Saturday, December 5, 2009

Green Gift Wrap and December Meeting Goodies

(Scroll down to the bottom of this post for new about our exciting January meeting!)

It's hard to believe that the year is almost over, but it is. And with December comes several holidays that many people find themselves in a tizzy over. Stress over spending, waste, and errands can runneth over this time of year. But if you use a little savvy, a little creativity, and a little thrift, you can save time & money, reduce the enormous environmental impact of the holidays, and have fun, too!

As vegetarians, vegans, and earth-conscious people (not everyone is veg who attends!), we are always thinking about how we can step more lightly on the planet. Our December presenter is a lifelong gift-wrapper extraordinaire, who demonstrated how to use things from around the house, the recycling bin, and even the near-trash, to make holiday (and really, year-round) gift-giving fun and practical! The first photo shows how she uses old maps (like the ones that you get automatically when you travel places or stay in hotels, etc.) as well as the bags that cover newspapers, to make a pretty package.

Sturdy liquor bottle containers are wonderful when reused as wine bottle gift boxes. Our presenter found a way to make faux leather on one. The other wine bottle is covered by a shirt sleeve! The rest of the shirt is cut up for cleaning rags.

If you hate those helium balloons, what better way to reuse them than to cut them apart and use them as shiny gift wrap! Some of them will already have the perfect message printed front and center.

There were a plethora of other ideas, from paper bag reindeer coverings, to sheet music for CDs, to mesh onion bag stockings. She even reuses toilet paper rolls like those Christmas crackers with tissue paper, and finds Kleenex boxes to be ready-to-go packaging! One neat way to reuse old holiday cards is to cut out the images and reuse them as gift tags or to cover store names on nice bags. Needless to say, we were all inspired by our presenter's creative, beautiful ideas and thirty ingenuity. May we all do some green gift wrapping this season!

Now, on to the food! The best part of every monthly Veg Group meeting is the goodies we share before our presenter or discussion. Despite the snowy day, we had a slew of yummy things to fill our plates.

First up was this Raw Slaw made from beets, carrots, red cabbage, and raisins, with a Dijon mustard sauce. Wow! Sweet and tangy. Raw, gluten-free and vegan!

This vegan, gluten-free dish was a delicious blend of sweet potatoes, quinoa and edamame.

Another gluten-free (vegan) casserole featured rice, veggies, almonds and lots of great spices! MMMmmmm...

A creamy pumpkin pudding by a new member hit the sweet spot on the dessert table!

These peppermint bark bites had a layer of regular chocolate beneath. They filled the room with delicious smells. Temptation!

Mini blueberry muffins with whole wheat flour were so cute! Also brought by a new member.

Cookie dough scoops were best straight from the freezer. Vegan and gluten-free, they prove that the best part of being vegan can eat the batter! Recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

Warming up our tummies were these wonderful roasted sweet potato bites. Ahh...... (vegan and gluten-free, of course!)

A new veggie loaf recipe (Bulgar Walnut Loaf) was filled with amazing, moist flavor! Recipe from the Friendly Foods: Gourmet Vegetarian Cuisine cookbook. It came in late but got rave reviews. Great alongside the fresh green salad that I forgot to get a photo of - sorry! Vegan, not gluten-free loaf.

Last, but not least, red beans and rice rounded out the meal. This perfect combination of amino acids doesn't remind you of a chemistry equation - it just plain tastes good! Vegan and gluten-free.

Of course, you're already planning on coming to the next Veg Group meeting, featuring the wildly popular Food, Inc. documentary, right? Join us on Saturday, January 2nd, from 11:30-1:00 (we'll start the movie promptly at 11:30) at the downtown Headquarters Library. We'll get some grub, start the film, finish eating and discuss. This movie discusses the answers behind the question, "Where does your food come from?" and doesn't focus on just the meat industry, but all of the groups that control what we eat, how we eat it, and much, much more. Issues tackled include: pesticides, cloning, farm worker rights, factory farms, diabetes, obesity, local foods, organics, genetic engineering, and fast food/restaurants. According to their site, "You'll never look at dinner the same way."

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