Category Archives: New York

Healthful Fast Food

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I really like Mark Bittman. His cookbook  How To Cook Everything Vegetarian taught me how to make eggplant that is not too chewy, slimy, mushy, or oily (dry fry it whole until the flesh collapses!); applesauce ideas (add savory flavor like garlic, cumin, or pepper!); and so much more. I regularly refer to his 2009 article “101 Simple Salads”. So of course I was happy to read his current NY Times Magazine article  “Yes, Healthful Fast Food is Possible. But Edible?”.

I’ve been thinking about the differences in fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, which I never go to, and places like Chipotle, Potbelly’s, or Panera Bread, which I go to on occasion. I don’t have the illusion that the latter restaurants are healthful, but they do seem to be better than the former. (Plus they have vegetarian options on the menu). It was interesting to read the categories these restaurants fall into- quick serve, fast casual, premium fast casual…

I agree that food does not have to be vegetarian to be healthful, and that minimally processed foods are better options than imitation meats. I disagree, though, with his vegan friends’ argument that Americans aren’t ready for rice and beans, or chickpea and spinach stew. I think that a fast food restaurant, I mean, a fast casual or premium fast casual restaurant, that served quick lunches like that would be a hit! I would much rather have a stew, salad, or casserole made with vegetables, beans, and grains over an imitation meat product.

What are your thoughts?

New York Public Library

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One feature of my trip to Haiti was a 24 hour layover in New York. During that day, I visited the library and toured a current exhibit (through March 4, 2012!) called Celebrating 100 Years. This exhibit included a Gutenberg Bible, a diary and harmonica that belonged to Jack Kerouac, a notebook from Malcolm X, an Audobon bird book (about 4 feet tall!) the Declaration of Independence, handwritten by Thomas Jefferson, Mein Kampf (in German), Karl Marx’s Das Kapital  (in Russian), a first edition print (only 17 in existence) of the Star-Spangled Banner, complete with typo, and much more.

Libraries are important meeting, studying, researching and gathering places. They are an equalizer, allowing everyone free access to books, Internet, and other resources. The New York library is also like a free museum in the architecture and interior painting, decor, and exhibits.

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with libraries. I would go to story hour and check out puppets and books when I was a kid. The first book I read by myself, Fun Wherever We Are, was a library book. I read hundreds of Babysitters Club books when I was a little older. I completed research papers through college and found music for my wedding at the library. I simply would not be the same person I am today without the existence of libraries.

Unfortunately, the Chicago Public Library system has announced that Chicago Public libraries will now be closed on Mondays due to Mayor Emmanuel’s nearly $7 million budget cut for the libraries. This is not something that is unique to Chicago. Libraries all over the country are closing or running on reduced funding and minimal staff. I understand that it is due to the recession; however, in a time where the public has less money, public programs should receive more funding. Libraries support people looking for jobs, trying to pass tests, and struggling through school. I’m not asking people to donate money or for a public outcry. Just a reminder, if you haven’t been to your local library for a while, check it out. You might be surprised. And if you live in New York or will be passing through before the end of March, I highly recommend stopping by to see the exhibition.