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This office lunch bento no. 208 is in African-Eastern style. I used leftovers from dinner I made following recipes from the Cookbook Challenge #1. Remember I said there were a few more recipes I wanted to try from the Modern Moroccan cookbook? Well, this box contains creamy couscous, agave-roasted courgette and home-made harissa. All delicious. :) Especially the couscous was surprisingly good.
The other tier is more… fusion. It holds some gherkin and pickled onions, mixed green salad with lemon olives, grapes, pecans, garden cress, fennel and spring onion. There’s onion bhajee with tamarind sauce in the paper cup (Indian takeaway) and a small piece of veggie dog with tomato ketchup.
Some more seedless grapes on the side.
I haven’t gotten around to blogging much (I’m spending more time away from the computer these days), and I actually had this lunch on the 28th of March. So far, the first bento of April has still to come. :(
We’re eagerly awaiting spring here so we can celebrate o-hanami in the Japanese cherry blossom garden with our traditional picnic — that should make up for a lot of bentos in one go! ;)
Have you made any bentos lately?
In June and July this year, the Dutch youth foundation Viva Las Vega’s organized the Veggie Challenge: a dare to eat less animal produce for at least one day a week during a whole month. Depending on their diet, participants would set their own goals, i.e. 1 day vegetarian for omnis, a day vegan for vegetarians, an extra day veggie for flexitarians et cetera. 2000+ people gave it a go! Among them were three people I know — and no, I had nothing to do with that ;) Curious about their experiences, I decided to interview them for VeganMoFo.
First up is YvonneP from Loisirs et Plaisirs. I met her on-line 14 years ago (!) when I joined the Dutch Boekgrrls, a virtual book club by mailinglist, exclusively for women. :) Later I got to know her in real life on book-related outings (swaps!).
YvonneP’s asked to be represented by this colourful picture of red, blue and purple fruit. That doesn’t surprise me, as she once initiated a summer theme on the Kookgrrls’ blog for which she made a pink blackberry-yoghurt pudding/blob. I wonder if it can be veganized..?
Before the Veggie Challenge (VC) I was maybe a flexitarian. I ate very little meat (don’t like most meat), sometimes fish, some cheese, but I love eggs, yoghurt and soft cheese (kwark). So that could be the hard part of the vegan thing.
When I read about the VC I thought it was the best I could do, because of all the alarming news about food. I am really worried about the way food is produced and the way we are not told the truth about production mistakes, etc. Though I am not the sentimental type about animals I do not think it is right the way they are treated to serve as food.
So I decided to eat 2 days vegetarian and 2 days vegan. The other 3 days I would try to slow down eating ‘wrong’ things. Well, I ended up by doing the challenge for 2 months and now, we still eat vegetarian, very, very little fish, eggs and cheese. Even our way of shopping has changed. No supermarkets anymore, no ‘grootgrutter‘, but we buy our food at EkoPlaza. So, in fact, everything from the challenge lasts. I am still refining… :-)
In the beginning I did not know what to eat my bread with on the vegan days. But then I discovered all kinds of spreads and now, long time after the challenge we never buy anything else. Those spreads were my biggest discovery! And because it was sometimes very hot I made loads of strawberry (!!) basil ice and melon mint ice! Just blend the fruits and put them in the freezer. Love fruits, love strawberries, love blueberries, love myrtilles (don’t know the English word for it).
I can not decide what was the best we ate. I ate one recipe from the Provamel publication 20 Winnaars met smaak (shared below) with tofu and oranges that was extremely tasteful, but then again: so much was so tasteful.
My partner joined me in the challenge and he is now addicted to lentil curry spread. Does not want anything else on his bread. I do not know what he eats when he is traveling for business, but at home he eats what I make and he likes it…
I have told enthusiastically about the VC to others, but everyone has to decide for themselves whether they do it or not. I liked it very much, but maybe because the time was right for me…
Wow. I’m very impressed how YvonneP (and her partner!) went way beyond her goals while she’d expected it to be difficult. It’s had a huge impact on their lives; a real success story! That’s several animal lives saved a year — yay YvonneP!
Tofu Curry with Orange
Estimated time: 45 minutes
Recipe by Great Baten
Source: Provamel publication 20 Winnaars met smaak p.20-21
- 225 g tofu
- 250 g apple-green tea flavoured soygurt (Provamel)
- 1 organic orange
- 1 large onion
- 2 tbs raisins
- 2 tbs almond flakes
- 2 tbs vegetable oil
- 1 tbs 100% vegetable margarine
- 1 tbs curry powder or curry paste of choice
- a bunch of fresh cilantro
- salt ‘n pepper
- Wash the orange and grate some of the skin until you’ve got half a tablespoon of orange zest.
- Squeeze the juice from the orange, add the raisins and et them soak until needed.
- Shortly toast the almond flakes in a non-stick pan. Don’t take your eyes of them! ;)
- Chop the cilantro and onion (keep them separate).
- Cut the tofu into small blocks.
- Heat the oil and margarine together in a pan. Add the curry (powder or paste) and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the tofu and onion. Stirfry on high heat.
- Add orange juice & raisins, orange zest, apple-tea yofu, plus salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with almonds and cilantro and serve with rice.
Sounds like an easy recipe that I must try sometime! Personally I would insert a step #0 to drain the tofu first (how to do this is described in steps 1&2 of the Faux Feta recipe on Graasland). And maybe add some cinnamon which, to me, seems to go perfect with this dish. What do you think?
Next week:Uniflame from She Likes Bento.
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Join us with a food related post in Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking!
Not sure how to pronounce “quinoa”? Learn on YouTube!
Whaddayaknow: it’s is already the fourth time four Dutch foodie bloggers are getting together for a weekend cooking blog hop! This time we’re focussing on quinoa. Have you ever had quinoa for dinner? Or breakfast for that matter — I’ve seen several recipes but haven’t dared trying yet for myself. Just like I’m reluctant to eat rice in the morning… But what am I saying? Contrary to how it’s used in Western cuisine, quinoa is not a grain but a vegetable related to leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard! Well, the seeds of it anyway.
The first time I tried quinoa was during my 10-day ExtraVeganza project. I made a stir-fry from The Guardian. Since then I’ve used it a few times in bento’s (#131, #161, #176, #177), but as I’m only halfway my second package… I guess it has not been used not that often! Rather surprisingly. O_o Because I like the taste, it’s quick & easy to make and belongs to the category of ‘super foods’ — meaning that it’s ultra healthy. ;) Quinoa is gluten-free, high on so-called complete proteins, vitamins B1&2, E, iron, copper and magnesium. Reading that you already feel better, right? ;)
The quinoa dish I’m sharing today is Quinoa & Vegetable Laksa. Laksa is an Asian chowder-like thick soup. Mr Gnoe and I had two helpings each so that our bellies were filled but not the I-need-to-lie-on-the-couch kind of full. Very satisfying but low-fat! This is a perfect weekday meal for when you’re tired and the fridge is empty.
I veganised the original recipe from BBC’s Good Food and made some adaptations dictated by the (barren) contents of my cupboards.
Quinoa and Vegetable Laksa
Ingredients – serves 2
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp Patak’s mild curry paste
- about 50 ml water
- 500 ml oat milk
- 400 g frozen mixed vegetables, or any veggies at hand which were in my case: frozen peas and green beans, corn kernels from a can, a large spring onion/small leek (sliced), an old turnip (nuked), some red and green bell pepper in small pieces
- 85 g quinoa, rinsed (!)
- 2 ts vegan broth powder
- salt & pepper
- Simmer the onion, curry paste and water for 5 minutes in a large saucepan, stirring from time to time. Begin with a splash of water and add some when the mixture gets too dry.
- Heat the oat milk in a jug in the microwave.
- Add the vegetables, quinoa, broth powder and stir in the milk.
- Bring to the boil, simmer gently for 10 mins until the quinoa is cooked.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Let it sit for a short while longer if the directions of the quinoa call for that.
Next time I would like to try this recipe with almond milk instead of oat. Mr Gnoe thinks that will be too overwhelming but I think it may be good. Or maybe half of each. Of course you can use any plant-based milk but some will be better than others.
Also, the original recipe was titled “Spicy vegetable and quinoa laksa” but my tastebuds failed to notice any heat. Of course that depends on the the type of curry paste: I may use a stronger one next time, or just add a red chilli.
Always remember to rinse your quinoa seeds before cooking. They have a bitter-tasting coating (called saponins), which is mildly toxic and meant to make the kernels less-palatable to birds and other seed-eaters. These days quinoa has already been cleaned by the manufacturer but it’s good to get rid of possible remnants. Just follow the instructions on the package.
<whisper mode> Of course I shouldn’t say so in a post dedicated to quinoa, but you can also use 150 grams of basmati rice instead — just cook until done. But you didn’t hear that from me, okay?! ;) <whisper mode off>
And now that you’ve opened a package of quinoa: hop over to my fellow foodies for their awesome recipes!
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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!
Most weeks there’s one vegetable in our CSA batch that was grown indoors: tomatoes (last week) alternated with paprika, eggplant, et cetera. Or it’s interchanged with fruit, that doesn’t necessarily come from the glass house.
- Red lettuce
- Pointed pepper
On the menu this week were mashed potatoes with raw endive and an Indian chard dish (in lieu of spinach) to eat with the leftover takeaway of cauliflower bhajee and dal tarka (lentils). And basmati rice of course — it’s the best smelling rice I know!!!
Unfortunately naan bread is often made with animal products like yoghurt. So I always make sure to have some bake-off organic naan that is 100% vegan in the pantry. Can’t have Indian food without it, can you? ;)
I can’t believe that Day Nine of ExtraVeganza! has ended and I’ve got only 1 more day to go of my pilot project. I’m actually pretty upset by it!
It’s going really well and I’m feeling so good about myself I’m thinking of prolonging Gnoe’s vegan adventures… I didn’t think it would be this easy! Only the ‘social’ part of it is a struggle: being a ‘problem’ for other people (including Mr Gnoe). I wonder how other (wannabe) vegans deal with that? I just don’t want to be a pain in the *ss to others… :\
Menu Day 9 (Friday February 4th)
I had a huge fruit smoothie of 1/2 cup lime soy yoghurt, 1 1/2 cup red fruit juice, 1 banana and a handful of frozen ‘forest fruits’. Filled me up till lunchtime.
I keep forgetting to make a picture of one of my smoothies… Yeah well, it’s just after I get up! I never had smoothies for breakfast until I started looking into a plant-based diet.
Last night’s leftovers: pumpkin-coconut soup and coleslaw, pimped with grated carrot and toasted nuts. Two sammies:
- Tofutti, shredded rocket, radish, agave syrup and toasted walnuts (omega-3).
This sandwich was a bit bland and needed more ‘cream cheese’ (which I had spread pretty thin) or the saltiness of sun-dried tomatoes — of course my taste buds were a little in shock of the spicy soup ;)
- Green gunk. ;) In other words: avocado mashed with pickled green chili, veganaise, gherkin and African Peper mix. Topped with alfalfa and cherry tomatoes. This one was yummy!
We had planned to eat out at Kitchen Punx in ACU, but it is very stormy weather and we felt like staying at home. It might be a more festive idea anyway to go out to dinner on ExtraVeganza Day 10!
So instead we had the last leftovers from our Indian meal: Basmati rice, Orissan Jagdish Saag Aloo and green lentil curry. We added some mango chutney and tried a new dish from the World Food Café cookbook with the cauliflower florets that were hibernating in our fridge: Kashmir Gobi (p.64) — cauliflower in a sauce of onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, sugar and salt; topped with cashews and dried apricots. [Alright, actually raisins but I don't like those in my food so I usually swap them for cranberries or apricot.]
It was pretty good! A bit strong but the recipe called for a large specimen and we only had about 1/4th for which we took about half of the spices etc. Instead of fresh tomatoes we used an open carton of passato tomato. Having more cauliflower would probably be better, but I’m not sure about the tomatoes. Will need to make it again and find out! ;)
Again, no snacks: I didn’t feel the need to eat in between meals at all.
Anything special about today?
Nope, nothing I didn’t tell you about yet.
Yesh. Feeling sad that it’s almost over! :( And thinking hard about how to deal with that.
Today concludes the first week of Gnoe’s Vegan Adventures. What seemed like a real Project in advance is turning out to be pretty easy. Partly thanks to the preparations I’ve made like stocking up on vegan foods & ingredients, trying out a few recipes and products in advance and last but not least subscribing to the Eat Good, Feel Good cooking class; but also because it’s feeling so right to eat this way and the food is generally just plain good.
I am aware that on some days I might not balance my meals enough. I hoping that will even out in relation to the surrounding days. It is something I will concentrate on when I’ve acquired a good variety of vegan dishes and habits.
Menu Day 7 (Wednesday February 2nd)
- ‘pre-breakfast’: slice of ontbijtkoek (a kind of spicy bread cake), spread with soy margarine
- 2 slices of white toast with Marmite & soy margarine
- Fishy Vegan Bento (#130)
- falafel on pita bread
- salad of aragula, red cabbage, bean & alfafa sprouts, tomato, cucumber, gherkin, green chilies and parsley
- sauces: garlic, spicy and mango chutney
Snacks (aside from bento)
- cup of vegetable broth
Anything special about today? / Any difficulties?
Today unfortunately wasn’t really my lucky day. I was sick again (yes, I’m ill a lot which is one of the reasons changing my diet seems like a good idea) and didn’t get to go to work. Still, I was happy to have my bento so there was no need to go out of bed to make lunch. And I’m feeling better again now.
Fishy Vegan Bento #130
[Sorry about the poor quality of this picture -- I'm glad the days are slowly lengthening again: daylight photos are best.]
There’s really nothing suspect about this animal-free bento; just a little Basmati rice fishy swimming in some lentil curry. ;) We had some Indian leftovers from our Sunday dinner, which seemed perfect for a bento.
- Pakistani dahl (red lentils)
- Calcutta eggplant
- Orissan Jagdish Saag Aloo (potato & spinach)
- a few slices of vegan farmer’s sausage (hiding)
- Mr Gnoe’s green lentil curry
- cucumber & radish
- Basmati rice
- mango chutney
- salted pecans and ‘French fries’ potato chips
- another one of my home-baked vegan paradise cookies
On the side
- blood orange juice with lemon
- a 1/8th slice of Monday’s grilled-veggies pizza (not shown)
WHOOAH! A whole box dedicated to snacks?! Yeah well, sort of ;) A treat for coffee time, to compensate for missing out on my coffee. I find that drinking coffee gives a full stomach, tiding me over till lunchtime. Tea doesn’t have the same effect. Now I won’t really miss anything because the coffee machine at the office isn’t any good. :( I only started drinking its rubbish a few years ago after having been a full-time tea-employee for ages… Just don’t ask me. ;)
I also needed something hearty for around 4 o’clock. For a Wednesday afternoon I figured a a snack like pizza & potato chips would be allowed. :) It’s not as if we’re talking huge amounts here, right?
The mango chutney is just a condiment to sooth any over-spiciness of the Indian dishes.
Bento #130 was very satisfying!
Sorry for keeping you in limbo about Gnoe’s vegan adventures. Sometimes blogging just has to come last :\ In order to prevent an abundance of rss-feeds I decided to do a compilation post on the three days that went ‘missing’.
Menu Day 4 (Sunday January 30th)
I started my Sunday with two slices of Marmite on toast and latte coffees.
Erm… forgot to write it down and now I can only remember one sandwich with Tofutti and radishes! I was busy preparing dinner for our guests.
Here’s what we served our friends.
- Pakistani Dahl (red lentils)
- Calcutta eggplant
- Orissan Jagdish Saag Aloo (spinach & potato dish from Jagdish café in Orissan)
- Puy lentil curry
- Basmati rice
- Garlic-cilantro naan (bread)
- Mango chutney
- The Vegan Paradise Cookies I baked on Friday (served with tea)
- Salted pecans
- Lemon olives
- Potato chips
- 5 colours of raw veggies: radish, red paprika, carrot and celery stalk
- Dips made of veganaise: garlic with herbs and whisky
- Just for me (earlier in the day): banana & kiwi fruit
Anything special about today?
Like I said yesterday we were having friends over for dinner and a 24-Day 8 mini-marathon: the final four episodes of the very last (?) season. When having dinner guests we usually serve them well-tried dishes, possibly adding one new recipe. This time, we just dove into the deep end and prepared a completely untested Indian dinner. Now we’ve cooked Indian before, including vegan dishes, but our favourites all contained some kind of dairy or eggs.
Because we didn’t have enough red lentils to make all of the dahl recipe, Mr Gnoe was bold enough to think up an extra curry himself — you won’t catch me doing that when entertaining guests! But his green lentil dish was one of the best of the evening. :)
So far I prefer the Pakistani Dahl recipe we tried today over others I’ve had before, but I will be looking on to find the perfect one. I’m not talking Masoor Dahl SOUP here (I’ve got a great recipe for that), but the thicker kind of dish. Maybe I should let go of the thought it must be made with red lentils, since a lot of recipes I came across use yellow peas?
The aubergine and spinach/potato dishes came from the World Food Café cookbook, which I believe to have mentioned on Graasland before? The Calcutta eggplant (page 74) was nice and we will eat this again. But it doesn’t beat the spicy eggplant with yoghurt recipe from another one of my vegetarian cookbooks… :\
We thought the saag aloo (page 72) a bit dull, even though it was spicy. It tasted ‘bland’. I must confess I didn’t follow the instructions to the letter… Lacking fresh fenugreek leaves I substituted them with seeds, which of course is something entirely different. But I have never seen fenugreek leaves in the shops here and I do frequent Asian stores.
I also used yellow mustard seeds instead of black, but that doesn’t seem much of a problem to me — like taking frozen spinach (I couldn’t get any fresh as it is not in season). I also put in one tablespoon of red chili flakes instead of two and skipped the serrano chillies since I figured the meal would be hot enough already. I know, that’s a lot of changes to a not-so-elaborate recipe. Still, except for the fenugreek leaves I don’t think it mattered much concerning the taste.
Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures, but Wednesday’s bento contains leftovers!
BTW I didn’t know our common type of chili pepper is called serrano! Learned something new again. ;)
Menu Day 5 (Monday January 31st)
I started the day with ‘sterrenmix‘ herbal tea and 2 slices of crispbread:
- Tofutti ‘cream cheese’ spread with avocado, sundried tomato (in oil), alfalfa sprouts, African Peper mix.
Too many tastes thrown together.
- Tartex olivera.
I had an elaborate lunch to compensate for my small breakfast. It was very nice but wouldn’t be easy to bring along to work… I definitely need a bento box with Thermos container! :)
- Homemade vegan mushroom soup (freezer stash).
I made this soup so long ago that I can’t remember where the recipe came from… Well, plenty of those on the Web! ;)
- Veganaise-avocado-tomato-basil sandwich with salt & pepper.
- Tartex olivera sandwich with slices of celery stalk, radish, a pinch of alfalfa sprouts, parsley and salt.
- Salad garnish: more tomato & celery.
- ‘Golden mandarin‘ green tea.
For dinner we had homemade pizza (store-bought crusts), salad of chicory, apple & walnut, and water with lime juice for drinks. For the pizzas we prepared a seasoned sauce of canned tomato, shallots and garlic, which was spread on two pizza crusts. We used some Yaks soy mozzarella ‘cheese’ on both for topping. The rest of the ingredients differed.
- Grilled vegetables (courgette, eggplant, brown mushrooms) and green olives.
- Kale & rocket stir-fried with oyster mushrooms and spring onions.
The grated mozzarella looked good on the pizzas, but I’m not sure it added anything to the taste. Well, the crunchy part of it was good! ;)
Dessert consisted of Provamel lime soy yoghurt with pineapple juice. It tasted too much after soy for my liking, but Mr Gnoe was pleasantly surprised. We don’t eat desserts that often and Mr Gnoe especially doesn’t like custard (and such) very much. About the soy yoghurt he said it was better than any kind of dairy dessert he knew! Not that he now wanted to eat it regularly after meals, but it is a positive remark, right? He also didn’t think the ‘greasy’ soy taste predominated. So that’s just me. ;)
- More of that yummy cremini mushroom soup (brown mushrooms).
- Peanut butter sandwich.
- One of the coconut cookies I baked on Friday.
Menu Day 6 (Tuesday February 1st)
Time flies. It’s February already (can you believe it?!) and I’m in the second half of my 10 day vegan period. I’m almost sad it’s going so fast!
For breakfast I had oatmeal with ground flax seeds, 1/2 part Oat Dream and 1/2 part soy milk. This was a better concoction than just the oat & oat milk like I had on Day 1 of ExtraVeganza! The fat in soy milk makes the gruel a little creamier. I had a busy morning with groceries, dentist and dental hygienist appointments and this meal held me on my feet until my lunch break at noon.
I had to have a quick — and not too heavy — meal before going to shiatsu. I threw together 2 easy sunflower seed sandwiches (a new bread I had just bought) and drank a cup of green rooibos tea.
- Tartex olivera spread with green olives.
- Tofutti ‘cream cheese’ with gherkin and tomato.
Mr Gnoe made us dinner.
- (Leftover) long-grain rice with celery leaves.
- ‘Buddhist meat’ and shiitake mushrooms from World Food Café cookbook (page 121) that we also used for our Indian Sunday dinner.
- Improvised stir-fry of Brussels sprouts and red pepper.
- A handful of emping (melinjo nut krupuk).
- Water for drinks.
From lunch till dinner I had several snacks. Listed in alphabetical order ;)
- Blood orange/mandarin juice.
- Crispbread with kale pate (tapenade) from my cooking class.
- Cup of vegetable broth.
- Ontbijtkoek with soy margarine and agave syrup.
- Raw veggies: celery stalk, cucumber, radishes.
Anything special about today?
You bet! I found a vegan bread type I really like — even better than the one I normally buy and of which I’m not sure (yet) whether it’s vegan! My new find is Flemish whole wheat bread with sunflower seeds and I bought it at the Natuurvoedingswinkel (natural foods shop) in the Nachtegaalstraat. That’s a bit further away than my neighbourhood bakery so I’ll need to plan well ahead if we don’t want to run out of bread. Maybe the shop will set some apart, if requested? I also don’t know yet how the loaf will hold up after it has been frozen, but that will be clear in a few days.
This discovery makes me really happy because I have always been picky about bread. In the same store I also finally found a vegan ontbijtkoek; up until now all varieties I saw contained honey.
Tonight’s dinner served to have another try at seitan or ‘fake meat’ (wheat gluten). I’ve had canned mock-duck before. After I had eaten a fabulous Vietnamese dish with the stuff on a trip to the US, I searched for mock-duck in my own country for several years. When I had finally found it, it was nothing like I had expected — I even shuddered of the sight and texture! Seitan in a glass jar appears to be less scary (you can actually see what you’re buying ;) so a few months ago I brought it home with the World Food Café recipe in mind. But it’s totally different from the seitan we made ourselves in Happy Herbi’s Eat Good, Feel Good cooking class!
I liked the ‘Buddhist meat’ and shiitake mushrooms dish — and liked the wheat gluten, but didn’t feel it added much except maybe texture. We’re reluctant to bring any more new ingredients into our home, so we tweaked the recipe and substituted shaoxing rice wine with sake; ketjap manis for hoisin sauce. Other ingredients were carrot, ginger, garlic, green onions, light soy sauce, sesame oil & seeds. Those are all things we usually have in stock so we’ll probably make this meal again!
Day 6 was definitely Discovery Day. ;)
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New recipe(s) tried for the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!
Again a poor quality picture because I composed this bento last night and the days are getting shorter already — way too fast for my liking! :(
The composition was a bit messy and the food combination ultra eclectic, so those things can’t be blamed on the photo ;)
Clicking on the picture will give you a different view.
Bowl on the left: Indian takeaway leftovers: malai kofta and dal in iceberg lettuce leaves, saag paneer in cucumber ‘containers’. Gap fillers & garnish: parsley, lettuce, red berries and mini Milka chocolate.
Other bowl: leftover piece of polenta ‘pizza’ (yum!), courgette & leek grilled with garlic, and a tasty tom tomato.
On the side: more red berries, fresh mint for tea & honey as sweetener.
I bet you wish you could have had my lunch, right?! ;)
Homegrown & organic: basil.
Local & organic: both varieties of lettuce, parsley, zucchini, leek, red berries.
Organic: polenta, pesto, basil stock (for cooking polenta), margarine, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber.
WW propoints? Not a clue ;)