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Archive for February, 2008

ZenBurger: Vegan Fast Food

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

When my Dad first went vegetarian, a move prompted by the book Diet For A New America, he followed a macrobiotic diet. My sister and I would stay with him and my stepmom on the weekends. We learned why they had made this choice and how terribly unhealthy is the Standard American Diet.

I ate it up—literally! The new things we were trying were delicious. At least to me; my sister’s reaction was always the far more equanimous, “It’s different.”  

Steamed brown rice, beans, bokchoy, big soups, etc.. All in stark contrast to the diet at my Mom’s. There, we were raising a pig and a couple turkeys, as well as, I might add, tending a luscious overgrowth of blackberry and raspberry bushes that constantly encroached upon the yard. Both, aspects of country livin’.

The former was a point of contention, even for my sister who, nevertheless, remains a meat-eater to this day. I think she became attached to the pig. We all used to laugh as he bravely “barked” back at the dogs. The latter—the berries—a definite boon. Add to that climbing trees, hiking, skidding our bikes on the dirt road after getting a full head of steam down the hill,…… good stuff.

Where was I going with all this? Oh yeah, vegan fast food. Well, at the time, I proclaimed there should be a vegetarian version of McDonald’s. I was particularly hung up on the name MacroDonald’s, as in macrobiotics.  

Alas, it seems I’ve been beaten to the punch. (Not that I have the Chutzpah to start a restaurant where the failure rate is often quoted, apparently incorrectly, as being 90% in the first year.)

Enter ZenBurger.

I know, I was thinking the same thing; they not only stole my idea, they had to rub it in by playing off my moniker. :) Actually, it’s worse yet for this Australian band.

So far, they’ve a restaurant in New York, and one on the way in Hollywood. There’s also an application for franchise opportunities on their website. Could there be a zenpawn at the helm of a future ZenBurger? Well, it’s not quite the vision I had as a teenager, but you never know.

As the NY blogger put it, “The food is not healthy, just healthier. 30 percent fewer calories than McDonald’s is still pretty fattening.” Nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction. What do you think? Please, share your thoughts in the comments.

Kick The Coffee Habit!
The hardest part of giving up coffee (that is, after the four days of headaches!), was finding a replacement for that steaming cup of joe. While I really like Teeccino and all its flavors, it’s a little high in calories in comparison to the real thing. And teas are a little too wimpy at times. I was getting bored. Then, on recommendation from Lynne in the rawfoodsforhealth Yahoo! group, I tried this, and now I’m “all set.”

A Tale of the Queen City

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Last weekend I competed in what I’ve come to fondly dub my “anniversary tournament.” The appropriately named Queen City Open was my introduction to the world of competitive chess a little over half my lifetime ago at age 16. I still remember how nervously excited I was. With so many butterflies, all I could stomach for breakfast that morning was a muffin and juice to which my grandmother treated me at the hotel before the first round. I’ve made it a point not to miss a year since!

My first round encounter with the Expert Leonard Morrissey promised to be one of the best games I’ve played in some time. As it was, after a brilliant series of moves that exemplify the adage “the best defense is a good offense,” I slipped and let it all go in one fell swoop.

In college, I had a roommate on the tennis team. He dabbled in chess, but finally concluded it was too unforgiving a sport for him. You see, after many hours of effort, even a “won” game can be lost in a momentary lapse. He liked that, in tennis, with each point and each game a fresh slate, you almost always have a chance to come back.

Black has just played 22…Bc6 attacking the knight on f3, the key defender of the h2-pawn. 23.Rfd1! Rh3 24.Ra3! b6! Giving his King breathing room. 25.Bxb6 Basically forced, but it works beautifully, as 25…Bxa3 is answered by 26.bxa3 Rxf3 27.Qc5! and despite being a rook down, White is winning. 27…Qb7 28.Rad3! Kb8! 29.exf6 gxf6 30.Qf4+?? Hoping for 30…e5 31.Nxe5 fxe5 32.Qxe5+ and White crashes through first. Alas, the simple 30…Ka8 turns the tables for the last time. Rybka gives 30.Ne5, continuing the fun. A truly heart-wrenching way to end this pretty slugfest.

You’ll recall I went coffee-free for over a week in preparation for this event—an experiment I’m happy to say I’m still continuing. I did get a little tired during this 3.5 hour contest, but I also felt concentrated.

The next round, I had a full-point bye and kicked back in the hotel room watching the Presidential primary results roll in. Regarding coffee, as a calorie restrictor, finding a similarly robust replacement is difficult. I really like Teeccino and all its flavors, but it’s actually rather calorific (20 per Tb), especially when replacing an 8-12 cup a day habit.

In the morning, I was ready to kick butt, feeling good about my overall play, if not the result, and fueled by an all-fruit breakfast of a couple apples, an orange, and a banana. I had the Black pieces against the young Class A player Kevin Ma. Apparently, I played a new move as early as the eighth—rare these days in the ultra-booked environment of modern-day chess.

My Theoretical Novelty in the Accelerated Dragon

8…Bxf3 Previously, only 8…Ne5 had been played. Now White has to take 9.Bxf3, retaining a slight edge. Instead he fell into the trap and continued with 9.dxc6 Bxe2! 10.Qa4? The mistake must be admitted, and the damage minimized to the loss of a pawn, by recapturing on e2. 10…Bxc3+! 11.bxc3 b5 12.Qd4 e5 13.Qd5 Bc4 14.c7 Bxd5 14…Qc8 15.Qxd6 allows too much counterplay. Better to return the piece and head into a relatively easy endgame without all the risk. 15.cxd8/Q+ Rxd8 16. exd5 Rc8 etc..

In the final round, I achieved a better position in the early middlegame against the legendary Master, 76 year old John Curdo. I then sacrificed a pawn for an attack that unfortunately came up short. He gave back the pawn and in the resulting equal late middlegame / early endgame with rooks and queens, proceeded to outplay me. My opponent took a share of third place for his efforts, and I missed out on a portion of the Under 2100 prize by half a point. :(

On the whole though, a most enjoyable tourney and much needed vacation. I didn’t even do any work on the internet! I can proudly say I read a few emails and that’s it. :) Waiting for me at home was a ton of shoveling. Indeed, the drive home was treacherous and slow, with at least a dozen cars off the road along 293 out of Manchester. Yikes. Even at 20 MPH, my anti-locks felt the need to kick in on occasion.

RAW Vegan Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I want to introduce you all to a really nice lady, Vanessa Barg, aka “Chocolate Girl.” She makes homemade, raw, vegan chocolates and sells them on-line at Gnosis Chocolate.

We had a lovely chat on the phone the other day about veganism and raw food, and of course, cacao. She was actually making a batch while we were talking. Her passion for the healthy treats she’s bringing to the public was obvious, and I do hope you’ll check it out.

She offered to give my readers a special too. Just use the drop-down lists to indicate you heard about her from Vegan Done Light and she’ll add another five to the already sweet deal on her home page.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! :)

Superbowl Tip

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Enjoy yourself today, but please keep your cool…

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, found a significant doubling of heart attack risk while viewing a big sports event. In this case, they were spectators at World Cup Soccer matches (you know, the other football), but I’m sure it’s equally applicable.

In case you’re wondering how I’m faring in my challenge. Well, I’m the second guy:

Which Headache Do You Get When You Skip Your Coffee Fix?
Total Votes: 41Started: February 3, 2008

My Cookbook:

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