Cruelty-free Thanksgiving

Last year, I attended the Feast for the Turkeys at Pasado’s Safe Haven. This year, the event is already sold out. To make up for disappointment, Hubby surprised me with reservations to a prix fix vegan Thanksgiving meal at Plum Bistro. That’s not until next week though. In the meantime, I’ll show you what last year’s event was like.

guestcard

Instead of having turkey, the turkeys had us! Butterball was the official host, but Stacie, our lovely guide, took us on the tour. First stop: Turkeys, of course!

turkeys

Turkeys are gentle and kind. It’s not true that if it rains and they look up, they drown. On the contrary, they’re smart birds who protect each other, “talk” to their friends (including people), and are loving parents to their little ones. I got to pet Butterball–what soft feathers! As smart as she is, I’m not sure she noticed that I color-coordinated with her today.

At Pasado's

Next, we met these little piggies, who were rescued from a fire. They loved eating the popcorn, carrots, apples, and bananas we brought.

mini pigs

While I was taking their picture, look who snuck up on me! (You might recognize that mug from my banner.)

goat

I gave him a carrot, and he was happy. As we fed the goats and sheep, I spied a rooster, well, roosting.

roosting rooster

I found lots of chickens in the coop next door. The white ones are rescued laying hens. To think they used to live in cages with no more room to move than if they were standing on an iPad. They love their freedom now! And they’ll never end up in a pot.

chickens

They loved eating lettuce and grapes. Look at that blur–she sure was a fast one!

feeding the fowl

This photo doesn’t show how big these two pigs are. They’re each over 600 pounds! Splash, on the left, saw her siblings slaughtered and escaped certain death by swimming across a river where a startled, but loving woman took her in until she could find a proper home for the pig. Nora, on the right, was rescued from a horder and was starving. They’re both happy, healthy, and safe now.

Splash and Nora

The cows loved the carrots I brought for them, but they look a little suspicious of me, don’t you think?

Eddie Cheddar

cow

After an amazing tour, we toasted the animals with a glass of bubbly and went inside for a feast!

I got teary-eyed as our hosts read the menu: Autumn vegetable samosas with plum chutney, carrot miso spread on baguettes, and baked chickpeas; red kuri squash and coconut soup with cashew cream and beet reduction; massaged kale salad with pomegranate, hazelnuts and pears; parsnip apple puree, root vegetable latkes, orange balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts, and maple baked tempeh with apple cider glaze; pumpkin cake with chocolate-hazelnut ganache.

feast

I was overcome with emotion because as we dined on our vegan meal, rescued animals were snuggling in their stalls in the barns next door. Animals that would have been pork chops, turkey cutlets or hamburgers. I wished for peace for all living creatures and longed for every restaurant and household to serve delicious, cruelty-free meals like this.

What a wonderful time! I hope you take a tour of Pasado’s or a similar sanctuary in your area. They’re amazing places.

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Vegan Savannah

I like to visit new places, and of course I’m always on the lookout for vegan options. I pack Luna bars when I travel so I’m never hungry or deprived, but what I really enjoy is finding a good vegan meal–sometimes where you’d least expect it.

On my recent girls’ trip to Savannah, Georgia I was pleasantly surprised at the vegan choices I had. Southern cuisine is world-renowned but not especially known for being vegan. I did a little planning by looking up places on Veg Dining and Happy Cow. I found a couple of vegetarian places and a host of veg-friendly restaurants.

I started every morning at the Sentient Bean, where I had a soy latté and vegan burrito. I took a slice of vegan banana bread to go and was full ’til dinner. This cute little coffeehouse is a gem at the end of Forsythe Park.

soy latte

Walking through the park was a great way to start the day. On Saturday, the park hosted a farmers’ market, where I picked up walnuts, fresh berries, toasted kale chips and a bag of grits. (I’ve since veganized a classic grits casserole recipe.)

One evening, my friends and I splurged on dinner at Cha Bella, a decidedly non-vegan restaurant. It did offer local, organic cuisine and sustainable in-season veggies. I was graciously offered a vegan entrée (and I honestly can’t remember if it was on the menu or especially made for me–the service was so good, everything seemed made for us). At most restaurants, ask and ye shall receive. But do tip accordingly!

For another meal, we stopped by the casual Kayak Café, where I had the seared tiger tofu burrito and a delicious side salad. Kayak Café prides themselves on being able to make almost any dish vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free.

tofu taco

Moon River Brewing Company was another great, casual place for a bite–and they have a big, outdoor beer garden. There wasn’t anything explicitly vegan on the menu (well, fries or a house salad maybe), but my lovely server worked with me to create a vegan wrap. She even checked with the cook to see if the rice was vegan (it wasn’t–they cooked it in chicken stock or something). I loved that she looked out for me like that. I wrote a thank-you note on the receipt and left it with my tip (again, showing a little appreciation goes a long way).

At Jazz’d Tapas Bar, I chose a roasted garlic hummus plate and a fresh salad. I was really there for the drinks, so a snack was perfect. We ate and drank and listened to the live band and a crooner who sounded exactly like Frank Sinatra.

At Leopold’s Ice Cream I found a refreshing lemon sorbet. It was as close to tutti-fruity as I could get. Johnny Mercer wrote the song Tutti-Fruity after his favorite flavor at Leopold’s.

Leopold's

Savannah was a lot of fun and I had an easier time eating out with my friends than I thought I would.

Two tips when travelling (besides packing Luna bars):

  1. Visit a grocery store for fruit and snacks. I dropped by a Kroger supermarket and bought soy yogurt, apples, bananas, baby carrots and hummus. They fit in the hotel room fridge, saved me from eating out three times a day, which in turn saved me some money.
  2. Look for “ethnic” cuisine. Indian and Thai places, for example, are in virtually any city and are pretty much guaranteed to have vegan dishes.

Tabouli and bean salad

I’ve been eating a lot of beans lately. There are so many types and they’re all so delicious! Yesterday I wanted to make a quick bean salad so I opened a box of garbanzos, a box of kidney beans, and a box of black beans. The boxes are the equivalent to a can of ready-to-eat beans but I like that they’re not in a tin and that the tetra-pak style of the packaging is easy to recycle.

I mixed up a box of tabouli, which already had spices, parsley and cilantro in it, and combined it with the beans. It took about five minutes to whip up and all I had to do after that was chill it for a bit.

bean salad

It made a great lunch, and truth be told, I had it for dinner too. For dinner I added grilled cheese with whole grain bread and cheddar-style slices by Daiya. The grapes were an edible garnish. Hubby and I shared a delicious, healthy, easy-to-make meal. It was perfect for summer. I didn’t heat up the kitchen and the cool salad was refreshing and filling.

I’ve joined Healthy Vegan Fridays organized by Carrie On Vegan, Green Thickies, and The Veggie Nook, so be sure to check out what everyone else is making in the kitchen!

Mac-and-cheesey dinner in a hurry

I was short on time and ingredients when I decided to whip together a quick meal before heading out. Drinking on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea–and hubby and I were off to meet friends for a glass of wine.

Two veggie burgers, a pack of frozen veggies, and some noodles later and dinner was done. It took about ten minutes and what saved the day (or at least the meal) was the jar of Heidi-Ho Chia Cheeze Sauce in my fridge.

heidi-ho cheeze dinner

This vegan cheese made from chia seeds, is meltable, and a bit spicy. It’s a great nacho cheese style sauce and would be a great way to make, well, nachos. I stirred a couple of generous scoops into my pot of drained pasta for a mac-n-cheese style side dish.

To hide the fact that I just boiled up frozen vegetables, I quickly sautéed them with soy sauce and sesame seeds. Not-vet-vegan hubby gave the meal one thumb up–only because I made whole wheat pasta and he’s still not on board with the texture and flavor. I admit, it took me a while to warm up to that too when I first switched. Easing in with 50% whole wheat is a good way to transition.

On a side note, I got to meet Heidi (of Heidi Ho Veganics) when I was at the Vida Vegan Con Gala. Very cool!

Burger and fries the healthy way

Sometimes I just crave simple, tried and true favorites. Like a burger and fries. I haven’t had a hamburger in 30 years, but with so many vegan patties on the market (not to mention the ones you can make from scratch), what’s to miss (besides cholesterol, fat, and cruelty)?

I made this quick meal using prepackaged ingredients. (I’ve never professed to be a chef!) But this is proof that you can have delicious, healthy premade meals in a snap.

masala burger

I baked up a batch of sweet potato fries from Trader Joe’s. I love the color they add to the plate. And the flavor is unique too. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamins B6, C, D, as well as iron and magnesium.

Then I made masala burgers, also from Trader Joe’s. These don’t look like fake meat. They’re full of veggies and have a nice spicy taste. I added lettuce, tomato and avocado, and sprinkled on vegan parmesan and a bit of black pepper.

The whole thing took 10 minutes–perfect for a quick, healthy meal at the end of a busy week.

I joined up with Veggie Nook for Healthy Vegan Fridays. Have a look at all the other delicious meal ideas!

Roasted veggies and Gardein

I’m a bit of a rogue in the kitchen. Here’s another recipe-less meal I recently made: Roasted veggies and chipotle-lime “chicken” strips by Gardein.

roasted veggies

First I diced potatoes, a rainbow assortment of carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. I tossed them into a glass dish with garlic and a bit of soy sauce for flavor and baked it until done. It took about 40 minutes to cook the veggies. The Gardein instructions called for a 10-minute bake so I added them to the oven (on their own rack) 3/4 of the way through.

dish of veggies

I based this meal around some fascinating carrots I found at the grocery store. Have you ever seen such wonderfully colorful carrots?

carrots

I’ve joined up with Healthy Vegan Fridays at The Veggie Nook. Be sure to check out all the other delicious meals that people have made.

Spinach and lentils with pita

Here’s a meal I made on the fly. I didn’t have a recipe in mind when I started but I had a package of Trader Joe’s lentils. They’re ready to serve–hot or cold–and easy to use at mealtime.

spinach and lentils

I had a package of frozen spinach so I cooked it briefly (blanched?) and sautéed it with the lentils. I added a touch of garlic and served it up with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan. I toasted some whole wheat mini pitas and added a dollop of sundried-tomato hummus on the side.

This meal took less than 15 minutes to prepare, was filling and satisfying, and after serving up two plates, I had enough lentil-spinach mix left for lunch. I’m going add diced tomatoes to the leftovers and use the mix as a filling for a tasty wrap.

pita and hummous on the side

Lentils are a legume, and are high in fiber and protein while being low in fat. they have folate and B6 and magnesium. They’re a complex carbohydrate (the good kind!) and supply lots of energy. Spinach is a good source of vitamins A and C as well as iron.

Healthy, nutritious, and cruelty-free!

I’ve linked up to my first ever Healthy Vegan Friday and I’m looking forward to discovering lots of other vegan recipes. You should check it out too!

Rotini with cherry tomatoes

I’m not a great cook. In fact, I don’t really enjoy cooking. But I do like eating, so sometimes you’ll find me in the kitchen. Here’s a simple dish I made after work recently.

rotini and tomatoes

I cooked and drained whole wheat pasta and tossed it with olive oil, cherry tomatoes, a touch of soy sauce, and garlic paste. I had store-bought paste in a container, but fresh, sautéed garlic would be better. Add salt and pepper to taste and you’re done. For more flavor, you could add zucchini slices, mushrooms, and tofu.

As with most of my dinners, I paired it with wine–a pinot gris blend in this case.

I liked how this got me out of a pasta and red sauce rut. The olive oil was a nice change–and you can chill this meal if you want a salad!

If you’re not sure about whole wheat pasta, you can buy pasta that’s 50/50. But I encourage you to work up to whole wheat. It tasted different to me at first–the texture was rougher–but I like it now. Whole foods are vital and staying away from refined sugars and flour is healthy.

I’m not on the gluten-free train. I don’t think most people need to avoid it. Fill up on fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes and add whole grains into the mix and I think you’ll be fine.

Of course, I’m not a nutritionist, so I can only relay what works for me and what I’ve read.

Do you have any quick vegan go-to meals?