Sails & Spices http://www.sailsandspices.com Whole foods. Travel adventures. Sat, 20 Jan 2018 19:52:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 https://i0.wp.com/www.sailsandspices.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-Favicon-Trial-512px.png?fit=32%2C32 Sails & Spices http://www.sailsandspices.com 32 32 Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge http://www.sailsandspices.com/lynn-canyon-suspension-bridge/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/lynn-canyon-suspension-bridge/#respond Thu, 28 Dec 2017 19:16:21 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=3045 A quick search for Vancouver sight-seeing, day trips, or Vancouver suspension bridges inevitably yields Capilano Suspension Bridge as one of the city’s must-see.  It’s certainly impressive, but our vote for the best suspension bridge in Metro Vancouver is in Lynn Canyon, easily accessible by transit or car in the District of North Vancouver.  Since there...

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Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

A quick search for Vancouver sight-seeing, day trips, or Vancouver suspension bridges inevitably yields Capilano Suspension Bridge as one of the city’s must-see.  It’s certainly impressive, but our vote for the best suspension bridge in Metro Vancouver is in Lynn Canyon, easily accessible by transit or car in the District of North Vancouver.  Since there is no entry fee to Lynn Canyon Park, save yourself the whopping $42.95 (2017) charge to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge and get high above the tree tops with your need-to-know guide to the Lynn Canyon Park & Suspension Bridge.

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Twin Falls at Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver

Overview

Lynn Canyon Park, home of the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, first opened in 1912 and boasts over 600 acres of forest trails, swimming holes, and gorgeous natural landscape waiting to be explored.  With a forest of west coast evergreen trees averaging 80-100 years old a mere 25 minutes from the city, a day trip to Lynn Canyon Park is city escapism at its finest.

Numerous trails connect the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge with 30 Foot Pool, Twin Falls Bridge, and the Ecology Centre.  See them all within an hour’s walk.  For those looking to head out a little further afield, the 48km Baden Powell Trail flanks the east side of the park and provides a challenging yet simple to navigate out-and-back hike of any duration you choose.

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Lynn Canyon Park Trail Map

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Walk Up from Twin Falls Bridge

Getting There

15km by road from downtown Vancouver, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is accessible by car via the Lions Gate Bridge or the Second Narrows Bridge to Vancouver’s North Shore. There is free parking on site, though on busy days you may need to park outside the main park’s entrance and walk in.

For those without a vehicle, catch the SeaBus across beautiful Vancouver Harbour to Lonsdale Quay, and hop on the #229 or #228 bus to Lynn Valley Centre – a 15 minute walk from the Lynn Canyon Park’s main entrance.  If you would rather save your steps, the #227 bus will connect you from Lynn Valley Centre to the Lynn Canyon Park’s main entrance so your walking shoes are ready to go inside the park.

Vancouver SeaBus | Sails & Spices

Vancouver SeaBus from Downtown to North Vancouver

Hours

The park is open summers from 7:00am to 9:00pm PST, spring and autumn from 7:00am to 7:00pm PST, and in the winter from 7:00am to 6:00pm.

As with any forested outdoor activity, be sure to keep your visit well within dawn-to-dusk hours.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

The park’s main attraction, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, remains a locals’ true hidden gem.  It’s narrow, springs a little with each step, and gives breathtaking views of the waterfalls and forests below.  You will be 50m (164ft), or about 16 stories, above the raging river so take your camera and get ready to capture some incredible shots!

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Lynn Canyon Park North Vancouver

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension BridgeIf the suspension bridge is your only priority in Lynn Canyon Park, it is easily accessible off the paved parking area for those visitors who are less mobile.

What to Bring

The trails at Lynn Canyon Park are a combination of wood plank boardwalk and dirt trail.  Wear your day hikers as Vancouver is notoriously rain-city, so the trails may be wet.  We believe there are no bad days, only bad gear, so with a decent rain coat and shoes you’ll be set no matter what the day’s weather brings.

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

There are numerous swimming holes in Lynn Canyon, though we’re talking mountain-top runoff and very fresh water… so it tends to be chilly!  Even so, on a summer’s day a crystal-clear fresh water swim just can’t be beat so pack a towel, picnic, drinking water and snacks and you’ll have everything you need to enjoy a full day in west coast paradise.

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Any of the accessible swimming locations are a minimum 15-20 minute walk from the carpark / suspension bridge.  Mind the signs pointing out the swimming locations and do not jump a fence.  It’s incredibly steep in some locations with unforeseen drop offs.  Stay safe, and enjoy the park!

Learn

The Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre offers young visitors of any age the opportunity to learn about the variety of plants and animals they may see in the park.  There are numerous galleries to explore and with only a $2 suggested donation for entry, is easy on the pocket book.

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Après

No doubt you’ll be ready for a bite after your visit to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, so we’ve compiled a few of our favourite North Shore vegan and vegetarian friendly hotspots for a great post-hike meal on your way back to the city.

  • Tao Organics Café.  Raw/Vegan.  210-150 Esplanade West, North Vancouver
  • Burgoo.  Soups/Stews/Comfort Foods.  3 Lonsdale Ave, North Vancouver
  • The Workshop.  Vegetarian Japanese. 296 Pemberton Ave, North Vancouver
  • Bluehose Market & Cafe.  Organic/Local. 4342 Gallant Ave, North Vancouver

Did we miss your go-to veggie friendly restaurant?  Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Lynn Canyon Vancouver Suspension Bridge

Baden Powell Trail Marker

We hope you enjoy your day at the beautiful Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge as much as we do!  It’s a locals’ hidden gem, and unlike the Capilano Suspension Bridge, visiting is completely free.  So grab your shoes and camera and head out for a gorgeous west coast adventure just half an hour from the city lights.  Bon voyage!

 

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Grandma’s Doukhobor Borscht http://www.sailsandspices.com/vegan-doukhobor-borscht/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/vegan-doukhobor-borscht/#respond Sun, 24 Dec 2017 18:04:11 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=2996 Oh borscht! We used to wonder, how could such a humble soup require so many steps to prepare, and dirty so many pots and pans in the process?! The recipe we inherited, though delicious, used to confound us with the disjointed process and the seemingly endless need to chop and cook each ingredient in a...

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Doukhobor Borsch Soup

Oh borscht! We used to wonder, how could such a humble soup require so many steps to prepare, and dirty so many pots and pans in the process?! The recipe we inherited, though delicious, used to confound us with the disjointed process and the seemingly endless need to chop and cook each ingredient in a precisely unique fashion.

Doukhobor Borsch SoupDoukhobor Borsch SoupIt turns out, of course, Grandma never used a recipe herself.  She would whip up a batch of borscht in what seemed like mere minutes, by memory, steaming and bowled for any guest who came through to visit.  Here, we’ve streamlined the process as much as possible without diverging from intent of the dish.

Doukhobor Borsch Soup

For us, borscht has always felt like a family meal well served… so gather yours around, and enjoy!

Serve with a crusty bread for lunch, or Ukrainian Potato Pierogi for dinner.

Traditional Doukhobor Borscht
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 12 Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 Small-Med Onion, diced & divided into ¼ and ¾ cups
  • 1L (4 cups) Organic Tinned Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 Tbsp Olive Oil or Butter, divided
  • 1 Green Pepper, diced & divided into three ¼ cups
  • 1 Carrot, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 3L (6 cups) Water
  • 1.5 Tbsp Sea Salt
  • 4 Med Potatoes, halved
  • 1 Med Potato (1 cup), diced
  • 5 Cups Shredded Cabbage, divided into 2 cups & 3 cups
  • 1 Cup Cream or Coconut Cream, divided
  • 1 Small Bunch Green Onions, diced & divided into ¼ and ½ cup
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Dill, divided
  • 1 Tbsp Cracked Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Dice and divide the onion into both a ¼ and ¾ cup portion.
  2. In the smaller of your two large pots (see notes below), bring to a simmer 1L (4 cups) of tinned diced tomatoes, ¼ cup diced onion, and 2 tbsp olive oil. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, dice and divide the green pepper and carrot.
  4. Grate the second carrot.
  5. In the large stock or canning pot, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté until translucent (not brown) ¾ cup of diced onion, ¼ cup of diced green pepper, and the grated carrot. Remove, and set aside in a glass bowl.
  6. Into the large stock or canning pot, add 3L (6 cups) water, salt, the diced carrots, the halved potatoes, beet, celery, and half of the simmered tomatoes.
  7. Bring to a covered rolling boil until the halved potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  8. Meanwhile, set aside the second half of the tomatoes in the glass bowl (with the cooked grated carrots) and rinse out the pot.
  9. In the newly rinsed pot, sauté 2 cups of the shredded cabbage with 2 tbsp olive oil until soft and translucent.
  10. Once the halved potatoes are cooked through (approx 20-25 mins) remove from the stock pot and mash them with ½ cup cream or coconut cream, ¼ cup green pepper, ¼ cup green onion and 1 tbsp of fresh dill.
  11. Add to the stock pot the diced potato, remaining 3 cups of shredded cabbage, and ½ cup cream or coconut cream. Bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes.
  12. Add the potato mash into the stock pot, stir. Bring back to a boil.
  13. Add the remainder of the simmered tomatoes, sautéed carrots and onion, and sautéed cabbage.
  14. To finish, add ½ cup green onion, remaining diced green pepper, 1 tbsp fresh dill.
  15. Remove from heat and let rest 10-15 minutes.
  16. Cracked sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  17. Serve with cayenne at the table.
Notes
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
-Shredder or Grater
-5-6 small bowls for mis-en-place
-4 cup capacity measuring cup
-Large Stock or Canning Pot (12L capacity+) with lid
-Large Pot (8L capacity or so)
-Potato Masher
-Glass Bowl (6 cup capacity)
-2 Cutting Boards

 

Doukhobor Borsch Soup

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Step Into the Past at Chichen Itza, Mexico’s Largest Mayan Ruins http://www.sailsandspices.com/cancun-day-trip-chichen-itza-mayan-ruins/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/cancun-day-trip-chichen-itza-mayan-ruins/#respond Sun, 17 Dec 2017 19:19:26 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=2907 No matter how beautiful our vacation destination is, we always follow a ‘Leave the Resort!’ philosophy to seek out the rich culture and stories a country has to share, whether it be through their culinary, architectural, or natural wonders.  Below is a little guide detailing all you need to know to leave your resort and take...

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Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins MexicoNo matter how beautiful our vacation destination is, we always follow a Leave the Resort!’ philosophy to seek out the rich culture and stories a country has to share, whether it be through their culinary, architectural, or natural wonders.  Below is a little guide detailing all you need to know to leave your resort and take the best day trip to Chichen Itza from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, or Tulum.

If you have a little extra time, be sure to drive along country roads through the small villages along the way, stopping and visit the crafts and farmer’s markets. There are gems just waiting to be discovered that can change your perspective of a destination and how you see the world.

Chichen Itza is an expansive collection of Mayan ruins in the Yucatán, Mexico, dating back to 600 A.D. We spent the day exploring this ancient Mayan society.  We could spend hours just walking around the base of the impressive the step pyramid, El Castillo, and appreciating the detailed stone carvings at the Great temple of Warriors. With this much history, having a guide or guidebook can really help you understand the symbolism and significance behind the architecture.

Visiting Chichen Itza is an easy day trip from Cancun and the surrounding areas, but to help make the most of your visit we’ve outlined our top tips to know before you go.

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Mexico

Temple of the Warriors

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Mexico

El Castillo

Getting There

  • Set the alarm and head out early! The Chichen Itza ruins open at 8am ~ and is located in the central standard time zone, which is conveniently 1 hour behind Cancun time only half of the year, so double check your time zones.  It’s recommended to be a few minutes early if you really want to beat the crowds. If traveling in a group, once you arrive have one person park while the another gets in line at the ticket booth.
  • To give you an idea of the crowds, every year over 1.4 million people visit the Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins; a UNSECO World Heritage site and a New Seven Wonder of the World.
  • If you’re driving from Cancun, it’s a two and a half hour (200km / 125mi) drive on the toll highway. From Playa Del Carmen, Chichen Itza is a comparable (180km / 111mi). There are two tolls for a standard car in each direction $67pesos and $267pesos ($632pesos return trip ~ 2017).  Fill up with gas before you go and be sure stay within the speed limits.
    • Sails & Spices Note: There is plenty of highway patrol, so the route is quite safe.  Even so, at dawn and dusk some industrious folks have been known to fake a vehicle breakdown or flat tire to lure in a tourist or two and relieve them of a few dollars.  Don’t bother to stop, local authorities can assist any drivers that have broken down.
  • If an early morning wake up call while on vacation isn’t your idea of a good time you can also spend the night near the ruins, like in the bungalows at The Lodge, and take a leisurely 10 minute walk over in the morning.

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Mexico

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Mexico

El Castillo Serpent

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Mexico

El Castillo

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Mexico

Mesoamerican ballgame

What to Bring to Chichen Itza

  • Your camera! The ruins make for stunning photos, particularly at sunrise.  Many of Mexico’s top attractions do not allow tripods, monopods, or any “filming” without a government permit.  As long as your camera is handheld, you’ll be fine. 
  • Chichen Itza is a sprawling site with limited shade.  On a sunny day remember to bring lots of water, your hat, and sunscreen!  There aren’t any hills to climb, but as the site is large it’s best to wear some good walking shoes.
  • There is so much history behind the ruins that having a guidebook or hiring a guide will help paint a vivid picture of the ancient city.  Guides may be hired at the front entrance though prices will vary.
  • On site vendors sell all manners of high quality artisan souvenirs including masks, pottery and jewelry so bring cash if you want bring some handmade crafts back with you.  An ATM is located just outside the main gate.

Chichen-Itza-Mayan-Ruins-Mexico-4-2.jpg

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Mexico

Nearby Attractions

After a day of walking in the hot sun, stop for a refreshing swim at one of the nearby cenotes on the way back to your hotel.  Two recommendations are Cenote Il Kil or Cenote Samula, and both are on the google map below.


Chicen Itza Mayan Ruins Mexico

Continue Exploring Mexico’s Tastes and Sites

Explore more of Mexico’s great culture!  Catch a sunrise at the incredible sea-side ruins of Tulum, explore local Mexican cuisine at the Ritz-Carlton Culinary Center, or reminisce on a trip for your taste buds with one of our favorite Mexican recipes:

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The Vegetarian Guide to Lagos http://www.sailsandspices.com/the-vegetarian-guide-to-lagos/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/the-vegetarian-guide-to-lagos/#comments Mon, 05 Jun 2017 23:04:31 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=2770 Lagos Portugal is a European traveler’s ultimate beach paradise.  When I first arrived into Lagos as a backpacker in my early twenties I was taken aback by its beauty.  Set against a dramatic backstop of sandstone cliffs, mystical grottos, white sand beaches and turquoise waters, this laid-back fishing town is the perfect place to relax outside...

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Lagos Portugal is a European traveler’s ultimate beach paradise.  When I first arrived into Lagos as a backpacker in my early twenties I was taken aback by its beauty.  Set against a dramatic backstop of sandstone cliffs, mystical grottos, white sand beaches and turquoise waters, this laid-back fishing town is the perfect place to relax outside of the typical European hustle and bustle.  When I returned nearly ten years later, I could confidently conclude that Lagos is a true gem. 

Lagos Portugal Lagos Portugal

While Lagos has long been both a backpacker’s beach-party stop and a favourite family-friendly hidden gem for sun seeking UK holiday makers, it remains a relative European beach side secret for those in the know.  Though most who happen upon the gorgeous Portuguese Algarve focus their time in either Faro or Albufeira, you will be well rewarded to head a little further west to enjoy the stunning beaches, friendly locals, and reasonable prices offered in sunny Lagos.

The cobbled and walled city centre is car-free and rife with small shops and cafes.  With not a single chain restaurant in the pedestrian town centre, Lagos treats you to the locals’ hospitality all the way.  Town squares with late night summer dances, sunny sangria patios, and phenomenal beaches are all yours to explore.  Here is your vegetarian guide to Lagos…

Lagos Portugal Lagos Portugal

 GETTING THERE

Easily accessed by either a rental car or charter coach from Lisbon or Faro, our favourite way to arrive in Lagos is by train from Lisbon, via Tunes. The 4.5 hr trip winds through the lush Portuguese hillsides along routes inaccessible by road.

 VEGETARIAN FOOD & DRINKS

Walk the cobbled streets of Lagos at dusk and you may start to question if you’ll ever find something to eat besides Peri Peri chicken or fish of the day. Yes, you may need to expand your horizons past ‘traditional’ Portuguese food to find something vegan or vegetarian in this town, but there are still plenty of delicious places to eat, drink, and soak up the magic of Lagos. Here are some of our favorite vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants, bars, and cafes in town.

Don’t forget to check out the map at the end of the post to help plan your trip and find out what’s located near your hotel. 

  • Nah Nah Bah | Come for the decadent “World’s-Best” Nah Nah Bah Burgers, stay for the great reggae vibes. Ask to swap any of the burgers with a house-made vegan patty. A chill-out atmosphere with strong cocktails & great company. The place to watch the Portuguese national football matches. (pictured below)
  • Mama’s Table | You’ll need to be enjoying the world famous atmosphere of the Rising Cock Hostel or its Guest House to get a seat at Mama’s Table for breakfast, but for those do you’ll be treated to handmade crepes and Tika Tika Tea, made with love by Mama herself.  Luckily for those who aren’t, we’ve got the recipes straight from Mama… though I doubt you have a lemon tree in your backyard!
  • Beats & Burritos | Mexican food made with fresh ingredients. Easy to customize vegetarian or vegan with a build-your-own menu.
  • The Green Room | Casual Mexican joint with fun indoor/outdoor atmosphere. Good cocktails & hot sauces. No credit cards.
  • Maharaja Tasty Indian | Very tasty Indian food with great outdoor seating along the cobblestoned streets. (pictured below)
  • Restaurant Kohinoor | Another delicious Indian restaurant! Always a great vegetarian option.
  • Croissanteria 29 | A must stop for a quick breakfast or lunch, this tiny cafe serves unforgettable croissant sandwiches straight out of the oven.
  • Mimar Snack & Wine Bar | This casual hang-out serves homemade meals, pastries, wines & tapas.
  • Meu Limao | A good place for happy hour drinks and sangrias, with a solid selection of vegan and vegetarian tapas. Sidewalk seating next to the St. Anthony Church makes for great people watching. (pictured below)
  • Bora Cafe | Try this tiny indoor/outdoor cafe for healthy breakfasts, lunches and juices. Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options available.
  • Cafe do Mar | Although not the best option for vegetarian food, this place simply can’t be beat for it’s fantastic oceanside view while enjoying a cocktail. Stop in for a cold drink on the way up from Praia Dos Estudantes.

Meu Limao

Maharaja Tasty Indian

Nah Nah Bah

BEST BEACHES IN LAGOS

This is the reason you came to Lagos! These beaches are some of the most stunning in the world. Start near town at Praia dos Estudantes, and from there walk along the cliffs hitting one beach after another and taking in the beautiful views. The natural beauty of the Algarve Coast is one of a kind.

  • Praia dos Estudantes | One of the best beaches, this small sandy beach is located right near town. It’s quick and easy to get to, but not too overcrowded. When you need to cool down, stop at nearby Cafe do Mar for a drink with a gorgeous view.
  • Praia do Pinhão | A dramatic beach set against towering cliffs. Very photogenic spot. You can swim and walk through the caves from Praia dos Estudantes.
  • Praia Dona Ana | Voted “best beach in the world” by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine. As you can imagine, Dona Ana gets very busy on the weekend.
  • Praia de Camilo | A small and beautiful beach that gets busy in the afternoon, this was one of our favorites. During low tide you can explore the nearby caves and formations. Be prepared to climb a lot of steps, but it’s worth it!
  • Praia de Pinheiros | A little harder to get to, this small, secluded beach is sheltered from the wind and has calm open waters.
  • Ponta da Piedade | This is a popular place south of Lagos for people to gather on the cliff and watch the sunsets. It’s about a half an hour walk from Lagos or you can take a boat trip and get up close to the cliffs formations. Look for the tunnel to joining beaches.

Praia dos Estudantes

View of Praia do Pinhão

EXCURSIONS

One of the best ways to see the Algarve Coast is by boat. You could rent a ski boat, go kayaking, or even take sailing lessons for the day. Here are our top picks for boat activities in Lagos.

  • Algarve Boat Rentals | Rent a ski boat or charter a sail boat. Go in the morning when there are less people and be sure to bring your boating license.
  • rusailing | Get out on the ocean by take sailing lessons for the day.
  • Days of Adventure | Take a boat trip to see dolphins in the wild or a kayak tour of the grottos. #1 on Trip Advisor.
  • Algarve Freedom Kayaks | Go on a kayak tour to see the caves and visit a secluded beach where you can swim and snorkel.

THE MAP

Click on the arrow on the top left corner to hide/unhide the list of locations on the map.

We hope you get a chance to visit this gem on the coast of Portugal for a truly relaxing holiday!

PORTUGAL CITY GUIDES

If you are planning a trip around Portugal, check out the rest of Sails & Spices Portugal City Guides:

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Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos with Pickled Cabbage & Queso Fresco http://www.sailsandspices.com/butternut-squash-tacos/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/butternut-squash-tacos/#comments Mon, 10 Apr 2017 17:36:47 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=2676   These butternut squash tacos are inspired by a little Mexican bar in Perth we used to frequent. In Australia, there is just about always a vegetarian option on the menu with pumpkin or squash in it! From salads to pizzas, burgers to tacos… roasted squash make everything more delicious. These homemade beauties are Taco-Tuesday certified, filled...

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Butternut Squash TacosThese butternut squash tacos are inspired by a little Mexican bar in Perth we used to frequent. In Australia, there is just about always a vegetarian option on the menu with pumpkin or squash in it! From salads to pizzas, burgers to tacos… roasted squash make everything more delicious. These homemade beauties are Taco-Tuesday certified, filled with sweet spiced roasted butternut squash, crunchy pickled cabbage, creamy Queso Fresco cheese & a little kick of lime. These are some of our very favorites!

Butternut Squash Tacos

Speaking of fresh, once you have tasted homemade corn tortillas you will never want to go back. They are so flavorful and easy to make. With only two ingredients, they contain no preservatives or any of the unnecessary fillers the store-bought versions contain… and as an added bonus are naturally gluten-free. The best way to make these homemade tortillas is with a cast iron tortilla press. While you could get one as souvenir on your next trip to Mexico from the local mercado, they are also available on amazon or at some specialty cooking stores.

Mexican Tortilla Press

Butternut Squash & Red Cabbage Tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
In these tacos Australia's love for pumpkin & squash meets the delicious taste of fresh Mexican corn tortillas. This combination is has everything you need for a delicious and healthy taco night.
Author:
Recipe type: Light Meal
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 16 tacos (serves 4)
Ingredients
Roasted Butternut Squash
  • 1 medium butternut squash, diced (3 cups or 450 g)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • ¼ tsp each red chili powder and paprika
Pickled Red Cabbage
  • ¼ small head red cabbage, shredded (2 cups or 200 grams)
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
Homemade Tortillas
  • 2 cups (224g) masa harina flour
  • 1⅓ cup (315 ml) warm water
  • 1 tortilla press
  • (Or substitute 16 fresh corn tortillas)
Yogurt Sauce
  • ¼ cup (245 g) yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tbsp lime
  • 1 tbsp water (as needed)
  • (Or substitute guacamole)
Queso Fresco
  • 8-10 oz package of Queso Fresco (could substitute dry ricotta)
Instructions
Roasted Butternut Squash
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 380 F | 190 C
  2. Peel and deseed the squash. Chop into ¾ inch (2 cm) pieces.
  3. Place on a baking tray, and drizzle with olive oil, chili and paprika. Mix together until evenly coated.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring the squash every 15 minutes.
Pickled Red Cabbage
  1. Shred the cabbage into fine strips and place in a jar with one smashed garlic clove.
  2. Combine the apple cider vinegar, water, salt and sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Pour the liquid over the cabbage, and press down with a wooden spoon or muddler. At this stage the liquid will not completely cover the cabbage. Set aside for 30+ minutes, pushing the cabbage down into the brine with a muddler, from time to time.
Homemade tortillas
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina flour and warm water. Knead for 1-2 minutes until the dough is soft but not sticky.
  2. Divide the dough into 16 balls, each roughly the size of a ping pong ball. Cover with a damp cloth and rest 30 minutes.
  3. Heat up a skillet or large pan on medium heat.
  4. To press the tortilla place a ball of dough in the tortilla press between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic. You can cut a ziplock bag open or use a clean plastic shopping bag.
  5. Press down once, open the press, and turn the tortilla 180 degrees. Press down again to make the tortilla an even thickness.
  6. Cook the tortillas on each side for approximately 1 minute or until golden brown.
  7. Keep fresh tortillas wrapped in a dishtowel, or in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Yogurt Sauce
  1. Mix together yogurt, lime, and enough water to create a good drizzle consistency.
To Serve
  1. Layer each tortilla with some butternut squash, pickled cabbage, crumbled queso fresco, and drizzle with yogurt lime sauce.
  2. Enjoy with a cold Modelo Especial or a top-shelf margarita!

Health conscious? Of course!  Red cabbage is high in antioxidants & butternut squash is a great source of Vitamin A, so rest easy and plan your next fiesta around these flavorful and healthy vegetarian tacos.

Try pairing them with a Spicy Vegan Ceviche for a great Mexican meal to share with friends and family.

Let us know what you think in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

Butternut Squash Tacos

 

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Asparagus & Lemon Risotto with Toasted Crumbs http://www.sailsandspices.com/asparagus-lemon-risotto/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/asparagus-lemon-risotto/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 00:19:15 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=2611 One of our favorite risottos of all time is on the menu at Blue Waters Cafe, an elegant beach-side bistro right across from Cottesloe beach in Perth, a white & turquoise gem on the west coast of Australia. The risotto features perfectly cooked fresh seasonal vegetables on a bed of lemony, creamy arborio. Every time we order this lemon risotto it’s a treat,...

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Asparagus Risotto

One of our favorite risottos of all time is on the menu at Blue Waters Cafe, an elegant beach-side bistro right across from Cottesloe beach in Perth, a white & turquoise gem on the west coast of Australia. The risotto features perfectly cooked fresh seasonal vegetables on a bed of lemony, creamy arborio. Every time we order this lemon risotto it’s a treat, best enjoyed alongside a glass crisp Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc from nearby Margaret River.

Sometimes when you’re going out for dinner at a high-end restaurant, at first glance there may not appear to be that many vegan or vegetarian selections available. Luckily, we have found that quality chefs are happy to cater for vegans and vegetarians if you ask… and this risotto is a wonderful example of one such dish we found by using our Top-10 Tips for Vegetarians.

Asparagus Risotto

Here’s a tip, to store your asparagus, stand them upright in a tall jar with a little water at the bottom, cover with a plastic bag, and keep them in the in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. 

For this recipe of asparagus and lemon risotto we blend the creamy arborio rice with a whole grain like farro or spelt berries to give a varied texture, flavor, and added nutritional boost. Fresh asparagus are featured as the perfect accent to the lemony backdrop, alongside spring leeks and baby spinach. Toasted crumbs are a risotto revelation and should always be used to add a perfect light crunch.

Whole Grain Spelt Berries vs White Arborio Rice
Asparagus Risotto

Healthy comfort food at it’s finest, this is asparagus and lemon risotto is one of our favorite meals for date night… We know you’ll love it.

Asparagus & Lemon Risotto with Toasted Crumbs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Featuring fresh spring asparagus, this bright lemon risotto is made with arborio rice and farro (or spelt berries) for a delicious texture and flavor. A spicy toasted crumb topping completes the dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian / Australian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Lemon Asparagus Risotto
  • ¾ cup Farro or Spelt Berries
  • 6-8 cups low sodium vegetable stock*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks (or ½ onion, chopped finely)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped.**
  • 2 large lemon peels (4" long each)
  • ¾ cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bunch asparagus (450g or 1 lb) trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • ¼ cup sharp cheddar or vegetarian parmesan (omit to make it vegan)
  • 1 cup baby spinach or baby kale, roughly chopped
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
Toasted Crumbs
  • 2 slices of whole-grain bread
  • ¼ c walnuts (or almonds, hazelnuts)
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Instructions
Lemon Asparagus Risotto
  1. Boil the farro or spelt berries in water or stock for 20-25 minutes until al dente, drain and set aside.
  2. Begin the Toasted Crumbs (see below).
  3. Warm the vegetable stock in a small pot.
  4. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, and wash them under running water while fanning the leaves out to clean thoroughly. Slice the white portion into 1 cm pieces. (You can freeze leek greens with other vegetables to make a homemade stock).
  5. Heat up a large pot or casserole dish on medium and add a little splash of olive oil.
  6. Sauté the leeks (or onion) for 5 minutes until they start to look translucent.
  7. Add the chopped garlic along with the lemon peels and arborio rice.
  8. Stir frequently for several minutes until the rice starts to toast and become slightly translucent.
  9. Add in the white wine, stir for a couple of minutes, and add the drained farro or spelt berries.
  10. Add in a ladle-full of the warm stock. Stir the risotto with a wooden spoon until the stock is absorbed. Keep the risotto at a medium-light simmer, and continue adding in stock and stirring often for 35-40 minutes. This is a great time to enjoy some wine and company while taking turns to stir!
  11. Meanwhile, lightly pan fry the asparagus and add a splash of water to the pan to give them a quick steam and a bright green color. (you can also roast the asparagus in the oven, but check often so they do not get overcooked)
  12. Taste the grains when they start to look soft and creamy, and control the amount of stock you add near the end of the cooking time to get your preferred consistency. Grains should be soft with a little bite.
  13. Remove the 2 lemon peels. If you can't find some of the pieces this is fine they will just add to the overall flavor.
  14. Stir in the chopped baby spinach or kale leaves, and cover to let them wilt.
  15. Stir in the asparagus, lemon zest, lemon juice and some (optional) shaved parmesan or sharp cheddar cheese.
  16. Serve into bowls.
  17. Sprinkle with toasted crumbs and serve immediately with a crisp white wine.
Toasted Crumbs
  1. Bake the bread slices at 275 F/140 C for 20-30 minutes, turning half way through until very dried out and crumbly. Day old crusty bread works best for this, but you can also make it from frozen bread.
  2. If you are using a food processor - Chop the bread into cubes and pulse into large crumbs. Add the walnuts, chili flakes and salt. Briefly pulse again to chop the nuts.
  3. If you are using a knife - Chop the bread into large crumbs and roughly chop the walnuts.
  4. Mix in the salt and chili flakes.
  5. Sauté the crumbs in a pan with a little olive oil until toasted and sizzling.
  6. Set aside (if you can)... They are delicious sprinkled on just about everything!
Notes
*The stock you choose adds a lot of flavor to the risotto so make sure you are using a great organic stock! The best are homemade, but our favorite store-bought version is the Better Than Bouillon organic vegetable stock.
**Chop your garlic at the beginning of your meal prep to trigger an enzyme reaction that maximizes garlic's powerful health benefits.

Asparagus Risotto

Let us know if you make this! We’d love to hear your comments.

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A Romantic Weekend in Porto, Portugal http://www.sailsandspices.com/porto-portugal/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/porto-portugal/#comments Fri, 10 Mar 2017 18:37:14 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=2333 Porto is one of our favorite old cities, bursting with color and history. Hand painted blue & white azulejo tiles adorn the walls on everything from churches to the train station. Porto’s steep hills and bridges give beautiful sweeping views of orange terracotta roofs. Overall the city is picture perfect. In this travel guide we share all our favorite sights in the city to help plan your perfect...

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Porto is one of our favorite old cities, bursting with color and history. Hand painted blue & white azulejo tiles adorn the walls on everything from churches to the train station. Porto’s steep hills and bridges give beautiful sweeping views of orange terracotta roofs. Overall the city is picture perfect.

In this travel guide we share all our favorite sights in the city to help plan your perfect weekend away.  Check out the interactive map at the end of this post with all our recommendations!

Porto Portugal

There is so much to see and do in Porto. As a suggested itinerary, start by sightseeing the many landmarks in the city. In the afternoon, enjoy the views and walk over the Dom Luis I Bridge to Gaia. The gondolas, Teleferico de Gaia, are definitely worth the ride down, even if you are a little scared of heights.

On this side of the river you can arrange tours to visit the cellars, or Port Lodges, where Port is aged. In our opinion, the best way to enjoy the evening is with some glasses of Port wine and cheese pairings along the waterfront. Muito Romantico!

Our Favorite Sights in Porto

Church of Santo Ildefonso | One of the most beautiful blue-tiled churches in Porto.

Church of Saint Ildefonso Porto Church of Saint Ildefonso Porto

Lello Bookstore | Rumored to be a source of inspiration for Harry Potter, this bookstore is so famous you’ll need a ticket to get in.

Porto Lello Bookstore

Sao Bento Railway Station | This train station is worth a visit just to see the stories and history depicted on all the hand painted tiles.

São Bento railway station São Bento railway station

Liberdade Square | Porto’s central square surrounded by beautiful buildings and close to many other sights in the city.

Liberdade Square Porto

Capela de Santa Catarina | Another beautiful church featuring stunning tile work.

Porto Portugal

Torre dos Clérigos | Climb the steps for an unmatched 360 degree view of Porto from inside the tower.

Clerigos Tower

Ribeira District | A riverside neighborhood across from Gaia with cobbled streets and colorful houses.

Porto Portugal

The Porto Cathedral | Fantastic views of the city from the cathedral walls.

The Porto CathedralThe Porto Cathedral

Best Port Cellars to Visit

Once the Port wine is harvested and bottled in the Douro Valley, it’s brought to Porto to be aged in the cellars. Traditionally, the Port wine barrels were carried down the Douro River in Rabelo boats.

The Port Lodges are located in Vila Novo de Gaia. There are many to choose from, some offer a great cellar tour, while others feature the best riverfront patio for Port wine tasting and watching the world go by.

Porto PortugalPorto Portugal Porto Portugal

  • Sandeman | Cellar tours & a beautiful riverside patio with delicious Port cocktails and cheese pairings.
  • Grahams 1890 Lodge | An impressive, historic lodge with cellar tours & a tasting room. By reservation only.
  • Churchill | A short and informative cellar tour & a garden patio overlooking the river.
  • Ramos Pinto | Popular tour with tasting included, indoor seating only.

Porto Portugal

Since we were there to celebrate my birthday, we decided to sit on the sunny patio and order the 30 year old reserve Port and a cheese plate to share. Porto is a great place to visit for any special occasion!
Porto Portugal

Sails & Spices’ Favorite Places

Porto is one of Portugal’s most popular cities and it’s easy to see why. During our visit the city’s charm won us over and left us wanting more time to enjoy this beautiful place. We will be back! Is Porto on your wish list of cities to visit?

Portugal City Guides

We highly recommend visiting the Douro Valley from Porto, it makes a great day trip or you can even go for a few nights. In this post A Wine Lover’s Dream in the Douro Valley we share tips & photos of one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world!

If you are planning a trip around Portugal, check out the rest of Sails & Spices Portugal City Guides:

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Broiled Grapefruit with Rosemary & Salt http://www.sailsandspices.com/broiled-grapefruit/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/broiled-grapefruit/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:06:13 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=2502 When it’s been a long winter, you can really start to miss the variety of fruit that summer brings. Eating in season usually means citrus fruit, pomegranates, apples, and pears are all on heavy rotation this time of year.  With this recipe for broiled grapefruit with rosemary and salt, you can rely on citrus fruit to shine...

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When it’s been a long winter, you can really start to miss the variety of fruit that summer brings. Eating in season usually means citrus fruit, pomegranates, apples, and pears are all on heavy rotation this time of year.  With this recipe for broiled grapefruit with rosemary and salt, you can rely on citrus fruit to shine in a whole new light. Just a little time under the grill can bring out the best in lemons or grapefruit imparting a new delicious flavor to your dishes. 

Baked Grapefruit with Rosemary & Salt

The sweet and savory of the grapefruit and salt reminds us of a grapefruit margarita served in a glass with a salted rim. Just as delicious is the smell of rosemary that transports you to the south of France when you open the oven door.

Baked Grapefruit with Rosemary & Salt

Broiled Grapefruit with Rosemary
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Everything you love about a salty grapefruit margarita combined with the delicious fragrance of rosemary. This broiled grapefruit is quick and makes a delightful savory & sweet breakfast. Serve along side some toast and peanut butter or yogurt and granola for a complete meal.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 grapefruit, sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp raw cane sugar or coconut sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt or rock salt
  • ½ tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 4 small rosemary branches as garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the sugar, salt, and chopped rosemary in a small bowl.
  2. Remove a thin slice from the bottom of each grapefruit, to help make them more stable and place on a baking tray.
  3. With a sharp pairing knife or small serrated knife, cut a circle between the grapefruit and the skin. Cut another smaller circle around the white pith in the center. Remove any seeds. Create spoon size pieces by cutting towards the center of the fruit, detaching each segment.
  4. Evenly sprinkle the sugar mixture over each half of grapefruit.
  5. Broil the grapefruit for 3-5 minutes, until the tops start to go golden.
  6. Leave to cool for a minute before serving warm.
Notes
If you are feeling adventurous try adding chili pepper flakes for a spicy kick!

Grapefruit

Chef’s Tip: trying grilling your lemons or limes before making a marinade or dressing. This will bring a grilled smokey flavor to your sauce!

What are you favorite ways to eat citrus fruit like grapefruit? We’d love to hear your comments!

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Exploring Tulum’s Ancient Mayan Ruins by the Sea http://www.sailsandspices.com/tulum-mayan-ruins/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/tulum-mayan-ruins/#respond Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:50:56 +0000 http://www.sailsandspices.com/?p=2425 Tulum is a small beach town in the Mayan Riviera along Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. Tulum’s main attraction is the beautiful ancient Mayan ruins that are set high up on the cliff, towering against a backdrop of turquoise Caribbean Sea and palm leaves. These are the only Mayan ruins in Mexico that boast a spectacular ocean...

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Mexico Tulum Mayan Ruins
Tulum is a small beach town in the Mayan Riviera along Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. Tulum’s main attraction is the beautiful ancient Mayan ruins that are set high up on the cliff, towering against a backdrop of turquoise Caribbean Sea and palm leaves.

These are the only Mayan ruins in Mexico that boast a spectacular ocean view and considering they are so well preserved the Tulum ruins are an absolute must-visit on your trip to eastern Mexico.

Mexico Tulum Mayan RuinsMexico Tulum Mayan RuinsMexico Tulum Mayan Ruins

Tulum’s Mayan Ruins – Hours & Costs

For the best experience, and to beat both the heat and the crowds, plan on going early in the morning when the Tulum ruins first open. Not only will there be less people throughout the ruins but as the site is east-facing you can catch a beautiful sunrise.  For photography buffs, make note that the site is very strict about collecting the tripod/monopod fee and will not allow them in without the supplementary ticket.

  • 6:30am to 8:00am Early Access – $220 pesos
  • 8:00am to 5:00pm Regular Hours – $64 pesos
  • 4:30pm to 6:30pm Late Access – $220 pesos
  • Tripod or Video Camera permit – $30 pesos
  • Parking – $120 pesos average.
  • Guide – $600 pesos average.

Hours and prices listed may change. These were accurate as of January 2017.

Mexico Tulum Mayan Ruins

Mexico Tulum Mayan Ruins

How to Get There

To get to the ruins you can drive, take a bus, join a tour, or even stay the night in Tulum. Driving was our preference, and GPS directions made it very easy to get to the entrance of the Tulum Ruins and find a parking space.

  • Driving from Cancun – 1 hour & 40 min drive
  • Driving from Playa Del Carmen – 50 min

When you arrive there are several parking areas (some are out front of industrious businesses that cordon them off and collect a small fee), along with lots of souvenir stores and a few restaurants. Through the gate it is a 1-mile / 1.6km walk along a jungle-lined street to get to the entrance and ticket booth for the Tulum Mayan Ruins. There an option to ride a small train from the parking area to the gate if you don’t feel like walking, but its hours of operation vary and it likely won’t be running in time for an early-bird arrival.

To capture Tulum’s picture-perfect postcard shot for yourself, the 3 best photo opportunities are along the cliff path, overlooking the water around the Castillo watchtower. Head there first if you are trying to catch the view without the crowds!

See the map at the end of the post to find the best Tulum photo locations & more recommendations for your visit.

Don’t Forget

  • Wear your bathing suit so you can go for a swim at the beautiful beach
  • Bring lots of water & sunscreen or a hat to prevent dehydration in the hot sun.
  • There are limited/no food facilities on site.  If you intend to stay a while, pack-in and pack-out your snacks.

Mexico Tulum Mayan Ruins

Mexico Tulum Mayan Ruins

Tulum Vegetarian & Vegan Friendly Food

Once you have finished exploring Tulum’s Mayan ruins, it’s time for lunch!  Here are some Tulum vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants near the ruins for you to enjoy.

Co.Conamor Restaurante 

  • Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-10pm.
  • Healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes & fresh juices in a casual atmosphere.

Canopia

  • Open Thursday to Tuesday, 8am-3pm & 5pm-11pm.
  • Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. Organic brunch menu, fresh juices and Thai dinners.

Papaya Pizza & Co

  • Open Monday to Saturday, 12pm-12am
  • Vegan and Vegetarian Pizzas

Charly’s Vegan Tacos

  • Open Tuesday – Sunday, 1pm-10pm.
  • Vegan, organic tacos with outdoor seating under the palm trees.

Mexico Tulum Mayan Ruins Mexico Tulum Mayan Ruins

Nearby Swimming Cenotes

Famous for a reason, there are some great cenotes located around Tulum. If you are in the area, make a visit to these unique underground fresh-water pools! There is usually a small access fee to get in, masks and fins available to rent, and a locker to place your things.

Some of the most popular cenotes near Tulum are:

  • El Gran Cenote | One of the most popular cenotes with very clear water.
  • Doz Ojos Cenote | Two cenotes linked together by underground caverns, popular with divers
  • The Cenote Azul & Cenote Cristalino | Above-water cenotes, located close together, with clear waters great for swimming.

Mexico Tulum Mayan Ruins

Tulum’s beautiful views and incredible Mayan ruins are a must-visit day trip for anyone visiting Cancun or Playa Del Carmen.  Did you just visit and have a great tip to share?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Top 10 Tips for Vegetarians http://www.sailsandspices.com/top-10-tips-for-vegetarians/ http://www.sailsandspices.com/top-10-tips-for-vegetarians/#respond Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:57:35 +0000 http://sailsandspices.com/?p=1894 Sitting down for dinner with colleagues who haven’t been briefed on my plant-based preferences usually begins a little something like this… “Wow, you’re a vegetarian? I could never give up meat! ­Yeah… I could never be a vegetarian… I love bacon. Don’t you like bacon??? What about chicken, will you eat chicken? Fish? No? But...

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Sitting down for dinner with colleagues who haven’t been briefed on my plant-based preferences usually begins a little something like this…

“Wow, you’re a vegetarian? I could never give up meat! ­Yeah… I could never be a vegetarian… I love bacon. Don’t you like bacon??? What about chicken, will you eat chicken? Fish? No? But fish isn’t meat! So you… really?! Not at all? Wow! Good for you. I could never… Where do you get your protein? You aren’t vegan are you?…”

Eventually, we all settle on the common ground found in a glass of wine and a few shared tales of our life’s adventures. It’s all part of the fun.

My ten-year anniversary as an omni veggieavore recently came and passed. It gave me pause to reflect on what advice I wished I had received as I started my journey of plant-based eating.

Here’s what I wish I knew then, in no particular order:

top ten tips for vegetarians

Top 10 Tips after 10 Years as a Vegetarian

1.  The question is inevitable… relish it! 

Despite that he may have just asked, Fred the construction worker really isn’t interested in hearing all of the reasons why you don’t eat steak, moments before he eats one himself. Even so, a couple Why? ’s, Wow! ’s, and Really?! ’s are headed your direction anyway. Consider this your moment to respond in brief with poise, grace, and comedy. This is not the moment for evangelism.

2.  Vegetarianism is not a diet by omission. 

Being a vegetarian or vegan is about infinitely more than what you do not eat. Early on, I focused on what ingredients I needed to avoid or remove. If you’re used to grilled chicken with rice and a veggie, simply cutting out the chicken isn’t going to get you very far. Ditto for your plate of steak, starch, and veg. Great plant-based meals are constructed for their own merit, not deconstructed from a meaty meal in haste.

Vegan Spicy Buffalo Tempeh Caesar SaladVegan Buffalo Caesar Salad | sailsandspices.comGeorgia Peach Spelt Berry Risotto
Peach & Spelt Berry Risotto with Pecan Chilli Crumb | Sails & Spices

3.  Where DO you get your protein? 

Black beans, lentils, peas, kale, tempeh, broccoli, quinoa, peanuts, mushrooms, avocados, edamame, artichokes, cashews, spinach, tofu, brown rice, collard greens, chickpeas, squash, spelt, chia seeds, adzuki beans, almond butter, asparagus, millet, corn, pumpkin seeds, cauliflower, peanut butter, wild rice, cannellini beans, hazelnuts, flax seeds, steel-cut oatmeal, potatoes, hemp seeds, pinto beans, rye berries, pine nuts, and whole wheat anything… to name a few.

vegetarian tips

4.  It’s a big wide world out there! 

While data varies by the definitions used, a 2016 collection[i] estimating the vegetarian population by country puts the number at nearly half a billion people (~470 million) worldwide. Around 8.2 million, or less than 2%, resides in North America! What’s the takeaway? Open up your culinary borders to experience the best in what plant-based eating has to offer. Your new favorite recipe may not be from your backyard, so why not explore Thai, Indian, Israeli, Malaysian, or Taiwanese cuisines?

When abroad, of course, a little research will go a long way.  Even if you’re a free spirit who prefers to wing it, having a few vegan or vegetarian spots scoped out in advance will help you enjoy the best of the local ethnic cuisine, so you don’t end up like I did… Seoul Searching.

vegetarian advice and tips

5.  It’s time to try something new (to you). 

According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Administration of the United Nations), the world has over 50,000 edible plants, yet just fifteen crops provide 90% of the world’s food energy[i]. Some crops that were considered “poor people’s food” fell out of favor, yet are now undergoing a resurgence as we better understand them and their super-hero nutritional value. Quinoa, farro, or purple potatoes anybody?

Whole Grain Spelt Berries vs White Arborio Rice

Spelt Berries and Arborio Rice

6.  It’s all Economics

Want options? Demand them. Got options? Support them! Restaurant and grocery store selections are just a manager’s perception of what will sell, with a little history and inertia sprinkled in. Change requires an inflection point, and sustained change requires support.

Never hesitate to ask your grocery store’s GM about a product you would love to see on the shelf. Or, reach out to the owner of your local café to request a veggie sandwich make its way onto the lunch menu. They may not have understood the market size and income potential! Once it’s there, spread the word about the tasty delight you’ve just ‘discovered’ and support the cause.

Vegetarian Tips

7.  A quick call-ahead goes a long way.

Business has taken me all sorts of places, and more times than I can count that means a restaurant with not a single vegetarian option in sight. The good news? Often those options are hidden just out of sight.

At even the staunchest of seafood bistros or steakhouses, a quick call ahead has unearthed an entire vegan menu (awesome!), or a chef who loves the chance to cook off-menu (great!), or a hidden pasta primavera (we can live with that). So, despite what the website menu says, give the restaurant a call and let them know you’re dining as a group and one of them is a vegan or vegetarian. The great chefs and servers will be thrilled to accommodate… and the amateurs? Well, they will seat the table and begin service with a bold “We understand there is a vegetarian in the group….” (refer to tip #1). 

Vegetarian Tips

8.  People believe what the see, not what they hear.
You’re fired up, excited, feeling great! Convinced a plant-based diet is the way to go for your body? For the planet? For your health? For your pocketbook? For the animals? For your happiness? For your energy levels?

Honestly, there’s not much sense telling anyone about it more than once. No amount of unsolicited advice will convert your pals. Walk the walk, and you’ll be surprised how many ask you about your ‘secret’ and join you along the way.Vegetarian Advice

9.   Your choices make a difference. Sometimes. Don’t stress yourself out.

Fun fact… according to a UC Davis study, it takes 441 gallons (1,670 liters) of water to produce one pound (450 grams) of boneless beef[i]. Don’t think you’re contributing to the water shortage in California while chomping down at Mastro’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills? Think again.

Your choices matter.

As a new vegetarian, I was perpetually stressed by the realities of the food industry that I was uncovering. Even so, it’s helpful to keep perspective. Vegan or vegetarian living brings benefits to your health and the planet’s much like a penny in a piggy bank helps your retirement security. It’s the sum of your efforts over time that matter.

Thinking of implementing meat-free Mondays? Please do, it matters! Missed a meat-free Monday for reasons out of your control? Don’t stress too long about it. Dichotomy. It’s ok.

10.  Older and wiser voices can help you find the right path (Jimmy Buffet).

If you’re overwhelmed with where to begin, lean on those who’ve gone before. A wealth of online resources is at your fingertips! Sails & Spices is putting the finishing touches on our “first week as a vegetarian” meal plan… so stay tuned! In the mean time, here are a couple great meal ideas to get you started:

Super Greens Spanakopita | Sails & Spices

Explore all of our vegan and vegetarian recipes here: Vegetarian Recipes

Let us know if you are just getting started on your journey, have been a vegetarian for a long time, or just upped the ante and made the switch to vegan. We’d love to hear your questions and tips!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetarianism_by_country
http://www.fao.org/docrep/u8480e/U8480E07.htm
Beckett, J. L., and J. W. Oltjen. 1993. Estimation of the water requirement for beef production in the United States. J. Anim. Sci. 71: 818-826.

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