The Guest’s Dilemma

Before any trip out of town, the most important errand to help ensure some level of sanity for my family is a trip to the library.  Our local library is closed for renovations, so I went to a larger branch and stumbled upon Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma young readers edition, adapted for teens, which my older daughter is thoroughly enjoying.

Our dilemma this Memorial Day weekend turned out to not be a dilemma at all, because GrillVeggiesmy aunt went out of her way to ensure there were plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and animal-free dishes for my family.  My aunt was hosting a large family gathering to celebrate the birth and baptism of the newest member of the family.

We were extremely fortunate to have such a thoughtful hostess in my aunt, as she reached out a few weeks ago to see what sort of foods we would eat.  I offered to bring a dish or two, knowing she already had her hands full, but she would have nothing of it.

When you are in a potential guest’s dilemma by sharing a meal at someone else’s home, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Let the host(ess) know up front that you do not eat animal products.  This can be uncomfortable but will be even more so if you don’t forewarn them and then don’t eat the food they have taken such care in preparing for you, or if they find out afterwards that their food made you sick.
  • Indicate that you do not expect the host(ess) to cater to your dietary needs.
  • If asked, indicate what ingredients should be avoided (meat, cheese, milk, and butter) and provide suggestions for easy whole food, plant based meals (spaghetti with marinara sauce, baked potato bar, build-your-own nachos or rice bowl, etc).
  • Offer to bring a dish or two.  Bring a hearty entrée or side to ensure you won’t leave hungry, and if possible, bring a second dish that your host(ess) would never guess is animal-free (dessert posts forthcoming).
  • Eat a healthy snack beforehand, such as an apple and a handful of raw nuts, as to not arrive hungry.  Particularly if you didn’t bring “safe” food, you’ll want to ensure that you do not show up hungry and are then tempted by foods that you wouldn’t normally eat.
  • Take an appetizer to share (vegetable and fruit trays are available at most grocery stores, as is guacamole and hummus, or bring dried Turkish figs and raw shelled walnuts and insert a walnut half into each fig), or have snacks available for before or after dinner, to help ensure you don’t get so hungry that you overeat or make poor choices.
  • Most importantly, be very gracious about any accommodations made.

If you are gathering with friends and family for a cookout this Memorial Day, pick up some vegan burgers or sausages to throw on the grill.  Ideally you should select something nonGMOlabeled certified organic or non GMO project verified.  The Non GMO Project is the only independent verification available in North America for products made according to best
practices for GMO avoidance.

If the product is not certified organic or non GMO project verified, then it is likely that genetically modified organisms are included.  GMOs are plants or animals created through gene splicing techniques of biotechnology that merges DNA from different species, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or traditional crossbreeding.

High-risk GMO crops include alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, and zucchini and yellow squash.  When consuming these products in particular, it is important to purchase certified organic (which cannot be GMO) or non GMO project verified as much as possible.

Back to the grilling– the following companies make non GMO project verified meat substitutes: Fry’s Vegetarian, Health is Wealth, Hilary’s Eat Well, Qrunch Foods, Sol Cuisine, and Sophie’s Kitchen.  The following manufacturers have enrolled but not yet undergone verification: Beyond Meat, Helen’s Kitchen, and MorningStar Farms.

If you are unable to find these brands in your area and don’t yet have a go to homemade burger recipe, grill veggies!!

 

Grilled Vegetables

Slice vegetables 1/3” to 1/2” thick.  Veggies that work well include eggplant, sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, beets, and mushrooms (no need to slice).  Use aluminum foil or a grill pan with tomatoes, onions, peppers, broccoli, asparagus, etc.  Spray or brush with EVOO and season or marinate veggies in advance (which allows for no or very little EVOO).

Grill over medium heat until tender, turning as necessary.

Unhusked organic corn can be soaked in water (if corn is very fresh then soaking is not necessary) then placed directly on the grill for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.

 

Walnut Stuffed Turkish Figs

Equal number of dried Turkish figs and walnut halves

Pinch off the top of the dried fig.  Gently squeeze the fig to make a pocket.  Insert the walnut half inside the fig.

Enjoy!

 

References

http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

Seal from http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/understanding-our-seal/

Photo Credit: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2174/1540455955_bcbd14a181_o.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. egelrod says:

    Nice post! I was excited to hear Ben & Jerry is on the path to securing all non-gmo ingredients for their delish treats 🙂 http://www.benjerry.com/activism/gmo

    • Catherine says:

      Yes, wouldn’t it be fabulous if non-GMO was the next food fad?!?
      Meanwhile, Whole Foods announced earlier this year that by 2018 they would require labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in their store for products that were not either organic or verified by the Non-GMO Project.
      For other non-GMO companies and products, check out http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com and thanks for reading!

  2. Good job! Looking forward to more.

  3. Great articles!