Fresh Juice Spots in Manhattan

Spring has sprung, and so has our urge to put aside the hot chocolate and fill our cups with something more appropriate for the warmer seasons. It’s a great time to do some spring-cleaning for your body and there’s no better way than with fresh juices and smoothies. Tasty juice blends are abundant in our urban jungle, and we’ve listed some of our favorites, letting you know what’s organic and what will bring your taste buds into full bloom.

Candle Cafe
Organic

Cozy up at the counter of this local favorite. The highly popular Green Goddess is light and airy with a strong astringent feel we so crave in our refreshing juice blends. It’s packed with veggies but boosted with ginger and lemon, a slightly sour mix that keeps you sipping. Kale shines in The Solar Power, another mixed greens juice with the sweeter carrot that pays homage to the harvest with its deep green color and late autumn orange froth on top. If you want to know you are consuming your veggies, this is your order. For a creamier alternative, try the Sweet Potato Pie smoothie. “It will change your life,” the waitress told us. And it did. Sweet potato, almond milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and maple syrup, this is a must try if you have a hankering for the sweeter side.

1307 3rd Avenue @ 75th Street New York, NY 10021 (212) 472-0970 candlecafe.com

Jivamuktea Cafe
Organic

You’ll chug, not sip these glorious smoothies, titled to tantalize your belly and your mind. We tried the Love smoothie, a medjool date, banana, spirulina powder and almond milk blend. The low number of ingredients allows you to taste the subtlety of the medjool date. And the rich, mossy green color comes from the spirulina powder which you only taste at the end of the sip— sorry—chug. They additionally serve a simple variety of fresh juices, like the energizing grapefruit and the purifying wheatgrass.

841 Broadway (2nd Fl.) b/t 13th & 14th St. New York, NY 10003 (212) 353-0214 jivamuktiyoga.com/cafe/

Elm Health
Organic

Choose your potion at this health market and juice bar. They list their juices with the health benefit italicized underneath so you can choose to focus on ingredients or by body boost. Try the Red Alert, the “blood builder & detoxifying properties” or The Body Cleanser, “the digestion & circulation advocate”. They also have produce and boosters not common to most juice bars: produce such as bok choy, red cabbage and both green and red apple varieties; boosters such as Camu Camu and Maca which also have their added benefit described on the menu.

1695 1st Avenue b/t 88th and 87th Streets New York, NY (212) 348-8500 elmhealth.net

>> Clickhere for our full list of places in Manhattan to grab a juice on the go. <<

Navigate Farmers’ Markets Like a Pro

After a long winter spent cooped up in your caves, springtime has finally arrived. Along with warmer temps and sunny days, there will be more opportunities for you to buy local, fresh, and direct from farmers and producers at your neighborhood farmers’ markets.

For the novice, visiting a farmers’ market can be an overwhelming experience if you don’t know what to expect. You may find yourself dazed with just a giant sack of potatoes at the end of the day. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your shopping:

Know where you’re going. You’ll first have to locate a farmers’ market. With many makeshift venues and parking lot locations, farmers’ markets can sometimes be elusive. In New York City, you can check out several sites for the most up-to-date information on local markets.

Check out WhatisFresh.com for a current calendar of NYC events. GrowNYC has a list of its organized markets throughout the boroughs.

Government sites are also a good resource for discovering farmers’ markets. The New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets has an informative list of locations by county. If you’re traveling outside of the Empire state, the United State Department of Agriculture’s Web site also has a great, though less up-to-date, search tool for finding markets anywhere in the country. Ultimately, a little research before setting out on your adventure will be time well spent.

Learn your region’s seasons. Want strawberries in April? If you’re in New York State, you will have to wait a couple more months for the juicy little fruits. The strawberries you’ll find at a New York grocer in April, whether organic or not, probably traveled cross-country from California or Mexico.

Although there’s no substitute for personal experience and speaking with local farmers, Epicurious.com’s simple Seasonal Ingredient Map shows what your area will generally have in stock each month.

Once there, ask questions. One great resource that farmers’ markets provide is the actual farmers. Asking questions is always a great way to learn directly from the source about the food you consume. Ask about what to expect in the upcoming weeks so you’ll know what you can look forward to. Also, just because a food is local, don’t assume it’s organic or sustainable. If it isn’t labeled so, make sure to ask so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Try something new. Your favorite leafy green may be months away, but that mystery veggie in the basket might be a new love you’ve yet to meet. If you’re buying meat, ask about their cuts. You may find less common meats like bison or goat available, which can be healthier and more sustainable than the more usual beef and lamb.

Have fun shopping, and enjoy the weather—while it lasts!

4 Culinary Escapes from New York City

Within the boundaries of New York City, you can savor just about any type of dining experience. However, if you’re looking for a table with generous breathing space and the opportunity to go for a stroll in the garden where ingredients for your meal were freshly plucked, it is essential to venture beyond city borders.

As the weather warms up, the appeal of escaping New York City for a culinary getaway rises with the temperature. Here are four options for escapes from Manhattan that will provide fresh air and fresh food too.

1. The Living Room Restaurant at c/o The Maidstone – East Hampton, NY
(631) 324-5006

http://www.themaidstone.com/

Walking into the Living Room Restaurant in the Maidstone hotel, it is easy to wonder if the food will be as exciting as the décor. Swedish-inspired design of bold colors and prints extends from the hotel right into the dining room. The décor isn’t the highlight here though – the food exhibits even more creativity and passion.

The farms of Long Island, along with the Living Room’s own garden, play a significant role in the quality of the cuisine. At this farm-to-table restaurant, you are introduced to the Slow Food movement and local farms right on the menu. The result is a restaurant that is worth traveling to the Hamptons for – at any time of year.

2. Blantyre – Relais & Chateaux Country House Hotel – Berkshires, Massachussetts
(413) 637-3556

http://www.blantyre.com/

Step back into the Gilded Ages with a trip to Blantyre in the Berkshires. This mansion is home to a serious kitchen that sources ingredients from local farms and its own garden too. If you like surprises, opt for the surprise menu and let the chef use his best ingredients to craft an unforgettable meal for you. The dining room requires a shirt and tie for men – providing a fun excuse to get dressed up during a weekend getaway.

Interested in learning more about the chef’s recipes? A stay at Blantyre can also include a cooking class. Take home some tips from Chef Christopher Brooks and you can recreate a meal from your country escape once you’re back in the city.

3. Ninety Acres – Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey
(908) 901-5800

http://www.ninetyacres.com/

New Jersey is called the Garden State for many reasons. A trip to Ninety Acres will show you exactly where the nickname comes from. The motto of this ‘culinary center’ (cooking classes are also available) is: ‘farm-to-table is one thing – Ninety Acres is a table at the farm.’

Set amongst rolling hills on a farm in New Jersey, Ninety Acres shows you where your food comes from. Interested visitors can include a tour of the garden on the day of their meal. The 19-acre vegetable and herb garden provides an incredible range of produce to inspire the chef’s imagination.

4. Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, New York
(914) 366-9600

http://www.bluehillfarm.com/food/blue-hill-stone-barns

Perhaps the most famous of these culinary getaways is located 30 miles north of New York City in Pocantico Hills. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, open since 2004, is a four-season farm that will inspire you to make the trip once a season just to see what the chefs have up their sleeves.

One of the charming aspects of an experience at Blue Hill at Stone Barns is that there are no menus – instead guests are provided a list of ingredients that represent the best options from local fields and markets. These ingredients form the foundation of an unforgettable ‘farmers’ feast’.

At all four of these culinary getaways from New York City – natural surroundings will enhance the fresh flavors on your plate.

Jessica Colley is a travel and food writer based in New York City. She blogs at www.thegreatamericantraveldream.com

Eating Well On The Go: 7 Speedy Midtown Eateries That Break The Mold

Sometimes you just don’t have time for a sit-down meal. You might be rushing to catch a train at Penn Station, or grabbing lunch in the 15 minutes you have between meetings. And you likely don’t have time to pack yourself a healthy meal before you run out the door in the morning.

We don’t have to tell you that conventional fast food is bad for you. Do you really trust the food origins at your local deli—or even their preparation methods? Even when you don’t have a spare minute to dwell on food choices on the most hectic days, it would help to know whether your oh-so-convenient refueling spot actually cares about where its food comes from and if it is good for you.

So, is it possible to eat healthfully and sustainably while you’re on the go? Absolutely. Here are some of our picks between 14th and 59th Streets for the conscious (but busy) eater. All of these to-go spots have earned the Clean Plates Seal.

Pret a Manger
Believe it or not, this ubiquitous British chain is one of your best bets for pre-made sandwiches, soups, and salads. When you’re in a hurry, just pick from a wall of neatly packaged foods; the wrappers are mostly biodegradable, and food is prepared fresh daily. All meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free, the breads have no preservatives or bleached flour, and coffee is of the fair-trade, organic variety and accompanied by organic milk.

Chipotle
Another chain that has practically taken over Midtown, Chipotle is your go-to place for speedy, tasty, and well-sourced burritos and Mexican salads. Even if the line looks long, have faith that the super-efficient and friendly staff will get you out of there quickly with large burrito or salad in hand. All meats are free of antibiotics, the cheese is organic, and accompanying ingredients are noticeably fresh. Just pay attention to the calorie counts to avoid overdoing it with all of the tempting add-ons. Vegetarians take note: only the black beans are veg-friendly whereas the pinto beans are made with bacon.

Better Burger
At this fast-food burger and hot dog joint, you don’t have to worry about antibiotics and hormones in your meat or low-quality oil in your fries—in fact, the fries are air-baked rather than deep-fried. And even the buns are organic. Vegan options are also available for burgers, dogs, “fixins,” and sides. With only two locations in Manhattan, they’re not quite as easy to find as McDonald’s, but if one of them is nearby, take full advantage.

FreeFoods
Raw, vegan, fish, chicken, organic, fair trade, gluten free—this lunch spot between Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park has it all. Besides the obligatory sandwiches, salads, soups, and coffee, FreeFoods offers other healthy options like smoothies, juice blends, and fresh fruit that can come to the rescue when you don’t have much time to eat. It’s also nice that all of the utensils and cups are biodegradable.

Organique
A name like Organique can bring out skepticism, making you wonder if the restaurant can back up the claims made by their title. Luckily for busy folks in the Flatiron District, this one is the real deal. Although it resembles a regular deli with its sandwich counter and salad bar, you can expect fresher, more sustainably harvested ingredients here. Organic produce and meats are helpfully labeled on the menu, and they even offer gluten-free whole grain bread and several organic spreads. Another plus is the organic coffee (and milk).

Simple Kitchen
This Chelsea café has a rustic, country feel, and it’s not just because of the décor—the restaurant has genuine ties to the land. Many ingredients are actually grown at the Simple Kitchen’s own farm in Bethlehem, Connecticut, and others are sourced from local farms and small businesses. Other personal touches include a line of homemade sodas sweetened with organic honey, and bagged lunches specifically meant for picnics on the High Line.

Dirty Bird To-Go
If you have a hankering for fast-food chicken, try the locally raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free variety from this tiny takeout spot on 14th Street. It’s probably smart to go for rotisserie chicken rather than fried; but if you can’t resist, take solace in the fact that the frying oil is used for biodiesel fuel after it has worked its magic in the kitchen. To balance your meal, order a green side like sautéed kale or the vegetable of the day from a local New York farm.

Photo from Andy Cross via Flickr