Saturday, January 15, 2011

Plant Strong Dinner Party

fun with a smart phone

It's been a very busy and dramatic week, the highlight of which was a telephone call with Rip Esselstyn himself! Author of the New York Times bestseller The Engine 2 Diet, and certified hottie, Rip is paving the way for more and more Americans to realize the health benefits of a vegan diet. It seems that Rip is looking to build a bank of photographs of plant strong food taken by "real" people, so if you've got any cool shots submit them here. My photographic entries peaked Rip's interest in what I was doing over here at Healthy Girl's Kitchen and I look forward to talking with him more in the future about spreading the message.

My hectic weeks are bookended by Friday nights, when it is common for us to have friends or family over for dinner. It's a spiritual thing, marking the end of the week and celebrating the beginning of a period of rest. Friday night dinner is really special--we set the table up real pretty, light candles, get to know the people in our community on a different level and, well, eat. Lots and lots of delicious food.

I start preparing for a Friday Night Dinner on Monday, at the latest--all week long, a little at a time, so there is no stressing about it. There's something very exciting about sharing a plant strong meal with guests. I know that most people that I invite to our home don't make a habit of eating this way and I enjoy the possibilities in that.

Here's what was on our menu this week:

The Attias Family Baking Company Challah
Trader Joe's unfiltered grape juice
Chaya's Carrot Soup get the recipe here
Big green salad with hearts of palm, sliced almonds, craisins, carrots and cucumbers
Clean Start Sauteed Greens with Leeks and Garlic
Clean Start Acorn Squash with Quinoa, Apricot and Sage Stuffing
Big bowl of fresh strawberries, rice pilaf and grilled chicken breast for the kids, but interestingly, only one of 5 kids ate the chicken
Dessert--graciously provided by our guests--and not plant strong!

My friend Cindy makes and sells the most beautiful and scrumptious challah. It's a real treat. You can check it out on Facebook.

Clean Start Sauteed Greens with Leeks and Garlic-pure fantasticness

Clean Start Acorn Squash with Quinoa, Apricot and Sage Stuffing--another winner from the cookbooks of Terry Walters. I fall deeper in love with her every time I cook from one of her books. All I do is eliminate the oil from the recipes in the books (not a big deal at all anymore, I just use the broth saute method instead) and every recipe is 100% plant strong/nutritarian.

On a final note, gotta love the Wall Street Journal for givin' some major love to the greens. Today's article on the cover of their weekend section, along with 8 recipes for greens, explains why chefs around the country are beginning to have a love affair with these oft overlooked veggies.

Do you entertain in a plant strong way?

Do you feel like you need to serve animal protein to non-veg'n guests when they are in your home?

Do you have a go-to plant strong entertaining menu or do you like to experiment when you have guests over?

What's your go-to veg'n cookbook for entertaining?


JL goes Vegan said...

Your menu looks fabulous. I want some of those greens! Mmm Mmm.

We tend to serve mostly vegan dishes to guests. My husband is an omnivore so he may pick up a block of cheese so that we offer both humus and cheese with a cracker. Rarely do we serve meat (I'll usually make a bean-based or tofu dish).

Lately I've been using my pressure cooker -- quick beans or a a quick delicious soup. I made a split peas soup for a holiday gathering, using Lorna Sass' "Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure."

QZB said...

That is so cool about Rip! The rest of the world is discovering what we've known from the start --- Healthy Girl's Kitchen ROCKS!!

Scott and I are plant strong all the way and look forward to opportunities to share delicious vegan food whenever we can. We not only cook it for our guests, but bring vegan dishes with us to family gatherings as well; it allows us to relax, knowing that our dietary needs are met, and opens the dialog about eating nutritarian. (Mind you, we eat with people we know, so it's not like we're bringing a picnic to a near-stranger's home, we certainly wouldn't want to offend anyone kind enough to offer us a meal!)

Your dinner looks AMAZING (and I vouch for the yumminess of the soup, thanks!!) I think it's so interesting the kids didn't really care about the chicken. What did they end up trying?

Kelsey @ Clean Teen Kelsey said...

Your menu looks amazing! Yes, I always feel like I have to feed guests "normal" things, and typically that includes meat. I honestly don't have a go-to menu, but I don't like to experiment, either. I kind of have this fear that it will turn out horribly and my guests will never want to come back! Hehe. :P

thehealthodyssey said...

Omgd Challah...childhood memories right there! I'm from East London originally and in Whitechapel there is THE best Jewish bakery (actually there's a couple - beigal bake you are amazing). Established in 1888 (ooh Jack the Ripper too..big year for the east end ;) Grodzinski's have amazing challah. If you're ever in London, I recommend it.

Sue in Ohio said...

Ok, that is beyond cool that you talked with Rip!!! Can you tell us some more about that conversation??

Love your tradition of Friday nights.

We've only had a couple of dinner events at our house since I went to a plant-based diet 6 months ago, but I've done them all 100% vegan and they have gone well. Some family members brought non-vegan dips and such, but there just wasn't an issue made out of it either way. I figure, they are eating at my house, I can make my favorites ---just as I would have before--- and hopefully they will enjoy it. I do observe what goes over and what seems to need to be changed. My 1 1/2 yr old grand-nephew loved Rip's mac not cheese, so that was pretty cool. Interesting about the kids at your event not going for the chicken. Hmmm....

Go to cookbook?? Engine 2 and been playing lately with recipes from Caldwell Esse's book...some great ones in there.
Sue in Ohio

Danielle said...

Hi Wendy,
I did a great spread from Nancy Mc Dermott's "Real Vegetarian Thai"- most of her cookbook is vegan. I made the hot and sour soup, green papaya salad, spicy eggplant, and green curry for a dinner party. All were fabulous but a little labor intensive and require special thai ingredients such as lime leaves and green papaya, but since I live in San Francisco, that is no big deal.

I have to give a MAJOR shout out for Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new cookbook "Appetite for Reduction." The entire book is vegan and very close to being ETL except for the salt, but that can be tweeked. She also uses no or very little oil which can easily be omitted. She has a bunch of AMAZING salad dressings that have no oil and are nut based. I highly, highly recommend this book for daily use and for dinner parties. Plus the recipes have basic ingredients and don't require too much time to prepare. It is my new go-to cookbook.

Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) said...

Danielle-that is sooooo funny--I ordered a used copy of Appetite for Reduction from Amazon last week. It should arrive soon. I'm glad to hear that it is ETL friendly, I had no idea what to expect, I just thought I would take the risk and check it out!

Sue-there's not much to say, we'll see what develops. He was so nice and was very interested in the photos that I have of E2 approved food. I was in a rush to get to my yoga class so we agreed to continue the conversation in a few weeks when we see each other at the showing of Forks Over Knives in Cleveland Heights.

Health Oddessy--my sister-in-law's brother owns one of the challah bakeries in London. It's such a small world!!!

Liz said...

Appetite for Reduction is awesome!! I haven't tried any of the salad dressings yet but everything I have made has been delicious!

katshealthcorner said...

Strawberries are my absolute FAVORITE!!!!

No, I don't feel like you have to make meat in your home for people who aren't vegan if you are. Making them food you eat would expand their boundaries into trying new things. :)

Wendy said...

Liz and Danielle-I so broke down today and purchased a copy of Appetite for Reduction at Barnes & Noble. I will give my used copy away when it arrives (Quinn, if you are reading this, get psyched!). I'm looking forward to snuggling under my covers tonight and reading it!

Katie said...

Just found your blog today and you already inspired me to pick up Clean Start - so I ran out and bought it and am making the greens recipe tonight! I"m following Engine 2 right now so I'm glad to have found your blog! -katie

Danielle said...

Green goddess salad dressing from Appetite for Reduction!!! Seriously, it's the best.
She uses miso and olives in some of her recipes which are high in sodium and I went with the miso thing and it does add the flavor. In one of Chef AJ's blog videos she mentions that there is a low sodium miso out there. I haven't found it but when I do, I will let you know.

exercisefoodandbeyond said...

Your menu looks great! I am not a vegan, but being an Indian 85% of my meals are already either vegan or vegetarian, only the other 15% of the time I eat meat.

engine2 said...

Loved talking with you the other day! You are rockin it with healthy girl's kitchen!
I look forward to seeing you in person in Cleveland next week at the advance screening of FOK. Let me also chime in that I received Appetite For Reduction for Xmas and LOVE it. She has it going on...just like you, Wendy!!

Wendy (Healthy Girl) said...

Thank you Rip! See you soon!

Edgar Marquez said...

Great food sources, to tell you the truth i had to zoom in on that Acorn Squash pic, it looks delicious. Good thinking on using broth instead of oil, i think is a great substitute since most of the good nutrients of any broth food is on the broth.
Cheers ! :)

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