Last night, I stopped into Eva’s on 8th Street for the first time in years. I’d just logged 2 hours at the gym and wasn’t in the mood for my usual gluttony.
I was delighted to find that the space had been expanded and renovated, but had retained much of the original charm. If you have never been to Eva’s, it is decorated from ceiling to floor with framed, autographed pictures of “oompa loompa orange-” skinned bodybuilders, boasts an on site nutritional supplement store, and has a carrot for a logo.
Basically, everything on the menu is low-calorie, low-fat…and, surprisingly, delicious. How did I find it? I’m glad you asked!
About 3 years ago, I had a dream that I was swimming in a waveless ocean at sunset. Everything in the dream was gold; the water, the sky, even my bathing suit. As I stepped out of the water onto a wooden platform, I looked down and noticed that my body was flecked in gold, and I was skinny.
In the waking world, most people would have considered me overweight, though I loved my body and didn’t care much about what others thought. But something about that dream got to me, so I joined a gym. I also started borrowing habits from healthy friends of mine, and stopped eating beef patties with cheese and pepperoni as a late-night snack.
I went on a strict diet that included the following:
- an excess of sautéed kale
- steamed veggies and brown rice
- salads dressed with lemon juice
- protein shakes after the gym
- smaller portions accompanied by genmaicha (brown rice tea)
- FiberRich crackers and cucumber slices for a snack
- more genmaicha to curb cravings and snacking between meals
- no eating after 8pm
- no alcohol other than wine
- no salt
- limited dairy, like fat free yogurt and feta cheese
- no sweets
At first it was murder, and I lusted after Beard Papa more than any girl should for a woolly old man with a pipe, but gradually I got used it, and sometimes even looked forward to my steaming plate of emerald green kale, and (gasp) my abs class.
Eventually, I also found inexpensive places to eat out/order in…well, 3 actually. One was the steamed chicken and veggies with brown rice from the local Chinese takeout. Their rice was the best because it was cooked in a bamboo steamer, which imparted a nice, woody aroma to satisfy those “I could dig my teeth into a freakin’ tree right now” moments. Another was the steamed chicken, veggie and brown rice burrito in a whole wheat tortilla from Paquito’s. And the last was Eva’s. I lived for their lentils, and the tofu and broccoli pita pizza.
For the first 6 months, nothing changed and I even put on a few pounds (muscle!), and then – all of a sudden – my clothes were falling off. One day a friend of mine asked why I was wearing a dress 2 sizes too big for me. I went to the mirror and noticed the excess material sagging off my shoulders, bunched around my waist, and puffing out from my hips. I saw my new body for the first time. The weight was coming off, pounds per week.
Eventually, I was able to relax my diet, and although I have gained some weight back and am now somewhere in between the two pictures above, it is great to have the option of kale or beef patty :).
So, back to Eva’s.
After admiring their cushy new seating area and fancy lighting fixtures, I proceeded to the register to ask if they still had “that lentil and salad thing.” They did, and it was called the “Vegan Special,” and it was still an awesome value @ $6.75. It comes with a big plate of brown rice and lentils, a plate of salad, a toasted whole wheat pita – and yogurt sauce if you ask for it. I did, and also asked for hot sauce to keep things interesting (to the untrained tongue, this food is bland).
Things got really interesting. Eva’s hot sauce is the hottest I’ve had in the continental United States, including New Orleans, Texas, and Curry Hill. I’d already smothered my entire plate of lentils in it, since hot sauce is never hot enough for me, so all that was left to do was get out my water bottle, blow my nose, and dig in.
Despite all the tears, it was a good meal. And I have a secret to tell you. The next tears I plan to cry will be at my sister’s wedding in July…wearing either the small or medium sized bridesmaid dress hanging in my closet!
11 West 8th Street, between 5th and 6th