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10 Common Foods That Smell Worse Than Durian

Published April 28, 2020 by Maryanne

DurianAlmighty Durian — The King of All Fruit! 

I’ve been a serious durian eater for almost 20 years. I first heard of durian when I was a raw foodist back in the day. I learned that the durian has more vitamins than any other fruit. And that it was absolutely delicious, but had a strange smell.

The first time I tried it, it was durian “ice cream” at a raw food restaurant in NYC. Since it was frozen, it had no smell. I even asked my guest, “Does it smell?” No, it didn’t. A short time after that, I got a real durian, in China Town. That’s when I realized it did have a bit of an odd smell, but it didn’t stop me from waiting for the fruit to defrost and dig in!

Durian is the most delicious thing you can imagine! It has the consistency of custard, and tastes like a cross between hazelnut, vanilla, banana, with a tinge of onion. Weird, but it works! Durian is absolutely addicting. Because of the vitamin content, you’ll be high for hours after eating one (or some of it, as there is truly a lot of fruit pudding in each pod!)

After I first broke my durian cherry, I was so hooked I was hoofing it to China Town once a week, carrying three with me on the bus home. Yes, it’s true, I had a three-per-week durian habit. Friends said I was like a crack addict when it came to durians. I loved them so much, I had one tattooed on my inner calf. And to this day, only one stranger approached me and asked, “Is that a durian?” No one else knows what it is. But it works when I’m in an Asian market, because the workers do not understand what I want until I show them my tattoo. Then they laugh and direct me to the fish area where everything is on ice.

It’s rare to meet a fellow durian lover. I’ve tried recruiting people, but the best comment I’ve heard was from my mother, “I like it, but I don’t love it.” People are mainly turned off by the smell. The durian has been compared to paint cleaner, a gas leak, and even garbage. Yeah, it’s true. Sometimes I’ll pass garbage in NYC and start dreaming about durian.

Okay, I get it, I won’t eat durian around anyone. But why do people get so bent out of shape with the mere mention of a durian? First thing out of their mouths, “It smells.” How original! (Note sarcasm!)

So, since people are so quick to judge my durian, let me put it out there that there are foods that stink worse–and YOU eat them! Yes, it’s true, and here they are in no particular order….

  1. Cold Cuts (aka lunch meat). There’s not much that makes me gag more than lunch meat. It has a nasty stench that makes you think it was slivered off the animal right then and there. This is what I’d imagine a dead person to smell like before embalming.
  2. Cheese. If it’s so accepted for stinky cheese to be good, then lay off my durians!
  3. Chinese Food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chinese food–the dishes that are more on the plain side, like brown rice, moo shu, or vegetable lo mein. But what is that horrific sauce that is orange? The smell is so strong it knocks me over.
  4. Vinegar. First of all, I LOVE vinegar. When it’s on a salad, you barely notice that it stinks. But when people use it in their hair, or if a bottle breaks — hold your nose! Vinegar smells like dirty feet.
  5. Hot Dogs. If you think hot dogs smell good, you are thinking of the onions and sauerkraut toppings. A regular hot dog boiling is similar to what I described above for cold cuts. Blech!
  6. Tomato Juice. I was once seated at a lecture next to a woman who was drinking tomato juice. Now that was an unforgettable foul smell.
  7. Fish. This is one 90 percent will agree with.
  8. Alcohol. This is why I don’t like to dine out. If there’s a bar, you can smell stale alcohol and it ruins your appetite. It’s as if it’s stuck in the wood; even in the fanciest of restaurants, that diseased smell exists.
  9. Coffee with milk and sugar that is sitting around. Don’t get me wrong on this one, fresh-brewed hot, black, coffee is one of the greatest smells. But, cold coffee with milk and sugar, just hanging around for over an hour, has a smell that can make you gag.
  10. Cigarettes. Okay, this isn’t a food, but the way some people are addicted, it might as well be one of the food groups to them. And they are the worst stench of all! There is nothing sexy about cigarettes. When I see someone in the street smoking, I will cross the street just to avoid them. If I’m exposed to your cigarette smoke, I should be allowed to kill you. (That’s a joke).

What foods do you find most offensive? Share in the comment section below!  

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

COVID-19 Health & Safety in Health Food Stores

Published April 6, 2020 by Maryanne

Health Food -- My coconut wrap, arugula, avo, tomato, coconut cheeseCoconut wrap with avocado. tomato, and arugula 

Yesterday I had a horrible experience in a health food store. The owner sent me an email apologizing, so I won’t “name and shame” but I think it’s important to share my experience in case others have something similar happen to them. And I made a promise to myself to never support them again after what went down.

First, this is MY POLICY…

Beginning today, I am no longer supporting mom and pop “health” food stores who do not respect the boundaries of COVID19. This includes: 1. Cashiers/managers and other workers NOT social distancing. 2. Stores that do not sanitize their carriages; 3. Store that have a “policy” for CUSTOMERS to wear those vinyl/latex gloves because they are unsanitary when used incorrectly; 4. Stores that do not clean their parking lots that are filled with said gloves discarded on the ground.

Now, my bad experience…

There’s a health food store I’ve favored for over a decade. They had everything. Great produce, mineral make-up, toiletries, and perfume that doesn’t test on animals (I’ve used cruelty free products since 1996), and even a great selection of incense.

Two weeks ago, I noticed they had vinyl gloves for customers to wear to shop. These types of gloves never sat well with me. In fact, I think they are disgusting. Nevertheless, I put a pair on and within seconds I was pulling them off because I could feel my sensitive skin reacting to them. I tossed them in the garbage. I shopped, then afterwards I went to my car and noticed these gloves were discarded all over the lot. The store didn’t take care to clean up and put them in the garbage. I found this to be vile and was proud of myself for not participating in the glove thing.

Yesterday I went back to the store and now it was mandatory that customers had to wear gloves. I told a cashier that I couldn’t wear them because last week they made my hands red.

Well, she took it upon herself to come out from behind her cash register and scold me — two feet away from me! Not at all social distancing. Now I was freaking out because I knew this person was a smoker and not in the best of health. Even though I’m very healthy, I didn’t want her to pass it to me, if she had it, then I might pass it to someone else who isn’t very healthy! So not cool.

At this point, I’d also like to say, that this store does not sanitize their carriages. This is something that never bothered me before. I am not a germ phobic, but now with COVID19, I can’t…

Anyway, I told her I was going to contact the owner of the store because she was harassing me. She went nuts and told the manager of the make-up department that I was going to tell on her. What a big baby! The make-up manager wasn’t much better in insisting that I wear the gloves. It made no difference to her when I said I was a professional writer/author and I couldn’t afford to have my hands get red, itchy, or whatever else would happen because two weeks ago I had a bad reaction to the vinyl gloves. Did she give a shit? No. Instead the two women continued to behave like scary, uptight school marms as they went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about “store policy.”

I was like, “forget it,” and left. Without groceries.

Then I called one of their other stores to speak to the owner. He wasn’t there but another manager told me I could go back into the store wearing WINTER GLOVES.

REALLY?! WINTER GLOVES?! That is even more unsanitary! I practically laughed in her face.

I left feeling defeated. It was a 25-minute drive and now I had no groceries for the week. When I got home, I researched and found this wonderful article from Men’s Health: You Shouldn’t Be Wearing Gloves To Go Grocery Shopping

I smiled to myself and posted this on Facebook. A nurse friend said the article is correct. Being right was cool, but it didn’t take away from the drama of being yelled at by two misinformed puppets who seemed to take a sadist delight in ganging up on a friendly, happy, petite, attractive woman. It was an extreme level of catty I haven’t experienced in a long time; from two mean women who were stuck in a go-nowhere job. Perhaps they were pissed that they had to work during the COVID19 pandemic. But that is not my problem. They should take it up with their boss.

The incident took it’s toll on me and I had a headache since last night. This is when I realized, you can’t call a place a health food store when it’s stressing you out, because STRESS IS NOT HEALTHY!

Later that day, my husband took me to Whole Foods. Over the years I had my issues with that store too, but to my surprise, the way they were handing things was impressive. They had customers lined up outside, letting people in as others left. Everyone was politely standing six feet apart. The wait wasn’t bad at all, especially since it was a gorgeous spring day.

Inside some were disobeying the six feet rule, but my immune system is pretty stellar so I wasn’t worried. Especially their mouths were covered with masks and they weren’t scolding me, so no accidental spit was coming out of their mouths like how some people get when they yell.

When I paid, and I am not an Amazon Prime member so I don’t get a discount, my total was 20 percent less than what I usually pay at that mom and pop store. They also carry some brands I like that the other store doesn’t.

So until this pandemic ends and I can go food shopping every day like I used to and support other mom and pop health food stores, I think I’ll be just fine going to Whole Foods as a one-stop shopping place.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

 

 

Simple Mills, My Favorite Healthy Cracker

Published November 7, 2016 by Maryanne

sam_1576Simple Mills Crackers go great with salsa! 

Since I discovered Simple Mills crackers a short time ago, I can’t stop raving about them. They are all natural, no GMOS, paleo-inspired — and delicious!

As a health nut, crackers were the last thing I’d eat. For a long time during my paleo inspired lifestyle I’d throw it to the wind on Sundays when I’d go for Mexican with my husband. But when I’m more paleo than not, I honestly feel better. So now, I can’t have Mexican food unless I have my Simple Mills crackers.

When I dip Simple Mills crackers into my salsa, I don’t feel so bloated.

I also use them to dip into guacamole or put them in organic chicken broth.

They come in different flavors but the sundried tomato and basil is my favorite.

For more information on Simple Mills, visit: http://www.simplemills.com/

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a public speaker, very much into health. She currently writes for Vitamin Retailer Magazine. To contact Maryanne for lectures, email: maryannechristiano@gmail.com 

Dreaming Big with Drew Nieporent

Published April 21, 2016 by Maryanne

DrewHighRes-1Photo courtesy of Drew Nieporent

This article originally appeared in the spring edition of DiningOut (Bergen/Hudson County, New Jersey edition).

Dreaming Big with Drew Nieporent

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

“You have to dream large if you’re gonna win.”

That is sound advice from America’s legendary restaurateur, Drew Nieporent, founder of the Myriad Restaurant Group, which operates: Tribecca Grill, Nobu New York City, Nobu Fifty Seven, Nobu London, Nobu Next Door, Bâtard, and Crush Wine & Spirits.

In addition to opening and operating over 35 restaurants worldwide, Myriad most recently helped open The Daily Burger at Madison Square Garden.

Born and raised in New York City, Nieporent had fond memories of his Jewish grandmother’s “amazing matzo ball soup,” though his actress mom, who entertained often, liked making frozen food. “…typical sixties mother,” he said.

Growing up in the 1960s, Nieporent was inspired by the confidence of Muhammad Ali, known for his quote, “I am the greatest.” And it was Joe Namath making it into the Super Bowl in 1969 that got Nieporent’s wheels turning that he, too, wanted to be a success.

Nieporent’s father worked for NY State Liquor Authority in the 1960s and exposed his son to diverse restaurants. “Chinese, French, Italian … I took to it right away,” said Nieporent. “I always knew I wanted to open more than one restaurant.”

Early on Nieporent said he was fortunate to work on cruise ships and began his management career at New York City’s Maxwell’s Plum and Tavern on the Green. He went on to work at French restaurants Le Périgold, La Grenouille and Plaza Athenee’s Le Regence.

The Montrachet was Nieporent’s first restaurant, which opened in 1985 and earned three stars from The New York Times. Robert De Niro came to Montrachet as a guest and asked Nieporent if he wanted to do another restaurant in Tribecca.

Jokingly, Nieporent said, “You talking to me?” referring to De Niro’s famous movie quote from “Taxi Driver.”

Together Nieporent and De Niro opened up Tribecca Grill in April, 1990. Investors included Bill Murray, Sean Penn, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Four years later, off the success of Tribecca Grill, they opened Nobu New York City, with Japanese celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa as chef and owner. Matsuhisa is known for his fusion cuisine, blending traditional Japanese dishes with South American ingredients. Black cod in miso is Matsuhisa’s signature dish.

Today there are 32 Nobu restaurants around the world. “The flavors are amazing,” said Nieporent. “Nobody really puts out the food in the unique fashion that Nobu does.” Nobu menu favorites include: yellowtail with jalapeno; and tiradito made with special citrus.

In 1994, in collaboration with De Niro, Robin Williams, and Francis Ford Coppola, Nieporent opened Rubicon in San Francisco.

Now, so many years later, Bâtard won best new restaurant in May, 2015.

Of all Nieporent’s restaurants, he is quick to say he doesn’t have a favorite. “I always say I relate to my restaurants like I relate to my children,” Nieporent said. “I don’t play favorites.”

When asked if he has plans for opening a new restaurant Nieporent said he didn’t. “I take them as it comes,” he said. “The reality is I’m content with what we have. In the restaurant business, you have to keep an eye on what you have. The most important thing is that we stood the test of time. I think what’s really important is looking over our shoulder and keeping the restaurants strong and vibrant.”

When asked what advice he’d give to someone who was considering going into the restaurant business, Nieporent said to “Think long and hard about doing it. Today the odds are stocked against you. Costs are up … food costs … payroll … You have to dot ever ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ … you have to be accurate of your bookkeeping when it comes to your staff and payroll.”

On his down time, Nieporent loves to cook at home, typically for the holidays, adding, “I love barbecuing pork chops on the grill.”

During the winter months, like most others, Nieporent enjoys warm, cozy meals. He said, “Nothing’s more delicious than a good stew or a good chili … a beef stew with a good cut of meat and lots of chilies. My wife makes a delicious Texas style chili that I love. We do an onion soup with a melted cheese at Tribecca Grill that’s very comforting.”

When dining out in Piermont, New York, where he lives now, still close to Bergen County, just over the border in Rockland County New York, Nieporent favors the Italian restaurant, Confetti. He also enjoys Peter X. Kelly’s restaurant in Yonkers, Xaviars X2O. “It’s really a special place,” he said of the exquisite glass framed French/Italian/Spanish influenced dining salon with a 25 foot vaulted ceiling and three walls of glass frame offering views of the George Washington and Tappen Zee bridges.

And when dining out in New Jersey, Nieporent loves Arturo’s in Midland Park; Brasserie Brandman in Park Ridge; and Dim Sum Dynasty and Latour in Ridgewood, where he was a longtime resident until he recently moved back to New York with his wife so they’d be closer to her parents.

Nevertheless, Nieporent has fond memories of life in Bergen County. “It was the perfect situation,” he said. “My kids had great schools … We had a beautiful yard … It was easy to get around.”

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an award-winning journalist and public speaker. She is available to speak at libraries on healthy dining out. She can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

 

Healthy Pasta Alternatives at William E. Dermody Library, Carlstadt, New Jersey

Published April 7, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9882Cold sesame noodles made with Dreamfields pasta

Last night I had a blast presenting my lecture “Healthy Pasta Alternatives” at the William E. Dermody Library (http://carlstadt.bccls.org/) in Carlstadt, New Jersey.

We had a great turn out, including my sister!

The next “Healthy Pasta Alternatives” lecture will be presented Saturday, April 16, 2016, 1 p.m. at the Fairfield Library, Fairfield, New Jersey. To sign up, call 973-227-3575. The lecture is free, but you must call to sign up.

SAM_9885Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, former lead market editor DiningOut

SAM_9873

Here is the synopsis for “Healthy Pasta Alternatives”

Pasta: A Healthy Staple Food

Pasta, a typical dish of unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour, has been a traditional Italian staple, dated back to 1154 in Sicily.

It can be presented in a variety of shapes and made with flour from cereals or grains, and eggs. It’s a simple dish that can be served hot or cold, varying in taste, color and texture.

Discover how pasta evolved and changed over time – from a small simple item to an elaborate culinary dish.

Learn about the nutritional value of pasta, which contains complex carbohydrates, essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B and folic acid. And depending on the flour, may also be a good source of protein.

Gather information about healthy pasta options such as: brown rice noodles, soy noodles, seaweed noodles, buck wheat noodles, squash pasta, and more!

This presentation will include a cold pasta salad made with one of the healthy noodle alternatives.

For cost and availability, contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the former editor of New Jersey Health & Fitness and former lead market editor of DiningOut (Bergen/Hudson County edition).

Arugula, Mushroom & Walnut Salad

Published January 6, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9463Arugula, Mushroom & Walnut Salad

Not too long ago I treated myself to the Lydia Lunch cookbook, “The Need to Feed.”

In Lydia Lunch fashion, she offers deep and sometimes dark commentary for each chapter. Her side notes that accompany the recipes are witty and sassy. This book has something for everyone: vegan, vegetarian, paleo, decadent, smoothies, and juices.

I just made the Arugula, Mushroom & Walnut Salad dish for me and my husband. It was fabulous! My husband who often doesn’t finish his salads, cleaned his plate!

Here is Lydia’s recipe, along with my slight alters. ENJOY!

Serves 2

Large bunch of fresh argular

Handful of cremini mushrooms

1/2 cup walnut pieces

Salad Dressing

1 glove of garlic, crushed and minced

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste (Note: I used half a lemon!)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (Note: A little more for me here, too!)

1/2 teaspoon of honey or to taste (Note: I used buckwheat honey, which was incredible!)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Note: cold-pressed!)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crumbled goat cheese or shaved Parmesan cheese (optional), for serving (Note: I went with finely chopped raw milk Parmesan)

NOTE: I simplified the directions because her original words were hilarious, and I don’t want to reprint without permission.

Wash the arugula and pat it dry. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Toast the walnut pieces lightly in dry pan over low heat until fragrant. Remove from the pan to a plate to cool. Combine the arugula, mushrooms, and walnuts in a large bowl.

Whisk the garlic, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and oil.

Drizzle over salad. Add salt, pepper, and optional cheese. Toss.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a public speaker and offers lectures on healthy living to libraries and senior groups. Contact at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com for rates and availability.

The Hearth, New Hope, PA

Published November 9, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_9180The Hearth

My first visit to The Heart, in New Hope, Pennsylvania: http://hearthnewhope.com/

This is a cozy restaurant. They play excellent music (like Traveling Wilburys and Bob Dylan).

They specialize in vegetarian, so I had a chickpea burger, with a side salad. It was a little dry, as was the salad. They are chintzy with the dressing; you could barely taste it.

The best was the dessert, pictured below, Raw Chocolate Mousse: avocado, cashew, cacao, agave blend topped with raspberries and toasted coconut. [Note: I make a similar pudding at home with frozen acai, banana, honey and avocado. It sounds weird, but the avocado gives it the pudding consistency and it really does taste like pudding!]

My husband had the Flourless Chocolate Torte [also pictured below] which is gluten free. I had a taste and it was very rich.

The Ethiopian coffee was perfect.

SAM_9174Raw chocolate Mousse w/pear

SAM_9175Flourless Chocolate Torte

Upstairs is nice and cozy, with a beautiful stained glass window, though with the acoustics, it’s a shame it’s too loud and you can hear conversations at everyone’s tables — even a soft whisper sounds loud. Luckily we were able to enjoy the dessert portion of our meal when a foursome left and only another quiet couple were upstairs with us.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the managing editor of Dining Out magazine and a serious Yelp-er.

When It Comes to Food, Go Where the Love Is!

Published September 24, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_8617Having fun — at a DINER! ❤

I recently became managing editor of an upcoming food magazine. It’s a great thing, because I love to eat. I flip flop between eating very healthy and going for good ol’ diner food. And there’s a reason why I am not militant about eating healthy all the time.

When I first came on board as managing editor, I was thrilled to see how many farm-to-table restaurants there are, but a little leery about the pretense that comes with it. I’ve been to so many restaurants, some are just too “foo foo” for my tastes that I’d never set foot in them again.

Of all the restaurants I’ve been to in my life, I have to say Pure Food & Wine on Irving in New York City is the ONLY restaurant that rates five stars with both food and service. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve been treated like a queen and the food was amazing. But then again, what do you expect from a place that has a $6000 Japanese water filter?! The water is like silk!  And no attitudes at all! That’s why Pure Food & Wine will always be my favorite. However, I don’t live in NYC, so I don’t get to go as much as I’d like. And since no other restaurant quite adds up to Pure Food & Wine, it’s often a toss up. What is most important? Good food? Good service? Healthy, natural food? Price?

Your guess is as good as mine. If I’m going out to eat, it just depends what area I’m in that day.

About half a year ago, I vowed never to go back to a certain gluten-free eatery because the service was the pits. Today I was in a health food store I was never in before. The cashiers and manager had such piss poor attitudes. These are the kind of women my husband and I call “Health Hags.” That means women who work in a health food store but are ugly inside and out, the opposite of a picture of health!

I gave this terrible store bad reviews all over the internet and even sent them an email that they could learn something from McDonalds. Check out this heart-warming story: http://nextshark.com/mcdonalds-worker/

I won’t even talk about the food I got in that health food store today because it’s irrelevant. When you get bad service, you can’t even properly enjoy your food. Of course you’re upset so you eat without truly tasting. This is why I say, it’s sometimes better to eat cheaper, crappier food — IF you are in a more relaxed environment.

The other day when I was on the cable show in Long Island, my friend and I hit a diner on the way back. We had Greek salads and sweet potato fries. Of course the salad was non-organic. And the fries were probably sugar-coated. But because the service was so fantastic, we ate in peace and really enjoyed our meal, which was stretched out to two hours! This is most likely why they say countries like France and Italy have less of an obesity rate than the United States — because they eat slow and enjoy. When you’re not stressed, you digest better. This is why I say, you can eat all the kale you want, but if you’re not happy, it ain’t gonna do you any good! (DO YOU HEAR THAT HEALTH HAGS?!)

So, next time you’re thinking about going on the road, please, do not stress over cooking in your hotel room or even seeking out the nearest health food store. Just go to a freakin’ diner and ENJOY! You’ll probably get a sexy cougar type waitress, chewing gum and calling you “Hunny Bunny.” Can’t beat that and you certainly won’t get that kind of cool in a farm-to-table restaurant or health food store!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a health advocate and a public speaker. She presents various health topics, including healthy food samples. For bio, rates, and availability, email her at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Girls Afternoon Out!

Published May 30, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_7526Vegan deliciousness from Loving Hut, Matawan, New Jersey

It was super awesome spending an afternoon out with my friend Linda J., one of my favorite people! (Her boyfriend and my husband are great friends). Linda is vegan and I was dying for her to come to Loving Hut in Matawan, New Jersey (http://lovinghut.us/matawan_01/). The great thing about Loving Hut as opposed to other vegan restaurants is that it’s not just about fake meat, it’s about freshness!

We shared the spring rolls (above). The sauce was peanut mixed with Hoison. These wraps were so fabulous. They had mint leaves inside them!

We both had a kale salad mixed with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and chickpea soup with straw mushrooms.

I had a raw vegan coconut macaroon for dessert.

After that we went shopping: health food store shopping, fine wine shopping and finally clothes shopping.

Then nothing beats walking into a store and hearing your favorite band HIM doing “The Sacrament”! ❤ With all the garbage you hear when you’re in stores, this was a super refreshing treat! I almost died of happiness overkill!!

I just love spending my Saturdays with girlfriends! It’s such a blessing!

SAM_5880From last summer: Left to right, Darlene, me and Linda

Celebrating Mom and Pop Health Food Stores

Published May 15, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_7343Basil Bandwagon (Photo by Maryanne Mistretta)

I took a much needed day off today and went on a little adventure and ended up, for the first time at two amazing health food stores I was never in before! Big Bear Natural Foods (http://www.bigbearnaturalfoods.com/) in Pennington, New Jersey and Basil Bandwagon (http://basil-bandwagon.tumblr.com/) in Flemington, New Jersey.

Basil Bandwagon has been around since 1993 and Big Bear since 1971 (with locations in Pennsylvania too!)

Since the mid-1980s when I first became health conscious, I was all about supporting the local health food stores. Back then, they were a real novelty. You go to the Mom and Pop stores and find amazing items you couldn’t find elsewhere. Then fast-forward to modern times and now all the big corporations like Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, A&P sell the goods, even the goods you’d least suspect: grass-fed beef, Miracle Noodles, kombucha and non-homogenized grass-fed milk. And that is a good thing, but not for the Mom and Pop stores. So I like to continue supporting them as much as possible.

The thing with Mom and Pop stores though is that they do jack their prices up, so my game plan is to look for sales or very unique products that are not yet in supermarkets.

Both stores went beyond my expectations!

At Big Bear I purchased Brad’s Kale Chips which were on sale. These raw chips are my favorite, but extremely pricey. So kudos to Big Bear for having a sale!

Then at Basil Bandwagon my favorite score was Nick’s Sticks (http://www.nicks-sticks.com/), grass-fed beef snacks with no nitrites, no added antibiotics or MSG (and no sugar either, I might add). These treats were absolutely delightful! As a little girl I favored Slim Jims (an unhealthy treat) and I gave them up in my early 20s learning how bad they were for you. Nick’s Sticks is the first grass-fed beef snack I ever had that was just as fabulous as Slim Jims — but they are GOOD for you. With 10 grams of protein, a fairly low sodium content for a snack, zero carbs, zero grams of sugar and nine grams of healthy fat — you can’t go wrong! This brings me back to the day of eating beef snack sticks on the porch, reading comic books, while my Grandma and Aunt Sophie chatted. What a great thing to have a healthy version of a favorite childhood treat!

And I’m ecstatic to say, the service at both Big Bear and Basil was excellent!

At Big Bear, the woman who helped me went out of her way looking for other health food stores in the area to help me find a product I was looking for. That’s how I came upon Basil Bandwagon, which was huge — possibly the biggest health food store I was ever in, including those in NYC. They had a counter where I ended up having a bean burger without bread. They put it on a huge salad platter, accompanied with fresh salsa. The greens were super fresh too. They had Bragg’s amino liquids on the counter and balsamic vinegar, as well as pink Himalayan sea salt. It’s so nice when health food stores go the extra mile for you and you don’t have to ask for stuff. Everyone in the store was extremely helpful and I spent a lot of time there.

You can guarantee I will be back at both health food stores

(Even though they are not in my area, they are well-worth the trip!)

And I gotta be honest too. Even though I’m a Young Living Oils distributor, I do LOVE a diffuser that was being used at Big Bear by a company called NOW. So I will be going back to get that diffuser. (No disrespect to Young Living, but hey, you gotta love my honesty! I still spend over $100 a month on Young Living products and always will. I’m just madly in love with that diffuser. Tee-hee!)

KUDOS to TWO AWESOME MOM AND POP HEALTH FOOD STORES!

YOU GIVE NEW JERSEY A GOOD NAME!

SAM_7349Looking forward to eating my Sea Snax!