May 11, 2019
I love eating a whole food plant based diet. We follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen plan and try to balance our meals so that we get most of the daily dozen every day. Generally, we eat simple meals – soup, salad, chili, stir fry – but when company comes I like to spend a bit more time in the kitchen and showcase how delicious an exclusive plant meal can be.
Recently, we had a non-vegan friend, Nadia, visit for 24 hours – meaning a lunch, dinner and breakfast to prepare. Since she is a meat, potato and veg girl, I chose recognizable dishes. The menu also need to allow me to prepare almost everything ahead of time, so I could devote most of our short time together to visiting. And as a bonus, doing your prep ahead of time means your kitchen stays cleaner while your company is around.
LUNCH was a pot of soup (I made Borsch -Beet Soup), a make your own sandwich board featuring fresh baked bread and for dessert, ginger cookies.
During the winter, I canned several jars of the Borsch base from my stored garden veggies – beets, carrots and onions in a tomato base. The day before, I added the potatoes, cooked white beans, peas and added a cashew cream flavored with garlic and dill. Cool and store the soup in the fridge and when your company arrives, you can quickly heat it up. My recipe for the borsch is here, but any hearty soup will do just as well.
Fresh bread is my secret to making any simple soup meal special. Nothing beats the taste of bread fresh from the oven. My favorite recipe is a 5 Ingredient Whole Wheat Artisan Bread from Its Always Autumn. You mix up the dough the day before, the next morning you form your loaf, let it rise, then bake it. I used a mixture of whole wheat and rye flours.
Add a platter of sandwich fixings like hummus (which we use instead of butter or margarine), tomato, red onion, avocado and dill pickle for a simple Make Your Own Sandwich option. Make your hummus earlier in the week and store in the fridge or freezer. I like to make a big batch and portion it out into smaller containers, keeping one in the fridge and freezing the rest. The recipe for my favorite Sweet Potato Hummus is here. The recipe is great spicy or plain. For most company, I make it with no cayenne or only 1/8 tsp, unless I know they love the heat.
A simple end to the meal was tea and a few ginger cookies which I made earlier in the week and froze. I a recipe recipe from Attainable Sustainable (Easy Ginger Cookies with Fresh GInger) by replacing the white flour with whole grain spelt flour, the butter with tahini, the egg with a flax egg, the brown sugar with maple syrup, and increased the fresh grated ginger to 4 tablespoons. These are a great rolled cookie with intense ginger taste, and they freeze really well.
Dinner was lasagna, spinach salad, black bean salad, pickled beets and Cherry Cha Cha for dessert. A feast of colors, tastes and textures.
The lasagna was a recipe by Chef AJ (who was a guest chef on the Holistic Holiday vegan cruise we took in March). She calls this her Disappearing Lasagna as there is never any leftovers, you can find the recipe at The Food Revolution. It consists of layers of marinara sauce; a cheesy pesto like filling made with pine nuts or cashews, white beans and spinach; a meaty mushroom filling; and whole grain lasagna noodles topped with faux parmesan. It truly was the best lasagna I have ever had.
While lasagna is a bit of work, most of it can be done ahead of time. I made the marinara, bean filling, mushroom filling, parmesan and cooked the noodles the day before. (Note the recipe calls for no cook noodles but I didn’t have any on hand so I used the pre-cook ones.) The day of the dinner, I assembled the lasagna and then its ready to through into the oven. Since there was only three of us for dinner, there were indeed leftovers, which I did freeze for another day.
The spinach in my greenhouse was ready for the first harvest of the year, so this was a very special fresh salad. It consisted of freshly picked spinach leaves, thinly sliced red onion, sliced cremini mushrooms and purchased faux bacon bits with a garlicy balsamic dressing.
To make the dressing I mixed:
- about 1/4 cup red balsamic vinegar
- about 2 tbsp aqua fava (one ice cube size)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 cloves minced garlic
This Black Bean Salad is one of my summer favorites. Its full of black beans, corn, red pepper, onion, celery, cilantro, mango, tomato and avocado in a delicious balsamic lime dressing. Make it ahead of time (leaving out the tomatoes and avocado) and it will last in the first for a week. Before serving, add tomato and avocado and your good to go.
The pickled beets were from my larder of preserved from my garden last year.
The Cherry Cha Cha recipe is from my July 2016 Cooking Class. I love it because everyone always loves it and its so simple to make. The day before I made up the crust (and froze it in the pan), the cherry filling and the whipped coconut cream topping. The morning of the dinner, I assembled the dessert and stored it in the fridge. Served with a cup of tea, it was the perfect end to a great meal.
Breakfast was pancakes and blueberry syrup.
I made the blueberry sauce ahead of time and in the morning I just had to mix up the pancake batter and cook them up. I used my go-to recipe Kelsey’s Fluffy Pancakes (I used a mixture of 1/2 spelt flour. 1/4 buckwheat flour, 1/4 oat flour). The link also includes my recipe for the blueberry syrup. The blueberry syrup is a great way to add berries to your diet; and, since blueberries are naturally sweet, you don’t need to add much sweetener.
And that’s it, my three meal company menu. While I consider it a fairly simple menu, I did spend about 6 hours prep time in the kitchen, cooking and clean up. But as a bonus, we are enjoying the leftovers since I cooked way more than three people could possibly eat. And although our friend has no desire to become plant based, she did find the meals very healthy and delicious.