Thursday, March 17, 2011

Power Up Your Brain

In the movie Limitless, Bradley Cooper takes a drug that allows him to access the full capacity of his brain.

But maybe he just needed mega-doses of vegetarian DHA.

According to Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment by Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. Albert Villoldo, you can build new neuropathways in your brain, grow new brain cells and live a longer, healthier life with dietary supplements. Vitamin D and vegetarian DHA can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, and cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s risk factors can be reduced through better nutrition and exercise.

Learn more about supplements for better brains here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vegetarian on St. Patrick’s Day

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve seen a number of restaurants advertising corned beef sandwiches and I started thinking out a sandwich I liked as a kid, the Reuben. A Reuben is a corned beef sandwich, typically served on pumpernickel, with thousand island dressing, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. The whole thing is then grilled.

The thing is, even when I ate meat, I didn’t like thousand island dressing, sauerkraut, or Swiss cheese. Or pumpernickel bread. I just liked the sound of a Reuben sandwich. So my mother would make it my way, on rye bread, with no condiments or cheese. You could say it was a corned beef sandwich. But I called it a Reuben.

One day when I was about 8 or 9, we had gone out to lunch and I ordered a Reuben. Without thousand island dressing, sauerkraut, or Swiss cheese. On rye. The waitress started arguing with me, that I wanted a corned beef sandwich. I insisted that I wanted my customized Reuben. It was like the toast scene in Five Easy Pieces.

I have no idea why this waitress felt the need to argue with a little girl. but when I saw that chefs at New York restaurants insist that customers eat their food the chef’s way, I thought I’d better make my own Reuben. And now I even like Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and pumpernickel bread, though I still hate thousand island dressing.

Yves Meatless Salami
Pumpernickel bread
Swiss cheese

Drink enough Guinness Stout and you won’t even notice the missing meat.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

10 tips for family travel deals

As gas prices and airline fares soar, families are looking at ways to save money, yet still take a fun family vacation. You can find deals and follow these tips to save money.

Travel Off Season
1. It can be very difficult to find ski deals Christmas week, or a cheap beach house in the Hamptons in August. Consider traveling in the ‘shoulder’ season, the time before or after the high season.

Public School breaks
This can be the most expensive time for family travel. For example, public schools in New York City have a week off in February around President’s Day, and ski vacations and flights to Florida shoot up in price. If you can take your kids out of school a day or two early, you can snag a better deal.

3. Snacks
Pack your own snacks so you don’t have to rely on overpriced convenience stores or, worse, yet, snacks at theme parks or tourist attractions. Because my family is vegetarian, I always have plenty of healthy snacks in case we can’t find suitable food. Bring refillable water bottles.

4. Car rental
Book your rental car, at a refundable rate, as early as possible. Then check prices again a week or two weeks before your trip, and again the day before. Agencies often run specials when they have a lower than expected rental rate and you can take advantage of that by rebooking at the special rate.
Car rental, step 2 Check after you rent your car. you might be able to snag an even better deal. Bid low; you can always bid again if your bid is rejected. Priceline rentals are non-refundable, so no more price checking after .on.

6. Car rental, step 3
Bring your own GPS, toll pass and car seat so you don't have to pay extra to rent these.

7. Public transportation
You might be able to forgo the rental car altogether and save even more money. Since kids often love riding trains and buses, see if you can just utilize these.

8. Museum memberships
If you are visiting a city or region with a local children’s museum, science museum, zoo or botanic garden, bring all your membership cards with you. Many non-profits offer reciprocity and you can have fun, like a local, for free.

9. Go Vegetarian
When you dine out on a family vacation, consider the vegetarian options. They are often several dollars cheaper than the rest of the menu.

10. Do Your homework
Research your chosen destination’s local convention and tourism bureau for free family-friendly events and attractions.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Coming Home from a Family Vacation

I was recently passing through the Orlando airport on the way home from the Disney retreat and since my flight was at 6:30pm and airlines don’t serve meals on domestic coach flights, I had to find vegetarian food.

The results were grim.

In my little neck of the woods, the Delta terminal, an Outback restaurant had no vegetarian food on the menu. The Starbucks had only chicken sandwiches left and a place I’d never heard of did have broccoli cheese soup, but everything else looked so unappetizing, I didn’t want to chance the soup.

There was a veggie burger at Burger King, which sat forlonly while everyone else scooped up hamburgers. Since no one could tell me if it had been cooked on the same grill as the meat, I avoided it. Good thing; I found out later that it had 1030mg of sodium.

I wound up at The Smoothie King where people are deluded into thinking they are choosing a healthy snack. My peanut power shake (plus chocolate) had a whopping 717 calories in the 20 oz size, the smallest. I couldn’t finish it, which led me to wonder about the people I saw ordering the large.

OK, I didn’t have to wonder much. They were HUGE.

But since neither calorie nor nutritional information was posted, how could people make an informed choice?

When I go to Starbucks, the cinnamon chip scone looks appealing, but since by NY State law, the calories are posted, I know this indulgence will cost me 480 calories.

Which is why it’s so cool that the new Starbucks Petite line has fewer calories and less sugar. The salted caramel sweet square, with chocolate, pretzels and pecans, has 190 calories and 15 grams of sugar.

And if the airport Starbucks had only sold the vegetarian roasted vegetable panini, at 350 calories, I could have had a more filling dinner, at less than half the calories.

My hotel and meals at the retreat were sponsored by Disney. And I found plenty of vegetarian food there.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

National Peanut Month

Peanut butter is a vegetarian mom’s best friend. We usually travel with a jar of peanut butter so we can make a sandwich if we can't find vegetarian food on the road.

I just found out that March is National Peanut Month - who knew? Peanut Butter & Co, one of our vegetarian family’s favorite NYC restaurants, created a pop-up PB&J Art Exhibit with the National Peanut Board.

The exhibit, The Nutropolitan Museum of Art, is open March 4-6 at the Openhouse Gallery. It features photography by Theresa Raffetto. On Saturday and Sunday, kids can make their own PB&J art in an art studio and meet a peanut farmer. The Van Leuwen Ice Cream truck will be on the street from 11am - 4pm, selling peanut butter treats. On Sunday, get PB sandwich cookies, brownies and rice crispy square from the Treats Truck, also 11am - 4pm.

Not only is the gallery free, but every family gets a free jar of Peanut Butter & Co peanut butter. How cool is that? And for every jar given out, another jar will be donated to the Food Bank For NYC.