Fast Food – Vegan Style

I know, I know, there’s nothing more annoying than a blog post apologizing for how inactive the blogger has been in the past weeks so you know what? No apologies from me. Between sorority rush, harder classes and getting to know the 2013 Phi Mu pledge class (!!!), I’ve barely had time to do anything, let alone bake. But here I am so let’s just all be happy!

Instead of doing a recipe today I’m reviewing one of my most frequented “fast food” places around campus. I use quotations because Freshii may be fast, it is certainly no McDonald’s or Subway. For those of you who have  been to one of these already, you understand that all the ingredients are incredibly fresh, all material they use is biodegradable or recyclable, and their food is just really really good. For those of you who haven’t been, let me explain the process.

Freshii Tofu Soup

Freshii is very similar to the new fad restaurant that is basically “choose your own toppings” for salads. However, this place also offers noodle/rice bowls, burritos, soup and breakfast. And the toppings. I can’t even begin to describe the toppings. Although I could probably list them all of  the top of my head, a testament to the number of times I go, instead go check it out yourself at their website’s list. Although they have a menu from which you can choose their most common items, you can also make your own. Which is my go to.

The Vegan Collegiate Bowl (I’m convinced they should name one after me): Noodles, artichoke hearts, edamame, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, tofu, and their peanut satay sauce. The satay sauce should be sold by the gallon. I would it eat it plain it’s so good.

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But there are a few cons to Freshii. For one, the product can sometimes be inconsistent. I’ve gone before and gotten the perfect bowl and other times had some that had too much sauce or too little vegetables. And considering it is on the more expensive side of fast food, I think customer’s should be able to get what they expect. Another turn off is more of an aesthetic thing. I try very hard to get my guy friends to venture into the restaurant, but as soon as you step into the building there is an overwhelming smell of “bland.” If I was a random person on the street and choosing between Subway and Freshii, I might choose Subway just because it smells way more delicious. I’m not exactly sure how they could change it but I really think they should.

However, overall I am an infallible Freshii fan. I could eat there breakfast (their muesli is so so good), lunch and dinner. All the vegan options are clearly labeled, and almost everything is gluten free as well. So if you’re looking for a healthier place to go, that’s fast and delicious, I 100% recommend Freshii. Check out their website to find a chain near you.

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Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Freshii for doing this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review of Canyon Ranch (Rejuvenation, Relaxation and Really Small Portions)

Okay, I was bad. I spent four days and three nights at Canyon Ranch and took only three pictures for this blog post. And only one of those was food. But in my defense, this vacation was all about relaxing, focusing on my healthy and reenergizing my desire to work out. And it definitely did all three of those things. How could I really relax if I had to keep taking pictures of all the delicious food I was eating? Don’t answer that.

Fortunately for everyone, Canyon Ranch has almost all of their recipes online with some pictures. So I am able to not only post some pictures on here of some common food I ate there, but also link you to the recipes! How great is that. There must be about 50 pages of recipes too so definitely browse around. The majority aren’t vegan but there is not a lack of plant based recipes and definitely some that are easily veganized. As a side note, does anyone have a good recommendation for substituting greek yogurt? Other than soy yogurt. So many recipes that are lower fat now have non fat greek yogurt in them and I never know how to work with that.

But back to Canyon Ranch. It’s located in Lenox, Massachusetts and is open year round. The idea behind the resort is that you’re supposed to get healthy, whether that be getting you into exercise classes or giving you perfectly portioned meals. Some people stay for MONTHS at this place, which I think is pretty excessive. It’s not the cheapest vacation in the world, and honestly, if I had to focus on only exercise and food for months on end I’d probably go crazy.

The resort was built off an old mansion

The resort was built off an old mansion

But I took full advantage of the time I was there, and picked up a few good habits/recommendations. The resort offers a varied number of classes, ranging from ab classes to Zumba to yoga and interval classes. I did Zumba (of course I did, I’m a 19 year old girl, Zumba was made for me), some abs classes, a ballet barre class (by far the hardest but one of the most enjoyable), and a rejuvenating yoga class. The latter was basically a lie down in relaxing poses for 45 minutes, and after a day of being in the gym or in a class it was great.

Of course there is also a spa, and yes I did get a massage. I love massages, like a lot. Nothing beats getting rid of all that tension and stress and knots in the back. There’s an indoor pool, a hot tub, various saunas, and even a Eucalyptus Steam Room. Not too bad of a way to pass the time.

Pretty Berkshire Snow

Pretty Berkshire snow

And finally the food. Salad bar at every meal, lots of vegan options and good service. The amount of food they give you is also a good reminder that we all over eat, everything. Seeing the proper food portions definitely will help me work on that at school. For the most part the food was really good. I had a delicious curry one night with pineapples and veggies, a bean quesadilla for lunch another day (the only food I took a picture of) and they offered some of the best granola-crunch I’ve ever had. But you can definitely tell it’s healthy food. When they offer steamed vegetables, they mean steamed vegetables. No spices, no seasoning, nothing. I appreciate the detox idea behind this but it also meant some of the dishes fell flat. I had a chipotle bean soup one day that basically tasted like beans floating in water. The pasta sauce I got for dinner the first night tasted like it was store bought. But the more interesting the dish sounded the better it was. Also the veggie burger was one of the best vegan burgers I’ve had.

Black bean quesadilla, only food picture I took

Black bean quesadilla, only food picture I took

Over-all? I’d definitely give the experience a thumbs up. It helped remind me to drink more water, work out more, and eat in moderation. Would I want it to be every vacation I went on? Probably not. But it’s a great way to kickstart healthier habits, especially in the New Years resolution frenzy right now. I’m actually excited to head back to the gym when I get back to school (tomorrow!). If you’re looking for a similar type of break, this is definitely the place. If you think vacation should be reserved for time whens you can indulge and pretend calories don’t matter (I mean it’s true, calories obviously don’t count in the Caribbean), this probably wouldn’t be your style.

Well I hope this was interesting! Below are links to recipes, including some pictures (all from the Canyon Ranch recipe site). Get ready for a return to my own creations soon. And it includes peanut butter. Just saying.

Canyon Ranch Recipes I Had:

Pumpkin Crunch… Probably my favorite thing I had the whole time I was there

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Mongolian BBQ Marinated Tofu… I had this quite a few times and although the tofu itself wasn’t seasoned the sauce was quite good

Vegetarian Bean Chili… Thick, tomatoey and delicious

Miso Soup… Not the most flavorful soup but for only 45 calories I’ll take it

Flat Bread… I had it with tomato sauce, mushrooms, zucchini and peppers

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Canyon Ranch Recipes I Want to Try:

Edamame Pot Stickers

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup