Work and Play in the City; Nutrient Dense Salad Dinner with Sweet Potato and Lentil Loaf

by Gena on April 5, 2012

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Hi all! Thanks for the warm responses to Jennifer’s story. If you haven’t caught it yet, Jennifer Molica shares some brave and heartfelt thoughts on how veganism can help to pull one out of the isolation and self-involvement of an ED. Not to be missed!

I had a perfect morning planned: yoga at Laughing Lotus at 7:30, work in a local café, a quick tea with Jasmin at 10:45, more work at a wifi-equipped café, meeting up with my friend Cassie at 2:15, and more work in the afternoon, location TBD. Unfortunately, the 1 line had other plans for me (water main break), so I missed the 7:30 class and found myself orphaned on 18th street. I suppose there are worse fates! I love the Flatiron/Chelsea neighborhood (it was my work home for years), so I decided to find a place to sit, eat, and get some work done before heading to the 9:30 am LL class instead. Fortunately, there was a Le Pain Quotidien right around the corner!

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My love for LPQ is no great secret: it was always one of my favorite spots for business lunches, as it’s tremendous vegan-friendly (vegan-oriented, even). Now that I’m in DC, and vegan dining options are scarce, LPQ has become even more of a standby for lunches and dinners.

I began breakfast with nice, strong, hot coffee and steamed, organic soymilk. Good thing, too, as I had bundled coffee at home due to my complete ineptitude with my Mom’s coffee maker.

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I also ordered the steel cut oats with berries. And an extra cup of berries! I love stirring berries into hot oats: it’s a lovely way to add sweetness and texture without relying on sweeteners, and of course it ads a nice helping of antioxidants to your morning meal. Note that LPQ will always prepare oats without milk for vegans.

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After that, and some work, it was off to my yoga class. As always, it feels like coming home when I walk into the bright pink doors of NYC’s most exuberant yoga studio. This hour long class was quick-paced and vigorous, yet relaxing: the perfect yoga mix (sidenote: I’d had the option of an 8 am class at Yogaworks Union Square instead, but in my personal experience the classes there are always too slow and too focused on periodic lectures about anatomy to hold my attention!).

I met Jasmin in Soho, at Snice, where we were going to get tea. Since it was a little crowded, we decided just to sip tea at Jasmin’s place instead. It was wonderful.

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This semester has been a hard one for me, as my academic struggles just continue to mount with the misery of Orgo II. Jasmin—pictured above, at Vida Vegan this summer, in all of her usual panache—has been extraordinarily supportive and kind throughout, checking in with phone calls, notes, and the constant assurances that I’m doing the right thing. She’s a mentor to me personally, and she’s also a true friend. It’s always exciting to hear about what she’s up to at Our Hen House, changing the world for animals and showing us all how to embrace activism in our own lives!

When I departed, I made a stop at Organic Avenue on Sullivan for a study snack. Avocado soup fit the bill: OA soups are some of the best raw soups around. Just vegetables, water, avocado, and green goodness. I also picked up their “green monkey smoothie” as an afternoon snack—this is banana, lucuma, kale, coconut water, and green powder. It’s good, as I learned in the late afternoon, but the green powder is VERY detectable, so you have to enjoy that taste!

In the morning, I had packed a raw sandwich as my portable lunch, so between the soup, the sammie, and the juice snack for later, I was set with a proper day of food. Curious about my sandwich? It was my standard raw cracker recipe with hemp seeds added, cut into bread form and stuffed with zucchini, red pepper, spinach, and simple hummus.

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This sandwich accompanies me on buses between NYC and DC, in class, and to the library. It’s delicious and nutritious, but it’s also quite familiar. The raw soup, then, was the star of lunch. This is and always has been my favorite thing on the menu at OA: it’s simple, a little salty, a little tangy (lemon and cilantro are definitely notable), and creamy from the fresh avocado. So delicious:

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The afternoon moved along, and I met up with Cassie for a lovely round of catching up. After that, and before heading uptown, I stopped at the Union Whole Foods for some groceries to enjoy while at my Mom’s this weekend. After some more work this afternoon, I concocted the following nutrient dense salad:

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This mix is:

  • spinach
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • romaine
  • red cabbage
  • 1/2 small avocado
  • lemon
  • Bragg’s
  • navy beans
  • cherry tomatoes

On the side, a leftover portion of the lentil and sweet potato loaf that my Mom ordered last night at Josie’s for dinner. It is the same lentil loaf that inspired my own lentil and sweet potato loaf:

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As it turns out, it makes for fantastic leftovers.

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Can we all take a moment to share in my excitement that my Mom chose a 100% vegan entrée last night when we ate out? Ripples are spreading. Baby steps are being taken. And all that jazz.

And now, it’s time for more work and to meet up with my friend Gabi. Till tomorrow, at which point I hope to deliver a vegan Passover recipe or two, along with the usual chatter!

xo

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Bess @ I Dream of Greenie April 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I totally agree that LPQ is so accommodating to vegans (vegan-oriented was a great way to describe them!) My local one (in LA) continues to add more and more vegan options. This week, I just noticed 2 new vegan breakfast options: a parfait with raw granola and a porridge of sorts, and mini slices of carrot cake (one of my fave desserts).

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Ritika April 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Speaking of nutrient dense salad dinners…I just had my first one today!! I had a kale salad (with dressing) + a serving of lentils + hemp seeds + flax along with a cooked sweet potato. It was so filling and energizing! I went through your archives and tried to really understand the concept of satiating salads. Indian cuisine rarely includes salads, so I only started eating salads a couple months ago. (I did drink green smoothies).
Thank you so much for writing this blog and being so balanced! I feel so wonderful that I could write you an even longer gushing letter. <3

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Gena April 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm

YAY! Congrats on your first NDS meal! So proud.

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Ela April 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Good luck with the studying–glad you’re managing to make the most of your NYC visit at the same time!

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Averie @ Averie Cooks April 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm

What a beautiful, vibrant, colorful plate of food!

My eyes are on the coffee though…looks perfect. Sorry about the bundled at-home coffee attempt. Eeek. Not good to have coffee plans foiled :)

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bitt April 5, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I am always in awe of how you fit in the dehydrating of raw crackers, good meals, fresh veggies, not to mention balancing life with seeing others and being social on top of your schedule. Or maybe you know it may not last and enjoy while you can? Anyhow, great to see good NYC food as usual. And for reminding us to tune into Our Hen House.

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Gena April 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Aw, thanks! I try to do it all. This trip is more work-ful than most, but seeing friends is vital to my sanity, and thus, to my being good at things that aren’t social :)

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com April 6, 2012 at 12:52 am

Looks wonderful!

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Rebecca April 6, 2012 at 3:07 am

I adore this post- for several reasons. 1) I can live vicariously through your proximity to Organic Avenue (I am madly in love with that place and can’t wait to spend the summer in NY to go every day!) 2) Great that your Mom is jumping – slowly but surely- onto the vegan bandwagon. I have struggled with my (very carnivorous) family and they are also making baby steps in the right direction! and speaking of said carnivorous family… 3) I anxiously await your Passover recipes à la Gena so I can have a matzoh ball soup/gefilte fish-free (and sadly, family-free) celebration here in Paris. Merci beaucoup for another inspiring post. Happy Passover/Easter !!

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Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! April 6, 2012 at 3:29 am

Everything looks so delicious! I’m anxiously awaiting my return to the city to visit all these places.
I’m also anxiously awaiting vegan passover recipes!! Have a great holiday weekend.

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Mikaela April 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

It must make you feel wonderful seeing your mom choose a vegan entree from such a wide array of omni and vegan offerings. You are such a great influence on her health and well-being! I recently moved back in with my folks (to save some $$$ before school) and I was certain they would quickily ban my morning green smoothie blending once they heard the racket their 30 yr-old Vitamix makes at 5 am. As a peace offering, I made them their own green smoothies my first morning home and now they are hooked! :) Also, I love love love Our Hen House! I look forward to their witty and insightful dialogue every week, thank you for introducing me to them (in a older post)!

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the delicate place April 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

orgo II was taken during my last semester of undergrad and nearly kept me from walking. i went into the final with a B- and needed at least a C+ on the final not to bomb the course it was weighted so much! squeaked by on a very thin margin. wow your mom is open minded! mine lives on bread and cheese alone lol.

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Gena April 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I am in more dire straights than that, I’m afraid. And certainly not for lack of arduous work. At this point, I’m sort of resigning myself to fate and chance. As a person who loves school, that feels deeply wrong, but these classes have pushed me to take that approach.

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