The New York Diet

Actress Heather Burns Is a Vegetarian Until She Gets a Craving for Jerk Chicken

Actress Heather Burns at Broadway East.
Actress Heather Burns at Broadway East. Photo: Melissa Hom

With her Midwest accent and delicate features, actress Heather Burns stood out as naïve pageant winner Cheryl Frasier in Miss Congeniality. Her quavering voice now belongs to the conflicted Leah on Bored to Death, a Park Slope single mom who withholds sex from boyfriend Zach Galifianakis. Living with an artist herself (actor Ajay Naidu), Burns can relate to her character’s contradictions: “You’re attracted to this person because they’re creative and a free spirit, and then sometimes she wants him to grow up and take more responsibility.” She also believes the depiction of Brooklyn is accurate: “I think it’s pretty spot-on. All of my friends seem to really relate to it, and they’re kind of snobby and live in that environment.” She’s lived in the East Village since 1993, and that’s the scene of this week’s New York Diet.

Saturday, November 28
Saturday I was in Chicago coming back from Thanksgiving, so I went to Walker Bros. Original House of Pancakes the morning before my flight, which is kind of a tradition with my brother and my sister. Walker Bros. is a local diner. I think there’s about three or four of them in the area, but I’ve been going there since I was a girl. I grew up in Evanston, Illinois. We used to go there every Sunday. I had four pancakes, two eggs over easy, tea, and orange juice with my Miracle Red drink mixed in. I have that every morning. It’s an antioxidant super-food supplement. So it’s got pomegranate, goji, all kinds of things. A lot of people I know take grain drinks in the morning, but I’m allergic to barley so I can’t take them, so I thought I’d try this. It definitely gives me energy, I think, and it’s filling as well. You definitely feel sustained. It’s a powder, and it tastes good. It makes whatever you’re drinking taste pomegranate-y.

Then I flew home, and met some friends at Tipsy Parson. My friend is actually friends with the owners and I think we were gonna go to Little Giant, but then we went to Tipsy Parson instead. I had the Ambrosia salad with sheep’s milk cheese, and the Brussels sprouts, which were really good; they tasted like caramel corn. Then I had bites of pretty much everyone else’s food: collard greens, catfish — I liked that a lot, and the pickle plate. It was an array of pickled things. I was with a director, an architect, and his wife, and my boyfriend, fiancé, who is an actor, Ajay Naidu. I skipped dessert. I was full. But they had the Grasshopper. It was mint mousse and chocolate, kind of layered. It was beautiful. We had red wine. I think it was a Malbec, and a sip of my friend’s Champagne sidecar. They have a lot of mixed drinks.

Sunday, November 29
I had coconut water with my red drink, and Bare Naked granola with soy milk.

For lunch, I had just some Amy’s Kitchen organic chili mixed with brown rice.

And for dinner I had Brick Lane, an Indian restaurant on 6th Street. It’s one of my favorite places on that street. I had the peeli dal. It’s really good and it’s vegan, so I eat that quite a bit. I got it to go. And I also had some aloo matar. I needed to get the pancakes neutralized. I was trying to not eat a lot of heavy stuff. I’m a really bad vegetarian: I try to be, but I don’t succeed. I used to be pretty firm for a long time, but I do tend to stay away from dairy. I had been a vegetarian for like ten years and I supplemented everything with dairy, and then my doctor recommended I stop eating it. It was really painful for two weeks, but I did feel a lot better. He just thinks it’s hard to digest cow products. I eat sheep’s and goat’s milk a lot. And for Thanksgiving I gave up all my dietary restrictions.

Monday, November 30
On Monday, I had a meeting and then I met my boyfriend at Orlin and had a spinach-and-feta-cheese omelette with orange juice and Earl Grey tea with soy milk.

I didn’t have lunch because the omelette was very filling. I just waited for dinner. There’s a vegan bakery on St. Marks that was being renovated and now it’s open again, and I’m very happy about that because I eat a lot of food from there. And I had a slice of vegan pizza. There’s a white substance that tastes like cheese, and then it has peppers, onions, tomatoes, and probably other things as well. That’s really good. I think I had white wine with dinner.

Tuesday, December 1
On Tuesday I had Irish organic oatmeal in the morning with my red drink.

I had some more of that Amy’s organic chili, with white rice this time.

And dinner, I had Orlin again. I got takeout and I had the black beans and rice with plantains and a side of steamed broccoli. And I had a glass of white wine.

Wednesday, December 2
I had the Bare Naked granola again, and then I went to Broadway East and had the beet salad with lentils.

I’m a bad vegetarian because I love chicken. I eat chicken and I would eat chicken constantly. And I especially love Daphne’s Jamaican Restaurant’s great jerk chicken, and I often get that. It’s on 14th Street. Maybe I’ll have Daphne’s tonight.

Actress Heather Burns Is a Vegetarian Until She Gets a Craving for Jerk Chicken