04/24/13 11:00am

Juana Canton of Little Neck has been baking for family and friends for over 40 years, but just launched her own business to sell cookies in February 2013. Mama Juana’s Treats specializes in vegan, gluten-free, and low-glycemic cookies.

Mama Juana's Treats
Image Source: Mama Juana’s Treats

Tempting flavors like banana peanut butter, red velvet, and oatmeal cranberry chocolate chip are satisfying and flavorful, but are made with healthful ingredients like coconut oil, coconut sugar, agave syrup, flax seeds, carob, and organic beets for coloring. The cookies are currently being sold at Vitality & Health Natural Market in Astoria (GMAP), and they will soon hit the shelves at a Whole Foods in Jericho, in Nassau County.

Juana Canton

Canton has personal reasons for wanting to create healthier alternatives to the traditional treats everyone loves. First, she has been redesigning her own diet since being diagnosed with diverticulitis, and later, diabetes. She became vegetarian eight years ago, then went fully vegan, and follows a low-glycemic diet to control her diabetes. She wanted to continue baking, so found ways to make her recipes free of animal products and low in sugar.

Since changing her diet was so effective in improving her own health, Canton developed a passion for nutrition. At the middle school in Astoria where she works as a lunch coordinator, she enjoys helping students make healthier choices, and has introduced both a vegetarian meal and a gluten-free meal to the menu.

One of her cookies is inspired by an 8th grader named Carla, who came to her upset one day because she found out she had to start following a strict gluten-free diet. Now Mama Juana’s Treats puts out a gluten-free oatmeal cookie named after Carla. Just as she developed her first gluten-free product, Canton keeps finding new ways to make her recipes healthier, while maintaining their indulgent flavor.

04/17/13 11:00am

From hip boutiques to budget chains, Long Island City has become a hotel hotspot in the past few years. These hotels provide reasonably priced accommodations compared to the often out-of-reach rates tourists and business travelers encounter across the East River. Add in the views of and proximity to Manhattan, plus the art galleries, museums, and other companies and organizations in LIC, and it can be quite a good deal.

There are currently 20 hotels open for business in the neighborhood, and there may be more coming in soon. Most of the existing hotels were built within the last seven years, and some opened as recently as the summer of 2012.

Hotels in Hunters Point

This thriving section of Long Island City, south of Queens Boulevard and near the waterfront, is home to two stylish boutique hotels. The Ravel Hotel, right next to the Queensboro Bridge, boasts a huge rooftop restaurant and lounge with views of the Manhattan skyline.

Ravel Hotel LIC
Image Source: Ravel Hotel

 

Ravel Rooftop Restaurant and lounge
Image Source: Ravel Hotel

A few blocks east, the Z NYC Hotel offers conveniences like free shuttle transportation to and from Manhattan.


Image Source: Z Hotel

Besides these boutique hotels that have made a splash, there are two other hotels in this area. The Wyndham Garden is further south, just a few blocks from newly designed Gantry Plaza State Park.

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04/12/13 12:00pm

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Photo Courtesy Flickr user rdpeyton 

Patsy’s Pizzeria will be opening its first location outside of Manhattan at 21-64 Utopia Parkway (GMAP) in Whitestone, Queens, sometime in April. The famed pizzeria originally opened in 1933 in East Harlem and has four other Manhattan locations. Owner Frank Brija declares, “This will be the best pizza to hit Queens in 100 years.”

That’s quite a claim. So we decided to take a look at the other revered pizza joints in the borough to see what Patsy’s will be up against:

New Park Pizzeria in Howard Beach (GMAP) is a Queens original, established in 1956. Devotees from all over the city agree that Queens has the best pizza after they’ve tried a New Park pie.

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04/03/13 11:00am

In Queens, you can find history in the most unexpected places. Take this gas station in College Point that Scouting New York visited last month. The typical retro service station has a sign in the window that says, “EST. 1868.” Hmm, that’s before the invention of the automobile.

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It turns out that the Farrington family business was once a blacksmith shop that made horseshoes, so they’ve always been involved in the transportation industry. Sometime between 1917 and 1920, they adapted with technology and started servicing cars instead.

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03/22/13 3:00pm

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Image source: hermmermferm on Flickr

Queens has a lot going on in terms of sustainable construction, alternative energy, wildlife conservation, and other environmental initiatives. In fact, many of the finest tourist attractions – and special spots for locals – in the borough have a green streak. Here are our picks for the most environmentally sustainable attractions in Queens.

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1. In the upper reaches of Astoria, the Steinway & Sons piano factory (which gives awesome tours) has been using solar energy since 2009. In fact, the factory is home to the world’s largest parabolic solar installation – a setup that involves solar troughs that focus the sun’s energy to heat fluid, which in turn helps provide the cool, dehumidified air that is necessary for the manufacture of pianos. Other sustainable features of the factory include replanting trees to replenish its wood supply; and efficient closed-loop systems to collect dust and scraps for use in other parts of the manufacturing process. And above all, what makes Steinway instruments so sustainable is that they are built to last at least 80 to 100 years.

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03/18/13 11:00am

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If you’ve been to any parade or festival in Queens, you’ve probably seen a friendly street entertainer with a colorful, bushy beard and extravagant women’s clothing, his pet parrot and poodle in tow. We most recently spotted him twirling and posing at the St. Pat’s for All parade and the Flushing Lunar New Year parade. Wherever he goes, he doesn’t hold back on having fun and bringing smiles to people’s faces.

So who is this character? It’s Oswaldo Gomez, also known as “Ms. Colombia” or the “Queen of Queens.” (more…)

03/08/13 3:00pm

girl-scout-cookies

Image source: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar on Flickr

It’s officially Thin Mint season! (Or maybe you’re more into Tagalongs?) We’ve seen the coveted boxes showing up in friends’ cupboards and Facebook updates…. So, short of having an actual Girl Scout in your family, where can you find Trefoils in the neighborhoods of Queens? Here’s our list, arranged by date:

Incarnation Church
89-43 Francis Lewis Boulevard, Queens Village (GMAP)
Sunday, March 10
8:00 AM-2:00 PM

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02/28/13 3:00pm

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Image source: St. Pat’s For All Facebook page

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan, which draws millions of spectators and marchers annually, has never allowed LGBT groups to march, citing religious reasons. This outdated rule has been protested over the past 20 years by plenty of activists, Irish New Yorkers and political figures such as Christine Quinn, and even the former Irish president.

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02/13/13 3:00pm

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Image source: Seabamirum on Flickr

Legendary Steinway & Sons pianos are made right in Astoria, and the factory played a huge part in the development of the neighborhood starting in 1870. The history of this company town is just one of the many fascinating topics we learned about on the highly recommended Steinway factory tour.

steinway-piano-factory-astoria

Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 in Manhattan by Henry Steinway (originally Heinrich Steinweg), a cabinet maker from Germany who had built his first piano in the kitchen of his home. (more…)