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Welcome to Plant-Based 411!

By Nancy Eisman

As a vegetarian for nearly 30 years, I’m very happy to share with you some of the delicious, colorful, mostly healthy, and occasionally decadent foods that I fill my plate with everyday.

UC Berkeley professor and food writer Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, created a simple slogan to express his eating smart philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Sweet, juicy fresh fruits, nutrient rich vegetables, and fiber-filled beans, legumes, and grains form the basis for my plant-based eating style. Whatever else you want to include in your own diet is up to you and your own needs and beliefs, and we’ll definitely explore reasons for embracing plant-based eating in upcoming posts.
Image of The Great Pepper Cookbook
Today I’m presenting two of my favorite recipes from Melissa’s The Great Pepper Book. They’re fresh, kind of exotic, and perfect for June picnics and parties. I think you’re really going to enjoy this Vegetarian Bahn Mi Sandwich while sipping on Lemongrass-Ginger Cooler.

(For questions about plant-based shopping, cooking, and dining, please contact me at nancye@melissas.com.)

Lemongrass-Ginger Cooler
Image of Lemongrass-Ginger Cooler
6 cups Water
5 ounces Fresh Ginger, thinly sliced
1 large piece Fresh Lemongrass, trimmed, split lengthwise, and chopped (4 ounces)
1 Fresh Jalapeno Chile Pepper, stem and seeds removed, thinly sliced

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients; bring just to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Strain into a pitcher through a fine mesh strainer, discarding solids. Cool 1 hour. Pour over ice. Serve (I used stevia as a sweetener, but honey and sugar work well too. I also used a Melissa’s Sugar Cane Swizzle Stix with a couple of jalapeno chile rings for garnish.)

Vegetarian Bahn Mi Sandwiches
Image of Vegetarian Bahn Mi Sandwiches
1/3 cup Daikon, sliced very thin
2 tablespoons Lower-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
¼ teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Fresh Cherry Bell Chile Peppers, stems and seeds removed, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1 small Carrot, thinly shredded (about 1/3 cup)
1 Green Onion, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
1 (18 inch) French Baguette, cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup Mayonnaise (I use Vegenaise)
¼ cup Sweet Chili Sauce
2 (6 ounce) packages Baked Tofu or Tofu Cutlet, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped Fresh Cilantro
¼ cup chopped Fresh Mint

In a bowl, combine daikon and next 6 ingredients (through green onion); let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place baguette on a baking sheet; bake until lightly toasted, about 10-12 minutes. Spread mayonnaise evenly on cut sides of baguette; spread chili sauce evenly over mayonnaise. Arrange tofu evenly on baguette bottom.

Drain sliced vegetable mixture; arrange evenly over tofu. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro and mint; top with baguette top. Cut into 4 equal portions.

Serve.
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