All for Spak, Spak for All

All for Spak, Spak for All

Before ecoRDN returned to Pittsburgh from NYC living we made a list of all the many vegan-friendly food hubs to visit upon return to our glorious city and Spak Brothers topped the list. Spak forged a path not many dared back when they first opened their doors. Sure Pittsburgh has seen a vegan-friendly boom over the last five years, but before that boom the vegan scene was practically crickets. There was the dope East End staple Quiet Storm, the Southside Zenith with their epic brunch and all-vegan dessert, however pizza and wings were not yet on the menu. Thus enter the Spak!

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ecoRDN Walks 18 Miles for Brunch at Tarrytown, NY’s Sweetgrass Grill

ecoRDN Walks 18 Miles for Brunch at Tarrytown, NY’s Sweetgrass Grill

ecoRDN first heard about Sweetgrass Grill‘s plant-based brunch offerings after a cool post by We Bike NYC‘s riders who planned a bike & foodie trip from Manhattan to Chappaqua along the S County Trail (with a rest stop in Tarrytown for brunch). With plans already made that weekend ecoRDN was unable to attend and decided to map out an alternative trip on a nearby trail system, The Old Croton Aqueduct, and go on foot instead of bike.

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Plant-Based in Kingston, NY

Plant-Based in Kingston, NY

If you’ve ever seen the Palisades loom over the Hudson in the late fall bright afternoon sun you’ve seen a living work of art. That view from the window of a Metro-North train instilled both a sense of reverie and adventure as ecoRDN hit the northern rails toward Kingston, NY with hopes of uncovering an abundance of plant-based foods worthy of their stunning backdrop.

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Two Boots and #UrbanHiking

Two Boots and #UrbanHiking

ecoRDN caught the D Train in the Bronx and rode it to Manhattan’s Broadway-Lafayette stop for a day of #UrbanHiking and eating, with a little window-shopping on the side. We made our way to the Union Square Greenmarket and it was packed on a perfect day of bright sun and cold-blast Manhattan winds. The veg was amazing! So many colors and varieties, gorgeous! Satisfied with our sightseeing we set out to find lunch in Hell’s Kitchen. Specifically, Two Boots.

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A Walk In Manhattan: Seasoned Vegan

A Walk In Manhattan: Seasoned Vegan

ecoRDN takes the D-Train south to Harlem 125th Street / St Nicholas Avenue.

After misreading the map and going in the wrong direction we discovered St Nicholas Park and some amazing park steps that led to St Nicholas Terrace, exploration for another day! Back on track, we made our way to Seasoned Vegan at 55 St Nicholas Avenue in Harlem. Seasoned Vegan as stated on their website is a family business owned an operated by Mother and Son, Brenda and Aaron Beener.

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Expo Faves and VRG dinner

Expo Faves and VRG dinner

Expo

Perhaps to make up for the poor night of sleep, the sun was out in Nashville and most of the previous day’s rain dried. Fought my way into a shower, dressed, coffee drank, then off to Music City Center. No time for breakfast, banking on some good samples at the expo to keep me nourished and sharp for the educational sessions.

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Noshing and Networking in Nashville, TN

Noshing and Networking in Nashville, TN

Eco RDN touched down at Nashville International Airport earlier than anticipated as we forgot about the one-hour time difference between NY and TN. We followed the signs and made our way to ground transportation, where you can grab an express bus via Nashville MTA for a mere buck seventy! In NYC MTA is currently $2.75 for a one-way commute. The bus took us directly to Music City Center where I was able to check in to FNCE and square away registration in no time. I was pleased to discover that this year’s goodie bag was a small canvas tote rather than the enormous plastic totes of previous years that fell apart after one use. The usual 50lb (obvious exaggeration of weight) spiral bound program book was replaced with a simple four-page handout with the schedule of each day’s sessions printed on it. The Academy also made everything available in virtual format for 2014 FNCE and again this year. Damn it, I forgot my highlighter to mark the must do sessions! After registration we checked into the hostel and made plans for lunch.

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Yee-Haw! Nashville, TN

Yee-Haw! Nashville, TN

IMG_1671Back in NYC on a gorgeous fall-esque, big, puffy cloud, blue-sky day and thinking about the trip to Nashville this past weekend. Eco RDN hit the road super early Saturday morning for this year’s FNCE. For those of you that are not dietitians or culinary nerds F-N-C-E stands for Food Nutrition Conference and Expo. FNCE is the annual conference and expo of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It is also the world’s largest annual meeting of food and nutrition professionals. Registered dietitians are required to maintain registration by completing continuing education credits (CPEUs), 75 in a five-year period, in order to keep themselves current and relevant in their field (how else can we call ourselves “the nutrition experts”). FNCE provides educational sessions, lectures, briefings and culinary demonstrations that provide a certain number of said CPEUs. This year’s event was in Nashville, Tennessee held at the Music City Center.

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