A Challenge – Thanksgiving Without The Turkey

“What is added by having a turkey on the Thanksgiving table? And what would happen if there were no turkey? Would the tradition be broken, or injured, if instead of a bird we simply had the sweet potato casserole, homemade rolls, green beans with almonds, cranberry concoctions, yams, buttery mashed potatoes, pumpkin and pecan pies? It’s not so hard to imagine it. See your loved ones around the table. Hear the sounds. Smell the smells. There is no turkey. Is the holiday undermined? Is Thanksgiving no longer Thanksgiving?

Or would Thanksgiving be enhanced? Would the choice not to eat turkey be a more active way of celebrating how thankful we feel? Try to imagine the conversation that would take place. This is why our family celebrates this way. Would such a conversation feel disappointing or inspiring?” (Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals)

This coming weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada I’m issuing a big challenge to my readers, family and friends: I would like you to consider serving this holiday dinner without any meat. Do you think it’s possible? Could you add a new element to your meal by sharing with your family the reasons behind your decision to forgo the usual turkey centerpiece? (If you are interested more information about the truth of the turkey industry, you can check out this link.)

Trust me I get it- this is no easy challenge. Suggesting a Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey can elicit reactions ranging from curiosity to downright anger. But as I am midway through Brene Brown’s amazing book “Daring Greatly“, I am encouraged to test out my own bravery and vulnerability by tackling this tradition and putting my own neck on the line (I guess you could say in place of the turkey).

What do you think? Could you give it a whirl? I’m picturing you seated around a festive table with your loved ones and raising your glass of wine to say  “I am thankful for this 100% cruelty-free dinner that I can share with my family.”

If you are open and willing, here is what I will be preparing with my family this Thanksgiving as inspiration:

Tofu Stuffed Mushrooms (recipe courtesy of Vegetarian Times)

tofu stuffed mushrooms

Vegan Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

caesar done

Kym Salad

kym salad in bowl

Fresh Baguettes from Pane Fresco

baguettes

Vegan Shepard’s Pie with Mushroom Gravy

shepard's pie on plate

Vegan Caramel Apple Pie (courtesy of Healthy. Happy. Life)

apple-pie58

Whatever you decide to serve, I wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving weekend! Cheers!

Protein Packed Hash Browns

I almost called this post “Holy Crap She Is Actually Posting a Recipe!” because it’s been so freakin’ long since I shared a food idea on my blog. Yes I am still cooking- although perhaps thawing and reheating would better describe my time in the kitchen of late. And I must give credit where credit is due and mention my sweet hubby who has also been doing a lot of the cooking (ahem…ordering in) as we’ve been adjusting to a busier schedule.

The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my favourite magazines Vegetarian Times. Anyone who has ever said that a plant-based diet is boring should pick up a copy of this mag and browse through the pages. Beautiful, delicious and creative dishes fill every issue and I always attempt to make at least one recipe from my monthly edition.

These hash browns are savoury and a bit spicy so feel free to omit the cayenne if you are making them for the kids. I served them with pancakes for a “breakfast for dinner” kind of night and they were a huge hit. You could also serve them alongside a big salad and a hunk of baguette for a hearty lunch or dinner. Oh and a tip from my family – a shot of ketchup takes these babies to the next level!

Protein Packed Hash Browns (adapted from Vegetarian Times, Sept 2013)

hash browns

1 package of extra-firm tofu (organic and non GMO), rinsed, patted dry and cubed
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow pepper, chopped
5-6 yellow fleshed potatoes, cubed
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 pinch cayenne
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat 1 tbsp. of the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the cubed tofu and sauté for 5 minutes, flipping a few times until the chunks are lightly browned. Remove from heat and place in a small bowl.

Add the other 1 tbsp. of oil to the same pan and sauté the garlic, onion, yellow pepper and potatoes for approximately 10 minutes or until potatoes are starting to brown. Toss in the tofu and add the spices. Saute for 7-8 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender and browned. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Oops! A Change to my Changes

Thank you so much to fellow blogger Manchester Chick Flick for noticing the Enzymes that I posted are not vegan! Oops. I should have posted a link and picture of the Genestra V-Enzymes…..they are vegan and vegetarian friendly.

vEnzymes

This is a plant-based digestive enzyme formula for those of us who prefer not to eat animal products. I should note though that they are not chewable like the Bio Enzymes – these are capsules.

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes….

First of all I must apologize for not posting very much over the past few weeks. I recently picked up a rather large voice over and writing assignment that is going to keep me hopping until mid-November so I won’t be able to write on my beloved blog as much as I’d like to. My plan is to put up one post per week but you’ll have to be patient with me as I attempt to strike a balance between an increased workload and the hectic schedule that fall inevitably brings.

That being said – if any of you would be interested in offering up a guest post with your favourite veggie recipe or your best tips and tricks for staying healthy and happy – fire your ideas over to me at loriandmark@cogeco.ca and I will gladly pop them up on my blog.

In the meantime, here are a few things I’m loving lately to tide you over until next week:

Genestra Bio-Enzymes– If you are anything like me, a more relaxed summer mode sometimes equals a less than ideal diet. Summer parties at friends houses, lemonade and chips on hot summer afternoons, quick and easy take-out meals and evening jaunts to Yogurty’s can sometimes leave me with a serious case of gut rot. Since I usually endeavor to eat fairly cleanly, my body sometimes rebels when I chow down on an over abundance of junk food. So a huge thank you to my good friend Jess who turned me  on to these amazing chewable digestive enzymes. They are guaranteed to contain no added wheat, starch, yeast, gluten, soy, artificial flavoring, preservatives or dairy products and they naturally “support optimal digestion and proper absorption of nutrients.” I even give them to the kids if they are complaining of tummy aches and they work like a charm!

genestra

Drive-In Movies – one of my favourite childhood memories is of throwing on my pajamas and piling into the car with my family, our pillows, blankets and huge buckets of popcorn and heading off to drive-in movies. I was very excited to share the fun with my own kids and now that the youngest is 3 (and napping for 3 hours each afternoon) we decided it was time to hit the drive-in. We loaded up the trunk of our van with a thin mattress and sleeping bags and brought the kids to see Smurfs 2. Honestly the movie wasn’t my favourite but we had an absolute blast snuggling under the blankets, munching on popcorn and enjoying a flick under the stars together. Guaranteed family fun!

drive in

Dog Shaming– I recently stumbled upon this hilarious website at www.dogshaming.com and I can’t get enough of these laugh-out-loud photos. The premise is to catch your family pet either in the act or just after they have done something naughty and then take a photo of them with a little note explaining what they’ve done. My whole family is cracking up over these photos and I’m fairly sure I’ll be posting a pic of my own Scooby Doo quite soon.

dog shaming best

Garden Fresh Salad– thanks to my hubby’s green thumb, my garden is currently overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh basil. I wanted to create a simple summer salad featuring these beautiful ingredients so I chopped up the veggies and basil and threw them in a bowl with the juice of 1 lime, a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. Yum!

garden salad

Self-Improvement– my dad instilled in me a love for self-improvement and life-long learning. I fondly remember him toting me along to seminars with Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent-Peale at a very early age and teaching me about the principles of Dale Carnegie and other motivational leaders. As a result I am somewhat of a junkie when it comes to this stuff and I am always reading and seeking out inspirational material. I’m currently loving Joseph Campbell’s book “The Power of Myth and following a number of amazing bloggers like “Zen Habits“, “The Daily Love” and Crazy SexyWellness“.

zen habits

Ashton Kutcher Video– have you watched Ashton Kutcher’s acceptance speech from the most recent Teen Choice awards yet? Thanks to my friend Sue who posted the video on her facebook page, I have watched it at least a half a dozen times and I learn something each and every time. Who knew the guy from “Dude, Where’s My Car?” could be so profound? If you haven’t seen it – gather your family around the computer and watch it now. It’s must see!

Thank you for your patience as I concentrate my writing efforts elsewhere for a while. And please get in touch if you’d like to try your hand at a little writing on my blog!

Week #2 – Getting Vegucated

I bounced up the stairs full of enthusiasm for our second week of family learning – Healthy Eating – only to be greeted with groans, sighs and some fairly harsh commentary. “Geez mom, we always eat healthy. Do we really have to spend the whole week talking about it?” “Oh yay, more smoothies and salad. Can’t we eat some normal food?” “Please, please don’t make us go grocery shopping with you!”

Ouch! All of my wonderful plans for gathering my eager children around my kitchen island to prepare some vegan delights while we discussed the latest research on sea vegetables and they oohed and ahhed about how yummy my latest batch of kale chips tasted just evaporated in the blink of an eye. It seemed I would have to take a different approach.

The last thing I want to do is turn my children off of healthy eating habits by shoving my own ideas about food down their throats (so to speak). As a rule, I cook a mostly plant-based menu at home and then shut my mouth and allow them to make their own choices when they are at friends houses, parties and at restaurants. For me, one of the hardest things about following a veggie diet is that once I learned about the animal cruelty and environmental devastation involved in the meat and dairy industries and the myriad health benefits associated with a plant-based diet – I just wanted to share that information with everyone I know and love. But I’ve discovered that it is important to back off and let people come to these ideas when they are ready – and that includes my own children. And oftentimes, it’s easier to receive suggestions and ideas when they aren’t coming from your mom!

I had watched the documentary Vegucated a while back and found it to be full of great information that was delivered in a funny and thoughtful manner so I decided to have a family screening of this movie one night during the course of the week (it’s on Netflix in Canada). In the film, Director Marisa Miller Wolfson convinces 6 regular meat-eating New Yorkers to go vegan for 6 weeks and she documents their journey as they change their diet and their thinking about food.

vegucated 1

Overall this movie is lighthearted, informative and funny but if you are considering showing this doc to your family, I would suggest pre-screening it to see if you think they can handle a couple of disturbing scenes. After my daughter burst into tears watching a baby calf being taken from his mom, we decided to fast forward through that part and one other small section where there are a few upsetting moments during a tour of an abandoned slaughter-house.

Here were the kids comments after watching Vegucated:
“I am becoming a vegan….starting today!”
“Isn’t it awesome that Oreo’s are vegan?”
“I had no idea that’s how we got milk and cheese.”
“Can we go on a trip to a farm sanctuary?”
“I feel so sad for the animals.”
“Are veggie burgers from Harvey’s vegan?”

Do I expect them to stop eating bacon at Cora’s or a cheesy pizza every once in a while? Not a chance! But they did get a much better understanding of how animal products get to their plate and they’ll definitely carefully consider their food choices based on what they’ve seen and learned. And I would call that a success!

Next week: Self Love & Acceptance.

Barbecued Potato Salad

Potatoes are a fan favourite in my household. French fried, baked, hash browns, mashed…you name it the kids will gobble them up. And nothing says summer like a good potato salad so I decided to tinker with an old recipe to amp up the healthy ingredients while still putting the spotlight on the almighty spud.

potato

I was planning to bake the potatoes in the oven but I couldn’t bear to heat up the house any more during this warm summer so I lined my cookie sheet with tin foil and popped those babies onto the BBQ to roast. And in the end I think this made the salad taste even better!

I used a combination of yellow and sweet potatoes but you could use just one variety if you want a more uniform taste. It was delicious when the potatoes were still warm right off the bbq but even better the next day after all of the ingredients had mixed together in the fridge overnight. I’m thinking this would also be a winner at a summer picnic or potluck. And feel free to add in any veggies and herbs you love to make this salad your own…..if you are like my toddler you might also want to throw on a little ketchup as an extra dressing and call it “French Fry Salad”. Hey – whatever works.

Barbecued Potato Salad

potato salad 2

5-6 yellow flesh potatoes, cubed
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1 can organic mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp sea salt (plus more for seasoning)
Fresh black pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

1/4 cup flax oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil

Place potatoes, onion and garlic in a large bowl. Toss with oil, paprika, turmeric, parsley, sea salt and black pepper. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and either bake in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or grill on the BBQ for 30-40 minutes over medium high heat.

potato salad 1

Put the cooked potatoes and veggies in a serving bowl and toss with mixed beans, cucumber, peppers and fresh cilantro.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Pour over potatoes and veggies and toss to combine. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Raw Cauliflower “Rice” Salad

I learned in a Raw Cooking Class with Meghan Telpner that if you simply whir cauliflower in your food processor you end up with a grain-like consistency. It’s actually very cool and tastes remarkably like rice. And it has the added benefit of featuring a cruciferous veggie that is often overlooked but comes loaded with antioxidants, fiber and anti-inflammatory properties.

cauliflower rice

In a continued effort to not turn on my stove during our current heat wave, I thought this was the perfect time to experiment with more raw foods and thus this salad was conceived. My husband and I both enjoyed it but the kids only ate a small amount and found it a bit too tangy with all of the lemon juice. I might actually hold off with the lemon the next time I make it and let the kids control how much they put into their own servings.

The easiest way to prepare this rice is to use the “S” blade on your food processor or you can simply grate the cauliflower with a hand grater. If it is over processed it will become watery and mushy so be sure to pulse the florets slowly in your processor. Oh and word of warning – raw cauliflower may make you a bit gassy so don’t overindulge in your first sitting unless you are prepared to blow your family off the couch later in the evening if you know what I mean ; )

Raw Cauliflower “Rice” Salad

cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 pepper (the colour of your choice), chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
12-15 black olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Break cauliflower into pieces and pulse in a food processor using an “S” blade until you achieve a rice-like consistency. Work in batches so that you don’t overload the processor and end up with big chunks- you want it all to be even and fine. Place the finished “rice” into a large bowl.

Stir in cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, olives, cilantro and basil. Add oil, lemon and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Serve cold.

Enjoy!