Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

Over the Easter vacation I gave eco tourism a try in Italy with some friends at a vegetarian/vegan organic farm not far from Parma that I located with some internet detective work. 

Il Paradiso dei Gatti is a small, cute farm up a mountain overlooking the Taro valley surrounded by great hiking trails and full of not just cats but also friendly dogs, chickens, goats, sheep, horses and geese.

Staying here included the room and all meals. Breakfast was served at 9 or when you wanted: tea, coffee, bread, cakes. I learned by day two to skip breakfast to save room for lunch and dinner. Our hosts, Georgio and Graziamaria cooked up a host of never-ending meals for us. It felt like Christmas twice a day. Lunch was at 1:00. Let me tell you about these meals. They were huge and long and consisted of course after course after course. Thank goodness for all those hiking trails!

Georgio and Graziamaria are very dedicated to organic and seasonal food, and in the mountains spring had not really started so the food was quite grain-based although they did bring in some green goodies from a neighbor’s greenhouse. Dinner was served at 8:30. Here is a long list of what we had to eat for those [like me] who are interested in such things!

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  • Quinoa and greens in a flakey pastry
  • Gnocchi in béchamel with truffles
  • Chocolate pear cake
  • Risotto with strawberries and a balsamic reduction
  • Crispy breaded soy patties with chutney
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Home made black olive tapenade
  • Olive pizza
  • Quinoa and peas baked in onion boats
  • Sautéed kale (yes, unlike France, Italy grows kale.)
  • Biscuit crust spread with raspberry preserves
  • Basil pesto and béchamel lasagna
  • Asparagus crepes 
  • Radicchio salads  

And we fell in love with Grandpa’s lambrusco: who could resist open bottles on the tables? What a great place.

After the farm we moved on to Verona and Venice. These cities, based on Happy Cow’s list, have no truly veg restos. We tried to get into a ‘veg-friendly’ place, La Zucca, in Venice but they were booked. After looking at their menu I was not disappointed to miss out, as they serve the likes of rabbit and all sorts of fancy dead stuff. We stayed at an apartment rental when we were in Venice, which was cheaper and also meant I could cook some of my own stuff. In the Rialto neighborhood there are well stocked natural food stores where I got some soy products etc. to cook up at our little palazzo.

Of course, it was easy to order basic Italian vegan food almost everywhere: pasta pomodoro, pizza marinara, salads, antipasti, and wine. However, veal is almost always present on the menus, so as I ate my salad I did sometimes think I should really be out there protesting.

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Galette des Rois fever has hit Paris, as it does this time each year. But of course these egg and butter based traditional pastries are not the kind of thing my family eats. Thankfully, the wonderful cooks over at VG-Zone have a great vegan recipe which I made with my kids tonight for them to take in to school and eat. As you can see, ours didn’t turn out quite as magnificent looking as theirs but not bad for a first try. And they are delicious!

galette de la princesse

Tomorrow my little ones will be making ‘real’ Galette des Rois at school with their classmates. I am biting my tongue and letting them join in the fun but I will now have to introduce them to the joys of salmonella prevention!

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My Vegan Christmas in Paris

I always like to find out what other vegans make for their holiday meals so I can get inspiration. Donc, here’s what we had this joyous Noël:


  • Polenta crusted tempeh
  • Orange-ginger sauce
  • Olive-oil roasted potatoes
  • Emily’s Mâche Salad
  • Sauteed leeks with lemon 
  • Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic & Rosemary
  • Mushy Peas courtesy of my English mother-in-law
  • Fruit salad with lots of pomegranate
  • Crudités with creamy, nutty dips

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Egg Nog sounds totally gross in English, but it is even worse in French “Lait de poule” [Chicken Milk.] But Père Noël has to have a drink to go with his cookies, so this is what we whip up chez moi.

So go and get your “noggin” ready [old English word for small cup] and create a batch of this creamy holiday beverage.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts
  • 2 tbls cashew butter 
  • 2 pitted dates
  • 1 tbls agave
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavor or fresh vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 frozen banana
Place all ingredients in a blender and process at high power until nice and smooth. Pour into glasses and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg or cocoa powder.

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Noël en Bio

The Noël en Bio Christmas organic food expo is right around the corner (Fri, Sat and Sun, Dec 12,13,14) at Espace d’Animation Blancs Manteaux in the 4ème. It’s open to everyone and entry is free so you can pop in when you like. 

This event has a lot to offer for holiday-loving vegans, for example: stands selling seaweed, flower elixirs, spices, cosmetics, goji berries, real fresh vanilla beans, maca, aryurvedic tea, chutneys and much more to behold.

The highlight for me last year was discovering Les Produits de la Vie. It’s a fabulous all-vegan, all-organic stand from a German mail-order company that has divine cookies, breads and sunflower-seed-based creamy spreads, and who are lovely people who understand the power of free samples. Basically, I cannot wait to get there on Friday and stock up on holiday treats.

Noël en Bio

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Spirulina is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. You can find this blue-green algae at natural food stores or from the Totum stand at the Raspail market. I like to add a little in wherever I can: sprinkle it on popcorn or salads, add it to smoothies and it always goes great with chocolate. These little balls provide you with a complete balanced protein, antioxidants, immune-support, medium-chain triglycerides (yummy), magnesium, potassium, calcium… you get the idea.


  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews or macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup agave or honey
  • 1 tsp or more spirulina
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Grind together nuts and coconut in a food processor. Mix in almond butter, agave and spirulina. Form into small 1/2 inch balls. Roll in cocoa powder.

Refrigerate to keep firm and fresh. Enjoy these treats with no guilt!

Holiday Balls

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