Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Life as a Gluten-Free Vegan

Being 100% vegan and gluten-free isn't as insanely restrictive as one would assume. The first question people ask when I reveal my diet is, "What on Earth can you eat, woman?!" The answer? Earth. My daily meals consist of tons of fresh organic veggies and fruits, with a healthy dose of select grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Come to think of it, this isn't really a diet -- it's a way of life. I've been this way for a few years now and absolutely love it for both moral and health reasons.

Without sounding too preachy (I'm not one of those vegans), what I appreciate most about this lifestyle choice is that it inspires creativity. For instance, because I can't just slab together a bean and cheese burrito and call it a day, I bust out some nori sheets, tempeh and kale to create my own rendition of the epic vegan futomaki roll I had at Bob's Kitchen in Paris. Sure, preparation is time-consuming, but it's a therapeutic process that leaves my body feeling both satisfied and energized. 

If you're looking to go vegan or gluten-free or both, here are some of my top tips and resources. I'm also constantly Pinning my favorite recipes here

I'm a creature of habit, so I tend to eat the same thing every day. Mornings usually consist of raw whole oat groats (you can buy them in bulk at Whole Foods) soaked in water overnight and blended with Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. I top it with a dash of cinnamon and bee pollen, which is a natural energy-booster since I don't drink caffeine (no coffee, soda, nada). About an hour later, I work out and then snack on a medium-sized Pink Lady apple to hold me over before lunch. Lunch is usually a big kale salad with a few bites of Dave's Soy-Free Tempha (highly addictive), topped with a light drizzle of my favorite dressing in the world, Follow Your Heart Organic Miso Ginger. If I'm in a serious time-crunch, I swap the salad for one slice of Food for Life Millet Bread topped with a bit of avocado. Dinner is a yummy mélange of quinoa, corn, spinach, zucchini and eggplant. And in case you're wondering, hell yes I indulge sometimes. My fiancé is hooked on my gluten-free pancakes (recipe coming soon!)

Luckily I live in a city (Los Angeles) where health and fitness is a major focus, so there are tons of eateries that accommodate my dietary needs, which I'll highlight in the next category. Traveling, however, can be a bit of a challenge, so I always plan ahead and bring tons of snacks, which you can read all about here. From my experience, New York, Turks and Caicos, Paris, London and Argentina have been the most accommodating. Miami and Curacao were the most difficult, but visually stunning nonetheless.  

Eateries/Juice Bars
Los Angeles: Cafe Gratitude (639 N Larchmont Blvd), M Cafe de Chaya (7119 Melrose Ave), SunCafe (3711 Cahuenga Blvd), Liquid Juice Bar (8180 Melrose Ave; obsessed with their gorgeous acai bowls, as seen here, here and here), Pressed Juicery (8714 Santa Monica Blvd; the Greens 2 is my jam), Veggie Grill (8000 Sunset Blvd), Real Food Daily (414 North La Cienega Blvd), Bulan Vegetarian (7168 Melrose Ave), Evo Kitchen (7950 W Sunset Blvd), Newsroom (120 N Robertson Blvd; yummy smoothies) and Fonuts (8104 W 3rd St; mind-blowing gluten-free vegan donuts).

New York: Angelica's Kitchen (300 East 12th Street; best build-your-own plates), Juice Generation (171 W 4th St; another killer acai bowl), 'Snice (150 Sullivan St), Blossom (187 9th Ave), Quantum Leap (226 Thompson St), Sacred Chow (227 Sullivan St; perfect tapas), Candle 79 (154 E 79th St; nice romantic spot), Candle Cafe (1307 3rd Ave), Pure Food and Wine (54 Irving Pl) and Quintessence (263 E 10th St).

London: Vitao (74 Wardour St; amazing vegan buffet), Vantra (11-13 Soho St; although QuarryGirl sadly announced that they're closing), Beatroot Cafe (92 Berwick Street; cheap and easy), The Veggie Table (8 Southwark Street) and 42Raw (6 Burlington Gardens). 

Paris: Bob's Kitchen (74 rue des Gravilliers; that futomaki gets my every time), Bob's Juice Bar (15 rue Lucien Sampaix), The Rose Bakery (20 rue de Debblyeme, Marais), Les Orchidées at Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme (5 rue de la Paix), and Chez Ferdi (32 rue Mont Thabor, near the Louvre).  

Some of my favorite food and health blogs include: Kimberly Snyder (she's my #1 guru), The Chalkboard (simply inspiring), Oh She Glows (great inventive recipes), Golubka (divine imagery), QuarryGirl (great restaurant reviews), Gluten-Free Goddess (no fluff, just damn good recipes) and Manifest Vegan (healthy comfort food). 

Good luck and hit me up in the comments if you have any questions!


The Key To Chic said...

I didn't know this about you, and I have so much respect! No wonder your skin is so beautiful and you're so lean! I think people who have this lifestyle will live long, healthy lives and look much younger than they are!

Natalie Alcala said...

You're so sweet! This made my day. :)

Tiara Henry said...

I'm neither vegan nor a gluten-free dieter, but I had a strawberry buttermilk fonut today (my first fonut ever) and oooohhhhh man! that sucker was delicious. i see many more i my future.

lovely blog, btw. my first time stopping by.

chocolate+jasmine said...

If you're even in London again I highly recommend for satisfying any gluten free & vegan sweet cravings. They're awesome.

Natalie Alcala said...

@Tiara: So good, right? Thanks for the kind words!

Natalie Alcala said...

@chocolate+jasmine: Thanks for the tip! I love London and will absolutely stop by. x

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