Friday, December 5, 2008

Easy Peasy (red lentil & ginger soup/ bean soup)

Vegan is a piece of vegan cake. Although the amount of beans that we've been eating is a little strange, for lack of a better word. Its been soup for the past 2 nights and bean burritos for lunch. Usually these bean dishes are accompanied by either cheese or sour cream, there is something to that, the fats help to balance the carbohydrates. But we've just been throwing some fresh avocado on there and mm mm. For anyone who jumped on the low fat train of the eighties, avocados are great for you, do not deny yourself, try the guacamole! The funny thing about this is that beans, although an obvious choice of protein for many vegetarians, were chosen quite arbitrarily. I just happen to have made a lentil soup and mixed bean soup and had these burritos available. Go figure. Thats all it takes, seriously. Spend an hour making some soup and you have saturated fat free meals for days! Throw some avocado on there and you don't even feel deprived. These things taste good man...good.

Tonight we are having my favorite comfort meal minus the biscuits. It'll be seitan (which is a wheat gluten meat substitute), swiss chard, sweet potatoes and miso gravy. Effing delicious. Recipes are to follow, but first lets start with the soups.

Red Lentil and Ginger
got this one from Chops mom and have added a new ingredient every time I make it, usually whatever is in the fridge that has to get used, it has made for a great soup though. Super fast too done in no time.

Original recipe + Add Ins
3/4 cup red lentils
1 Tbl. Olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves diced garlic
1 inch piece of ginger grated
1 diced sweet potato
1 14 oz can of garbanzo beans
4-5 stalks of kale washed and cut into bite sized pieces or spinach or whatever green you have that is about to go bad!
1 Tsp of cumin
1 Tsp of salt
1 Tsp of pepper
1 Tsp of ground ginger
4 cups of vegetable stock

Any or all of the Italicized ingredients can be left out, I added them in and they do taste good
Saute the onion in the OO till translucent 5 minutes or so.
Add garlic, ginger, and sweet potato and saute for 2 minutes.
Stir in red lentils, garbanzo beans and greens and saute for another minute.
Add Veg stock, bring to a boil and then bring it down to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add S+P to taste.

Bean Soup
You need a slow cooker for this one, or leave it on the stove for a few hours while you go about your business (or use canned beans and cook for less time).

1 cup dried kidney beans
1 cup of dried pinto beans
1 can of corn
1 can of diced tomatos in their juices
5 cups of veg stock
2 bell peppers (I use red and orange) diced
2 onions diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Tbl. Olive oil
1 Tbl chili powder
1 Tbl Sea salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbl cumin
1 tsp coriander

Saute Onions on medium heat in OO till translucent 5 minutes
Add in garlic saute 1 minute
Add in peppers saute 1 minute
Add in dried beans and spices, mix well
Add in cans of corn and tomatoes mix well
Add in broth.
Bring to boil and then to simmer for 3-4 hours till beans are cooked. If using canned beans it only needs about an hour, but the long simmer time lets the flavors really meld well.

Happy Souping

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Vegan Diet (greens on greens with Tempeh)

Cooking vegan is easier for me than the other few diets I've tried (especially the one that involved NO food). Although, I imagine, as a few days go by I may grow a little tired of soy and long for my free range egg breakfast. Unfortunately soy becomes a major part of many vegan and vegetarian diets and despite its claims it isn't always the best for you. Most soy foods are majorly processed and any food out of its whole form gets rather confusing for the body. In preparation for this diet Chop and I bought mostly vegetables, grains (quinoa is a great source of protein), and beans. However we did prepare for a possible craving and bought vegetarian chicken nuggets thingies. I just read the label to learn that they are not vegan, they contain egg. This means that in 10 days when we are done with this diet there will still be fake chicken "thingies" in the freezer to be made.

Fake chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes with miso gravy, and biscuits was my comfort food meal of choice for years. I never made the connection until I was discussing this with my Health Counseling mentor. During our talk it kind of poured out of me that this was also the 1 meal that my father and I would have the 1 night a year we would eat at home (we always went out to eat). Weavers chicken with Bisquick biscuits. Since making this connection I no longer crave this meal. I had decided that the next time I craved chicken and biscuits I would call my dad and then the craving never came. I love asking that question of my clients now, when in your life did you eat "that" food, its great to see what connections are made.

Vegan Recipe: Greens on greens with Tempeh
Greens: 4 stalks of kale, collards, bok chop or cabbage (I used kale and bok choy)
Cut up greens in small bite size pieces
Steam for 5-7 minutes till bright green

Crispy Tempeh: one package of organic tempeh cut into inch pieces
1/2 inch of Olive oil on medium heat
pan fry tempeh till golden brown, sprinkle with garlic powder near end of cooking

Tahini Dressing (awesome!)
1/3 cup tahini
3 Tbl. Shoyu (soy sauce)
3 Tbl. umeboshi vinegar
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 cup of water

Put all ingredients in food processor. Blend and add water till desired consistency.

This is a really simple meal with a food processor or blender. I put my greens and tempeh over wheat soba noodles to make the meal go a little further. Mmmmm Mmmmm

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanks is given (personal history with meat)

I was 17 when I ate my first red meat. My parents had made an early decision to raise me vegetarian which slowly became me eating chicken and the occasional fishstick but still, I had never tried a meatball. I was at Burger King with my friends when I had my first bite followed by my very own Whopper Jr. I came home and told my mom "I had something to tell her", I was 17. After her heart dropped (and so did her face), my news of the Whopper Jr. came easy and she laughed, relieved. For the next 2 years I seamlessly entered the meat eaters world (I was never far from it, working at both BK and KFC). When I was 20 I started dating a vegetarian and learned more and more about why my parents had made that decision 20 years ago. I slowly converted and after 6 months broke my "clean living" diet once, I stopped for a glazed donut and iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts, I took a few bites and sips, was sickened by the sugar and dumped them in the trash.

I had been vegetarian for 3 years when I found myself in a face off with a plate of Shrimp Scampi. The SS won and I ate the shellfish for the first time since becoming vegetarian. Soon after I moved to San Francisco I became vegan (eating no animal products at all) and this began my roller coaster of vegetarian living. To eat or not to eat eggs, fish, or cheese was a question that I would consistently change my answer to. In SF it was easy to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet with so many great restaurant options and I hardly cooked and ate well. When I decided to move back to Block Island I made the conscious decision to start eating fish again and this is where I have been for the last 3 years. Since exploring more and more and moving further and further from my VegNews magazine (a great proponent for veg. living) I have been eating free range eggs, organic cheese, and fish is a staple when I go out to eat.

This past weekend I found myself at yet another crossroads and it wasn’t with the Turkey. I ate a hamburger. I will save you all my inner turmoil and both sides of the argument to eat or not to eat meat. All my many reasons not to eat meat still hold true for me and this will not become a regular occurrence, unless of course I surprise myself and it does. I had become curious more recently since working with so many people who eat a lot of meat and with my own experimenting and knowledge of food. The beef I ate (sounds so bizarre) was from a farm who Pasteur raises their cows and does not give them any antibiotics or growth hormones. This means the cow grazes on untreated grass and lives a pretty optimal life for a cow, with little intervention, except when it comes time for the slaughter. What prompted me to try it was the fact that my mouth was watering. A lot. This is extremely rare for me, I am not one who pines for meat or even looks twice at it really. I knew it was a healthy high quality burger and so I started with a bite, ate half of it, it tasted good, and ended up with serious indigestion.

The burger was eaten the day we were to "sacrifice" the turkey and 2 ducks. So after i ate my slaughtered cow I was on to kill some birds, not a vegetarians best day. Chopper loves meat and he loves animals so I was really excited to see how this experience would effect him. He is also especially fond of ducks, really, he always points them out and stops to watch them and he never orders duck at a restaurant. But he eats turkey and just about everything else and so wanted to take part. I did not hold the knife at all, but watched on and said a little prayer for the animals as Chopper and our friend Nicolas slit the birds throats (sorry for the graphics but this is how it was done and I feel as though we shouldn't pussyfoot around it). They were both very loving to the birds and saddened to have to do it, but this is the price that was paid to put the turkey on the table this Thanksgiving. After the birds had passed on there was plucking and removal of the innards to be done. Chopper, Nicolas, and his son Gillen all took part in this very arduous and smelly process. The experience reminded us all that at one time, when we had to kill our own meat for dinner, eating it was saved for very special occasions. This lead to more of a respect for the animal who was giving its life for food, more respect for the work that goes into it, and less health problems (to be frank).

So with no further ado... Chopper and I have decided that our next diet will be Vegan for 10 days. No animal products or by products. No eggs, dairy, meat, honey, or fish. We start today. Vegans actually do not wear any leather or wool as well, we have both decided to try to stick to this the best we can, considering what we own. I would love for anyone who would like to, to try along as best they can. Maybe this just means cutting back on meat for the week or experimenting with different forms of protein. Whatever this means to you, it will make a difference to your health or to your perspective. Gobble gobble.

Eating the burger. Probably talking about my "feeeeelings" on the subject.

Chopper paying homage to the duck.

The birds are dipped in boiling water to soften the feathers for plucking. Here the work continues.
He looks like he's running away.

Finished duck l'orange

A most memorable Thanksgiving. Beautiful food and friends (family). At the table everyone said thank you for all that they cherish including the animals that were to feed us. Gillen (11) who raised the birds and then helped to clean and prepare them said a very special thank you which brought tears to my eyes.

For more pictures please visit Maddie's blog
and get her rounded perspective on this great week.