Friday, April 30, 2010

Organic Soy Scorecard

Also really interesting on the Cornucopia website- their Organic Soy Scorecard, which rates how various soy product companies stack up. Criteria for the ratings include ownership structure, percentage of organic soy bean purchases, organic certifiers, manufacturing, GMO contamination, and importantly, disclosure of source information. 

Be sure to check out the list for yourself and the full report, but for a brief summary for this blog, what companies came out on top? Eden Foods received the highest score, and companies that were rated "Excellent" or "Very Good" included Rhapsody Natural Foods, Tofurkey, Lifeway, Organic Valley, Whole Soy, and Nasoya.

At the bottoms of the soy bean barrel? "Poor" rated companies include household names Boca Burger, Gardenburger, Pacific Foods, Silk, White Wave, and Costco brand Kirkland.

Wow. As a concerned citizen and vegetarian, I'll be revising my shopping list from now on. Though I don't shop organic exclusively, still, it's just not cool to promote yourself as a responsible, organic company and not follow through with your business practices.

Hexane in Soy Protein?


Some will rip on soy because of the estrogen debate (Jeremy Piven- your drinking 12 cups of anything other than water, not just soy milk, will make you fat and give you those man boobs), but now we've got some more food additives for thought... hexane. What??

I recently read that research group Cornucopia Institute, which supports family-scale farming communities, has published a study stating that many non-organic soy bean products may contain trace amounts of the neurotoxin hexane, which is commonly used to separate the free fatty acids from soy beans during processing. From the sound of the article that reported these findings, much more testing still needs to be conducted, as the FDA has not studied the effects of ingested hexane in humans. Sounds like it might not be a big issue if you don't eat heavy amounts of soy products every day, but you never know- reading the full study would certainly be worth your while, and I know I'll check it out!

Piven- if experience has taught you anything, you probably shouldn't start consuming 12 packs of veggie burgers a day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

K! Pizzacone

Good. flippin. grief.

It's my own fault, really- as a born & bred New Yorker and thereby a harsh pizza critic, I'm not quite sure what I was thinking when I ordered a pizzacone. Probably the same thing I thought about belly shirts and plaid in the mid-90s, "ooh, novelty! How fun!" Though I might want to vomit looking at pictures from junior high now, at least they don't give me physical indigestion.

K! Pizzacone has been all over the NYC blog circuit, especially Midtown Lunch, and sure, when you get a new pizza gimmick in New York, you gotta say that's amore! Well, sorry Pizzacone, you get no love. I had to give it a shot just because, as I mentioned earlier, it's a novelty AND it's vegetarian. I should've known better by the empty store space, but after biting into a bland and crispless cone with equally bland tomato substance and watery cheese, I realized that I would've been better off with a slice from a grungy $1 pizza joint than a $5 trend that will hopefully go the way of those wacky plaid shirts from my adolescence.

Or Kolache Mama on 45th Street- thank goodness someone finally had the common sense to shut that place down too.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Pasta with Peas, Zucchini, and Goat Cheese

Having not gotten the spring veggie pasta dish that I wanted at Community, I decided to make my own! Using fresh rigatoni and avoiding anything truffle-y, I took on fresh peas, zucchini, lemon, and radicchio for this Sunday dinner. I like to lightly saute my veggies until just softened, but you can cook them longer. You can make this dish vegan and omit the goat cheese, but I thought the lemon-sauteed veggies and the tangy goat cheese crumbles made a great combo; if you're looking for an extra protein boost, saute your favorite veggie chick'n strips with the remaining lemon and serve over the pasta- I will post that chik'n recipe soon!

Having popped open a fruity bottle of Riesling, I'd highly recommend pairing the pasta with this or a similar vino. Now this is what spring dinners are made of! For real.

The Whats:

* 1/2 package of fresh rigatoni pasta (feel free to double everything if you're cooking for more than 2!)
* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 
* 1 large zucchini, cut into chunks
* 1 cup fresh peas (you can use frozen if you can't find fresh)
* 1/2 small head of radicchio, chopped
* juice of half a large lemon
* salt & pepper to taste
* a pinch of thyme
* 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

The Hows:

1) Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil; add the rigatoni and cook until al dente, about 5 to 8 minutes (if you've frozen the fresh pasta, allow 10 minutes). Drain and toss with some olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

2) As the pasta is cooking, heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the zucchini and peas to the pan; stir in the salt, pepper, thyme, and lemon juice and cook for about 8 minutes, or until just softened. Add the pasta to the skillet, toss to mix, and cook for an additional minute.

3) Spread chopped radicchio over plate; top with vegetable pasta mix. Sprinkle goat cheese over pasta dishes- if you prefer, you can use shredded Asiago or the like. Serves 2; if using all the pasta, serves 4.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earth Day Street Fair!

Like you need an excuse to get some sunshine on a Saturday afternoon?

The annual Earth Day street fair on Vanderbilt Avenue drew crowds, as it does every year. Free samples of Sambazon and Larabar, copies of publications like Vegetarian Times, Yoga, and Mother Jones, vegan/vegetarian information stands, eco-friendly fashion and skincare booths, and demos from companies making green efforts, like Toshiba, Toyota, and Vespa:

Hope you guys got a chance to walk around and check it out!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Community Food and Juice

Love or hate the swarming Columbia students and the university's ever expanding border, Morningside Heights is a great place to eat- Indian, Ethiopian, French, Italian, Greek, Korean, Japanese, new American, BBQ, and Hungarian (well, the Hungarian Pastry Shop, but a favorite of mine nonetheless!) cafes are all yours for the eating. I've got my faves- Max Soha, Massawa, Le Monde, The Mill, Silver Moon Bakery, and Kitchenette- but of course when I walked by the modern-looking Community Food and Juice, touting a local and organic menu with several vegetarian options, I had to take a look.

And not just to get a prime view of the Columbia frat boy trying to hide his keg from the cops... in a shopping cart. Clearly, an honors student.

I'd read about long waits at this resto, but we didn't experience the crowd; probably because we wanted to sit outside and there was just a slight chill remaining in the April air. During our short wait, I paid entirely too much for a Ginger Palmer cocktail- sorry Community, but unless Sasha Petraske is behind the bar, you should not be charging your patrons $14 a cocktail!

But after a few sips, all was temporarily forgiven- isn't that always the case after a cocktail? We ordered a sweet potato soup and some eggplant and asparagus tempura for appetizers. I wasn't sure what to expect from the sweet potato soup- normally, when I've seen sweet potato soup on a menu, it's always paired with a spice (Sweet Potato with Tarragon Oil) or another vegetable (Sweet Potato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup), and after sampling Community's basic soup, their title really did sum it up- it's just pureed sweet potatoes with vegetable broth. In the competitive NYC dining scene where every chef is looking for a creative combination and an equally jaw-dropping way to present their dish, I was surprised by this choice- but then again, sweet potato has so much flavor, you really don't need to do much to it. It was the same with our vegetable tempura- with fresh asparagus and eggplant served up with a shiitake soy sauce, you really don't want to add excessive flavors. And though tasty, I just couldn't get past how basic our appetizers were- part of the fun in dining out is that you'll try things you normally wouldn't, or couldn't, make at home, right?

And as our entrees were brought out, we realized that all the flavor the chef might've put into our appetizers ended up in our entrees instead. And too much so- my boyfriend's mussels were swimming in a butter sauce spiked with all too many jalapenos. As for me, I had chosen my entree- truffled spring pea ravioli with a lemon butter sauce and microgreens- because I specifically loved the idea of those spring flavors. But with copious amount of truffle oil in the ravioli, I thought I could've been noshing on green truffle ravioli. The light, lovely flavor of the mashed peas was completely overwhelmed by the truffle oil. The lemon sauce attempted to balance the dish, but what a shame- the spring element was just lost on this entree.

On a brighter note, my honey's sweet potato fries were cut thick and just fried enough to perfection- we used the excessive lemon sauce from my ravioli to dip the fries in (because really, ketchup does NOT cut it for sweet potato fries). Though there were several other vegetarian dishes on the menu, I'm not sure how willing am I to revisit Community to sample them- the overpriced cocktail should've been a warning sign, but you'll overpay for food that is just okay. I can always appreciate when a restaurant stresses their fresh, local ingredients, but stick with other Morningside restos and save this one for the Columbia kids with Mom & Dad's credit card.

Community Food & Juice, 2893 Broadway, between 112th and 113th Streets, 212-665-2800

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"For Earth Day, 7 New Rules to Live By"

In the 40 years since the founding of Earth Day, we've come a long way in understanding our environment and how we can reduce our impact on it; and by always questioning what we can do better, we've continued to expand on that understanding and implement change. So it makes sense that a new book by early eco crusader Stewart Brand does just that. Whole Earth Discipline attempts to bring new questions to environmental activists, like the myths of genetically modified food, the effects of green energy, and current beliefs on climate change. Read more here; sounds like an eye-opening read!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Beware Agave Nectar

 I'm not one for regular product scares, but after reading this Huffington Post article, I'm definitely thinking twice before buying agave syrup again!

Though it's marketed as the "healthier" and "natural" alternative to artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, let's be real- when any product is mass marketed, there's always a chance that the health benefits fall off the wagon during the manufacturing process. Consider:

"In spite of manufacturer's claims, most agave "nectar" is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from its pineapple-like root bulb[i]. The root has a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of fructose molecules.
The process which many, if not most, agave producers use to convert this inulin into "nectar" is VERY similar to the process by which cornstarch is converted into HFCS1.
Though processing methods can differ among manufacturers, most commercially available agave is converted into fructose-rich syrup using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals[ii]. Here is a partial list of the chemicals many producers use:
Activated charcoal
Cationic and ionic resins
Sulfuric and/or hydrofluoric acid

Inulin enzymes
How natural does this sound?
The result is highly refined fructose syrup, along with some remaining insulin. Most agave "nectar" is neither safe nor natural with laboratory-generated fructose levels of more than 80 percent!

Definitely read some of the facts in this article and decide for yourself!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Roasted Carrot & Parsnip Salad

Inspired by a dish I thoroughly enjoyed in San Fran, I decided to say goodbye to my beloved winter root veggies before embracing all the (equally beloved) spring and summer veggies! I wanted sweet, briny, and earthy flavors all in the same bowl, and though this worked as a main meal for me, it makes a great accompaniment to a veggie burger, a spring pea soup, or some fresh rosemary focaccia! If you can find currants, they'd really work well with this salad- I couldn't find currants in my grocery store and used cranberries instead.

The Whats:

* 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
* 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
* 2 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tsp. herbs de provence
* salt and pepper to taste
* 3 cups spring salad mix (you can also use bagged spring mix salad if you like)
* 1/3 cup cranberries
* 1/4 cup capers
* 1 medium red onion, sliced
* 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

* Dressing: 2 tbsp. lemon juice, 2 tbsp. olive oil, dash of black pepper, pinch of tarragon

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss parsnip and carrot pieces with the olive oil, salt & pepper, and herbs de provence until coated. Spread veggies over a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until vegetables are very tender. Remove from oven and allow veggies 10 to 15 minutes to cool.

2) In a medium salad bowl, add the spring mix, cranberries, capers, and onion slices. Top with roasted veggies and toss once to just mix. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, pepper, and tarragon in a small bowl, and pour over salad. Top salad with breadcrumbs and serve.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

VegNews: Vegan on a Budget

As I bemoaned in my review of Terri, sometimes veggie products don't come cheap. Which is all the more reason I'm reposting this "Vegan on a Budget" article I read on the VegNews website.

Vegan on a Budget

Think plant-based diets aren’t an affordable way to live in our cash-strapped society? Two words: drop biscuits.

By Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Even before the most recent economic downturn, myths have existed that vegan diets are too expensive and time consuming to be accessible to mainstream America. It's true that health-food store prices certainly aren't affordable for everyone, and they often don't exist at all in small-town America. If you're struggling to support yourself financially, let alone nutritionally, never fear: From cutting coupons to crafting a discerning supermarket eye, these tips and tricks will keep you laughing all the way to the bank.

Homemade Aides
With just a dash of creativity and a pinch of forethought, eating nutritious, affordable food is an option open to everyone. The most frequent complaint people make is that they don't have time to eat and cook healthfully, but if we were really honest, we'd realize it has less to do with the time we're lacking and more to do with a lack of effort. If we have time to pack the family into the car, drive to a restaurant, wait for a table, decide what to order, wait for the food, pay the bill, and drive back home, then we have time to make a delicious, inexpensive meal at home. For fast-food addicts, consider how much healthier a serving of 10-minute rice is than a greasy, unsatisfying carton of French fries.

Cooking By The Book
Baking mixes that come in a box cost an awful lot for what you get—flour, sugar, and baking powder. After calculating the cost of making homemade biscuits, we found that it only costs a mere $1.15 for 12 biscuits—that's 10 cents a biscuit! Why not dazzle friends and family with a fantastic batch of down-home Drop Biscuits? At 10 cents a pop, you could still spring for multi-purpose non-hydrogenated margarine to spread on top! That's just one example. As a rule, it costs far less to build a meal (desserts included) from whole, nutrient-rich plant foods than it does from animal-based products.

Supermarket Mayhem
Dried goods from the bulk bins in grocery stores such as pasta, brown rice, flour, oatmeal, lentils, beans, herbs, and spices are infinitely less expensive than buying packaged, processed, and pre-cooked versions. When it comes to cooking or baking, nothing beats starting from scratch, in terms of taste and cost. If your local grocery stores or bargain warehouses don't afford you the luxury of bulk bin shopping, scour shelves for off-brand whole grain items instead of opting for name brands—because really, oatmeal is oatmeal, no matter its packaging. While buying fresh, locally grown produce is obviously ideal, it may not always be economical. If you're hankering for a veggie stir-fry but can't afford the produce, consider stocking up on frozen vegetables that keep much longer than their fresh counterparts.

Bang For Your Buck
While discussing the nutritional, ethical, and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, it's essential to emphasize that whole foods don't have to leave you cash-strapped. The best way to get the most bang for your buck is to choose nutrient-dense foods. When we eat "empty calories" (foods and beverages that have the same energy content of any other calorie but devoid of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and fiber), we spend precious calories (and dollars) and receive no benefit in return. If you base your diet around cheap, fibrous produce, such as onions, mushrooms, and broccoli, and ultra-filling whole grains, you'll remain satiated, happy, and healthy.

Want more money-saving tips? Check out our brand-new blog, Savvy Abby!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Want More Earth Month Events?

FYI Friendly Veg readers, for the most comprehensive listing of Earth Month events going on in NYC, visit the EDay 40 website and look at the killer April Events page. From film screenings (Earth Girls Are Easy Cabaret Cinema?), to workshops on composting, urban gardening, and green fashion and crafts, to hikes in the city, to fairs and festivals, you'll definitely find something on this list that you'll want to participate in!

In addition to April being Earth Month, let's not forget that April is also National Soy Foods Month! I'm not sure what I'd do without soy milk and veggie burgers, but do your part for those who are less enlightened and make 'em a fantastic veggie dish that'll keep 'em guessing "is it meat or is it soy?"

Eat up, my fellow veggies! This is our month to pass the plates and spread the word!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April Events

April is Earth Month, so expect lots of eco-friendly events happening around the city!

Friday, April 9th

Cupcake Camp NYC- 7pm to 9:30pm at Happy Ending, 302 Broome Street.  An event that puts "cupcakes" and "free" in the same sentence is an event worth checking out! This kickoff will have attendees judge the cupcakes of some of NYC's best home bakers.

Friday, April 9th through Thursday, May 15th

Fresh: The Movie- 6pm and 8pm screenings at the Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th Street, $11. In the line of Food Inc., Fresh is a film that examines the sustainable food movement. Screenings feature a Q&A after the movie; guests include Jared Koch of Clean Plates NYC and Chef Mario Batali.

Saturday, April 10th

Greenpoint Food Market- 12pm to 5pm at Church of the Messiah, 129 Russell Street, BK. Go along with the spring awakening theme and awaken your tastebuds (vegan granola bars!) at this monthly market featuring a variety of Brooklyn purveyors.

Urban Wildlife Appreciation Day- 11:30am - 3pm at Fort Tryon Park, Cloisters Lawn, free. Yes, there's more to wildlife in NYC than pigeons and roaches. Learn about squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, skunks, eagles and more.

Sunday, April 11th

'sNice Benefit- 6pm to 9pm at 'sNice, 45 8th Avenue, $10/door. From 'sNice: Two of our favorite 'sNice employees were stabbed last month. Please help us help them by joining us for drinks and food to help raise some money for Fernando and Carlos. Buy a raffle ticket to win art donated by our generous neighbors. $10 donation at the door. Expect booze, vegan piggies in a blanket, veggie sushi and more!

Tuesday, April 13th

GreenDrinks NYC- 6pm to 10pm at The Park, 118 10th Avenue, $20/door. The established eco-networking group hosts speed networking, an Earth Day trivia game, and appetizers and drinks at this month's meetup.

Thursday, April 15th

Fry it, Don't Diet: Vegan Donuts- 6:30pm at Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, 100 Frost Street, BK, $50. A  hands-on workshop where you'll make your own vegan, New Orleans style beignets. Yum!

Saturday, April 17th

2nd Annual ASPCA Block Party- 8am to 3pm at the Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza, BK. Free microchipping, vaccinations, ID tags, spaying and neutering for your furry bestie, along with free food, a DJ, and animal face-painting for kids.  Go Orange in April for animals!

Green Schools NYC 2010 Resource Fair- 10am to 5pm at MLK Educational Complex, Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street, free. Very cool- a student hosted event to raise environmental awareness and build the green schools movement. Actor Matthew Modine is a keynote speaker and the Sundance award winning film, Dirt, will be screened.

Sunday, April 18th

Earth Day Eco-Trek- 12pm in Pelham Bay Park, Bruckner Blvd and Wilkinson Ave, BX, free. Celebrate spring and pay respects to Mother Earth with an extended, guided hike throughout Pelham Bay Park, organized by the Urban Park Rangers.

Monday,  April 19th through Saturday, April 24th

EDay 40 at Grand Central Terminal- featuring exhibits on the green future of NYC and green technology in Vanderbilt Hall to an art and music festival on Vanderbilt Avenue, Grand Central is worth visiting even if you're not rushing to take Metro North!

Thursday, April 29th

Vegan Drinks- 7pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street, free. The monthly meetup where you can connect with- and drink with- fellow vegans and promote vegan activism.

Ongoing Saturdays in April

4 Course Vegan- location available to those who RSVP, $40. The concept is simple- bringing together both vegans and non-vegans for dinner and discussion at an underground dinner party in Williamsburg. Chef Matteo Silverman elevates the notion of vegan fine dining (check out the lush sounding menus!) and it sounds like a great way to meet other compassionate diners.

Ongoing in April

Vicky and Lysander- 7pm and 9pm on Thursdays through Sundays at GrandOpening, 139 Norfolk Street, $40. Veg-friendly (that is, hearty soul food sides and dessert) interactive dinner party? It's all good in my book. Fictional hipster couple Vicky and Lysander host this BYOB dinner party where you might start out as strangers, but after random games, dancing, and dinner convo, you might just leave with more friends than you started your evening with!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vegan Pastitsio

At the risk of offending some readers, I really don't get why people go overboard with meat dishes on Easter. Some will claim that they fast before Easter, but clearly, everyone has a different definition of "fasting"... it's one thing to go veg for 40 days or to eat just one meal a day, but skipping meat only on Fridays should be renamed "cop-out." It seems to me that that's not much of a sacrifice or a fast!

Cooking dinner for Greek Easter- normally a day of roasting a lamb on a spit and eating heavy meat dishes like moussaka or pastitsio- required a little extra thought and a little experiment.

Hypothesis: though traditions are hard to break away from, would anyone notice if their pastitsio contained some non-traditional soy ground instead of beef?

Conclusion: After my boyfriend's parents excitedly cleared their plates, I learned that tradition is definitely something that needs to be messed with!

A thick hollow bucatini-like pasta is commonly used in this baked pasta casserole dish- if you can't visit Titan in Astoria, or any other Greek supermarket, you can use elbow macaroni, as I did! For a sweeter surprise to this dish, use regular soy milk to make the bechamel sauce- otherwise, go with unsweetened soy milk.

The Whats:

* 1 1b. bag of whole wheat elbow pasta
* 2 tbsp. soy butter or olive oil
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 1 large garlic clove, minced
* 1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
* 2 bags vegan Boca crumbles
* 1 8oz. can tomato sauce
* 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon (plus more to taste if you like cinnamon!)
* salt & black pepper to taste
* 3/4 cup vegan parmesan
* 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

For soy bechamel:
* 4 tbsp. soy butter
* 1/4 cup all purpose flour
* 2 cups unsweetened soy milk, at room temperature
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp. salt
* 1/2 tsp. white pepper

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions or until al dente; drain.  Add the butter or olive oil to the pasta and stir to coat. Set aside.

2) While pasta is cooking, heat the 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions, garlic, and parsley and saute until softened. Crumble the veggie ground into the pan and stir. Add the tomato sauce, salt & pepper, and cinnamon, and stir until veggie ground is coated. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) To make soy bechamel sauce:  Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in soy milk. Add the bay leaf and cook until thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in seasonings and discard bay leaf.

4) Brush a large baking dish with olive oil. Spread half the elbow pasta on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the vegan parmesan over the pasta layer; dust with some extra cinnamon if desired. Cover pasta layer with the veggie ground mixture. Spread the remaining pasta over the veggie ground layer. Pour soy bechamel over the pasta, spreading with a spatula to coat evenly, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining vegan parmesan.

5) Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown on top. Allow pastitsio to stand for ten minutes before slicing.

Serve with a Greek salad and some vino!

Friday, April 2, 2010


Work had me up, down, and across town all week, but in the process, I found a great vegan sandwich spot that I'd love to share!

Is it a coincidence that vegan sandwich shop, Terri, is located on 23rd Street between the Institute for Culinary Education and a New York Health and Racquet Club?  I think not.

I've visited Terri twice now, and enjoyed a buffalo chicken sandwich (which totally hit the spot with the right amount of spice in a foccacia sandwich and with balanced portions of veggies and chicken), and a Bacon Cheddar Chik'n sandwich (yummy- apologies for the camera phone picture!) Alright, not the healthiest choices by any means- just because something is vegan doesn't mean it's healthier- but personally, I'm always intrigued by the different varieties and textures of soy-based "meats" and "cheeses", and I was definitely eager to see how their selection stacked up against other veggie places in the city. Suffice to say, you'll get your sandwich fix at Terri for whatever you're craving!

Terri gets a shoutout for fast service, and a good selection of veganized sandwich classics, like meatball subs, chickpea tuna melts, and quesadillas with Daiya cheese, along with salads, vegan cupcakes and brownies, and fresh juices and smoothies. The only downside? The fact that a sandwich comes out to $8.50. I don't want to echo the typical American attitude of "big portion size for my buck", because I know soy products don't come cheap. But if I were to do lunch in midtown for $8.50, I could get a big stuffed falafel pita with sweet potato and corn salad at Crisp, a veggie soup and sandwich combo at Hale & Hearty, or two veggie sides with salad and naan at any Indian joint. It's the same reason I don't frequent any of the Pret franchises- why would I spend $8.50 on a sandwich that I could easily make at home?

Though I'm ever the advocate of brown-bagging my lunch, the next time I'm the mood to spend for a tasty sandwich, Terri, that $8.50 is yours.

Terri, 60 W. 23rd Street near 6th Avenue, 212-647-8810