Friday, August 21, 2015

Vegan Movie Night: Speciesism

I'm so excited to be able to offer some free events through the Vegan Health and Wellness Meetup I recently formed.  In just two months we already have over 160 members, and I can feel the momentum growing after our initial meeting with 17 people, followed by a potluck with 23 people, and a movie screening last night with 36 very enthusiastic attendees.  This fills me with such hope that a vegan community is growing here in Connecticut. 

We had a fantastic event screening the groundbreaking film, "Speciesism:  The Movie" to a packed house which was followed by a lively discussion that continued into the parking lot after we got kicked out of the library as it was closing.  

Sometimes when you go to see a movie, people sneak out during the credits, or when there's a Q&A more people charge for the door. That was not the case last night: everyone stayed. There was such positive energy in the room that I hope everyone else left feeling as inspired as I did. I look forward to continuing the conversation at future events.

The positive comments flooded my Facebook event page and Meetup group when I got home:
"Wonderful event--thought-provoking film & discussion. Nice to meet so many vegans."
"This was my first vegan meetup and I am extremely happy I went! Feels amazing being in a room with like minded people. I look forward to getting to know all of you." 
"Thank you so much for putting it together! It was a great experience and it was great to be around people who feel the same way I do, when usually I'm surrounded by people who do not open their eyes to truth. I look forward to future get togethers as well!" 
"Insightful and useful." 
"Very powerful."
"Great movie, great event!"
And on and on.... The message was clear.  Films like this are so needed for people to come together and create a community of compassion, to feel connected, to be inspired to take action for the animals, and most of all, to spread the vegan message in everything that we do by being an everyday activist. 

Thank you to Mark Devries for this thought-provoking film and for asking some great questions.  I'm glad to have had the opportunity to screen it.  Thank you also to Tofurky for the generous donation of delicious products, coupons and recipe books, and to PETA, Compassion Over Killing and Vegan Outreach for the literature and DVDs.  Everything got gobbled up, and I'm sure word will spread far and wide about this experience! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Recipe: RAW "Zoodles" with Sundried Tomato Marinara and Cashew Parm

This is the perfect recipe for summer when you don't feel like heating up the kitchen but are still craving comfort food.  The flavors of the sauce will make you think you've been slaving away for hours, and yet it comes together in just seconds.

Instead of traditional pasta, the base of this dish is zucchini noodles, or "Zoodles," made with a spiralizer.  It's a fun little gadget that's great for kids or even the kid at heart.  You'll enjoy making these!

See how to make zoodles with sundried tomato marinara!

Raw “Zoodles” with Sundried Tomato Marinara and Cashew Parm 
Zucchini noodles or “zoodles” are made with a spiralizer and they’re a fun way to get kids involved in meal prep. The sauce can be whisked up in mere minutes with a food processor so you can have dinner on the table in no time.

Ingredients:1 zucchini
2 campari tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 8)
1/4 cup kalamata olives
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Directions:Cut ends off zucchini, slice into pieces that will fit easily into spiralizer, and spiralize on thin setting to make “zoodles” Pulse tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and garlic 5-6 times in a food processor or until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse 1-2 times to combine. Use as topping for spiraled zucchini spaghetti.

Cashew ParmIngredients:1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked, drained & rinsed, then dried)
2-3 Tbl nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:Pulse together all ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped and well blended.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Announcing: Vegan Home School!

I'm excited to announce the launch of my newest endeavor, Vegan Home School.  For anyone new to the vegan lifestyle who wants to learn how to prepare delicious, healthful whole foods, plant-based recipes, this is for you!  


Vegan Home School offers opportunities such as one on one, hands-on private lessons, group classes, cooking parties, and family meal prep all in the comfort of your own home.

Classes are scheduled at your convenience, so you don't have the stress of arranging your calendar to meet somebody else's schedule or traveling to a remote location... and you don't even have to leave your house!  Everything is done for you...

  • Customized lessons based on your skill level
  • Menus developed according to your taste preferences and dietary needs
  • Delicious whole foods, plant-based recipes that you can eat and enjoy
  • Quick, easy, and affordable

Want to learn more?  Contact me to get started right away!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Recipe: Eggless Egg Salad

As the weather heats up and dinner moves outdoors, summer picnics become the solution.  Eggless Egg Salad is perfect for al fresco dining because no cooking is required and the recipe comes together effortlessly in just a few minutes.  I like serving it on endive leaves and cucumber rounds dressed up with edible flowers, but even on top of lettuce everyone will eat it up! 

 See me demonstrate how to make the recipe here.

1/4 cup green onion, finely sliced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 dill pickle, finely diced
1 package of extra firm tofu, drained
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan mayonaise
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt to taste

Place green onion, celery, and pickle in a large bowl.  Crumble tofu into small chunks on top of veggies.  Sprinkle with turmeric and sea salt.  Gently stir in vegan mayonaise, Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar until color and texture resemble chopped eggs.  Add more turmeric if it needs to be more yellow, but be careful not to add too much or it will turn a day-glo hue!  Season with salt, as necessary. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Life lesson #36

This is a little different form my usual food and gardening posts.  It's a story followed by a metaphor which will end with a life lesson, as I'm forever trying to put meaning to whatever random thing happens in my life. Read on if you like that kind of stuff.
I took my dog Boo out for our morning walk to the park, but halfway there I realized I was wearing my flip-flops instead of sneakers which meant I couldn't walk through our usual spot we've parted through the bushes because of all the poison ivy. Instead, I walked past that area and decided to cross the street to walk the grounds of an abandoned nursing home that's for sale. It's a fairly large property with woods surrounding it and nice plantings in front, so I figured at least it would be something new for Boo to sniff and explore. I'm glad I did because along the side of the parking lot I noticed tons of sweet-smeling dried berry debris, and when I looked up it was as if I had entered a magical kingdom of mulberry trees. There was a whole row of them, all with fruit in varying stages of ripeness. I gorged for about 10 minutes, but since I didn't want to make myself sick I decided that my new plan for the week is to come back every morning for foraging. Also in the back of the property were some peach and pear trees - a mini orchard! It was like a secret paradise only the birds and we knew about. I'm going to feast there all summer!
OK, that's the story. Now the lesson. As I was thinking about the whole proceedings of discovering this hidden fruit forest, I realized I would never have found it if I hadn't accidentally worn flip-flops. Which made me think "happy accident." And then also, "changing paths." How many times do you find yourself stuck in a routine and feel like you can't get out? As if you're in shackles and you have no choice. Always remember that you DO have a choice. Take a different path, at least once, for one day, even if it's just a different route to work. Notice everything around you, observe what's new and different. Maybe you'll find that hidden fruit forest. Or maybe it will just clear your head for a few minutes and give you a new perspective for the day. Change things up in your life in little ways because that's what makes living an adventure. You may end up opening a whole new world of possibilities you never even imagined. 
I was feeling it, being in the moment, just listening to the birds, feeling the cool morning breeze, the wet dew on my feet, and letting it all happen. It reminded me to not get caught up in my head and my worries, to just observe and be present and open to new discoveries, because they're right there in front of us. Sometimes I forget to let that part of me be open. This is the revelation I needed, that I was hoping a hike in the woods would bring me, and yet even without the hike it happened anyway.
Change paths. Make mistakes. Wear flip flops.  heart emoticon

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Vegan Ice Cream Social

Summer is here, and what better way to kick it off than with a good old fashioned ice cream social!  Eleven of us gathered together at Well on Wheels headquarters to learn how to make icecream and feast on a menu featuring strawberry shortcake, four flavors of vegan icecream, double chocolate brownies and coconut whipped cream. I feel like I ate a house. 

 I'm really happy to be able to share delicious food with everyone, and I loved the positive response.
"So delicious, Mary!!!"
"That was quite a treat today!"
"Karen and I had such a wonderful time, and felt so at home with everyone. Thank you so much for hosting such an amazing afternoon,'re fantastic!!! ...and for the chance to meet such awesome people."
Preparations began nearly a week ahead as I transformed the kitchen into an ice cream production facility.  Recipes were tested and tweaked and flavor combinations invented to create a Five Course Dessert Tasting Menu of pure decadence.  

We started off with a seasonal favorite, Strawberry Shortcake.  This version was made with a spongey, gluten free cake layered in a parfait cup with gorgeous, sweet local strawberries and topped with a luscious coconut whipped cream and mint sprig from my garden.

Then we got into the ice cream.  The next course was a Hot Fudge Sundae made with Maple Bourbon Butter Pecan and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk ice cream.  The scoops sat atop a dense double chocolate gluten free brownie and were topped with a stream of chocolate sauce.    

I think the unanimous favorite was the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk which had a rich and creamy base of full fat coconut milk and was sweetened with coconut sugar which added a hint of caramel flavor, loads of natural peanut butter, and chunks and swirls of chocolate embedded throughout.   

The next course was a Blueberry Streusel ice cream topped with a fresh blueberry sauce, date nut granola, and a dollop of coconut whipped cream.  It was light by comparison, but still super dreamy delicious.  This one would've made Violet Beauregard deliriously happy.

We finished with a demonstration of how to make ice cream.  For this I chose a simple tropical flavor combination of mango and coconut.  I explained the process of incorporating the sugar into the coconut milk, chilling, preparing the ice cream maker, cutting a mango, and starting the churning process.  

After twenty minutes, we had a silky soft serve treat to savor.  Once we cleaned out the container, the real socializing began as we dug our spoons into the remaining ice cream I had prepared.  Seconds?  Thirds?  Who's counting!  

Thank you everyone for making this such a fabulous event. I look forward to hosting more events like this over the summer.  Stay tuned!