Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Portland, Oregon Gets the Green Thumbs Up





The overnight train from California to Portland is comfortable and easy. It leaves California in the evening so you get a whole day of visiting and touring in. You must have reservations. I boarded in San Jose after visiting the Santa Cruz, Carmel, and Monterey areas. I did not have a sleeper but rather a reclining seat (actually two seats since the train was not full). The Amtrak train is called the Coast Starlight and the cost is $79 from San Jose to Portland, Oregon - about a nineteen-hour ride. Not only is the carbon footprint much smaller by train than by air travel, but the scenery is not to believed! Once you wake up in the daylight in northern California you see Mt Shasta, and then onto the farm and wild lands of Oregon including Klamath Lake.

Portland is a fun and easy city - really not large at all by city standards and very accessible. Bikers predominate, while the public bus system – Tri-Met –seems too go everywhere and offers user-friendly web sites and maps for navigating the city ($2.30/ride).

There is no sales tax in Oregon, which is quite noticeable if you have just come from California or points east. The city is designed in a grid with the river as its center – so there is Northwest, Southwest, Northeast and Southeast. The east to west dividing line is the river; the north south line is Burnside Ave., making it very easy to navigate.

Portland is a green traveler’s delight. Bike paths are everywhere, as is public transport, and there are loads of wonderful local foods and stores. Book lovers shouldn’t miss Powell’s Books. The main store takes up a full city block and you will need the free store maps that are provided at the counters to guide you. Powell’s sells new and used books intermixed and it is all somewhat overwhelming, but fabulous – booklovers will feel like kids in a candy store. There are smaller Powell’s outlets around the city including one at the airport. Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside Street (in the Pearl District), Downtown Portland; Tel: 503-228-4651; www.powells.com. Open 9am to 1pm everyday.

You can walk through the Japanese Gardens that sit on a hill on the western edge of the city. You can also visit the Chinese Garden which encompasses a city block in the middle of Chinatown, creating a magical quality as you leave the city behind when you walk through the gates. You can enjoy the delicious and varied tea options at the Tao of Tea café in the gardens or go to their other restaurant on Belmont Street – a fabulous teahouse and eatery with what seems like hundreds of tea varieties. They serve delicious, vegetarian Indian food, with a store next door where you can purchase the organic teas (www.tulsiorganics.com). The Tao of Tea, 3430 SE Belmont Street, Portland; 503-736-0119; www.taooftea.com
Portland Japanese Garden, www.japanesegarden.com
Portland Classical Chinese Garden, NW Third & Everett, Portland; Tel: 503-228-8131; www.portlandchinesegarden.org

If you are in the mood for Yoga, studios abound. In the Pearl District you can go to Yoga Pearl. Open seven days a week with full daily schedules offering different types of Yoga and Pilates starting as early as 6am and ending as late as 8:30pm. There is also a Holistic Wellness Center where you can make appointments for massage therapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathic medicine and Cranialsacral therapy. Here you can also find the Blossoming Lotus raw foods café to refuel after yoga or walking the city. Yoga Pearl, 925 NW Davis, Portland; Tel: 503-525-9642; www.yogapearl.com

For foot massages you can treat yourself to the innovative services at the Barefoot Sage where you can indulge yourself by sitting in large puffy couches while you soak your feet and drink tea and try one of the various foot and leg massages offered. The Barefoot Sage, 1844 SE Hawthorne, Portland; 503239-7116; www.thebarefootsage.com

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Santa Cruz Delights




Santa Cruzans might wince when I say this, but Santa Cruz is little like a mini-Berkeley. It is full of a variety of places to find good eats, from cafes and restaurants to farmer’s markets and health food stores. Stores selling green products abound, as do all manner of biking, hiking and surfing possibilities. Even though the water is cool in this part of California, surfing is huge here, so on any given day you will see all sorts of people mostly in wet suits (some hale and hardy die-hards still “trunk-it” sans wetsuits…brrr) trying to catch the perfect wave. The beaches – all public access – are huge and beautiful. Dolphin sightings are fairly common so keep your eyes peeled if you are walking along the beach. If you felt so inclined you could walk almost thirty miles on the sand beaches from Capitola to Monterey. But be cautioned – there can be bad fog along the coast especially in the summer months…


While touring the Pacific Avenue part of Santa Cruz, I came upon a flyer in the Eco Goods store advertising an upcoming lecture about “Wifi-Stress”. My friend asked me, “What do you think this means?” I said, “That’s what I have – wifi stress - because I can’t find any darn wifi in California!” However the lack of abundant wifi was not the subject of the lecture, but rather about the potential hazards of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from cell phones and wifi. We proceeded to have a serious conversation about the other form of wifi stress that has to do with our insta-society and kids being glued to their cell phones constantly texting and yacking… making us wonder what the combination of the EMFs and the addiction to technology would bring us in the coming years.

And speaking of my kind of “wifi Stress”, I found relief at Verve, 816 41st Ave., Santa Cruz; 831-475-7776, a sweet coffee and tea café with good! wifi available when you purchase one of their delicious drinks or treats.

The weather was glorious while I was in Santa Cruz, although I was told not entirely normal for this time of year when they should be having more rain. I did not complain. While there are all sorts of great places to frequent in the area, I have listed below some of the places I discovered. Enjoy them if and when you find yourself in the Santa Cruz area.

River Café and Cheese Shop, 415 River Street, Santa Cruz; 831-420-1280. As the name implies, this is a café serving light meals for breakfast, lunch and snacks, as well as selling local delicacies – cheeses, canned local organic pears, apricots and other fruits, fresh breads, local olive oil and more tucked into a tiny space with a larger outdoor dining terrace. If you are a frequent River Café eater, you can purchase their $1,000 CSA-like share for the year so you can have a virtual prepaid charge account while supporting this local endeavor committed to organic, fresh foods.

Chocolate, 1522 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz; 831-427-9900; www.chocolatesantacruz.com; Open 11am-11pm. A full scale chocolaterie with all manner of chocolate drinks and eats plus delicious, organic, local soups, salads, sandwiches and traditional Mole dishes. Lovely outdoor dining as well as indoor seating.

La Vie, 429 Front Street, Santa Cruz; 831-429-6746; www.lavie.us; Open seven days a week. La Vie offers Raw Foods (dairy & gluten-free too), vegan, vegetarian and sustainable seafood as take out and a restaurant.

New Leaf Community Markets are large, full-service natural foods stores that carry a wonderful variety of local products with five stores in the Santa Cruz area – www.newleaf.com

Way of Life, 1220 A 41st, Ave., Begonia Shopping Plaza, Santa Cruz; 831-464-4113; www.wayoflife.net; Good selection of vitamins, supplements, herbs and homeopathics, as well as gift items, located in the same mini-mall as one of the New Leaf Markets.

Farmer’s Markets - www.santacruzfarmersmarket.org
Think Local First - www.thinklocalsantacruz.org

You can probably picture the myriad of yoga centers around Santa Cruz, and you would be correct. One such place is the Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine and Chi Center, East Cliff Shopping Center, 21511 East Cliff Drive, Suite B, Santa Cruz; 831-465-9088; www.santacruzchicenter.com. The Center offers classes throughout the day of yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and meditation, as well as a full Integrative Medicine Clinic. I took a delightful yoga class here one morning with Kristin Lansdale as my teacher. She specializes in Yin Yoga, as well as a gentle, restorative yoga, which left me feeling deeply content.

Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz; 831-423-0900; www.bookshopsantacruz.com; Open 9am-10pm, Fridays and Saturdays until 11pm. A large independent bookstore selling new and used books. Santa Cruz: A Guide for Runners, Joggers and Serious Walkers, Journeyworks Publishing is just one of the thousands of good finds available at the store.

Eco Goods, 1130 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz; 831-429-5758; www.ecogoods.com
Purveyor of organic cotton and hemp clothing, bedding, and other eco-products. Look for the notepads and ornaments made out of elephant “poo”.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fab Fresh Food



Here is the tiniest peek at what the fresh, local organic produce looks like at a small Farmer's Market here in Santa Cruz, California----inspiring...

Gluten-Free in California

You have to love the food in California. It really is an oasis of fresh, abundant food. There are at least five local Bay-area brands of Gluten-free foods that make goodies ranging from breads to cakes, brownies and pies, granolas and more:

www.mariposabaking.com - particularly delicious brownies :)
www.wowbaking.com
www.aznaglutenfree.com
www.cravebaking.com
www.lydiasorganics.com - grainless, gluten and sugar-free bars, granola and crackers

Most of these companies use organic rice flour which is important if you want to minimize your arsenic intake (see blog post Just When You Thought it was Safe to Eat .....Rice.... at: http://alternativehealthguides.blogspot.com/2008/09/just-when-you-thought-it-was-safe-to.html)

These brands are readily available in the immediate San Francisco Bay area at health food stores and grocery stores.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

California





I have just spent hours walking along a sandy beach watching surfers in the Santa Cruz area. I am sun-kissed and feel great with sand between my toes. This is supposed to be the rainy season, but global warming is bringing magnificent weather. It is a little more summer for this Vermont girl and I love it. Between this and the other fab things out here like copious organic and fresh food, no rust on the cars, diversity, large areas of protected land, it makes you wonder why everyone wouldn’t move to California, except I have found some reasons.

For one, when you are on a highway, or the “freeway” as they call it out here, you think that possibly everyone HAS moved to California. It is crowded!

A few other issues – fires – a real problem. Fires are burning in Southern California as I write and I visited a friend near Monterey who had fires almost reach his home in the mountains around Carmel. Of course, there are earthquakes. In fact, one house I stayed in had child-proof latches on their kitchen cupboards, but no small children. When I asked why, they said, to keep the dishes from crashing to the floor in an earthquake….hmm.

And the driving, there is plenty of that here, which is what I don’t like in Vermont. How can the United States be so behind in public transportation? Is it just too large a country? It certainly seems that the priority is not there. I have been traveling without a car and it is has been very difficult to get anywhere on public transit that is not a major city.

So here are a few pictures – some of the great and no so great of the California life.

a little bit more Berkeley

The Fourth Street Shopping District is in a corner of the city where upscale, boutique stores flourish and some even have outlet-like offerings. Ironically, amidst the high-end retail stores, a stone’s throw up an alley street, is the SEVA Foundation, dedicated to “selling” gifts of service to help people in need around the globe. Since 1978 SEVA has helped indigenous people with health care and environmental and social justice issues.

The city buses in Berkeley cost $1.75. While the machines take bills, they do not give change, so if you are in a pinch with two dollars, but no change, you can still take the bus, but will have donated .25¢ to the transit authority. As far as I am concerned that is a cheap remedy for the anxiety of trying to find someplace to give you change. FYI – the buses in San Francisco are 1.50 and the same applies, although I was lucky enough to have someone behind me with 1.50 – so I put my 2 dollar bills into the machine – she put her 1 dollar bill and gave me the .50¢ change – an easy solution suggested by the bus driver who must have lots of experience with creative bus fare financing. The BART metro cards are not usable on the buses.

http://www.seva.org

Just a few spots in San Francisco




While the Marketplace in the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco is considered a tourist attraction – it is a rather impressive one. Store-like stalls line the massive, renovated 1898 landmark building and are filled with organic and specialty foods and products. The local chocolatier, Scharffenberger, and Stonehouse Organic Olive Oils are some of the delicacies available. Farm Fresh to You is a deli and gourmet food store full of local and organic foods.

Farther down the waterfront at Pier 39 you can hear and see the Sea Lions sunbathing on the docks. The Sea Lions chose the docks as a favorite hang out after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. Today hundreds choose Pier 39 as their “home”. The sea lions are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Marine Mammal Center, a non-profit organization, rescues and rehabilitates injured marine mammals. They have an information center and shop at Pier 39.

The ruins of the Sutro Baths are a fun place to visit in the city and then you can head out along the beaches and parks for walking or biking. Once a bathhouse in the tradition of European Thalassotherapy (seawater) spas, the Sutro Bathhouse now looks more like a Roman ruin with nothing but cement and rock foundations by the crashing ocean. The site is now under the auspices of the National Park Service.

www.marinemammalcenter.org

www.stonehouseoliveoil.com

www.farmfreshtoyou.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Bounty in Berkeley




It will come as no great surprise that Berkeley, California has some great spots to eat and explore. Having left a grey and frosty Vermont a week ago, I am thrilled to find palm trees, deep purple flowers and green grass here in sunny, balmy California. After walking through some residential neighborhoods, I found on one of the main avenues, La Note Restaurant Provencal, with a promising menu. I had the special, “Rustique Au Saumon” which was an open face sandwich on fresh, herbed levain bread (yes I broke my gluten-free diet for this incredible meal). One half had goat cheese with a pile of smoked salmon and grated onions with capers, the other half also had goat cheese, but with three slices of roasted, fresh tomatoes and garlic, all served with a side of fresh, mixed salad greens. All I can say is, c’est magnifique! Hmm, was that good! My neighbor got a classic French bowl of a divine smelling latté, which was very tempting, but I stuck to my caffeine-free mode.

After walking around for another hour, I stopped in at Herbivore, and my waiter, Gaston, was a delight. It was warm enough for me to sit at one of the outside café tables and drink my vegan smoothie and indulge in a slice of berry pie. When in Rome do as the Romans, so I had them add spirulina to my fruit packed drink adding a little virtue to the affair.

At Pegasus Books selling new, used and remainder books, I picked up the EcoMetro Guide for $20. Most of this thick guide is filled with coupons to local eco-minded stores in the Berkeley-Oakland area, including a 20% discount at Pegasus Books! The first fifty-six pages of the guide offer tips about reducing your carbon footprint with handy area maps of local eco-stores, the days, times and locations of the local farmer’s markets, and public transportation information and coupons. While not comprehensive, the EcoMetro Guide is a great tool in helping to discover all the green possibilities in the area. The coupon section is extensive, and the coupons are pretty generous so you can quickly recoup some of the $20 cost of the book.

Whole Foods super markets are plentiful in the area and there is one in Berkeley at 3000 Telegraph Avenue, a bit south of the main drag. The local health food superstore, around since 1977, is the Berkeley Bowl, so named because it is housed in a former bowling alley. It is a massive store lined with aisles of natural and regular foods and a fairly extensive bulk section. For organic dried mango lovers, buy your supply at the Berkeley Bowl as I have found the Whole Foods variety to be lacking in taste. Elephant Pharm, a full service pharmacy selling natural as well as allopathic remedies also carries a variety of natural foods, green cleaning products and gift items.

There are groovy café’s and restaurants galore including the famous Chez Panisse, whose founder and chef Alice Waters was at the forefront of the slow and whole foods movements; Venus restaurant serving slow, organic meats, seafood, grains and vegetables; Cafe Gratitude, The Café Muse at the UCBerkeley Art Museum, Raw Energy Juice Café, and countless others dot the city serving up organic and local foods. The Bread Workshop on the corner of University and Acton streets is just that – a bakery and eatery with something unexpectedly rare in Berkeley, free wifi. Here you can watch them bake while you eat - the fresh bread smell is intoxicating. And for dessert or a late night treat, the Gelateria Naia is really not to be missed. They offer delicious gelatos made from local ingredients and serve traditional dairy based flavors, as well as sixteen dairy-free flavors, four of which are soy–based and the remaining twelve are fruit sorbets. Chocolate lovers take note - the Scharffenberger soy-based gelato is heavenly!

The other eating boon in Berkeley is the wide variety of ethnic options, from Turkish, Brazilian, Thai, Mexican, Salvadoran, Ethiopian, and more. Suffice it to say that you will not go hungry or get bored of eating in Berkeley!

In addition to an abundance of organic and healthy places to eat, second-hand clothes and books are fairly plentiful. Out of the Closet is a chain of thrift stores that has supported HIV/AIDS health care since 1990. Goodwill is up University Avenue (#2058) just west of Shattuck Avenue and the Salvation Army is also on University (#1824). Serendipity Books, selling used and rare books, is farther west on University Avenue by Chestnut Street. Consignment stores are profuse as well. The Crossroads Exchange is a chain of consignment stores throughout CA (www.crossroadstrading.com) with a large store at 2338 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, and there is also the Buffalo Exchange (www.buffaloexchange.com).

There is a large interest in Buddhist and Tibetan philosophies in Berkeley, and there are close to two thousand Tibetans living in the area. The Tibetan Nyingma Institute has public programs on Sundays. There is a Tibet Justice Center, countless, small boutiques and gift shops selling Tibetan goods, and the BCA (Buddhist Churches of America) Bookstore at the new Jodo Shinshu Center selling a range of books on Buddhism. Om Treasures in the heart of things on Shattuck Avenue (#2278) is crammed full of Tibetan and Himalayan goodies and a sweet Tibetan man runs the store. The Asian Museum in San Francisco has an impressive collection of Buddhist artifacts from all over Asia.

Berkeley is a happening place – enjoy it if you get here.

La Note Restaurant Provencal, 2377 Shattuck Ave. (near Channing Way), Berkeley, 510-843-1535; www.lanoterestaurant.com

Herbivore, 2451 Shattuck (at Haste Street), Berkeley, 510-665-1675; www.herbivorerestaurant.com (Herbivore also has two locations in San Francisco)

Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 510-548-5525

Raw Energy Organic Juice Café, 2050 Addison Street (by Shattuck Ave), 510-665-9464

Venus Restaurant, 2327 Shattuck, 510-540-5950

Gelateria Naia, Shattuck Ave.; www.gelaterianaia.com (locations in San Francisco and Walnut Creek also)

Café Muse, 2625 Durant Ave, Berkeley; 510-548-4366; www.rawcafemuse.com
Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, 2020 Oregon Street (by Shattuck Avenue); 510-843-6929; www.berkeleybowl.com

Elephant Pharm, 1607 Shattuck Avenue (at Cedar Street), Berkeley; 510-549-9200; www.ElephantPharm.com (two other locations as well)

Bread Workshop, 1398 University Avenue, Berkeley; 510-649-9740; http://www.bread-workshop.com

Out of the Closet, 1600 University Avenue (at California Street), Berkeley http://www.outofthecloset.org (they have stores throughout California)

BCA Bookstore, 2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley; 510-809-1435; www.bcabookstore.com

Serendipity Books, 1201 University Avenue, Berkeley; 510-841-7455; http://www.serendipitybooks.com

Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, 510-649-1320; www.pegasusbookstore.com (Pegasus has another location in Berkeley and one in Oakland)

Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Place, Berkeley; 510-809-1000; www.NyingmaInstitute.com

EcoMetro Guide – www.ecometro.com

The free East Bay Natural Pages is a semi-annual guide available at many stores – www.naturalpages.com

The Beauty of Wind Power





Here are some beautiful wind power sites - these were off the highway in Nebraska and the demo "fre" mill was in a park in Cheyenne Wyoming.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trying to Eat on Interstate 80


Driving across the United States on Interstate 80, a predominantly trucking route, is a challenge for anyone interested in eating remotely healthily. The mission was to get a car and dog from Vermont to Truckee, California. I-80 is not only direct, but happens to run right through Truckee, hence the choice of routes.

My original plan was to sort of hop from one Whole Foods to the next, thinking that these would be the most accessible natural foods stores. If we had timed our travel days slightly differently, we might have been able to do just that. There is a Whole Foods in University Heights near Cleveland, Ohio, another in Omaha, Nebraska, two or three in Salt Lake City, Utah, and another in Reno, Nevada. However, between the dog and our driving patterns we seemed to miss all of these except the one in Salt Lake.

Instead we found a nice health food store in Erie, Pennsylvania interestingly enough called Whole Foods Cooperative Market, but not part of the chain. It is a full service, local natural foods store. Our next food stop was a day later in Des Moines, Iowa at the New City Market, another lovely full service market in a residential area. Here we got the best, fresh green beans I have possibly ever eaten – sweet, crunchy and delicious. We bemoaned getting only one bag of them the next two days of driving.

Cheyenne, Wyoming was our next food stop and what we found was It’s Only Natural, tucked in a strip of large malls, The store had a large gluten-free selection and supplement section, but other than that was quite sparse and not terribly friendly. I couldn’t discern if that was the shopkeeper’s temperament or as a result of my Obama pin attached to my purse. We persevered and found a cute little juice and wrap bar on one of the funky downtown streets of Cheyenne called Rubyjuice, where we had hot soup and wraps. While the place was great, we could have waited until Laramie, not that far up the highway, since Laramie is a University town (always the best towns to stop in as they have the most variety and usually at least one health food store), where we could have stockpiled some food. Indeed, Laramie, Wyoming has two health food stores: Medicine Bow Health Foods and Whole Earth Grainery.

Between Laramie and Salt Lake City Utah there is really nothing in the way of health food stores or restaurants… well for that matter that there isn’t much in the way of anything but wide, open land. The same is true between Salt Lake and Reno – vast salt flats and then a whole lot of sagebrush, so be prepared if you drive the route and stock up on food and water.

As far as places to stretch your legs, we found a magnificent state park in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Presque Isle Park has miles of bike and walking paths along Lake Erie and on the other side of the peninsula miles of sand beaches – well worth an hour or more detour for the experience. In Cheyenne, Wyoming we happened upon a sweet little botanical garden within a park. The plants were dormant this time of year, but you could picture the flowers in their glory during the warmer months. Interspersed on the paths and in the beds were memorial blocks with wonderful quotes.

While we only saw them from the car window, there were what seemed like hundreds of windmills in Nebraska – good thing as the wind was howling away.

Once in Truckee, the final destination for the car, dog and dog owner, I made my way by my favorite form of transport – the train - to San Francisco. This is an experience not to be missed by train lovers and history buffs. The double-decker train, which originates in Chicago, climbs slowly after leaving the Truckee train stop up and through the Donner Pass. The train takes longer than by car, but is different route as the train is far higher than the highway, which you can look down on at certain intervals in the trip. There are magnificent views, and Amtrak provides a guide offering historical tidbits and trivia over the loudspeaker system. The train, called the California Zephyr, runs once daily between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay area, a two day trip if you ride the whole route.

Needless to say, once you get to the Bay area of California, finding health food restaurants and stores is no longer a problem as they seem to be at almost every turn.

Erie, PA: Whole Foods Coop Market, 1341 W. 26th Street; 814-456-0282; http://www.wholefoodscoop.org

Des Moines, IA: New City Market, 4721 University Ave; 515-255-7380

Cheyenne, WY: Rubyjuice, 113 East 17th Street, 634-3022 – soups, salads, wraps, smoothies, fresh juices

Truckee, CA: Truckee is just north of Lake Tahoe, and has a renovated historic downtown area with stores and various historical buildings. One of which includes a “Rocking Stone”, one of twenty-five such stones known in the world. Native Americans used the 17-ton stone for ceremonies and for preserving food. www.truckee.com.
Outside of downtown Truckee you will find The Cedar House sport hotel, built with environmental standards using natural materials, energy efficiency, and natural fiber bedding. Food served is from local and organic sources. The Cedar House, 10918 Brockway Road, Truckee, CA; 866-582-5655; www.cedarhousesporthotel.com

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Healthy Drink on the Road

When I travel I am always on the look out for a refreshing drink that doesn’t make me drowsy (from too much sugar), but also isn’t super-hyped with caffeine. As my son likes to tell me, “Mom, you can’t hold your caffeine.” This is very true. I am a lightweight when it comes to caffeine. If I drink a decaf coffee after dinner (which I am only tempted to do when I am dining out, which is more often when I am traveling) I will be awake until 5 in the morning. So I must forfeit, having learned from harsh experience - such is the sad life of a decaf-cappuccino deprived, late-night diner.

Some kind of herbal tea is all that I can substitute for my post-dinner café, but while I am on the road, or walking through cities, I have found the perfect beverage for reviving me sans sugar and caffeine.

Brain Toniq is made with carbonated water, organic Agave nectar, and five "super" nutrients: Choline, Eleutherococcus (Siberian Ginseng), Rodiola Rosea, DMAE, and Blue-Green Algae. Personally I find Agave nectar, touted as being low-glycemic, to be true to its word. I do not get the sugar-grogg with Agave, but it satisfies the taste buds. You might think that with the list of ingredients that Brain Toniq would taste tres-revolting, but on the contrary, it is delicious and refreshing.

Brain Toniq is available on the web or at health food stores around the country, although presently not in Vermont or New Hampshire -- I discovered it while traveling.

Brain Toniq - www.braintoniq.com

Friday, October 31, 2008

French Food Books .. to get you in the mood…ooh la la


There is nothing quite like food to put you in mind of a place, or to conjure memories of a sojourn. Travelers headed to France, or those who have been, will enjoy these food-filled books written by creative women dedicated to truly good food with a local and organic focus.

Clotilde Dusoulier has a friendly, easy way of conveying the delights and nuances of French food with a focus on fresh, local, organic foods. She has written her blog, Chocolate and Zucchini, for five years and has authored two books. Her recipes are not only delicious, but are inspired from daily necessities, like what to do with crème fraiche that is about to grow mold, and incorporating it into an amazing Chocolate Frozen yogurt (see her blog for the recipe – yum!)

Her cookbook, Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen (ISBN 978 0767923835) is a colorful, paperback that grew out of Clotilde’s blog. The book has over 75 enticing recipes including my favorites – the Curried Turkey Sandwich and her Tarte Chocolate Caramel. I love the French green, Mache (see photo), which Clotilde includes in a delectable salad. Mache is cheap, delicious and available all over France year round – an everyperson’s food.

For those traveling to Paris, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris (978-0767926133) is a must have guide. This is not a cookbook (although it does contain some recipes), but rather a personal guide through the restaurants, cafés and markets of Paris. You will find information on 164 eating establishments, plus 130 listings of bakeries, and shops of varying interests from bookstores to kitchenware, as well as markets throughout the city. Clotilde provides in depth descriptions of each spot so you can decide which peak your interest. Please note that these are not necessarily organic or vegetarian food stops.

For more French food indulgences explore Barefoot In Paris, by Ina Garten (ISBN 9781400049356). Made famous as the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten has put her talents to the extreme in Barefoot in Paris. The full-color book offers truly delicious, sensible recipes like Salmon and Lentils. But the Piéce-de-resistance are the desserts – oh my gosh – desserts to die for… Mango Sorbet, Profiteroles, Coeur a la Crème with Raspberries.

Written in a narrative style rather than cookbook form, A Pig in Provence, by Georgeanne Brennan (ISBN 9780156033244), focuses on the local foods of Provence, the southeastern region of France known for its lavender, truffles, herbs and other delicacies. Georgeanne writes of her personal experiences living in Provence over thirty years ago including how she learned to make traditional, fresh goat cheese, and offers a special recipe at the end of each of the eight chapters.

Georgeanne has written numerous cookbooks and offers weekend cooking classes at her Northern California farm, “Provence in California Culinary Weekends.” Her farm is surrounded by other organic farms and the weekend begins with a trip to the local farmer’s market. Each class weekend runs from 9-3:30 on Saturday and 10-3 on Sundays – you are responsible for your own accommodations and evening meals.

When Georgeanne is not cooking or writing, she is working to increase the use of fresh, local, seasonal foods in her California school district.

For the France bound traveler, check out the beautiful, renovated, stone house that Georgeanne rents in the country northeast of Aix-en-Provence from April to October. See "Village House" on her website.

Visit the websites and blogs:

http://chocolateandzucchini.com

http://www.georgeannebrennan.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wild, Icy and Altogether Unusual Accommodations

Green and natural travel accommodations have taken on a whole new light with the fun and helpful website of Odd Inns and Uncommodations. Here you can choose between Treehouses, Ice Hotels, Yurts, Caves, Converted Railroad cars, Lighthouses, and more.

Most of the listings are in the United States, but a few are in other countries. The site includes the Top Ten Natural Park Lodges, Yurts and Hike-In Lodges all over Canada and the U.S., multiple Treehouses around the world, thirteen Railroad-Car Inns, fifty Lighthouse options and eleven Castles that are actually in the U.S.!

The Haunted possibilities are Bed & Breakfasts and Inns around the world. A friend of mine in the U.S. who is originally from Scotland said on hearing a homeowner’s alarm that there might be a ghost in her house, “Well that’s natural, why all the houses have ghosts in Scotland.” So not surprisingly, Odd Inns lists haunted accommodations in Scotland.

Personally the thought of sleeping in a room made of ice gives me the chills, but the pictures of the Ice Hotels in Finland, Sweden and Quebec are beautiful and inspiring.
The Odd Inns website is definitely worth a perusal even if you are not planning a trip right now, as the listings arouse the desire for adventure.

Sneak a peek at: www.oddinns.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Green Laptops!!

Great news this week for green travelers and all others needing computers -- Apple has launched new laptops with environmental standards, claiming to be “the Greenest MacBooks ever.” They not only meet the government’s Energy Star criteria, but they have earned EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Gold, an electronics industry top environmental standard.

They have figured out how to reduce packaging by 40% and at the end of the day – or life -of your Mac, they claim that most of your computer can be recycled.
Designing the computer so that most or all of its components can be recycled is great if not somewhat overdue and obvious. The really big news is that the new LED displays use thirty percent less power than standard LCD screens, and the smart computer figures out the most energy efficient processor for the task, further reducing electric use – so much so that Apple says “when it’s turned on, the new MacBook uses one-quarter the power of a single light bulb.” Wow.

The most important elements to me in these new Macbooks are the elimination of toxic metals and chemicals. The screen glass is arsenic-FREE, and the whole computer is FREE of Mercury!, brominated flame retardants (polar bears will be happy), and PVC plastics. Apple has also removed these highly toxic components from their iPods and other products as well. YAY!

These are milestones. Mercury and Arsenic (see posts about the health hazards on http://alternativehealthguides.blogspot.com) should not be used period. It is wonderful that Apple has smelled the mercury and arsenic-free roses. Let’s hope other manufacturers follow suit.

You can visit Small Dog Electronics, a groovy, family-run business in Waitsfield, Vermont supporting environmental and social justice organizations, for the new Green MacBooks, or of course any Apple retailer -- http://www.smalldog.com

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Independent Travel Bookstore in New York City: Another Place to Visit Near Union Square

Idlewild Books, just two blocks north of Union Square, is the brainchild of David Del Vecchio, a former press officer at the United Nations. The store is filled with guidebooks (from over one hundred countries) and all manner of literature from classics to thrillers grouped by country so you can get the full flavor of a destination. A friend of mine recently went to the Czech Republic and Hungary. She was able to find authors from and books about these countries. On return she said that the fiction helped her understand the cultures immensely – far more than her guidebooks, which while helpful for practical information about specific sites and public transport, could not offer the deeper, emotional perspective of the novels.

Light and airy, Idlewild has places to sit while you browse your potential purchases, and friendly, informative staff to help you explore the literary terrain of your destination or interest. Look for maps and other travel accessories as well in this store where you could spend an enormous amount of time imagining all sorts of adventures. For those of you not in New York or not able to get there, you can browse and order online. The only downside to Idlewild is that you want to buy every book in the place!

Idlewild Books, 12 West 19th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenues), NYC; 212-414-8888; www.idlewildbooks.com. Open Monday to Friday from 11am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12-7pm

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Few More Green and Natural New York CIty Tidbits

For the aroma or aromatherapy nut, there is a small, but delightful store in the west village of New York City called Enfleurage, which offers essential oils, both common and exotic, as well as books and diffusers, and other fun aroma products.

Enfleurage, 321 Bleeker Street, NYC (bet. Christopher & Grove Streets, just west of 7th Avenue); 212-691-1610; www.enfleurage.com; Open Monday to Saturday 12 to 8pm, and Sunday 12- 6pm

For eating healthy on the go try the Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgium chain of restaurants serving organic and natural foods. You can go to the Le Pain website (http://www.lepainquotidien.com) to find the seventeen! locations in New York City.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Outdoor Living: New York City Film Screenings in the Fresh Air

A delightful way to spend a summer evening full of fresh air, camaraderie, and culture is to attend an outdoor film screening. France and Switzerland have well known outdoor summer film venues, and you can happily find the same in New York City. Like their European counterparts, shows are subject to weather and held only in the summer months. While the 2008 season is over, keep the following venues in mind for summer 2009.

In Bryant Park, located at 42nd St and Sixth Avenue behind the Main Public Library with the Lion Statues, you can find the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival with screenings on Mondays from the middle of June to the mid-August. The Lawn opens at 5pm, movies begin at sundown, see www.bryantpark.org for movie details.

Special Note: From April to October you can attend free Yoga and Tai Chi classes in the morning at Bryant Park – check the calendar at www.bryantpark.org for details.

The Central Park Movie Festival runs daily for a week or so in August. It is free and screenings start at 8pm (gates open at 6pm), at 69-70th St and 5th Ave in the Rumsey Playfield. Check http://www.centralpark.com/pages/activities/movies.html for details.
Central Park is also home to the Delacorte, an open air Theatre near the 79th street Park entrance where the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park is performed. You can also go to Summerstage, a free, outdoor music and performing arts festival held in Rumsey Playfield. See http://www.summerstage.org for a full schedule.

At the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park you can see films on Thursdays at sundown through the summer. Information at: www.brooklynbridgepark.org under Movies With A View.

Movie Nights on the Elevated Acre – a special spot in lower Manhattan- are free and held on Tuesdays at 8pm during August at 55 Water St between Old Slip and Broad Street. Bring a blanket or lawn chair. See www.rivertorivernyc.com for a full schedule.

On the Hudson River, at Pier 54 at West 14th and West Street you can view films on Wednesdays. On Pier 46 at Charles and West Street you can view on Fridays. See www.hudsonriverpark.org for summer schedules.

Rooftop Films: Underground Movies Outdoors has been been screening movies on rooftops and other outdoor locations since 1997. They now have thirteen venues in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Roosevelt Park. Check the website for the summer schedule:
www.rooftopfilms.com

In the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, the Summer Screen Series is held at the McCarren Park Pool on Tuesdays and the gates open at 5:30. See www.summerscreen.org for details.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Shopping Recycled: Second Hand Stores in New York City

Like any city in the world, shopping in New York City can be outrageously expensive, and more times than not, have nothing to do with anything “green”. Take heart, although not advertised and usually on less traveled streets, there are numerous second-hand stores throughout the city. Some are simply second-hand or consignment stores, others are run by non-profit organizations that use their store’s revenues to fund humanitarian work helping people suffering from HIV and AIDS, the homeless, and other issues.

Thrift shops tend to be located together in clusters as you will see from the addresses below. On the Upper East side there are many thrift stores along 2nd and 3rd Avenues in the 80s. These stores tend to be more expensive than the stores downtown or uptown. The Chelsea area of Manhattan is a hot spot for thrift stores around west 17th street.

Any of these stores can be a treasure trove for the shopper who likes to reuse and recycle goods, as well as for those who simply like the hunt for a good bargain or special trinkets. Happy hunting.

Chelsea- West 17th Street Area:
Angel Street Thrift Shop, 118 W. 17th St. (bet. 6th & 7th Avenues), NYC, 212-229-0546, http://angelthriftshop.org. Open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12-5pm. Angel Street helps people dealing with substance abuse, mental illness, HIV and AIDS.
Housing Works has seven locations including at 143 W. 17 St. (bet. 6th & 7th Avenues), NYC, 212-366-0820, www.housingworks.org. Open Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday Noon-5. Housing Works supports housing, health care and advocacy for homeless people with HIV and AiDS.
Uja Federation Thrift Shop, 17 W. 17th ST. (bet. 5th & 6th Avenues), NYC, 212-727-7512, www.ujafedny.org. Open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm. The Uja Federation works on sustaining and strengthening Jewish communities around the world.

In the area:
Salvation Army, 208 8th Avenue (at 21st Street), NYC, 212-929-5214, www.satruck.com - search the website for all of their stores.
Goodwill, 103 W. 25th St. (at 6th Avenue), NYC, 646-638-1725, www.goodwill.org - search the website for all of their stores.
City Opera Thrift Store, 222 E. 23rd, NYC, 212-684-5344

Upper East Side (not a complete list):
Irving Institute for Medical Research, 1534 2nd Ave (bet. 79-80th Sts)
Memorial Sloan-Kettering, 1440 3rd Avenue (bet. 81-82 Sts)
Arthritis Fund, 121 E. 77th St.
Cancer Care, 1480 3rd Avenue (bet. 83-84 Sts)
Council Thrift Store, 246 E. 84 St.
Grandmother’s League, 1459 3rd Avenue (82-83 Sts)
Housing Works has two stores one on 77th and 2nd and another on 90th and 2nd.

Other Second Hand Stores:
Other clusters of Thrift stores are in the East and West Village, the Gramercy area (East 20s), Harlem, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
RePop, 68 Washington Avenue (bet. Park & Flushing), Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn, NY, 718-260-8032, www.repopny.com. Open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-7pm, Sunday 11am-6pm. They have a large variety of goods, 95% of which are recycled or second-hand.

Used Books: Many of the second-hand stores sell books and there are also many used bookstores in New York. Here are a couple of stores with a large selection of used books:

Most famous- The Strand, 828 Broadway (12th Street), NYC, 212-473-1452, sells what seems like acres of used (and some new) books. It has been in existence for over 75 years, www.strandbooks.com. Open Monday-Saturday 9:30am-10:30pm, Sunday 11am-10:30pm

Housing Works Used Book Café, 126 Crosby St. (at Prince between Broadway and Lafayette), NYC, 212-334-3324, www.housingworks.org. Open Monday-Friday 10am-9pm, Saturday and Sunday Noon-7pm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Enjoying the Country in the City: Green Space and Markets in New York City

While many people think of New York City as a hunk of grey concrete, there are many things “green” in the city. Two recent posts (see archives) have talked about some great green eating in the city. Public transportation and walking are the only way to get around, and for the brave, bicycling. While the downtown “Village” of Manhattan, and the boroughs (Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island) can be a little confusing to navigate, the center of Manhattan is very simple. It is based on a grid and numbered with ascending numbers going uptown or north. Below Central Park (south of 59th Street) most of the avenues are numbered and ascend from East to West. On either side of the park some of the avenues are named. For a native New Yorker these are ingrained as to which are West Side and which are East side, for visitors it is best to carry a map.

For literally green areas of the city there are over 1700 parks and recreational areas, the largest of which is Central Park, designated a National Historic Landmark, with 843 acres and 26,000 trees, the park runs 2.5 miles long by .5 miles wide. Strawberry Fields, named in honor of John Lennon, covers 2.5 acres within Central Park on the West side between 71st and 74th Streets. Strawberry Fields, considered a “Quiet Space” in Central Park, has a mosaic inscribed with the word “Imagine”. One hundred and twenty-one countries recognize Strawberry Fields as a Garden of Peace. Central Park is filled with trails and sites, ball fields, theaters, flowers and more. See the web site below for full information.

New York City has numerous Farmer’s Markets, called Greenmarkets. Thirty markets operate seasonally sometime between April and November, while sixteen markets are open year round. Some of the larger year round markets include:
Union Square in Manhattan between 14th-17th streets and Broadway, once a haven for drug dealers and users, is now a refurbished mini-park, home to the Union Square GreenMarket. Accessible by many subway lines and buses, the Union Square GreenMarket is open year round from 8am-6pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Farmers sell a variety of fresh, local foods including in-season specialties such as cherries and peaches, as well as vegetables, meats, dairy products, crafts and plants.
At the north entrance of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Grand Army Plaza hosts a GreenMarket on Saturdays year round from 8am-4pm.
The Bowling Green GreenMarket is held at the southern tip of Manhattan at Broadway and Battery Place on Tuesdays and Thursdays around the year from 8am to 5pm. See the website information below for a full listing of all the GreenMarkets with their days, times and locations.

On sunny days the green spaces of New York come alive with walkers, joggers, bicyclers, roller bladers, sunbathers and others enjoying the country in the city. The GreenMarkets are always bustling, so arrive earlier rather than later for the best selections. You will find it almost hard to believe you are in one of the largest cities in the world!

To find Parks throughout New York City go to the following link for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation - http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/park_list/index.html
You can also find free wifi hotspots in city parks including seven in Central Park, two in Prospect Park, and throughout Union Square, Washington Square and Battery Parks. For information specific to Central Park see the Central Park Conservancy - http://www.centralparknyc.org - for maps, events, sites and hours.


At the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC)www.cenyc.org - you will find full information about Greenmarket Farmer’s Markets throughout the five boroughs with a downloadable map at: http://www.cenyc.org/files/gmkt/map.pdf . The Council also provides information about recycling throughout the city, as well as how to generally live a greener lifestyle using non-toxic alternatives to common products.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Groovy Green Spots in New York City

New York City is full of Groovy Green spots. Here are a few I recommend. The Spring Street Natural Restaurant is located on the corner of Lafayette and Spring in lower Manhattan and has been a haven for natural foods enthusiasts for over twenty-five years. Menu options include organic vegetables, fish and chicken, as well as vegan dishes. Fresh-pressed juices are available and they have a full bar.
The Counter Restaurant is an organic wine and martini bar with a vegetarian bistro. They serve organic and biodynamic wines, as well as martinis made with organic vodka and other ingredients. They have an organic rooftop garden overflowing with herbs, fruits and vegetables that they use in their dishes. They serve delightful brunch and dinners, and did I mention the chocolate fondue?
The New London Pharmacy has a large selection of natural and not so natural products, but their supreme green line is the Organic Pharmacy, a UK based business making organic and pure skin and body care products, as well as supplements and medicinal herbal remedies. Be forewarned, the line is very expensive due to the high quality of ingredients and the fact that it is imported from England. The New London Pharmacy also sells other natural products including the Dr. Haushka line, and other European and American brands.
The Rubin Museum of Art (RMA) is dedicated to art from the Himalayas and they have breathtaking collections from Tibet and neighboring countries. The RMA hosts numerous events from films, music and workshops to children specific activities. The focus of their Fall 2008 calendar is Bhutan. The gift shop is filled with crafts made by Himalayan artisans, including Buddhist monk and nun dolls handmade by Tibetan Buddhist Nuns. The museum is serene and beautiful, enjoy!

Spring Street Natural, 62 Spring Street, NYC, 212-966-0290; www.springstreetnatural.com; Open Monday-Friday for breakfast 9am-11:30am, lunch 11:30-4:30pm, and dinner daily from 5-11:30pm (Fridays and Saturdays until 12:30). On Saturday and Sunday brunch is served from 10:30-4pm.

Counter Restaurant & Wine Bar, 105 First Avenue (between 6th and 7th streets), New York; 212-982-5870; www.counternyc.com ; Open Monday-Thursday 5pm-midnight, Friday 5pm-1am; Saturday 11am-1am, and Sunday 11am- midnight.

The New London Pharmacy, 246 8th Avenue (between 23rd & 24th streets), New York; 212-243-4987; www.newlondonpharmacy.com; Open Monday-Wednesday 8:30am-7:30pm, Thursday-Friday 8:30am-8:30pm, Saturday 9am-8pm, Sunday 10am- 6:30pm

The Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street (between 6th & 7th avenues), New York; 212-620-5000; www.rmanyc.org ; Open Monday and Thursday 11am-5pm, Wednesday 11am-7pm, Friday 11am-10pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am-6pm, Closed Tuesdays. Entrance is $10 for adults, kids under 12 are free, college students with i.d. are $2, Friday from 7-10pm is free.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A bit of Green Magic in New England

Almost thirty miles into Vermont from the southern border lays a confluence of healing and incredible food. The virtual sister towns of Westminster, Vermont and Walpole, NH sit opposite each other across the Connecticut River. In Walpole, a classic New England, white clapboard village you will find Burdick’s Chocolate Store and Restaurant (you can’t miss it as it is the only place with both American and Swiss flags outside). The chocolates are like none you have ever tasted, and the restaurant, unique to this Burdicks, serves delicious food (and the best Pomegranate martini’s – is that green? they serve them with lime… does that count?) Really they serve local produce and meat, incroyable pastries and hot chocolate that should be regulated as a controlled substance – wow! Burdick’s owns the Walpole Grocery, two doors down, which sells a variety of specialty cheeses, gourmet and local foods.
A place of special healing is located at the Stillpoint Center where for over twenty-five years, Meredith Young-Sowers has been offering courses about energetic components to health. Her latest program is called, What We Hunger For, groundbreaking work on our spiritual, emotional and physical needs. Please visit the website for full information about all Stillpoint has to offer, as well as What We Hunger For.
Across the river in Westminster, Vermont, is the Sojourns Community Health Clinic. Operating out of a renovated and expanded farmhouse, the non-profit center offers alternative and conventional health care, with over thirteen types of bodywork, acupuncture, naturopathic physicians and a natural apothecary in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
About one and a half miles up the road on Route 5 is Harlow’s Farm Stand selling local, organic produce and flowers from their farm and others, as well as some specialty foods.

These four “magic green” points are set in the backdrop of the New England landscape – lush green in summer, brightly colored in the Fall, and snow-covered in winter.

Unfortunately a major green downside of this area is the lack of public transportation. The reality is it is simplest to get around with a car, so try to rent or drive your own fuel-efficient vehicle. If you want to attempt public transport, there is an Amtrak train that stops in Bellows Falls, Vermont (about four miles north of Westminster) once a day – The Vermonter. The only local bus service makes four trips a day from Bellows Falls to Westminster, but the times do not correspond to the train arrival. And believe it or not, there is no bike rental store in the town. The closest are in Putney, about ten miles south (West Hill Shop) and a number in Brattleboro (the stop before Bellows Falls on the train and about twenty miles south of Bellows Falls). So if you are in good shape, you could take the train to Brattleboro, rent bikes there, and bike up to Westminster and Walpole.

However you get there, you will be sure to have a nourishing and nurturing visit - enjoy!


Harlow’s Farm, Westminster, VT (802) 722-3515 or 9203 westminsterorganics@verizon.net; Two miles south of Bellows Falls on Rt 5. Open daily 9-6.
Sojourns Community Health Clinic, Route 5, Westminster, VT – www.sojourns.org - Open Monday-Saturday
Burdicks Restaurant and Chocolate Shop, 47 Main Street, Walpole; cafe: 603.756.2882 – www.burdickchocolate.com; Chocolate Shop Open:
Monday, 7:00am - 6:00pm, Tuesday - Saturday, 7:00am - 9:00pm,
Sunday, 7:30am - 5:00pm; Restaurant open for Sunday brunch, plus lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday
Walpole Grocery, 47 Main Street, Walpole, NH; 603-756-9098; Open: Tuesday-Saturday 8am-8pm, Sunday 9am-5pm, and Monday 8am-6pm
Stillpoint, 22 Stillpoint Lane, Walpole, NH; 603-756-9281– www.stillpoint.org and www.whatwehungerfor.com ; Open Monday to Thursday 9-5

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gluten-Free Desserts in New York City

I don’t even like cupcakes – never have - but I am now a devotee of the gluten-free cupcakes at the BabyCakes bakery in New York. Somewhat hidden in lower Manhattan, four blocks south of East Houston, 1 block south of Delancey Street, between Orchard and Ludlow, in the northern beginnings of Chinatown, Babycakes serves up yummy baked goods, lemonade, coffee and tea. This place is tiny but sells goodies that don’t make me sick – all some combination of Gluten-free, vegan and refined-sugar-free. Their delicious lemonade is made with Agave nectar – refreshing like regular lemonade but without the sugar-sick feeling afterwards. Take note- a few products are made with Spelt – these are not gluten-free, but tolerated by some people. All items are labeled.
While I am not so crazed as to order these online for overnight delivery – it can be done. Check out the website, or savor the treat for when you are visiting New York City. For travelers: a few blocks from Babycakes there is a new, large Whole Foods Market at 95 East Houston Street, open 8am to 11pm, seven days a week. See http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/ for detailed directions and other store locations.

Babycakes, 248 Broome Street, New York, 212-677-5047; www.babycakesnyc.com; Open Tuesday-Thursday 10am-10pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-11pm, Sunday 10am-8pm
The Babycakes Cookbook is coming out in April 2009 (ISBN: 978-0307408839) available through the Traveling Naturally Bookstore (see link at bottom of the blog page) powered by Amazon(of course).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

HAVE to Love the French Willingness to Protest

In the tradition of French protests, Oyster farmers dumped over 12 tons! of oyster shells on government office doorsteps in Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, a large oyster producing region of France. Can you imagine this happening in Virginia Beach?
In another twist in the ever-evolving effects of climate change and human environmental recklessness, oysters in France this summer are afflicted with a herpes virus. The oysters, a French favorite, seem to have weakened immune defenses, making them susceptible to the virus. French researchers are working to find causes and solutions to the oyster herpes crisis – all well and good – but unfortunately I fear it is not a local problem. The balance of the earth’s ecosystem is severely compromised. The French should know- when the “terroir” and “milieu” are not healthy, neither are the plants or animals.
So if you are traveling in France this season, pass on the herpes oysters, but love the French for their passion and spirit and look for multi-ton piles of oyster shells - I wish I had a picture of that! The abundant French markets in almost every village will have plenty of other delicious food to savor.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Peace



It is Thursday here in snowy, grey Vermont and I am reminded of a much warmer, Thursday evening a few weeks ago in Barcelona when I was wandering around the old part of the city after dark. I came into the Plaza St Jaume where along the wall of the Generalitat de Catalunya was a group of people standing in silence holding placards with images and words invoking Peace.

I stopped to look at the literature they had lying on a blanket. There were pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr. and various flyers in Spanish. An elder gentleman handed me a small piece of paper (see picture), one side was in Spanish, the other side in Catalan – and the following is a not so great English translation, but it gets the point across.

We Love Life, We are for Peace 


We call on your condition and your individual conscience to reflect on the moment facing our society. Based on the creation of requirements under the cover of values that give priority to possess, sheltered in the selfishness that makes this solidarity and unfair, has reached the contempt for everything that lives and generates Life: the exploitation of underdeveloped peoples, unemployment which extends in a polluted planet that has enough wealth to feed everyone, the inequities of a society that recommends its injustices with the segregation of marginalized and offenders are apparently some of the fruits that we must collect. Meanwhile violence grows and carries with it a mad arms race that fear, the economic and military blocs are unstoppable and that it now can destroy our planet by 15 times. 

We believe that, despite everything, THINGS CAN CHANGE, if all we are proposing. We want to let our attitude silence internal happen to silence the word, above views, or dogmas prejudices, in the hope that what unites us as people definitely exceeds what might separate us. 

We invite you every Thursday in front of the Generalitat, at 7pm, to participate in the half-hour of silence that we do in support of peace.” – Artisans of Peace

As I read the daily news of our war-torn world, I think of these people standing silently for 30 minutes (harder than you might think) in the chill every Thursday evening, and the countless others who do the same around the globe.

I think of the Tibetan monks worldwide who pray for worldwide peace and an end to suffering every day, and how it is now our turn to pray for them every day, every moment until they are free to practice their spiritual beliefs of compassion, peace and tolerance. Because until they are free, none of us are.

Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted the Nobel Peace Price 44 years ago and his acceptance speech is as relevant today as it was then. Following is an excerpt:

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."

Excerpted from Martin Luther King Jr. Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech 1964, From Les Prix Nobel en 1964, Editor Göran Liljestrand, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1965

For the monks and the world: Om Mani Padme Hum
If you are in Barcelona on a Thursday evening, consider standing with others in Plaza St Jaume.
Wherever you are, I hope you can pray, hope, work for and be peace.
Namaste

Some websites covering the Tibetan crisis:
www.meyul.com
www.phayul.com
www.tibetanuprising.org
www.tchrd.org
www.tibet.net
www.savetibet.org


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Visual Tools for the Green Traveler

I am happy to announce a NEW feature - Visual Tools for the Green Traveler - on the Traveling Naturally website (www.travelingnaturally.com)
The first of these is a Google Map of Health Food Stores in Barcelona, Spain. Stay tuned for more Visual Tools for the Green Traveler as they are developed, including Google Maps of Health Food Stores in other cities including Paris, London, Zurich, Avignon, and many more.
Click on the Go Lightly Guidebook MAP of Barcelona Health Food Stores on the left hand side of the web page.
Happy healthy eating and traveling!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Madrid Eco Travel notes







Madrid is Spain’s largest city, and quite majestic with its broad boulevards and grand buildings. There are street musicians at almost every turn and in the metro. Thursday evening is the night people can put out all manner of unwanted items like furniture to be collected by the city trash trucks. As my Spanish friends and I were heading home from our dinner (11:30pm!!) we saw some wooden bookshelves. The handyman in the group picked them up – they were taller than he – and we were walking along with the four of us and the bookshelves, but then we came upon a much larger pile with a chair, and a number of pieces of wood – doors and shelves – a whole commode size cabinet. Before you knew it, we were all hauling 2-3 pieces of the cabinet down the streets of Madrid, laughing as we went, with the handyman gleeful at his find. The bookshelves had been left behind as the dismantled commode was considered a better haul. We saw others walking down the street with their own finds – recycling at its finest.
The Spanish people have a relaxed and happy quality to them, reflected in their schedule and pace of life. Most people must be at work by 9am – but have long lunches – some have lunch and siesta as part of their day, others don’t have a long lunch and siesta but do not work on Fridays or Friday afternoons. Dinner is served between 9-11:30 at night and then strolling, dancing and hanging out in the plazas is common. Stores are often closed all afternoon, so plan your shopping for the morning or late in the day – starting from 3-5pm depending on the store.
Delicious, inexpensive wine is plentiful, as are divine olives and olive oil, cheeses, seafood (see picture of bizarre delicacy – Percebes) and all manner of fruits and vegetables. This is true all over Spain, not just in Madrid. If you are looking for traditional espadrille shoes made with hemp and canvas, these are plentiful in Madrid. One store filled with a bounty is on Calle Toledo just off Plaza Major.
While Madrid is not really biker friendly for riding through the main streets, there is a 64 km bike path around Madrid and paths through the large park Casa de Campo (about 4000 acres), as well as the smaller Parque del Retiro (322 acres).
Travel between Madrid and Barcelona is some of the busiest in the world, so if you are hoping for a train ticket, book ahead, otherwise you may get caught with no available seats or having to travel first class to make a connection. It is best to buy your tickets through the internet and pick them up at one of the many handy machines in the station. The Atocha train station in Madrid is huge and beautiful with a plant filled atrium, cafes and multiple security bag checks.
Health Food Stores in Madrid:
Natura Si – Supermercado Ecologico/El Supermerdaco Natural; www.naturasite.com; tienda.online@naturasite.com, c/Guzman El Bueno 28, (corner of c/Melendez Valdes) Madrid; Tel: 915 445 663; Metro: Arguelles-Monchoa. Open Mon-Sat 10-8:30 pm without interruption - http://www.naturasi.es/venta.html#1 -direct link for their three stores in Madrid
Yoga in Madrid:
Yoga and Pilates en Galileo, c/ Galileo 23, Bajo A, Madrid; Metro: Arguelles-San Bernardo. Classes during the whole day, Monday to Thursday, and yoga for children.
Yoga center in Madrid, Centro de Yoga Sivananda Vedanta, c/Eraso 4; Tel: 913615150; Madrid@sivananda.es; www.sivananda.es

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Going Home




It is truly hard to believe that my seven weeks in Europe are over and that I am heading home. I have loved every minute of the trip even when I haven’t. Just two weeks ago I would have been devastated about having to leave, but now I feel as I did after my divine body treatment at the Kan Spa in Avignon – satiated.
Part of this trip has been about observing and assimilating the European portion size in all things – coffee, food, car size, etc – and feeling satisfied. Another has been about being present, in the moment, and appreciating that what looks like an inconvenience in one minute, often turns out to be a blessing. Yet another piece I love about traveling is the spontaneous connections and help you find around the world. A man helped me on with my very heavy back pack this morning at the Paris Gare-train station; in London a fellow photographer noticed me struggling for a night shot and lent me his tripod; in Barcelona I had a brief but lovely conversation about world travel with a young Cuban heading to Italy and Greece while I was headed to Switzerland; a breastfeeding mother from Wales and I discussed the marvels of the new mega Whole Foods store in Kensington, London; sharing an overnight train bunk with a Swiss woman, I learned she runs a bio bed and breakfast outside Basel - she spoke only German but we managed to ascertain through our broken bits of each other’s languages and a good sense of charades that we were “Zwei Bio Frau/Two organic women” ☺. Countless other delightful encounters filled my travels and are part of what makes travel so magical.
Now as I head home, heart and soul filled with my experiences, the scents, sounds, tastes and generosity of strangers as well as old friends, my body stronger than it has felt in years, I feel whole, without wanting, without lacking. It is as it should be. Ciao, Auf viedersen, Adios, Hasta luega, Au Revoir, Cheers, and Bon voyage!

London and Whole Foods





I did London in a brief burst. Decades ago good food was scarce in London, but now it is full of natural foods stores and restaurants, as well as fast-food convenience stores selling decent food for on the go. These chains include EAT and Pret a Manger.
The Fresh and Wild health food stores are beautiful and full of great food. This line of stores was bought a couple of years ago by the U.S. Whole Foods. While the original Fresh and Wild stores remain, Whole Foods renovated an old landmark building, Barkers, on Kensington High Street, and built their flagship store, which puts their U.S. stores to shame. A gigantic store, Whole Foods has 80,000 square feet of natural and organic foods taking up three floors. It offers a variety of over seven different food court options, and sells fair trade and organic clothing, bed linens and gifts. The food part of the store is divided into regular groceries, plus gourmet sections for cheese, wine and other delicacies. They also offer health therapies including massage. The store is easily accessible by Tube – just a block from the High Street Kensington stop, and they also offer delivery services using their groovy-fueled motorbikes.
Whole Foods, Barkers Building, 63-97 Kensington High St, London; www.wholefoodsmarket.com/uk/ ; Open Monday-Saturday: 8am -10pm, and Sundays 12-6. The four former Fresh and Wild store locations can be found at the Whole Foods website.
For travelers feeling desperate for natural food in the Piccadilly Circus area, take heart – a Fresh and Wild is hidden on Brewer Street just behind the north side of Piccadilly Circus with prepared foods and gluten free options.
The Queen’s walk on the south side of the Thames is a great strolling promenade – very busy on nice weekend days. Both the National Theater and Shakespeare’s Globe are along this route, as well as numerous shops and sites. Under Waterloo Bridge you will find a used book market full of old and new titles for reasonable prices open daily. Street musicians are plentiful and talented along this promenade.
A note on London Theater – while the regular, Broadway-like theater productions are expensive, you can find excellent theater for great prices at the National and Globe theaters. The Globe only has productions in the warmer months since they are an outdoor venue, but the National goes year-round. I bought standing room tickets for 5£ each (about $10/ticket) for a wonderful production of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara.
Bus stops and subway stations (the Tube) are everywhere, so between public transport and walking you can get around just fine - in fact a car would be a hindrance in London – the traffic is horrid, parking scarce to none and there is now a fairly hefty congestion-fee for driving in central London. Harry Potter fans will understand when I say that London bus drivers perform very closely to the night-bus drivers portrayed in the books. That said, it is great fun to travel on the double-decker buses and the views from the upper deck are excellent. Check out the day-pass for public transport – good value and so much easier than having to buy tickets each time you hop on a bus or train. French and London bus drivers may go to the same training school. A helpful bookstore employee told me that the Tube employees are trained to be knowledgeable about London and be able to answer questions, but not the bus drivers – she said not to bother to ask them anything. That was a good heads-up, but little did I realize that I would be barked at! One cranky London bus driver called me a “stupid cow” as I was trying unsuccessfully to exit the rear door of the bus (now the French were not helpful, but they did not sling insults).
One word of advice – leave enough time to travel throughout the city. The Tube maps can be deceptive as to how long it takes to travel between stops, especially when venturing out to areas beyond the heart of the city.
For possibly the cheapest prices in London you can explore the Queen’s Market on Saturday mornings by the Upton Park Tube station (takes about 40 minutes from central London). This is in the West Ham area of East London, a block from the West Ham football (soccer) stadium. It offers a good view of the non-tourist side of London – the streets are litter-strewn, and the items at the market vary from foods to electronics to a variety of clothing including saris and shimmering dresses.
London is an awesome city. The exchange rate makes it very expensive (about $2 per 1£ – so double the price of everything- ouch!) The Earl’s Court Hostel is a great accommodation located in the fairly swank South Kensington residential area. It is part of the Hostelling International Network. Prices are exceptional for the middle of London and the hostel is clean, newly renovated, and has internet access for a fee on their computers and wifi throughout if you have your own computer. London Earl’s Court Hostel, 38 Bolton Gardens, Tel: 44 207 3737083; earlscourt@yha.org.uk; www.yha.org.uk. Prices starting at 22£/night per person.
There are countless eating options in London – even the late night convenience stores sell organic foods. I was able to get organic cheeses and bread, as well as wheat-free options and organic ice cream for a friend. So while expensive, London is a great city for traveling green and naturally.