Sunday, October 30, 2011

Boston Vegetarian Food Festival 2011

Awesome SWAG, right? That bag is my FAVORITE! 
James and I had a great time at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival yesterday. It was my third time and I'm glad we went with a strategy this year! The free annual festival sponsored by the Boston Vegetarian Society is awesome but can get very crowded, so I bought the preview hour tickets for $5 each so we could beat the crowds and not spend the entire day fighting for samples of mock meat (as a rule, I avoid mock meat, but it's fun to try every once in a while). We got to the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center at 10:00 and quickly started making our rounds through the exhibits before heading upstairs to hear a talk and watch a cooking demo. The festival is all weekend, so if you didn't make it yesterday, you have until 4:00 today to go check it out! 
We started off by sampling some sunflower butter at the Whole Foods table. I actually just bought a jar of the same stuff at Shaw's this week. I love sunflower seeds in my oatmeal, so figured I'd give Sunbutter a try. Is it me, or are sunflower seeds becoming the next big thing? I even talked to the guy who made the new Sunflower Seed Milk that just hit the shelves at my local Whole Foods. I bought a box as soon as I saw it last week but haven't opened it yet, so I sampled some at the festival and it was SO good! The girl next to me said it was the best nondairy milk she had ever tasted and I concur!
We discovered Authentically You! Powersnacks handmade by Lara Amaral and tried just about every delicious variety before deciding to buy one Triple Berry Walnut and one Ayurvedic.
Lara makes Authentically You! Powersnacks! by hand
Lara was so warm and friendly and told us about how close she came to death in early 2010. When she was released from the hospital, she decided not to go back to corporate America and instead decided to sell her delicious snacks.
Then we headed upstairs for a nutrition talk, but we were too late to snag a seat. The house was packed, so we hovered by the door long enough to catch a few a few of Dr Greger's pearls of wisdom, mostly about the toxicity of all animal products, even eggs and fish, which I like to occasionally enjoy. I'd love to hear more about what he has to say and will try to peruse his website, soon.
Packed house for Michael Greger, MD
I knew I wanted to see Chef AJ's cooking demo. After Tal Ronnen's demo last year, I knew the cooking demos were not to be missed. I'm so glad I went to this one. In addition to learning a ton, Chef AJ was over-the-top entertaining!
Front Row Seats to Chef AJ's Cooking Demo
She made a Black Bean soup and a Kale salad. Both were super easy to make and tasted delicious. She has a YouTube Channel full of entertaining video recipes!
Before and After the Demo, AJ Serenaded Us!
Chef AJ preached a lot about eliminating the Evil Trinity (salt, oil, and sugar aka SOS) during her demo. I fully agreed with her preaching so I didn't mind it. She talked a lot about The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health, which has been on my to-read list for a long time and The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, which I listened to on audible and highly recommend!
She danced around like a crazy person.
After the demo, during her second song and dance routine, she LICKED James' forehead! I'm not even joking. She sat on a few laps and then came up to us and LICKED James' on his forehead.
She preached about eating whole foods while cooking
She didn't saute the veggies in the soup in oil. Instead, she just added them whole to a pot of boiling water. Red onions, sweet potatoes, rainbow chard, and bok choy were thrown in the pot whole (or halved) and boiled. Then she added a few cans of black beans and some chipotle powder and her secret ingredient, sun dried tomato powder. No salt, no oil. Whole foods only. Immersion blended at the end. Absolutely delicious.
I bought a copy of Chef AJ's Unprocessed after her awesome cooking demo. She signed it!
After the demo, I met Chef AJ outside the demo room. I bought a copy of her book, Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and your Ideal Weight, which she signed. I'm so excited to cut out more SOS  using some of her recipes!

Other highlights from the festival include:
  • Trying a bite of Cafe Indigo's Carrot Cake
Really Yummy Carrot Cake
I can't wait to wear this!
  • Finally trying a slice of Peace o' Pie Gourmet Vegan Pizza
  • Finding out how to tare my own containers at Harvest Co-Op when I shop from their bulk bins 
  • Talking to vegetarian publishers, like the folks at the Vegetarian Resource Group
The brains behind the Vegetarian Resource Group
  • Not learning about sprouting. This was the low-light of the festival. I remembered the sprouting people being there last year and was excited to learn about sprouting. I really want to start, but the guy who was there this year just wanted to sell his $100 self-watering sprouting contraption and he wasn't conversational or helpful at all. I was so eager to learn, but he just handed me a laminated card about his sprouting machine to read and barely answered any of my questions. Do you sprout? If you have any tips on sprouting, please drop me a line!

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