Tips and Tools for Traveling as a Vegetarian/Vegan

16 03 2012

I’m sure many of you were worried about me seeing as how I haven’t updated in a couple of weeks.  My apologies, I have been doing some weekend traveling to test out restaurants for you.  You’re welcome.  Before I get into restaurant reviews, I wanted to share some tips and tools that I have found helpful when traveling as a veg.

 1) Smartphone apps
There are some great apps for your smartphone that will help find restaurants nearby.  I personally like to use Places on my android.  The app tracks your location using a GPS system, and then displays restaurants in your surrounding area from closest to furthest.  It also includes links to the restaurant website where I can view their menu.  Happy cow also has a similar app you can download.

Oh gawd, for some reason my old professor’s voice popped into my head exclaiming that “we are all cyborgs” for being too reliant on technology.

2) If you learn one word in a new language, make it “vegetarian,”
or vegan, whatever you’re dietary needs are.  You can simply use Google Translate before you travel to a region that speaks another language.  The least you can do is say that one word while giving your most polite smile.  Let your server point things out for you, and trust that they know what they are talking about.

Food Stache... see what I did there?

3)Foodstache
If possible, bring your own stash of food.  Pack some granola bars, nuts, or dried fruit in your bag in case you are really stuck.

4) Hit up the local farmers market or grocery store
Visiting local markets is a great way to get to know a new place, and will allow you to find fresh fruits and vegetables.  Use this as an opportunity to stock up on some vitamin-rich foods and snacks.

5) Customize existing food items
It’s just rude to walk into a ma and pa shop and start demanding they make you something vegan.  Instead, take an existing menu item and ask them to modify it.  I do this with pastas and salads by politely asking if “ it is possible to replace the chicken with more peppers?”

6) Take cooking classes
Cooking classes are all the rage for tourists!  You can pretty much find classes anywhere.  This will make a great opportunity to ask your instructor to identify foods and common ingredients in the case you find yourself in an unfamiliar country, like let’s say Italy.  This way you won’t just assume Prosciutto is a spice, like an idiot!  *looks around nervously*

7) Do your research
It’s so simple.  Just take a moment to look up popular restaurants and their menus.  Here are some great sites to find vegan and vegetarian-friendly places.
HappyCow, VegDining, VegGuide or you can look up the ‘ol UrbanSpoon and Yelp, and check their menus.





The Hunger Games Inspired Salad

15 03 2012

It’s official, I am a Gamie… is that what they call fans of the Hunger Games?  With the movie about to be released in theaters on March 23rd, I thought I would dedicate this recipe to the popular trilogy.

"I could really go for a vegetarian salad right now."

I wont get into the plot line, but I will give a few details so you can understand the ingredients if you havent yet read the books.  In the first book, the protagonist often uses wild berries she finds in salad, and chews on mint leaves to feel full, while the protagonist’s sister takes care of a goat used to help support the family by selling goat’s milk and cheese.

Using these ingredients, with the addition of a few more, I created a salad inspired by the Hunger Games.

*Side Note* I wanted to name this dish The Hunger Games Salad, but I thought the film industry would be all over me like stank on an onion!

Carrot’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5 carrots

Dressing Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of honey

Salad Ingredients:
1 romaine lettuce heart
1 green onion chopped
3 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 handful of blueberries
1 handful of raspberries
1 handful of walnuts

Directions:
1) Mix all dressing ingredients and set to the side.
2) Chop mint leaves, romaine lettuce, and green onion.
3) Add all other salad ingredients
4) Mix well.

Makes for approx 2 servings





Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche

28 02 2012

This was my first attempt at making a quiche and I loved it!  It was very easy to make, and very tasty, making its way onto my weekly rotating roster of recipes.  This recipe makes 8 portions so I was able to have leftovers the rest of the week, saving cooking time for my lazy ass.  Speaking of leftovers, have you heard this song?  Love it!

This recipe is for ovo-lacto vegetarians.  I did a very depressing attempt to make it vegan by using an egg substitute, but couldn’t figure out what could replace the cheese, which is an important element in holding the ingredients together.  Other vegan quiche recipes simply replace the egg and cheese with firm tofu, does anyone know if that actually works?

Carrot’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 carrots
Meat-Eater’s Rating: 4 out of 5 carrots

Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche

Ingredients:

Crust:
3 cups of flour
½ cup of water
½ cup of melted vegan margarine
2 teaspoons of mustard 

Filling:
1.5 lbs of asparagus cut into ½ inch pieces
0.5 onion, finely chopped
½ cup of mushrooms
¼ cup butter
2 eggs or 1/4 cup of egg substitute
2 cups of mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon of dried basil
¼ teaspoon of oregano
¼ teaspoon of sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1)      Mix crust ingredients into a mixing bowl, then sprad onto an ungreased 9-inch pie plate.  Use a fork and press firmly starting in the middle and working your way to the sides.  Fill in any holes.  Spread mustard on top, then set aside.
2)      In a large frying pan, melt margarine, then sautee asparagus, onion and mushrooms until asparagus is tender yet crispy.  
3)      In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.  Stir in the asparagus mixture well.
4)      Pour mixture into the pie crust and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
5)      Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving

Makes for approx. 8 servings
Takes 40 minutes





My Top 5 Favourite Vegetarian Fast Foods from Big Chain Restaurants

24 02 2012

Cooking your own meal or looking for a restaurant with vegetarian meals, isn’t always an option.  This is why I decided to put together a list of my favourite vegetarian foods from big chain fast food restaurants.  You can find these places on nearly every corner of Canada, and they are often open long hours of the day.

1)      Quiznos Veggie Sub ($5 after 5pm)
Perfectly toasted, the mushrooms, onions, guacamole, cheese and red wine sauce create a gourmet sub better than the competitor.  Just be aware that Quiznos claims they offer two vegetarian options, but really the choice is with or without guacamole. 

2)     Harvey’s Vegetarian Hamburger ($5)
Even meat-eaters can appreciate the veggie burger atHarvey’s. The patty resembles an authentic meat burger in both look and taste, but without the grease.  The best part is, Harvey’s promotes cooking the veggie burger on a separate section of the grill. 

3)     Subway Veggie Sub ($5)
Subway is definitely one of the healthier options on this list.  The sub does have potential to be a little on the pain jane side, but if you dress it up right ( I like the sweet onion sauce) then it becomes a great option.

4)      Tim Horton’s Soup and Bagel Combo ($4.50)
Tim Horton’s definitely needs to work on expanding their vegetarian options on their menu.  However, if you’re travelling in Canada you are bound to find our nation’s pride splattered on every corner. I personally am a big fan of the soup and bagel combo.  Both their Hearty Vegetable and Minestrone soups are vegetarian friendly, made with vegetable broth.  Pair it with a sesame bagel with herb and garlic cream cheese and your meal is set.

5) Pizza Pizza’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Pizza ($3.75)
Spent the night drinking at the bar and not-receiving phone numbers?  That’s fine, eat your sorrows away with the Mediterranean Vegetarian pizza.

 





Canadian government has called for strychnine poisoning of thousands of wolves

23 02 2012

Wednesday veg news updates are typically saved for feel-good entertainment stories.  However, I recently caught wind of a horrible incident that could happen right here in Canada that we need to immediately put a stop to.

You probably already know about the highly controversial oil sands that has garnered negative world-wide attention.  In the latest, and in my opinion, most disgusting move, the government proposed a plan to slaughter wolves to try to protect a declining population of Woodland Caribou.

The strategy is to kill wolves using bait laced with strychnine –poison that causes excruciating pain lasting for hours

The gist of what is happening:

The already declining population of Woodland Caribou, are now facing extinction mainly due to the oil sands, but also highways and wildfires destroying their habitat.  Instead of helping to preserve their habitat,  the Alberta government proposed a strategy to kill the wolves that prey on the Caribou.  The strategy involves both aerial shooting of wolves, and even more disturbing, the poisoning of wolves with bait laced with strychnine –poison that causes excruciating pain, muscles spasms, and convulsions that last for 2-3 hours before death from asphyxiation. In addition, allowing increase hunting of deer and moose who share the caribou’s habitat.

Regardless of where you stand on the oil sands issue, I assume most of my fellow vegetarians are animal lovers, and made this lifestyle choice as a reaction to animal cruelty.  It’s important that we do something to stop this slaughter campaign before it’s put into action.  I encourage you to visit the below links, and sign the petitions.

http://ecards.cwf-fcf.org/petition/ecard.aspx
http://www.credoaction.com/campaign/tar_sands_wolves/?rc=homepage

Here are some links if you want to read up on the issue.
Huffington Post Canada
CBC News
CTV News
Los Angelas Times





Canadian Spinach Salad

10 02 2012

How to make any salad delicious.  Take boring lettuce and add a butt-load of calories.

Enjoy this sweet salad made with canadian (eh!) ingredients.  Great for anyone on a 100km diet, or those looking for a healthy dose of iron and b12.

Photo courtesy of citytv.ca

Carrot’s Rating: 5 out of 5 carrots
Meat-Eater’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 carrots

Ingredients:
4 cups of washed spinach leaves
1/4 sliced bell pepper
1/4 sliced onions
1 diced apple
1 diced pear
1 handful of un-salted peanuts
2 ounces of goat cheese

Dressing:
1 ounce of vegetable oil
1 ounce of white wine vinaigrette
1 packet of splenda

Directions:
1) Mix ingredients and serve!

Makes for approx 4 servings
Takes 10 minutes





Comedy with a vegetarian theme

8 02 2012

Your Vegetarian news update for the week of February 8, 2012. Click on photos for full comedy sketch.

This week I decided to share some comedy with a vegetarian theme.  It starts off with a full vegetarian, ends with a vegetarian-hater, and in between an interesting interpretation of a vegetarian diet. Enjoy!

"You can eat this, it's just Turkey broth"

 
 

"I'm not a strict vegetarian. I eat beef and pork."

 
 

If God didnt want us eating cows, he wouldnt have made them so easy to catch.

 







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