spring, when the MCATs are over and I can have a normal life again, but I hope to at least poke around before then. I’ll certainly chronicle what I see and do :)

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Gena March 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

And oh — yes, I have two friends who live in Columbia Heights. I enjoy wandering around their ‘hood.

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Bess March 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I went to college in New Orleans, wasn’t vegan back then but have been back a couple times since becoming vegan and every time I go, I find more vegan friendly restaurants. I love the big Whole Foods uptown as well. I also recommend The Wandering Buddha for vegan Korean food.

Though I will never forget ordering a vegetarian chili with no cheese and no sour cream (can’t remember restaurant name)and them bringing it to me with REAL BACON on top!

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bitt March 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm

After I saw this post I had to have a big huge salad, you got me craving it! And it wasn’t even my normal salad eating time of day. ;-)

Have a fabulous trip!

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Gena March 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

YES! That is the goal of every CR post — to inspire salad cravings ;-) Hope it was tasty!

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kerri March 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm

welcome to NOLA!! I am from there and for the last 2 years have lived abroad in Germany. I will be returning in the summer, and I am so excited that they have added so many vegan options!!! the Metairie WF is my go to, so glad you gave them a shout out! I also am in very early stages of recovery from the ED grip, and have to tell you that I credit your website and blog for much inspiration and gearing up the initiative I needed to get help. SO THANK YOU, and keep it up!!! ENJOY NOLA!!

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Natasha March 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I live in NOLA! Good to know about satsuma.

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com March 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Looks like you had a great time, Gena! Happy for you! Blueberry kombucha-yum!

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Kait March 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm

There are fig food coupons on Mambo Sprouts and WF. You can pair them together to indulge in boxed beans! :)

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Pure2raw twins March 6, 2012 at 8:37 pm

enjoy your time there. that restaurant sounds wonderful, and blueberry kombucha? yes please sounds heavenly

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Prathiba @ Vehemently Vegan March 7, 2012 at 1:23 am

Wow! Boxed beans! I’ve never heard of or seen them before. I’ll have to keep my eye out. Also, the Austin Whole Foods stores have that kombucha on tap. I just tried out the blueberry flavor yesterday and it is delicious.

Have a great time in NOLA!

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Stephanie March 7, 2012 at 11:56 am

Hi Gena!
I was SOOO excited to see that there are vegan friendly restaurtants in NOLA! I’m planning a girls trip to New Orleans (2 raw vegans and 2 meat eaters!) and haven’t had much luck as far as finding diners. What others do you know of?

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Veganlily March 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Oh my goodness-just order BOTH salads! I literally just had a food epiphany reading that. I sometimes feel sheepish at restaurants because the volume of vegan salads sometimes makes them seem big, but we in the know understand how calorie/nitrient dense they are often not. So just order both! Genius-why have I never “let” myself do this? You rock!

Nola is on my very short list – its in one of the very few US states I have yet to visit…have a blast!

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Gena March 8, 2012 at 10:18 am

Amazing what simple mental shifts can do sometimes. Glad you found this helpful, Lily!

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Lauren Slayton March 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Loving this post. I went to Tulane and it definitely didn’t have green juices then (a million years ago). So nice to hear of your finds. I just posted about beans (being more “regular” about soaking) and that Fig Food brand, too funny. I am off to the market and you’ve inspired me to get some jicama.

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melissa March 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm

You are just glowing lately, Gena! I have to say, you always seem to eat well in the Big Easy! Yum.

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