Ask any New Yorker what their favorite way to socialize is and one of their top answers will probably be dinner with friends at a restaurant. Even in these tough economic times, people will change many habits, forgo their chai-vanilla-mocha-frappa-latte and go to off-off Broadway plays instead of off-Broadway plays, but dining – let’s just say it’s not easy to give up. For those trying to incorporate healthier choices, this is where the dilemma kicks in: should I go for tasty or healthy?
So I started to do some research and in order to do so, I discovered the http://www.eatwellguide.org and http://www.healthylivingnyc.com/. These are pretty much a bookmark MUST. One thing to keep in mind is that the Healthy Living NYC site brings up a large selection of vegetarian choices – while that may be good for some, it may not be helpful to all. However, the Eat Well Guide is a wealth of information and the search function includes the entire country. Give it a try!
A few suggestions really stood out and I was intrigued. First, I was off to dinner with some girlfriends at Caracas Arepas Bar, a cute, Venezuelan cuisine, hole-in-the wall on the lower-east-side (there is also one in Brooklyn).
For all the controversy surrounding Venezuela, the one thing that country knows well is FOOD! The restaurant doesn’t take resies so consider standing in line part of its charm. I can say it is well worth it! The menu primarily consists of different kinds of arepas which are defined as: "dense yet spongy corn-flour rounds, pitalike pockets, corn muffins, cake-swaddled mélange, white corn cakes, Latin sloppy Joe, sandwiches of a flat cornmeal patty, soft and smooth within, golden crispiness, tasty treats, burrito-killer, panini-killer, wheat-free, gluten-free crisp on the outside, steamy-soft in the middle…" Not only was it delish but the bill was so low we thought it was an error. No error here. Consider it a recession survival DO!
Another recession friendly choice is Gustorganics. The name pretty much says it all. Located in the ever-hip lower-west-side it is said to be, according to its website, the first and only certified organic restaurant in New York, America’s first restaurant to use 100% USDA certified organic ingredients, one of the greenest restaurants in the world, the first and only USDA certified organic bar on the planet, and 100% organic restaurant & bar open 365 days a year for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner.
For the die hards out there, this is the real deal. The best part about it is that you simply have the impression that you’re in one of New York’s typical hot spots. The food tastes like a home cooked meal. It is Latin-American cuisine yet has a very worldly quality to it. I also recommend exploring the website because it has a ton of great information – the owner, Alberto Gonzalez, is inspirational in his life’s pursuits.
Sourcing: selecting ingredients seasonally, locally, and with a focus on nutritional characteristics
Preparation: using specific cooking techniques that preserve the integrity and nutritional qualities of the ingredients
Enhancement: optimizing nutritional value by the synergy of product combination and menu diversity.
“When great taste and well-being are combined with local sourcing, you have the modern American cuisine Tomate Rouge is known for.”This restaurant is on the fine dining end of the spectrum and is absolutely recommended for special occasions and business dinners. Click here for a review.
One thing I have come to realize in my search is that many of the finer dining restaurants often offer organic choices, it just seeps into the menu. It's sort of like you pay more to get more, but even if you’re not looking for fine dining, there are alternatives such as the soup, salad and sandwich place called Pret-a-manger.
From their website: “We shun the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to so much ‘prepared’ and ‘fast’ food. Our ingredients are delivered fresh every day. We don’t mind that fresh and fragile ingredients go off quickly – we start from scratch each morning.” And “You won’t find ‘sell by’ dates on our fresh sandwiches and salads. We don’t sell ‘factory’ stuff. We offer our food to charity at the end of each day rather than keep it over.”
I have come to the conclusion, dilemma be gone, it is much simpler than you think to do both tasty and healthy!
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