Picnic Pleasers

Here are a few recipes that are great for a cookout or a potluck because you don’t have to heat up your kitchen or reheat them at the event.  Which means more time for fun!Picnic_Seurat_1884


Waldorf “Chicken” Salad

4 non-GMO soy patties (I use a local manufacturer, Delight)

1 batch of Miracle Naise from Fat Free Vegan (xanthan gum not necessary)

1 apple, cored and diced into small pieces

1.5 c halved grapes (quarter them if they’re large)

3 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and sliced vertically

1 t poultry seasoning

salt and pepper

Make a batch of MiracleNaise mayo using a can of artichokes as described here and refrigerate until ready to use.  The main ingredient for the MiracleNaise is patience (and a can of artichoke quarters), but the result is well worth it.  Xanthan gum isn’t necessary at all, and I even add an extra bit of water to avoid the frustration of repeatedly scraping down the sides of the blender.

Shred the soy patties in your food processor or finely dice.  Add the diced apples, grapes, celery, and seasonings.  Mix in a few scoops of the MiracleNaise and stir until combined.  Add more MiracleNaise based on the desired texture and taste.  Adjust poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve on a bed of lettuce, in lettuce ‘cups’, in a wrap, with crackers, or on a plain ol’ sandwich.

Even easier than this is Three Bean Salad, which is also really filling.

Lemony Kale Salad

1 large or 2 small bunches of kale, stripped and torn into smaller pieces

Juice of 2 lemons

1 medium beet (boiled) or 1 can of beets, julienned

1 c cooked white beans

4 clementines or 3 tangelos or navel oranges, peeled and sections halved

1/2 c pecan or walnut halves (candied if desired)

Add the kale and lemon juice to a large bowl and massage the kale for a few minutes to break down the cell walls and tenderize it.  Add the beets, beans, and oranges, stirring to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Sprinkle the pecans or walnuts on the top of each serving.

This is similar to the Kale Ginger Quinoa Salad and Massaged Kale Salad if you’d like ideas on how to customize it to the ingredients you have available.

Strawberry Salsa

1 quart fresh strawberries, capped and diced

1 c yellow, red, and green peppers, diced small

1/4 c minced shallots or green onion

Juice of 2 limes

1 T balsamic vinegar

1/4 t organic sugar

1/2 t garlic powder

1/4 t salt

Optional 1 or 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced

Combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate.  Stir before serving with homemade tortilla chips or crackers.

This is a wonderful springtime alternative to our tried and true Black Bean Mango Salsa.  Some of us don’t ever get tired of strawberries, but having them in a savory dish is quite a treat for the tastebuds!


Photo Credit:

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Seurat#/media/File:A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884.png




Baby It’s Hot Outside

Strategies to stay cool in the kitchen:heat_miser

  • Prep the week’s meals in advance to  concentrate use of the stove
  • Eat simple dishes with lots of whole foods in or near their natural states
  • Make extra portions to guarantee leftovers
  • Use leftover smoothies to make popsicles
  • Have snack dinner one night (hummus and veggies, bean salad and homemade tortilla chips, and guac with celery)
  • Eat a bean, veggie, or grain salad every day (check out the Recipes section to keep it interesting)
  • Try the dishes below with minimal use of the stove


Wild Rice Salad

Serves 4

3 c cooked wild rice mix

1 c frozen green peas

1/3 c dried cranberries

1/2 c sliced almonds or sunflower seeds

1 apple, diced

¼ c red bell pepper, diced

1 T freshly grated ginger

½ t salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Thai Noodle Salad

Serves 6

6-8 oz thin rice noodles (Asian noodles, not spaghetti made of rice)

2 carrots, grated

Small head of cabbage, shredded

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T ginger, minced

4 T brown sugar

2 limes, juiced

4 T low sodium soy sauce, tamari, or Braggs liquid aminos

2 T tomato paste

1 T chili powder (optional)

Cook or soak the noodles according to package directions.  Grate the carrots and shred the cabbage into a large bowl.

In a large saucepan, saute the garlic and ginger in 2 T water.  Whisk in the brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, tomato paste, and chili powder if using.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low for 2 minutes.  Add the noodles and stir to coat.  Add to carrot and cabbage mixture and toss well.

Garnish with cilantro, chopped peanuts, or hot sauce.


Cantaloupe Soup

Serves 4

1 cantaloupe, seeds and rind removed

1 c unsweetened orange juice

2 t fresh lime juice

1 c plain non-dairy yogurt

Puree ingredients and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving (or less if cantaloupe is refrigerated in advance).


Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Microwave sweet potatoes and top with broccoli, black beans, and pineapple.  Hot sauce optional.


Photo Credit:

Heat Miser: http://bit.ly/1nyClPT

Old Fashioned Apps

Old fashioned apps, you know, appetizers instead of applications.  I love appetizers and getting to eat a little bit of a variety of things instead of a lot of one thing.  I do love the efficiency and simplicity of one pot meals, so we do eat quite a bit of those, but grazing on appetizers over a couple of hours is quite the treat for me.appetizerappetizer

Our Christmas tradition is to have a nice big dinner on Christmas Eve and then snack our way through Christmas day with brunch foods in the morning and appetizers all afternoon and evening.  How I’d love to live with that laissez faire attitude more often, though in reality the actual food and prep was all planned out, just not the timing.

With all of the Super Bowl and Olympics viewing in the next few weeks, below are ideas of apps to enjoy  while watching (or day dreaming about other stuff in the general direction of the tv).  While still plant based, many of these apps are not low fat and should be consumed only occasionally.

To further support your low fat plant based lifestyle, remember the golden rules of party-going:

1. Eat and hydrate well before you go

2. Take food that you can enjoy guilt free


Black Bean Dip, Guacamole, and Baked Tortilla Chips

Spinach Dip

Carmelized Onion Dip

Roasted Chickpeas

Kale Chips

Raw Veggie Tray (snow peas, sugar snap peas, green beans in addition to carrots, celery, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower) and Hummus

Fruit Tray or Fruit Skewers (seasonal fruit)

Fruit Dipped in Dark Chocolate or Pomegranate Bark

Organic Edamame (all soy should be organic or non-GMO project verified)

Homemade Sushi (avocado and cucumber, roasted sweet potato and portabellos, etc)

Faux hot dogs or sausages wrapped in phyllo or dairy-free crescent rolls (spread dijon or spicy brown mustard down the center before rolling up) and sliced into bite-sized pieces before serving

Boiled Peanuts (MYO or buy a large container and reheat in your crockpot for a more authentic presentation)

Raw or Dry Roasted Nuts


For the big game, we enjoyed organic edamame, potato skins, boiled peanuts, watermelon, roasted okra, roasted chickpeas, guacamole with celery and baked tortilla chips, and ‘chicken’ and waffles.





Photo Credit: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/appetizer


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.





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

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