NYC Vegetarian Festival

Walking into the festival - it was pretty busy so I didn't get the best pictures of the event

Yesterday I ventured to the NYC vegetarian festival to sample different vegetarian and vegan goods with a veggie friend of mine. About 15 years ago I gave up red meat and pork. I never really liked the taste of meat and I never looked back. I continue to eat chicken and turkey and I absolutely love fish. Given my diet I have always been curious about making vegetarian meals and incorporating protein into my diet to make sure I am fully replacing what I don’t eat.

My first experiences with tofu were as a camper at a sleep-away camp in Maine. The camp hippie run and the cook was amazing. At every meal there was a vegetarian and vegan option (not your typical salad bar option either real meals). I had never had the chance to eat tofu that was properly prepared and I gobbled it up. I looked forward to eating those vegetarian meals all year long and I can safely say I ate better than most sleep-away campers during the summer months. It was years before I started to make my own quality veggie meals and even longer before I started to make my own tofu that actually tasted good.

So when I heard the Vegetarian Festival was going to be in town this weekend I was excited! To add another level to my vegetable friendly diet, I developed lactose intolerance a couple of years ago and am always interested in learning about new dairy free products.

check out all that peanut butter - yum!

It was a lot of fun and I had some very tasty goodies – including my favorite treat of the day some vegan marshmallows. As someone who loves to bake I always find it interesting to see what substitutes are used to make cookies, brownies, etc vegan. My friend and I couldn’t help but find it strange that we didn’t see a vegetable the entire time we were there! There were a few tables that we didn’t make it to because of the lines like a smoothie station and vegan sushi bar, I would imagine they had some vegetables there. It seemed off to me that there weren’t more stands featuring fresh produce or resources to access these goods.

Do you have a favorite vegetarian meal or product?

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Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

As you know from this post I have a very chubby cat that eats pumpkin to curb her appetite. As a result I am left with a surplus of pumpkin! I baked with it, cooked with it and frankly am getting a little sick of the stuff. My lovely friend and Registered Dietician, Alex (check her out she is awesome) suggested I try incorporating pumpkin into my breakfast. I have been very happy with the results and I can only imagine that all the fiber in the pumpkin is doing its work to keep me feeling fuller longer as it is for my cat.

Like all delicious baked goods I love pumpkin pie. Of course I cannot eat it regularly because I would be as chubby as my kitty but this oatmeal has all the same flavors without the fat and sugar. Hope you enjoy (ps pumpkin is also great in greek or plain yogurt with spices too!)

This would also be a great time to note I love cows if you couldn't tell from the fine breakfast china!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal:

1/4 cup Steel Cut Oats

1 cup water

1 tablespoon pumpkin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

tiny pinch of ground cloves

(brown sugar or pure maple syrup if you like your oatmeal sweet)

I like to make my oatmeal the night before so its good and fluffy and cooks quickly the next morning. I start by boiling a cup of water and dropping the oatmeal in as soon as its boiling. Cover the pot and turn off the water immediately let the oats soak overnight.

In the morning turn the water on low heat and bring to a simmer. Let the oats simmer for about ten minutes until most of the water is evaporated (I usually let this happen while I am getting ready). Transfer to a bowl once the oatmeal is the consistency you like and add in the spices. I also like to add a sliced banana and some raisins to make my oatmeal a little heartier.

Homemade Granola Bars

Lots of chopping but it was definitely worth it!

I had never been a too into granola bars as a snack, they are often sweet enough for dessert and I prefer to eat the real thing when I want dessert – which is almost always. Granola bars just never seemed to do their job and I ended up eating lots of extra sugar without the same satisfaction. Then I discovered Larabars and realized how great snacks granola bars can make. One of the greatest things about Larabars is they do not have any artificial sweeteners added unfortunately I live on a pretty tight budget and Larabars which can be quite pricy don’t always make the cut.

I have been trying to make my own granola bars for quite some time. They have been too crunchy, too crumbly, and dry. I did my research read up on different things to bind the ingredients together but hadn’t had success – until now. I found a recipe on Eat Simply that looked intriguing. I hadn’t used egg before. I switched up some of the fruits based on what was available at my grocery store and the fact that I LOVE dried blueberries and I used a mixture of nuts to vary the flavors and because using all pecans would be more than my budget can handle. I have been imagining new combos of flavors for granola bars all day, can’t wait to make more!

Homemade Granola Bars – adapted from Eat Simply

1/3 cup flour (can be whole wheat)

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup dried blueberries

1 cup dried apricots chopped

1 1/2 cups dried figs (I wanted to use dates but all the store had were figs) chopped

1/2 cup almonds chopped

1/2 cup walnuts chopped

1/2 cup pecans chopped

2 eggs

1/2 tspn vanilla

1 tbsp honey

*make sure that your dried fruit does not have added sugar and that the nuts you purchase are not salted.

preheat the over to 325 degrees

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl then add the chopped fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and vanilla for 2 minutes until light and frothy. Add egg mixture and honey to the fruit, nuts and dry ingredients.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes depending on your oven then let fully cool before cutting.

Cut as small as you would like – one of the best parts about making your own granola bars is you get to determine how big they are.

Have you made your own granola bars – what worked and what didn’t?

Granola bars before they were cut into bars!

Waldorf Chicken Salad with a Twist!

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My senior year of college I discovered I LOVE chicken salad. I am not sure what brought about this sudden adoration, maybe I had never even tried chicken salad before but suddenly I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Then I discovered Waldorf Chicken Salad and I fell in love all over again.

At my first job after college there was a place around the corner from my office with the best Waldorf Chicken Salad ever. I made every excuse to go there: having a bad day guess I need some chicken salad, having a good day well I should treat myself to some chicken salad. I went through this reasoning regularly and my love for this dish was widely known. When I left that job they had an office goodbye party, you better believe there was lots of Waldorf Chicken Salad from my favorite spot. I am not sure which I was more upset about leaving the job that I loved or the regular access to such a great lunch.

Now I work at a job I absolutely love but there is no great chicken salad in the neighborhood so I am forced to make it myself. I have gotten pretty skilled in the art of Waldorf Chicken Salad but today decided to add a new spin – a waste friendly version. I swapped out the mayo for some greek yogurt and was pleasantly surprised. Except for the need to add a little extra salt it was hard to tell the difference. Tonight for dinner I will be indulging in a Chicken Salad Sandwich, tomorrow for lunch I will continue the streak by putting it over some baby spinach for a salad, in my book if it’s Waldorf Chicken Salad you can’t go wrong!

Waldorf Chicken Salad with a Twist:

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken chopped or shredded (I use chicken breast baked in the oven)

2 stalk celery chopped

1 Fuji apple chopped

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

handful of dried cranberries (about 1/4 of a cup)

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle the lemon juice over the apples immediately after chopping. Combine all the chopped ingredients and add yogurt until the salad is as moist as you desire – you may not need the full half cup or you may want a little more. Everyone likes their chicken salad a certain way I like lots of cranberries and apple so feel free to adjust the amounts to get the right balance!

Turkey Meatballs with Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce

I love watching football and everything about it including the food. In case yesterday’s post wasn’t clear today I will be very enthusiastically rooting for the Giants! I will also be sporting a new favorite shirt thanks to my book club secret santa – she found the softest Giants t-shirt known to man! I have had to resist the urge to wear it and sleep in it all week long so that it would be clean for today, it wasn’t easy.

In addition to being a football fan I am lactose intolerant (I realize these things usually have nothing to do with one another). Incase you haven’t noticed most foods that go with football watching tend to be smothered in cheese. While Lactaid pills are an amazing invention and they make sampling all of the cheesy concoctions possible I wanted to bring a tummy friendly food to add to our super bowl menu. One of the many reasons I love asian foods is because they are usually dairy free so, to cheer on the Giants I made turkey meatballs with a ginger scallion dipping sauce.

Three of my favorite ingredients: Ginger, scallions and onions

Turkey Meatballs (will make about 12-15 meatballs depending on size):

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (extra lean)

1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1 egg

1 clove garlic minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 scallions chopped

1 teaspoon sesame oil

salt

Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

3 scallions chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl mix together meatball ingredients. Shape together meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. Place meatballs on a lightly greased cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (or until no longer pink when cut open). Transfer meatballs to a serving dish and serve with toothpicks.

Whisk together ingredients for the dipping sauce.

Enjoy and don’t forget to root for the Giants – Go Big Blue!