Oregon

Sweet Potato & Apple Pancakes

Fall has arrived once again in the Pacific Northwest. Due to our unusually hot and long summer (RIP), the fall colors are in full force. I almost feel like I’m back east. This means that, in addition to cooking up some delectable fall-inspired recipes, I don’t feel too embarrassed about getting my foo-foo lattes every once in a while (I’m usually a plain Americano type-person, for all of you who may want to bring me coffee in the future).

We have an abundance of pumpkins, squash, apples, and sweet potatoes at the local markets, and I was remembering my good friend and former roommate who used to cook some potato latkes to die for. And with that, I give you these pancakes.

 

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Make sure you don’t skimp on the (vegan) butter when you’re frying up these guys — you’ll need the savory notes to balance out the sweetness of the apple. If you don’t have a huge sweet tooth, I’d recommend going for a 2:1 ratio of potato to apple. I didn’t even put any syrup on these because they were flavorful enough on their own.

And don’t worry about peeling the potato or apple before you grate them. Keeping the skins on will preserve the rich fiber and you won’t even notice it once it’s all cooked.

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Combined with the flour, the pancakes formed patties well and stuck together without a problem. Easy for flipping!

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Best of all, a small potato and apple made three pancakes! Talk about an economical breakfast — invite your friends and make it into brunch! Did someone order a pumpkin spice latte?

The Facts about Worldwide Hunger, and How YOU Can Help

Let’s talk about hunger.

No, I’m not talking about what you might feel when you wake up in the morning and can’t make a bowl of oatmeal fast enough. I’m talking about hunger that kills. As a dietitian, worldwide hunger and nutritional deficiency hit close to home. And as a dietitian, I know that there is more than enough food to feed every single person in the world, and feed them well.

While on a trip back home to Virginia, I had the pleasure of lending my help to an an anti-hunger campaign called Stop Hunger Now, which was hosting a meal-packaging event in my town. I hopped onto the assembly line and made sure meal packets were the right weight and consistency to be shipped off to over 65 countries worldwide. Within two hours we had packaged 25,000 meals. That’s right — 25,000 meals! Each of those packets will feed six children and boasts rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and 21 vitamins and minerals.

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Children are hit hard by malnutrition and the diseases that arise from (or are amplified by) not having enough food. Measles, malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia are some of the leading causes of childhood death. And malnutrition can start before kids are even born, if their moms aren’t taking in enough nutrition. Read more about the effects of malnutrition here.

The meals that we packaged were exclusively vegan. Now, depending on what country they are sent to, various meats may or may not be added per the local culture. But the meals cost just 25 cents because they are plant-based.

“Stop Hunger Now created its meal packaging program, in 2005. The program perfected the assembly process that combines rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packets. Each meal costs only 25 cents. The food stores easily, has a shelf-life of two years and transports quickly. Stop Hunger Now works with international partners that ship and distribute the meals in-country.”

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(c) Stop Hunger Now

So if we have enough food to feed everyone in the world, why does one person every three seconds die of hunger or hunger-related illness? I’ll briefly summarize some of the key reasons. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this matter, but I have learned quite a lot through my studies and my travels to food-insecure countries such as Tanzania and the Dominican Republic.

1. Poverty and a Reliance on Meat as a Protein Source

Farmers and families living on $1 or less a day simply cannot afford to buy or trade their food. And farmers trying to make a living off of their own land are often not supported by their governments. As the renowned Marion Nestle writes,

“Governments must support food systems that provide farmers and workers with a reasonable standard of living, replenish soil nutrients, conserve natural resources, and minimize pollution and greenhouse gases—and promote health.” Part of minimizing pollution and greenhouse gases naturally involves growing more plants, and less meat. When the focus is on growing crops to feed animals, an opportunity arises to feed more people instead of fueling a meat-driven system that just isn’t working. 

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2. Climate Change (read the 2009 World Food Programme’s climate report here)

You don’t have to believe in human-accelerated climate change — it’s happening, and it’s been happening, for a long time. Due in part to increased heat and decreased water availability, farmers all over the world will suffer a decrease in agricultural production (mostly wheat, rice, and maize). This will cause an increase in food prices worldwide, but mostly in Africa, South Asia, and Central America. Extreme natural disasters as a result of climate change will  continue to wreak havoc. By 2050, we expect an increase of 10-20% of people at risk of hunger worldwide.

3. Lack of nutrition education.

During my time in Tanzania, I sampled probably twenty kinds of root vegetables, dark leafy greens, and native fruits. Unfortunately, many of them were underutilized by the local population and sometimes even treated as throwaway foods. But these foods were rich in vitamins and minerals, protein, and valuable starch. It takes dedicated professionals to provide nutrition and cooking education to teach people how to rely on the food that their own soil can produce.

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In America, 48 million people are hungry and rely on government initiatives like SNAP. I encourage you to read about the $1 a day challenge — this is something I was tasked to try for one day in college, and it was hard. But over a billion people worldwide have to do for their whole lives. And remember:

“It’s not due to laziness that someone is poor. It’s not due to a lack of ambition or lack of intelligence. It’s because they lack the things that we take advantage of every day.” — Living on One Dollar

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So how can YOU get involved? I’ve compiled a list of Portland-specific organizations that need help. Oregon is the fifth-hungriest state in America.

1. Have a garden, or participate in a community garden? The “Plant a Row” program with the Oregon Food Bank allows you to donate home-grown food to the needy.

2. Want to get involved long-term? Growing Gardens offers programs to help schools start gardens and provide cooking classes. In the summer, weekly garden parties will involve a local Portland chef who can teach people how to cook what they grow. They even have an internship, which will focus on fundraising, building gardens, and hosting garden summer camps.

3. Reduce your own food waste. With so many hungry in the world, it’s a damn shame to throw so much food away. And Americans waste 40% of the food they buy. The Kitchn has a great article on ways to get the most out of the food you buy. And remember to compost your food scraps if you can, as decomposing food in landfills contributes methane to the environment.

4. If you like gardening a whole lot, get involved with the Produce for People Program. Last year they grew and donated 20,3337 lbs of produce to needy families.

5. More of a day-to-day volunteer? The Oregon Food Bank (and any food bank, no matter where you live) needs help. Here’s an easy way to get involved.

6. Host a meal-packaging event with Stop Hunger Now. This would a fantastic event for an organization or club to host. With 40 people, you could package 10,000 meals in two hours, at just 25 cents a meal.

7. Make your dollar count. Support local farmers, and local produce. Alleviate your carbon footprint by reducing your meat intake.

There’s so much more to be said about hunger, and so many experts out there who can say it better than I can. I hope this post left you with the knowledge that hunger and the disease that occur with it can be stopped. What do you know about hunger?

 

Nike Portland Run Club: We Run PDX

What’s better than running? Not a whole lot.

What’s better than running with a group of running-obsessed Portlanders, Britney Spears blasting on the speakers, while being simultaneously cheered on and honked at (in encouragement) by people and cars in the streets? Definitely, definitely nothing. Welcome to Nike Run Club.

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If you’re looking for some inspiration and motivation to get out there and hit the pavement, you’re in luck. The Portland chapter of Nike Run Club is open for business!

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What’s makes running with a group so fantastic? It’s all about the synergy. Think back to high school physics.

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ˈsinərjē/
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noun: synergy; plural noun: synergies; noun: synergism; plural noun: synergisms
1. the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
 
That’s right: with the perfect mixture of friendly, fun energy and a fantastic group of runners, we accomplish more than each of us would on our own.
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Running with a group is one of the best ways to pump up your pace and endurance. 
While I do love running solo, sometimes I need to push myself with some healthy competition! Running up the OHSU hill would never have happened without Run Club. It’s hard to focus on mileage and the respiratory taxation of running when you have an overwhelming amount of positive energy circling around the group. I have succeeded in introducing four of my friends to Run Club, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. That’s cause it’s fun, y’all. On run club nights, we run the city like we own it.

Not to mention, we get to run in one of the most beautiful and fun cities in the world.
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If you live in Portland, come run with us! It’s free, and all levels are welcome! All you need to bring is a smile and some shoes. If you don’t like your shoes, you can take the Nike store’s currently featured kicks on a test run. Nike lends out the latest gear for user testing as well, like its new sport watch. If fear about your pace is keeping you from joining us, stop right there! At least three Nike employee pacers come with us and make sure no one is ever left behind.

Bonus points if you have the Nike Run+ app on your phone to track mileage (it’s free), and an Instagram account to tag our runs! Nike will donate a set amount of money per mile to a selected charity. Remember to hashtag #werunpdx!

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Meet up at the Nike store downtown on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30 pm. Monday runs break into groups planning to run 3, 5 or 7+ miles. The Wednesday run will usually be a themed fun-run between 3 and 5 miles, planned by one of the Nike employees. Last night, our art-themed route had us running to some of Portland’s iconic sculpture stops, where we did some quick strength training moves before continuing on.

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Wall sits: par for the course.

You’ll also get the inside scoop on larger runs coming up. For example, Nike’s We Run the Night Flash Run on December 21st hosted hundreds of runners on a four mile route through Portland to celebrate the longest night of the year. I’ve never seen so many glow lights in my life. We were treated to a pit stop inside the Jeld-Wen stadium for some personal trainer-led strength training, and a fireworks show inside the stadium! Since it coincided with Santacon, we were cheered on by about 200 intoxicated Santas, but kept on course with the help of a bona fide marching band. What can I say? If you weren’t there, you weren’t there.

Needless to say, if you ever needed a boost of pure adrenaline with some of the best people in this city, run club is for you.

But apart from the mileage, the hashtagging, and the training, I love Run Club because it helps me to get out there and be active within my community. Between the expertly crafted playlists pumping through the city air and the friendly chatter to be had with new friends, running this city is a total blast and never fails to lift my spirits.

Just remember: if you can walk, you can run. If you can run, you are a runner. So what are you waiting for? Just do it.

(for more fantastic pictures updated by a Nike pacer himself, visit http://phillipmatos.com/)

Portland’s the (vegan) caterer, and how YOU can give back this holiday season

The holidays are here, and I couldn’t be happier. Bring on the overambitious Pinterest recipes, the non-denominational greeting cards, the friends-givings and family gatherings!

The holidays give us an excuse to throw parties, give back to our community, and make memories with our neighbors…sometimes, all at once! Last Friday, I had the privilege of helping out the (vegan) caterer, a Portland-based catering company, throw a benefit banquet for the Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

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“Volunteering fills my heart when it gets empty.” That’s what one of my college mentors told me, and it’s stuck with me to this day. Volunteering gives you a chance to forget yourself, and start focusing on others. Even if it’s for a day, a morning, or an hour, I’ve always this sentiment to be true. And as a vegan dietitian, I don’t think it gets much better than serving and enjoying some delicious, cruelty-free food with my own community.

As happy as the holidays can be for humans, the same does not go for animals. Thanksgiving in particular permits us to stuff ourselves all day long, with a menu traditionally centered on meat and dairy. But if you’ve tasted the magic of Field Roast or some dairy-free ‘nog, you know that compassionate alternatives can more than satisfy a crowd. Verbatim quote from my omnivore friend who tagged along: “This is the best roast I have ever eaten. Period.”

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The good folks over at the (vegan) caterer make it possible for the community to enjoy holiday banquetwith a healthy side of compassion. Here’s some shots from the banquet!

(The following pictures were taken by Mark Rainha and edited by myself.)

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From left to right, we have marinated green beans and carrots; field roast slices with a mushroom and sage gravy; and cranberry-glazed tofu. Not pictured is the mashed sweet potato with torched dandies (vegan marshmallows). That night, I learned that it is incredibly difficult to remain calm and collected when the aroma of freshly torched dandies is wafting around!

Here’s Josh, the owner of the (vegan) caterer, torching those dandies.

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Dinner was served to over 100 guests at the Village Ballroom, a cozy venue in Northeast Portland.

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Look at those happy volunteers 🙂

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Here’s Judy Woods of the Pigs Peace Sanctuary, located just north of Seattle. She does amazing, selfless work rescuing pigs from all walks of life and has been doing so since 1994. The Sanctuary now houses over fifty pigs, who live in peace on 39 acres of woodland. They are free to foster natural relationships with their rescued friends, forage for food, and explore the land. I could go on and on about Pigs Peace, but I encourage you to click that link and read Judy’s own words.

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The banquet featured a raffle with prizes donated from companies all over town. In fact, $4082.90 was raised to benefit Judy’s nonprofit.

If you’re located in the Portland area and need some help with a holiday party, give the (vegan) caterer a try! They offer a wide array of services, from private event catering to individual meal preparation delivered to your doorstep. Wedding catering services are listed on their site and are very affordable. Josh has an extensive menu, ranging from Tex-Mex to the Far East. And don’t worry, there are plenty of desserts to go around.

:: What You Can Do To Make a Difference This Holiday Season ::

Serve Compassionate Food: The holidays are a perfect opportunity to incorporate cruelty-free food and drink into your traditional festivities! The Kitchn has some winter-specific recipes that I can’t wait to serve to my favorite people. Post Punk Kitchen is always a great resource for holiday recipes, as well. By serving cruelty-free food, you’ll be making a statement for how all beings can enjoy the holidays.

Reach Out to Causes That Need Your Help: Many local organizations are looking for a helping hand this holiday season.

  • Try VolunteerMatch.org to find a cause you might enjoy serving.
  • Search around your neck of the woods for smaller nonprofits who need help, or local companies trying to make their mark in the community.
  • Many local veggie organizations throw community dinners and serve to the homeless. Put Google to work and find some upcoming events near you.
  • If you own a  business, organize a canned (or other) food drive and offer promotions to customers. For example, three canned items might give someone $5 off a haircut.
  • If you live in the Portland area, one of my favorite organizations to promote is Northwest VEG. They always have something up their sleeve and are eager for volunteers.

That’s all, folks! I’ll be updating with some of my favorite things as the holidays start. While you’re waiting, how about you comment and tell me: how do you celebrate for the holidays? and do you have any favorite organizations you like to help during the winter season?

Spotlight on: DC Vegetarian Food Cart PDX

If you know anything about Portland, you’ll know that we’re pretty famous for our delectable and unique food carts. Seriously, the carts are a way of life here, and there’s one for every kind of craving you might have. The Food Network and Cooking Channel regularly feature Portland’s carts, too.

Some of my favorites include the Grilled Cheese Grill (and yes, they can make any one of their grilled cheeses vegan!), e-San Thai, Homegrown Smoker BBQ, and the Dump Truck — a truck devoted solely to dumplings. “Pods” are located in nearly all the neighborhoods around town, so you’re never far from a cheap, hot meal. Recent surveys estimate that we have over 600 carts in business!

I take that as a challenge.

Recently I visited DC Vegetarian Cart in SW Portland. I think the telltale sign of a successful vegan/vegetarian business is when it starts appealing to non-vegan consumers. If you read the Yelp reviews alone, herbivores and omnivores alike go crazy for DC’s offerings.

“I love this place like no other. They have never once disappointed me. The vegan cheesesteak with those thick chunks of seitan, the bacon cheeseburger with avocado, the daily soups, the italian sub…. every single item is worthy of some of your lesser friend’s lives.”

I concur.

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“This place is like looking into the future. Like if we stopped growing animals just to eat them. And instead people went vegan – DC WOULD BE WHAT THEY ATE. They would crave this dank veggie cheesesteak made of luscious seitan cubes and ooey gooey daiya with sauteed bell pepper and onion.”

You know how omnivores tend to pity you for not being able to eat things like cheeseburgers and cheese steaks and grilled cheese? Point them directly to DC. This is the cart where you can get the greasiest, saltiest, melt-in-your-mouth-and-make-you-want-to-sit-on-your-couch-in-food-bliss-for-a-week all American food. Philly cheese steak? Check. Double bacon cheeseburger? Give me that. Chicken salad, grilled cheese, Italian sub? They’ve got it all at DC Vegetarian.

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“No joke, I had a nightmare that it closed a few years back.”

I chose the bacon cheeseburger because I really needed that in my life, and I was not disappointed. The portion size was huge, and it only cost $6.50. Try not to drool.

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My favorite part was the tempeh bacon. I was expecting some fakin’ a la Morningstar, but these homemade marinated bacon strips were a delightful surprise. And eating it on the nearby waterfront on a sunny fall day made for a fantastic food cart experience.

I’ll definitely be back to try DC’s other lunch (and breakfast!) offerings.

VegFest 2013 and the Plant-Based Nutrition Conference

I had the pleasure of attending my first ever health conference as an actual health professional yesterday! The “Enhancing Health with Plant-Based Nutrition” conference was organized by Adventist Medical Center and Northwest VEG and was a great learning experience. Registered dietitians are required to earn 75 continuing education credits every five years to make sure we are continuing to learn in our field, and I had a lot of fun earning my first six! And as a vegan RD, I was so grateful that the Academy approved this lifestyle medicine conference for credit.

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Huge props to whoever organized the food for this event. I was fed a hearty breakfast of oatmeal with PB. Lunch was a delicious buffet of all gluten-free and vegan items, ranging from cashew cheese spread over millet and tempeh, to tacos with delicious guacamole and salsa. But dessert really took the cake –we were treated to raw raspberry cheesecake. Drool!

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Overheard: “But seriously, how much kale is too much?”

I really enjoyed the speakers at this conference. They spoke on a wide range of topics, from enhancing your brain health and preventing Alzheimer’s dementia with a plant-based diet, to one dietitian’s research in the Marshall Islands working with a population stricken with a diabetes epidemic. After hearing her tales of diabetes reversal and the new life and vigor these people have for plant-based nutrition, I was even more inspired to live my life as a joyful, vegan RD.

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I wrote down a few key points that stood out to me, so I’ll go over them briefly if you’re interested in evidence-based nutrition information:

1. 51% of American calories come from processed foods. It’s hard to remember that outside of the Portland bubble, where everyone seems to care about locally-grown, whole foods, there’s an entire nation of people who are still surviving off of factory-produced or imported food.

2. The average American consumes 12 cows, 25 hogs, and 2400 chickens in their lifetime.

3. Blue Zones, or geographic areas that have been identified as spots where people live significantly longer than the average human and have a better quality of life in their golden years, have specific lifestyle factors in common: strong family ties, non-smoking, plant-based diets, a habit of constant moderate activity, and healthy social engagement. Read more about Blue Zones here. Here are some research articles about how people following a plant-based diet have been shown to live longer and have less incidence of chronic disease (including cancer and heart disease): Adventist Health Study, AHS-2 Fraser, Crowe, & Huang et al.

Some of the specific patterns that have been isolated as promoting significantly higher risk of disease included red and processed meat consumption, refined grain consumption, and consuming foods rich in saturated fats such as sweets, desserts and french fries ( this was from the well-known Nurses’ Health Study, with fourteen years of data from over 69,000 nurses).

I was particularly shocked to read about heart disease reversal and diabetes reversal in the Marshall Islands. Type 2 DM is the number one cause of death on these islands, and 50% of the population who are over 35 years old have it. I can’t even wrap my head around that, but I fear that our country may see these numbers someday (right now about 8% of our population has diabetes). Brenda Davis, RD, of the Diabetes Wellness Project traveled to these islands and helped to integrate a lifestyle change of exercise, stress management, and a fully plant-based, low-glycemic load diet. The results? Within two weeks patients who couldn’t walk without pain were starting to walk to the end of the block and back. Blood tests became normal — in fact, one woman’s HbA1C went from 8.7 to 5.7 (if you’re a health professional, you know this is unheard of without medication!!). I was so impacted by this project and the word Brenda Davis has done with plant-based nutrition.

“Diabetes Wellness Program participants have overcome seemingly insurmountable mountains of Spam, donuts, ramen noodles and cola. They have managed to put together low-cost, healthful meals despite the high cost and poor quality of their produce. They have managed to do it with little education and marginal English skills. They have managed to do it with few gyms, no hiking trails and limited access to fitness facilities. These pioneers are providing a powerful example of health and healing for other Marshall Islanders. They are providing hope amid a deep sense of hopelessness.”

4. Curcumin (the extract from turmeric) really is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Check out my post on the turmeric-raspberry iced tea! Combining curcumin with pineapple for its bromelain, an enzyme, increases its absorption. This seems like a great excuse for some  Indian pineapple curry 🙂

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6. Areas of the world that have the highest incidence of multiple sclerosis are also the areas of the world that eat the most meat and dairy (aka, have a higher saturated fat intake). Read more about this here. Dr. McDougall is currently conducting a study through my alma mater, OHSU, support his and the late Dr. Swank’s theory that MS can be halted with a low saturated-fat and plant food based diet.

Phew!

After all the brain-power that went into this all-day conference, I couldn’t wait to attend Portland’s annual VegFest today! I love this event for so many reasons — the people are friendly and informative, the vegan foods and products (books, clothes, kitchen-ware, makeup and toiletries, etc.) are delightful, and…perhaps most importantly…the free samples are EVERYWHERE! I purposefully skipped my breakfast because I knew I would be heartily nourished 🙂 I think my favorite had to be the cashew crème fraîche with fig. I mean.

Of course, I couldn’t walk away without some treats. Apart from tasting about 9058723 samples of soups, kale chips, chocolates, vegan artisan cheeses, kombucha, power bars, popcorn mixtures, teas and coffees, I ended up with organic deodorant and an awesome zip up hoodie from Herbivore Clothing Company, a local and sustainable clothing and accessories shop in Portland. I can’t wait to check out their real location! Oh, and check out all those coupons and recipes!

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That’s all for today! Look for my upcoming post on how to replenish healthy gut flora after a bout with antibiotics (long story) in the next couple of weeks. And remember…

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Spotlight on: Canteen PDX

I had the pleasure of joining some of my dietitian friends for lunch yesterday at one of Portland’s best (in my humble opinion) neighborhood spots, Canteen. Serving all vegan and some raw foods, you can get your breakfast, lunch, and late afternoon smoothie fix all in one spot.

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Apart from being adorable, it was easy to find a spot to sit outside and the staff were friendly and helpful.
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I settled on the Walnut Taco Salad, which was a mouth-watering mashup of quinoa, greens, green onions, purple cabbage, and walnut taco crumbs, drizzled with a hefty dose of cashew nacho spread. I mean.
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I had originally been happy with the cucumber-infused water Canteen had on the counter, but once I tried my friend Ashley‘s Tropical Greens smoothie I had to have one of my own. It tasted like a pina colada, but had all the nutritional benefits of the kale, spinach, and coconut oil thrown in. I’ll have to try this one out at home!
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If you have the pleasure of living in this fabulous foodie city, get right over to Canteen. You won’t be disappointed!

The Weekend Edition: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach: home to the iconic Haystack Rock, and one of our nation’s most spectacular shores. It’s two hours from Portland, and you should be there right now.

Along with these pretty pictures comes the sad story of how I royally ruined a to-be camping trip by not making campsite reservations in advance. What was going to be a sunset on the beach and s’mores roasting over beach-side driftwood became, instead, a late-night rush to find a motel because there was no (legal) place to pitch a tent. After getting the boot by one Wright’s for Camping, which had promised to hold us a last-minute spot (do not go there), the lady and I decided to call it and were lucky enough to snag a discount rate at the McBee Cottages, where we slept soundly just a block from the beach. Bonus: they are pet friendly if your furry friend is taking a weekend trip with you!

Pro tip: finding a place to camp on the North end of the coast is hard! Most of the campsites that are actually on the beach are closed due to the dangers of old-growth trees falling down and injuring campers. We had planned to stay at Nehalem Bay, and then tried Camp Lookout after driving up to a full campground. No such luck. Everything was full, save for the RV parks–yeah, not happening. Take my word for it and make your reservations.

Nevertheless, waking up right in Cannon Beach was a surprise treat for these campers who were ready to rough it, and we spent the rest of the day exploring this and Smuggler’s Cove (located in Oswald West State Park, just a bit south of Cannon Beach), which has a plethora of hiking trails surrounding the beach. It might just be my favorite west coast sun spot. Here, take a look!

Just do it: Trail Running

It seems like everywhere I look, I see runners. Women, men, kids (at my last event, I might have been nearly outrun by a child of no more than ten), teenagers, old dudes, groups and independent trotters, all out in the heat and cold, rain and sun. And I’ll say it–there’s nothing like peer pressure to get you out there and running.

I usually run on the Willamette River Waterfront Park, which, aside from being flat and open, gives me a stunning view of the bridges in Portland and is simply gorgeous at any time of the day or night. You can run all the way down to the OHSU tram, or cross the Steel Bridge to the east side and run towards Sellwood.

But sometimes it’s nice to get out of the sun and reconnect with nature. Since our temperatures have been reaching the 80s recently, being under tree cover is also easier on the eyes and skin (but don’t forget to spend your 15 minutes outside to get some vitamin D!). Portland’s extensive Forest Park runs up and down the west side of town. It’s only two miles from where I live, and the trails cover over 70 miles! That’s a lot of running. I hit the Wildwood trail — it’s probably the most popular out of all of them, but at 4 pm on a Friday, I had the park nearly to myself.

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I also discovered that I’ve been doing it wrong — instead of maintaining a steady pace, it’s much easier to take advantage of the natural ebbing and flowing of a park trail. Sprinting the downhills and then using that momentum for the inclines was a much more efficient way to run the trail. And it was exhilarating to run that fast without worrying about other people being around. That’s because what I call running is, for me, mostly stumbling around.

Nevertheless, I highly encourage you all to check out your local park or forest and try a trail run. Bring water, watch out for rocks and roots, and be prepared for some delayed-onset muscle soreness (trail running works stability muscles that aren’t as necessary on a long, flat course). If you live in the Pacific Northwest, trail running will make you feel like you are living in Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest.

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Go run!

Portland’s Finest: The Mississippi Street Fair & Oregon Berry Festival

Portlanders have more fun.

There, I said it. And that, my friends, is a fact. Since moving here I’ve been delighted by the smiling faces, fun-loving, welcoming spirit that Portlanders have shown me. I never know when I’ll meet someone new, but I know that I look forward to it. Need proof? Fly, drive, bike, bus, walk….get here however you want to get here….and see for yourself.

Summer in Portland has been blossoming with fairs, concerts, festivals, craft beer debuts, quirky bar themes, karaoke…you name it, we’ve got it. Last weekend my friends and I went to the Mississippi Street Fair and the Oregon Berry Festival, in NE and NW Portland, respectively.

As any future RD worth her salt does, I love fresh berries. I was lucky enough to grow up in France, where visiting the markets meant picking up local berries ripe for eating, and I’ve had a love affair with raspberries ever since. At the Oregon Berry Festival, we were treated to all things berries: smoothies, huckleberry coffee, brambleberry cider, Hawaiian ice, and of course some hot-off-the-press red raspberry vodka and blackberry bourbon. Um, free samples please? IMGP9536-001

The Oregon Berry Festival was educational, and highlighted local growers and their contributions to our berry feasts.

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It just wouldn’t be Portland without a food cart of some kind!  IMGP9540-001

Typical.IMGP9542-001

Next up was the Mississippi Street Fair. How I love thee, street fairs of all shapes and sizes. The vendors! The food and drink! Being goofy with your friends because ten blocks of the main street has been closed!

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First stop: whiskey. Like I said…it just wouldn’t be Portland without it.IMGP9565-001

Ten blocks, my friends. That’s a lot of road to get through in a crowd like this!IMGP9546-001

That’s why we had to take a break at Bungalow Bar to sit in their hammocks.

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What I ate: this thoughtful cart offered vegan barbeque, which was a must. But somehow I ended up with a two-pound, soy curl and macaroni and cheese vegan burrito…

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…should have been more sensible and had this instead!

 

Summer is only half-finished, so take advantage of it wherever you are! Street fairs and local town celebrations can be a lot of fun, and are a great excuse to get out and eat, drink, and be joyful in the sunshine. Happy summer!