The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

The Vegetarian Resource Group is Very Busy Doing Vegan Outreach Throughout the USA!

Posted on April 22, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Below is a list of some of the activities VRG will be present at the next few months. If you attend any of these events, be sure to stop by our booth and say hello!

Also, we’d greatly appreciate your donations towards all our outreach. In addition to the events below, The Vegetarian Resource Group provides vegan handouts to many other organizations for their tabling activities. We are bombarded with requests for materials and constantly need to reprint them to keep up with the demand. To donate, please see: http://www.vrg.org/donate

Paul’s Place “Spring Into Good Health” Festival
1100 Block of Ward St. (Just off Washington)
Baltimore, MD 21230
Saturday April 23, 1pm – 4pm

Baltimore VegFest
UMBC Campus on Erickson Field
1000 Hilltop Cir, Catonsville, MD 21228
April 30, 2016

New England VegFest
Worcester, MA
Sunday May 1st, 11am – 5pm

Green Festival Expo – DC
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
801 Mt Vernon Pl NW, Washington, DC 20001
May 6-8, 2016

New Hampshire Dietetic Association Meeting
Concord, NH
May 11, 2016; VRG Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD RD will be speaking at this event

Albany VegFest
Polish Community Center
225 Washington Avenue Extension
Albany, New York 12205
Saturday, June 4th 2016, 10am-5pm

Richmond VegFest
Azalea Gardens at Bryan Park
Richmond, VA
Saturday June 25th, 12pm-6pm
(Rain date July 9th)

Charlottesville VegFest
Charlottesville, VA
Saturday, Sept. 24th

VRG Vegan Thai Dinner
Boston, MA
Sunday, October 16, 2016, 6 PM

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conference
Boston, MA
Sunday, October 16, 2016 –
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck
with The Vegetarian Resource Group
North Baltimore Mennonite Church
4615 Roland Ave
Baltimore, MD 21210
Sunday, November 20th 2016, 5pm

CASSEROLE PROGRAM FOR THE NEEDY — VEGETARIAN DONATIONS WANTED

Posted on April 22, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Maria Pittarelli

Our Daily Bread in Baltimore serves free meals to over 700 needy people 365 days a year. About ten percent of individuals ask for a vegetarian meal.
They also have a casserole program where generous people in the community can make one of the casserole recipes on their website and donate it for use during the lunch service when needed. VRG’s Foodservice Advisor Chef Nancy Berkoff created three vegan recipes, which now have been posted as options on the website. Nancy tested these at a senior center in Los Angeles, CA. The recipes are:

Brunswick Stew
Creamy Bean and Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Black Bean Casserole

They are posted at:
http://www.catholiccharities-md.org/our-daily-bread/odb-food-service/favorite-casserole-recipes.html

VRG nutrition intern Maria Pittarelli was tasked with the mission of trying out the donation process from start to process. The first step was to find the specific disposable metal pans that they require for their casseroles. She was unable to find the exact size of 12” x 10” x 2 9/16,” but the lovely people at Our Daily Bread said it was okay if the pan was a very close size. At Party City, she found these pans labeled “half size chafing dish” which are 11 3/4” x 9 3/8” x 2 9/16” at the price of 4 for $2.37 or 20 for $9.99. They also sell matching lids for $0.60 each, but they are unnecessary as tightly wrapped foil may be used if you prefer.

Next stop was the grocery store. Bringing the printed ingredient list was best, so it could be used like a checklist to make sure we got everything. The recipes are specifically designed to include simple, cheap, and easy to find ingredients with nothing exotic or too expensive. Prices will vary from store to store, but at this particular store I shopped in, it cost:

$9.51 for ingredients for one batch (serves 8-10 people) of Creamy Bean and Potato Casserole
$9.98 for ingredients for one batch (serves 8-10 people) of Brunswick Stew
$7.78 for ingredients for one batch (serves 8-10 people) of Sweet Potato Black Bean Casserole, including dry black beans. It would’ve cost about $2-3 more to use canned black beans instead, but they are an option if you’d like to speed the process up.

However, if you or a local group would be able to donate casseroles in larger quantities, the price per casserole would be less due to being able to buy in bulk. Many of these ingredients are canned, so they can be bought in large quantities and stored, if desired.

The recipes were straightforward and easy to complete in a home kitchen with no special tools other than a knife, a cutting board, a pot, and a potato peeler.

The fastest and simplest recipe is the Creamy Bean and Potato Casserole. It only has 4 canned ingredients, that are spread in layers into the casserole pan and then topped with black pepper. We found that stirring the refried beans in a bowl first made them easier to spread. Start to finish, it took 10-15 minutes which is great for busy people who would like to donate a complete meal for those in need of food who would like something besides salad and peanut butter sandwiches.

The next recipe is Brunswick Stew, a hearty mixture of tomatoes, lima beans, potatoes, carrots, and onions. Our taste tester particularly liked the addition of corn in the recipe. From start to finish, including peeling, chopping, and cooking in a pot on the stove, this recipe took about 1 hour. If it were being made in larger batches, it would add a little prep time but the result would be many more portions to feed people. It may be possible to make 4 batches in one large pot.

The third recipe is Sweet Potato Black Bean Casserole, a filling mixture of sweet potatoes, black beans, tomatoes, onions, and green pepper that is very slightly spicy. This recipe took the intern the longest to prepare, since it requires mincing onions, dicing green peppers, peeling sweet potatoes, and chopping sweet potatoes before you can start the cooking process on the stove. She also chose to simmer dry black beans for 2 hours to save money, instead of using canned black beans, but this did not add much to the total time since the other vegetables could be prepped while the beans were simmering. In this case, it took 2.5 hours to make 2 batches, but it is possible it could be done faster if you have efficient choppers and use canned beans. Again, having a big pot would make it possible to make multiple batches at the same time. The finished product was very delicious and satisfying.

After the recipe is complete, it needs to be in one of the disposable metal casserole pans that were mentioned earlier. They must be tightly sealed, either with disposable lids or with aluminum foil. The casserole must be frozen solid before donating. In our case, homemade casseroles that were put in the home freezer at 5 pm were frozen by 9 am the next morning. It may also be possible to freeze them in a large cooler with ice, but we did not try this. Be careful to not stack the casseroles before they are frozen, as this can result in them breaking or leaking (as our tester accidentally found out!). Use a sharpie, or tape with a pen, to label each one with the name of the casserole and the date it was made. If you are able to make a donation, it would be greatly appreciated and put to good use helping those in need who desire vegetarian meals.

For information about donating to Our Daily Bread in Baltimore, see http://www.catholiccharities-md.org/our-daily-bread/odb-food-service/favorite-casserole-recipes.html

If you are outside the Baltimore area, prepare one of these recipes for a local charity that serves food to the needy.

Are you looking for vegan-friendly hiking boots?

Posted on April 21, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Award-winning outdoor footwear maker, Treksta, released the details of several of its hiking shoe models that allow outdoor users to align their active lifestyles with their vegan and animal cruelty-free beliefs regarding product materials and manufacture. Recognizing that many outdoor users have a difficult time matching their lifestyle choices with high performance product options, Treksta shared the details of two of its exceptional hiking boot models, which are both made from durable, non-leather synthetic materials, and animal-free adhesives and threads. The vegan-friendly boots are the Evolution Mid 161 GTX and the Cape Mid GTX.

Visit: http://www.trekstausa.com

Vegan Diets are Safe for Children

Posted on April 21, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Vegan dietitian Virginia Messina, MPH, RD has a nice post on her blog about vegan children that we’d like to share with you.
Here’s the link http://www.theveganrd.com/2016/04/vegan-diets-are-safe-for-children.html

CORPORATE EMPLOYEE GIVING

Posted on April 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

According to NonProfit Pro.com, employees of corporations
can add to their giving in many ways. Microsoft provides each new
employee with a $50 grant, which the employee can give to a nonprofit
of his or her choice. They also make a matching donation made by
employees up to $15,000 annually and provide grants of $25 per volunteer
hour to nonprofits where employees volunteer.

RealNetworks enables employees to allocate a $500 grant to a nonprofit
of their choosing at their five-year anniversaries.

CarMax matches donations up to $10,000 annually per employee and
provides volunteer grants of $10 per employee per hour, and that
includes donations for the work of family members.

Here is a list of some other companies that provide matching grants:
www.vrg.org/donate
Check “Would you like your employer to match?”

Enjoy a “Meatless” Monday Meal!

Posted on April 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Hip Hop Is Green and Vegan Outreach present: The 10th Element of Hip Hop Tour Concert in Baltimore at Northwestern High School on Monday, May 2nd 2016 from 5:30pm to 8pm.

This historical celebration is declaring “health and wellness” as the 10th Element of Hip Hop. Since 2009, Hip Hop Is Green (HHIG) has served nutritious vegan meals to more than 4,000 youth and families in 10 cities and seeks to create awareness starting and maintaining healthy vegan lifestyles. Many Hip Hop legends and pioneers will join HHIG to declare health and wellness as the 10th Element of Hip Hop because it naturally aligns with the aim of the Hip Hop Declaration of Peace – to “establish a foundation of Health, Love, Awareness, Wealth, Peace and Prosperity” in communities throughout the world.

This concert will immediately follow the Hip Hop Green Dinner that is being held from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Food provided by The Land of Kush! Tickets on sale now for $15 plus tax. Includes free meal and concert. Sponsor a table for $250. www.hiphopisgreen.com/Baltimore

WHEN – Monday, May 2, 2016 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT) – Add to Calendar
WHERE – Northwestern High School – 6900 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 – View Map
Organized by the Black Vegetarian Society of Maryland, Ingrid Antonio and the Bemore Group.

Green Festival Community Award VOTE FOR THE VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP

Posted on April 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Please scroll down to the Green Festival in Washington, DC section to vote for VRG!
Go to: http://www.greenfestivals.org/awards/green-festival-community-award.html

Green Festival is committed to supporting inspiring organizations & projects that educate and benefit their local communities with The Green Festival Community Award, a $5,000 grant awarded to a deserving non-profit, chosen by the public!

The Green Festival Community Award is a great way to gain exposure, support and resources for new or ongoing projects. Organizations get up close and personal with the community through extensive online outreach and social media recognition, and in person, as finalists meet and greet with Green Festival attendees to pitch their ideas. Projects must be locally-based, with creative ideas, measurable goals and a direct benefit to the local, sustainable community.

Brightwok Kitchen in Chicago, Illinois By Hana Takemoto

Posted on April 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Exhausted and craving a hearty meal after visiting the Chicago Institute of Art, my sister and I trudged into the nearest restaurant we could find. Tucked along East Adams Street, Brightwok Kitchen was a random choice but unexpectedly turned out to offer us a great lunch experience. Our meal at the restaurant, a self-described Asian-inspired, build-your-own-bowl, veggie-focused company, showed us that Brightwok Kitchen lived up to its claims. A bright and clean interior with modern styling felt welcoming and safe. Although the line was long, we moved quickly as workers offered choices of sauces, bases (white rice, brown rice, rice noodles, or salad), proteins, and vegetables. We watched as they fried our selections in an assembly line of woks. I chose tofu, white rice, and their homemade spicy Korean orange sauce. For the vegetables, I chose carrots, purple cabbage, bean sprouts, and kale. My sister chose rice noodles and Thai basil sauce, with broccoli, purple cabbage, bean sprouts, and butternut squash for her vegetables. The generous serving arrived quickly and fresh from the wok.

The spicy Korean orange sauce in my bowl added a tangy kick but was not overwhelmingly spicy. I loved the balance of texture and flavor between the meaty and firm tofu, crunchy and fresh array of vegetables, and the creaminess of the sauce, all mellowed by a bed of freshly cooked rice. My sister’s variation, with Thai basil sauce and rice noodles instead of rice, was hearty and had a rich flavor with earthy undertones of Thai basil. After finishing the meal, we felt satisfied and too full to even try anything from their selection of sides, which include spicy banana chips and spicy edamame hummus, and their extensive drink menu filled with coffee and tea.

I appreciate that Brightwok Kitchen goes the extra mile by listing the sources of certain foods, like the tofu from Phoenix Bean in Chicago or the tea from In Pursuit of Tea in New York and Rishi Tea from Wisconsin. On their website, they state that their menu is gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, and vegan, besides the meat protein choices and the optional fried egg. (It’s always good to ask questions though.) Also, all the plating and utensils the restaurant offers is either recyclable, reusable, or compostable. For anyone looking for a quick, nutritious, filling, and customizable meal, go visit Brightwok Kitchen, which is walkable distance from some great art centers like the Chicago Symphony Center, Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the Chicago Institute of Art. They also offer take-out, delivery, and catering and are open Monday to Saturday for three meals. To learn more about Brightwok Kitchen, visit www.brightwok.com.

For information about vegetarian restaurants around the USA and Canada, go to
http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

JEWISH CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT OVERTURNS 800 YEAR OLD PASSOVER BAN ON RICE AND LEGUMES

Posted on April 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Rabbi Elliot Dorff, who is chair of the movement’s law and standards committee and also a professor of theology at American Jewish University, agrees that shifting demography necessitated the change. And he said there’s another reason behind the decision: the rise of vegans and gluten allergies. “I think that’s why it came up now as opposed to a generation ago,” he said.

Read more:
http://forward.com/culture/food/338525/conservative-movement-overturns-800-year-old-passover-ban-on-rice-and-legum/

MASTER CHEF IN DC APRIL 30, 2016

Posted on April 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Do you carry hot sauce in your bag? Is your Chili Bowl out of this world? Does your Apple Pie make grown men cry? If so, Masterchef USA is looking for you. Don’t be intimidated by the skill level you see on TV, no one walks in a MasterChef. We are looking for fun personalities, a passion for cooking, and a solid foundation to build upon.

What: Come to our casting call and bring an amazing dish!
How: Register here- www.masterchefcasting.com
When: April 30th 10am-6pm
Where: Melrose Georgetown Hotel
2340 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, D.C. 20037
Questions: Lottecasting@gmail.com

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