Vol. 12 No. 10 - December 21, 2011
NFL Flag Football Preview
The Anna Maria Island Community Center last week formed 23 youth NFL Flag Football teams. More than 175 boys and girls, ages five to 16, showed up for the two-day draft process. The players were put through a new format of tryouts similar to what the NFL Combine uses to assess the college athletes entering the draft. The children and volunteer coaches seemed to really enjoy the 40-yard dash times. In football, speed kills and the coaches used these times frequently in deciding their next draft pick.
The teams will be practicing hard for the rest of December. After the children return from winter break, official games will begin. The season starts off with a kick-off season dinner donated by the Beach Bistro & Eat Here on Wednesday, Jan. 4. Regular season games will begin on Friday, Jan. 6.
This is how the leagues stack up: In division I, (13- to 16-year-olds), there are six teams; in division II, (10- to 12-year-olds), there are seven teams; in division III, (8- to 10-year-olds), there are six teams; and in the Instructional league, (5- to 7-year-olds), there are four teams.
Adult flag football tryouts are Thursday, Dec. 15. New this season is anyone who has not played in the league before must try out or they will not be placed on a team. There are currently over 100 players anxiously awaiting the formation of this league.
By Thursday night's draft, the Center will probably be forming 14 to 18 teams for this highly anticipated league. Uniforms for the adults will be handed out at the Wednesday, Jan. 4 dinner and the season games begin on Thursday, Jan. 5.
BBQ goes vegan — the ultimate mixed marriage
I was minding my own business doing a book signing at Geraldson's Community Farm, the source of amazing organic produce off 75th Street in Bradenton, across from Robinson Preserve. A woman starts chatting with me as people often do. I'm trying to multi-task not messing up my handwriting and focusing on the message I'm printing. So she says, "Have you ever eaten at Mr. Bones on the island?"
"Yes," I said, still looking down. "It was a while ago and they only had two things. But I was so surprised to see the words vegan outside a BBQ place. I ate the veggie burger and it was pretty good."
She goes, "I'm the owner." Ooops. I dropped my pen and looked up regretting that I didn't give the burger an "A" rating. It actually was better than pretty good.
I ask her, Charlotte Mansur, the owner, to send me the whole story about how an Island BBQ place goes vegan. Talk about mixed marriages! This has gotta take the carrot cake. I had no idea this little gem was here.
"My husband and I were vegetarians for six years before we bought the restaurant in 1992. But, when you own a restaurant you really have to taste the food, mainly ribs in our case, so we converted back to eating meat.
"In the last few years we have seen momentum growing with our patrons to eat less meat, whether it is for political reasons, or strictly to feel better and live longer. Eating vegetarian is mainstream, and now many family members and friends are eating vegan.
"And yet… restaurants in this part of the country are lagging behind the tastes of the public. We look in vain on many menus for non-meat items
and find only salads and pasta. This causes a problem for a lot of families where eating habits can vary widely.
My brother-in-law became a vegan after surviving cancer, but the rest of the family did not, and this severely limits where they can eat out together. We often see teens and young adults unable to go out to eat with the family because they are vegan or vegetarian. It seemed our restaurant needed to pay better attention to those we were serving.
"A few months ago we were lucky enough to have Chef Craig Chasky come on board. After a bout with Lyme's disease in the late 90s he nursed himself back to health through nutrition.
"Chasky worked at the Berkshire Co-Op Market Place, and is a graduate of Hyde Park Culinary Institute. Hewas surprised to find that Mr. Bones makes everything possible from scratch. This is exciting and fun for chefs like Chasky, who love to cook with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
"We serve about 600 pounds of rice per week. Almost every dish comes with some sort of rice, which we cook with organic, gluten-free tamari (no GMO).
"Our veggie burger is made with lentils and bonded together with quinoa and rolled oats. It's got carrots, onions, and a bit of spicy heat.
"Potato leek soup, which is our rich interpretation of the fabled soup, seasoned with sea salt and white pepper, has been my personal favorite since the weather has cooled.
"General Moe's watercress is sautéed watercress in an Asian ginger and garlic sauce, served over a bed of curried rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Meat eaters don't even care that it's vegan!
"Another favorite is the Cuban black beans and rice. These just prove you don't need a meat broth to get a rich full flavored taste.
"We had a couple come in who were directed to us by a resort owner. He told them Mr. Bones was the only restaurant on the Island serving vegan food, and they thought it was a joke! They really didn't believe it was true until they were handed a menu.
"It's been satisfying for us to know that a whole family with diverse eating styles can eat under the same roof. I hope other restaurants on the Island recognize the need for extensive vegan and vegetarian menus to satisfy the growing numbers of sophisticated patrons out there."
You can follow Island resident Ellen Jaffe Jones on her Facebook page and keep up with her just released book:,"Eat Vegan on $4 a Day," or her website: www.vegcoach.com. She is also a nationally certified personal trainer and running coach. For training in a gym or private hire, contact Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-704-1025.