Please check it out here for vegetarian/vegan recipes, healthy food tips, and commentary on health food developments.
Hello! It's been a while since I posted. I have recently created a new website solely dedicated to a new food blog: Dinger Dives In.
Please check it out here for vegetarian/vegan recipes, healthy food tips, and commentary on health food developments.
In the past few years, it appears that everyday has become a food holiday. And now month's have been designated to one food too. It's a clever marketing move from the food industry to increase awareness about a particular food that may have not been getting enough attention and potentially see a bump in revenues. But what I've found is that most of the foods or meals that are promoted, are typically unhealthy and very fattening.
July has been designated hot dog month by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And today, July 23, is national vanilla ice cream day. On July 21, it was national junk food day, as if American's don't eat enough junk food already, so we need a reminder to go out and eat more highly processed, fatty, foods. Sigh.
Here are some fun facts about hot dogs by the numbers:
Here are some fun facts about vanilla ice cream by the numbers:
To offer up some alternatives to both of these rather unhealthy foods, I thought I'd write about some healthier options. If you'd like to celebrate and participate in National Hot Dog month, why not try making your own Seitan hot dog? One Green Planet offers a great recipe for the dogs and a handful of other yummy homemade vegetarian hot dog toppings and vegetarian sausages.
And if you'd like to celebrate National Vanilla Ice Cream Day without feeling too guilty, you can't go wrong with SO Delicious dairy-free, creamy vanilla ice cream. You can find SO Delicious brands in Whole Foods, most grocery stores, and now even many pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS carry the brand. Lots of options! Go out and enjoy!
Swipe right if you love fettuccine Alfredo.
Swipe left if you hate kale salad.
That's the latest idea behind the new mobile phone app, Tender, a play on words for the popular dating app "Tinder."
The Tender food app, which just launched by three friends in Boston, uses a swipe-to-save interface so users can find and save their favorite recipes to create their own cookbook.
It also features several filters so users can find recipes according to dietary needs including vegan, vegetarian, seafood, dessert, drinks, chicken, pork, and beef.
The app is free to download.
As a veteran vegetarian (now 25 years strong) I've had my fair share of veggie burgers.
I've had the somewhat stale, microwaved and rubbery Morningstar veggie burger from a hotel restaurant. I've had the nearly burned to a crisp on a grill by a guy who doesn't know that a veggie burger only takes 3 to 5 minutes to cook, unlike a real beef burger. I've had the extremely dry, hard to chew and swallow veggie burger that cooked in the toaster oven at my parent's house for too long.
And on less frequent occasions, I've had the artisan homemade from scratch quinoa, black bean, chickpea, or beet veggie burger at restaurants like Citizen Burger Bar in Arlington, Virginia, or Vers at the Orpheum in Chatham, Ma that specialize in fresh, wholesome foods.
Needless to say, eating a veggie burger is typically not my go-to meal when I'm dining out because more often than not, it's not very satisfying. I only will order it if it's the only vegetarian item on the menu, which unfortunately is frequently the case. I'm always amazed at how uncreative cooks are. Vegetarians eat more than veggie burgers!
So naturally, my exhaustion from veggie burgers over the years has led me to dismiss them, especially if it meant making my own at home. But this week, I decided that my fiance and I have been in a food rut and we need to expand and diversify our weeknight meals. So I started thinking outside the box to try and come up with something new that wouldn't break the bank and be too difficult.
Last night I decided I'd make a vegetarian version of a typical summer all-American meal: burger, fries, and corn on the cob. It not only turned out to be delicious, but it was simple, and super affordable. Definitely a great weeknight meal that probably cost about $10 for both of us.
I used Allrecipes.com for the veggie black bean burgers. I followed everything as it says in the recipe except I probably added about 2 cups of bread crumbs instead of the 1/2 cup it calls for. It just wasn't enough to hold the burgers together.
Honestly, this recipe makes me never want to buy a frozen veggie burger patty again. My fiance, who is a big meat eater, even loved them. I melted mozzarella cheese on his burger and spread a little bit of Mayo on the whole wheat bun. While I opted out of the cheese and mayo, we both had thinly sliced red onion with butter lettuce with our burgers. Next time I make the recipe, I plan to add slices of ripe avocado.
My version of the french fry were thinly sliced red potatoes, drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I roasted them in the oven for about 45 minutes. And I boiled four ears of corn on the cob. Including prep, the entire meal only took about 1 hour, which isn't bad for a weeknight. It was filling, healthy, low fat, and a good option if you are looking for meals on a budget.
It really is a vegetarian or vegan's dream come true when a company announces that they will be offering organic, gluten-free, and vegan fast-food items in a drive thru.
Because let's face it, while we may strive to eat well balanced home cooked meals as often as possible, sometimes its just not possible in our 24/7 culture. And sometimes you just need a break from cooking.
Amy's Kitchen recently announced that it will open Amy's Drive-Thru, a version of their non-GMO organic foods, next month at an undisclosed location in California. (Civil Eats has a great story about the opening.)
The idea that Amy's will offer organic french fries, burritos, shakes, pizza, chili, and salads in drive-thru form is almost unthinkable for me. I almost never eat fast-food not only because it's unhealthy but also because there typically isn't much I can eat beyond french fries on the menu.
I was still in High School when Burger King announced that they would be offering a veggie burger that would the first to be sold nationally. I vividly remember my parents and I taking a field trip of sorts to the closest Burger King to try it out.
It wasn't that good and I think I've only ordered it a few times in the 13 years that its been on the menu, but the point is, Burger King broadened the horizons of options that a vegetarian could chose from should I need to grab something in a hurry.
Unfortunately, Amy's Drive-Thru will only be in California but here's to hoping that it will be a huge success and they will be able to expand throughout the country as more consumers won't mind eating healthier food on-the-go.
Have you ever opened the fridge and longingly looked inside, wondering what you could possibly make for a meal with the limited ingredients or mismatched food sitting on the shelves?
I have and I did tonight. I even did that fridge dance, where you bend halfway over with your hand still on the door handle, peak inside, then stand up still holding the handle and half close the door while in deep thought.
Tonight nothing jumped out at me right away.
I knew I wanted to make a pasta dish, but my gut was pushing me to try something creative and different, but what would it be?
After taking out a few staple ingredients (garlic, onion, mushrooms) I found the perfect addition that would certainly spice up what would have been a rather unoriginal pasta sauce. Ricotta cheese!
I had a 32 ounce container of Ricotta cheese leftover from when I made stuffed shells a few weeks before (yes apparently, Ricotta cheese has a very long shelf life). Bingo!
Here's what I whipped up that turned out to be one of my best, creamiest pasta sauces. This recipe uses gluten free corn pasta because my fiance recently started cutting out gluten, but you can use regular pasta if you prefer.
1 package gluten free corn fusilli pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 can crushed or stewed tomatoes
1/2 can tomato sauce
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese (low fat or fat free)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
8 leaves fresh oregano, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 package of ground tofu crumbles (optional for additional texture & protein to sauce)
Ready in less than 30 minutes.
1. Boil the corn pasta as directed, typically 8-10 minutes or al dante.
2. For the sauce, heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil with the garlic and onions in a large deep dish sauce pan.
3. Saute the garlic and onion until soft and add the mushrooms.
4. Toss in the frozen peas, crushed tomatoes, and ground tofu crumbles. Let simmer for 5 - to 10 minutes.
5. Add the oregano, salt, and 1/2 can of tomato sauce. Stir well and simmer on medium heat for a few minutes.
6. Add the 2 cups of ricotta cheese one cup at a time while stirring. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes
7. Add the basil and Parmesan cheese.
NPR recently featured a very cool and innovative new family-run business, Chefs for Seniors, that aims to improve senior citizen's lives through healthy food.
This business tries to fill a gap that is often overlooked in society: malnourished seniors. NPR said that there could be up to a staggering million seniors living in their homes who are malnourished.
Chefs for Seniors launched in 2013 when the former restaurant owners recognized there was a need in their senior community for grocery shopping and meal preparation-- daily tasks that you and I take for granted.
The Wisconsin-based company pairs a chef with a senior so that the chef does the shopping and food preparation right in the comfort of the client's home for a small fee. This company provides a service that takes away the stress of seniors having to figure out a healthy meal.
Hopefully with the help of this company, more seniors will be living healthier, medication-free lives.
Hot dogs, beer, and baseball are an American pastime, but pierogies and baseball?
On this meat-free Monday I heated up some Wegman's potato and cheese pierogies with vegetables for lunch. It wasn't the best lunch I've ever had but it wasn't the worst either. Clearly sauteing pierogies with olive oil, onions, salt and pepper would have been preferable, but that wasn't really an option for lunch in the office.
While I ate at my desk (I know I need to make more of a concerted effort not to eat at my desk) I asked my colleague if she had ever eaten a pierogy. Most people I ask have never tasted the little Polish pillows of potato and cheese delight. Much to my dismay, my colleague had not only eaten and made them from scratch, but she informed me that they were the featured in-game entertainment for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team! Apparently there is a huge Polish population in the Pittsburgh region.
After the 5th inning at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, four pierogies -- Sauerkeraut Saul, Cheese Chester, Jalapeno Hannah, and Oliver onion -- take the field to the 280-yard Pierogy Race. Amazing!!
Where have I been all these years? How did I not know about this? As a little girl I distinctly remember my Polish grandmother tediously wrapping a variety of pierogies by hand. Sadly my mother never inherited my grandmother's talents so I've been eating Mrs. T's frozen pierogies for as long as I can remember. They aren't bad, but like almost anyone I prefer fresh, homemade pierogies.
Needless to say, I hope to make it to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania some day soon if only to watch a Pirates game and indulge in local homemade pierogies while cheering on the human pierogies.
For a complete list of the 2015 Pirates Pierogy Race Standings, check it out here.
The 4th annual food revolution summit kicked off over the weekend on April 25. It will run until May 3.
The line up of top food experts and speakers is stellar, including my personal favorite: Sir Paul McCartney, who has helped catapult his meat-free Monday campaign to the international stage.
If you didn't get a chance to dial in or watch the food revolution summit online, fear not. The revolution network is replaying all of its featured speakers for 24 hours.
If you've ever had an inkling about how to eat your way to a healthier lifestyle or perhaps you are already on that journey, check out the broadcasts here: http://summit.foodrevolution.org/broadcasts
It's usually the case that you stumble on the best restaurants not because of Yelp or Urbanspoon, but rather because you asked a stranger in a small town. Or in other words, you asked a "townie." Well this was just the case when Jon and I had lunch at The Hunter's Tavern in Upperville, Virginia last weekend.
We had been browsing an antique store at a nearby town and asked the owner where we could grab a good sandwich. He suggested the tavern.
Upon entering the dimly lit tavern, you immediately step back in time. Waiters are dressed in late 1800-style costume, metal mugs line the bar, and simple chandeliers hang from the ceilings.
It's very informal. The menu is written on a chalkboard hung on the wall. You select your meal, place your order with a staff member by the bar who will give you a wooden spoon, and then pick your own table.
I smiled when I was handed a wooden spoon with our table number on it. The ordering process was just like how its done in a pub in the United Kingdom.
The bar offers two delicious savory snacks while you wait for your meal: boiled peanuts and pretzels. Freshly made, crispy bread with soft butter is also served before your meal.
Hunter's Head Tavern's menu is even more spectacular than it's interior. I was delighted to find Welsh Rarebit on the menu, a scrumptious vegetarian meal I haven't had since I lived in Cardiff, Wales back in 2008.
For those of you who don't know, Welsh Rarebit is the perfect combination of toasted thick white bread with creamy melted cheese that is guaranteed to satisfy your carbohydrate and savory cravings. Hunter's Head boasts that their Welsh Rarebit is infused with sizzling beer too. How could you go wrong? For those of you watching calories and fat content, this is not the meal do that on. But it's entirely worth the splurge.
My fiance Jon ordered fish and chips and had finished his meal before I even close to eating my second piece of cheesy bread. Needless to say, he loved it.
Not only does Hunter's Head Tavern offer delicious traditional pub fare, they use organic, local, and non-GMO meats whenever possible. Extra points in my book!
While I didn't try any of the draft beers or wine, the Tavern does boast a handsome selection of alcoholic beverages, including Strongbow on tap.
The prices are very reasonable, the staff was extremely friendly, and the food was fantastic. And for a pub there was more then plenty of options to chose from for a vegetarian like me. All in all, if you happen to be traveling through central Virginia, make a point of stopping by Hunter's Head Tavern for a bite to eat or drink. You won't be disappointed.
Will Travel For Food
I have been a vegetarian for more than two decades. I love to introduce new vegetarian foods and recipes to friends and family. If you have something fun to share please contact me.