Friday, March 30, 2007

Jack's Corner

If you find yourself in Greensboro near the UNCG campus looking for a bite to eat, I highly recommend Jack's Corner Mediterranean Deli. Every time I go there, I wish that I could somehow magically pick it up and transport it to Winston-Salem. It's not a fancy place -- you place your order at the counter and they bring it out to you -- or a large one, but it offers a big selection of Greek and Middle Eastern dishes at reasonable prices. And, wonderfully, the menu clearly labels which items are vegan and which are vegetarian with dairy.

Among the vegetarian items on the menu are spanikopita, falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, baba ganoush and stuffed grape leaves. There's also a lentil-and-rice dish that sounds intriguing. I've never ordered it, though, because I can't not get one of their vegetarian combination plates. There are several to choose from, with various combinations of items. It's wonderful as a vegetarian to have so many options to choose from, it's hard to decide. And if you want just a small bite to eat, you can order any of the items separately. There's also a lot for carnivorous friends to choose from.

Jack's Corner is on the corner of Spring Garden and Aycock streets and is open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Smooth Moves

With the weather getting warm so quickly, it's a great time for smoothies. Light and refreshing, smoothies are one of the easiest foods you can make. The only essentials are fruit, liquid and a blender.

The fun is in the endless ways you can vary the basic elements and the extras you can add so that you have just the smoothie you want. Below is my "recipe" for a breakfast smoothie – and some comments on ways to vary it.

1/2 banana, fresh or frozen, sliced. (The banana helps make the smoothie thick and creamy, but it can be omitted if you prefer.)

1/2 cup frozen fruit – a mix of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. (You can substitute other fruits, fresh, frozen or even canned. However, very crisp fruits, such as fresh apples or pears, tend not to blend smoothly. Softer fruits, such as peaches and cantaloupes work better.)

1 cup soy milk, or more as needed for blending. (You can substitute other liquids, such as fruit juice or soy yogurt thinned with water. Or if you’re out of soy milk, you can put in a chunk of silken tofu and some water to blend.)

1/2 tsp cinnamon (Omit if you’d like; or try other spices such as ginger, cardamom or nutmeg.)

1 tsp flax oil (This is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, but it can easily be omitted.)

1 Tbsp vegan protein powder (Another item that can easily be omitted.)

1 Tbsp frozen orange-juice concentrate (This adds a bit of sweetness. You can omit, or add something else, such as a spoonful of fruit preserves.)

Add ingredients to blender in the order listed. Begin blending on low; gradually increase speed until everything is smoothly blended. (Stop blender and stir if necessary.) Enjoy!

Have you discovered any extra-delicious smoothie combinations that you could share?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Slow food

I've been vaguely aware of the slow-food movement for awhile now -- I've read an article or two in Vegetarian Times or Natural Health magazines. Although it isn't a vegetarian movement, I think the goals of it are very compatible with a vegetarian lifestyle. The slow food movement encourages us to take it easier when it comes to eating, to really take the time to sit down and enjoy locally grown food, instead of shoveling in homogenized fast food and grocery-store convenience items.

According to the Slow Food U.S.A. Web site, it is "dedicated to supporting and celebrating the food traditions of North America. From the spice of Cajun cooking to the purity of the organic movement; from animal breeds and heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables to handcrafted wine and beer, farmhouse cheeses and other artisanal products; these foods are a part of our cultural identity. They reflect generations of commitment to the land and devotion to the processes that yield the greatest achievements in taste. These foods, and the communities that produce and depend on them, are constantly at risk of succumbing to the effects of the fast life, which manifests itself through the industrialization and standardization of our food supply and degradation of our farmland. By reviving the pleasures of the table, and using our tastebuds as our guides, Slow Food U.S.A. believes that our food heritage can be saved."

I recently found out that there's a local slow-food group, Slow Food Piedmont Triad. Unfortunately we just missed the group's Winston-Salem showing of the film "The Slow Food Revolution," but there are several events in the near future -- check out their Web site! They also provide a handy list of local farms, markets and restaurants.

I'm certainly better than I used to be in terms of fast-food eating. In my early post-college days, I always had a freezer of cheap frozen pizzas and ate at Wendy's or McDonald's regularly. Now I have a greater appreciation of the ingredients I use to cook with. However, I still too often eat dinner in front of the TV set, with my focus on it instead of the food.

What about you? Have you found that eating vegetarian has caused you to eat "slower"?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Into Vegetarianism

Today is the 23rd Great American Meatout, an observance held each year on the first day of spring to increase awareness of the benefits of a meat-free diet and to provide information to help people successfully go vegetarian.

Activists hold events ranging from distributing Meatout handouts in their community to organizing vegan dinners to holding fund-raising walks. The Meatout is coordinated by FARM , a nonprofit group "advocating plant-based (vegan) diets for animal protection, environmental sustainability, and optimal health."

The theme of this year's Meatout is "Stop Global Warming" -- highlighting information about the environmental toll animal agriculture takes on the Earth.

FARM maintains an online list of Meatout events around the world. (There are separate sites for France, where the observance is "Journee sans Viande" and Germany, where it is "Gesund ohne Fleisch.") It even has electronic greeting cards that you can email your friends to wish them a happy Meatout, here.

FARM has a companion campaign, Meatout Mondays. This electronic newsletter offers a recipe, reviews, and more each week to help to keep the Meatout spirit all year round. Judging from the past issues, which are available online, this is worth subscribing to.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ode to Soy

Dear wiggly white blob,
How you inspire me to write --
Tofu, you're the prize.

I'm no poet, and I know it. Think you could do better? Then you should enter the tofu haiku contest being sponsored by the Toronto Vegetarian Association. More information, including complete instructions on how to enter and a list of prizes (if tofu itself isn't enough), is available at Entries are due by May 21.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tofu Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti is one of the easiest meals to make vegetarian. Just put some meatless spaghetti sauce on some pasta -- what could be simpler? Unfortunately, it's not exactly full of protein. So I was intrigued to see the recipe for Tofu Spaghetti Sauce that was in the Journal's Living section on Wednesday. Check it out! I'll definitely have to give that a try sometime -- it looks very hearty and filling.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Green Veggies

To continue on the St. Patrick's Day theme, let's consider the green side of vegetarianism. (OK, that's a stretch, but I couldn’t resist.)

Vegetarians have long been familiar with the evidence that shifting toward a vegetarian or vegan diet can benefit the health of the Earth. But recent reports are adding even more support to that idea.

A report from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, released in November, concludes that livestock production is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global" and that "it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity."

The Christian Science Monitor sums up the FAO's findings in an article at, and the full FAO report is available at

Many of the FAO's suggestions for dealing with these problems focus on ways to make animal agriculture more efficient, rather than reducing the consumption of animal products. But that is the most obvious and logical step: In addition to benefiting the Earth, it benefits the health of the animals and consumers as well. Many advocates of vegetarianism have already reached that conclusion.

The FAO's findings lend support to an earlier report from EarthSave International at that advocates a vegetarian diet as possibly "the most effective strategy for reducing global warming in our lifetimes." And Compassion in World Farming has a report on "The Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat" that considers all three areas of benefit - environmental preservation, human health and animal welfare - at

In fact, a vegetarian diet can do more to reduce an individual's contribution to greenhouse gases than trading in a conventional sedan for a hybrid auto.

As the Christian Science Monitor reports: "Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet – including all food processing steps – results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year. "

The researchers' report is available online at The implications are discussed in a lively blog - titled "Vegetarian Is the New Prius" at

Friday, March 09, 2007

Kiss me, I'm Irish (and vegetarian!)

I'm following Julie's Irish theme from her Tuesday entry. (And I want to add my enthusiastic thumbs-up to Finnigan's Wake, too.)

Next Saturday is St. Patrick's Day. When one thinks of traditional Irish cooking, vegetarian items don't readily spring to mind -- the standard entrees are definitely meat-based. However, with a bit of creativity, you can celebrate the holiday with a "traditional" dish while still being vegetarian. I've made the following stew for the past several St. Patrick's Days, and even carnivorous friends find it tasty and filling. The broth has a hearty, almost meaty flavor. It's based on a recipe from The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook: Festive Vegetarian Recipes by Bryanna Clark Grogan.

Vegetarian Irish Stew

2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 c. unbleached flour
4 c. water
1 c. Guinness stout (or other dark beer)
2 c. mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 c. carrot, sliced into rounds
1 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. split red lentils
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c. soy sauce
3 vegetarian bouillon cubes or 3 T. vegetable-stock base
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. Marmite (I use nutrional yeast instead)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. each dried thyme, marjoram and rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
Black pepper to taste
1 package of frozen or refrigerated vegetarian "steak" strips

In a large, lightly oiled, heavy pot, steam-fry the onion until it begins to soften. Add the flour and stir thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are done.

Serves 6. Serve with Colcannon (an Irish dish of mashed potatoes and greens -- generally kale, although some recipes use leeks or green onion) and Irish soda bread.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Vegetarian Brunch

It’s nice to go to a restaurant and have a tough time deciding what to order, because there are so many delicious vegetarian-friendly choices. This happened Sunday at Finnigan’s Wake, an Irish pub at 620 Trade St. in Winston-Salem’s Arts District.

As I settled in to wait for friends, I was excited to see that almost everything on the brunch menu was either vegetarian or could be made so with the substitution of faux “bacon” or “sausage.”

It took a while, but I finally chose the Winter Harvest boxty – two savory, thin, potato pancakes enclosing a filling of sweet, cooked pears and apples, and candied walnuts. This was served with a grilled tomato, hash-browned sweet and white potatoes, and a cheese toastie – the sides that come with most of the brunch entrees. It was all delicious.

There are other boxty fillings available – on this visit, all were either vegetarian or could be made vegetarian.

I’ll definitely be back to try the other boxties, and such intriguing-sounding offerings as the portobello and eggs, and the artichoke-cake benedict. (The artichoke cakes turn up elsewhere on the Finnigan’s Wake menu. They might be best described as like a crab cake, but with artichokes instead of crab.)

With the kitchen’s creative use of faux meats, Finnigan’s is vegetarian-friendly at every meal. It’s particularly satisfying because the vegetarian items, such as the tasty vegetarian shepherd’s pie, fit in with the Irish theme of the restaurant.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Veggie bites

*Harris-Teeter has started carrying a few new frozen vegetarian items, including Amy's spinach-tofu burritos, and LightLife pretzel-wrapped veggie dogs and "chicken" cordon blue. Unfortunately, they've made the shelf space by getting rid of other items, including a couple I was very fond of!

*My new craze is Earthbound Farm's organic fresh-herb salad mix. It contains parsley, cilantro and dill leaves along with the various lettuces, which add a nice, different flavor when you get them in a bite of your salad.

*I finally bought a package of fresh spinach a couple of weeks ago, my first since the E. coli outbreak. I used it in a recipe, though, so it was cooked.

*I recently came across Greenlight magazine, an online-only magazine devoted to "earth-friendly" living. You can get a free subscription and check out articles here.