Eating to Live on the Outside: Green Light

“Roxanne! You don't have to put on the red light.” Okay, I don’t know anything about the red light, but this week Eating to Live on the Outside says hello to Green Light, a Pure Vegetarian Restaurant located in my home state of New Jersey. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “This place is a vegetarian, it’s got to be good, right?” Not totally. You’ll see that surprisingly, it has some issues. Here’s what I mean.

Take a gander at the lunch specials. Here’s a few of note: Chicken with Broccoli, Kara’s Rib Tip Wrap, and a Cheese Steak Hoagie? What the heck is vegetarian about them? Chill, obviously it’s all soy meat. And there in lies the problem. For starters, as I’ve said the past, I’m too fond of processed soy foods. Sorry, but faux-chicken doesn’t really do it for me. And remember, Dr. Fuhrman does warn against going overboard on these types of food. Check this out, from Too Much Soy:
This brings to mind my basic theme of nutritional biodiversity—eat a variety of plant foods, and do not eat a soy-based diet.

Most of the processed soy products can be tasty additions to a plant-based diet, but they are generally high in salt and are not nutrient-dense foods, so use them sparingly.
Oh man, what a fine pickle I’ve gotten myself into this week. What should I order? Let’s see. Well, the Avocado Wrap looks good. For starters, it comes with avocado and I’m a total mark for avocado! And, it’s served on a wheat wrap with tomato, greens, and onion. Not bad, the only concession I’d be making would be the wrap—I can live with it. The Veggie Sub also looks like a solid option. Sure the bread is a sacrifice, but come on! It’s prepared with grilled peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, and carrots. I don’t know about you, but all those veggies make me forget about the bread.

Okay, the rest of menu is pretty tough. There’re still plenty of menu items centered on processed soy foods. Again, stuff like soy mozzarella, soy shrimp, and soy salmon just don’t appeal to me. So that rules most of the second page, but I’m in luck! Green Light does have a salad that certainly appeals to my taste buds, the Tasty Avocado Salad. As an avocado fiend, this makes me smile—from ear to ear. Now it’s pretty basic, but intriguing none the less; its avocado on a bed of fresh greens and veggies. Can’t beat that, in fact, if places like Fazoli’s, Denny’s, and Lonestar Steakhouse offered something like this, I’m sure more Eat to Livers wouldn’t immediately vomit at the mention of their names.

Now if you’ve got an aching sweet tooth, Green Light is the place to go. They’ve got a bunch of fruit smoothies that’ll help set you right. Kai’s Carob Milk Shake really caught my eye—especially since anything chocolate flavored draws me in like a black hole. It’s prepared with soy milk, banana, carob powder, and honey. The honey would be my concession here. Rashads Pina Colada is also looking mighty tasty; coconut milk, pineapple chunks, and banana. I’m not a betting man, but I’d wager that the coconut milk is sweetened—there you have it, another concession. But overall, if I were craving something sweet, I wouldn’t feel too guilty about downing one of these smoothies. In the past it would have been an entire bag of peanut M&Ms. Which one sounds like the better idea to you?

Here’s another thing worth mentioning. If you’re like me and the processed soy foods aren’t really your thing, and none of the options I’ve mentioned suit your fancy, you can also take this familiar course of action. Make a meal out of sides. Green Light has four sides that could certainly make a nutrient-dense, concession-free meal; steamed cabbage, steamed vegetables, steamed broccoli, and a side salad. What would you choose? I know I can’t resist steamed broccoli.

So there you have it, that’s what I’d order if I found myself smack-dab in the middle of a place that sells a lot of processed soy food. What would you do? Check out Green Light’s menu and email me at
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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Kyle Key - January 26, 2007 5:18 PM

As for the coconut milk, it being sweetened should be far less of a concern than the fact that it's higher in saturated fat than lard, dairy butter, sour cream or cream cheese--in calorically equal amounts, excluding oils and shortenings, it's the highest, period.

Fran - January 27, 2007 4:37 PM

Hi. I've always eaten and loved coconut, and since I've been eating a bit more and have incorporated some of the cold-pressed oil in my diet, I believe it has helped me energy- and thyroid-wise, though I can't prove it has. Plus, I've done other things because soy had seemingly started bothering me (I've explained more on my blog). I think coconut is a good food for humans, and I suspect that not all saturated fats are equal; most especially, I think differences may exist between pure plant and pure animal saturated fat that haven't yet been discovered by humans. Plant saturated fats do not seem as "sticky," though maybe that's just a perception of mine. But if I'm not mistaken (and I may be), most of the saturated fats in coconut oil contain less carbon than many other saturated fats; coconuts are more medium-chain fatty-acid filled. Can Dr. Fuhrman maybe provide more information about coconut in future?

To me, coconuts seem a good food for humans; they are a plant seed/fruit, though of course when a whole food is processed, it can become much stronger in helpful and/or deleterious effects. So I by no means smother my food with coconut oil or any other plant oil. But just because the antivegetarian crowd (who are sometimes the ones pushing coconut-oil consumption) sound like ignorant idiots doesn't necessarily mean they aren't correct occasionally. Even idiots can have insightful moments.

With respect to what I call meat-paradigm vegetarian eating, which I think the restaurant experience you've described fits--I've recently been complaining about this on my blog! I've slipped up too at times, have become lazy and have reached for convenience foods. But junk food is still junk food; vegetarian junk food should NOT be a maintenance diet for vegetarians. I think there is waaaay too much "brown" eating among vegetarians/vegans today; high-protein high-carbohydrate meals are all they blog about, are all they seem to eat. I'm dismayed at the near-disappearance of GREEN-COLORED foods from too many plant-based diets. This ain't the way to eat, peoples. Yet a lot of recent vegetarian cookbooks (probably trying to appeal to nonvegetarians or newer vegetarians) illustrate eating to a meat-paradigm where every meal must look like a brown lead weight--and ultimately feel like one in your stomach.

I'm not a purist; sometimes I splurge, sometimes I eat vegan comfort food, I eat a little seitan once or twice a week, and use some other refined grain foods, though no more than fifty percent of my grain intake is refined (which, I know, Dr. Fuhrman might say is still naughty of me), and I do love bread. But when I splurge, like on sweets, I still cut back on sweeteners and fats by at least half of what too many recipes say. I used to have an enormous sweet tooth (and new cavities every year) but have lost much of it after so many years of eating vegetarian/near-vegan (only one small cavity in sixteen years!), which is cool for all of me, including for my teeth and gums, which the dentist keeps telling me are gorgeous and if I keep taking care of them so well and eating the way I do, they'll be keepers-for-life. I certainly hope so!

Michael - January 29, 2007 10:13 AM

I believe it depends on numerous factors such as weight, activity level, overall diet, and the amount of coconut you are consuming. I think eating refined oil of any kind is a bad idea. If you go to or some other website that calculates calories and nutrients, you will find the calorie content drastically higher and the level of vitamins and minerals drastically lower in refined foods vs. whole foods. If you are going to eat coconut, eat it as God intended and stay away from the oil. It is simply junk food with little or no nutrition and a HUGE amount of calories.

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