By John, CN Grocery Buyer

It can sometimes be a lonely affair to be the vegan at a summer barbeque. Perhaps you’ve brought enough portabellas to share, but they end up cast aside in favor of cheeseburgers. Maybe you’ve even given up on bringing along food to share altogether, and succumbed to the urge to just graze on chips, underwhelming salad, and corn on the cob. Well fret not, gentle herbivores, for I’m here with a trio of plant-based recipes you can put together here at Cambridge Naturals that will be the star of the show, even among confirmed meat lovers like myself!

Chips and dip are a perennial favorite for those pre-meal munchies, while you sip your first beer and warm up the coals. Try pairing a bag or two of our incredible Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips (I like Purple Heirloom, but they’re all good) with this simple VEGAN “PARMESAN” YOGURT DIP! Just stir together 1.5 cups of Forager Unsweetened Cashew Yogurt with 3 tablespoons of the Herb and Spice variety Rawmesan, one clove of minced garlic, and half a teaspoon of Curio Spice Co. Kampot & Sea Salt. Easy, huh?

For your meat replacement, rehydrate some of our bulk dried shiitakes and then marinate them ( I recommend using our Coconut Secret Garlic Sauce and a squeeze or two of Kitchen Garden Sriracha). Impale a handful of the mushrooms each on some of our Bambu skewers, grill ‘em up, and then sprinkle with sesame seeds from our bulk section if you’re feeling extra fancy. There you have it, delicious YAKITORI STYLE SHIITAKE MUSHROOM SKEWERS!

As for a side dish, let’s talk pasta salad. It’s a staple at picnics and barbecues, and this variation is sure to please. For a VEGAN MEDITERRANEAN PASTA SALAD that will knock your socks off, start by boiling a 16oz bag of our Semolina Organic Fusilli (made in LA!). De-pit and chop some of our Alive & Well Probiotic Kalamata Olives, and stir in a 6.5oz jar of our Matiz All-i-oli garlic spread (Fiery Garlic if you’re feeling extra bold). It’s that simple. Heck, maybe try chopping up and tossing in some of our Matiz Artichoke Hearts, while you’re at it!

If you’re in a hurry, and even these remarkably simple recipes seem to require too much time or effort, come in for some high quality pre-prepared options: Hope Thai coconut curry hummus, Magic Bites Lentil Fingers, and Karine & Jeff’s Moroccan Style Chickpeas (they’re as good cold as heated!) are all excellent suggestions for the vegan on the go.

And while you’re at it, keep the cooler stocked with plenty of Maine Root Ginger Brews alongside the brewskis. They’re great on their own, and they also pair extremely well with dark rum for a magnificent Dark and Stormy!

Hope that helps to get your imagination going with regards to the myriad creative ways in which Cambridge Naturals can help make you a backyard hangout hero this summer. Come on in and chat with our knowledgeable grocery team for even more suggestions.

Glazed Red Pepper-Fennel Almonds

This delicious recipe was passed along to us by Louise Rasmussen, the incredible cook at Wallowa Llamas in Eastern Oregon. Not only are these almonds incredibly addictive, but they provide a great, healthy energy boost whether you’re hiking the rocky slopes of Eastern Oregon or trekking through the snow to catch the T. We carry most of these ingredients at the store. If you’re avoiding sugar, you can substitute any great, local raw honey or maple sugar.

DIY Sugar Lip Scrub

I’m not sure about you, but my lips have it rough in wintertime—pun intended. They crack, they peel, and no matter how much lip balm I use they still end up raw and chapped by the end of the day. Not the most attractive look, and it certainly doesn’t feel that great either. For dry skin in winter time, I always use a salt or sugar scrub in the shower—so I thought, why not for lips too? A little exfoliation goes a long way towards sloughing off that dry skin and keeping your lips soft and moisturized. This recipe is easy to make at home with a few ingredients, many of which we stock at Cambridge Naturals.

You’ll need:
¼ cup granulated raw cane sugar
2 tsp coconut oil
5-6 drops Jojoba or Argan oil
3 drops vitamin E Oil
2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil (I like lavender or peppermint)

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl until sugar is fully coated by the oil. There should be a little residual oil at the bottom of the bowl—add more sugar or oil as needed. Store in small airtight glass container; it should last at least 2 months.

To use:
2-3 times per week. wet lips with a little water. Take a pinch of the sugar scrub and massage onto lips with fingers for 30 seconds. Wipe off with a warm washcloth and apply your favorite lip balm.

Summer salt scrub

Ahhh, summer. Beach weekends and mid-day picnics at the park. Perfect time to catch the rays and get that mega-dose of vitamin D our bodies so desperately crave all winter. Too much sun, however, can come at a cost and lead to peeling skin and dry patches. While sunscreen or a big floppy hat should be your first line of defense, what to do once the damage is done?