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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 7 years ago

Meatless Mondays now in Winter Park

Cut out meat one day a week

Meatless Mondays are sweeping over the nation, and with our cities’ plans to get healthier, now is a perfect time to start a new health trend. Farmers markets are growing, community gardens are spreading throughout the city, as well as classes on sustainable living, and even the mayors are getting involved and creating programs like Eatonville’s Walk and Talk. One day a week I invite you to cut out meat from your meal. By making slight changes to one’s diet, it will make all the difference and may open doors to bigger changes later in the future — not only for one person but for a whole community.

Together we can fight against disease by using preventative measures. According to the American Heart Association, “Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.” Get healthier and start by making subtle changes to your diet. What’s easier than committing to one day a week?

Use this as a way to connect to your family. Have the whole family join and help prepare a delicious vegetarian meal at home. Use one of our featured recipes each week or get wild and create your own. A family dinner might be just what the doctor ordered, filled with love; it’s a perfect way to pull your family away from the TV and toward more quality time together. Start your week off right, and make Meatless Monday a family night whether you choose to dine out, or stay in.

Here are the rules: Go out and eat vegetarian meals all day Monday or create your own at home. Not sure where to start? Orchid Thai Cuisine is a great place to dive into vegetable cuisine. They have a great vegetarian selection and offer dishes that you can’t find anywhere else such as the tom kha gai, an exotic creamy coconut soup infused with aromatic lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal (fresh ginger) and mushrooms. This was a surprise for me because tom kha gai is usually served with chicken. Orchid Thai also has vegetarian spring rolls, summer rolls, golden tofu, and their flavor-packed curries. My favorite was the Phanaeng curry for its bold flavor, a medley of fresh vegetables soaked in the seductively beautiful red color of a creamy coconut based Panaeng Curry sauce, with hints of aromatic lemongrass that I love oh so much! This is your chance to try something new, get healthier and support our local businesses in Winter Park.

Phanaeng curry

Created using Thai Curry: create your own

1 13.5- to 14-oz. can coconut milk

1/4 cup Panang curry paste

1 cup lower-salt vegetable broth

2 Tbs. light brown sugar or light brown palm sugar; more as needed

1 tsp. white miso paste; more as needed

3 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed, bruised, and cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces

6 whole fresh or thawed frozen wild lime leaves (or substitute 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest)

3 1/8-inch-thick slices fresh ginger

1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-size pieces

3/4 cup bite-size pieces fresh baby corn

3/4 cup sliced button or cremini mushrooms (1/4-inch-thick slices)

3/4 cup halved snow peas (strings removed)

3/4 cup diced bell peppers (red, orange or yellow)

A drizzle of coconut milk, for garnish

Lime wedges, for garnish

3/4 cup loosely packed fresh Italian or Thai basil leaves, more for garnish

Fresh red chiles, cut into 1/8-inch strips or sliced into rings, for garnish

Shake the can of coconut milk or stir it well (this creates a consistent thickness, since the fat often solidifies at the top of the can).

In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan or wok over medium heat, simmer 1/2 cup of the coconut milk, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half, 3 to 5 minutes. It will get very thick and shiny and may or may not separate; either is fine.

Add the curry paste, whisk well and cook, continuing to whisk, for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, sugar, fish sauce and remaining coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Add the lemongrass pieces, whole lime leaves and ginger slices, and continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary. After 2 minutes, add the tofu, baby corn, button mushrooms and bell peppers, and continue to simmer. After another 2 minutes, add the snow peas and simmer until everything is tender and cooked through, about 1 minute more.

Remove the curry from the heat. Season to taste with more sugar and fish sauce, and add the basil. Transfer to a serving bowl (or serve right out of the pot). Remove the lemongrass pieces, whole lime leaves and ginger slices, or tell your guests to eat around them. Garnish with the coconut milk, lime wedges, basil and red chiles.

Keyla Escribano is a holistic health coach. Visit or email her at [email protected]

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