Monthly Archives: August 2016

Vegicurious Adventures: Plant-Based Guide to Quebec City Part 2

Le Saint Amour

Le Saint Amour

One of my biggest challenges of plant-based living is going out to dinner. We don’t live in a particularly herbivore-friendly area, so we don’t go out as much as we used to. Suffice it to say, I was a little concerned about what we would encounter on our trip to Quebec City. Not only were we travelling to a region where there’s a heavy French influence in their cuisine (butter, cream, duck, lobster, etc.), but there’s also a lot of French spoken there. I wondered how that would translate into vacation-worthy, yet healthy meals. Quebec City has an “old-world” atmosphere that makes you want to take it all in at a relaxed pace. Most of the restaurants display their menus on the sidewalk as a way to beguile you into coming back later in the day. And it works! It was a good way to find what we were hungry for and gave us a chance to talk to the restaurant staff about how their meals are prepared. Here are some of our favorite places in Quebec City:

Korrigane Brew Pub. This Irish pub located outside the walls of Quebec City has a cozy feel, tasty beers and a killer veggie burger that you can order with a side of fries or a salad. (Of course, I had the fries.) They also have a vegetable chili on the menu that we just weren’t able to get back for. Sitting at a table near the window I imagined how comforting it must be to be sitting in this warm and charming pub during the winter months.

Chez Jules . This is a French Brasserie located in the heart of Quebec City. We had the Ratatouille with Tagiatelle, a dish of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers served over tagiatelle. Superb! (You can use my recipe for Ratatouille and serve it over your favorite pasta. We had it with spinach tagiatelle.)

Ratatouille & Spinach Tagiatelle

Ratatouille & Spinach Tagiatelle

Wong’s Chinese Restaurant . You can always count on a Chinese restaurant for steamed vegetables and rice. Since we were on vacation (and there was something lost in translation), Bruce ended up with stir-fried vegetables and rice. I enjoyed Vegetable Singapore Mei Fun and washed it down with a Sake-tini.

Bello Restaurant. This pretty Italian restaurant had typical Italian dishes on the menu. We started out with a fresh arugula salad and some tasty bread. I had the Tagiatelle Funghi, which reminded me of my Pasta with Creamy Leek-Mushroom Sauce. Bruce ordered the Spaghetti Pomodoro. Delicious!

Le Monestere du Augustines. This restaurant is part of the spa-hotel that is located in a section of the Monestary of the Augustine Nuns. It has a holistic environment that’s centered on mindfulness. Not only can you partake in healing massages, reflexology, yoga and meditation, but their restaurant has the healthiest menu in Quebec City. Our dinner started with an abundant salad bar (kale, wild rice, couscous, micro greens) and minestrone soup. You get to choose from a meat, fish and vegetarian entrees, which change daily. We had a grilled eggplant dish similar to parmigiana. I worked up my own wild rice salad recipe which I’ll gladly share in an upcoming post.

Le Saint Amour. We saved the BEST for our last night in Quebec City and I’m saving the BEST for last on my list of favorites. I don’t even know where to begin with this gem. The decor of the restaurant is romantic, artistic and stunning. And the food is delicious, gorgeous and sensational. We ordered the Organic Vegetable Market Abundance. The name of this dish does not do it justice. If my memory serves me right (and my memory of a memorable meal is usually pretty accurate), I counted 19 different components that went into this dish. Some vegetables were steamed, others sauteed, others pureed, and sauces made. Yes, there was some butter, cream and cheese , but it was with a delicate hand. The plate was like an artist’s palette made of herbed gnocchi; fried polenta cake; plum tomato stuffed with goat cheese atop an olive crisp; patty pan squash, baby corn, baby bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, champignons, baby beets, asparagus, garlic scapes, micro greens, cheese sauce, carrot puree, tomato puree, beet puree and an edible flower. Imagine all the work that went into preparing that meal. You might say it is a labor of love, but when someone prepares something so beautiful, it’s just love.

Well, that’s all I’ve got until our next adventure. Wherever the road takes you, do not let food get in the way of experiencing life and what the world has to offer. Do your best to find restaurants that have one dish that is mostly plant-based and don’t fret if your vacation is not 100% compliant with your program. Happy trails to you and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

30 Aug 2016

Vegi-curious Adventures: Plant-Based Guide to Quebec City

Berries at Marche Vieux-Port

Berries at Marche Vieux-Port

Bruce and I spent our honeymoon in Quebec City 15 years ago. We got married at the end of July and wanted to go someplace where we could hold hands without sticking to one another. I was thinking that a train ride across Canada would be romantically fun. Thankfully, our travel agent talked us into going to Quebec City. We loved it and have been back so many times that I lost count. This year is the first time we would travel to Quebec City as herbivores and were somewhat apprehensive about the food. Quebecois cuisine is very French and very meat-centric with elk, caribou, wapiti, fois gras, lobster, duck, cheese, cream and butter making regular appearances on the menus at our favorite restaurants. One interesting aspect about Quebec City is that there always seems to be an abundance of fresh produce at the Marche du Vieux-Port, so we figured we could rely on that if we got desperate. We decided to throw apprehension to the wind and made our reservations.

In preparation for the long drive, I packed up some oatmeal-apple muffins (recipe at the bottom of this post) and hummus with veggies and pita crisps. I figured it would be wise to eat as cleanly as possible to offset any lapses we might have once we set foot in Quebec. We were so exhausted and hungry by the time we arrived that we walked to the closest sushi bar for dinner. (You can always rely on vegetable sushi in a pinch just about anywhere you travel.)

We fueled up for our daily walking excursions at the hotel’s breakfast buffet. First, a plate of mixed greens, dried fruit, nuts and seeds; then on to fresh melon, pineapple, bananas and kiwis; followed by raisin or multi-grain toast with peanut butter or a variety of local berry preserves. Every other day they would put out tasty little almond bars. I resolved to make a plant-based version upon our return and will post that very soon.

Quebec City is the only walled city in North America. A typical day was to walk within the walls, then down to lower Quebec and along the water. Many of the stores sell products that are made in the Province of Quebec and it’s a great way to check out the menus for dinner. Some days we would walk around the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham or the Grand Allee. We made it to Quebec City just in time to catch the last day of the Plein Arts festival on the waterfront and the first day of the Fete de Biere (brew fest). We planned our walks so as to stop at the Marche du Vieux-Port to pick up lunch. The Marche du Vieux-Port is a farmers’ market near the Bassin Louise. All of the produce vendors sell berries from the I’le de Orleans. (I’ll write about this lovely island in a separate post.) I found tasty prepared food at La Tomaterie. Their quinoa, couscous and bean salads were a staple for our lunches and the Tarte Vegetarien was a special treat. Local vineyards offer tastings of their wines that are also available for purchase. With a shopping bag full of goodness, we’d head up the hill to our hotel for a well-deserved lunch and afternoon nap.

Bean Salad & Couscous Salad

Bean Salad & Couscous Salad

Tarte Vegetarien

Tarte Vegetarien

In  my next post, I will share our favorite restaurants and the most memorable meal of our Quebec City vacation. You won’t want to miss it, so be sure to check back. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Apple & Oatmeal Muffin

Apple & Oatmeal Muffin

Apple-Oatmeal Muffins

Makes 18 muffins

Notes: the muffins are a little sweet, so you might want to adjust the amount of dates and/or maple syrup. If the apples have a lot of juice, you can either squeeze out the excess or reduce the amount of aquafaba or water.

1 cup whole oats
1 cup brown rice flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt

¾ to1 cup dates
¼ cup almond butter
½ cup non-dairy milk
¼ to ½ cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons aquafaba or water
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups grated apples
1 cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Place cupcake liners into muffin pan.

In a large bowl whisk together oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In food processor, combine dates, almond butter, milk, syrup, aquafaba, flax meal and vanilla. Add in apples and walnuts and stir to combine

Using a large ice cream scoop, fill liners ¾ the way full. Bake for 20 minutes.

23 Aug 2016

Not Sharing: No Pudge Brownie Sundae

Brownie Sundae

Brownie Sundae

Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes appear on so many restaurant menus here in the States that they’re almost as American as apple pie. They’re usually made with a warm brownie, a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. Imagine eating that after a big meal. Like many other “health-conscience” restaurant goers, I often shared a brownie sundae with my friends. Even after sharing, I still left the restaurant feeling a bit “pudgy” and a little sick to my stomach. I threw together this version of a Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae last night. I just returned from a trip to Kansas and the cupboard was bare. I happened to have a few frozen bananas, strawberries and chick pea brownies in the freezer. I made a quick fudge sauce by melting dark chocolate with soy creamer. I processed the bananas and strawberries in my Blendtec blender and warmed the brownies in the microwave. The sundae was decadent in a delightful way. There was a nice contrast of sweet from the chocolate and tart from the strawberries; warmth from the hot fudge and brownie and cold from the ice “cream”. This No Pudge Brownie Sundae is full of good things that won’t weigh you down so you might not feel the need to share. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

No Pudge Brownie Sundae

  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • 10 frozen strawberries (about 1 cup)
  • 4 squares of chocolate
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons soy creamer or non-dairy milk

Fill a small pot with a few inches of water. Place a small metal bowl on top and add chocolate and creamer. Heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat.

Process bananas and strawberries in a high-powered blender until thick and creamy. If it gets too soft, place in freezer for a few minutes.

Heat brownies in microwave until warm. (I usually microwave on 30% power for 1 to 2 minutes. Place a scoop of ice “cream” on top of brownie and pour hot fudge sauce on top.

 

11 Aug 2016

Simply Special: Grilled Vegetable Torte

Grilled Vegetable Torte

Grilled Vegetable Torte

Bruce and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary over the weekend. We tried, once again, (and unsuccessfully, again) to get a reservation at Vedge in Philadelphia. It’s the only restaurant with plant-based fare within an hour that is worthy of such a special occasion. So I wanted to make something special for our anniversary dinner. I recalled a layered vegetable and hummus cake on Facebook and used that concept for this Grilled Vegetable Torte. I wanted the torte to reflect my Italian heritage and went with grilled eggplant, zucchini, portobello mushrooms, roasted peppers and tomatoes. Instead of hummus, I made a “ricotta” using tofu, raw cashews and pesto. The “ricotta” acts like mortar to hold everything together. A whole wheat tortilla was placed on the bottom to make it easier to lift out the slices when it came time for serving. I baked the stem of the eggplant on top of the torte for a little drama. After 40 minutes in the oven, the torte came out perfectly cooked and picture perfect. It’s impressive enough for a special occasion yet easy enough to make for a weekend dinner. You could serve it as a first course for a holiday meal or enjoy it all week long sandwiched between some Italian bread. This simple vegetable torte can make any occasion a special one. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Grilled Vegetable Torte

16 oz. extra firm tofu
2 cups raw cashews
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 oz. spinach or Swiss chard, wilted and squeezed
A few tablespoons of pesto

2 red bell peppers
1 eggplant, ¼” sliced
1 zucchini, ¼” sliced
3 portobella mushroom caps, left whole

2 to 3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

8” tortilla

Place tofu, cashews, lemon juice, spinach and pesto in food processor and process until combined. The mixture does not have to be smooth. Set aside. (You can make this the day before.)

Set outdoor grill to high. Place red peppers on grill and cook until charred on all sides, turning as one side is done. Place in brown paper bag to soften skins. When cool, remove skin, seeds and stem and slice into strips. Set aside.

Lower grill temperature to medium. Grill eggplants and zucchini until grill marks appear on both sides. Grill mushroom caps until tender with grill marks. Slice mushrooms thinly.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Wrap the bottom of an 8″ spring form pan with aluminum foil (in case of any leakage). Place an 8” tortilla in bottom of 8” spring form pan. Spread a thin layer of tofu-cashew mixture on top of tortilla, then layer as follows: eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes. Repeat from tofu-cashew mixture, ending with a top layer of tomatoes.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. If tomatoes do not brown, place under broiler for a few minutes. Let set until room temperature before removing sides of spring form pan. Serve at room temperature.

02 Aug 2016

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