I’m very lucky to work within walking distance of not one, but four fantastic raw and vegan restaurants: One Lucky Duck, Adelina, Jivamukti, and Bonobos (yes, like the monkey). While I bring my work to lunch or have work lunches on most days, I also like to support and take advantage of these great dining spots. Bonobos is one of my very favorite, for so many reasons: it’s got a ton of options, from the city’s best selection of nut pates to raw ice cream; it’s friendly; it boasts cheap and generous lunch specials; and, most of all, the people at Bonobos have created the world’s best version of chai (more on this in a moment).

Yesterday, I met my friends Cassie and David there for lunch. As usual, it was nearly impossible to choose what to eat, but I went with a tried and true: a make-your own salad with carrots, celery, peppers, marinated sweet broccoli, and lots of marinated kale. Bonobos offers two salad sizes, regular and “gorilla”; I went with gorilla. Here’s a close up of my bowl:

lunch-salad

Bonobos’ best lunch menu items, in my opinion, are their raw soups. They have a creamy avocado soup, a tomato basil, and a spectacular red pepper and coconut. We decided to split the tomato basil, which mimics the sweetness and creaminess of the conventional version and is totally delicious. Like all Bonobos soups, I learned, it’s made with minimal ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, basil, sea salt, and agave. Here it is:

tomato-soup

But the true Bonobos masterpiece is without a doubt their coconut chai masala. It’s a blend of young coconut meat, coconut water, chai spices, agave, and some other sly ingredient that makes it spectacularly addictive. Think it’s hard to get people into raw foods or drinks? Try giving them this stuff. I’ve shared it with coworkers, many of whom are now calling it “coconut crack,” due to the compulsive cravings it provokes.

chai

Here are more shots of the restaurant, including the selection of nut pates and pre-made salads:

salad-bar-1

salad-bar-2

The huge selection of giant nori rolls:

nori-rolls

And the tasty raw ice creams, which are nothing more than blended frozen fruits:

ice-cream

Bonobos is at 18 East 23rd at Madison Avenue; if you’re near the NYC area, I highly recommend a visit!

This is my first night off all week, and, even if I’ve got some work to do, I’m so grateful to be curled up in yoga pants on my sofa. And I was equally excited to make a non-office dinner! Inspired by my homage to Bonobos, I tried recreating their incredible red pepper soup tonight. It was a success! Not quite as perfect as the original that inspired it, but a very good tribute.

This is a super simple soup to make. And even though it tastes rich and sweet, it’s sinlessly indulgent: young coconut meat is a nutritional powerhouse. The meat of one young coconut is full of healthy fat, potassium, and approximately 17% of your daily calcium. Coconut water, as we know, is full of vitamins, minerals, and potassium. (You can find young coconuts at most health food stores and Whole Foods markets nowadays.)

The recipe:

Red pepper and coconut soup (serves one)

I red pepper, chopped
Meat of one young coconut
¾ cup coconut water
½ packet stevia (you could also use dates or agave here)
¼ inch fresh ginger
Squeeze of lime

Blend ingredients in a high speed blender for several minutes, until very smooth. Here’s what you get:

red peppper coconut soup

What to do if you don’t have young coconuts lying around? I would replace the coconut meat with avocado, add a bit more water, and throw in some parsley and salt. The results should be similar, if a little less sweet (and you can sweeten with stevia or agave if you like).

Alongside, I had one of my big spinach salads with tomatoes, avocado, and sunflower sprouts I picked up at the greenmarket today.

salad

From above:

dinner-spread1

It was a really nice meal, and it felt well deserved after what has been an exceptionally long week.

I’m off to read, and then reward myself with a week’s worth of DVR. I hope you’re all enjoying your Fridays—and, if you’re here in NYC, enjoying the beautiful weather! xo

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