Vegetarian Culinarian

Recipes and resources for food lovers going green, local, and compassionate.

Tag: recipe

Oprah’s Vegan Week & A Recipe for Moong Dhal

Watch Oprah’s show about thinking about what you eat and where it comes from here: http://myown.oprah.com/search/index.html?q=vegan%20week

Although I was glad that Oprah did this show, and I appreciated Michael Pollan’s contributions, I was not happy with the way vegan eating was represented. The whole aura of the show was “doing without” and making substitutions. It looked and felt like everyone was on a strict diet. They seemed to view it this way, as well.

Our society is most familiar with a meat/starch/vegetable format for meals. Instead of looking at other meal formats, the vegan representative took one of Oprah’s producers on a grocery run which included only highly processed meat and dairy substitutes, and instructed the producer to cook what she normally would using these processed substitutes. If you are going to examine what you eat and where it comes from, you can’t simply raise your head enough to make substitutions and then stop there. There are meat substitutes that I enjoy and cook with – in moderation. You can’t, however, take the meat/starch/vegetable eating habits of our society and simply throw in a meat substitute and make a vegan. The reason everyone on the show was floundering is because of the way our society views meals and food. What can you make instead of your chicken dinner with peas and mashed potatoes? Interchange the chicken with a chicken-like soy product and use soy milk and butter-substitute in the mashed potatoes? Ugh. Please. You simply can’t live off of processed substitutes any more than you can live off any other processed food.

Ours is an animal-based eating format. To continue eating in this format without animal products is strict and diet-ish. No wonder everyone felt deprived. If you see the need to be cognizant of what you are putting in your body and where it comes from, you need to take the extra step and look at other eating formats the world over. You need to educate yourself and experiment with a variety of nutrient sources. Meat and dairy are two, out of hundreds, of nutrient sources on this earth. Consider that there are over 65 types of leafy greens, over 29 types of legumes, 15 types of sea vegetables, and over 50 types of root tubers – I’m not even getting into seeds and grains – each teeming with nutrients. To eliminate meat from your diet, you need to take a look at other meal formats.

My favorite eating format is Indian, which includes a wealth of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. Although some Indian cuisine features animal products, the Indian eating format is not animal-centric. To illustrate, in most cities in India, a restaurant will advertise that it is “non-vegetarian” – if it doesn’t specify, then it is assumed to be vegetarian, which is the norm.

I spent my high school years in Tanzania, which has a large Indian population. I was often at friends’ houses, watching their mothers make whole grain chapatis and moong dhal. Dhal is a sort of thick soup made of lentils, beans, or peas. There are as many recipes for dhal as there are households. Mung beans are highly prized in Ayurvedic cooking and are often used to make khichari, a nourishing dish for those who are ill.

When I make moong dhal, I eat it with quinoa, which is a high-protein grain. Each grain is smaller than a grain of rice, and round instead of oblong. Its taste is mild, like rice, but slightly nuttier. I cook mine in the rice cooker, using one cup quinoa to one cup water. Use the quinoa link above for cooking instructions on the stove top and quinoa recipes.

Moong Dhal Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup mung beans, rinsed well

2 garlic cloves or 1 tsp garlic powder (or more, to taste)

1 tsp red chile flakes

2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

water

Directions

If using garlic cloves, peel, smash, and dice the garlic, and saute in olive oil or coconut oil briefly over medium high heat. Add the chile flakes and turmeric, and heat for half a minute or so. If using garlic powder, add all spices at once to the oil and heat briefly. Add your mung beans, stir a bit, and then add 3 cups of water. When the water boils, lower heat to medium and let simmer 15 to 20 minutes, adding in your salt about half way through. You may need to add more water throughout the cooking time, so keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally. The beans should be quite soft when done, having absorbed all of the cooking liquid. I prefer mine this way, mostly whole, but partially smashed due to the stirring. Others like to place the beans in a processor, so that the dhal has a smooth consistency similar to split pea soup. Taste your dhal, then adjust seasonings as necessary.

Photo Credits: Photo by Dan at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=587

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Recipe: White “Sausage” Gravy from The Grit Restaurant

(Before you read this post….Yes, I believe in whole, fresh food – mostly raw and green. But the half of me that is not Tongan is deeply southern. Sometimes I need some soul food. Biscuits and gravy are my guilty pleasure…)

The next time you are in Athens, Georgia, you need to experience The Grit. The first time I opened the menu at this edgy-yet-homey, art-filled vegetarian & vegan restaurant, I was daunted by the idea that I could order anything off of it. (So used to scanning a menu to find what is vegetarian and then choosing between two or three options…) This is true, down-home, southern cooking that happens to be vegetarian/vegan. I thought I’d forever given up my grandmother’s biscuits and gravy – but I experienced a version no meat-eater could turn away at The Grit. The Reuben Sandwich (on their homemade Ted Bread) gave me chills. It was at The Grit that I discovered I could actually love tofu. I now cook it the Grit-way (which involves breading with nutritional yeast) at home at least three times a week. They serve up everything from southern Collard Greens to southwestern Roasted Corn and Zucchini Quesadilla to Coconut Ginger Curry.  About half of their items are vegan, including their homemade Famous Vegan Ranch Dressing. All of these recipes (130 in total) are published in The Grit Cookbook, which I was lucky enough to receive for my birthday last year. 🙂 I love that it includes recipes for staples, like hummus, breads, dressings, stocks, pie crusts, tofu, and seitan, as well as recipes for dishes, like  Sunday Miracle BBQ Sandwich, and desserts, like their vegan Crumble-Top Apple Pie. Here is their recipe for White “Sausage” Gravy. If you were raised by a southern family, you know what to do with this. Slather it over fluffy biscuits and escape into heaven. The only question: After cutting your biscuit in half, do you place the fluffy, just-cut halves of the biscuit down on the plate, or face up? My mom and I argue about this. I side with my grandmother, who hailed from Tennessee: fluffy side up. And so, lucky you, on to the recipe:

The Grit White “Sausage” Gravy

Ingredients [Note: The butter and milk links take you to the Living Cruelty Free page which discusses dairy farm certification]

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter

8 breakfast link vegetarian “sausages” such as Morningstar Farms, frozen

1/2 scant cup all-purpose flour

4 cups whole milk [Note: I haven’t yet tried this with soy milk…if you do, let me know how it turns out!]

2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce [Note: the non-vegan sauce contains fish]

1 1/2 teaspoon salt [Note: I like sea salt]

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 scant teaspoon ground sage

1/2 scant teaspoon dried rosemary

Directions: [Note: These directions are my sum-up of what the cookbook says…]

Melt butter in skillet and fry frozen “sausages” until thawed. Either remove from skillet, chop up, and return to skillet, or do it the lazy-Sunday way and mush them into pieces with your bamboo spatula right in the skillet. Set aside.

In a saucepan or large skillet, melt butter, then stir in flour.  Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture has bubbled for 4 minutes. Gradually add milk, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly all the while. I sometimes use a whisk for this. What happens is that what you have in the pan is a nice, thick, gravy already, but once you add milk, it thins out. Whisking it ensures that the milk blends evenly with the gravy. Stir it longer, over heat, and your thin gravy thickens up again. If you get impatient and add the milk all at once, your gravy may not thicken up at all…. so be sure to let it thicken up between additions of milk. Add the Worcestershire sauce and spices with the last addition of milk. Continue stirring until your gravy thickens up again, then add the cooked “sausage”. Remove from heat and allow to sit five to ten minutes before serving.

Recipe: Blue Corn Honey Face Scrub

Save money and packaging, and avoid chemical additives, by making your own face scrub!

Blue Corn Honey Face Scrub

Ingredients:

Equal parts honey and yogurt (about 1 tbsp each will do for one or two scrubs)

Ground Blue Corn

Directions:

Mix the yogurt and honey, then add in the blue cornmeal a bit at a time until you have a soft paste. Smooth onto your face in a circular motion, and then let sit five minutes. Rinse off with warm water, then splash with cool water.

Photo Credits: Me! I took this photo walking home from the market in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.