Sunday, June 16, 2013
Just wanted to say a quick hi and apologize for not posting this weekend. Doug and I are off to celebrate our wedding anniversary in Whistler B.C. for a few days! I will write more once we return. In the meantime, I hope all is well with all of you and that you are able to enjoy some of the gorgeous days we have been having here lately. Until later....
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Back in July of 2011, I wrote my first piece on The Market at Lakeway. I was so pleased that they were focusing on local produce, as well as vegan and gluten-free options. I would occasionally pop in from time to time after this, especially whenever I got a craving for Sophie's Vegan Shrimp, one of my favorite treats. (To my knowledge, The Market is the only place that carries this locally at this time.) That being said, however, prior to this past weekend, time had gone by and it has been awhile since I had visited the store. I can't remember for sure exactly how long it had been, but long enough for me to have missed out on some pretty awesome and significant changes.
Last week I received a really great email from the Belligham Markets' CEO explaining his commitment to creating a natural foods store with a huge selection of natural, organic, and local food that has increased options for vegan and gluten-free diets. He explained that they have integrated most of the specialized products in with the regular products, rather than have them in their own sections, so as to be able to provide more space for an increased variety of items to choose from. They have also added a community room and an on-site dietician, as well as expanded their bulk foods section.
This past Saturday, my husband Doug and I went to check out The Market to see what had changed since we had last visited, and I can't tell you how impressed we were. We spent over an hour wandering through the store taking in the sights and marveling at the selection. To begin with, there is an actual vegan wine section, located with the organic wines. This was definitely something that pleased me greatly!
We had made the mistake that people say you should never do, which is go to the store hungry, so of course we stopped by their deli counter to scope out the options there, hoping we would find something delicious to take home. I was wearing my "Eat More Kale" T-shirt, and the friendly young woman behind the deli counter noted that she just happened to have a wonderful kale salad, if I really did want to eat more kale. I noticed that in addition to the salad, there were a number of other vegan options as well, and I told her we would be stopping back by once we had finished our shopping. Coincidentally, while at the deli counter we happened to run into a friend of ours who also happens to be vegan! We had a nice time catching up, and when I explained we had not been in the store for some time, he told us to be sure and check out the vegan "dairy" case because the selection there was also impressive.
We continued on our way and next encountered the absolutely amazingly fabulous selection of BEANS! It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I love my beans, and while I am partial to my standard favorites, (chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, etc. --you know, the usual...) the bulk beans section of The Market was incredible--so many different varieties to choose from and some kinds I had never heard of or even seen before--it was absolutely gorgeous.
I think I spent at least ten minutes in the beans section alone! Now there is something else that I love that isn't as easy to find as you might think it is, and that is organic brown jasmine rice, so I was also pleased to see the most extensive rice selection I have ever seen in Bellingham as well. I stocked up on my rice, and then enjoyed wandering around the various bulk bins and food aisles. I was also pleased to see the spice aisle still boasted a variety of spices.
One of the things I like to do whenever I am out of town and in a Whole Foods is check out their selection of toiletries, cosmetics, and household items that are in a more natural, vegan-friendly, or environmentally-friendly category than what you can find at a more mainstream grocery store. I know we are lucky to have access to some of these types of products at the Co-op, which I definitely appreciate, but I always wish there were more places in town to buy these kinds of things. Well now I no longer need to be envious of cities that have Whole Foods, because The Market has such a huge selection of these kinds of products, from soap and shampoo, to lotion and makeup, to household cleaners--they even carry my vegan hair color!
When we finally got to the vegan "meat" and "dairy" case, we agreed that our friend was right! The selection was fantastic and extensive. I have to say the more I thought about it, the more I liked how the natural, vegan, or gluten-free products were more or less mixed in with the conventional products in the same category--although I do appreciate not having to go where the meat is to find vegan alternatives--I can guarantee that is one section I tend to steer clear of, so it's nice that it's not all mixed together! Which meant that I did appreciate finding this case that contained mostly vegan items.
I should also throw in here that while this does not have anything to do with anything of a specifically vegan nature, my husband and I both really liked that the liquor prices displayed the full prices with the taxes included so you get a realistic perception of the total price in advance--not all stores do that, which can make it confusing, so it's nice that they take the math and the guesswork out of the equation.
After we had pretty much toured the entire store and vowed to return again sooner rather than later, we headed towards the bakery section on our way back to the deli area, and look what we saw--not only do they have vegan and gluten-free treats from The Flying Apron, they also had (drum-roll, please!) MIGHTY-O DONUTS!!! (I still remember the most popular "dish" from the last vegan potluck belonged to the lovely Fleeks, who brought a box of Mighty-O Donuts to share!)
We of course grabbed the last frosted donut to split for that evening's dessert, and then we headed back over to the deli to choose our dinner. We knew we would need to load up on kale salad, which was so tasty and flavorful, and then we each grabbed a Field Roast hazlenut crusted cutlet to go with it. What a decadent and delicious meal we had! YUM.
I know this is an unusually long post, but I just had so much to share with you. I am excited and appreciative of how much vegan-friendlier Bellingham continues to grow, and it is definitely due to businesses and restaurants like The Market who are making it possible for us to have the choice to eat delicious food in our community. If, like me, you haven't been to The Market in awhile, you should definitely stop by again and check it out. (Also, I will be following up with some product review posts from items you can purchase at The Market in the weeks and months to come...)
And in closing, thanks so much to The Market and all of its wonderful staff, to Kevin for your email and your generosity, and to Alex for your friendliness and information about the Community room!
Sunday, June 2, 2013
My husband Doug and I decided to have a car-free weekend, so yesterday we walked down to the Farmers Market for breakfast and shopping before heading home, having managed to perfectly combine our desire for Mulu's yummy food with necessary errand-running, and our need for daily exercise. Happily and unexpectedly, we ran into some friends who had the same breakfast idea that we had, so we were able to eat together and catch up a bit while we enjoyed our delicious food.
While at the market, we were pleased to discover that Dashi Noodle Bar was hosting a table, and the person working there generously offered to let us sample their completely vegan "Caesar Salad Dressing." We tasted the sample and it was absolutely amazing. After saying thanks for the sample, we walked maybe two feet away before turning right back around to buy a bottle to take home with us. We left the market after buying some fresh spinach, lettuce, and the wonderful dressing, and then headed to the Co-op to grab a few more things before going home.
Unfortunately, the dressing got a bit jostled around during the three and a half or so miles walk home, so the label did not quite survive in tact, as is evidenced in the photo above. However, this did not in any way make one bit of difference to the wonderful taste of this dressing.
Once home, I cut up some old bread that was beginning to go stale, and made some croutons out of it. Then I washed the lettuce and started preparing the salad. Since we had one half a cucumber and one half of a tomato that needed to be used up, we added those to our salad as well, even though we knew it would no longer be a "Caesar" salad. We tossed everything together, added the dressing, sprinkled a little bit of vegan cheese on top, and our lovely fresh Caesar-"ish" salad was ready to go.
Sometimes a salad is exactly what I need. Now I know being vegan, salads are can often be our only option, depending on where we may be and how available other kinds of meals are. So I also understand not always being in the mood for salad, or even occasionally being disappointed when that's all there is to eat. And yet at the same time, sometimes a salad is the only thing that sounds good, and when you add to that a terrific, flavorful, super-fantastic creamy dressing, then everything comes together just right, and I couldn't want anything more.
And with this lovely dressing, I definitely see more salads in my future. (I also think it would be good on kale, or even as a sandwich condiment.) Thanks to Dashi Noodle Bar for being so consistently vegan-friendly and awesome. I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and were able to enjoy some of the wonderful goodness from our local Farmers Market! (And it was so great seeing you, Kyle and Serena!)
Sunday, May 26, 2013
One of my favorite things about having fresh basil growing on my deck is that it allows me to make a delicious pesto sauce whenever I get a craving for it. Nothing dresses up leftovers, veggies, pasta, or even soup like a yummy pesto sauce. So here is my go-to recipe for an easy and amazing pesto that you can whip up in a snap!
In a food processor, combine the following:
- 2 cups (packed) fresh basil
- 2 cups (packed) of a leafy green veggie, like fresh spinach or arugula
- fresh parsley (I usually put between 1/8 and 1/4 cup)
- nutritional yeast (between 1/8 and 1/4 cup)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup to 1 cup walnuts
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- the juice of 1 small lemon
One of the things I like about this sauce is that it is a great way to add lots of greens to your dish. I have experimented with either spinach or arugula, or sometimes I even use a mix of the two, and they both taste great. (Really the strongest flavor in this sauce ends up being the yummy fresh basil.)
Sunday, May 19, 2013
I know technically strawberry season has not yet arrived, but we are getting very close, and so today I want to share with you a recipe for a yummy coffee cake that is only made better by putting berries on top! This is a decadent-weekend-sleep-in-lazy-morning treat.
Preheat your oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix together:
1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/3 cup sugar (I use vegan, organic non-GMO sugar)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
In a large bowl, mix together:
1 and 1/2 cups flour (I use organic Bob's Red Mill flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt.
In another small bowl, mix together:
6 ounces of vegan yogurt (I used lemon flavor) and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup vegan milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and mix. Pour the mixture into a pie pan, and then lay strawberry slices in a concentric circle until the top is covered. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar walnut topping over the strawberries, and bake for 35-40 minutes. Brew up a cup of your favorite tea or coffee and enjoy!
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Today I am not writing about food. I am thinking about food, which is pretty typical for me, but I am thinking about food in terms of how it makes our physical bodies what they are, and how it connects us to the world around us. I am also thinking about what I am going to cook for dinner tonight, and how the basil growing on my deck will make a nice pesto sauce. I am thinking about everything I hope to accomplish this weekend, and how when my daily life feels infused with meaning, how much happier I am.
That being said, my Saturday has been pretty great so far. I started with Mulu's awesome food for breakfast at the Farmers Market, and then I went on a great hike with my husband on some trails over in the Lake Whatcom area that I never knew existed before today. It was beautiful and tree-filled with pretty views and birds singing and gentle breezes.We walked along together, and as it frequently happens, we also began to talk about the community, about things happen locally and globally, and we mused about the future, wondering what things will be like when we are older.
We talked about things people are doing to try and affect the world around them in positive ways, and how inspired I have been by some of the students I have come to know at Western whose passion and enthusiasm and intelligence makes me optimistic. And we also talked about how sometimes it is hard not to become frustrated when it feels like people get bogged down in conventions and details instead of moving forward and committing to action. Sometimes bureaucracy can be so frustrating. And this reminded me of something David Suzuki said very early in his recent talk at Western:
"We have urgent problems that I think are not being faced with sufficient energy and clarity."
And I have to say I agree with this. There are many people doing many cool things, and I am a big proponent of extolling the value of personal action, and in connecting with community, and in feeling empowered. But this doesn't change the fact that sometime it is hard not to feel frustrated by the reality of Suzuki's statement--it is hard not to feel frustrated that on a larger collective level, there is not sufficient energy and clarity when it comes to facing these urgent problems.
After our walk, I came home and checked my email and found that someone had forwarded me this article from the New York Times about something that has long been predicted that has finally happened:
"The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years. Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering."
I am not writing about this to depress you, but I just felt like sharing some of the things that are on my mind today. Because one thing we need to do is talk more about this with each other, but even more important than that, I believe, is that we need to come together and somehow find a way to transform that talking into meaningful action. And to quote a student I admire greatly, "This is the-absolute-most-important-thing in the world: is doing something about this now..."