Award-winning vegan food proves delicious

by: Barb Randall, 
Blossoming Lotus is a sponsor for VegFest this weekend. Attendees will be able to sample vegetarian and vegan foods at the event.

I received a press release regarding this weekend's Portland VegFest and called to find out if any local residents or businesses would be involved. That is how I met my new friend Bo Rinaldi, Lake Oswego resident and owner of Blossoming Lotus Restaurants in Kauai and Portland. Having been a vegan since the age of 12, Bo is a great source of information about all things vegan.

It's our good fortune that he has experimented with the cuisine all these years. Bo has not only written several vegan cookbooks, but also founded the award-winning Blossoming Lotus Restaurant on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Blossoming Lotus was chosen as Kauai's Best Restaurant of the Year in 2006. It was the first time a vegetarian restaurant - let only a vegan restaurant - had won the award.

His latest cookbook, 'Vegan World Fusion Cuisine' features the wisdom from the chefs at the Blossoming Lotus. It has been awarded the 2006 Winner of Best Veggie Cookbook, Winner of the Gourmand Award Best Veggie Cookbook, Martha Stewart's Nautilus Award for Best New Book as well as the PETA 2005 Best New Cookbook award.

Bo treated our office to a lunch fit for royalty. One bite made it clear that all the accolades were rightlfully earned. The food was fantastic!

We ate Mediterranean Wrap sandwiches filled with quinoa tabouleh, hummus, cucumbers, kalamata olives and mixed greens in lavash bread and BBQ Tempeh Wraps with lettuce, onions, sprouts and aioli wrapped in whole wheat tortillas, crudités with Cilantro Lime Sunflower Pate and their special hummus and miniature trail mix cookies, chocolate chip cookies and chewy chocolate brownies.

Wow, oh, wow. And I thought vegan cuisine would be limiting! Blossoming Lotus' cuisine proves it is anything but limiting.

A little distinction between omnivorous, the various vegetarian and vegan diets may be helpful:

Omnivorous: Eating all kinds of food indiscriminately.

Vegetarianism: The practice of eating a plant based diet that excludes all animal flesh, including poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacean.

Lacto-ovo Vegetarianism: Plant based diet that includes eggs, dairy and honey.

Lacto Vegetarianism: Plant-based diet that includes dairy and honey

Ovo Vegetarianism: Plant-based diet that includes eggs and honey

Semi-vegetarianism: Plant based diet with seafood and/or poultry included in limited amounts.

Flexitarianism: Diet that consists primarily of vegetarian food but allows occasional exceptions.

Veganism: Plant based diet that excludes eggs, dairy and honey.

I know from a previous column written on vegetarianism there is much controversy regarding including semi-vegetarian or flexitarianism diets as vegetarian. They probably are more appropriately categorized as omnivorous diets.

Vegfest opens Friday, May 9, with music at 6:15 p.m. at Benson High School, 546 N.E. 12th Street in Portland. The fun continues Saturday starting at 10 a.m.

Bo will introduce Howard Lyman, the keynote speaker, at 7 p.m. on Friday night. Lyman, a vegan activist, will speak on 'Destroying the Earth a Bite at a Time.' With our increasing concern about sustainability, I suspect you won't want to miss his address.

Lyman has written two books, 'Mad Cowboy' and 'No More Bull.' You can learn more about him on his Web site, www.mad .

Vegfest will include lots of free samples, chef's demonstrations, nutritional and environmental information, music, plus opportunities to ask the experts your questions. For a complete agenda on VegFest please visit the Web site .

Admission is $5 each day; children 10 and under are free. I found a $1 off admission coupon on the Web site.

Whether you are an omnivore, a vegan or somewhere in between, I hope you will attend VegFest to learn more about a healthy way of life that is kind to the planet and downright delicious!

The recipes today are courtesy of our neighbor Bo Rinaldi and his 'Vegan World Fusion Cuisine' cookbook. You can learn more Bo and his restaurants on these Web sites: and . The café is located at 925 N.W. Davis in the Pearl District.

Notice the 'loving preparation.' How can the food taste anything but wonderful when such care is taken to prepare it?

Bodhisattva's BBQ Tempeh Kebobs

Makes 6 to 8 kebobs

6-8 kebob skewers

8 ounces Tempeh, cut into ¾ inch cubes

1 medium bell pepper, chopped into 1' cubes

½ medium red onion, quartered

6-8 medium cherry tomatoes

1 large Portabella mushroom, cut into 1-inch cubes

BBQ Sauce

¼ cup barley malt syrup

¼ cup natural catsup

2 tablespoons safflower oil

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, raw

2 teaspoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon stone ground mustard

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

Loving preparation:

1. Combine BBQ sauce ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk well. Place tempeh and vegetables in the bowl, mix well and allow to marinate for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Decoratively arrange tempeh and vegetables on skewers, finishing each with a cherry tomato. Grill until char marks appear and tempeh and vegetables are cooked through, approximately 15 minutes. Baste with BBQ sauce as grilling and top with remaining BBQ sauce before serving.

Vegan World Fusion Cuisine

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at [email protected] .


Five ingredients ready to eat in 30 minutes.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich

Makes one serving - easy to make more!

1 Portobello mushroom, grilled *

1 whole grain spelt bun

2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise or sour cream

1 slice red onion, sliced thin

1 slice tomato, sliced thin

1 leaf Romaine lettuce

Loving preparation: Spread mayonnaise, sour cream or condiment of your choosing on the bottom of the bun. Add Portobello and top with your favorite fixings.

Vegan World Fusion Cuisine

* If you wish to add flavor, you can marinate mushroom in shoyu or a lemon herb marinade made of ½ cup filtered water, 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice, 1 teaspoon shoyu and 2 teaspoons minced herbs