Help!

“My child has decided to become a vegetarian” . . . it’s a story I hear more and more frequently. My own grandson, aged 7, recently became a vegetarian (“It’s not fair to the animals, Nana”). Thankfully, my daughter is a wonderful cook, and a vegetarian in the family does not pose a problem.

But for many parents, this can be a challenge. Newby vegetarians often gravitate toward a diet heavy in pasta and cheese . . . there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with pasta and cheese, but it should not be the main staple. Between trolling the internet and the large selection of delicious fake “meats” available at the supermarket, there are now many options for ensuring a vegetarian child’s optimum nutrition. And “complete protein” meals can be achieved with a combination of grains and legumes — or rice and beans — the main staple of many of the world’s cultures.

Try a Syrian Mujaddara, a combination of rice and lentils, seasoned with cumin, cinnamon and lots of caramelized onion, and topped with cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

B’nai Mitzvah Catering Favorites

We love the challenge of creating kosher-style menus that appeal to young and old alike. Sometimes, that means offering two menus – one for the adults, and one for the young people. Consider this sampling of menus that consistently meet with success.

 

Year-round favorites are the cuisines of the Mediterranean, which offer variety, fresh local ingredients, and something for everyone, including fabulous selections in the Sephardic tradition. Appetizers include a sampling of beautiful cheeses, marinated olives, a hummus bar, a smoky baba ganouj with pomegranate seeds, or a spicy Moroccan muhammara. Main courses span the entire Mediterranean rim: a Greek spanakopita, a creamy polenta, a Spanish paella, a Moroccan tagine.

 

Sides might include grilled vegetables, Israeli style chopped vegetable salad, King Solomon salad (with 2 grains and 5 fruit), or watermelon salad with feta and mint – to mention a fraction of our selections.

 

When it comes to dessert, an ice cream bar for the young crowd is a hands-down winner. We include two or three flavors of artisanal ice creams, syrups, sprinkles, sliced fruit, toasted nuts, whipped cream. For non-alcoholic beverages, young people always enjoy our Italian soda bar with sparkling waters and syrups .

 

It’s an honor to cater your milestone celebrations, where family and friends, young and old, come together in loving community. We work with your vision and budget to help create the celebration of your dreams, with an ambience that matches the occasion. We make it easy, and we make you look good!

Señorita Momentita . . .

. . . sounds so much better than “Senior Moment”, don’t you think? But memory loss is no laughing matter. It currently affects 5.7 million Americans, and that number is expected to increase to over 14 million Americans by 2050.

 

Is it inevitable? What we know is this. According to Dementia.org, trace elements and chemicals found in packaged foods have been found to damage brain chemistry. A study published in the University of Minnesota’s Chemical Research & Toxicology Journalfound that . . . “regular intake of diacetyl influences the buildup of beta amyloid proteins in the brain”. This buildup, which causes clumping, is now considered one of the PRIMARY CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO THE ONSET OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE.

 

Diacetyl, you say . . . never touch the stuff. Think again . . . how many times do you eat “buttered” popcorn? Diacetyl is a chemical that delivers the “buttery” flavor in popcorn and many other packaged foods. Wonder why you didn’t know that . . . it’s because there is NO MANDATE FOR PRINTED WARNINGS. The lesson? Stay away from processed foods – and avoid food products with “natural flavorings”. Michael Pollan: “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Tis the Season

. . . for comfort food! Here’s a perfect winter soup in the Sephardic tradition from the shores of the Mediterranean. It’s a soup eaten by Jews and Muslims alike upon breaking a fast. Traditionally made with lamb, it combines chick peas, lentils, vegetables, cilantro, garlic and exotic spices – saffron, ginger, cumin, turmeric. Omit the lamb, and it’s vegan – delicious and highly nutritious.

A Stand Out Corporate Holiday Gathering!!!

With corporate holiday gatherings right around the corner, a great way to show employee appreciation is to make allowances for people’s dietary preferences and multi-cultural backgrounds. A great menu is one that delights and surprises with options that offer variety and take special dietary needs into consideration (e.g. gluten free, vegan, vegetarian).

 

While many holiday offerings can pack on the calories, how about offering a menu that is healthy AND delicious! Try it and you will like it.

 

Check out The Vegetarian Gourmet’s website to menu choices and contact us to create a unique and pleasing menu for your guests.

OMG- Vegan Empanadas!

Empanadas, dim sum, pasties, piroshky…the list goes on. Many cuisines feature tasty little packages of meat and vegetables wrapped in dough–the perfect finger food–which can be served as an appetizer or with a salad for a light meal. Our vegan empanada is a new favorite from The Vegetarian Gourmet, served with chimichurri sauce. The filling has a nice little bite to it, made of a mix of caramelized onion, yams, black beans, cilantro, garlic and Field Road Mexican chipotle sausage. Our chimichurri sauce has lots of parsley, mint, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt and a splash of red wine vinegar.

Summer BBQ . . .

. . . don’t forget those pesky vegetarian friends. Here is a quick and easy dish to serve with your summer BBQ; it’s vegan, high in protein and DELISH!

Try this easy recipe for salsa or a side dish:

3 c cooked black beans

1 c fresh or frozen organic corn

1 medium ripe tomato

1 medium mango

1 small chili, seeded & minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 avocado

½ bunch cilantro

Salt, lime juice

Rinse the cooked black beans to get rid of the dark cooking liquid until water runs clear. Cut the tomato into small cubes, cut the mango into small cubes, salt, and carefully fold into the drained beans. And here’s a fabulous trick: add the corn while still frozen – it will keep the dish cold for a long time on a hot day! Mince the chili and garlic and fold into the beans. Fold in chopped cilantro and cubed avocado. Season to taste with lime juice and salt. Serves 8-10 as a side dish.

Make Mine . . .

. . . (no, not mink), but fake meat. People often wonder why vegetarians and vegans choose to eat “fake meats”, in other words, something that resembles what you’re trying to give up. Isn’t that a contradiction? As a chef and caterer specializing in vegetarian and vegan cuisines, I find that “fake meats” can offer an easy way for people to ease into meatless choices and a more plant-based diet. Making a major dietary shift can be challenging enough, without having to rethink the whole menu plan. To me, it makes perfect sense to ease the transition into a different way of eating by keeping some familiarity while venturing into new territory.

 

“Fake meats” have come a long way in the last couple of decades. You’ll find excellent products in the deli and frozen sections of most markets. Some of my favorite products include Field Roast‘s grain burgers, Beyond Meat’s “chicken strips”, and Lightlife’s “fakin’ bacon” (a smoked tempeh). Any of these products can be chopped up, simmered in a tasty sauce and added to tacos, sloppy Joes or your favorite rice or pasta dish.

Cauliflower Rock!

Here’s a warming side dish for a cold day. Cauliflower can be cut into florets, tossed in a mix of olive oil, turmeric, cumin, salt and garam masala.

Roast in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes and toss with chopped mint and cilantro for a stunning side dish to complement any creation.

Gluten-free vegan desserts, oh my!

Sugar-laden holidays right around the corner appear to be inspiring my obsession with desserts at the moment! Here is another fab vegan treat, this one made from rice. You may be familiar with kheer, a popular Indian rice pudding, made with milk and flavored with cardamom, saffron and raisins. My favorite rice dessert is Burma Superstar’s fabulous black rice and coconut pudding, which I’ve been able to approximate in my own kitchen. Here’s how:

Start out with sticky Thai black rice, e.g. Lundberg Black Pearl Rice. I usually soak the rice in salted water for a few hours, before draining and cooking according to package directions – but you’ll need to reduce cooking time and cooking liquid. Rice should be soft but not mushy. Drain and place in a heavy bottom pan with coconut milk and simmer until rice is creamy; sweeten, to taste, with organic sugar (try Billington’s dark Muscovado sugar). Toast some unsweetened coconut flakes in a dry pan, until toasty brown and fold into the rice; save a few sprinkles for the top. Serve warm, with fresh raspberries or slices of mango, and a scoop of Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream . . . heavenly!