A Food Wishlist

by Valerie on March 3, 2010 · 9 comments

Around New Year’s, I started seeing food wishlists from people.  They ranged from vegan food wishlists to greener eating wishlists to coffee flavors wishlists.  The magic of google is not allowing me to find any, but you get the idea. I know it’s practically Spring now, but I wanted to share my food wishlist:

1. More non-dairy milk options beyond the grocery store – Don’t get me wrong, I love that even Safeway now carries almond milk. And I love that coffeeshops offer soy milk, but I would especially love more variety for soy-avoiders and soy-allergics, like almond, rice or coconut milk.  And I really wish non-dairy milks were in general an easier option, especially with things like oatmeal or granola at brunch places, for example.  

Chipotle Gardein 

2. Brown rice at Chipotle – Chipotle is pretty much the only fast food I eat, and my usual order these days is black beans with the fajita veggies, guacamole and salsa. It is delicious, but I would be all over the brown rice if they had any. I know Chipotle has only added two things to their menu until this year (the bowl concept and then the salad dressing concept), so I know they think about it for a long while. But they are also willing to make changes, like their Gardein bowl above, available at a few select locations, including one in Washington, DC.  Gardein is lovely, but it is stuffed with gluten, so gluten-intolerants do not get to benefit, and I know many vegans, aka Gardein’s target market, that do not like meat substitutes. Also, total tangent, but isn’t it amazing how Gardein is not meat, but totally looks like meat (see above). Anyways, I bet everyone would appreciate brown rice as an option at Chipotle. That said, go Chipotle for the Gardein.  I hope they roll it out nationally, along with brown rice. And while we are on the subject, vegan gluten-free tortillas and vegan whole-wheat tortillas would be lovely too.

3.  More brown rice in general – I really really wish that brown rice was always an alternative to white rice, whether for sushi, Indian food, Thai food – anywhere really. 

April 2009 Washington DC 017
4. Greener restaurant-in– By this I refer to both restaurant practices (recycling, composting, see above for a picture I took at Sweet Greens) and suppliers. I cannot expect 100% percent local sourcing of ingredients (I am buying my greens trucked from California these days, because otherwise I would not be getting to eat any greens) but a concerted efforts towards local sourcing would be lovely.  Sweet Greens and Mixt Greens (see below) are good examples, but I wish I would see that more:

Mixt Greens, Washington, DC

 5. More vegan gluten-free goods – I know from baking gluten-free that skipping eggs and butter makes it more challenging. But it can  be done. And there are so many gluten-free foods that would be vegan but-for eggs(I am looking at you, Udi, because I keep hearing Udi makes the most amazing gluten-free pizza crusts and breads).  Surely, there must be a substitute suitable for commercial use.  In the meantime, I am going to keep baking my own vegan gluten-free items.

6. More balance – There seems to be this belief right now that unless things are doused in butter, wrapped in bacon and braised in cream, they are not rich and decadent.  I see it on restaurant menus, on cooking shows, and in magazines.  Bunny Bites has touched on this a bit in the context that plant-based foods can be delicious and haute cuisine, and she is right.   I also wish that tofu was not automatically deep-fried in so many restaurants, as it often is. 

5. No more brands swapping ingredients and compromising quality – an unnamed hummus brand, which used to be my very favorite hummus before I figured out how to make my own, seems to have swapped one of its core ingredients, olive oil.  Recently I picked up a container and noticed it had soybean and/or canola oil as the ingredients, and no olive oil to be found.  I would have been pretty annoyed to discover the switch if I was still purchasing this as often as I used to.

6. Sugar free decaf chai lattes – Chai lattes used  to be my absolute favorite beverage until I had to cut out refined sugars and caffeine.  Le Pain Quotidien rocks though, as they do have a decaf sugar-free chai. I wish that could be available at Starbucks and, well, everywhere. (Update April 2010 – while the LPQ decaf sugar-free chai is vegan, it is not gluten-free. Le sad).

7. Better food labeling at restaurants – Eating out when you have food allergies and/or intolerances can be a leap of faith.  I love that many restaurants have specific menus showing what items are gluten-free, dairy-free and so forth, but ideally, you want the menu to be allergy friendly and the staff to be knowledgeable.

8. Vegan options – I have mentioned before that I often default to vegan options when eating out, since I avoid non grass-fed meat.  As such, I wish there were better labeled vegan options, not to mention more of them.

9. More availability of grass-fed meats and wild caught fish at restaurants – Not to mention better labelling of them! I only trust a few restaurants to tell me the truth about this, plus I tend to default to a vegan selection anyways because I am intolerant to dairy, but it would be nice to have more information for everyone.

10. Vegan macarons – Macarons are small enough that their refined sugar content is less of an issue for me,  but I wish they were vegan.  Plus, I am a sucker for how pretty macarons are, so being able to eat them again and more frequently would be lovely.  

What about you? What is on your food wishlist?
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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren March 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Oh man, I have to second brown rice at Chipotle and non-soy non-dairy milk at Starbucks!!! Those are definitely on my wishlist!


2 Analiese Marie March 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Great list…I second all of these! Especially your wish for more brown rice. It seems like such an easy substitute that it's kind of surprising how many restaurants don't offer it. Thanks for the tip about Le Pain Quotidien's sugar-free chai. I love chai, but I don't love the sugar rush that tends to accompany it.

I would add to this list: more restaurants/chains/coffee shops using natural sweeteners. It's incredible how much sugar (oftentimes in the form of high fructose corn syrup or the like) is hiding in typical restaurant fare.


3 The Curator March 8, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Even though I have hardly any dietary restrictions, I have to 2nd all of these – especially the brown rice! I just can't figure out why more places don't offer it as an option. In terms of my wishlist, I want to see more caffeine-free beverages (why don't they make decaf Diet Coke with Lime?? And serve decaf unsweetened iced tea in restaurants?) and I feel like some locations of Subway should be replaced with other chains. Around here we have a Subway literally on every other block, but no Pret a Manger or Wagamama in the entire state! So let's get rid of the glut of Subways and replace them with more interesting fare.


4 michele March 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I am definitely with you on wishing for more brown rice and better food labeling/knowledgeable employees at restaurants. Just recently the Fiance and I went out for brunch and I specifically asked the waiter if there was dairy in a few things on the menu and he had no clue and was unwilling to ask the chef. I settled on another option which he assured me did not have dairy in it. P.S. I'm certain it did and I got really sick afterwards as a result. VERY frustrating!

I also agree with Analiese's addition of natural sweeteners available at more restaurants & coffee shops!


5 Ellecubed March 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Fantastic list! If I made a list, I think all of these would be on it in one version or another. Especially the non-dairy milk one. It makes me so angry that I cannot go to Tim Hortons (Canada's largest coffee chain) and get a coffee with dairy free milk. When I ask, they just look at me as though I have gone bonkers.


6 Carolyn March 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Is it bad that I actually like the white rice at Chipotle? Haha. I mean, I like brown rice too, but I don't mind Chipotle's rice. đŸ˜› I also second nondairy milks at more places, and the option to have things like oatmeal cooked with nondairy milk. And yes, more vegan options that aren't just iceberg lettuce and plain baked potatoes!! Oh and nondairy butter for my bread, thanks.


7 Sallie Ann March 10, 2010 at 5:09 am

These are all really good. Do you know how hard a time I'm having finding coconut milk? It's nuts. I too wish for non-soy/ non-dairy milks at tea and coffee spots.

Also, (though it's difficult for me to complain right now as my belly is so full of some vegan and non-vegan goodies) I wish for more creative vegan offerings at mainstream restaurants. I hate going out to eat with my friends, and while they are dining on incredible culinary creations, I'm trying to talk myself into a salad w/ oil and vinegar and the steamed vegetable plate. As much as I love my vegan eating 75% of the time, I'm not going to opt for vegan fare when my dessert choices are a fruit and nut tray vs. butterscotch-habanera bread pudding with white chocolate sauce! I take a few minutes to honor the poor, sweet cows who are sacrificing their udders for my selfishness, then I dig in. Lacto-intolerance be damned.

Great post!! And some really good ideas.


8 Girl on Raw March 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I think you hit the nail on the head with all of my wishes. Yep they're all pretty good. Here's crossing fingers someone will listen pretty hard!

PS I just added you to my blogroll…not sure why you weren't there in the first place as I do love your bloggy :)


9 Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty March 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm

How did I not find your blog yet!! YAY!!

Awesome post!! My wish list is STARBUCKs to get a non soy dairy free milk – Their soy makes my stomach hurt!

I totally agree with the items on the list that say "dairy free"

I am becoming a follower of your fabulous blog… come visit mine too!



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