vegetarian

02/16/15 Life , Recipe of the Week , Recipes # , , , , , , , ,

The Paleo Vegetarian

Whole30Ha! I got you there, didn’t I? That’s because there’s no such thing.

Except there will be for the next thirty days, because today is the first day of Whole30 for me. As many of you know, I’ve been a vegetarian for the last three years (I guess I would technically be a Pescatarian, since I did sometimes eat fish). It wasn’t as difficult a transition as you might expect. I was ready to eat healthier and also wanted to do my part to contribute to a sustainable way of life for the planet (modern cattle and poultry farming techniques wreak havoc on the planet in more ways than one and require WAY more land and water than an equivalent amount of plant food).

To be honest, I was surprised when my teenagers all decided to go vegetarian, too. But they did, and we all went veggie cold turkey. Immediately we all felt better, more energetic, CLEANER.

Until I didn’t.

About a year ago I started feeling sluggish and tired. After an initial weight loss, I actually started to gain weight, something I didn’t understand because I was eating SO CLEAN. Not just vegetarian, but very little sugar or processed food and tons of whole food, veggies, etc. I didn’t notice it right away. It was more that one day I realized I just didn’t FEEL WELL, and when I looked back, I realized I hadn’t felt my best for quite some time.

So I started reading about body chemistry and metabolism and all kinds of other science-y type things, and I came to the conclusion that I am probably insulin resistant. It doesn’t really surprise me. Some of my family members on one side have diabetes, and I’ve always felt a little shaky when I eat too many carbs or too much sugar. My hope that it would be enough to eat clean and include lots if plant protein just didn’t prove true.

In my reading, I came across the Whole30 program, which is a kind of hard-core, 30-day Paleo regimen designed to help you determine which foods don’t work with your body by first eliminating them, then slowly reintroducing them one at a time. The plan relies heavily on animal flesh and veggies (plus smaller amounts of healthy fats and fruit). After reading the book, the science made perfect sense to me, and I definitely recognized some of the symptoms of insulin resistance in the way I’d been feeling. One of the things I like most about the program is it’s reliance on how YOU feel eating certain foods. The first thirty days is the same for everyone (no sugar, alcohol, carbs, dairy, or legumes of any kind), but after that, it’s up to you to decide which of the restricted foods make you feel healthy and which don’t. This makes perfect sense to me. I know lots of vegans and vegetarians who are super fit and healthy and who FEEL GREAT. I also know lots of people on Paleo-type plans who are equally fit and healthy and who also FEEL GREAT. I think the human body is more mysterious than we are willing to admit. A one-size-fits-all nutritional plan just doesn’t make sense to me. Instead, I think it’s wiser to focus on eating whole foods (processed food and sugar isn’t good for anyone) and then pay attention to our body’s cues to determine what’s best for us.

Today is Day One of the program for me, and while eating meat feels strange, I’m excited to see if this way of eating makes me feel better. I’m a big believer in listening to my own instincts – physical and otherwise. I trust myself to know when something isn’t working for me or my body, so I’m putting faith in myself to recognize when I need to make a change. I’m keeping an open mind and will re-evaluate based on the way I feel at the end of thirty days. The Whole30 plan recommends eating humanely raised, pasture fed meat, and I’ll be doing my best to purchase meat from those kinds of sources.

I don’t AT ALL regret going vegetarian three years ago. In many ways, it’s prepared me for this kind of eating plan. I already eat very little sugar, have flirted with veganism and so don’t rely on dairy, and have already all but eliminated processed food  (trust me, when you stop eating it for awhile it doesn’t even taste good anymore). The biggest change will be giving up brown rice and legumes, because they have been a major part of my diet for the past three years. I’m hoping the novelty of meat will take the sting out, at least for the first week or so.

😉

Anyway, I wouldn’t even be mentioning this here except I know many of you follow my vegetarian recipes (oddly, my Vegetarian Stroganoff recipe is one of my highest-ranking posts) and I didn’t want to confuse you. If you found me while looking for vegetarian recipes, I hope you’ll stick around! I share your commitment to a healthy lifestyle, whatever that may be for each of us, and I look forward to keeping you all posted about my progress.

<3

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06/19/14 Life # , , , , , , ,

Vegetarian Curried Potatoes with Green Beans and Chickpeas

Curried_PotatoesTweaked this recipe from from Vegetarian Times to make my own Curried Potatoes with Green Beans and Chickpeas, and it was AH-mazing! It was also cheap, fast, and easy, and can easily be adjusted for the vegetables you have on hand.

Here’s the original recipe and the changes I made;

Curried Potatoes with Cauliflower and Peas

Serves 6

30 minutes or fewer

To make a vegan version of this vegetable curry, substitute vegetable oil for the ghee. Serve with rice and Cucumber Raita.
  • 2 tsp. ghee or melted butter
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. diced onions, or 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 6 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces (1½ lb.)
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (1½ lb.)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1. Heat ghee in pressure cooker over medium heat. Add onions, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. Stir in garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, mustard seeds, and turmeric, and sauté 2 minutes. Add potatoes, cauliflower, sugar, and ½ cup water.

2. Close pressure cooker, and bring up to high pressure. Cook 5 minutes.

3. Release pressure with quick-release button, or transfer pressure cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim to release pressure.

4. Stir peas into cauliflower mixture, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Changes as follows;

I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I cooked everything in a big skillet, including the potatoes. They took a little longer than five minutes to cook through, but it was fine.

I doubled the amount of curry powder (I like a strong curry flavor) and water (to account for the cooking of the potatoes).

I used green peans in place of the peas (didn’t have any!) and cauliflower (which doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value) and added chickpeas at the end for added protein. I also used Russet potatoes since that’s what I had on hand.

I salted liberally at the end, adding a little at a time until it tasted right.

Other than these changes, the dish was wonderful. I agree that it would be good served cold, too, as a kind of Curried Potato Salad, and I also think the spice mixture would be good as a sauté for vegetables to serve over rice or quinoa.

A winner! Teenagers loved it, too.

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08/14/13 Life , Recipe of the Week , Uncategorized # , , , ,

Recipe of the Week – Vegetarian Curry

Recipe of the Week – Vegetarian Curry

I tried to post this yesterday and WordPress decided to mess with me by deleting it. Let’s try it again!

When we first decided to move from my hometown in California to our current small rural town in the Hudson River Valley (NY), we got all kinds of funny reactions from our California friends. I heard things like, “Doesn’t it SNOW there?” and “You’ll be back in five years” and “You’re going to hate the winters.” But we’ve been here twelve years now and I can’t imagine calling anyplace else home. I hope to travel widely once the kids are gone, but this will always be home base.

And surprisingly, everyone was wrong; I don’t mind the winters. In fact, I love them as much as I love all the seasons. Seasons are good for a change junkie like me. Just when I’m bored with one set of clothes, one type of food, it’s time to switch gears, and I always look forward to the switch from light summer fare to hearty soups and stews.

But there is one thing I really had trouble with when we moved here; lack of diversity, in people, schools of thought, and yes, food. After living in a place where we could get any kind of food at any time of the day or night, I now live in a town with a diner, three pizzerias, a McDonalds, and (thankfully) one vegetarian restaurant (which serves only asian dishes like lo mein and stir-fried setan). A craving for anything more exotic sends us to New Paltz, a neighboring hippie town a half hour away with tons of amazing little ethnic restaurants.

My favorite is Lemongrass, a Thai place with the BEST pad thai and red curry. I’ve tried lots of curry recipes over the years, but they were either too complicated or they fell short of the flavor mark. This one is different. Fast and easy, it’s a healthy vegan meal packed with nutrition and fiber. It is a little spicy, but if you’re not into spicy all you have to do is decrease the amount of curry paste. We serve it over brown rice. I love it so much, I want to make a batch every week.

Hope you guys enjoy it, too!

Vegetable Red Curry

3 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil

About four cups of assorted chopped vegetables (I used 1 cup green beans, one each red and green pepper, and two carrots, but you can use whatever you have/like). Don’t chop everything too small or it will get soggy!

One medium onion, halved and sliced (rings cut in half)

One small can bamboo shoots (optional)

1 large can chickpeas, drained

1/3 cup red curry paste (found in the asian section of most grocery stores)

1 can coconut milk

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup packed cilantro

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add vegetables and onion. Saute until softened but not browning.

Add bamboo shoots and chickpeas. Saute for two more minutes.

Add curry paste and stir to combine. Heat for another minute or so.

Add coconut milk and water. Stir and let simmer about fifteen minutes until flavors combine and vegetables are desired consistency (I like ours a little firm).

Turn off heat. Add cilantro and combine.

Serve over rice and voila! Bon Apetite!
<3

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06/18/13 Recipe of the Week , Recipes , Uncategorized # , , ,

Recipe of the Week – Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo

Recipe of the Week – Vegan Fettuccine  Alfredo

This one’s mine! Because let’s face it; sometimes you just need some creamy, cheesy goodness. Which is fine… unless you’re vegan (or trying to be as much as possible, like us).

I came up with this one after testing nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute in another recipe. After some initial skepticism, I was pleasantly surprised by its cheesy, slightly-nutty Parmesan flavor and even more surprised by the whole new world of vegan dishes it opened up.

Plus, it’s super easy, fast, and requires very few ingredients.

 

Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo

Olive oil

5 cloves garlic

Fresh (chopped) or dried basil (to taste)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 package fettuccine noodles

Salt and pepper

Boil noodles according to package direction. While they are cooking, mince garlic.

Reserve four cups of pasta water, then drain noodles. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in pasta pan and saute garlic for one minute.

Reduce heat to simmer and add noodles to pan with yeast, basil and an additional 1/4 cup olive oil. Add a little of the reserved pasta water and stir until heated through and well blended. Keep adding reserved pasta water to get the dish to a “creamy” consistency. When you have it where you want it, season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Bon Apetite!

 

 

 

 

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04/23/13 Recipe of the Week # , , , , , , ,

Recipe of the Week – Pasta with Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto

Recipe of the Week – Pasta with Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto

This week’s recipe comes from Oh She Glows. It is AH-mazing and super easy. Last time I made it, I didn’t use the nutritional yeast. I can’t explain why this product made me suspicious, but it did. It just seemed… gross to put YEAST in my food.

But I’ve seen in a lot of vegan recipes and everyone seems to be a convert, swearing by nutritional yeast’s “nutty, Parmesan-like” flavor, so I did some research and decided to give it a try. Apparently, it’s a perfect source of protein that’s packed with vitamins, especially B, which has proven to be super important to me for dealing with anxiety and depression.

And I have to say, while this recipe was good last time I made it, it was GREAT with the yeast. It really did give the dish a creamy, slightly nutty/cheesy taste, and the teenagers LOVED it. Plus, it was super easy, and I think it will even be good as a cold pasta salad in the summer. If you’re a vegetarian/vegan who likes to bring a dish to cookouts, parties, etc., this is definitely a candidate.

I only made a couple of changes; I used a few more tomatoes than is called for and I used pine nuts instead of almonds (I used almonds last time and it was delicious, but Andrew said they got stuck in his braces). Otherwise, it was perfect.

And check out Oh She Glows! Angela has some fantastic vegan recipes.

Pasta with Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto

Yield: 1 cup pesto

Ingredients:

  • 9 large roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup tightly packed basil + more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling on tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Your desired amount of cooked Pasta

 

1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Place sliced tomatoes on the sheet and drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 1 hour and 10 mins at 400F. Watch closely during the last 15 minutes of roasting.

2. Reduce oven heat to 325F and toast almonds for 8-10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup into food processor and process until finely chopped. I left mine a bit chunky for texture. Remove and set aside.

3. With processor turned on, add 2 garlic cloves and let it whirl around until finely chopped. Now add in the basil and process until finely chopped.

4. Add in the oil, optional nutritional yeast, and 1.5 cups of roasted tomatoes (you will have tomatoes left over). Process until smooth. Pulse in 1/3 cup toasted almonds. Season generously with salt and pepper. I think I used about 1/2 tsp salt or a bit more.

5. Pour your desired amount of pesto over the cooked pasta and mix well. Chop the remaining roasted tomatoes and stir into pasta. Chop remaining almonds and Chiffonade the basil (see below).

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Michelle Zink is the award-winning author of over seven novels. She lives in New York with too many teenagers and too many cats.
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