Vegan Mother's Day Dinner
Mom basks in the limelight on her special day as her attentive family showers her with gifts of flowers, cards, candies, fragrance, or wearable items to express appreciation for her loving care and devotion. Long distance phone calls become special moments for Mom as her children and grandchildren greet her from across the country and around the world. If the family wants to present a most unusual gift, they can even have a star named after their mother.
Mom doesn't even have to cook on her special day. Tradition in some families is to treat her to dinner at her favorite restaurant, while in others, Dad and the kids prefer to don aprons and try a bit of culinary wizardry to prepare her favorite dishes at home.
The first Mother's Day began with a completely different focus. In 1858 Ann Jarvis, an Appalachian woman, started a series of Mother's Work Days to improve sanitary conditions for both the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. By 1868 she was organizing women to help reunite citizens of the North and South.
In 1870, inspired by Ann Jarvis' efforts, Julia Ward Howe created a Mother's Day Proclamation in an effort to urge women whose sons fought or died in the Civil War to gather in an act of pacifism. She was not successful in creating a Mother's Day for Peace, but she gained recognition for writing the poem that became the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Recognizing that children didn't often express appreciation to their mothers, Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Jarvis, wanted to memorialize her mother in a special way. In 1908 Anna chose to honor her mother's memory at a church service in Grafton, West Virginia, where her mother had taught sunday school. Anna had white carnations displayed as a symbol of purity.
Presently, Mother's Day celebrations are rarely solemn occasions. While Mom is enjoying all the family's fuss and attention lavished on her special day, she may want to express appreciation to President Woodrow Wilson, who on May 9, 1914, declared the second Sunday in May as the official Mother's Day. As a public statement expressing love and reverence to mothers, President Wilson directed that government buildings display the U.S. flag on Mother's Day and invited Americans to display the flag at their homes as well. A year earlier the House of Representatives adopted a resolution establishing that the President, his Cabinet, and the Congress all tuck white carnations into their lapels on Mother's Day.
Some historians believe that a special day honoring mothers dates back to the ancient Greeks who held festivals during the vernal equinox to recognize a variety of mother goddesses, including Rhea, the Greek matriach of the gods. They held a morning celebration in which they ate honey cakes and shared flowers.
The ancient Romans honored Cybele, the Magna Mater or the Great Mother. Some believe the Roman Catholic church adopted the ancient tradition but transferred the attention to the Virgin Mary as the figure representing motherhood.
Possibly it was the English who created our tradition by establishing Mothering Sunday. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, sons and daughters, who were apprenticing away from home, returned with gifts for Mom: small knicknacks, nosegays of wild flowers and violets, and little cakes. Sometimes the English "mum" received frumenty, a sweetened dish of wheat cooked with milk and spices. Scottish moms were offered little pancakes, called Carlins, made from pease porridge fried in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Though there are many countries that adopt the U.S. tradition and recognize Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May, there are those that have chosen other dates throughout the year. Some countries have special ceremonies as a tribute to mothers. Families in Portugal and Spain recognize Mom on December 8 in a church service with special prayers offered to the Virgin Mary and a concert afterward.
Japanese tradition has children between 6 and 14 years old honoring their mother by contributing a drawing of her to a traveling exhibition. Mexico celebrates on May 10 with a mass at a shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe who symbolizes motherhood.
France heralds the last Sunday in May as Mother's Day with a special family dinner. Sweden celebrates mom on the last Sunday in May. There, the Swedish Red Cross uses money from the sale of little plastic flowers to treat mothers encumbered with many children to a well-deserved vacation.
Whether the family celebration is simple or lavish, keep Mom in the spotlight and spoil her just a little. Ask her how you can make her day memorable. Just this once, she may ask for a lot, but she knows it's only for a day.
If dinner at a restaurant seems too hectic on Mother's Day, why not create the perfect vegan meal at home. Begin by setting the table with a tablecloth and cloth napkins, and create a warm ambience with candlelight. Then, enjoy a Vegan Mother's Day Dinner by dining leisurely and savoring every course that celebrates Mother Nature's best offerings.
Those families who enjoy the togetherness of chopping, mixing, and conjuring up a delectable dinner for Mom can begin by serving her a refreshing beverage of Curried Carrot Zinger served in a long-stemmed glass, garnished with a tall celery stalk for stirring the seasonings together.
Leisurely nibbling before the main meal is always a welcome opportunity to share the news of the week. Hot Karachi Pea Dip, made with peas and pistachios and heightened with a hint of curry, will have Mom dipping in again and again to enjoy an exceptional starter infused with the spices of India.
The cheery salad course is Fruited Spinach Salad with the brilliant colors of oranges, apples, tomatoes, and shredded carrots. The medley of colors is garnished with raisins, macadamias, and hearts of palm and topped with edible spring flowers. Enhancing the salad is an awesome tangy Lemon Oregano Dressing.
The entrée of Stuffed Artichokes makes a stunning presentation as gigantic, earthy flowers in bloom. Stuffed with sautéed vegetables and well-seasoned tofu, the artichokes will impress Mom with her first bite. Accompanying the entrée is Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions, deliciously marinated Moroccan Carrots, and colorful Sunny California Salsa.
Spoil Mom right up to the end of the day with some tempting desserts and a refreshing after-dinner beverage. A captivating, bright Green Satin Mousse creates an irresistible finishing touch along with Sesame and Fruit Jewels. These little confections can be prepared well in advance and make pleasing little morsels that will be quickly plucked off the dish. The celebratory meal comes to a close with cups of comforting Hot Herbal Tea. If the weather is steamy, make that Iced Herbal Tea.
Traditional celebration gatherings almost always begin with a clinking of glasses to toast the occasion. Bring a new twist to freshly squeezed carrot juice with a hint of spice and a touch of curry.
CURRIED CARROT ZINGER
Yield: 5 servings
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 3/4 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 or 3 dashes Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
Combine the carrot juice, curry powder, rice vinegar, and Tabasco sauce in a 1 1/2 quart (1.5 liter) pitcher and stir well. Chill if desired. Pour into long stem glasses, garnish each glass with a pinch of parsley, and serve with a celery stick stirrer.
The pleasing combination of peas, spices, and pistachios creates the base of this Indian-inspired starter, while its uniqueness comes from the finishing splash of pomegranate syrup. Serve the dip with toasted whole-grain pita wedges or whole grain crackers.
Hot Karachi Pea Dip is one of the delicious recipes from Zel Allen's cookbook The Nut Gourmet: Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion published by Book Publishing Company in 2006.
HOT KARACHI PEA DIP
Yield: 5 to 6 servings
1/2 cup (120 ml) raw pistachios
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
Leafy greens enhanced with sweet fruits, crunchy nuts, and a savory dressing combine to offer a pleasing salad course that earns a gourmet rating. For a dramatic finishing touch, highlight the brilliant colors with a garnish of edible flowers petals.
Yield: 6 servings
FRUITED SPINACH SALAD
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) cherry or grape tomatoes
1 15-ounce (425g) can hearts of palm, drained and sliced
*Edible Flowers: Make sure the flowers you use have never been sprayed with insecticide. Most herb blossoms are edible. Society garlic is one example. A few varieties of edible flowers include calendula, dianthus, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, roses, stocks, violas, violets, and the blossoms of oranges, lemons, and limes.
This easy-to-assemble light dressing makes an ideal complement to the Fruited Spinach Salad and allows the colors and flavors of each of the fruits and vegetables to stand out and be fully appreciated.
LEMON OREGANO DRESSING
Yield: 1 1/3 cups (320 ml)
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Note: If you use the extra virgin olive oil, remove the dressing from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving to bring the olive oil to room temperature.
You couldn't ask for a more visually appealing dish for a springtime occasion. The appetizing stuffed artichokes resemble king-size flowers in full bloom. For the perfect presentation, place the stuffed artichoke off center, close to the edge of the plate and arrange servings of bulgur wheat pilaf, Moroccan carrots, and Sunny California Salsa in sections radiating out from the artichoke.
Yield: 3 to 6 servings
1 pound (450g) firm tofu, rinsed and drained
Note: If you would like to serve some sauce on the side for dipping the artichoke heart, try the Tahini Falafel Sauce or Lemon Dill Silken Sauce located in our Recipe Index.
A hearty grain dish of bulgur wheat adds its welcome earthy flavor to round out the colorful dinner menu. This recipe can be prepared a day ahead and simply reheated on the stovetop just before serving without losing any of its savory flavors.
BULGUR PILAF WITH MUSHROOMS
AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, divided
2 cups (480 ml) water or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
This is a deliciously pungent dish that can be served hot or cold. It actually tastes better the following day when the carrots have had time to marinate.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 cups (240 ml) water, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced parsley
SUNNY CALIFORNIA SALSA
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 apple, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped sweet onions
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon unsweetened dried shredded coconut
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch or two of cayenne pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a medium serving bowl and toss well. Serve immediately or marinate for several hours. The salsa is best eaten the same day.
A dessert like none other, its surprising texture and flavor will win you over in spite of some initial reluctance to consider the avocado as an ideal dessert base. Serving the tasty pairing of sweetened avocado with tangy lime revives a long-forgotten dessert once typically served in Latin America. This updated version uses soymilk and a touch of pistachio for garnish.
GREEN SATIN MOUSSE
Yield: 2 servings
3 tablespoons organic sugar
3 tablespoons regular soymilk, chilled
1 tablespoon lime juice or juice of 1/2 lime, chilled
1 teaspoon crushed raw pistachios
Note: Because different varieties of avocados vary in texture, flavor, and moisture level, you may have to adjust the sugar and lime juice measurements to desired taste.
Take them to a pot luck, give them as a gift, serve them to company, pack them in the kids' lunches, enjoy them on a road trip, munch on them as a snack. These little fruity treats are jewels with great versatility. They can be made well ahead and stored in the refrigerator for at least two weeks without spoiling.
SESAME AND FRUIT JEWELS
Yield: 50 to 60 confections
6 ounces (170g) dried Calmyrna figs (golden figs)
15 pitted dates
1/2 cup (120 ml) hulled sesame seeds
1/4 pound dried apples
1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2/3 cup (160 ml) hulled sesame seeds