Friday, November 20, 2015

Back 40 Mercantile

Don't you just love when you try the latest restaurant everyone is raving about AND it lives up to your expectations?  That is how I feel about Back 40 Mercantile, a relative newcomer on the robust restaurant scene in Greenwich, Connecticut.  My friend, Susan, said I would love it, and she was right.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the town, you have this beautiful, rustic, calming space with lovely natural light from a big skylight above and everything is organic! You just feel like you can take a deep breath once you arrive.

Let's discuss the vegan appetizers...heirloom popcorn with smoked paprika, shoestring potato fries with vegan cashew dip or a seasonal vegetable pickle jar.  I didn't have the appetite for multiple courses, but wouldn't those options alone get you in the door?

For the salads...mixed greens and radishes in a lemon-herb vinaigrette, fuji apples with arugula, pecans and cranberries in a horseradish dressing, or the delicious option we both selected: vegan caesar with kale and crispy chickpeas in a hemp caesar dressing.  Light, crunchy, tasty, and so pretty (but yes, I forgot a photo - sorry!)

As far as entrees go (again, I did not yet have any but I will be back): black eyed pea felafel wrap with lemon tahini sauce, roasted romanesco cauliflower, mushrooms and quinoa with an herb puree and a quinoa & lentil burger...seriously wish I'd gotten some take-out for later!

Look what we did get though...vegan cookies (oatmeal, "oreo" and chocolate chip) with almond milk for dipping!  Don't you just love the presentation?  If you decide to try it, call me - I'll be right over!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A No-Turkey Thanksgiving

Don't you love all the prep that goes into holidays centered around food you can't eat?

For me, the thought of the Jewish holidays full of dairy kugels (noodle puddings) and chicken soup and brisket are enough of a challenge, but throw in Thanksgiving with turkey and gravy and my vegan creative juices go into overdrive!

I have not perfected the dish I'll be making for my brother and sister-in-law's Thanksgiving table yet this year, but I know it will involve mushrooms, leeks, chestnuts and butternut squash.  Something hearty, filling, harvest-like and turkey-free!  (Truthfully, I was never a huge turkey fan anyway...)

Photo courtesy of by Chelsea Kyle
In the meantime, here are some great recipes courtesy of and the Veg-ducken, the vegan alternative to the Turducken, courtesy of

I hope you enjoy, and best wishes for a happy and healthy to you and yours!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Feeling Munchy?

Have you heard of Corn and Company? I stumbled upon them at the SoWa market in Boston. Here is a bit about who they are:

I was intrigued, and their clever packaging totally caught my eye. I love popcorn and healthy snacks, but flavored foods are so often not vegan-friendly. In this case, a lot of them are!

Bourbon...jalapeño...even marshmallow - all vegan!
Truffle oil and sea salt... there are even more non-dairy options, plus some that are non-vegan as well. They have gift ideas and ship their product. Maybe you'll like their popcorn too! Visit them at

Monday, November 2, 2015

Truffled Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

I love getting inspired while wandering supermarket aisles. On a gray Monday morning at 8am, I tend to think more about coffee than dinner, but Citarella, a high-end gourmet market, recently opened by my office.  As I walk toward the coffee and prepared foods, it is hard not to get creative thanks to all of the gorgeous produce lining their shelves.

I saw the package of soup prep - the dill and parsley, turnips and carrots - and while I walked past it the first time, I went right back. I knew I had vegetable stock at home, so soup was on. As the weather is getting colder, I wanted to make something robust, so I picked up the organic heirloom carrots and a package of butternut squash. I got home, ran carpool, and went to work!
This is so easy to make and the end result was everything I had hoped. I put the dill and parsley in a big stock pot and added the full box of vegetable stock. I then chopped and diced all of the veggies and threw them right in.  I turned the stove into high heat, and once the veggies started to get tender, (15-20 minutes) I lowered the heat until they were all mashable.
I removed the pot from the heat, and carefully turned the chunky pieces into a gorgeous purée.  To finish it off, in a slightly decadent way, I added the truffle oil and just a touch of salt to taste. 
Here is the complete recipe - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

2 large carrots, diced
3/4 c baby heirloom carrots, diced
1 lb diced, peeled and seeded butternut squash 
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 large turnip, diced
1 large parsnip, diced 
3 full parsley stems
3 full dill stems 
1 leek, whites and tops removed and chopped
1 large container organic vegetable stock
1-2 tsp truffle oil
Salt to taste

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

I love summer! The longer hours of sunshine, the warmth, the exercising outdoors. Winter and I are not quite as close. It is beautiful to look at, and I love seeing snow-laden branches and crystallized icicles hanging from the rooftops, but I just totally dislike being cold.
I am not a big breakfast eater during any season, and coffee is my mainstay year-round, but hot quinoa may now be my new morning favorite.

I stumbled upon a "salad" bar at the new Citarella marketplace in Greenwich on my way to the office one morning after working out at the gym.
I had no idea what I wanted, but quinoa caught my eye - four types of it!

Into a large cup a decided to assemble a vegan parfait. I made layers of mixed quinoa (red, black and plain) and added blueberries, strawberries, mango, slivered almonds, flax seeds and sunflowers seeds. The quinoa was warm and I topped it all off with warm maple syrup...need I say more?

The beauty of this is that it can be recreated on so many different ways, and the warm quinoa with the cool fruit still brightens a colder day. I loved this combination - let me know what you would choose!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Great Harvest Salad

Halloween! This year that meant teens in costumes and chaperoning! My son's friends asked him to host a party so, of course, he said yes.  Lots of cowboys were bringing chips and salsa, and lots of powder puff girls and aviators baking cookies and rice krispy treats. With the World Series on, that made it game night too, so our friends were coming to hang out, bringing wings, spinach artichoke dip and cannoli cake.  Sounds like a vegan dream, no?

Trust me, I can snack, so I was happy to open the sea salt and vinegar Cape Cod potato chips, and sample the bruschetta. I also picked up a couple of bottles of Chronic - a wonderful red wine blend with a skull-adorned label (for the adults only!) I still wanted something nourishing, and a bit colorful to round out the other things, so I threw together a great salad - with a touch of Halloween orange and black to boot.  It may not sound super exciting, but it was super delicious. It serves 6-8.

3-4 Romaine hearts, shredded
2 big handfuls, Mixed leaf lettuce
1.5 cups Roasted butternut squash, diced
5 Roasted heirloom carrots (roast in olive oil with salt and pepper to taste and let cool - the colors are amazing!)
1/2 cup Shredded carrots
1/4 cup Celery, chopped
1/3 Seedless Cucumber, diced
3/4 c Lentils
1/4 c Pistachio nuts

Combine in a large bowl and drizzle lightly with apple cider vinegar, avocado oil and raw agave nectar.  Tasty, light and filling and full of fall flavors good on any given night!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Super Sunday Vegan Mashup

You know those days when you kind of want to cook, but you have a little of this and a little of that and it turns into kind of a homemade meal?  That is exactly how this dish came to be.

A couple of days ago I was just slammed with work and errands. If you didn't know, I run a breast cancer foundation ( so as you might imagine, October is a pretty busy month for me.

I stopped by a market I like, fully expecting to throw a salad together, but walked out with a lentil-quinoa soup and some sautéed brussel sprouts.  I should have asked to taste them first because they were super bland. They had sautéed onions and were tender, but it just wasn't working for me. I tossed them into a sautée pan and added chopped almonds, a tiny pinch of kosher salt and some agave nectar. Much improved! The leftovers went back into the fridge.

Today I was leaving a meeting in Massachusetts for a board on which I sit, and I popped into my favorite market on the way home for a snack. While I was there, I had them pack up a pint of roasted cauliflower with parsley, sautéed shallots, dried apricots and dried cranberries.  I've had it many times before and really like it.

By the time dinner rolled around, I'd spent 4 hours in a car and 6 hours at a meeting, so I needed to make something quick and easy.  

In a sautée pan coated with baking spray I heated up 2.5 servings of chopped Gimme Lean vegan sausage and cooked it until it started to brown.  I then added the leftover brussel sprouts and cauliflower I'd purchased this afternoon.  I had an amazing dinner!

While this isn't quite a recipe, you could certainly replicate this on your own. If you do, I hope you enjoy!