Our Christmas Holiday Trip to New York: Vegan Food is Everywhere! Manhattan, Family Dinner, and Vegan Airport Finds

Happy New Year everyone! I’m finally back to blogging after our Christmas vacation in New York, full of new ideas for Vegan Runner Eats in 2014. Before I start churning out posts with lots of useful info about vegan diet and lifestyle, I’d like to share with you the highlights of our trip to the wonderful Empire State.

It’s been our tradition for as long as Rob and I have been together (going on five years!) to go to New York for Christmas week to visit his family. Rob is originally from New York, and his parents still live on Long Island. This year, however, our trip was a bit different because we were flying to NY from our new home of Northwest Washington state, as opposed to all previous years when we were coming from Alabama. In the past years, it felt to us like we were going from the middle of nowhere to the center of the universe, with all of its excitement, abundance and brightness. Going to New York from Seattle felt quite different: the previously enjoyed abundance often felt to me like saturation, which made me miss the relaxed, almost zen-like cool-ness of Seattle.

We spent most days on Long Island in the company of Rob’s parents. On Christmas day they took us to Caumsett Park for a long walk. We enjoyed the lovely views like this:

Us in Caumsett ParkThe afternoon was quite spectacular, with fresh, cool air and beautiful skies:

Sky in Caumsett ParkMy lovely mother-in-law, who’s not vegan, insisted on cooking vegan meals for us the whole trip because, as she said, we were on vacation and needed to relax. For Christmas dinner she put together a spectacular Eggplant Parmigiana that she usually tops with mozzarella cheese, but this time she bought some Daiya cheese to make the dish vegan. I also requested a baked potato because, as Rob likes to say, you can take a girl out of Russia, but you’ll never take the love of potatoes out of the girl’s heart!

Vegan Christmas DinnerThe day after Christmas Rob and I ventured out to the one and only New York City! So did thousands of other people 🙂 The crowds weren’t a big surprise to us, so we just went with it and did our own version of the tourist-y thing. That included walking over to the Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and the legendary skating rink:

Rockefeller Center at ChristmasA trip to New York City would have been incomplete for us without eating at one of their spectacular vegan restaurants! Since we were going to have only one meal while in the city, I did some extensive research of vegan restaurants in Manhattan, aiming to find one place that would offer a great experience. We chose to go to the Peacefood Café in Union Square because my research showed that they had a good-sized lunch menu PLUS a fully vegan bakery corner!

The Peacefood Café menu offered various dishes from appetizers (listed as side items), classic sandwiches and salads to pizza and even raw food items. A few offerings had a clear Asian influence. We went on to order a French Horn Mushroom Panini for me and a Fried Seitan Medallion Panini for Rob, and also had delicious Shanghai-Style Dumplings:

Peacefood Cafe LunchMy French Horn Mushroom Panini, with Rob’s Fried Seitan Medallion Panini in the back. Shanghai-Style Dumplings in the center.

Interestingly, Rob raved about the dumplings, but we got them by mistake: we ordered a side of Chickpea Fries, but the waitress pressed a wrong button when entering our order, so out came the dumplings. Once the dumplings were out, the girl apologized and almost took them off our table, but we stopped her and asked to leave them anyway. They turned out to be quite a hit, with a lovely sesame-infused dipping sauce with bright ginger flavor.

We rarely order dessert after lunch, but hey, this was a vacation, plus there was no way I could turn down the offerings of a dessert showcase like this at the Peacefood Café:

Peacefood Cafe BakeryAll of this bounty is vegan!

I picked a slice of absolutely divine Raw Cacao Mousse Pie. According to the menu, it contained just a handful of ingredients: cacao, avocado and dates made up the mousse part that was set in a walnut-based crust. A bit of cacao nibs was sprinkled on top for decoration:

Raw Cacao Mousse from Peacefood CafeI have a soft spot in my heart for cacao nibs because we brought a bag of those from our honeymoon in Hawaii 2 years ago. Since then I feel like I have to get anything that has cacao nibs on top 🙂

It also helped that this pie was absolutely delicious! I promised myself to try and recreate it at home, most likely in a smaller size to cut down on temptation. We’ve even bought a 6-inch springform pan since we got back, so now I have no excuses!

Our flight back to Seattle was at around 6 pm on Saturday from the JetBlue terminal at JFK. The idea of spending 6 hours on a plane with hardly any food was no fun, so I went online and looked for vegan-friendly food vendors at our terminal. Luckily, the powers of the interwebs quickly directed me to CIBO Express stand located in the center of the terminal along with lots of other food vendors. A few refrigerators were stocked with all kinds of sandwiches, noodles, drinks, etc,  and I quickly found a section that contained exclusively vegan sandwiches and a few other snacks. Here’s my pick for Rob and I:

Vegan Food at JetBlue Terminal in JFKLove it that the sandwiches are clearly marked as vegan!

Just as I finished my inner happy dance while standing in a checkout lane, I turned around and saw a huge buffet-style setup stocked to the brim with various types of greens, vegetables, grains and beans that could have made for an awesome salad! I debated for a minute whether or not I wanted to put my findings back and put together a couple of salads instead, but I was too far up the line already, so I just went on to buy the sandwiches. If you ever find yourself at the JetBlue terminal at JFK, don’t make my mistake, get a nutritious salad!

The flight back home was pretty uneventful. I spent a few hours writing down plans for this blog in 2015, and came up with tons of new ideas! In the new year, I’ll continue to focus on valuable info for all of us who’s new (or somewhat new) to the active and healthy vegan lifestyle, so stay tuned!

Once again, happy New Year to you and your family! I hope that this year brings you lots of wonderful events and accomplishments, and I’m sincerely grateful for having you as a part of Vegan Runner Eats community!

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