Friday, May 12, 2017

Vegan Five One Eats #3 New York City edition

Two delicious vegan slices. Thank you Two Boot's (Lexington Avenue).


On Tuesday, I took a bus to New York City to be in the audience for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Prior to that, I went on a search for a delicious vegan establishment. First thought that comes to mind when it comes to New York food staples? Pizza. I went to a couple pizzeria's in previous trips but never talked about my experiences on here. One place that has delighted my taste buds: Two Boot's. They have several locations throughout New York City. Tuesday took me to 39th Street and Lexington Avenue for a couple fresh slices.

I got a friendly greeting from the cashier and looked at the single slice selection. I'm ecstatic when they have not one but two vegan options available: V For Vegan and Earth Mother. Of course, I ordered both flavors because it is rare to have both available at the multiple locations.

V For Vegan contains Artichokes; Shitake Mushrooms; Red Pepper Pesto; Daiya Cheese; and Basil Pesto on a dairy free pizza crust. Earth Mother consists of Peppers; Onions; Pesto; Spinach; and Mushrooms on a whole wheat Sicilian crust (vegan of course).

If you ask me which one was my favorite? Honestly, I could not give you a straight answer. I've had V For Vegan on prior visits and it did not disappoint once again. The crust was soft and I could fold the slice to eat by hand. If you a person, such as, Donald Trump who eats it with a fork, shame on you. The slice was loaded with ingredients for a thin slice and it was very fresh when I arrived. Earth Mother on the other hand was a very thick slice with their "garden" ingredients. This was my first time having this specialty and it was absolutely delicious. I have never had a pizza with whole wheat dough before. I was very impressed with the Whole Wheat Sicilian dough and will have to find it next time I decide to make pizza on my own. Earth Mother did not contain cheese unlike V For Vegan but that did not bother me. I heard it is frowned upon to order vegan cheese on a Sicilian style pizza. Anyone can correct me if I'm wrong.

I apologize if this is a short post, I wanted to get it out before it was too late. Overall, I was very impressed with the establishment on my return. I'll definitely be going back to the Lexington Avenue for those two flavor slices. If you are looking for more locations, click here. Also, anyone other vegan pizza establishments I need to try, please let me know in a comment. Until next time, happy eating.

-Matt

Monday, May 8, 2017

Vegan Five One Eats #2

On Friday, my second stop for Vegan Five One Eats took me to The Happy Cappuccino in the Crossgates Mall in Albany.  They have a second location in Schenectady on Jay Street with a wide variety of vegan-friendly options as well but menu items are subject to change. The Happy Cappuccino also serves hot and cold specialty beverages made to order. If you are looking for a nice treat after your sanwich, they sell other local businesses bakery items available for purchase.

I attempted to eat at the Jay Street location awhile back but it was taking cash only at the time. A couple days ago, I received a message from the business stating that it was a temporary obstacle and are accepting cards again.

The restaurant was quiet at 4:45 PM except for a few guests chatting at the table over beverages. After a few minutes, I place my order for a Vegan Deli Sandwich containing Seitan, Onions, Mustard, Tomato, and lettuce on a ciabatta roll. The sandwich was good but I felt slightly disappointed in terms of value. A few suggestions to add more flavor visually and taste: add a small side of greens or chips to the sanwich; toasting the bread and an opportunity to add additional ingredients would be beneficial; maybe adding a sandwich special that is only made during a specific time period (weekly). I'm not much of a bread fanatic, but the type used on that sandwich was absolutely delicious and the Seitan slices were very thick. I would love to return to The Happy Cappucino especially Jay Street for a cup of coffee and sandwich.

After finishing my sandwich, I ordered two Vegan biscotti's: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip and White Chocolate Caramel. Don't be deceived by the picture, those two pastries were pretty big. The biggest biscotti's I have ever seen. I will have to purchase them when they are fresh in the morning instead of 5:30 PM. Despite that, I couldn't finish them in one sitting and they were good.

Overall, the selection is good between the two locations. Yes, they accommodate all meat and dairy consumers too. I can't wait to visit again soon. Until next time, happy eating.

-Matt

 Wow! What big vegan biscotti's you have Bake For You.

Vegan Deli Sandwich

Monday, April 17, 2017

Vegan Five One Eats #1

Since I've been posting food on my Instagram account, I thought it would be a great idea to document my search for great Vegan Restaurant establishments. Also, my endless online research was the inspiration behind this series. Whenever I travel, my first task is to look for nearby restaurants with vegan options. Right now, I reside in the Albany area so my objective was already in full swing. Obviously, I will do more than one and it will focus only on establishments. Any other establishments you can think of, please let me know. I will not limit it just to the Albany area. I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to highlight restaurants that do not get enough attention. Thank you for viewing. If you would like to know more about the vegan eatery, the information is posted below.

Vegan Five One Eats #1: Berben & Wolff's, Lark Street

This establishment was on my list for awhile through word of mouth on social media. Since I was going to a hockey game later that day, this would be a perfect opportunity to check this place out.  It finished second place in the Times Union Best Of 2017: Locally Owned Restaurant category. It is very impressive that a Vegan eatery is getting noticed and tastes are slowly begin to change for the better.

Just after 2 PM on Saturday, the establishment is very quiet and not busy at all. The cashier is taking an order over the phone and the bakery case was almost wiped out. I over hear the cashier telling another customer that it was very busy earlier starting at noon. Berben & Wolff's is open 10 AM-8 PM Tuesday through Saturday and 10 AM- 3PM Sunday. They do not offer a breakfast menu but they make up with a very good sandwich selection and good variety of To Go items. Look out for weekly specials on their Facebook page and their Wing Wednesday promotion.

After looking at the menu for a few minutes, I ask the cashier what he recommends since it is my first trip to their establishment. He begins by telling me that they are out of Jackfruit for their BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich. This does not deter me and he recommends the Wing Burger with Buffalo Sauce. The Wing Burger contains a breaded Seitan patty; shredded carrots; diced celery; and ranch on a sesame seed bun. I knew a sandwich would not be enough so I ordered a couple items from the bakery case: Snicker Doodle cupcake and Chickpea Blondie Brownie. Yes all their ingredients they use are vegan and they have gluten free options available too.

Earlier stated, the bakery case was pretty much empty but it did not deter me from eating elsewhere. I would recommend ordering early so you are guaranteed a better selection. While I was waiting for my sandwich, I ate the Snicker Doodle cupcake which was good, soft, and the frosting was very creamy. I'll have to try their other flavors they have available. After finishing the cupcake, the server brought out my sandwich which I could not wait to take a bite of. The first bite was absolutely delicious and messy. The dressing was running down the side of my hand. The patty was very crispy along with the sauce hits my mouth with a slight kick. The celery and carrots complimented the sandwich perfectly. I got a side of greens with the sandwich, as always. Personally, I avoid the common chips and a pickle option that usually comes included with sandwiches at most establishments. After finishing the sandwich, I decided to order another bakery treat, Chickpea Blondie brownie. I really enjoyed this treat and was absolutely amazed at how chickpeas can be made in desserts. When I use chickpeas, they are for salads and protein-based dishes. Wrapped in plastic, the brownie was still very soft not hard as a rock. After finishing that second treat, I told myself that I need to order that again with my next sandwich.

Clockwise (from top to bottom): The Wing Burger, Chickpea Blondie brownie, and Snicker Doodle cupcake


Despite the limited menu during the time I spent there, I was very pleased with the food altogether and will be making another trip there soon. It is small restaurant with limited seating but I love those type of intimate atmospheres. Next time, I'll make sure to get there a little earlier, especially on a Saturday. One of the line cooks even asked me how my sandwich was as he exited the restaurant. I really appreciate when staff asks customers how their experience was in person, not telling them to fill out a comment card or share on social media. He was very happy to hear that I told him the sandwich was delicious. I can't wait to return to Berben & Wolff's soon. For now, it is on to find the next vegan joint.

Berben & Wolff's Official Website

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-Matt

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Code Blue 8K on a Beautiful Day

Yesterday, I ran my second race this year, a local 8K race in Saratoga Springs. The event raised money for emergency shelter in Saratoga Springs, Code Blue Saratoga. It was a nice change of pace competing in a short distance race compared to half-marathons and marathons. I am planning on doing more in the near future. Here is the recap:

Honestly, I was not sure what to expect from the race in terms of performance. It is tough getting to bed late Friday night and turning around a few hours later awake at 6 AM Saturday morning. Before leaving to pick up my race packet, I started off with a glass of water and a cup of tea. After picking up my packet, I went back to the vehicle and sat in the car. After a few minutes, I decided to do a warm up mile in a nearby park. I'm very glad I did because it got me really excited about running and taking on the day. I ran a little over one mile (1.25 to be exact) at just over a nine minute pace. The weather put me in a great mood because it was absolutely beautiful outside and it was very nice running in shorts. I told myself not to eat anything before the race but that failed. At least it was not heavy prior to the race (bagel and banana). If I finished the race between 35 and 40 minutes, I would've been very happy with the results. Now the race is starting.

I was towards the front of the crowd at the start of the race. On your mark…Get Set…GO! Taking off, I felt very good with my pace so I continued running that way throughout the race. When I approach a race, my goal is to run a comfortable pace without getting extremely tired during the run. Quickly glancing at my watch at mile 1, I was surprised at the blistering pace (6:45). I continued on the course and felt really good. I make it a habit of not glancing at my watch constantly because it might throw my rhythm off. Miles 2, 3 and up to the mile 4 marker were very tough due to the constant elevation changes. That is part of every race but I focused on the goal of finishing strong. Mile 2 (6:43); Mile 3 (6:38); and Mile 4 (6:35) and I'm still in total disbelief over the consistent times and pace. Approaching the finish line, I was very surprised to see my time 32:39 with a pace of 6:34. That is definitely the fastest I have ever ran in training and/or racing. My Garmin watch told me I had a record for my fastest mile of 6:25. The emcee announced my name as the twentieth person overall got me very excited. This is out of over four hundred runners who participated. Usually, I'm inside the top ten percent overall which is what I was anticipating in this race. How did I do in my age group? I refueled with rice and beans (a first); water; orange slices; and a banana after the race. Jeff, who ran the race, finishing not too far behind me, looked at the results alongside me. He told me that I finished third in my age group, which means I receive a medal for my accomplishment. Yes, it is a third place in my group and it is an exciting feeling. I do not get these awards very often so it gave me a reason to be happy.

After soaking in the accomplishment, it was time to do a post race run at Saratoga State Park. No I did not duplicate the results in my race which was fine by me. My pace was 8:15 for a total distance of 8.82 miles. My total mileage for the day was just over 15 miles, which is what I planned on doing so my day was very productive.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Code Blue Saratoga organization, Fingerpaint, Mayor Joanne Yepsen, everyone who donated food, Saratoga Police Department, Hampton Inn, volunteers, and course marshals for making this event possible. Your work was greatly appreciated and I'm grateful for your dedication. Saratoga Springs is a great community which the reason why I love running in your city.

A great day with the sun shining and sitting on the rooftop after a great race

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Training, Vegan Eats, and Code Blue

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day for a run. I took full advantage of it by doing the long run that morning instead of Saturday. I wanted to be fresh, alert, and focused for this run so that is the reasons for the switch. If I did it Saturday, I ran the risk of being tired or not finishing the run. The weather was perfect, not quite shorts weather, but it was satisfying. 18.36 miles in under two and a half hours with a pace of just of over eight minutes was a pretty good result. As I'm writing this, I went on another run this morning, taking advantage of the great weather. If you haven't been following my posts, I am currently training to run my third marathon in less than two months, Vermont City (Burlington). Unfortunately, this will be the only marathon I will be running this year. I was planning on doing two but I have to focus on my current job priorities. I will still participate in running races but only locally. That is my running update, onto other exciting things.

Here are some vegan food pictures:

 Pick up the Gluten Free Bar in a store near you. It is absolutely delicious.

 Eggplant with tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans

 Ben & Jerry's never disappoints. Can't wait for more non-dairy flavors in the future.

Still have to try the Oreo flavor version. Don't spoil it for me.


Ok, enough of the food pictures. My next race will be this Saturday in Saratoga Springs, Blue Needs You 8K (5 mile). Any chance I get to participate in a running race for an excellent cause. This race supports Code Blue Saratoga, an emergency homeless shelter providing homes during the winter season. It will be exciting to run in short distance races because I do not do it enough. To learn more about this organization, click here. I will have another update this weekend regarding this race. Get outside, the weather is beautiful. Hope your day is going amazing.

-Matt

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fallen Comrades Run…West Point Half Marathon

Good morning everyone. It is Monday, currently recovering from an amazing weekend in downstate New York. I really needed it especially after a long work week. I traveled by train from Albany to Garrison between Amtrak and Metro-North.

I ran my eighth half marathon yesterday, Fallen Comrades Run. This was the first year that they opened this race to the general public. I found out about this race through the Running In The USA website. My cousin Torey, Ben, and Fran also ran in the race. Shout out to Torey's husband, David and awesome host, Miranda for cheering us on throughout the entire race. Running on the United States Military Academy campus in West Point was absolutely beautiful. We started outside Michie Stadium and finished on their field.



Miles 1-4 were mostly downhill and windy and had the upcoming hills in the back of my mind but did my best to not let it consume me. Checking my watch, I ran a 7:30 mile which is a great pace for me. My goal was to not start very strong and tire towards the end. The first few miles allowed me to take in a wonderful view of the Hudson River on their campus. You can also see the railroad tracks shuttling passengers between Albany and New York City.

Mile 5 was the first big hill which I thought would be the last of the major hills. I would be proven wrong later on. My running was smooth going up hill but I was in need of a bathroom.

Between 6 and 7, I had to detour for a break. I ended up with a nine minute mile because of it but I felt so much better after that stop. Started catching up with some of the runners approaching mile 8 winding through the residential streets.

Mile 9 was the beginning of a very steep hill but I managed to pass runners struggling on their climb. Maybe it helped having the military bagpipe band members playing. Miles 10 and 11 ended up where we ran in the beginning. More winding downhills and found out about THE BIG HILL coming up.

Mile 12 would intersect with the mile 9 marker halfway up, which made the hill steeper and longer. I slowed my pace a little bit and was making good strides passing runners. It was a relief finishing that big hill and finishing on flatter terrain approaching the stadium. My final time was just under 1:37:00 with a 7:24 mile. I set a personal best of approximately 3 minutes and placed inside the top 100 runners overall. In terms of results, it was a very successful day and the weather held up during the race.  The temperature was in the upper thirties with overcast skies. My cousin also set a personal best during her race, awesome job. My Garmin watch told me I ran just under 13 miles but that was the least of my worries. The course was very challenging and fun. It was an honor running alongside amazing athletes, service men, and service women.

Thank you very much to United States Military Academy, NYC Runs, spectators, and all the volunteers who made the event possible. I truly appreciate all your hard work and dedication.

One reason why I love running, amazing family support



Also, thank you Miranda for being an awesome host all weekend. You are simply amazing. Once again, thank you to Torey for making the trip and husband David for cheering us on and taking pictures. It was a pleasure meeting Ben and Fran, who ran in the event as well. Congratulations on finishing, both of you did great. Good luck Fran in the Gettysburg Marathon.

 Great job everyone. You were all amazing out there.


I'm really running out of words so it is time for me to recover for a couple days. Looking at running a 10K race Saturday.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Training for vegan eats and sweets

Week 7 of marathon training concluded yesterday with a 16.5 mile run in under 2:15 with a 8:08 mile. My total miles for the week was a total of 28.8 miles. On Monday; Wednesday; and Friday, I run four miles as a part of my circuit training. I'll get into more detail shortly. The weather conditions and route were absolutely beautiful. For the most part, it was not very cold and the sunshine was a big help keeping me warm. Along with running in a local park, I ran onto residential streets nearby because there is not a ton of vehicular traffic to deal with. The nearby trail is nice but it is tough with all the snow still on the ground, especially after last week.

Whenever it is my day to do a long run, I like to have a light breakfast before running so I am focused and fresh for my workout. My light breakfast consisted of a cup of tea and a smoothie. For the last few days, I'm attempting to reduce my grain intake, notably breads and pastas. My smoothie consisted of: kale; blueberries; banana; avocado; and almond milk. In the past, my routine was to have a bowl of oatmeal with chopped fruit. I decided to make a change and have smoothies. After my light breakfast, I felt more energetic as the run progressed. Since it helps me, I will continue with that regimen. I pack a small portion of grapes, Lara Bar, banana, my water bottle, and Vita Coco Water for my post run fuel.

In my previous post, I stated my miserable emotions prior to and during the run. I was so close to just quitting training until I saw an index card on my dresser drawer. On the card, I wrote an Embedded Circuit Training regimen awhile back that I almost forgot about. After reading it, it gave me a great idea to do my running indoors at the YMCA instead of jumping right out of bed in the morning to start running. Well, Presidents Day (Monday) will be the exception since I do not have to work that day. Ok, I'm on call for my current job. Anyway, I tried the embedded circuit training for three days and really fell in love with it. The change was very beneficial because it kept me very focused and it was nice being indoors for a change instead of running strictly outdoors. Initially, I was dreading having to do the miles on a treadmill but it dawned on me that the facility has a track upstairs. It might look tedious, it gave me a brand new outlook on marathon training. Yes, my weekly miles will be reduced a little. In the long run, it is essential to have your legs fresh whether it is for an upcoming race or still training.

After my run, I decided to splurge at two local food eateries. The first stop was Elevation Burger in Latham for a Vegan Burger. Yes the burger is five dollars but it beats Five Guys and they use fresh ingredients. I added lettuce; caramelized onions; hot pepper relish; tomato; and pickles. It was very good and will be making a future trip back there soon. Next time, I will either get two burgers or a burger and fries. Stop number two took me to Troy called Nibble Inc. Doughnut Shop. My friend Jenna told me about this place having vegan doughnuts, so I was immediately sold. Any establishment with good vegan options, I want to visit. Saturday, they had three different vegan options so I got one of each to sample (Strawberry Cocoa; Orange Cardamon; and I forgot the third flavor. All the flavors were amazing. The gentleman behind the counter told me that they are also available at Whole Foods. That is good to know next time I am down that way. The doughnuts were on point and will definitely stop in again for a few more. They also have gluten free and non-vegan treats as well.

That is my training update for now. I can't wait to start a brand new week tomorrow. Also, I'm getting very excited for upcoming races. Happy Reading.


Look at my face, you can't deny the deliciousness