Wednesday, July 12, 2006

You Don't Eat Meat?

How many times have you heard this: "What? You don't eat meat?!". "What can you eat?" Well, times are changing and main-stream groceries along with most restaurants (even fast food restaurants) have vegetarian choices.

Educating the population is slowing turning the tide. The senior population is catching on to the benefits of the veggie diet. Public eateries now highlight menus with "healthy" choices that are veggie or will gladly make veggie changes. Family gatherings are more open to different types of diets (vegetarian being one of them). Food companies are listening and stocking the frozen food sections in groceries with veggie burgers, veggie ribs, veggie crumble, veggie sausage, etc. There are many types of tofu, soy cheeses and non-dairy ice creams. These foods are processed and not meant to be one's entire food choices; however, vegetarian lunch and dinner plates are becoming easier to put together.

The following list explains the varieties of a vegetarian diet:

Lacto vegetarian: no meat or eggs but consumes dairy
Ovo vegetarian: no meat or dairy but consumes eggs
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: no meat but consumes dairy and eggs
Vegan: no meat, eggs, dairy, honey and avoids all animal products such as leather and fur

The following list is less common practices of the vegetarian diet:

Raw food: usually vegan food not heated over 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) - may be warmed slightly but never cooked
Fruitarian: only food which falls off the plant without harming the plant such as nuts, fruit, seeds, beans, tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, etc.

Each individual must choose for him/herself the type of vegetarian diet; plus, must be mindful of eating a variety of nutritious food and limit quantity. But, don't forget to have fun, be inventive and experiment with different recipes.

Garbanzo Beans aka Chickpeas

Here is my first challenge to anyone who is reading this post:
It is not unusual for people to say, "I don't like chickpeas!" Below is an amazing recipe using this often unwanted bean. Wait! It's delicious! Just try it!

Reasons for you to wrap your arms around this versatile legume? OK?

1. Good source of iron and protien
2. Has low glycemic carbohyrates (the best kind)
3. Low in calories and fat free
4. Cholesterol lowering fiber
5. Contributes to heart health (folate and magnesium)

Garbanzo Tacos (submitted by burch)

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

2 cans garbanzo beans
1 packet taco seasoning (any brand)
lard-free tortillas or hard taco shells
any other items you like on your taco


Dump both cans of beans into a skillet (but use the liquid from only one can).

Dump in the taco seasoning. Stir and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Add beans and other ingredients to your tacos, burritos, and/or taco salads.

Especially good recipe for those who aren't crazy about the flavor of garbanzo beans. The seasoning takes over.

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes

A Custom-Made Pantry List

Time to get started. The #1 important item to consider is the Pantry. We think of the pantry as something our ancestors had. But if you're lucky enough to have a space in the kitchen large enough to hold all the essentials of great healthy cooking, that is a pantry. So whether your pantry is in different cupboards or not, take a look and see what surprises are there. Don't forget to check the expiration dates.

The Custom-Made Pantry List (linked above) can be found on VegWeb. I have repeated the list below, but keep in mind, because of the many different ethnic groups, not everyone will want to keep the same things on hand. Change the list in whatever ways suit your favorite cooking style (a post later on vegetarian/vegan diet choices).

Whole grain breads
Brown rice
Grains such as couscous and barley
Rolled oats
Whole grain dry cereal
Flours (wheat, unbleached, pastry, cornmeal)
Legumes (dried or canned - kidney beans, black beans, lentils)
Condiments (soy sauce, miso, mustard, pickles, etc.)
Vinegars of choice
Oils (olive, vegetable, sesame)
Soy/Rice milk of choice
Sweeteners (date, maple and unbleached cane sugars, Stevia, etc.)
Vanilla extract and other flavorings
Baking powder
Baking soda
Cornstarch or arrowroot
Nutritional yeast and baking yeast
Egg replacer of choice
Sea salt
Black pepper
Herbs and Spices
Shelf-ready tofu and or Textured Vegetable Protein
Vegetables - canned, frozen
Fruits - canned, frozen
Dried fruit (raisins, peaches, apricots and others)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Health, Wealth and Happiness

I don't know about the "Wealth", but the "Health and Happiness" can be found right in your own kitchen! Daily nutrient recommendations can be meant with a vegetarian diet. A variety of food groups, and the right amount of food is all it takes.
This page, the American dietetic Association (ADA), has good tips and resources pointing out the need to focus on protein, iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B 12. I have selected entree recipes from VegWeb to help get you on the health and happiness trail.

Protein - beans, nuts, nut butters, peas and soy products:
Beef Stroganoff You Thought You'd Never Have Again!

Iron - whole wheat breads, peas, some dried fruits (apricots, prunes, raisins), spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses and iron-fortified cereals:
Yummy Mock Chicken Salad - This is incredible, easy and inexpensive!
Spinach Casserole

Calcium - soy products (tofu, soy milk), some dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens), fortified breakfast cereals, and calcium fortified orange juice:
Soy Delicious Strawberry Banana Smoothie or Shake
Asparagus and Bok Choy Stir-fry

Zinc - beans (white, kidney and chickpeas), wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and zinc-fortified breakfast cereals:

Vitamin B 12 - nutritional yeast, B 12 fortified cereals, veggie burgers and soy milk:

My Favorite On-line Veggie Source

This is a recipe from my very favorite foodie site on the Internet: VegWeb -  You will want to check out the huge database of recipes. The recipes on VegWeb have reader comments and suggestions. This original recipe can be seen here, and this is my version:

Baked Dutch Apple Pancake
Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. margarine
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups pancake mix
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups soy milk (or as needed)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farhenheit.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a 9" baking dish. Heat in the oven or microwave just enough to melt the margarine. Remove and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Arrange apple slices, overlapping, on the syrup mixture.

Combine pancake mix and the white sugar. Stir in the soy milk to make a thick pourable batter. Pour over the apples.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Time varies according to ovens. I have a standard/convection oven (internal blower) and the time can be reduced.

When done, turn out onto a serving plate.

Serves 6