Have you ever had to host a dinner party with vegan or vegetarian guests? Since I pride myself on being able to make crowd pleasing dishes that are unassuming healthy dishes for parties, I’ve had friends come to me for advice on what to serve for friends with special diets. I’ve learned what corners can and cannot be cut when it comes to serving a group with health conscious attendees in mind.
Given my sorority background, I believe every great party needs a theme. “Green parties” have been become mainstream among wedding showers. Brides request no gifts be wrapped to save the unnecessary paper waste. A “Sustainable Garden Party” theme is a great version of the “green party” but for your every-day dinner party in the city. I decided to thrown my own Sustainable Garden Party to see if meat eaters would notice the green friendly vegetarian cuisine.
I went to the Copley Square farmer’s market and picked up a bag of fresh spring mix, a red onion and tomato. Buying local means helping cut down on the costs and pollution that comes with transporting food across the world.
On hand, I had nutritional yeast and avocado vinaigrette so I opted to make a BLT avocado salad out of convenience. I opted for Smart Bacon by Lightlife, who has a long list of vegan and vegetarian products. In 2012, Lightlife donated $150,000 to Urban Farming, an organization that aims to teach people about eating a healthier diet and how to grow their own sustainable farms in underutilized urban settings. By purchasing Lightlife products, you’re helping grow 25 tons of food that will feed an estimated 50,000 people.
I cooked the bacon using a skillet and added a little quinoa as well for extra protein and good for you complex carbohydrates. I chopped the red onion, sliced the tomato and topped the greens with the avocado vinaigrette and nutritional yeast (which is a great vegan cheese alternative). I tossed the salad and served small tapas like portions on my own plates to cut down on the waste paper plates are known for causing.
The plates had an earthy feel but that was unintentional. Not only is going green great for the environment but it’s also more friendly on your wallet!
At my previous holiday parties, I almost always serve chicken sausage with a variety of mustards. People love little bites of sausage on a stick. I used Smart Sausages, again by Lightlife. They taste great and one large link has 13 g of protein and 160 calories. I cooked the sausages on my skillet along with a few chick’n tenders from Lightlife as well.
I cut up the sausage and chicken into individual bites. I stuck a few wooden toothpicks into the bits and put them on a cheese platter for a nice presentation. Of course I used one of my favorite mustards, Trader Joe’s Garlic Aioli for dipping.
Having a sustainable garden themed party means using reusable plates and cups, fun decorations using recycled materials and serving a planet friendly vegetarian menu. I am not a vegetarian but I’ve said repeatedly I easily could be and may very well become one in the near future. We use 70% of the grains we grow and half of the water we consume to feed livestock in the US. It costs 16 pounds of grains to produce one pound of meat. To conserve energy, a vegetarian diet is obviously a better option.
While my mission started as planning a party around a few vegetarian diets, I publicly am throwing an earth friendly gathering! The appetizers were a hit, especially my BLT avocado salad. No one missed the absence of meat and with additional veggies, olives, hummus and pita chips bellies were full. I’m a fan of tapas style parties as a hostess. It’s easier and stress free. Even if you do not throw your own Sustainable Garden Party, treat our planet kind by eating a meat free diet one day a week.
As a part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, Lightlife provided me with a stipend and product for sampling. This series is brought to you in partnership with Lightlife, Live long. Travel light. To learn more, click here http://www.lightlife.com.