Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chilly Basil Lemonade

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This super-simple, refreshing drink is perfect on a hot summer day!
Chilly Basil Lemonade
What You'll Need
6 cups water
3 lemons (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
1/3 cup sugar* (or 1/3 cup agave syrup**)
1 cup basil leaves (fresh, not dried!)
2 cups ice cubes
You'll also need a blender!

What You'll Need to Do:
Place ice and water in a blender, and blend until crushed. Add the lemons, sugar, and basil, and blend for several minutes until well combined and desired consistency is reached. Enjoy!

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Some Tips and Tricks
The recipe makes about 6 cups (good for hosting!), but you can cut it in half if you're looking to make enough for 1-2 people.

Hosting a summer dinner? Feel free to add some vodka in! About 1 shot per 8 oz. glass should do it. The flavor blends in quite smoothly with the lemonade.

*not all sugar is considered strictly vegan, see my "Vegan Pantry" page for more info

**Exactly what is agave syrup? Basically, it's a nectar extracted from the agave plant. It can be used as a substitute for sugar in most recipes, and while I've used it from time to time, it has its own drawbacks (The "healthfulness" of agave has been a subject of much debate in the natural foods community). But if you have some lying around, or prefer it over cane sugar, it's a nice option for this recipe.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Beyond Sushi at Chelsea Market


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I love sushi. Maybe it's my California roots, or just its undeniable great-ness, but I'm pretty much always in the mood for those little rice-rolls of goodness.

When I became a vegetarian, I was happy to continue enjoying my favorite vegetarian rolls. Kampyo, peanut avocado, oshinko maki, and umekyu are now on the top of my list. Unfortunately, my boyfriend has not been quite so enthusiastic about the vegetarian options at many sushi places. While some local restaurants offer a range of vegetarian options wide enough to satisfy my palate, I'll admit that the choices are often frustratingly limited.
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So you can imagine my delight when wandering around Chelsea Market, I happened upon a vegan, sushi joint!

Beyond Sushi, founded by Chef Guy Vaknin (a finalist on Fox's Hell's Kitchen), offers a variety of seasonal fruit and veggie sushi. They have two locations: one at Union Square and one in Chelsea Market.

They seem to be doing something right--the line at lunchtime was out the door! The one in Chelsea Market is a take-out place. There's plenty of seating in the surrounding market, though. Even right at peak lunch hours, the service was really fast.
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I was thrilled when I saw the menu. It was not just the deliciously fresh ingredients that caught my eye--but the thoughtful flavor combinations! I had the "La Fiesta" (pictured above), which included avocado, chayote, and pickled jalapeƱo in a black rice roll, topped with cilantro (it was excellent!). According to their web site, the black rice is "a gluten free grain that contains 18 amino acids and has a natural black hue." The rolls came with chili mango sauce on the side (in a little plastic tube, for easy application). Each of the rolls comes with a sauce that you can apply to the rolls. You can also request sides of any of the sauces on the menu.

I ordered the lunch special, which includes one roll (eight pieces), as well as two individual pieces. I had the mango (with jalapeƱo wasabi sauce) and seaweed (with sweet soy mirin) individual pieces. They were both delicious.

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My friend had the "Pickle Me," (above) made with their six grain rice, gobo, carrot, pickled daikon, avocado. The six grain rice "is a medley of rye berries, hulless barley, pearl barley, brown, red, and black rice." These rolls came with the carrot ginger sauce, which you can see on top of the rolls. My friend also ordered a side of kimchi. It had a unique flavor profile--a bit sweeter than most--but really excellent.

There's a small refrigerated section in the back, where they house fresh-made juices, and puddings, among other things. I had the watermelon lemonade, which was wonderful (just the right amount of sweetness).
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And, for the sake of the blog, I figured I had to try a chia-seed pudding, right? I've never actually had chia seed pudding before. Chia seeds, which originated in Central America (and were apparently eaten by both the Aztecs and the Mayans) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as fiber. They've been kind of blowing up on the health food scene for a variety of reasons. They're supposed to provide a great deal of energy, while also being much more filling than many other seeds. When combined with water, the fiber causes the seeds to gel (which you may be familiar with if you've ever tried the chia-infused drinks they sell in the stores!), allowing them to be used in puddings and even jams. They can also be substituted for eggs in baking.

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I had the vanilla chia seed pudding with cinnamon roasted apples and a side of caramel sauce. It was a-maz-ing. I've definitely been inspired to try making my own pudding at home!

To summarize: Beyond Sushi made for a perfect lunch. Nothing too terribly fancy, just well-balanced flavors combined in smart and unique ways. They also have special monthly rolls that sound amazing. I can't wait to check out the rest of the menu, and check out the Union Square location!