Category Archives: Our Vegetarian Travels

Last minute shoppers

check out this great little place called Blue Orchid Handbags.

Sweet, creative bags, and purses, that are affordable, and made from animal friendly materials.
Even sweeter, some of the profit from bags sold on their website are donated to the ASPCA.
And Facebook fans receive 20% off your total order!  Through 12/31. Enter ‘facebook2011′ during checkout.

We met them on Indie-gogo, and they’re in need of funds to purchase an industrial machine. Check out their indie-gogo page. They’ve got cool rewards.

And anyone looking to work from home Blue Orchid Handbags is looking for sales consultants – women who are independent, ambitious and energetic! A wonderful opportunity to own your own business and have a flexible schedule.

Easy Vacation Lunches

Although I forgot to pack my camera, phone charger and God forbid, my hairspray I did manage to remember to pack some of my favorite and most necessary spices. That tells me something about my priorities. In the past few years I’ve really changed my way of thinking about eating while traveling . As I said in my earlier post ( the one I wrote when I  had an internet connection that didn’t require me to run up and down the sidewalk with my laptop hoping to catch three or more bars) I’m away on vacation in Florida and I’m renting a space with a kitchen. This has become imperative since finding suitable food and eating out is such a chore. Without plodding down that path of conversation again I will say that I am thankful that my style of cooking over the past few years, especially since filming the VegEZ Podcast, has become very abbreviated and simple. This makes cooking on the go easy and inexpensive. My staples of a few spices, oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, Tamari soy sauce matched with some basic  pantry items like olive oil, onions, carrots, potatoes, pasta, tempeh, canned tomatoes along with a variety of beans give me a number of meal and leftover options. I have to say (and this really is the truth) that I do frequently resort to using the VegEZ app. First of all I’m hardly ever able to connect to the web on my computer and I don’t often remember as many recipes as I’d like to think I do! Today was Tamari Tempeh (with fresh tomato, crispy lettuce, avocado and Veganaise) sandwich day. I love my marinated tempeh recipes, but the Tamari Tempeh is so fast and easy that I can make great bunches of it in about 15 minutes. This truly was stress free lunching at it’s best and all while watching the amazing birds and dolphins here on Sanibel Island.

The search for good food in Fort Myers Florida

One of the biggest challenges for me  when vacationing in Florida has been finding something good and by “good” I mean fresh and healthy, to eat. Sounds crazy in a place where there’s some sort of food establishment about every fifty feet doesn’t it? I’m not kidding.  Fort Myers has an unbelievable amount of fast food or chain dining establishments only outdone by the hundreds of shopping outlet malls.  This trip after arriving in Fort Myers I’ll be moving on to Sanibel Island for a week of biking , bird watching and hopefully warm weather.  I’ve managed to solve the majority of my food problems by renting a place that has a full kitchen so I’m not totally dependent on local restaurant fare however that said the other thing that perplexes me is how difficult it is to find locally grown fruits, and vegetables in supermarkets. This really is more of an observation than a complaint. There isn’t a Florida orange or tomato to be found in local markets. Only certain outlets have them available. I guess coming from Maine where there’s definitely a farm food culture and where locally grown organic produce is widely available, I took it for granted that a state with a temperate climate like Florida, a climate perfect for growing food and farming would offer better choices. Not so. Clearly the emphasis here is on volume, on cheap over processed unhealthy imported food and lots of it. Any advice from seasoned (preferably vegetarian!) Florida travelers would be greatly appreciated. In the event I find something of interest I’ll be sure to share it with you….

Vegan Pizza Spreads Across US!

pot-sage-pizza

Oh so many years ago when we first became vegetarians, in order to get a decent, tasty vegan pizza, you had to make it yourself. While it’s still a wonderful thing to DIY – check out Toni’s amazing Potato Sage Pizza – it’s also nice to know that from Boston to Seattle and in a growing number of cities in between, you can find pizza parlors who have mastered the fine art of vegan pizza making.

T.J. Scallywaggles – Boston, MA
Pizza Plaza – Oakland, CA
Pizza Pi – Seattle, WA
The Rudyard Kipling – Louisville, KY
Viva Herbal Pizzeria – NYC
Gianna’s Grille – Philadelphia, PA (check out their veg specialties too!)
Este Pizzeria – Salt Lake City, UT
Tomato Joe’s – Valencia, CA
Bobby G’s Pizzeria – Berkeley, CA (vegan pizza by the slice!)

Baltimore’s Local Flavor

Baltimore’s Local Flavor

This past weekend the Totally Vegetarian team went off to Baltimore to attend the Natural Products Expo East. Our goal was to seek potential sponsors for the show and to explore what’s new in the natural and vegetarian/vegan food industry. I can tell you that there will be a lot of exciting stuff hitting the shelves soon. We managed to spend two days sampling food out of tiny cups that never seemed to end and I’m sure I consumed enough Green Tea to fill up a small pond. The food was great and the vendors were interesting and inspiring. It’s so wonderful to chat with people who are dedicated and commited to producing delicious food and healthy living products.

Though the weather was lousy up until our last day, we were finally able to check out a downtown farmers markets before we had to fly out. On our way to the market, I asked everybody I met if they knew where I could go for a crab-free mock crabcake. The question of where I might find this culinary “oddity” brought us some very interesting responses from local people and really made the day a great deal of fun. Since we never found it, the experience also gave me the incentive to create a crab-free mock crabcake recipe.

When I travel, I try to make a point to check out local stores and, when possible, farmers or open markets. I encourage all of you to do the same. It’s a great way to learn about local cultures and cuisine, and you’ll may get unique ideas for new recipes. Baltimore’s farmers market boasts a blend of fresh foods, friendly people, music, entrepreneurs, adorable dogs, and colorful local eateries that set up for the day. If you’re ever in Maryland’s largest city, be sure to check it out, and, if you find a crab-free crab cake, please let me know.

Spring in Italy

Spring in Italy

I recently returned from my annual spring trip to Italy. Every time I go back, I discover something new, partially because it’s virtually impossible to sample everything in one trip, but also because there are seasonal foods available in different regions. If you travel around the country, you’ll always be sure to come across fresh vegetable dishes prepared in a manner the local populations are accustomed to.

This trip I traveled with a friend and our two middle school aged sons. We went to Lucca with my sister-in-law Daniela and decided to ride our bikes along the great medieval wall that surrounds the city and then to have lunch in one of the local family-run restaurants called a hosteria. In Italy you have ristoranti, trattorias, and hosterias. Historically, each type of eatery has a different purpose and level of formality and therefore offer menu selections that are unique from each other. The place we chose had a limited menu in the sense that not everything you might get in a typical Italian restaurant was available, but the choices were many and each sounded better than the next.

We all selected different dishes so we could sample as much of the available vegetarian fare as possible. Our favorite that day, was a plate of raw baby artichokes, small and tender, sliced very thinly and topped simply with a little salt, olive oil, and shavings of pecorino cheese.

It was a memorable day all around and it just doesn’t get better than that.

Vegetarian Island Dining

For a vegetarian, one of the major challenges of vacationing is dining out, and of course where you go in your travels can make all the difference. Recently my journeys took me to Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean, south of Cuba. My prior experience of island dining was less than impressive. However, this experience was different. I found the local grocery stores stocked with non-meat alternatives and there are vegetarian choices on every dinner menu. There are also exclusively vegetarian places offering lots of salads and fresh produce.

Grand Cayman boasts an eclectic blend of excellent ethnic restaurants – from Thai, Indian, and Italian to authentic island fare, all beautifully prepared and presented. One dish I had that I really enjoyed because it was spicy, tasty, local, and different was Tofu Jerk on a bed a vegetables.

Jerk is a spice mixture usually used to prepare pork and chicken, so this was a nice surprise that allowed me to sample local cuisine. There really wasn’t much to it – the recipe relies on the famous Jerk spice or marinade which has, as its key ingredient, fiery hot peppers along with allspice and cane sugar.

Try my version different ways with either tofu, tempeh, or vegetables. It really is worth trying, especially if you like heat and spice. There are many authentic jerk seasonings (available even at your local grocery store) and each is unique. Here is what I had and am passing on to you:

Jerk Tofu

Ingredients:

1 lb. pressed tofu slices, cubed or cut into strips (or tempeh)
2 T. vegetable oil
1-2 t. Jerk marinade

Carefully toss tofu with jerk spice and oil. Let the tofu marinate for at least an hour, or overnight for more intensity. After the flavor is infused, grill over high heat in a grill pan, or any heavy cast iron skillet.

Grilling implies that the pan is fairly dry but brushed with a little oil – since neither tofu or tempeh contain much fat, it requires a little help. You also have the option of grilling the tofu outside, just brush the slabs with oil and marinade mixture and grill slowly, until the tofu is a rich golden brown.

Serve this spicy boost of protein on a bed of julienne stir-fried yellow summer squash and carrots. Make sure your squash and carrots are still firm yet tender. Lightly fried plantain on the side is a great idea, as it adds a sweet, savory flavor to the menu.

I might prepare this on a future program, but for now it is a exclusive sneak peek. Enjoy it with your favorite Island cocktail.