Just over a week ago I received a wonderful surprise. I was invited to throw a Sustainable Garden Party, sponsored by Lightlife, to celebrate their new frozen veggie burger. Before accepting the invitation from my friends at DailyBuzz Food, I researched the new product. Oops, it contains animal products. I thanked them for the invitation and passed – but they came right back and said “throw a party with Lightlife’s vegan products!”
There was one other obstacle, however. I received my Lightlife coupons in the mail but left for the west coast – for a week of work – the very next day. So, I had one single day I could throw this party. A Sunday. Yesterday. I wanted to invite a very special family to this party.
I recently wrote about my neighbor, Tiffany. She is the kind woman who dropped off a few vegan health and beauty items that she discovered at work (this kind gesture sparked quite a conversation on this blog: How Vegan Are You?) because she knew I was vegan. I was incredibly touched by her thoughtfulness and had been wanting to do something for her. But just because a Sunday, yesterday, worked for my schedule didn’t mean it would work for this special family of four. In fact, it turns out they would be gone for much of the day to attend a wake for a family member.
I took the party to them.
Earlier in the week I had ordered Smart Planet EC-34 Large 3-Compartment Eco Silicone Collapsible Lunch Boxes - I thought it would be a fun way to serve a meal on the patio and give my guests an awesome, sustainable party favor; a reusable lunch box is perfect for the kids to take to school and for Tiffany and Jimmy to take to work. Once I got home from L.A., and realized I was taking this party on the road, I decided a great way to introduce an entire vegan meal to the family was to make familiar foods that were easy to make. Many vegans, myself included, “transitioned” by eating vegan versions of what we know and love. I put my thinking cap on – with visions of old time favorite foods running through my head – and went shopping.
Lightlife has so many great vegan products and it’s really easy to find them. In a five-mile radius from my home in Westchester, New York I can pick them up at Mrs. Green’s, Stop and Shop, A&P, Shop Rite and Whole Foods. While at my local Whole Foods I looked at the numerous vegan Lightlife products on the shelf and waited to be inspired. Suddenly I was! Smart Ground = a vegan “manwich” and Smart Bacon = a vegan seven-layer salad. I grabbed a few more ingredients for the two dishes and them zipped through the bakery section to nab prepared vegan cupcakes.
I pulled this party-to-go together in no time.
Vegan Seven Layer Salad
Ingredients (Serves 6 – 8)
- 1 package Smart Bacon
- Iceberg lettuce (I used half a large head of lettuce), chopped
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- Vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise), enough to cover the salad.
- Shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya wedges, sliced), enough to sprinkle over the top of the salad
- Salt and Pepper, to taste (optional)
- Prepare Smart Bacon according to package instructions, crumble and set aside.
- In this order, layer lettuce, onion, celery and peas, in this order in a large bowl (a glass bowl is fun, you see it!). I added a little salt on the peas but this is optional.
- Spread vegan mayonnaise over the peas, just enough to cover the salad them.
- Add a layer of shredded vegan cheese and add fresh ground pepper (optional) to taste.
- When read to serve, add the final layer: crumbled Smart Bacon.
- Even though a seven layer salad looks cool, I tend to toss it together before serving.
Ingredients (Makes 8 sandwiches)
- Olive oil spray
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 a small yellow onion, finely minced
- 2 packages Smart Ground
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 and 1/2 cups water (I use 1 and 1/4 + 1/4 cup vegetable broth)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- Spray a large skillet with olive oil spray (or oil of your choice) and heat on medium-high.
- Quickly saute garlic and onion before adding the Smart Ground. Brown for about 3 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, water, chili powder, maple syrup and Worcestershire sauce, mixing well.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes.
- Serve on a bun.
It was time to break out the eco-lunch boxes for the Sustainable Garden Party “To-Go”
How great are these boxes? The upper right shows them flat, unused, perfectly easy to store. The bottom right photo shows one lunch box popped out for use. The big picture on the left shows all four eco-lunch boxes filled with this:
A Vegan Manwich, Vegan Seven Layer Salad and a Whole Foods Vegan Cupcake.
I was ready to take vegan to the streets…
…and Tiffany and Jimmy were surprised and delighted to take that party to-go!
As a part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, Lightlife provided me with a stipend and product for sampling. A pioneer in vegetarian and vegan food options, Lightlife has donated $150,000 to Urban Farming in 2012 to support its mission to end hunger, empower people and encourage healthier eating through sustainable residential and community gardens. This contribution will help grow 25 tons of food and feed an estimated 50,000 people.
I was honored to participate in this Sustainable Garden Party (to-go!) because I was able to introduce familiar foods, vegan style, to people I care about, and to offer them an alternative, sustainable way to take their lunch to school and work. Thank you Lightlife and DailyFood Buzz!