New Orleans, Louisiana is famous – and infamous – for good times, good music and good food. Revelers come from the four corners of the world to take part in the annual Mardi Gras celebration – a spectacular event with parades, street floats, lavish costumes and evening balls.
Mardi Gras literally translates to “Fat Tuesday.” This takes place on the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Traditionally, Fat Tuesday meant feasting and finishing all the rich, fatty foods before the 40-day religious observance.
Interestingly, the word “carnival” is derived from the Latin word “carnelevarium,” which means to take away or remove meat. This makes sense because many people choose to give up meat during Lent.
Not surprisingly, we’re okay with that. In fact, many of the classic Cajun and Creole dishes can be made without meat, yet still deliver all the zesty, mouth-watering flavors of the Crescent City.
From red beans and rice to gumbo to étouffée, spice up your Monday and strut your stuff with these meatless Mardi Gras recipes.
Congratulations to Meatfree Monday Korea and the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Today, the Jogye Order announced that they would go meat free one day a week. This is of special significance not only because it’s the largest Buddhism organization in Korea, but also because it’s associated with many temples, schools, universities, hospitals and training centers.
For 1,700 years, the Jogye Order has helped preserve the history of Korea. What’s more, 90% of Buddhists in Korea are part of this religious order. This new declaration is certain to have a positive result on the personal health of Koreans as well as the environment.
Houston to NYC – Pondicheri restaurants celebrate the fresh vibrancy of Indian cuisine
Anita Jaisinghani works long days. Her restaurants serve Indian-themed casual fare for breakfast and lunch, then transform to more upscale dining at night. She opened her first restaurant in Houston in 2001 – which just celebrated five years of Meatless Monday. Last summer, she added a second Pondicheri in Manhattan. Over her career, Anita earned two nominations for the coveted James Beard Awards and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and TIME Magazine. We sat down with her for some table talk.
You’ve said your menu is guided by the principles of Ayurveda. Could you explain?
Ayurveda is a philosophy that’s all about balance, not just in food and flavors, but also in life. For instance, Ayurveda doesn’t say you can’t eat meat, but you should eat it in smaller portions. We surround meat with vegetables and other foods so the meat doesn’t become the center of the plate. With Ayurveda, the food should not only taste good, but make you feel nourished and rejuvenated after. I plan my food that way. I would say guided by Ayurveda because I don’t see the philosophy as hard rules. We’re really trying to examine our own history and heritage and select what we think makes sense for modern life.
You also serve a popular Meatless Monday menu each week. What should diners expect?
India is the world’s best place to be a vegetarian. It has the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world, which is why the cuisine is so extensive and imaginative. Our Meatless Monday menu is really special and it goes back to my roots. Pondicheri, to me, is such an expression of my heart. And growing up in India, it was a rule in my family that we didn’t eat meat for at least one day a week.
Pondicheri also has a Bake Lab and you’re famous for your chocolate chili cookies. How did that come about?
My first restaurant job was as a pastry chef at the legendary Café Annie and I love to bake. We named our bakery the Bake Lab because we are always experimenting. The chili cookies were actually a happy accident. My first cookie ever was a Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie at an airport. It was warm, soft and delicious. I do not have a sweet tooth, but I loved that cookie. I began to play with cookies and, after many years of reworks, ended up with an oatmeal cookie that was not cakey and slightly gooey on the inside. One day we were out of walnuts in the Indika kitchen, so we added spiced walnuts to the recipe since that was all we had. And voila! The chocolate chili cookie was born!
Our Houston location holds six course pop-up dinners that usually feature a different region of India every three months, although we’ve done all kinds. The most recent one was Masala Sichuan, inspired by the Chinese expatriate community in Mumbai. With Indian food, there’s such an immense scope that it’s impossible to run out of inspiration – the tasting menus give our chefs and I the opportunity to explore that scope and incorporate seasonal ingredients.
If you’re in Houston or NYC, make sure to stop by Pondicheri and taste the Meatless Monday goodness. For more information, visit their website. And if you can’t make it to one of their restaurants, stir up your love of Indian cuisine by making Pondicheri’s Peanut Noodles recipe at home.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a windfall for cards, roses and chocolates. And on this special day, we’d like to suggest another way to express your love – Meatless Monday.
By choosing not to eat or serve meat just one day a week, you’re giving you and your loved ones a valentine 52 times a year.
This one simple gesture can have profound health benefits. For instance, eating less meat lowers your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among women. In addition, diets with less meat also help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer. All of which can help you and your loved ones live longer.
So tomorrow, enjoy plenty of hugs and kisses. And don’t forget to show some love each and every week with Meatless Monday – for your family, yourself and the planet.
Roland Williams is a true game changer. At a towering 6’5”, it’s no surprise his nickname is “Big Ro.” Playing tight end for the St. Louis Rams, Roland helped them win Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, the first NFL team to ever go from worst place to first place in a single season. Roland knows firsthand the importance of a healthy diet, choosing to become a vegan two years ago. That’s why he’s teamed up with us to share an open letter that encourages everyone to practice and support Meatless Monday for their health and the health of the planet. This letter (appearing below) is well worth reading and passing along to your friends and family.
To match his stature, Roland also has a big heart. He recently joined forces with celebrity Chef Danny Boome and local artist Michelle Cardulla to work with his charity, Champion Academy. This institution provides no-cost guidance and life lessons to underprivileged youth in his hometown of Rochester, NY. Here’s a brief highlight video that shows Roland mentoring at the academy. You’ll be hearing more about this talented and dedicated threesome in the future, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, we invite you to read Roland’s open letter here:
“Super Monday”: The New Best Way To Celebrate The Big Game
By Roland Williams, NFL Super Bowl Champion
As we draw one day closer to Super Bowl LI, I can’t help but to smile.
This past NFL season has been such a joy to watch. All the unexpected twists and turns. The re-emergence of the Cowboys and Raiders. The high-powered Falcon offense. The grit and determination of the Patriots. I even enjoyed watching the massive disappointments of 2016. As I type this letter, I’m still scratching my head about the Cardinals, Bengals, Broncos and Panthers this season.
But now, we are on to the main event.
The entire NFL season comes down to two teams. As a true fan of football, it doesn’t even matter that I have no vested interest in either team winning this year. Yep, it doesn’t get any better than this. I can’t wait to enjoy the entire day from the pregame to post-game confetti.
But this year, when the game is over and I’ve seen my fair share of post-game coverage, I am asking that you join me in two of the biggest games of them all; your health and our environment.
On Monday after the big game, be a team player by participating in Meatless Monday, a global movement to find innovative ways to make meatless and vegetarian dishes part of our everyday culture, customs and cuisine. For those unaware, it has been scientifically proven that skipping meat at least one day a week is beneficial for our health and the environment.
This past year, I’ve been doing it weekly with my three young sons and they love it! Then a few months ago, I went crazy. I joined forces with Celebrity Chef Danny Boome and local artist Michelle Cardulla and incorporated it into my favorite charity, http://www.ChampionAcademyRoc.org.
I’m telling you, this is a movement that deserves your attention. If you still need a few reasons why you should add this into your life, take a look at http://www.MeatlessMonday.com. You can thank me later.
Enjoy the game!
NFL Super Bowl Champion
Meatless Monday Supporter
Pistachio Chewy Bite Chex Mix by Spork Foods is just what the referee ordered to keep your hunger at bay! And right now our friends at Pistachio Chewy Bites are giving away a prize pack of their product for your Super Bowl snack-a-bration!
All you have to do is follow @meatlessmonday @sporkfoods @pistachiochewybites on Instagram and tag your friends when you see the image below for a chance to win. The more friends you tag, the more entries you get! The winner will be announced on Wednesday February 1st at 4pm. Good luck!
Pistachio Chewy Bite Chex Mix is a finger food game changer – crispy, crunchy, salty and sweet, with pistachios and tangy cranberries. Not only that, pistachios are certified by the American Heart Association Food Certification Program so you know they’re good for you. The Pistachio Chewy Bite Chex Mix recipe was created by sister chefs Jenny Engel and Heather Bell of Spork Foods, a gourmet vegan cooking school based in Los Angeles, CA. They’re also chef ambassadors for Setton Farms, the family-owned business that makes Pistachio Chewy Bites.
This Friday, February 3rd, marks the American Heart Association’s 14th annual “National Wear Red Day.” This life-saving event raises awareness of heart disease – the leading cause of death among women – by encouraging people to wear red and discuss ways to prevent this chronic disease.
At Meatless Monday, we take this issue to heart. So much so, we believe that attention to heart health should be kept top of mind all year-round. And participating in Meatless Monday is an easy and effective way to do just that.
According to doctors, one of the top ways to decrease your risk of heart disease is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. For many, this means reducing the amount of meat consumed each week and replacing it with vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. In fact, eating less meat and more fruits and veggies also lowers your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
To get an idea of your current heart health, you can take a simple online test from the AHA called Life’s Simple 7. In addition to diet, you can also help prevent heart disease by controlling your cholesterol, managing your blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing your blood sugar and, of course, quit smoking.
We’ll also give you a hand. Want to really bring home the message of heart healthy eating? Then download our free “Comfort Food Heart Healthy Cookbook.” Inside you’ll find 11 deliciously satisfying meatless recipes. Comfort food so good, you’ll love it with all your heart!
The Chinese New Year begins this Saturday to usher in the “Year of the Rooster.” This annual tradition originates from a timeless legend about a deadly beast who could only be frightened away by loud noises, bright lights and the color red. The vibrant festivities take place not only in Mainland China, but also in areas with significant Chinese populations, such as Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The Chinese year is based on the lunar calendar and the animal for each year is assigned by Chinese astrology. In fact, if you’re interested, check out these additional Chinese New Year tidbits.
This two-week celebration is full of family, fun, and, of course, great food. Special dishes are prepared that are said to bring prosperity and good fortune in the New Year. The classic Chinese dumplings, which can be made with just vegetables, are always a favorite. And Spring Rolls have a pale yellow color that resembles gold bars. There’s also “good fortune fruit,” such as oranges and tangerines, that are always very popular.
We invite you to enjoy some of these wonderful meatless recipes below and wish you good fortune and great prosperity in the coming Chinese New Year!
Kathy Freston is a writer and plant-based diet advocate. Her latest book is The Book of Veganish, which is packed with plant-based recipes and interesting facts about eating less meat. We chatted with her to learn more about her remarkable new book.
You were interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011, the same show where Oprah announced she would be implementing Meatless Monday in the Harpo cafeteria. The word “veganish” popped up a few times during the interview. Is this a concept you’ve been thinking about for a while?
Yes, I think when most people hear the word “vegan,” and if they grew up like me eating chicken, hamburger and steak, they think vegan is so restrictive. Like “oh my god, all my favorite foods are going away. I’ll never be able to eat cheese fries again.” Veganish takes the pressure off to be absolute. There’s this joy and relief to explore other food choices.
The whole feel of your book is so fun and hip. Was it put together with millennials in mind?
Absolutely. Young adults are the ones who have the world in their hands. They want to make a difference. And eating less meat is one of the most focused ways to have a meaningful life – for the environment, for animals and for your own human health and your family. The book is meant to be happy! To be fun and inspiring. I love that most of the book is young adults weighing in. They’re young fresh voices. You really get a sense of this growing community.
Let’s talk about the recipes. What was your goal in putting this collection together?
Robin Robertson is the chef who wrote the recipes. She’s all about comfort food, speed and taste. For me, protein was the most important thing. Even though protein intake is not a problem in vegan diets, most people are still obsessed with it. So our goal was to get as much protein as possible and to get the veggies so they tasted good and weren’t boring. And Robin rocked it! You can make everything in 10 to 20 minutes using simple ingredients you have around the house.
We love that so many of the recipes are one pot meals. Apparently millennials aren’t even eating as much cereal these days because of the clean up!
Right. What’s nice is that a lot of the recipes are one-dish meals and are also great for leftovers. You can pack them and take them to the office or to class the next day.
What recipes would you suggest for newbies? Either someone new to veganism, or someone who wants to introduce their friends or family to meatless eating via Meatless Monday?
The mac and cheese is so comforting. And I love the tacos, they’re really “meaty.” There’s also a great burrito with tons of protein and some spinach or kale. It’s just really hearty!
Sounds like Mexican food is where it’s at! Thanks for chatting, we can’t wait to cook up these dishes!