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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vegan Cooking

In my late twenties and early thirties I was a vegetarian, my husband and children were not, it was challenging and eventually I stopped being a vegetarian. Earlier this year I started to consciously reduce the amount of meat in my diet and when I did eat meat I made sure it was good quality.  I also decided to drastically reduce the amount of sugar I consume, sugar is SO destructive causing a lot of inflammation and tiredness, not to mention the affect on blood sugar. Slowly but surely my diet became vegetarian, it wasn't my goal, it has just happened as I move to healthier and healthier eating.  Change comes slowly and is best implemented  over time, reducing meat, reducing sugar came first. Then no meat, then removing food items made with white flour, and cutting back on my consumption of high carbohydrate vegetables.  Next it was time to make sure I was getting a consistent amount of fiber in diet, I eat a serving of All Bran each morning. Another thing I have changed is the amount of water I drink each day, I try to at least three quarts per day plus tea, and my morning cup of coffee.  Soon the morning cup of coffee will be history as I plan to cut back the amount of caffeine I consume. Then all of sudden I wasn't eating cheese, I discovered Almond Milk, so have that on my cereal in place of cows milk, and I am not eating eggs. Google almond milk to learn of the health benefits, there is 1 gram of fiber in a 1 cup serving and ONLY 40 calories and it tastes great on cereal. I like rice pudding, using almond milk instead of cows milk, brown rice instead of white, eliminating the butter and halving the sugar, I get a wonderful rice pudding dessert with a 1/3 of the calories of conventional rice pudding and still get all of the flavor.  I like to add cardamon or nutmeg to my rice pudding.
 As I read the above paragraph it seems like a huge amount of change, yet it does not seem like it, as one change was made the next change just seemed the right thing to do and was easily incorporated. I eat a wide variety of low carb vegetables like onions, kale, collard greens, spinach, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, lots of beans, fresh fruit, quinoa, brown rice, and the occasional squash.  I have experimented with different recipes and made some extremely flavorfully complex soups, stir fries and casseroles.  The best thing is that Dave is eating so much better, he loves his meat and I could not imagine him ever being a vegetarian, but he consumes more vegetables then he ever has and enjoys many of the dishes I make served along side a pork chop or piece of chicken, it seems like a win win for both of us. Dave discovered that hummus is good, he is eating a lot less cheese and now eats Wasa whole grain crackers with hummus!
I have raided our local library for vegan cook books, and found one author I really like, Robin Robertson. I like Robin's cook books, she does not get into complicated recipes, they are generally easy to make and most often I have all of the ingredients.
Am I preaching here that everyone should be a vegan, absolutely not, but I am preaching that incorporating some healthy new things into your diet may pave the way to more healthy changes and ultimately good health. Would I say I am a vegetarian or a vegan, for the most part yes, but if I felt like eating some salmon, or a small steak, or a piece of chicken I probably would, I just really haven't felt like eating meat that is all. And my overall goal is to make sure that I do all I can to ensure good health. If you have Netflix you might want to check out the documentary Forks Over Knives, it is a bit long, but the message is good and it is inspiring, I have watched it several times.

Today I made Black Bean Soup with a Splash - the splash was a 1/3 cup of sherry, a delicious soup which will feed me for the next few days. The recipe was out of 1000 Vegan Recipes.

Along with the black bean soup I made Portuguese Kale Soup, the recipe is from Carb Conscious Vegetarian, this soup is amazingly good, I have made it over and over again, this too will feed me over the next few days. I don't always use kale, collard greens work well too.

 Most soup recipes call for vegetable broth, I have tried several brands and I like this one the best, I buy it at Kroger in the Natural Foods section.  I like the Swanson vegetable broth, but they do not offer a low sodium version.  I have tried a few store brand vegetable broths but was not overly keen on the flavor. Purchased broth is convenient, I may start to experiment with making my own.

I have renewed my loan from the library for the Carb Conscious Vegetarian cook book multiple times, the book now looks extremely well used as I have had it in constant use, I am going to order my very own copy for keeps. I just found the 1000 Vegan Recipes cook book this week at the library, I have only made the black bean soup, it is good. I may end up purchasing a copy of this book too if it proves to be useful. I certainly will continue to sing the praises of Robin Robertson she has done a phenomenal  job with both of these books.

I found the Vegan Holiday Kitchen cook book at our local branch library, it has some very nice recipes, more suitable for holidays as most are quite rich.  I plan to make the wildrice stuffed acorn squash, pictured on the front cover, for Thanksgiving, along with all the traditional foods for the rest of the family.

On Monday I went to a Walmart in Fort Wayne, rather than my local one, and I found that they had an International aisle, something my Walmart does not have. What an array of foods are to be found in this wonderful aisle, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Bosnian, African, Middle Eastern, Greek, and probably more countries represented.  As I perused the selection, I came across Ahmad Tea of London in the Middle Eastern section, I bought a box of the Cardamon tea, (I love cardamon), along with the tea was a complimentary glass tea cup, all this for $4 what a deal.  The tea is so nice, no bitterness, and nice hint of cardamon.  I am going to try some other varieties of the Ahmad tea, I looked it up on Amazon, all kinds have 5 star reviews, although the prices on Amazon were five to six times higher than Walmart. And don't you just love the tea cup??

An interesting fact about cardamon, it is the worlds third most expensive spice, with vanilla coming in first and saffron second.  Cardamon is very nice when added to rice pudding, in fact it is da bomb!!


VickyF said...

Oh, please post your rice pudding recipe! :)

Bean said...

Will do.