Photography

Zucchini Tian with Vegan Parmesan Cheese

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I recently acquired a humongous zucchini. This zucchini could not be controlled.

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(Side note: apparently huge zucchinis aren’t all that uncommon, at least according to my gardening friends. But this east coast girl still hasn’t got a handle on how most foods grow, so bear with me.)

I made it into tian, at the advice of my regular chef of a mom. Tian is French dish made by chopping various vegetables and cooking them au gratin in an oven. By using breadcrumbs, butter, cheese, or eggs (nearly all of which can be plant-based!), you can achieve a nicely browned effect when all is said and done.

Behold.

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This dish is fun because you can arrange the vegetables in any way you choose. I like the spiral look, so that’s what I did. It took a lot time because I’m not very creative. But here’s what it looked like before I popped it in the oven.

 

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Remember to be creative and make this dish your own — if you don’t love zucchini, how about summer squash or sweet potato?

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I didn’t make a recipe card for the vegan parmesan because it’s so easy: simply take about a cup of raw cashews and mix in with 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Put this in a food proccesser/blender and give it a few pulses. It won’t take long at all to blend up. You can sprinkle this on nearly everything, because cheese.

 

And in case you were wondering…I still have about half of that zucchini left.

 

 

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“Summer is Coming” Salad Medley

Don’t be discouraged by Game of Thrones. Summer is coming, folks. And I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

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What’s better for a summer lunch than a hearty and protein-packed salad full of fruits, veggies, and the most underestimated nutritional powerhouse combo, rice and beans? The citrus in this dish keeps it light and fresh, and the rainbow of colors means you’re reaping the benefits of vitamins and minerals across the board. Baking the asparagus and beets beforehand means you’ll get a nice crunch in there, too.

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This is great dish to prepare ahead of time if you like to pack your lunch, or if you plan to delight your friends at a potluck. It’s also completely flexible. Don’t like kidney beans? That’s fine, you’re dead to me. I mean, *cough* throw in chickpeas or fava beans! And for the citrus addicts here, you can add some pineapple or strawberry to boost that flavor profile. Mmm, vitamin C!

Fair warning, though: your hands will look like Carrie when you’re done with the beets.

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Rice and beans are one of nature’s best combination foods, and serve as a complete protein source — that is, the two of them together provide all the essential amino acids your body needs to survive. And because it’s rice and beans, your stomach won’t be growling for afternoon munchies.

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Garnish with your choice: cilantro was a no-brainer for me. And summer…come quickly!

Portland’s the (vegan) caterer, and how YOU can give back this holiday season

The holidays are here, and I couldn’t be happier. Bring on the overambitious Pinterest recipes, the non-denominational greeting cards, the friends-givings and family gatherings!

The holidays give us an excuse to throw parties, give back to our community, and make memories with our neighbors…sometimes, all at once! Last Friday, I had the privilege of helping out the (vegan) caterer, a Portland-based catering company, throw a benefit banquet for the Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

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“Volunteering fills my heart when it gets empty.” That’s what one of my college mentors told me, and it’s stuck with me to this day. Volunteering gives you a chance to forget yourself, and start focusing on others. Even if it’s for a day, a morning, or an hour, I’ve always this sentiment to be true. And as a vegan dietitian, I don’t think it gets much better than serving and enjoying some delicious, cruelty-free food with my own community.

As happy as the holidays can be for humans, the same does not go for animals. Thanksgiving in particular permits us to stuff ourselves all day long, with a menu traditionally centered on meat and dairy. But if you’ve tasted the magic of Field Roast or some dairy-free ‘nog, you know that compassionate alternatives can more than satisfy a crowd. Verbatim quote from my omnivore friend who tagged along: “This is the best roast I have ever eaten. Period.”

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The good folks over at the (vegan) caterer make it possible for the community to enjoy holiday banquetwith a healthy side of compassion. Here’s some shots from the banquet!

(The following pictures were taken by Mark Rainha and edited by myself.)

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From left to right, we have marinated green beans and carrots; field roast slices with a mushroom and sage gravy; and cranberry-glazed tofu. Not pictured is the mashed sweet potato with torched dandies (vegan marshmallows). That night, I learned that it is incredibly difficult to remain calm and collected when the aroma of freshly torched dandies is wafting around!

Here’s Josh, the owner of the (vegan) caterer, torching those dandies.

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Dinner was served to over 100 guests at the Village Ballroom, a cozy venue in Northeast Portland.

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Look at those happy volunteers 🙂

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Here’s Judy Woods of the Pigs Peace Sanctuary, located just north of Seattle. She does amazing, selfless work rescuing pigs from all walks of life and has been doing so since 1994. The Sanctuary now houses over fifty pigs, who live in peace on 39 acres of woodland. They are free to foster natural relationships with their rescued friends, forage for food, and explore the land. I could go on and on about Pigs Peace, but I encourage you to click that link and read Judy’s own words.

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The banquet featured a raffle with prizes donated from companies all over town. In fact, $4082.90 was raised to benefit Judy’s nonprofit.

If you’re located in the Portland area and need some help with a holiday party, give the (vegan) caterer a try! They offer a wide array of services, from private event catering to individual meal preparation delivered to your doorstep. Wedding catering services are listed on their site and are very affordable. Josh has an extensive menu, ranging from Tex-Mex to the Far East. And don’t worry, there are plenty of desserts to go around.

:: What You Can Do To Make a Difference This Holiday Season ::

Serve Compassionate Food: The holidays are a perfect opportunity to incorporate cruelty-free food and drink into your traditional festivities! The Kitchn has some winter-specific recipes that I can’t wait to serve to my favorite people. Post Punk Kitchen is always a great resource for holiday recipes, as well. By serving cruelty-free food, you’ll be making a statement for how all beings can enjoy the holidays.

Reach Out to Causes That Need Your Help: Many local organizations are looking for a helping hand this holiday season.

  • Try VolunteerMatch.org to find a cause you might enjoy serving.
  • Search around your neck of the woods for smaller nonprofits who need help, or local companies trying to make their mark in the community.
  • Many local veggie organizations throw community dinners and serve to the homeless. Put Google to work and find some upcoming events near you.
  • If you own a  business, organize a canned (or other) food drive and offer promotions to customers. For example, three canned items might give someone $5 off a haircut.
  • If you live in the Portland area, one of my favorite organizations to promote is Northwest VEG. They always have something up their sleeve and are eager for volunteers.

That’s all, folks! I’ll be updating with some of my favorite things as the holidays start. While you’re waiting, how about you comment and tell me: how do you celebrate for the holidays? and do you have any favorite organizations you like to help during the winter season?

Easy as Pie: Stovetop Pear Preserve

I was completely overwhelmed. By pears.

My wonderful fruit and veggie delivery service, Organics to You, has been sending me pears for weeks now. Anjous, Bartletts, Boscs — you name it. Red, green, yellow, and brown. Tangy, tart, mushy and mealy. Today I decided to face my problems head on and deal with all those pears lurking in the back of my fridge. And what better way to handle lurking fruits than to make them into a preserve?

A preserve is a fruit preparation that is sustained by sugar — i.e., a jam or a jelly. I’m not a fan of jellies, so I decreed that these pears would be made into a homemade jam. And so it was done.

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Looks delicious, huh? Read on to see just how easy this was to make.

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Lots of recipes online called for using just one type of pear. But I like variety, and what’s life without a little whimsy? I also traded a third of the white granulated sugar for coconut sugar.

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Thinking you should peel those pears? Step away from the peeler! By saving the skin, your heart will enjoy the benefits of the 6 grams of fiber that the each pear (mostly the skin) provides. This fiber can bind to fats in your digestive tract and lower cholesterol levels. This fiber may bind to cancer-causing agents and decrease the risk of colon cancer.

Pears are also very high on the ORAC scale — that’s the “Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity” scale, which is a ranking of how many antioxidants a food boasts, as researched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Check it out here. Although there is scientific debate about the validity of testing antioxidants in a test tube versus how they actually work in the body, we do know that fruits and vegetables tend to have high amounts of antioxidants, and pears are no exception. Pears are also relatively low on the glycemic load, so they won’t spike insulin levels too high, especially if paired with a protein or fat.

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Of course, this recipe does call for added sugar, but a tablespoon or so of jam on morning toast — maybe with some peanut butter — sounds like a good deal to me.

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Note: Although I plan on it, I haven’t yet learned how to can foods. That’s why I’m storing these preserves in the refrigerator. If you are planning on storing homemade canned goods in a pantry, please use proper canning technique! Unsafe canning practices can lead to life-threatening illnesses.

 

 

 

Spotlight on: DC Vegetarian Food Cart PDX

If you know anything about Portland, you’ll know that we’re pretty famous for our delectable and unique food carts. Seriously, the carts are a way of life here, and there’s one for every kind of craving you might have. The Food Network and Cooking Channel regularly feature Portland’s carts, too.

Some of my favorites include the Grilled Cheese Grill (and yes, they can make any one of their grilled cheeses vegan!), e-San Thai, Homegrown Smoker BBQ, and the Dump Truck — a truck devoted solely to dumplings. “Pods” are located in nearly all the neighborhoods around town, so you’re never far from a cheap, hot meal. Recent surveys estimate that we have over 600 carts in business!

I take that as a challenge.

Recently I visited DC Vegetarian Cart in SW Portland. I think the telltale sign of a successful vegan/vegetarian business is when it starts appealing to non-vegan consumers. If you read the Yelp reviews alone, herbivores and omnivores alike go crazy for DC’s offerings.

“I love this place like no other. They have never once disappointed me. The vegan cheesesteak with those thick chunks of seitan, the bacon cheeseburger with avocado, the daily soups, the italian sub…. every single item is worthy of some of your lesser friend’s lives.”

I concur.

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“This place is like looking into the future. Like if we stopped growing animals just to eat them. And instead people went vegan – DC WOULD BE WHAT THEY ATE. They would crave this dank veggie cheesesteak made of luscious seitan cubes and ooey gooey daiya with sauteed bell pepper and onion.”

You know how omnivores tend to pity you for not being able to eat things like cheeseburgers and cheese steaks and grilled cheese? Point them directly to DC. This is the cart where you can get the greasiest, saltiest, melt-in-your-mouth-and-make-you-want-to-sit-on-your-couch-in-food-bliss-for-a-week all American food. Philly cheese steak? Check. Double bacon cheeseburger? Give me that. Chicken salad, grilled cheese, Italian sub? They’ve got it all at DC Vegetarian.

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“No joke, I had a nightmare that it closed a few years back.”

I chose the bacon cheeseburger because I really needed that in my life, and I was not disappointed. The portion size was huge, and it only cost $6.50. Try not to drool.

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My favorite part was the tempeh bacon. I was expecting some fakin’ a la Morningstar, but these homemade marinated bacon strips were a delightful surprise. And eating it on the nearby waterfront on a sunny fall day made for a fantastic food cart experience.

I’ll definitely be back to try DC’s other lunch (and breakfast!) offerings.

Weekend BBQ: Charred Chickpea Burgers with Chipotle Mayo Aioli!

Sometimes you just gotta have a burger.

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My friend Ashley Klees, RD over at Healthy.Easy.Yum! knows that just as well as I do, so she came over to help round out my burgers with a side of cole slaw and sweet potato chips! Check out her page to learn how to make these oh-so-delicious sides! Ashley and I went through our dietetic internship at OHSU together and she kept a smile on my face the whole time!

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These burgers were really easy to make. I ran into a problem with keeping them from falling apart, but throwing some breadcrumbs into the “batter” fixed them right up. Try them at home! They’re easy, fun, and bursting with flavor. I topped my burgers with a drizzle of the aioli (it packs quite a punch–you’ve been warned!) and some sliced avocado for a creamy texture and pop of color.

IMG_0513 IMG_0521Pro tip: don’t be shy with the olive oil! It’ll help to get the outside of your burgers rich and crispy.IMG_0546 IMG_0553

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The finished product! PS — I used Dave’s Killer Bread whole grain burger buns because they’re free of additives and other junk. They also make sliced bread and other goodies and you can find it at your local Safeway, Whole Foods, etc!

Thanks Ashley for letting me collaborate with you on this delicious, easy, and FUN summertime meal!

The Weekend Edition: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach: home to the iconic Haystack Rock, and one of our nation’s most spectacular shores. It’s two hours from Portland, and you should be there right now.

Along with these pretty pictures comes the sad story of how I royally ruined a to-be camping trip by not making campsite reservations in advance. What was going to be a sunset on the beach and s’mores roasting over beach-side driftwood became, instead, a late-night rush to find a motel because there was no (legal) place to pitch a tent. After getting the boot by one Wright’s for Camping, which had promised to hold us a last-minute spot (do not go there), the lady and I decided to call it and were lucky enough to snag a discount rate at the McBee Cottages, where we slept soundly just a block from the beach. Bonus: they are pet friendly if your furry friend is taking a weekend trip with you!

Pro tip: finding a place to camp on the North end of the coast is hard! Most of the campsites that are actually on the beach are closed due to the dangers of old-growth trees falling down and injuring campers. We had planned to stay at Nehalem Bay, and then tried Camp Lookout after driving up to a full campground. No such luck. Everything was full, save for the RV parks–yeah, not happening. Take my word for it and make your reservations.

Nevertheless, waking up right in Cannon Beach was a surprise treat for these campers who were ready to rough it, and we spent the rest of the day exploring this and Smuggler’s Cove (located in Oswald West State Park, just a bit south of Cannon Beach), which has a plethora of hiking trails surrounding the beach. It might just be my favorite west coast sun spot. Here, take a look!

Portland’s Finest: The Mississippi Street Fair & Oregon Berry Festival

Portlanders have more fun.

There, I said it. And that, my friends, is a fact. Since moving here I’ve been delighted by the smiling faces, fun-loving, welcoming spirit that Portlanders have shown me. I never know when I’ll meet someone new, but I know that I look forward to it. Need proof? Fly, drive, bike, bus, walk….get here however you want to get here….and see for yourself.

Summer in Portland has been blossoming with fairs, concerts, festivals, craft beer debuts, quirky bar themes, karaoke…you name it, we’ve got it. Last weekend my friends and I went to the Mississippi Street Fair and the Oregon Berry Festival, in NE and NW Portland, respectively.

As any future RD worth her salt does, I love fresh berries. I was lucky enough to grow up in France, where visiting the markets meant picking up local berries ripe for eating, and I’ve had a love affair with raspberries ever since. At the Oregon Berry Festival, we were treated to all things berries: smoothies, huckleberry coffee, brambleberry cider, Hawaiian ice, and of course some hot-off-the-press red raspberry vodka and blackberry bourbon. Um, free samples please? IMGP9536-001

The Oregon Berry Festival was educational, and highlighted local growers and their contributions to our berry feasts.

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It just wouldn’t be Portland without a food cart of some kind!  IMGP9540-001

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Next up was the Mississippi Street Fair. How I love thee, street fairs of all shapes and sizes. The vendors! The food and drink! Being goofy with your friends because ten blocks of the main street has been closed!

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First stop: whiskey. Like I said…it just wouldn’t be Portland without it.IMGP9565-001

Ten blocks, my friends. That’s a lot of road to get through in a crowd like this!IMGP9546-001

That’s why we had to take a break at Bungalow Bar to sit in their hammocks.

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What I ate: this thoughtful cart offered vegan barbeque, which was a must. But somehow I ended up with a two-pound, soy curl and macaroni and cheese vegan burrito…

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…should have been more sensible and had this instead!

 

Summer is only half-finished, so take advantage of it wherever you are! Street fairs and local town celebrations can be a lot of fun, and are a great excuse to get out and eat, drink, and be joyful in the sunshine. Happy summer!

 

 

 

Scenes from the Portland Farmer’s Market

The smell of coffee and flowers, the bustle of buyers and sellers. Raspberries, the first thing I eat.

Just some of my favorite things.