Sunday, February 21, 2010

Uncommon Ground

Greetings Vegecagoans. I'm pretty proud to say I've had an unusually productive Sunday. I did a bit of packing in anticipation for my move back to Lakeview, preceded by some Power Yoga with Rodney Yee on DVD and a brief encounter with the elliptical machine. This is what happens when one is powered by tofu (and half a pot of coffee).

On Super Bowl Sunday I had the absolute pleasure of going to brunch with Ali and Megan at Uncommon Ground in Wrigleyville. It was Ali's idea but I've been meaning to check this place out for a while. To put it briefly we LOVED Uncommon Ground. The restaurant, which has a second location in Edgewater, is a Stiletto Stoner's dream. The whole dining concept here is based on sustainable and organic ingredients whenever possible. They are committed to the community (from hosting local musicians to displaying local artists' work for sale around the restaurant) and a low carbon footprint. The Edgewater location even has beehives on its roof! I am mildly obsessed with bees and colony collapse disorder, so I'm always excited about local beekeepers.

Anyway, back to the brunch experience: when we first walked in we saddled up to the coffee bar to kill time while we waited to be seated. It made me feel like less of an addict that Ali and Megan were just as eager for coffee as I was. We sipped the delicious coffee and admired the work of a local graphic designer on the walls, the large fireplace and spacious lodge-inspired lounge area, where there were about one million babies waiting in strollers but miraculously none of them were crying. Not a peep. Is Uncommon Ground magic?

When we were seated, the waiter was very knowledgeable and helped me pick out a vegan veggie burger with sweet potato fries. I give this veggie burger a 10...this is exactly what they are supposed to taste like. I've never met a sweet potato I didn't like, so the fries get a 10 as well.

I took a bite of the burger before I remembered to snap a photo.

Hey Chicago it just started to snow!

Product of the Day: For you coffee fiends, please head straight to Caribou Coffee and get yourself a reusable coffee sleeve. I have the grey felt sleeve (pictured). Yes, it costs $4.99 but think about how self-righteous you can justifiably be when you are not using those disposable sleeves. Just a small warning: the people at Caribou are totally prepared for this and will gladly accomodate the use of your coffee sleeve, but at Starbucks they will just make fun of you. Learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl!!!

Before I settle in with some vegan beer and guacamole this afternoon, I had to share my favorite commercial of all time:

Tubers are tubular

My cousin Alisa and I were discussing the merits of sweet potatoes last weekend, and I realized that I eat them far too infrequently considering how tubular they are. Nothing against good old Russet potatoes, but pretty much every traditional potato dish can be re-made deliciously with sweet potatoes: mashed, baked, French fries, even just can't go wrong with a sweet potato.

Caution: Vegecagoan is going to be a bit educational today.

For this post I did a little research on the nutritional value of Russet potatoes and sweet potatoes. Check out the comparison of some of my fave nutrients:

Source: Nutrition Data ( which apparently trademarked the term "Estimated Glycemic Load
" or "eGL." But I made this chart myself!!!

Contrary to popular belief, partly due to that crazy Atkins phase Americans went through around the millennium, Russet potatoes are not "bad" for you. It is true that sweet potatoes are stars when it comes to fiber, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, but other than that they are quite similar to their friend Russet.

I expected the eGL of the sweet potato to be lower than it is. Estimated Glycemic Load™ is Nutrition Data's take on the glycemic index. A higher number means that when you consume a certain food, your blood sugar spikes. This is not good. Ideally you want to keep your blood sugar levels consistent throughout the day, or at least on a smooth trajectory. This prevents a ton of bad outcomes, ranging from sleepiness (a mental "crash") to breakouts. As a reference point, a serving of tofu has a eGL of about 2. This is very good.

That's enough for today. Now please don't make fun of me if you witness me succumb to the temptation of regular white French fries.

Quick recipe that you can easily remember: Cut a sweet potato into slices. Lay the slices flat on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh pepper. You might also try a little paprika. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Full disclosure: the tuber in the picture is actually a yam (and that's tempeh in the bottom left corner). It turns out that the yam is not the nutritional powerhouse that its döppelganger is, but I didn't know this when I was cooking earlier this week. Choose sweet potatoes...learn from my mistakes.

Product of the Day: Another Giovanni product...Giovanni Invigorating Conditioner - Tea Tree Triple Treat conditioner. I've been using this for about a week, in combination with semi-weekly treatments of NutraFix Hair Reconstructor. My bathroom is quickly filling up with Giovanni products. Great products, great prices, no critters.