Are you planning festive gatherings that will include food? Beyond the traditional fare, do you wonder how to nourish the range of dietary choices among your circle of friends and family? Does your group include vegetarians, vegans, raw foods enthusiasts, or someone whose health concerns require that he or she eat healthier food, instead of just loading up on cholesterol, fat, and sugar?
Here are a few tips, plus two recipes that are vegan, are free of cholesterol and added sugar, and are suitable for many people with food sensitivities (apart from nuts). The delicious cookies are entirely raw.
When you put out appetizers at events, include one or more packages of the seasoned types of hummus that are widely available from supermarket coolers. These protein-rich dips help many vegetarians fare well at festive events; they can be served with raw veggies, crackers, and slices of fresh bread.
If your group is considering a restaurant, check out http://www.happycow.net or www.vergdining.com and type in your location.
Cashew and Vegetable Stir Fry
From “The New Becoming Vegetarian” (in the US) and “Becoming Vegetarian” (Same book, in Canada) by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis,
For this stir fry, we suggested specific vegetables; however you can try others such as: asparagus, cauliflower, Chinese greens, daikon radish, mung bean sprouts and mushrooms. To give appealing textures in a stir fry, the denser vegetables are added at the beginning, for longer cooking, and the more leafy vegetables at the end. Chinese or Thai chili garlic sauces (available at Oriental stores and many supermarkets) can be hot, so use more or less, as you prefer.
Makes 4 cups (two servings). Recipe can be doubled.
2 tbsp cashew butter or peanut butter
1-2 tbsp Chinese, Thai or other chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp tamari, Bragg Liquid Soy, or soy sauce
1 tbsp water
1/4 c or more cashews
1 large red or white onion, sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1 large carrot, sliced diagonally
1 c broccoli florets, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 c bok choy or Chinese cabbage, chopped
1 c snow pea pods
In small bowl, stir together cashew butter, chili garlic sauce, tamari and water to make a smooth paste. In a preheated hot wok or pan, cook onion in oil over high heat for 3 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add carrot and cook for 1 minute; add broccoli and cook for another 30 seconds; then add red pepper, bok choy and snow peas, cooking just long enough to heat through. Add sauce, stir to combine, sprinkle with cashews and serve over brown rice.
From “The Raw Food Revolution Diet” by Cherie Soria, Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, The Book Publishing Company, 2008.
Sweet Nut’ins are a perfect holiday cookie for all ages. Soaking improves the mouth feel and mineral availability of nuts. For dried fruit, use chopped, pitted dates, or try any combination of dates, dried apricots, blueberrries, cranberries, cherries, and figs (with stems removed).
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
2 cups almonds, soaked for 8 hours, rinsed and drained
1 cup walnuts, soaked for 8 hours, rinsed and drained
3 cups dried fruit
1 teaspoon almond extract or 2 teaspoons orange zest (minced orange peel)
In a food processor outfitted with the “S” blade, grind the almonds and walnuts until they are coarsely chopped. Add the dried fruit and almond extract or zest; process until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Using a tablespoon, form small balls and flatten these with your hand, making cookies about 1/2 inch thick and 2 inches in diameter. Enjoy these soft, chewy cookies immediately or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Variation: If you have a dehydrator, you can place the formed cookies on a tray lined with a nonstick sheet and dehydrate the cookies at 105 degrees F/40 C for 12 to 24 hours, depending on how crunchy you want them; these healthy treats make excellent gifts that can be safely mailed. They also freeze well.
Vesanto Melina, is a BC Registered Dietitian and co-author of nutrition classics including “Becoming Vegan; the “Food Allergy Survival Guide“, and Raising Vegetarian Children. Her website is: www.nutrispeak.com