Margaret Riesen Cooks

Food for Thought

Lattes and Loutoutins

There’s many ways to treat ourselves to something special, sometimes it’s a steaming latte, sometimes it’s an extravagance, like a pair of CFM shoes. The best treat we can give ourselves, however, is to invest in ourselves. Our health is our most valuable asset, and the best way to insure good health is to eat REAL FOOD. Buying fresh, organic foods can seem more expensive than some convenience product, but you’re getting real nutrition instead of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: salt, sugar, fat and a bunch of chemicals. And good health looks better on anyone than a pair of ridiculously expensive shoes!

Is that food on your plate?

If it came out of a package with a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s not food, Dude! It’s a food product, scientifically formulated by one of the manufacturing giants to deliver the right amount of addictive flavor to keep you coming back for more and to keep eating long after you’re full.
The magic flavor hook is delivered by prodigious amounts of sugar, fat and salt. Cravings induced by sugar, according to an article in the NY Times are “comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine.” You may think you’ve chosen your meal, but it has chosen you. “Convenience” foods may be convenient in terms of saving time and effort, but they take a huge toll on your health. And when your health suffers, all your energy and resources go into trying to get well again. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. If you want to remain healthy and vital, eat real food. Watch for our educational blog on eating simply and well.

O Comfort Food, O Comfort Food

‘Tis the season, but when it comes to comfort food, we gotta have rootsrulewhat we gotta have! It’s a cultural thing. The English have Marmite and the Australians have Vegemite. The English say that Vegemite is disgusting, and the Australians say that Marmite is disgusting, and Americans think they’re both disgusting . . . don’t laugh, it’s a touchy subject. My mother, who was Australian, used to feed us kids slices of toast, slathered with butter and a thin layer of Vegemite. I loved it! The theory is it will curb children’s sweet tooth . . . it worked for me, and I still sneak a taste every so often.
Here’s a comfort food we all agree on: a side of roasted root vegetables to go with your favorite Holiday meal. Be adventurous – try rutabagas, turnip, beets, root celery (celeriac), parsnip . . . slice them into desired size, toss them with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary, and place them in a hot (400 deg) oven.

Gourmet Holiday Magic

appwoodside1Need some fab food for your Holiday party but don’t know where to start? You can feel confident when hiring The Vegetarian Gourmet to cater your special event. We’ve been in business since 1997, and opened our doors in the Bay Area in 2010. Our plant-based menus bring you specialties from around the world, whether all vegetarian, vegan, or non-vegetarian, and they are prepared from the abundance of locally available fresh, high quality, organic ingredients. Riesen taught culinary classes at SBCC for twelve years, which gave her the opportunity to perfect specialties from the finest world cuisines.
Still not sure? Check out what our clients are saying about us on Yelp and give us a jingle.

Ate too Much?

SilkRdPilaf. . . I certainly did! Those holiday meals are a perfect reminder that we can all eat more vegetables . . . for our own health and for the health of the environment. How about bringing back Meatless Mondays? Eating an all vegetarian meal does not have to be boring or challenging. For those of you concerned about getting enough protein, a meal of grains and legumes gives you all the essential amino acids. Create a tasty meal of brown basmati rice, French or beluga lentils (available at Whole Foods), seasoned with fresh herbs, cumin, julienned vegetables and garlic. Serve on a bed of greens for a quick meal, or as a high protein side dish for your vegetarian (or vegan) guests.

ROCK YOUR HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING

plated table VGLooking for Holiday party ideas? As cooler days descend upon us, wouldn’t it be fun to spend an evening at home with friends and wonderful food . . . without having to lift a finger? If you’ve never experienced an in-home cooking demonstration with Chef Margaret Riesen of The Vegetarian Gourmet, you’re in for a treat. You choose the guest list and theme — maybe “A Night at the Kasbah” with exotic Moroccan fare — and we bring the recipes and fixin’s. Having taught culinary arts at Santa Barbara Community College for 12 years, Margaret’s repertoire of world cuisines is extensive, and her classes are fun, delicious and full of practical ideas. Give us a call with your special wishes – we’ll do the rest!

HEALTHY HOLIDAY PARTIES?

app-woodside. . . surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman! Corporate Holiday parties do not have to be a calorie bomb, but can appreciate employees and honor cultural diversity with delicious flavors from around the world. The Vegetarian Gourmet believes in healthy fare that delights and surprises – with many gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Our menus are prepared with LOVE and expertise from locally sourced, mostly organic ingredients. We make it easy, and we make you look good! 

Hummus: yum-yum or ho-hum?

With hummus turning up at every potluck, what sets the great ones apart from the rest? The secret is in the two main ingredients, the chick peas and the tahini. First of all, don’t buy canned chick peas – they’re undercooked and won’t ever give you the smooth, creamy texture of a really terrific hummus. Buy dried chick peas – available in bulk in many stores — and soak them overnight in cold water with a pinch of baking soda. The baking soda helps to soften the dried beans for faster cooking. Drain and rinse before placing in a pot of fresh water; do not add salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the chick peas are very soft, and then allow to cool. Number two: look for a high quality tahini; you’ll find it in a Middle Eastern store, a higher end market, or even on-line. The tahini should be smooth and creamy looking, not a hard lump of congealed paste with the oil floating on top. Two excellent brands to consider are Tarazi (www.tarazifoods.com) and Soom (www.soomfoods.com). Now that you have the two most important ingredients, let your imagination do the rest!App-beets

Post-Holiday Parties — why not?

Holiday-CookiesOne way to take the stress out of the Holidays is to not cram everything into the month of December. Why not prolong the celebratory mood and schedule some of your gatherings in January? A survey published in FORBES magazine found that people associate the Holidays primarily with family. For this reason, the current trend is to move get-togethers with friends, business contacts and clients into January. People are more relaxed, but still in a festive mood, without all the Holiday stress. Given the huge build-up and hype — and the very short span of actual Holiday events — there is still plenty of energy waiting to be expressed. When planning a get-together in January, scheduling is not a problem, and gone is the anxiety of looking for supplies among crabby and stressed out Holiday shoppers. Deferred gratification? I think not . . .  it’s an opportunity to spend valuable time with friends and business partners, without the seasonal frenzy. Give it a try – and Happy Holidays!