Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Veg out this summer

Changing or experimenting with a Vegan or Vegetarian diet has never been easier. During the summer time with all the fresh picked fruits and vegetables being locally grown is a great time to experiment.

I like to go to my local Farmer's Market and stock up on what ever is being locally grown. Chicago Farmers markets are all over in different neighborhoods on different days. Google Farmer's Market in your area to find out when and where they take place. Plus we have Green City Market which is the only Chicago year round market. Many of these markets vendors also provide CSA boxes (Community Supported Agriculture). Consumers purchase a share of the farm’s harvest at the beginning of the season. The farmer then delivers periodic (usually weekly) boxes or “shares” containing the best of what the growing season has to offer. These boxes are a great way to eat what is being produced locally in season, support the community and explore new foods and recipes. I take all of these weekly finds and add beans, tofu, seitan, and other vegetarian options to create fabulous stir fry, quinoa, wraps, salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. I will share some of my favorite recipes later in the blog and hope you will share some of yours with me.

With the growing amount of people becoming Vegan or Vegetarian many supermarkets and companies are jumping on the bandwagon. There have never been so many options to substitute meat free/dairy free items into your favorite dishes. Some of my favorites are Gardein, Fakin Bacon, Daiya, Dr. Praeger's, Morning Star, and Light Life Smart Deli. I make BLT's, Nachos, Chicken style wraps, Pizza, and Burgers substituting these products in place of meat or dairy products.

Looking for Vegan recipes? Two of my favorite books are Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook and Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. There are also several online sites that you can either subscribe to or friend on Facebook like Fat Free Vegan.

Why not try a Vegan or Vegetarian restaurant on your next date night? Here in Chicago I recommend Chicago Diner, Green Zebra (which does have meat dishes, but has great Vegan and Vegetarian options), and Karyn's on Green, whose motto is "making Vegan sexy". In NYC Candle79 is one of my favs. Write in and let me know some of your favorite Vegan/Vegetarian friendly restaurants in your area.

Hope you will explore Vegetarian and Vegan eating and realize that not only will you be eating great, healthy, flavorful food that is good for you, but you will be helping support your community and the earth. Nature is bountiful. Let me know some of your favorite Vegan/Vegetarian recipes, products, companies, and restaurants to share.

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