A plant-based grocery guide for Karma Co-op Food Store

While we carry animal products, Karma Co-op has lots of options if you’re a Toronto-based vegan, vegetarian or someone looking to reduce meat and dairy in favour of a more plant-based diet.

Want to know what it’s like to shop vegan at Karma? We’ve put together the below grocery guide.

Essentials for a vegan or plant-based grocery list

Karma carries all the basics for a plant-based and vegan shopping list:

  • Seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables with an emphasis on local producers and organic options
  • Many whole grains, beans, nuts and nut butters
  • Plant-based proteins like tofu and tempeh
  • Plant-based milks
  • Flavourful vegan ingredients like nutritional yeast and miso paste
  • Clearly labelled plant-based or vegan versions of common grocery store products like hot sauce, ketchup, cookies, dips and ice cream
  • Not just food – Karma carries vegan options for personal cosmetics and toiletries

Vegan and plant-based bulk grocery shopping

Bulk buying can make vegan shopping affordable and budget-friendly. Karma carries hundreds of bulk products and many are vegan/plant-based.

Shoppers are welcome to bring their own containers for all of our bulk items!

In the dry goods section you’ll find:

  • Vegan baking ingredients such as grains, flours/flour alternatives, rice, beans, dairy-free chocolate, sugars/sugar alternatives, dozens of whole and ground spices, and nutritional yeast
  • Nuts, nut butters, lentils, dried fruits, trail mix, granola, coffee beans, teas, dried fruits and vegan potato chips
  • Bulk cooking oils

Karma also carries refrigerated and frozen bulk goods:

  • Bulk maple syrup
  • Organic miso paste in bulk
  • Bulk tofu
  • Frozen fruit in bulk

Prepared and packaged meat-free and dairy-free foods

You can find plant-based and vegan-friendly products that are clearly labelled on Karma’s shelves, including:

  • Vegan marshmallows, cookies, crackers, chocolate bars, sauces and other packaged goods
  • Frozen prepared food, meals and dairy-free ice cream
  • Ready-to-eat prepared plant-based food from local producers – from samosas to sandwich wraps
  • Vegan vitamins and supplements

Vegan meat and dairy alternatives

Besides carrying tofu in bulk, Karma also carries a variety of organic, flavoured, and alternatives to soy-based tofu, as well as:

  • Tempeh, sandwich “meat”, and veggie burger/patties/sausages
  • Non-dairy cheese, yogurt, sour cream and ice cream
  • Oat, almond, soy, and cashew milks

Chocolate Bark, 3 Ways

Recipe and photo courtesy of Kyla Winchester.

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, December is a busy time of year. There are parties to attend, relatives and friends to visit, gifts to buy, and food to make. Fortunately, homemade chocolate bark can help with several of these things, in a fairly low-stress and delicious way.

People appreciate homemade treats, and I like to make them. However, accommodating different dietary restrictions can make this more complicated, and, frankly, individually baking dozens of tiny complicated cookies is a skill I have yet to master. 

Chocolate bark is, as treats go, easy to adapt to different diets, simple to make and goes over extremely well! If you are trying to reduce your waste this season, chocolate bark will help: it looks lovely in a label-free jam jar with a little note attached. In half an hour plus chilling time you can put the bark in a jar or box and have something lovely to bring to a potluck, share as a hostess gift, or offer in a gift exchange. It also looks fancy without being over-the-top in terms of indulgence.

Accordingly, here’s chocolate bark, with some variations to see you through this busy time of year.

Chocolate Bark, 3 Ways

This can be vegan if you use vegan chocolate (depending on the brand, chocolate chips can be vegan) and dairy-free margarine; and can be gluten-free depending on ingredients.

Depending on what you mix with the chocolate, here are 3 options:

  • Peppermint Bark has crushed candy canes. Add a couple full-size canes to a sandwich bag, seal and wrap in a kitchen towel, and crush with a rolling pin.
  • Holiday bark has dried cranberries and almonds.
  • Coconutty bark has coconut and your favourite nuts.

However, this are just a starting point! Use your favourite flavours: cranberries would also go nicely with white chocolate and grated orange peel. Flavour extracts can boost the chocolate without requiring too much work. Some people like raisins with the nuts. Dried cherries or more exotic fruits, like mango and papaya, are lovely, too. Some people like a sprinkle of salt on top; I’m one of those people. Puffed rice and puffed quinoa make a wonderful addition to texture. Even crushed cookie bits! You could also go old-school Mexican-style and add chili flakes.

 

Yield: Makes 1 baking tray, which is suitable for one gift or as a treat for 4 to 6 people

Difficulty level: Easy

Time: 1 ½ hours including chilling time

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups chocolate chips or coarsely chopped baking chocolate

Optional: 1 tablespoon coconut oil or margarine helps keep the chocolate shiny, preventing a cloudy appearance, without affecting the flavor.

½ cup of additions like crushed candy canes, mix of dried cranberries and sliced, slivered or coarsely chopped almonds, divided

Method:

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Melt chocolate in the double boiler or microwave. If microwaving, heat for 1 minute, stir, then heat for 30 seconds at a time, alternately mixing, until completely melted. In a double boiler, keep the heat low and stir. When chocolate is melted, add additions but reserve about a quarter. Stir to combine. Spread on a baking sheet until it’s more or less an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining additions on top.

Refrigerate until chocolate hardens, about an hour. Break apart and put in a covered container. If all the additions are dried food, the bark can be stored on the counter. Otherwise, if using fresh food, like orange peel, for example, store in the fridge.

Comfort me with noodles

As soon as I started to think about comfort food, the phrase “comfort me with apples” popped into my head.

Photo by Kyla Winchester

I remembered it as the title of a book of food writing by a former Toronto Star columnist. However, it turns out it’s also the title of a food critic’s memoir and a quote from the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon: “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.” The exact translation varies—sometimes it’s “refresh me with apples”, sometimes it’s “strengthen,” or “apricots.” Once it’s even, “Support me with citrons,” which I find especially interesting because I learned a citron is actually one of the citrus fruits that the other types were derived from—but also because I find citrus far more refreshing than apples.

All this to say: I don’t find apples especially comforting. 

There are a few things we probably universally associate with comfort: something warm or hot, full of carbs, with nostalgic or sentimental feelings. It’s what we want when we’re sick, or tired, or homesick, or just having a bad day. It’s the thing we want to magically appear before us when it’s January and snowy and we have to get groceries but we’d rather not. It’s the thing we want when nothing else will do. 

And yet, I find my comfort foods are changing. When I was a kid, my dad’s chicken noodle soup and my mom’s homemade muffins, fresh from the oven, were the perfect comfort foods. As an adult with the flavours of the world at my door, I now crave things I didn’t even know existed when I went to high school in small-town Ontario: sushi, pho and ramen, dumplings, panini, tamales, and anything with peanut sauce. 

My go-to for peanut sauce is thick rice noodles with baby bok choy and grilled tofu, but it’s a delight on many things: dumplings, summer rolls, even a fusion burrito… and if you dipped raw veggies in it, I’m sure no one would object. If you’re being responsible, add the sauce to your favourite noodles with a veg and a protein and you can have a healthy, filling meal. If you’re not, just pour the sauce on cooked noodles and delight in the saucey goodness.

I make no claims as to the authenticity of this peanut sauce: the original recipe may have been, but since I started making it from the recipe in my head with the ingredients I usually have on hand, it may have strayed. Fortunately, the recipe is flexible: use whatever soy sauce you have around, you can skip the ginger if necessary, make it thinner or thicker as you see fit. The beauty of comfort food is that it only needs to make you happy. 

Peanut sauce

Attributes: Vegan, can be gluten-free with tamari instead of soy sauce (check the label to confirm)
Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty level: Easy

½ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or substitute with 1 tablespoon lime juice)
Grated or chopped garlic to taste (start with a half a large clove or 1 small clove, then add more as desired)
Approx. a 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or chopped
Chili flakes or chili sauce to taste
Cold water to thin sauce, if needed

Add all ingredients except water to a bowl and whisk to combine. Add water to achieve desired consistency. It will thicken in the fridge, so if you’re saving it for later, check consistency before adding to noodles, etc. 

Submitted by Kyla Winchester

Bulk dental floss at Karma

Unlike rows of new bulk bins, or the recently installed kombucha bar, there are many other new arrivals at Karma that can easily escape our notice. One such product is silk dental floss. A brief mention of it in the Karma e-Chronicle a few months back caught my attention. Shortly thereafter, I bought a Flosspot and a tiny box containing two refills of woven silk threads. I’ve been hooked ever since.

For those of us wanting to reduce single-use plastics, count silk dental floss as one small but important step. Flosspot is a refillable mini-mason jar with a metal lid and a 40-meter-long spool of silk threads inside.  But unlike plastic dental floss, you add it to the compost instead of your garbage bin after each use.

Flosspot’s silk dental floss is lightly coated with candelila wax, which comes from a shrub.  Using a plant-based wax enabled this product to earn USDA certification as a bio-based product. While there are other brands of silk dental floss, many use wax derived from fossil fuels. And KMH Touches, the company that makes Flosspot is Canadian.

I have noticed that silk dental floss is not quite as tough as plastic, so in order not to waste it, I try to use it a bit more gently than the plastic floss I have used in the past.

While in Karma the other day, I noticed a new product on the same shelf. Flosspot Gold is a dental floss whose threads are made from corn. Like all products made of silk, silk worms die in the process of making silk thread. So KMH Touches now has a vegan-friendly alternative. I look forward to trying it in the coming months.

submitted by Tim Grant

A soul-warming parsnip-carrot-potato soup and an intention for 2019

Raise your hand if you’re craving warm, hearty, nourishing meals during this time of year. Though it’s been a mild winter so far, it’s nice to have a few easy meal options to whip up on those days when the bitter cold, howling wind, and limited daylight hours encourage taking refuge in the kitchen. 

The calm rhythm of scrubbing, dicing, and mixing 

The spicy aroma of ingredients mulling together on the stove

Getting lost in one’s thoughts while stirring soup

Ladling it into a favourite ceramic bowl before adding a handful of herbs 

The joy of sharing a favourite meal that is equal parts delicious, nourishing, and beautiful 

One of my intentions for the new year is to spend more time preparing food with others. Last fall I started a monthly Sunday night soup club. The idea is that a group of about a dozen friends gathers at a rotating host’s home the last Sunday of each month. The host cooks a large pot of soup, featuring a seasonal ingredient or two, and guests bring something complementary to share, like a hearty loaf of bread, seedy crackers, fruit, or a bottle of wine. We enjoy a slow meal, generative conservation, and good music, and warm our hearts and bellies for the week to come. 

Soup Club has been successful so far, thanks in large part to having access to a bounty of seasonal produce at Karma from which to find inspiration.

Every time I enter Karma during the winter, I head to the produce section to see what beautiful root veg is on offer. I love to use what catches my eye to create simple soups and stews to cook, share, and enjoy during the week (if there are leftovers).

From baskets overflowing with vibrant orange, green, and yellow squash, to jewel-like beets, earthy and grounding, to bright, crunchy multi-coloured carrots, we are lucky to have choices, even in the coldest times of the year.

One root vegetable whose call is sometimes drowned out by more extroverted veggies is the humble parsnip. I like parsnips—their mild but slightly spicy flavour lends itself well to gentle roasting, or a light sauté, perhaps sweetened with a miso-maple syrup glaze. But I often forget about them, drawn to flashier colours and bigger flavours.

After many glances at those parsnips in the corner, I decided it was time to integrate them into a well-loved soup recipe in my household: a zesty root vegetable soup made richer with a bit of peanut butter and coconut milk and enlivened by a generous sprinkle of cilantro and green onions. Bonus: its flavours intensify over time, making this an excellent soup to cook on a Sunday for plenty of weekday leftovers.

Soup Club is a reminder that cooking isn’t just about the end result. It’s also about the process: the slowing down, appreciating the resources and labour that produces ingredients, the conversations that make habitual acts meaningful. 

I hope you’ll give this soup a try! 

The recipe is inspired by the Minimalist Baker’s Creamy Thai Carrot Soup with Basil. https://minimalistbaker.com/creamy-thai-carrot-soup-with-basil/

Serves 8 medium bowls

What you’ll need:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2-inch knob fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 2 pounds carrots (scrubbed, peeled, and diced)
  • 1 pound parsnips (scrubbed, peeled, and diced)
  • 1 pound yellow potatoes (scrubbed, peeled, and diced)
  • Pinches Herbamare and pepper, your favourite soup spices (e.g. chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika)
  • 6–8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy or smooth (get it from Karma’s bulk section!)
  • 1 cup coconut milk 

Optional toppings:

  • Fresh cilantro 
  • Chopped green onions
  • More coconut milk, to drizzle
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce (Karma has many options, including Simply Natural sriracha)

How to make it:

1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.

2. Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil and let melt, then add curry paste.

3. Finely chop onion, garlic, and ginger. Add to pot, stirring and enjoying the lovely aroma.

4. Add diced carrots, parsnips, and potato, and cook for 5 minutes.

5. Season with a Herbamare and pepper, and any other spices you like. I find a bit of cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika are nice.

6. Add the stock and stir gently, making sure the vegetables and spices are integrated.

7. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. 

8. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Then turn off the heat and move your pot to a pot-holder.

9. Now the fun part! Grab your immersion blender, and blend the soup until smooth (on low speed). 

10. Whisk the peanut butter and coconut milk in a bowl, then add to the soup pot and blend to combine (on low speed).

11. Return the pot to the stove, over low heat. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. 

12. Prepare your toppings (cilantro, green onion, lime wedges, extra coconut milk, hot sauce) in small bowls.

13. Serve immediately! 

Submitted by Sarah Bradley

Nutritional yeast

What bulk item at Karma do you think triggers the most questions of James Byrne, Karma’s bulk, meat, and cheese purchaser? I’ll give you a hint: Read the title of this article. Members are more curious about those bright yellow nutritional yeast flakes than any of the other bins and tubs of bulk products.

First of all, what is nutritional yeast? It is a single-celled microorganism called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which grows on and feeds from cane or beet molasses. The molasses provides a source of nutrient-rich food, filling the microbes with 18 amino acids and a selection of vitamins and minerals.

What are the health benefits of nutritional yeast?

It is a source of essential nutrients, soluble fibre (beta glucan), and minerals, as well as a more readily available supply of protein than meat. Nutritional yeast is popular with vegetarians and vegans as it provides vitamin B12, which otherwise is found only in animal products. One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains 100% or more of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12.

The Engevita brand that Karma carries contains 71% protein by weight, which is impressive for plant food, and is an excellent boost for the brain, body, and muscles. It is low in sodium and calories, is non-GMO, and is free of added MSG and flavouring. This table details the nutritional values.

How is Engevita produced?

Engevita is derived from baker’s yeast, which is a waste product in the beer-making process. This variety is grown specifically on beet molasses. After harvesting, the microbes are heated to 100 °C, rendering them inactive. They are then dried and rolled with a drum into flakes.

Where does Karma obtain its supply?

Karma buys Engevita flakes from Grain Process Enterprises Ltd. in Scarborough. Engevita was developed by the food scientists at Royal DSM Food Specialties in The Netherlands in 2002. In 2006, the privately-owned Québec company Lallemand Inc. purchased the yeast rights and moved production to Estonia, where it is produced today.

To keep members satisfied, James orders a 10 kg bag of flakes every couple of months. That’s a lot of yeast considering 1 cup of the flakes weighs 60 g. Compare that with water, which weighs 236 g per cup.

How does one use nutritional yeast?

Those who are familiar with it know it for its strong flavour. It is often described as cheesy or nutty, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used as a substitute for parmesan cheese in recipes. You can sprinkle it or stir it into dishes to add a hint of cheesiness. Nutritional yeast can also be used to thicken sauces and soups.

If using nutritional yeast is uncharted territory for you, maybe now you feel motivated to incorporate it into your cuisine for its nutrition-packed splendour. The Internet is the place to find recipes using nutritional yeast. Here’s one to get you started.

 

Dharma’s Kale Salad

Makes 1 to 2 servings

Author: Kimberly Snyder

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 bunch black kale
Pinch of salt
1 small avocado
Juice of a lemon
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
Cayenne pepper, to taste
2 handful sprouts, any kind
1 tomato, cubed
1–2 tbsp dulse flakes (seaweed flakes)
Handful of dill, parsley, or cilantro, or combination

Instructions

1. Tear the kale leaves off the stem and place into a mixing bowl.

2. Add salt and tear into bite-sized pieces.

3. In a separate bowl, scrape out the avocado flesh and add lemon juice. Lightly mash and mix with a fork.

4. Add the avocado mixture to the kale and massage it into the kale with your fingers.

5. Stir in the nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, sprouts, tomato, dulse flakes, and herbs, and add a little more sea salt, if desired.

From https://kimberlysnyder.com/blog/2012/01/23/dharmas-kale-salad-recipe/

submitted by Barbara Walters

Photograph by Ela Lichtblau

Raw Chia Morning Cereal

Raw cereal is a good way to start the day: not heavy like toast or greasy like croissants; not too sweet like doughnuts or muffins. Chia seeds can be a delicious and nutritious component of raw cereal.

When I was growing up, chia seeds were known only for growing fuzzy green “hair” on clay heads as decoration. Today we know that this tiny seed in the mint family is great for stabilizing blood sugar, consuming omega-3, and lowering cholesterol. Two tablespoons of chia seed have 7 grams of fibre, 4 grams of protein, 205 milligrams of calcium, and 5 grams of omega-3. Plus, 3.5 tablespoons of chia seed provide as much omega-3 as 32 ounces of salmon!

Karma has the best price on organic chia seeds in the city. We sell them in the bulk section for about $26 per kilogram. As a cereal, chia is similar to flax.

When you add liquid, the seed expands and becomes thick and soft. You can add virtually anything to chia to make a hearty, healthy morning cereal. This recipe is only a guideline. You can omit or add different seeds, nuts, or fruits.

1 1/3 cup (250 g) organic chia seeds
2/3 cup (80 g) nuts (your choice)
1/2 cup (70 g) dried fruit (like figs and apple)
1/3 cup (40 g) raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (30 g) raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 – 1/2 cup (25 – 50 g) flax seeds
1 – 2 tbsp. (10 – 20 g) raw sesame seeds
2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 – 2 tbsp. (20 – 30 g) maple flakes or maple sugar (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl and pour the mix into an airtight container. I like to use the Sopa or Sunflower Kitchen soup jars I’ve previously bought at Karma. Keeps for months. To make the cereal, it all depends on how much you like to eat. A little goes a long way. Try 3 tablespoons of chia cereal with 1/3 cup almond, rice, or soy milk.

Submitted by Siue Moffat

First published in The Chronicle (Fall 2013)

Maple Miso Adzuki Beans

I rarely know what to do with adzuki beans. They’re one of the easier beans to digest, but they’re not the prettiest, say, blended into a hummus. This, however, is a quick and tasty way to add some protein to a plate of colourful veggies (prepared however you fancy).

a splash of olive oil
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 c. cooked adzuki beans (or one can from Eden Foods, drained and rinsed)
a splash of maple syrup
a splash of tamari soy sauce
1 rounded tsp. unpasteurized miso paste (I use a mellow one) mixed into a splash of water

Heat the oil in a small-medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Mix in the beans, syrup and tamari, and cook until the beans are heated through. Turn off the heat and stir in the miso mixture. Serve hot.Makes 2 servings. (It’s gluten free and nightshade-free)

Submitted by Jae Steele
First published in The Chronicle (Winter 2010)

jae steele is a local holistic nutritionist and author of two vegan cookbooks: Get It Ripe and Ripe from Around Here. She has also been a working member of Karma since 2003. More information at HyggeMama.

Roasted vegetable medley

I love beets, squash, and sweet potatoes partly because of their colour, but also because at Karma I get to meet the farmers who grow them. This roasted vegetable dish is easy to make, and actually doesn’t need proper measuring—well, unless you’re the measuring type. Beets make your bowels happy as they are fibre-rich, and are also full of vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.

6 sweet potatoes
1 bunch chives or green onions, chopped
1 c. maple syrup
5 beets, pre-steamed
1 butternut squash
5 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
3 red onions
3/4 c. olive oil
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 red peppers
2 green peppers
1 tbsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. salt
1 handful tarragon
1 handful parsley

Preheat oven to 375° F. Peel and boil the sweet potatoes until soft. Mash and mix them with the maple syrup, chives, and 1 tbsp. each of salt and pepper. Spread them evenly in the bottom of a roasting pan. Scrub and chop up the beets and steam until about halfway cooked. Peel and slice the butternut squash into thin pieces. Chop the garlic and red onions. In a bowl, toss the beets, squash, garlic and onions with the olive oil, the rest of the salt, and the garlic powder. Throw the whole lot on top of the sweet potatoes and roast for 40 minutes. When you take out the pan, the veggies should be browning on top and the squash should be fully cooked. Throw in the peppers, tarragon, and parsley. Roast on broil for about 10 minutes or until the peppers are slightly brown. Enjoy!

Submitted by Sophie Muller
First published in The Chronicle (Jan/Feb 2010)

Ask Reece: Hosting a dinner party & Keeping herbs fresh

Dear Reece,

I am planning to host a dinner party, but even with a short list of friends, I will be accommodating one vegetarian, one vegan, at least one person who has celiac disease (plus some who are wheat/gluten-sensitive), and various allergies. How can I even begin to prepare a menu? I’d like to make an elegant but simple meal without a million different options and without spending an inordinate amount of time or money, or having to learn a lot of new cooking methods.

Sincerely,

Up to Here With Different Diets

 

Dear Up,

This is not an uncommon issue. Many people have health, ethical, and medical reasons for restricting the foods they eat. When you add friends who may switch from Paleo to Sirtfood one week to the next, it can get complicated.

According to my guru, the sassy and long-suffering etiquette expert Miss Manners, it’s the responsibility of the host to inquire about dietary restrictions and provide something for everyone, but it is not impolite to serve dishes that some guests can’t eat.

I have a few guidelines that work for me:

  • Inquire about food restrictions and keep a list. For larger groups, simply offer some gluten-free and vegan dishes. Consider leaving common serious allergens — peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and seafood — off the menu.
  • Choose how much or how little you are willing and able to provide accommodation. Then communicate with guests so they know what to expect. That plant-based dish you were so excited to find among your family recipes may be less enjoyable to the vegan friend who ate in advance. Alternatively, learning that a severe allergen is on the menu may alert an acquaintance that they won’t safely be able to partake in dessert due to potential cross-contamination.
  • Mentally group overlapping food restrictions. Vegan food works for vegetarians and people with milk/lactose intolerances, gluten-free foods are safe for those with wheat allergies, etc. This means fewer diet options to keep track of.
  • Make food you know. If you cook in a certain style, make a number of dishes that fit that style (i.e., one with meat, one gluten-free, two vegetarian, etc.) rather than try to make different versions of the same dish tailored to each individual diet. This will ensure reliably delicious food, and provide variety to many guests.

Remember that entertaining is not the ideal time to experiment. Almost all cuisines and cooking styles include some dishes that work for all diets, or can easily be modified to do so. Take a look at what you currently like to make, and you might be surprised. Even meat-heavy cuisines often have some hearty plant-based side dishes that can serve as mains. Very few styles of cooking rely so heavily on a single ingredient that it’s hard to find dishes without gluten or the allergens listed above. Seasonal fruit-based desserts are simple, satisfying, and fit into most diets. Examples include winter pears or apples in mulled juice or wine, or summer berries with cream (on the side).

Keep detailed recipe notes or ingredient lists of everything you make or buy so you can answer guests’ questions. For larger groups labelling dishes can assist guests.

Additionally, certain types of spread provide some flexibility in what guests choose to eat.

  • Tapas spread: A spread of many simple tapas, or canapés, with other small dishes in whatever style you choose.
  • DIY-style meals: Many styles of foods let guests choose which ingredients they want to use. Examples include shish kabob, barbecue, hot pots, rice bowls (a dressing, base of rice or noodles, and an assortment of veggies and proteins to add on top), gourmet grilled cheese and grilled veggies (borrow a couple extra sandwich presses), DIY salad rolls, and many more. Avoid cross-contamination by providing separate serving tools for different diets.

Relax, enjoy yourself, and remember that dinner parties are really about the company (and sometimes the wine).

Sincerely,

Reece

Martin J, Martin N, and Martin J. (2017, January 29). No Host Can Hope to Please Guests With Multiple Food Restrictions. Retrieved from http://www.uexpress.com/miss-manners/2017/1/29/2/no-host-can-hope-to-please


Dear Reece,

What’s the best way to keep my herbs fresh?

Sincerely,

Wilt Ed

 

Dear Wilt,

Great question. Fresh herbs can really help provide some flavour variety in simple meals, and having a few on hand is key. As a bonus, herbs such as sage, rosemary, and thyme may play a role in helping to prevent a variety of chronic illnesses, even when eaten in small quantities.

If you don’t have easy access to an herb garden, keeping store-bought herbs as fresh as possible in the fridge is the next best thing. I’ve found that herbs last longest if I cut off the bottoms of the stems, stick them in a glass of cold water (like a bouquet of flowers), and loosely cover with a plastic bag before refrigerating.

Hope that helps,

Reece

Opara EI and Chohan M. Culinary Herbs and Spices: Their Bioactive Properties, the Contribution of Polyphenols and the Challenges in Deducing Their True Health Benefits. International Journal Of Molecular Sciences. 2014;15(10):19183–19201.


Ask Reece is the Chronicle’s new advice column by Karma working member Reece Steinberg, a health sciences librarian and food enthusiast. Reece provides advice with input from a variety of sources including anything from traditional etiquette columns to peer-reviewed scientific articles. He answers Karma member questions about dietary lifestyles, food science and fermentation, eating etiquette, and anything else food-related. Please submit your questions to questions to Reece by email to chronicle@karmacoop.org with the subject line “Ask Reece.”