Friday, July 30, 2010

My First Vegan Drinks

Who: VN staff and SF vegans
What: Vegan Drinks!
Where: Martuni's, San Francisco, Calif.
When: July 29, 2010
Why: After-work drinks with the VN staff and awesome SF vegans? Why not!

The Scoop: We're approaching my one-month anniversary as editorial assistant here at VegNews, and so in my honor, we decided to have a party. That's a slight exaggeration, but the VN staff did hit the town last night for Vegan Drinks, our monthly gathering at the charming Martuni's piano bar.

Martuni's had a seasonal special, last night was orange Creamsicle martinis—just like the ones Mom used to hand out on hot July days, minus the sticky fingers, plus the alcohol. To add to the summer flair, Martuni's has also begun supplying us with vegan hot dogs for less than a buck. And the all-you-can-eat vegan popcorn is nothing short of addicting.

Our very own vegan hot dog cart

We were super excited to have vegans from across the Bay Area to break hot dog bread with. There was a great turn-out of all ages last night—which reinforced the beauty of Vegan Drinks: building community. Being new to West Coast (I've barely left the Midwest in my entire life), I'm so grateful for opportunities like last night to get out and socialize with wonderful, like-minded people.

One month in, I'm loving VegNews and finally beginning to feel like this foggy city is my home. And I'm looking forward to more Vegan Drinks, and other great vegan events in the not-so-distant future!

Editorial Assistant Brooke Still and Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Farmers' Market Dinner

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly and VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: Millennium Restaurant's 11th Annual Farmers' Market Dinner
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
When: July 28, 2010
Why: It's the season to celebrate fresh organic produce and the farmers who grow it

The Scoop: If "but what do you eat?" is runner up to the protein question, how about this retort: A five-course, fresh, organic feast also known as the Annual Farmers' Market Dinner, courtesy of San Francisco's Millennium Restaurant?

First Course: Mariquita Trio

Millennium's much-anticipated FMD is designed as a celebration of both the food as well as the local artisan farmers who grow it, many of whom were in attendance last night. Each course honors one or two of the producers, and for the first time the restaurant also paired the wines of Philip Staley, a small, family-owned vintner from the Russian River Valley north of San Francisco.

Second Course: Warm Butterball Potato & Purslane Salad

If for some inexplicable reason these photos don't have you salivating like Pavlov's companion animal, I can assure you that each course was perfection on a plate, combining the peek-season produce with the proper dose TLC to bring out the intricacies of the featured main ingredients. At the risk of cliché, it honesty tasted as if we were eating produce that had been picked five minutes previously from a garden outside the kitchen door.

Third Course: Scallion & Sesame Seed Pancake

Favorite course? Do I really have to choose? OK, I'd say the Cornmeal Crusted Green Zucchini (maybe because I'm so fried deprived?) with roasted fennel and garlic ragu accompanied by the absolute most buttery snap peas I've ever had. As an added bonus, many of the farmers brought their produce to Millennium, and guests were encouraged to take home a few items. Um, yes, I left with the Happy Boy peas.

Fourth Course: Cornmeal Crusted Green Zucchini

The Farmers' Market Dinner was just one highly anticipated annual tradition celebrated last night. July 28 also just happened to be the birthday of long-time restaurant Executive Chef Eric Tucker, adding an extra layer or celebratory-ness to the night out. Rumor has it that the kitchen staff baked Eric a cake, but the "family nature" of this blog prevents us from showing you a photo of it, so instead I'll tidy this up with our just-as-tasty sweet treat, the Blackberry Chocolate Bread Pudding, which I forced myself to finish, stuffed as I was.

Final Course: Blackberry Chocolate Bread Pudding

P.S. Farms whose produce was featured in the 11th Annual Farmers' Market Dinner included Maraquita Farm, County Line Harvest, Rancho Gordo, Terra Sonoma, Blossom Bluff Orchards, and Happy Boy Farms.

Millennium's owners Ann & Larry Wheat with birthday boy Executive Chef Eric Tucker

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The San Francisco Marathon: Plant-Powered Persistence

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly

What: The 2010 San Francisco Marathon
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
When: July 25, 2010
Why: Because my life isn't difficult enough

The Scoop: Does rising at 4am on a Sunday to run 26.2 miles sound like fun? Indeed. Especially if your training has, shall we say, been a bit slacking. Translation: no run of greater than 7.5 miles in more than five weeks. But vegans are super human, am I right? Yes we can.

Dawn in the City by the Bay

Press Pass fans might remember that I have a "running" challenge with one Martin Rowe of Satya Magazine and Lantern Books fame. We're founding members of The Publishers' Running Club. I covered Martin's NYC Marathon spectacular (along with my Marine Corps jog) back in late 2008. Martin is tall and young and handsome and English and smart and fast and if that's not enough a Brooklyn carpetbagger to boot. But I do trump him in one important category: This was the seventh time I was toeing the line for a full marathon (to Martin's five).

Except that I didn't know I was. Huh? My (adopted) hometown marathon consists of a series of races. There's the aforementioned Full Marathon, or you can choose to run the First Half Marathon or the Second Half. Since the full and first half begin in the same place at the same time, even as I lined up to start I hadn't decided if I'd take the "easy" way out and call it a day after 13.1 miles. But the perfect running weather—60 degrees, fully overcast skies (typical SF summer) and little wind—was an omen I couldn't resist to see what I could do... sans animal protein for 20 years.

The first half: Enjoyable conversations with a woman from New Hampshire running her "first full" (as advertised on the back of her leg) and the guy trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon who had trained shall we say just a slightly wee bit more than I left us all loose and relaxed. And wouldn't you know that running across the Golden Gate Bridge from miles five through 10 always adds a bit of encouragement? I was feeling fine through first half when I reached the fork in the road: decision time. Turn left and finish the first half; right and commit to 26+. As hard as it is for me to do anything right, I did.

I'm in there somewhere. No. Really

Maybe I should have turned left.

The second half: Wasn't long before the fun began. Both my calves and my stomach started cramping during mile 15. Since I'd crossed the half-way point, I decided to take it one mile at time. One. Slow. Mile. At. A. Time. What's 12 miles of fun, among friends? I stumbled through Golden Gate Park then the notorious Haight-Ashbury hippy enclave, and somehow managed to stagger home with a 12 minutes improvement over last year. Not bad for an vegan old guy, eh?

The reward

Will I do another? Today I'm thinking "no," though once the pain evaporates, the memory tends to turn sunny. Maybe the NYC Marathon on 2011. Martin can pace me. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Nutritarian Diet

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Dr. Fuhrman Health Getaway 2010
Where: Rancho Bernado Inn, San Diego, Calif.
When: July 11–17, 2010
Why: Conference recap

The Scoop: I just coined the phrase "open-minded skeptic." I went into the 4th annual Joel Fuhrman seven-day conference with the Jekyll-and-Hyde task of listening and learning free of judgment, while simultaneously checking my critic at the door. Read for yourself if I succeeded with these Press Pass posts from last week.

At the heart of Dr. Fuhrman's work is his nutritarian diet, described as "a person who strives for more micronutrients per calorie in their diet-style." During one lecture Fuhrman also mentioned that the plan "is really a longevity program; 95 to 105 should be the average age" one lives to while remaining active. Exercise is a large component of the lifestyle as well. Most would find the diet quite limiting, as it excludes all salt, sugar, and refined oils. In the name of participatory journalism, I played along, and with the abundance of fresh fruits, salads, and savory foods prepared for us three times a day, it was easy to follow the program. By the end of the week, I felt great, and my notorious sweet tooth was in check.

Color my world: The nutritarian smorgasbord

Much like the macrobiotic diet, the nutritarian diet can be—but is not exclusively—vegetarian. Both allow small amounts of meat, but neither recommend dairy products. In a previous post I explained Fuhrman's ANDI Scoring System for foods (a rating of nutrient density), and one look at his chart shows animal products far down the list. The rationale goes something like this: the big three of oil, salt, and sugar are addictive (and therefore need to be eliminated completely); flesh foods are not (are therefore don't). While I'd challenge this science (for example, maybe bacon itself isn't addictive, but would anyone eat it if it was not fried in oil and salted?), I don't really have to. The issue shouldn't be whether salt is addictive and salmon not, but rather what's best when viewed through a wide-angle lens.

Attendees of the Dr. Furhman Health Getaway 2010 were well fed

If you are ill and would like to reverse your diabetes, heart disease, or lupus, a nutritarian diet could be for you. Fuhrman has many success stories, though to be fair I've heard the same from folks who follow a strict macrobiotic diet as well. Strict is the key word here, because those of us who are not seriously sick and need to live and work in a non-nutritarian world will not only be challenged to follow the regime, but with introspection will question parts of it. Does the fish contain mercury or other toxins? What about the oceans? Doesn't The China Study say that any amount of animal protein increases your risk of cancer? Does it say the same about a piece of birthday cake?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Health Getaway was a worthy, enjoyable, and educational experience. Fuhrman is all about science, and his passion for health is unflagging. If you are facing a life-threatening disease, I'd recommend checking out the nutritarian diet and/or the health getaway. If your concerns expand beyond your personal longevity and encompass veganism, environmentalism, or learning to balance the occasional decadent treat within an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle, you may find being a strict nutritarian a bit of a challenge.

Yours truly with Dr. Fuhrman and Vegan in 30 Days author Sarah Taylor

Check out the VegNews Facebook photo album of the 2010 Health Getaway here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cinnaholic Media Preview

Who: The VN editorial staff
What: Press event for opening of vegan bakery Cinnaholic
Where: Downtown Berkeley, Calif.
When: Friday, July 16, 2010
Why: Because everyone needs an excuse to eat cinnamon rolls and drink Champagne in the middle of the day. That's how we roll.

The Scoop: Cinnaholic vegan cinnamon buns have been pretty famous around the VNHQ for a while now—we savor their holiday treats and practically buy them out at SF Vegan Bake Sales. So imagine our pure delight when the grand opening of Cinnaholic's first bakery in downtown Berkeley finally came. Over the bridge and through the college town we went, straight to the front door of what easily could be death-by-cinnamon.

Immediately we soaked in the atmosphere—what owners Shannon Michelle and Florian Radke call "punk-rock meets pin-up." The cuteness of the shop, which will be decorated by rotating local art, was only surpassed when we caught glimpses of the first cinnamon rolls.

Cinnaholic owners Florian and
Shannon Michelle

We're not talking your average cinnamon roll. The genius behind Cinnaholic is that everything is customizable. The bakery offers 30 different flavors of frosting and toppings, all to be mixed and matched to your delight—oh, and it's all 100-percent vegan! So if you're in the mood for apple pie or Rocky Road, they've got you covered. For inspiration, Shannon Michelle says, "I tried to think of our favorite childhood treats. Rocky Road, chocolate-chip cookie dough, s'mores ... we incorporated some classic flavors that everyone loves like vanilla or strawberry and chose a few that just sounded interesting like piña colada and root beer. We were blown away at how good they tasted."

Cinnaholic's amazing cinnamon rolls

We were blown away too. Overall, it was a perfectly delicious Friday afternoon. Cinnaholic officially opens tomorrow, July 17. Get there early, these rolls are too good to miss!

VegNews Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig and Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria enjoying some Champagne.

Beautiful Men, Food, and Bunnies

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Dr. Fuhrman Health Getaway 2010
Where: Rancho Bernado Inn, San Diego, Calif.
When: Thursday, July 15, 2010
Why: A picture-perfect day

The Scoop: Some like it hot, and I'm not talking about the nearly 100-degree weather in San Diego yesterday. The women were swooning over the handsome young chef here to help with their nutritarian needs... and the food was delicious, too.

And if one dark, handsome young vegan man isn't enough, at lunch I bumped into another alumni of the Taste of Health Cruise, Eduardo "Wayo" Longorio. Wayo is the photogenic son of the Casa de Luz restaurant family from Austin, Texas. The Casa is a gorgeous restaurant/health spa complex scouting out a second location in San Diego (he's doing so with his mom, ladies). See if you can pick out Wayo from some other dude in this photo:

Life just isn't fair: Eduardo "Wayo" Longorio and someone else

After lunch Chef Chad Sarno hit the stage and the Vita-Mix. Cool and collected, he calmly (and seemingly effortlessly) whipped up 10 recipes in 90 minutes all with Dr. Joel Fuhrman standing behind providing color commentary. Unlike when Dr. J gave his cooking demo on Wednesday, no one did a Pink impersonation and fell off the stage.

Chef Chad Sarno communes with his Vita-Mix

Sarno, vegan for 15 years, is most known for opening a handful of SAF ("simply authentic food") restaurants in Europe, including one in the London Whole Foods. He's now the coordinator of WF's Total Health Immersion Program, covered in yesterday's blog post. During the demo Sarno confessed that he's a recovering olive oil-aholic, and that the recipes he was demoing would be our Thursday night dinner. If you aren't salivating yet, the Kale Avocado Salad was nutrilicious, and the Tofu Ricotta-stuffed Manicotti (with No Oil Marinara) was even better than it looks (and it looks... well, see for yourself):

Finally, while walking the grounds of the resort I found several more beautiful vegans, two of whom were kind enough to pose for photos. I couldn't get close enough to be sure, but I'm guessing they are both male as well.

I Framed Roger Rabbit

A nighttime photo of a very patient nutritarian

Coming Monday: A conference recap plus a detailed description of the nutritarian diet. And maybe a Top Ten List of Dr. Joel Fuhrman's best one-liners of the week.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Whole Foods" Day

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Dr. Fuhrman Health Getaway 2010
Where: Rancho Bernado Inn, San Diego, Calif.
When: Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Why: Whole Foods Market returns to its roots

The Scoop: Let's get right to the "kombucha kontroversy." Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey confirmed over dinner that the love-it-or-hate-it tasty tonic, or as I call it, "the fermented concoction that helps me hang on" (sorry Mr. Buffett), has been pulled from all of his groceries. Why? And just how much should we blame Lindsay Lohan?

An unnamed teetotaler close to Mackey mentioned the tipsy feeling felt after drinking the fermented tea (it wasn't me, I swear). Whole Foods had it tested, and, wouldn't you know, the alcohol content was far above the 0.5 percent listed on the label—ranging anywhere from 0.7–1.2 percent depending on brand. Pass me another. Staying one step ahead, WF pulls the bubbly bliss from its shelves, in order to save its pristine image... and possibly a few lawsuits somewhere down the road? Now we know why they installed "kombucha bars" that sold the liquid refreshment "on tap" in some of its markets.

Mr. and Ms. Whole Foods: John Mackey and Debra Morin

Last night's plenary was all Whole Foods, with Mackey explaining "The Whole Foods Market Healthy Eating Revolution," a uniquely forward-thinking plan that is already a resounding success. Citing that 82 percent of US adults have at least one heart disease risk factor, 81 percent are on weekly meds, and the 10 million obese kids "who will be the first generation in the country to have shorter life spans than their parents," it's time for a change. Enter ANDI.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Eat Right America have developed a score (think "report card") that ranks foods by their nutritional density. WF posted the ANDI scores (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) in their produce sections beginning in January and wouldn't you know it produce sales shot up 25 percent in the last six months (leafy greens an amazing 1,000 percent). WF then added a seventh core value to the company mission, "promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education," and originated the Total Health Immersion Program for WF team members. Chef Chad Sarno (you'll meet him tomorrow) is the coordinator of the Immersion Program, a wide-ranging plan that includes higher company discounts depending upon how healthy one is, a Healthy Eating Dining Club in each market, and the availability of the program to the public in 2011.

The ANDI score card. Eat your greens.

Mackey summed it all up. "The original intent of Whole Foods was to sell healthy alternatives." He mentioned that in his first store 35 percent of sales were produce and another 20 percent bulk items. In the 30 years since those numbers have fallen to roughly 17.5 and 1.5 percent, respectively. "We're getting back to our roots." And nuts and seeds and greens.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Dr. Fuhrman Health Getaway 2010
Where: Rancho Bernado Inn, San Diego, Calif.
When: Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Why: Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead: Morgan Spurlock meets Borat

The Scoop: Day three starts with a sweet surprise. One of my favorite people anywhere, Dr. Michael Klaper—the original vegan doctor and VN's medical advisor since 2000—makes an unannounced (at least to me) visit. Michael (as he's known to all... no one calls him "Klaper") works with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, assisting and advising his patients. He's also employed at the TrueNorth Health Center not too terribly far from VegNews' San Francisco home base. Still, we only seem to see each other at conferences such as this.

Dr. Michael Klaper with VN's Joseph Connelly

A joyous beginning to what turned into a glorious day, the middle of which was filled with the usual exercise, educating, and eating. Much like the North American Vegetarian Society's Summerfest, meals here come far too often. Thankfully the all-one-can-eat buffets are overflowing with good grub. Still, it's a lot of food, and learning to pace oneself is both art and science.

I could have predicted that today would be special as it marks the 26th birthday of my beloved first cat, Dog, without whom there would be no VegNews. Dog was the final piece in my vegan puzzle, turning me veg 20 years ago. She is no longer with us, but I still think of her on her birthday each year. And every other day of the year, too.

The wise and wonderful Dog, on her 20th birthday in 2004

Tuesday ended with two final highlights. I ate dinner with a family I first met on the Taste of Health Cruise last March, sisters Dvora Adams and Dalia Sager, and Dalia's hubby Jon, a sergeant with the Las Vegas PD. Both sisters have gone vegan since I saw them last. Jon, meanwhile, has given up both meat and dairy and dropped 40 pounds in just a few short months by adhering to Dr. Fuhrman's nutritarian diet.

After dinner the 200+ (all of whom received a copy of the 10th anniversary edition of VN) were treated to an advanced screening of Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, a documentary slated for February 2011 release. Think Morgan Spurlock meets Borat. The producer and subject of the film, Joe Cross, is a successful 41-year-old Australian businessman weighing in at 309 pounds and suffering from urticaria, a debilitating autoimmune disease. He comes to America, juice fasts for 60 days while traveling around the States talking to other people and filming the extraordinary adventure. Along the way he influences others, most notably Phil Staples, a 430-pound Iowa truck driver "one cheeseburger away from a heart attack" draped in a 6XL-sized t-shirt. Staples can hardly move; the steering wheel of his big rig literally touches his gargantuan gut. "It hurts to walk very far," he confesses. Fat... is entertaining, funny, and heartwarming. Even the very predictable last scene will move you. Everyone should see this film.

Thin, healthy, and very much alive: Jon Horschmann, Dalia Sager, Joe Cross, Dvora Adams

Producer Joe Cross led the screening. Gregarious, knowledgeable, and an excellent speaker, he's a man on a mission. "Healthy, healthy, healthy" is his main goal. If you live in Northern California, you will have a chance to meet Cross and see Fat... on Tuesday, July 20 at a special screening at the Kabuki Theatre. VegNews will be there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dr. Joel Fuhrman Health Getaway 2010

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Dr. Fuhrman Health Getaway 2010
Where: Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, Calif.
When: July 12, 2010
Why: Learning to eat even better in an ideal setting

The Scoop: Monday set the table for the week-long Dr. Fuhrman Health Getaway, an adventure spilling over with activities and lectures so numerous it's not easy to find time to file these reports. Each morning begins with exercise, yoga, or fitness classes, then breakfast before the learnin' commences. Today Dr. F spoke first on the connection between osteoporosis and and diet (takeaway messages: lean muscle mass = bone strength, and vitamin D deficiency causes osteoarthritis) then a post-lunch lecture on "Eating for Health." There are also complimentary health screenings. The Nutritarian Diet will be covered later in the week; for now, I'll just tease you by saying that the meals are frequent and overflowing with fresh fruits, veggies, soups, smoothies, and ginormous salads bars with ample fixings.

I actually enjoyed some conversational Fudge with breakfast—I dined with Marilouise and David Fudge from Flagstaff, Ariz. David has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and has been brought here by his quite supportive wife to learn a new way of eating and to work on reversing his illness. We talked helpful books and websites, which David immediately looked up on his handy iGadget... even finding good ol'

Breakfast buddies: Marilouise and David Fudge

As for me, let's just say that my room has a 42" flat screen (too bad I don't watch) TV, a deep soaking tub, and a private balcony overlooking the 18-hole championship golf course (too bad I don't do that, either). The manicured grounds are immaculate, the spa inviting (should I get a massage?), and the large pool offers plenty of opportunity to soak up the doctor-prescribed vitamin D. Rancho Bernardo also offers tennis, bike rentals, seven selectively located outdoor hot tubs... why am I indoors writing this? You get the picture. It's a tough job, but somebody has to report on these conferences.

The Boys of Rancho Bernardo

Tomorrow: More sinful adventures plus a review of the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and just maybe a photo of the famous vegan doctor who will be here. Plus, later this week I'll give you the inside scoop on why Whole Foods has pulled kombucha from all of its markets.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dr. Fuhrman Health Getaway 2010

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Dr. Fuhrman Health Getaway 2010
Where: Rancho Bernado Inn, San Diego
When: July 11–17, 2010
Why: 10th Anniversary Recovery

The Scoop: With the 10th Anniversary Edition of VegNews out of the way, the staff needed a break and sent me to cover an event VN has never attended: the annual Health Getaway put on by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (author of Eat to Live, Fasting and Eating for Health, etc.) and his gracious, energetic staff.

Dr. Joel Furhman surrounded by his very supportive Health Getaway staff

All this week I'll be reporting from sunny San Diego (86 degrees at the moment) with highlights from the previous day's activities. Sunday was light, with just a welcome reception, dinner, and a "getaway kick-off" lecture.

VN publisher with his first night's delicious and wholesome dinner.

The week promises to be overflowing with activities, food, guest speakers and chefs, and maybe even some tennis—or not. Stay tuned. You also never know who I will bump into. This is Dr. Fuhrman's largest Adventure yet—nearly 200 people—and last night I spotted 2008 VegNews vegan wedding couple Ed and Amanda Smith at dinner.

Ed and Amanda (Mandy) Smith

I'm still finding my way around the sprawling 420-acre Rancho Bernado Inn, with its 287 guest rooms, spa garden, spa pool, fitness center, and golf course. Until tomorrow...