Tag Archives: whole-foods

Glorious Food Waste

For decades, I have been gently chided, and occasionally mocked, for my kitchen frugality. A drawer filled with wilting produce sets off a visceral reaction leading to aggressive cooking. I don’t think it’s cheapness, as much as it’s a deep-seated concern about waste. Over the years, cooking teachers have denigrated the big, re-purposed Ziplock in my freezer chock full of plant scraps and leavings; apparently only pristine produce is good enough to make vegetable stock or fruit sauces. But still I persisted because, frankly, that just didn’t make any sense to me. And, besides, I just can’t empty that seemingly still good food into the trash or compost heap.

A short while ago, I stumbled on a wonderful “cookbook” Scraps, Wilt + Weeds written by Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong. Refslund was a co-founder of world-famous Danish restaurant, Noma, and, shockingly, shares my visceral reaction to wilting, near-rotting produce! But he goes many steps beyond just making vegetable stock, dry-roasting just-past-prime produce, stewing less than perfect fruit into sauces and, of course, freezing very ripe bananas for breads and smoothies. Mads Refslund has elevated waste to haute cuisine.

        

The concepts are invigorating and inspirational – with stunning photographs that make near garbage extraordinarily beautiful.  I use the word concept advisedly – to me the recipes are more conceptual than standard “multi-user-tested” ones. This is relatively new turf and the reader needs more guidance as to when, for instance, a tomato is near rot or just plain rotten. Even though I am a fairly accomplished home cook and long-time rescuer of wilted produce, I often had questions. For instance, a couple years ago I made carrot-top pesto from gorgeous, young CSA carrots and it was so bitter, it was inedible – why wasn’t his?

On the other hand, he encourages flexibility – use what you have (less, more or sub something else) rather than create more waste by buying to meet the specific recipe requirements. Other chapters focus on buying “ugly” produce, foraging for “weeds” and even using discarded fish parts. All told, it is a glorious paean to the minimization of waste and as I reluctantly released my non-renewable library copy, I concurrently added it to my Amazon list.

Mads Refslund has vindicated my kitchen frugality while he introduced others on whose shoulders he stands; those who have been long proselytizing waste reduction but who did not have his bully pulpit**. He has made reducing food waste sexy and chic. What a stunning, unbelievable accomplishment!! This is a book to own – a reference to stiffen our spines and alter our perceptions when we are about to sweep the leavings into the Waste King or the compost pot.

Why is this book so important? Every year, roughly 30% of all the food raised on the planet for human ingestion is literally wasted. If you just look at first world countries that number is even higher with the U.S. leading the pack at over 40%. According to the World Economic Forum, our global population is projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 – raising the leading question: how do we feed everybody? The United Nation’s FAO (Food & Agriculture Organization) posits that we already grow enough food, we just have to figure out how to save that 30-40% that we are currently wasting – which represents about 28% of the earth’s agricultural land. A whopping 25 percent of that waste is imperfect produce left in the fields to rot and 15% comes from tossed out, perfectly edible, food. (An additional, crucial, benefit would be to save the carbon footprint of all that wasted food –according to the EPA, landfills account for 34% of all U.S. methane emissions.)

** I am reading some of the author’s references and will share reviews and content in future posts.

My Take on “Veganism”

Up until a dozen years ago, we’d been innocently and happily eating a whole-foods, sugar-free, “healthy diet” for about three decades; it included low-fat dairy, white meat chicken and fish. But then, my husband “pushed through” on a New York Marathon feeder race, collapsed and was unceremoniously hauled off to a local hospital. That was when we learned that he had plaque on his arteries! I took this as a personal affront to my hard-won nutritional knowledge and culinary expertise.

After listening to my angst-ridden breast-beating, a friend handed me the “Eating” DVD (3rd Revision) – it was a revelation. The interviewees weren’t McDonald addicts or slab-of-beef on the plate types; these were people who’d been eating just like us. And their health profiles were just like ours. Once they embraced a whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle – aka veganism – their health improved: plaque disappeared from arteries, insulin requirements nose-dived, weight slid off…… We were smitten and embraced this new life-style with vigor and enthusiasm.

Today we’re still eating a primarily plant-based diet. We know that we’re healthier with it, that animals suffer less because of it and that the planet is better off (we could trade our Prius for a Humvee and our carbon footprint would still be impressive). But we’ve lost the religiosity. We prefer the term WFPB over Vegan because it is not so loaded. We still use the terms vegan or strict vegetarian in restaurants because plant-based does not compute with servers. But to the rest of the world, we call it a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

Over time, we’ve gotten easier with it. When we travel or dine out – especially at friends’ homes – we expand our options to include wild-caught salmon, mussels, oysters, brook trout and a couple other low-mercury, high omega-three, sustainable species (kudos to the Environmental Working Groups for simplifying this). Blue crab and lobster also make the few-times-a-year list because there are Crab Feast and Lobster Bake traditions on both sides of our families. On occasion, we also eat free-range “humanely raised” eggs. It makes life easier for everyone and, frankly, we welcome these occasional additional options. That said, when we are home, we eat a pretty strict WFPB diet – we like it; it’s easy and it allows us to “regroup” especially after long bouts of travel. When we entertain, it’s almost always a WFPB meal as well; we work hard at delivering luxuriously delicious meals that usually end with a dark chocolate dessert – and, hopefully, make the lack of animal products unnoticeable and irrelevant.

We don’t proselytize and only discuss our food choices when asked; we hope that this low-key approach might make the plant-based concept less off-putting and more appealing. It seems to us that the fewer animal products one eats and the more organic produce one consumes, the better off everyone is (for organic, we shop with the EWG’s Dirty Dozen [actually 20] and Clean Fifteen lists). As Columbia Professor Emeritus Joan Dye Gussow would say to the “Earth Friends” fourth graders: “it’s better for both worlds you inhabit – your body and your planet.”

We are fans of Meatless Mondays, Mark Bittman’s “VB6” (Vegan Before 6 pm), and any other variation that encourages people to dip a toe into this lifestyle. This is not a religion; it is a choice that is a win-win-win for you, for the animals, for the planet. Our philosophy is: just do what works for you; no one is taking notes.

Whole Protein Vegetarian – Delicious Plant-Based Recipes with Essential Amino Acids for Heath & Well-Being

Whole Protein

By Rebecca Miller Ffrench. The Countryman Press 2016 $27.95 (Amazon $18.50/ Kindle $14)

Ms. Ffrench approaches recipes and daily menus from the very particular perspective of amino acids – in other words protein. There is a mantra in the plant-based world that it’s impossible not to get enough protein. That we actually consume too much protein and the invariable question from the canivores “how do you get your protein?” is mock-worthy.

But the author demonstrates that that might not be as true as we had assumed I was surprised when taking a hard look at the protein counts of some of the pulses and vegetables that we normally consume. If adequate protein is a concern, then this might be a useful reference.

It’s a handsome, hard covered book with bleed and full-page photos of about half the recipes. The recipes themselves are not particularly adventuresome or noteworthy – assuming you are steeped in current plant-based culinary arts. If you are not, then this is an excellent primer. I prepared a couple and they were fine family-dinner fare – but not guest material.

Our Seven-Day Juice Cleanse

juice cleanse   Primal Essence ginger primal essence Chai

We just finished a 7-day cleanse! Our guide throughout was “The Juice Cleanse Reset Diet” by Lori Kenyon Farley and Mara St. Clair. It was a successful experience for both of us – we lost our vacation weight and a bit more. Hopefully the trend will continue. But more important, we hope that it’s given our bodies a rest and perhaps allowed them to start healing some long-time issues. Time will tell, but we both feel pretty good with some increased energy. And it was a real education.

For a week, we ate and juiced only organic produce (except for the Clean 15) so just finding it all at some kind of reasonable price was a bit of a project. Whole Foods, CostCo, Trader Joes and Stop & Shop were our go-to resources. We bought and juiced through most of: six pounds of apples, eight pounds of carrots, four pounds of pears, two pounds of kale, three pounds of mixed baby greens, a pound of baby spinach, two pounds of strawberries, a pound and a half of blueberries, two pounds of sweet peppers, eight cucumbers, ten kiwis, seven mangoes, seven large beets, six heads of romaine, four bunches of celery, a pineapple, a bunch of lemons and limes – and bananas for the smoothies (should have taken a photo of the kitchen counter covered in gorgeous food). I haven’t added up the cost yet, but it was pricey – albeit clearly less than buying these from a juice bar or delivery service, and a lot less than a spa :).

Part of the plan is to drink 16 oz. of water seven times a day and 16 oz. of juice about six times. So if you really don’t like plain water – and I don’t – that was a problem. Coincidentally, as if on cue, UPS delivered a gift – three small pumps of Primal Essence’s super teas (primalessence.com). Each a different flavor. The instructions said just pump a couple of squirts into a glass of water; instant flavor from organic whole plant-extracts! Tasty and healthful. During our cleanse, I switched around among Ginger Zing, Classic Chai, Peppermint Splash and a squeeze of lemon. It really made drinking that much water a lot easier, more pleasant (and even more healthful). When we were going out, I just dropped one in purse for instant interesting water. Each little bottle contains 225 pumps. These are a real find for people who find water just too boring to drink – I want to try the other flavors: Tumeric Tulsi, Vanilla Chai and Lemon Ginger (especially the latter).

We also learned more than we wanted to know about our venerable Omega 1000 juicer that has been sitting on the shelf for, perhaps, a decade. Toward the end of this severe workout, it started showing its age. Trying to control it as it wobbled all over the counter at 3600 rpm was just a little scary. Yet, even out of warranty Omega was there for its customers: we just sent in the broken arm for a free replacement and a tech walked us through the process of re-balancing and explained some of the finer points of cajoling this particular unit. When it’s time for a new one, it’ll definitely be an Omega. Our Vita-Mix performed admirably as usual for the smoothies and also for some of the greens that we had trouble juicing.

Bottom line: a very satisfactory week. We weren’t really hungry. We looked at this as a project and “went with the flow.” But it was a lot of work and we ducked outside engagements as much as possible although we both went to the gym for our usual class and workout. But we definitely both agreed that we will do it again – probably twice a year (or maybe even more). One word of advice for a half a couple trying to do this alone: try to engage your partner. I can’t imagine cleansing while living with someone eating regular food. It just wouldn’t be much fun either.

 

 

VEGANIZE IT! Easy DIY Recipes for a Plant-Based Kitchen

BY Robin Robertson – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt March 7, 2017. $25. Amazon $14.92/ Kindle $12.99

veganize-it

Another really good book from one of the top vegan cookbook authors. Robin Robertson’s books are classics and I have most of them. So I had high expectations for this one. It’s a beautifully designed book with a stiff fold-in cover for marking your place and lots of full-page photos and chapter intros that sometimes bleed across a double-page spread.

The chapters are similar to those of an omnivore cook book – with a twist. Plant-Based Meats, Vegan Charcuterie, Instead of Seafood, Dairy-Free and Egg-Free, Too…. all very enticing.
Since 2010, I’ve been turning to Steen & Newman’s “The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions: Veganize It! Foolproof Methods for Transforming Any Dish into A Delicious New Vegan Favorite.” And collecting recipes from chef-written cookbooks, blogs and the www. There have been so many advances in plant-based cooking in the past six years that I thought Roberstson might, essentially, be providing an updated, cutting edge version of “The Complete Guide…”. And in some ways she has. But I was hoping for some break-through ideas instead of riffs on existing chef or blogger-developed veggie cuisine. Or at least a compilation of those best of the best ideas. But I misunderstood the intention – which might have had something to do with the similarity of the titles…..

Instead, the book provides “clean” vegan recipes for lots of basics like sour cream cream cheese, cheesy sauces, ricotta, hollandaise, feta, butter!, gravy plus many, many more. Beyond basics are burgers, pulled pork, fish ‘n chips, sausages, meatballs, sea scallops, five bacon recipes, and more. Many of these products are available in the supermarket freezer or refrigerator case but made with a laundry list of additives and other unpronounceable ingredients. So this is why I add the word “clean.” Ms. Robertson first chapter includes home-made versions of pantry items (many of which are not vegan in their store-bought versions). Each chapter also includes more involved recipes that use a few of the basics made from the included recipes or, if time is short, from store-bought versions.

I started my review by preparing a couple of the recipes. First was Creamy Ranch Dressing that starts with 1 cup of mayo – it had good flavor but the mayonnaise was too prominent so I cut it with a little almond milk that also made it more pourable. The second one was Cheddary Sauce which is pictured below (these are my photos, not from the book). This was a tasty cream sauce and it worked well over a steamed veggie and quinoa bowl, but it didn’t taste anything like cheese, especially cheddar, which the name implied. I made it in a Vita Mix so just letting it blend a little longer heated it up –  once the cashews had been soaked, it was quick and easy despite a lengthy list of ingredients. I will make it again – perhaps amping up the seasonings and playing with the liquor choices. Next up are the five bacon recipes and the pulled pork.

IMG_1474 IMG_1478 IMG_1481

A couple nitpiks: Recipes labeled with cheesy names have to taste cheesy – nooch just doesn’t taste cheesy to me. And there isn’t any nutritional info – I’d like to know the calorie count and the percentage from fat – is it a 30-cal tablespoon or a 125 cal one? Also while the cashew craze has been well addressed, alternatives would be appreciated (since cashews are high-FODMAP)  and a little more on aquafaba would also be helpful and suggestions for those among us who choose oil-free.

Bottom line – this book is a keeper. There are enough interesting concepts in here to encourage experimentation. It is not haute cuisine, but it is reliable, tasty, clean vegan. And that’s worth a lot.

Good Clean Food Shopping Smart to Avoid GMOs, rBGH and Products that may cause Cancer and other Diseases

By Samuel Epstein, MD and Beth Leibson – Skyhorse Publishing 2013. $24.95/ Amazon $16.99, $6.50 used

Good Clean Food
Dr. Epstein is a voice we should hear. His long and deep expertise on the avoidable causes of cancer has been shared in twenty books and 270 peer-reviewed articles. He is professor emeritus of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health and chair of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. He has also served as president of the Rachel Carson Council and other industry organizations. Co-author Beth Leibson knowledgeably unpacks this far-ranging erudition to make it accessible and understandable to the layperson.

This is a short read outlining important concepts that are clearly described – the main foci are:

Milk – the US permits the injection of the genetically-engineered growth hormone (rBGH – named by Monsanto Posilac) into dairy cows which causes elevated concentrations of IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor). The upside is that it increases milk production by 11-15%, the downside for the cow is that they get sick, for instance 25% get mastitis which adds more pus to the milk and which also requires antibiotics. About 20% of dairy farms in the US inject their herds with rBGH which creates IGF-1 but, since labeling is not required, consumers have no idea. The downside for the consumer, in addition to the antibiotic load, is that IGF-1, which is not destroyed by pasteurization, encourages cells to grow – in children it’s usually bones and organs, in adults it can be cancer cells. So, if you choose to continue to use dairy products, buy only organic from grass-fed herds. BTW: The EU and Canada outlawed rBCH and IGF-1 in the 90s. Better yet – plant milk.

Beef – Starting in the ‘50s, US cattle have been injected and/or fed a wide variety of sex hormones and other growth drugs. Today that cocktail, injected into 90% of all US cattle, contains natural estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone plus synthetic hormones zeranol, trenbolone, and melengesterol – all designed to add quick weight and roughly $80 additional profit per animal. The EU outlawed this practice in 1989. Industrial farmed meat cows are also fed prophylactic antibiotics which has contributed to the creation of superbugs that jump to humans and are resistant to most if not all antibiotics. Other beef topics include nitrates (and the link between hot dogs and pediatric brain cancer), radiation, the significant advantages of grass-fed beef and, again, the need for labeling.

Produce – The Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen – The Environmental Working Groups master list of the dozen most likely fruits and vegetables, when conventionally grown, to be drenched with pesticide – add kale and collards to the EWG list. The Clean Fifteen lists those least likely to be tainted. The authors also suggest buying “American” since imported produce usually contains higher percentages of pesticides. This chapter then details the negative effects of these insecticides and herbicides, many of which contain Organophosphates, which has been shown to block acetylcholinesterase that stops nerve cells from firing. The demonstrated effects include increased incidences of ADHD, autism, reduced memory and lowered IQ. The answer is organically grown produce.

Corn and Soybeans & GMOs – These are the two most prolific foods on the planet; corn, for instance, provides over 20% of all human nutrition – but both are largely used for animal feed. Both can be cultivated as vegetables or as oil or as…. The broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, a ramped up version of Glyphosate (which is a type of organophosphate), was developed by Monsanto to increase field yields. Monsanto also developed many Roundup-ready, patented crop seeds that can tolerate the pesticide. Initially Roundup works, but then, over time, the weeds become resistance and the farmers find it necessary to increase the quantity of Roundup creating more dangerous conditions for farmers and consumers. Glyphosate-resistant alternatives exist but share the same problems – they kill off amphibians as well as pests and weeds and they contain an inert ingredient (a surfactant) to help the chemicals penetrate the plants which has shown to be harmful to humans. A newcomer is Bt corn (Bacillus thuringiensis), a plant that exudes its own pesticide which is also dangerous to other living things, like butterflies and humans. The chapter concludes with a review of the politics as well as alternatives – especially non-GMO organic.

Chicken & Eggs – Conventionally raised chickens (and eggs) are fed a wide range of ingredients to encourage speedy growth including prophylactic antibiotics – which pass to humans creating similar problems to those of beef. At first brush, the answer seems to be organic. In order to be labeled organic, broilers and egg-laying hens alike, must be fed organic feed without antibiotics (except for illness), hormones or pesticides and they must have access to the outdoors. An organic egg comes from an organic laying hen. But beware the various levels of “organic” – large-scale industrial and some family-size organic egg farms may offer an open door with an impenetrable maze to access it so there is no “scratching in the dirt.” The key descriptor seems to be “pasture-based” or “free-range” organic where mobile housing moves frequently to fresh fields and the birds are outdoors as often as inside. All of this applies to “broilers” as well.

Avoiding GMOs – This gets harder every day; again look for the word “organic” otherwise almost any, for instance, soybean or soybean derivative will likely be from GMO plants– but at least know the legal definitions: “100% organic” means just that. “Organic” means 95% of ingredients are. “Made form Organic Ingredients” 70-94% is organic. The word “organic” on the ingredient panel only means that less than 70% is organic. An on fruits and vegetables – look for a label with a 5-digit number beginning with 9 – that’s organic. Beginning with an 8 means GMO (but that’s rarely labeled). Four digits beginning with 3 or 4 means conventional.

The remainder of the book discusses detoxification and future trends like Budget organics – private labels, Farmers’ markets, CSAs Buying clubs, Food Co-ops. And trends among various ethnic groups and around the world – all of which are well worth reading. Finally check out the organic industry watch dog: Cornucopia Institute www.cornucopia.org.

The End of Heart Disease

by Joel Fuhrman, MD,  Harper One, 2016

End of Heart Disease

According to Dr. Furhman, his Nutritarian Diet will make it impossible to have a heart attack, while it reverses obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) and radically lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, reduces your weight, restores normal bowel function, improves your immune function and maintains youthful vigor in the face of aging. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet can be totally plant-based or it can be flexitarian which includes some animal products albeit in very small quantities (three small servings a week). But in either case, it is predominantly vegetables, beans seeds and nuts. The goal is a diet that is nutrient dense, hormonally favorable (avoiding, especially, excess insulin and insulin growth factor [IGF-1]), nutritionally adequate (including all essential nutrients), and avoids toxins. The basis for the diet’s choices are ANDI scores (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) that ranks foods based on the nutrients delivered for each calorie consumed.

Veg-Friendly Mezza in Mystic, CT

We visit Mystic fairly regularly since part of our family lives there. Our favorite restaurant is Mezza (formerly known as The Pita Spot). Not only is the food totally delicious, but it is healthy and much of it is vegan – because much of Middle-Eastern cuisine is plant-based. We have eaten in many, many mid-Eastern eateries around the world – including in Egypt and Israel. So we can safely say that Mezza produces some of the very best iterations of our go-to dishes – always with a little twist. The restaurant is  casual, family-owned and family-friendly with inside and outside (streetside) dining

We always have an assortment of Mezze for the table to start – Hummus, Baba Ghannouj, Tabouli, falafel and more – with lovely grilled pita, The menu is marked with symbols for vegetariand an gluten-free – and where there’s dairy, it’s very obvious. Their falafels in pita come in four interesting versions and there is an amazing sandwich – Malfoof – marinated cabbage and all sorts of goodies between two pita halves and grilled – that is simply totally delicious. Mezza offers plenty of meat-options, too, including a secret family recipe “Lala” chicken if you are not a totally veg group.  Their website is being shifted to their new name, but the menu (and management) is the same so try http://thepitaspot.com/uploads/Pita_Spot_menu_5-11.pdf.

Tony   Maloof

Mezza Exterior    Mezza Interior

 

Mala at Wailea Marriott – unexpected plant-based meal in a spectacular setting

Searching out plant-based, vegan options in Maui proved a positive and fun adventure.  The biggest surprise, not listed anywhere, was the restaurant at our hotel. What a surprise! Mala has a separate Gluten-Free & Vegan Menu. Chef Mark Ellman and his business partner Shep Gordon teamed up with Top Chef Finalist Chef Sheldon Simeon (and one of Food & Wine 2014  Best New chefs) to create delicious, organic and locally sourced dishes that are an eclectic blend of Mediterranean and Hawaiian flavor profiles.

The setting is simply gorgeous. The upper level airy dining room features a clean, contemporary, teak-accented look with long, unobstructed water views.  If weather permits, dine on the lanai.

On the Gluten-Free and Vegan Menu , there are four vegan starters, one salad, and a disappointing single entree.  But we found that the server and chef were happy to work with us to create a second plant-based entree since we always share and prefer to taste a variety of offerings. We combined one of the starters with a few of the five vegan sides. Island Vegetables featured well seasoned cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots and baby bok choy on a bed of coconut peanut sauce ($28). We also sampled the fried local pickels ($7) and the Fried Tofu ($12).

 

Eating Plant-Based in the British Virgin Islands

Provisioning for a whole foods, plant-based diet is pretty easy in the BVI if you are on a charter yacht or staying in a villa.  On Tortola, recently renovated Rite-Way about a quarter mile from the Moorings Charter Yacht Base (the largest in the world)  has a good assortment of grains, beans, produce, some frozen veg entrees, soy milks and Bobby’s even has local tofu. You can buy home-made hummus at the Patisserie on the Moorings entrance road – and until recently they had a fab tofu salad (we keep asking when it’s coming back). There are tubs filled with a variety of pickles (delicious cornichons)  and lots of olives. Even the little market in Leverick Bay Resort & Marina on Virgin Gorda  – on the southern edge of North Sound – has frozen vegan entrees.

But if you wish to dine out, and have the full BVI experience, then things get a bit more challenging.  Vegetarian is, of course, easier because chefs sub cheese for meat.  It seems the higher end restaurants are beginning to recognize the sea change (and, of course, the Rasta eateries and stands are always ready with a quick meal).  But we have ferreted out a few places that offer a lovely ambiance, spectacular views and offer at least one whole food, plant-based app and one entree right on the menu.

Saba Rock Resort in North Sound is accessible by their ferry from Leverick Bay or Bitter End Yacht Club or by dinghy from your boat moored right off this one-acre bit of paradise. Rooms are simple and immaculate and the menu offers several vegan entrees:  For lunch at The Pub, try three black bean crispy tacos ($16.95) , Black Bean Veggie Burger ($14.95) or a vegetarian traditional West Indian Curried Roti. Everyday from 4-6pm, it’s Happy Hour with $2.50 Painkillers, Rum Punch & Carib Beer. For dinner, there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet that features a fresh salad bar and a wide range of hot entrees ($29.95) check to see if they’re vegan offerings that night. Among the a la cart entrees is a dinner size West Indian vegetarian Roti ($29.95) or Cuban-style Fire-Roasted Vegetarian Kebobs ($27.95) featuring mini black bean cakes – accompanied by the salad bar.  Tables are literally right on, actually over, the water – so it’s easy to watch the large schools of  Tarpon circling the underwater lights or look across the bay filled with yachts on moorings.  Contact – (284) 495-9966 or VHF Ch. 16.

Just across the Sound, the famous Bitter End Yacht Club resort is not so accommodating – and that was a bit of a shock.  There are four eateries. We ended up with Conch Fritters on the premise that there is so little conch in conch fritters that it was irrelevant – and we needed something to sop up the wine and beer. They might have been able to rustle up a simple salad or a steamed/grilled veggie plate or white pasta with red sauce had we asked, but there is nothing on their menu that works (even modified) and we just weren’t up for another heavily oiled, uninspired veggie plate or pricey but lackluster pasta with tomato sauce from the kids menu –  no matter how gorgeous the view. But if you are looking for fresh bread and other bakery items for the galley – head to Winston’s.

Around the corner, Leverick Bay offers three dining options. Chef George’s upper level fine dining room offers a tomato and mozzarella salad ($15) or Bruschetta ($11) that can be made without the cheese. For an entree, there’s a Creamy risotto, beurre blanc, seasonal vegetables and aged balsamic topped with crispy carrots (leave out the cheese and/or buerre blanc). The Cove and Bar offer more veg friendly options: Garden Salad ($12) or Hummus and pita chips ($12) to start followed by a Veg Pizza (skip the cheese $19). Entertainment is excellent. Michael Bean’s pirate bit  Mon-Wed 5-7 pm is always well-attended and a family fave. We spent a week in their mooring field and never tired of his bits).  Friday night’s the Beach BBQ (we found lots to eat on their vegetable forward buffet) that features the must-see Moko Jumbie Dancers and Thursday nights it’s the Salt and Pepper Shakers.

Around the corner, at Biras Creek Resort, we really loved the Fat Virgin’s Cafe overlooking the dinghy dock. Brightly colored picnic tables were awash in local specialties – so we always found something delicious to eat. Sadly, Biras Creek closed – we don’t know for how long or what happened to the cafe – so call.

Overlooking Manchioneel Bay, private, secluded laid-back Cooper Island Beach Club (accessible via their private ferry from Road Town or dinghy in from the mooring field) has been one of our all-time family favorites – and it just keeps getting better and better. But it’s been sooo discovered that getting a mooring requires a first-light run.  The chef offers a Roasted Garlic Hummus Wrap with artichoke hearts and Cajun fries ($11) on their lunch menu. Unfortunately their Traditional West Indian Roti, which our son rates very highly, is made with chicken (maybe they will offer a veg alternative soon). For dinner they offer hummus as a starter and Penne with sauteed vegetables and a pesto-tomato Sauce ($20) as an entree.  Another possibility, Eggplant Rolls filled with goat cheese and red peppers ($19), might be doable without the cheese.  We understand that they will also accommodate gluten-free, so this seems a very real option.  Happy Hour is 4-6pm with two for one drinks. Rooms are available at the Beach Club or around the island at Cooper Island Villas.

Vegetable Rotis, like the ones served at Saba Rock, are  an authentic taste of the Caribbean that originated in Trinidad. It’s a a large flatbread filled with curried meat, fish or vegetable – kind of like a huge burrito. We are always on the look-out for the vegetable versions, not too hard to find, and  one of the very best is served at the little Roti Palace, tucked behind Samarkand Jewelers on Old Main Street, Road Town Tortola ($10-25 for lobster).  There’s a little dining area and an outdoor patio – or take-out. (They’re hand-made so be prepared to wait a bit.)  If you want to be 100% sure there is no chicken or fish stock in your roti, look for a Rastafarian restaurant that serves I-tal food – which is strict vegetarian.

Pirates Bight Restaurant on Norman Island re-opened in December 2012 with a beautiful, brand new, larger facility. The dinner menu features a “Vegetarian’s Delight”  ($28) that changes daily – hopefully their delicious West Indian Vegetable Roti filled with traditional curried spiced vegetables will be on the rotation. There’s also a trio of veggie salads: Greek Bounty salad – sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, olives, with fresh pita and home made hummus ($16), Garden ($13 ) and Fruit platter ($12). It appears that lunch is no longer served (there used to be a vegan roti, veggie burger topped with grilled pineapple, fresh tomato, lettuce and onions, and grilled veg panini).  Thursday through Sunday, the music starts at 8 pm (and Wednesday is Karaoke). Happy Hour is 4-6 pm; the bar menu offers chips and salsa ($10), sweet potatoes and tania chips ($10), french fries ($10) and onion rings ($10).

Also in The Bight, just off Norman Island,  the infamous floating “Willy T” (aka The William Thornton) serves Lunch (12-3 pm) and Dinner (6:30-9 pm) and offers a Veggie Burger ($9), along with fries/rice and coleslaw. They’ll also rustle up a simple romaine salad since it is the base for their meat and fish salads. Diving off the top deck (clothed or not)  is a long-time tradition.

At Tortola’s West End in Sopher’s Hole, The Jolly Roger has been totally reinvented as the open-air Fish ‘n Lime Inn & Restaurant .  For lunch Heather’s Mandarin & Cashew Salad, hold the feta ($16) and/or Hot Spinach and Avocado Cheesecake ($15) and for dinner Risotto Balls ($15) and Heather’s salad  – no vegetarian entree option.

Other possibilities include: Mellow Moods Cafe, an Ital eatery at the Road Town round-about, Chic Gourmet at Fish Bay, Nature’s Way in Mill Mall also in Road Town (run by Seventh Day Adventists), gorgeous top of the pack Sugar Mill offers rotating vegetarian selections at lunch and dinner (min $35/pp count on $60/pp at dinner) and also offers Gluten free and two-for-one drinks as you watch the sunset.

What did we miss?