Hailing the Happy Oasis

For those of you who were wondering about the challenge question that I put out last week, the four people who were in the kirtan photo were: 1) Dave Stringer, 2) Danielle Koppel, 3) Jon Seskevich, and 4) Donovan Zimmerman, co-founder of the Paperhand Puppets. Jon has been a long-time enthusiast and teacher of both meditation and kirtan in the area, and Danielle is one of the folks who began their relationship with sacred chanting thanks to Dave Stringer's concerts. I believe that kirtan that is pictured in last week's photo, taken at Triangle Yoga circa 2006, was actually her very first kirtan ever! Now Danielle and Jon often team up to offer kirtans and workshops to the community. In fact this dynamic duo will be offering a Radiant Peace workshop at Carrboro Yoga company the last weekend in March. If you have stress in your life, you don't want to miss this opportunity to find out how to let it go! Now I want to tell you all about a wonderful discovery that I made yesterday, a little restaurantette in downtown Raleigh, called Happy & Hale. I guess really, it is an expanded juice bar. And OMG is it cute! It looks like a place that has grown up from a little baby juice cart, although from their website, it is clear that it is some sort of chain operation.

(photo yelp.com)

Isn't it the cutest little mini-restaurant you have ever seen? It just makes me want to go up and pinch its little menu and spend money at it! I am sure that my response to it is exaggerated by the fact that I was in City Plaza yesterday for the St. Patrick's Day Parade and was surrounded by thousands of people, children, dogs in green hats, craft and not-so-craft beer, melancholy-ish Irish music, and a WHOLE lot of unhealthy food. The general atmosphere, although celebratory, was really neither happy nor hale. So there I was in the sea of green-clad dogs and people, trying to decide which of the food options in sight had a) the shortest line and b) the least unhealthy food.

I spotted this little place at the corner of the plaza and was delighted to discover that it had everything I was looking for, and was reasonably priced, to boot. As I said, I think this place began as a juice bar, and specializes in light options like juices, smoothies, specialty drinks, and breakfast fare. They also had about 10 salad/quinoa bowls that could be turned into wraps.

Hubba hubba! Get a load of this! That ingredient spread is like Subway on steroids. You really can go wild in there, as they are quite flexible, allowing you to customize just about anything. Be forewarned, they do serve animal protein. Yet with a spread of vegetarian ingredients like that (ie. every veggie ranging from the usual salad/sandwich veggies to roasted sweet potatoes and squash, several kinds of nuts & beans, and gourmet cheeses), I was able to kind of overlook the meat. Interestingly all the staff was clean, trim and young-looking; a

marked contrast to the kind of folks working the funnel cake and waffle cone booths. No, I am not engaging in discriminatory dietary profiling... just making an anthropological observation. Take from it what you will.

(photo yelp.com)

At any rate, if you find yourself in that part of downtown Raleigh, I highly recommend stopping by this little oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle.

This Week's Menu:

Entree #1 - Cream of Mushroom & Green Bean with Papadam Noodles The photo and the original recipe (which I modified so much that I stopped linking it in the title line) were both taken from the Vegetarian Times website. Our proprietary Govinda's version (ooh! that sounds fun to say) uses an almond milk base and papadam instead of parpadelle noodles. If you have not yet been introduced to the glories of papadams, let me explain. Papadams are savory Indian wafers made from high-protein lentils called urad dal. Usually they are fried or dry roasted and come out like big crunchy "chips." In this soup, the thin wafers are added at the end of the cooking and soften up into delightful, high-protein "noodles." Creamy noodle heaven! *GF, soy-free

(photo vegetariantimes.com)

Entree #2 - Jagannatha Puri Chana Dal This dal hails from the state of Orissa in the Eastern part of India. There are many, many temples throughout Orissa (as is the case all over India), and in the city of Jagannatha Puri, there is one very special temple - the massive temple of Lord Jagannath Himself. "Natha" means lord. "Jagat" means universe. So in this temple, which hosts millions of pilgrims annually, the "Lord of the Universe," Jagannatha, is served with great pomp and reverence. Many of the priests at the temple come from families whose lineage of service to the temple extends back for many generations. This mild, creamy dal recipe is one such traditional dish that has been passed down from one family of temple cooks to another, through the generations. *GF, soy-free

Entree #3 - Gigantes Plaki Doing another Greek-themed menu has been on my mind for a while now. I hate to play favorites, and yet, of all the Greek entrees I have made previously, this one is my favorite. It combines a tantalizing mix of fresh flavors like tomato, celery, parsley, and mint with the biggest, heartiest, creamiest white lima beans you have ever met. All those alluring ingredients are slow-cooked together in the oven into a roasted perfection. *GF, soy-free

(photo thegreekvegan.com)

Side Dishes:

Brown Rice - $1/serving (1 cup)

Spanakorizo (Spinach Rice) - $3/serving (1 cup) A Greek version of Arroz Verde, Spanakorizo combines the fresh, light taste of spinach with a menagerie of fresh herbs. This dish is traditionally flavored with oregano, combining it with either fresh mint and/or dill. Which combination of flavorings we choose will depend in large part to what I can find in the store. If you have a particular affinity or aversion to either mint or dill, please let me know. This will be made with brown rice. *GF, soy-free

(photo thegreekvegan.com)

Roasted Potatoes - $4/serving, 2 for $7. What is not to like about potatoes? Well besides their glycemic index... Other than that, potatoes, especially ones flavored with olive oil, lemons, and fresh herbs are pretty universally loved. And besides, how could you say 'no' to a face like these fries have? *GF, soy-free

(photo thegreekvegan.com)

Greek Beet Salad - $6/lb. Out of all the salads we could make this week, I was eager to come back to this roasted beet extravagana. It is at once sweet and savory, as well as light and filling. Don't miss this salad,yet another testament to the exquisite combination of olive oil, vinegar and the freshness of herbs.*GF, soy-free

(photo thegreekvegan.com)

#DaveStringer #DanielleKoppel #JonSeskevich #DonovanZimmerman #PaperhandPuppets #TriangleYoga #RadiantPeace #CarrboroYogacompany #HappyHale #CreamofMushroomGreenBeanwithPapadamNoodle #almondmilk #uraddal #JagannathaPuriChanaDal #GigantesPlaki #tomato #celery #parsley #mint #limabeans #brownrice #SpanakorizoSpinachRice #oregano #dill #roastedpotatoes #oliveoil #herbs #GreekBeetSalad #vinegar

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