Meatless Monday – Happy New Brunswick Day!

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I’ve never really taken to al fresco dining: the unappetizing feeling of sun beating down on your skin, the flies in your food and that sudden wind that threatens to make your meal a take-away (and not in the good sense). But here I am in New Brunswick and all I want to do is eat outside.

New Brunswick is one of Canada’s ten provinces and is now in the throes of some hot and humid temperatures. I have been eating my meals outside in a bit of shade with only a light breeze and so far, I’ve managed to keep the bugs at bay.

The first Monday in August is New Brunswick Day. Here’s what I had for breakfast:

My breakfast for New Brunswick Day: a piece of chocolate chicken bone cake!

A photo posted by Wanderlust & Flour Dust (@wanderlustflourdust) on

More on this later…

Whether it’s a picnic or patio there are certain kinds of food that are light, healthy and refreshing for eating al fresco in the summer. This Meatless Monday list is by no means exhaustive but it’s a start.

Foods for hydration
Keeping up your fluid intake is important, especially when you’ve been sweating a lot. Popsicles melt too quickly before you can appreciate them, fruit juice is high in sugar and water is just, well, boring.  Cucumber and watermelon are both high in water and can be added to salad in various combinations. Try a cucumber sandwich or watermelon mint lemonade. Mint is also cooling.

Apparently August 3rd is National Watermelon Day!
Check out this post by John-Bryan Hopkins on Foodimentary

On-the-Go
Wraps are great ways to eat a compact meal that won’t spill all over the place and attract critters at your feet. Try a light spread of hummus with some sweet bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes and salad greens stuffed into a whole grain soft tortilla shell. The thinness of the tortilla is a lighter version of sandwich carbs for the summer.

Take a dip
A thick dip such as baba ghanouj is ideal for transporting to the picnic table. Eat with crackers or water-laden vegetables for a light snack.

The added bonus of vegetarian/vegan friendly foods is they often do not have the same strict criteria for handling as dairy, eggs and meat do. But still, you should practice food-safe procedures for preparing and storing food at hot temperatures.

Any other ideas you’d like to share?

Meatless Monday – Fakin’ It

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This Meatless Monday serves up some vegetarian/vegan ‘bacon’. The essence of bacon, and perhaps why carnivores love it so much, is the combination of salty, smoky and sweet tastes contained in a crisp or slightly chewy vessel. Use the recipe found in the following post as the marinade.

I Love Me Some Vegan Bacon

Three items in the vegetarian pantry work well with this marinade: coconut, eggplant and tempeh.

Coconut
The multitude of uses for coconut bacon are outlined in the post mentioned above. You can also make a savoury trail mix of almonds, coconut bacon and whole grain crackers for eating-on-the-go. Or sprinkle some on your pancakes with some maple syrup. Speaking of which…
Recipes:
I’m a Lumberjack (maple and coconut ‘bacon’ doughnuts)
Meatless Monday – Fettucine Coconara

Eggplant
Eggplant makes for a chewy texture. Clean 1 large eggplant and cut into slices of desired thickness. You can leave the skin on but I prefer to take mine off. Let the slices sit in the marinade at least one hour. Slightly oil a cast iron grill pan and lay the eggplant in it. Bake 10-12 minutes on each side (depending on thickness of your slices) in a preheated oven set to 350°F. Remove from oven. Once slightly cool, lay the slices on some whole grain bread with some tomato slices and avocado. Dress with a little bit of vegan mayo and mustard and voilà, you have yourself an EAT (eggplant, avocado, tomato) sandwich. For extra oomph, add some roasted red pepper slices and leafy greens.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Tempeh
Take one package of tempeh and slice into strips. You may need to double the marinade recipe to accommodate all of them. Prepare the same as the eggplant ‘bacon’. Another option is to pan fry them on the stove. This takes less time (a few minutes per side) as the tempeh doesn’t need to cook as long. Serve alongside scrambled tofu for breakfast, use in a sandwich for lunch or chop them up and add to a vegetarian/vegan Ceasar salad for dinner.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Do you have any suggestions of how you would serve coconut, eggplant or tempeh ‘bacon’?

 

 

 

Around the World in 80 Bites – Bite 9

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Bite 9 – dates

Marrakesh, Morocco Photo by Kimberley (c)2007

Marrakesh, Morocco
Photo by Kimberley (c)2007

I’d like to nominate dates as a super food. The fruit from the phoenix dactylifera, or date palm tree, contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while the fronds have been used in construction. The date palm is said to have originated in the Middle East but today is cultivated in many tropical areas around the world.

Feast of Dates: The Date Palm in the United Arab Emirates (documentary film)
A promo clip on YouTube

Dates have been fermented into wine, stuffed with almonds, drizzled in chocolate, puréed into ice cream, made into molasses and dried into sugar granules. They provide fibre, energy and nutrients, with notable amounts of iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper, vitamin B6 and some antioxidants (β carotene and lutein).

There are different types of dates with Medjool and deglet nour being the most popular and widely available. The Medjool are like the Rolls Royce of dates and typically a little pricier than other types. If you can find them and afford them, use them sparingly; a little goes a long way. Deglet nour are good for general application in baking.

Other types of dates: halawi, thoory, honey, barhi...

Dates can be eaten on their own to satisfy a sweet tooth or as a post workout snack to replenish energy stores. Apart from making date squares, here are some other uses for dates:

  • Spruce up a Moroccan tagine with some chopped dates.
  • Sweeten a chutney or balance the heat in an Indian curry with dates.
  • Use date paste as a sugar substitute in baked goods.
  • Add finely chopped dates to scones, muffins or cookies.
  • Cook and purée to make a date caramel. Sticky toffee pudding anyone?
  • Granola and oatmeal can be naturally sweetened with dates.
  • Use in enriched breads such as hot cross buns and fruitcake.

Related
Encyclopedia of Life – Dates
Dates nutrition facts

Fez, Morocco Photo by Kimberley (c)2006

Fez, Morocco
Photo by Kimberley (c)2006

 

 

 

Meatless Monday – Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

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I first became acquainted with the “Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas” from the site Sophia’s Ramblings, a WordPress blog. She lists a number of easy-to-create and substantial meals that are vegetarian. In the spirit of her recipes I’ve decided to keep this post short, sweet and simple.

Links Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas Sophia’s Ramblings

Summertime is usually a hot affair with lots going on and a desire to be outside. Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen baking all day? (Well I do sometimes, but that’s beside the point.) This Meatless Monday I share with you an easy recipe for a vegan take on an Italian caprese salad.

A caprese salad consists of mozzarella, tomato, basil and balsamic vinegar.

All you need are grape/cherry tomatoes (organic is best), fresh basil leaves, black olives, soy mozzarella (or the real thing if you’re vegetarian) and balsamic vinegar. Cut tomatoes in half, then slice each half down the middle (but not all the way) to create ‘wings’. Use a balsamic reduction to make the spots. (Tip: The vinegar will stick better if the tomatoes are completely dry.)

Balsamic reduction
Bring to a boil ½ cup of balsamic vinegar and ½ Tablespoon of maple syrup or other liquid sweetener of your choice. (Omit if you are sugar-free.). Immediately reduce to low heat and let simmer about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Cut each olive in half to make the head. Place at the stem side to cover it. Sit tomato halves on a single bed of basil leaf. Underneath the leaf will be a piece of the vegan/vegetarian mozzarella. Use a miniature cookie cutter to cut out a round of cheese. Et voilà!

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

This makes for a whimsical, bite size appetizer suitable for any summer party.

Meatless Monday – Everything’s Coming Up…

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…zucchini blossoms.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

These blossoms are the flowers found at the end of the zucchini or courgette. They are often battered and fried but you can prepare them other ways too. This Meatless Monday gives you a few ideas to add a touch of culinary elegance to your summer dinner table.

Stuff it
Second to deep-frying, baking and pan frying are the preferred methods in preparing zucchini blossoms. Heat element to medium heat (about 350ºF for the oven or medium for the stove top) and cook about 10 minutes, until the filling is heated through. Stuffing suggestions:

  • cream cheese (dairy or non-dairy) with fresh herbs
  • cooked quinoa and lentils or nuts with seasonings
  • diced zucchini, tomato and red pepper with chopped olives and feta or ‘tof-eta’ (tofu marinated to mimic salty feta taste)
  • sweetened cream cheese (again dairy or non-dairy) with dried fruit

Stuffing tips

  • Remove stamen inside the flower and green thorny bits on the outside. Lightly clean in some water.
  • Be careful when pulling apart the petals. They are quite delicate and can tear to the point where they can’t be persuaded to hold the filling.
  • Don’t over stuff! A teaspoon of mixture will suffice.
  • Eat within a few days of opening package. These flowers can turn brown in a short period of time.
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Shred it
Simply peel the petals and scatter them over a cold salad or hot pasta. Although they can be eaten raw, they are plant material and a little fibrous to consume. A dousing of vinaigrette or sauce can help soften them up a little.

Hidden in this roast vegetable and Israeli couscous salad are some zucchini blossoms. Can you spot them?

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Around the World in 80 Bites – Bite 8

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Fuzzy Wuzzy
was a bear

This time of year I can pretend to be a bear and gorge on berries. My bite of choice? (bite 8): BC cherries. Though I will settle for Washington-grown if I must and Ontario-grown if I’m desperate, it is the organic BC variety of sweet cherries that I enjoy the most. They are like nature’s candy.

There are different types of cherries that fall into two categories: sweet and sour. Both types contain antioxidant compounds, vitamin C, fibre and potassium. Cherries also have anti-inflammatory properties and contain melatonin, the hormone that controls the sleep/wake cycle. Some jet lag remedies contain this substance and some people report using it for insomnia. I shall be having cherries as a bedtime snack until they are no longer available.

Cherry fruit nutrition facts from Nutrition and You

 

 

Around the World in 80 Bites – Bite 7

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Glee is:

a) a musical
b) a t.v. program
c) the feeling I have when shopping a farmers’ market

For me, the answer is c). Like the flowers in full bloom during the summer months, farmers’ markets in these parts are in full swing. Pop up farmers’ market abound selling local wares while year-round markets are abuzz with activity.

Farming is hard work, often with little monetary reward, particularly for those indentured to giant food corporations. Shopping at farmers’ markets helps support local farmers. It is a community-oriented atmosphere too. Musicians, snack carts and familiar faces are often a part of the landscape. And if you travel abroad, you are sure to find some gems that provide local food cheap. This is a great way to interact with the culture in person and on a plate while adventuring overseas.

Seek out your local farmers’ market and shop away. Currently loving on the St. Lawrence Market (rated one of the top ten by National Geographic) and the Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market (vegan BBQ, I’m coming back for you…!)

We pay the doctor to make us better when we should really be paying the farmer to keep us healthy.
~Robyn O’Brien~

Related
Shop like a European