How to Cook for a Vegan

 If you are having a vegan friend or family member over for a meal, you need to make sure you plan well in advance so that your guest will have plenty of options for food. Cooking for a vegan guest isn’t hard, but it does involve a bit more imagination than cooking for your omnivore friends.

Do some research

Before you assume you need to make a tofu dish, ask your guest a few questions. Not all vegans eat soy, gluten or honey, and it is better to ask in advance and prepare than be caught off-guard. You also want to ask your guest if he or she has any food allergies, or if there is a particular dish they would like you to make.

Check your ingredients

Many foods contain hidden ingredients derived from animals, making them unsuitable for vegans. Check the ingredients list of any pre-made food items, such as bread or pie, for honey, eggs, gelatin, meat broth, cheese or butter. If you are not sure whether a certain ingredient is safe for vegans to eat, look it up online or simply ask your guest if the ingredient is vegan-friendly.

Switch up your recipes

If you usually make your stuffing using pork sausage and chicken broth, consider replacing these meat-based foods with vegetarian sausage, vegetable broth or a variety of veggies in place of animal products. You might even discover a new recipe that you like better than your tried-and-tested one. The same goes for dessert—a fruit cobbler can quite easily be made vegan without removing any of its deliciousness.

Make it a potluck

Rather than keeping the responsibility of preparing the entire meal to yourself, ask each guest to bring a side dish and have a potluck meal. Consider dishes like risotto, soba noodle salad, curried coconut carrot soup or coconut tapioca pudding, as these  are dishes most of your guests will be thrilled to make or eat. If you mention that you have a vegan guest attending, your more adventurous friends will probably enjoy the challenge. Those who aren’t skilled in the kitchen can easily bring store-bought appetizers, such as chips and salsa or almond-milk ice cream.

Make it a theme night

If you feel like you are in over your head, you can always make it a take-out party. It’s fairly easy to find vegan food at Indian or Asian restaurants—just make sure you ask the staff which dishes are vegan before ordering. Alternatively, organize a build-your-own burrito party or a buffet with plenty of options for meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike.

While many people think that cooking for vegan guests is scary and intimidating, the reality is that it can be quite rewarding. Vegans do not want to inconvenience you and would happily give you suggestions or even offer to bring a vegan-friendly side dish so you don’t have to go out of your way. With a little planning ahead, you can throw a successful dinner party for all your friends, vegans included.


5 Healthy Time-Saving Breakfast Ideas

When was the last time you actually got to enjoy a hearty breakfast in the morning? Are you the type who’s always running out of the house without having a chance to enjoy your morning meal? It’s understandable — mornings can be hectic enough, but add in cooking a meal and your head probably spins.

However, as the old adage goes: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. So it’s important to make the time for it. However, when researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) surveyed Americans what they eat for breakfast, about 20 percent admitted to skipping the meal altogether.
Skimping on breakfast can make your head foggy all day and even make you crave sugary calories later on. But if you do make time for a healthy meal, you’re doing your body and mind good.
“You will be more productive all day long if you just invest a few minutes in eating a healthy breakfast,” says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, professor of health and rehabilitation sciences at Boston University.
But that doesn’t mean slurping down a big bowl of sugary cereal or throwing a few microwavable sausages in the microwave. There are ways to save time in the morning while still getting to enjoy a delicious breakfast that’s easy to make and good for you, too. Here are a few busy-morning favorites:

Overnight oatmeal – Think you don’t have time to make a batch of oatmeal for breakfast? Think again. The night before you plan to eat this nutritious breakfast, mix together 2/3 cup almond milk (or regular milk), 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt and a pinch of cinnamon. Refrigerate the mixture overnight and voila — it’s ready to enjoy in the morning! The oats soak in a milk and yogurt mixture, which softens them to a creamy texture by the morning. It’s an instant, cold oatmeal that tastes great and doesn’t waste a moment of your morning.

Pull-together yogurt – Not a minute to spare before heading to work? At the start of each week, purchase five containers of plain Greek yogurt (a good source of protein and calcium). Then, scoop one serving of your favorite low-fat, high-fiber cereal or granola into five plastic snack bags. Take a yogurt and one of your cereal packs to work each morning and combine the two to enjoy them at your desk. Another tip: Store a bottle of Agave Nectar in your desk drawer to drizzle on when you’re craving a sweeter breakfast.
Sweet smoothie – The ingredient combinations for breakfast smoothies are endless — and one of the tastiest, easiest ways to enjoy your breakfast. If you don’t have time to blend the smoothie in the morning, cut up all your ingredients with a sharp knife and place them in the blender the night before. Then put the blender in the refrigerator overnight. If the recipe calls for ice, you can add it in the next morning and then blend until smooth. If there’s any left over, you can store it in an air-tight container.
An easy recipe to use: 1/2 cup of strawberries, 1/2 cup of banana slices, 6 ounces of skim milk, and 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter. Combine the ingredients at night and then blend it in before you leave and you’ve got yourself an easy, delicious and healthy breakfast to keep you full all morning.

Breakfast pudding – Chia seed pudding, that is. This recipe couldn’t be quicker or more nutritious. The night before, simply combine 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1 cup coconut milk and a 1/2 tablespoon honey in a small bowl, mason jar or other to-go container. In the morning, just take it out of the fridge and it’s ready to eat. If you have time, you can top the pudding with fresh fruit and nuts. With just 206 calories, this delicious breakfast pudding is hard to beat.

Fast ‘n easy eggs – No time to deal with cooking an egg on the stove? Beat two eggs in a microwave-safe container, and add a few of your favorite vegetables you prefer (tomatoes, spinach leaves, peppers, etc.), and if you’d like, sprinkle in a bit of cheese. Microwave the eggs for about 30 seconds, stir and then microwave for another 30 seconds. Then just place the lid on the container for a healthy to-go breakfast. You can also prep this the night before — just store the raw mixture in the refrigerator and simply heat it up in the morning.

Don’t skip breakfast and if you follow a few of these ideas, you’ll see that eating right in the morning is less complicated than you think.