A Chat with Bareburger CEO & Founder Euripides Pelekanos

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I recently wrote about Bareburger’s expansion to new neighborhoods throughout the city. Today, I’m happy to share a Q&A with the chain’s CEO and founder, Euripides Pelekanos, who talks about the importance of cooking with chemical-free meat, plans to take Bareburger nationwide and more.

Why do you and Bareburger hold free-range, grass-fed, pasture-raised, antibiotic and hormone-free meat near and dear to your hearts?

What the animals eat, how they’re treated, the fact that they don’t receive chemicals…these are all critical to our approach to food at Barebuger. At the end of the day, we believe that food that isn’t raised this way is not as flavorful nor as nutritious. We love meat, [but] we don’t want to eat meat from animals that have been raised in commercial feed lots, inhumanely treated and pumped full of hormones or antibiotics; it’s as simple as that – we don’t want to eat meat like that, and so we don’t want serve meat like that. Continue reading

On Our Radar: Naked Pizza

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Naked Pizza uses only whole food ingredients that taste better and are better for you.  There are 10 grains in their pizza crust, plus prebiotic fiber and probiotics — and no additives or preservatives. Plus, toppings include hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and organic produce.

…But how does it taste? “NOMZTOWN!,” says Anthony Acero, on Naked Pizza’s Facebook wall. “Definitely the only pizza place I’ll be macking on from now on! Got the Mediterranean (with chicken) and can’t wait to create my own.” The New York Times says Naked “is a pizza you can feast on pain-free,” with none of the “coarse, cardboard feel” that some associate with whole grain crust. Continue reading

5 Healthy Fast Food Spots in Brooklyn

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Who says “slow food” can’t be fast?

Personally, I’m always searching for a quick bite that’s tasty and healthy to boot — which is why I recently decided to go on a quest to find the best tasting, most sustainable fast food take-out spots in Brooklyn, the borough I call home. Here’s what I found (note, this list includes options for carnivores and vegans alike):

1. Radish (Williamsburg)
www.radishnyc.com

Not to be confused with Manhattan’s The Fat Radish, Radish of Williamsburg is at the top of my list for healthy take-out in Brooklyn. The restaurant and shop on Bedford Avenue serves a wide variety of seasonal foods that are exquisitely prepared with the freshest, local ingredients.  You can’t go wrong with the lunch special — try the Free Range Chicken Tender Sandwich with house-made horseradish mayo, paired with the Signature Radish Salad (made with mangoes, poblano peppers and black sesame seeds) and house-made, unsweetened pomegranate soda. Your taste buds will be beaming and you’ll be left with energy to hop on your bike or peruse the neighborhood. (Note: Don’t miss the plentiful wall of Brooklyn-made artisanal food products for sale, including local honey and Irving Farm seasonal coffees by the bag.)

2. Brooklyn Larder (Park Slope)
www.bklynlarder.com/

Brooklyn Larder is the across-the-street daughter of Franny’s, the highly acclaimed pizza spot and Clean Plates critic’s pick.  Specializing in cheese and provisions, the Larder features impressive sustainable picks by the pound, including poached local swordfish, Berkshire ham, and pork and fennel sausage. It’s the sides, though, that will win your heart, like the freekah and farro and borlotti bean salads, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, and polenta triangles. Their sandwiches are equally irresistible — try the speck and mozzarella panini or ham and gruyere sandwich with local McClure’s pickles. Enjoy your nibbles right there if you can snag a bar stool, or take a short walk over to Prospect Park; either way, just like Franny’s, Brooklyn Larder is worth a special trip into Brooklyn.

3. Nile Valley Eco-Juice & Salad Bar at Dekalb Market (Boerum Hill)
(no website)

At Dekalb Market, temperature controlled shipping containers house its vendors in every season (except for a few months in the winter) — hence its nickname, “the Container Market.” Nile Valley is the healthiest option at the market by far, and arguably in most of Brooklyn: It’s menu is 100% organic, seasonal and vegan, featuring raw specialties that would make even the most die-hard carnivore swoon. The smoothies aren’t the only pick-me-ups — don’t miss the live raw pizza with dehydrated nut/seed crust (trust me, it’s delicious). Nile Valley is also the epitome of sustainability, as most of its produce comes straight from the Dekalb Market garden a few feet away.

4. Brooklyn Standard Deli (Greenpoint)
www.brooklynstandarddeli.com

Brooklyn Standard may look like a standard New York deli, but its local, organic and seasonal offerings for vegans and carnivores alike make it stand out from the crowd.  Here, the coffee is fair trade, and the only “creamer” you’ll find is organic milk. Vegans and vegetarians have a choice of nine different sandwiches; standouts include the Olive Tapenade, Portobello and my personal favorite, the BQE, which stars the Standard’s own house made hummus, tomato, cucumber, pickled red cabbage, romaine, and smoked red pepper remoulade on a toasted multigrain baguette.  Flexitarians and carnivores will enjoy the organic BBQ Chicken Sandwich with vegan potato salad, crisp romaine lettuce, and house-made BBQ sauce (among other options). Pair your sandwich with house-made salads. While you’re at it, stock up on some local, organic, and seasonal groceries, such as Granola Lab granola and Long Island market vegetables. Though you may have to wait a few minutes longer for your food than you would at a typical deli, it’s well worth the wait at the Standard.

5. Purbird (Park Slope)
www.purbird.com

Pronounced “Purebird,” this Park Slope chicken joint is Brooklyn’s answer to Manhattan’s Dirty Bird To-Go. Pete and Christina Lekkas, longtime owners of Bay Ridge fine dining Greek restaurant Elia, have taken southern fast food to a new level with their specialty flame grilled, Amish, free-range, hormone/antibiotic free, vegetarian-fed chicken.  Try the boneless, skinless chicken thigh, paired with tomatoes, sauteed cabbage and pickled onions inside a whole wheat wrap. Sides lean on the healthy side of southern fare, such as Whole Wheat Mac & Cheese, Creamed Spinach, and Vegetable of the day.  KFC, eat your heart out, a new wave of southern fast food is on the bound.

Thinking differently about fast food yet? Try it for yourself and you won’t be disappointed. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of our Brooklyn guide for more tips like these!

5 Take-Out Spots for July 4th

Before this year’s fireworks begin, we had to narrow down the best places to eat. While the lot of firework-watchers flee with pizza boxes and Chinese takeout on a scram to 12th Avenue (the barges are on the Hudson between 20th and 55th Streets again this year), all you’ll need to focus on is bribing your Chelsea-based friend to lend his rooftop or finding a clean place to park your to-gos on the West Side Highway.

With Cajun-spiced seitan, a salad with miso-ginger dressing and a goji berry shake, we think these takeout spots will get you oohh-ing and ahh-ing well before the first sparks shoot over the river. We even have a slow-roasted alternative for you fried chicken-craving folk.

One Lucky Duck
Quickly becoming a go-to among health conscious celebs in the city, this Chelsea Market (and Flatiron) locale earns its fame with the likes of spicy Thai wraps of mango, pea shoots, mint and tamarind sauce; a falafel salad with tabouli, lemon tahini and red pepper hot sauce; and the zucchini-tomato lasagna with pistachio basil pesto and pumpkin seed macadamia ricotta—the latter two, gluten-free. Finish with the moon pie and a goji berry shake.

Better Burger
From beef to chicken, turkey and even soy, all Better Burgers come antibiotic- and hormone-free with a toasted whole wheat bun, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles. Add a side of organic, air-baked Better Fries, dairy-free smashed potatoes or the veggie chili with organic beans.

Blossom Du Jour
For the non-meat-eaters, pack some sandwiches from this joint that’s helping to change the stigma of fast food. Take the Midtown Melt (Cajun-spiced seitan, agave guacamole, lettuce, chipotle aioli), the Raw Burrito (flax-seed wrap, pico de gallo, brazil nut sour cream) or the gluten-free quesadilla with black beans, corn and salsa. Wash it down with kombucha, a fresh-pressed juice or smoothie.

Organique
Here you’ll find classic combos that always work: panini with grilled vegetables, smoked mozzarella and basil mayo; country ham sandwich with gruyere, greens and dijon mayo; smoked salmon with cucumber and dill cream cheese. Also find create-you-own-salads with sun-dried cranberries, artichoke hearts and a miso-ginger vinaigrette.

Dirty Bird To-Go
We didn’t forget about you fried chicken eaters. This place deserves our seal and that of any lover of a good crispy-skinned fowl. Choose from the buttermilk-dipped batch (if you must) or the slow-roasted with a side of beets, sautéed kale or smashed potatoes. All-natural Boylan sodas are on offer as is homemade lemonade. Then finish with a pack of freshly baked “bad-ass” cookies.

Photo via pixietart, Flickr

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

The “Fast Food” Track to Unhealthy Living

Would you like some dimethylpolysiloxane in your food? It’s commonly found in McNuggets and silicone caulk. Perhaps you’d prefer the titanium dioxide in the ranch dressing (it’s also found in sunscreens).  Did you know that “bacon” could include “over 18 ingredients”? While the extreme caloric content of fast food is generally understood to be unhealthy, there are many other shocking effects the fast food industry has had on our society, economy and health.

Take a look at the full version of this terrifying graphic and tell us how you plan to free yourself from this “fast food” track.