Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quick and Easy Grain Dishes

Music: The Nutcracker Ballet from my iTunes library

People often ask me, so what do you eat? Here's a sampling!

This is my version of Macaroni Salad:

Half a package of pasta (any noodle, about 2 cups dry)
2 carrots, diced or chopped
1 small onion (or you could use scallions/green onions), diced
1 C frozen green peas
Enough Vegenaise to coat
A few drizzles of mustard
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Place peas in colander. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain in colander with peas (voila! they're thawed). Rinse with cold water to stop cooking process and drain well.

In a large bowl, combine with the rest of the ingredients.

Quick Vegetable Rice (from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer--her books are awesome!)
1 tbsp oil (any light oil, canola, olive, almond, etc.)
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala*
1 C basmati rice, rinsed & drained well in a sieve
1 1/2 C water
1 C frozen mixed vegetables (I used peas)

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, saute onions in oil until translucent. Add cumin & garam masala & saute an additional 2 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking. Add rice, water, & vegetables, bring to a boil, the lower to simmer for 10-15 minutes until rice is cooked.

*You can find this pre-mixed in the spice section of the grocery store, but I prefer to make my own using Kramer's recipe. In a grinder or with mortar & pestle, combine 1 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp coriander, 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp ground cinammon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, & 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg. Store in an empty spice jar.

This is a super easy pasta dish that I served with leftover Tofurky Italian-style sausage & Jim's delicious homemade bread.
From Vegan Express by Nava Atlas, I reduced the olive oil by half to 2 tbsp

Pasta Aglia Olio
Saute about 6-8 cloves of chopped garlic in 1/4 C olive oil until golden (be careful not to brown). Serve over cooked spaghetti and add about 1/4 C to 1/2 C chopped fresh parsley.

Grains are my main dishes instead of meat. Try building your meals around grains instead of meat!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Eat to Feel Well

Like most people nowadays, I am on both Facebook and Twitter. And sometimes I read my friends’ updates with a little sadness as I see my former self. I say sadness because so many of their updates are about things that used to be common for me but are no longer true: they complain about how bad they are feeling physically. Many of my friends and acquaintances are a lot younger than me, some almost twenty years or so. They complain about insomnia, food poisoning (mistakenly calling it a 24 hour flu), migraine headaches, lots of colds, and just a general feeling of malaise and pain.

All of that used to be common to me. But since going vegan, all of that is a thing of the past. It may sound cliche or trite and I’m sure many people are tired of me saying it, but I will say it anyway. Because it’s true. At forty-two years old, I feel better than I did at twenty-two. Where I used to have insomnia almost nightly, I now sleep all night long unless my cat wakes me up. Where I used to have almost daily stomachaches, I no longer remember what that even feels like. Where I used to feel so full I couldn’t even move or it felt like my food wasn’t digesting at all, that feeling has disappeared. Even my seasonal allergies (the ones I could keep at bay with Sudafed) seem to have disappeared. Leg cramps? Nope, not anymore.

My new neighbor, a woman in her late seventies who seems to be in quite a bit of pain from constant arthritis (not to mention many other ailments including allergies), has begun questioning me closely (I would say she’s almost being nosy) about being vegan, why I’m vegan, & how I’m vegan. She was shocked to learn that I take no supplements (except a weekly B-12) and that I take no prescription drugs. She was also surprised that I went vegan for my health and not just for the animals. She also wrote down the name of the book by T. Colin Campbell, The China Study, that I mentioned to her was the turning point of my being serious about going vegan for life.

I think people just have to be at a certain point in their lives where they are tired of not feeling well. I was there and I wanted it to change so I did WITHOUT DRUGS. I hope those who don’t feel well will eventually make that connection that is so vital to well-being: what you eat affects how your body feels. All the time. It also affects how you age; many people find it hard to believe my age (one neighbor, where I used to live shrieked, “Oh, my God! Where are your wrinkles?!”). Best compliment ever.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Major Downsizing

Music: The Black Keys, Brothers

Note: this post is not about being vegan. However, since being vegan involves being more aware, I think it is related.

Since moving again, I am seriously reconsidering all of my stuff. I've usually been pretty good about this but not to this extent. I think I still have way too much stuff. Oh, sure, the movers looked really happy when they asked, "this is all you have? Awesome!" But, as I was unpacking, I realized that in my new tiny space, it was still way too much. I am also very inspired by the blog, Rowdy Kittens.

So, almost weekly, I've either been giving things away on Freecycle or donating for a tax deduction to Vietnam Veterans of America. Both have made it so simple to box or bag up my possessions for removal.

And the space is really emptying out, little by little. And it feels great. I am looking at everything and I do mean everything:

Books, CDs, DVDs (I'm a librarian & we can get these all at the library)
Linens (I do not need 2 mattress pads, 2 quilts, 3 sets of sheets)
Dishes (six dinner plates, six bowls, & six small plates are plenty)
Knick knacks (too much to dust)
Pots and pans (we really only use 3 or 4 at the most)
Bakeware (since I now get a skin reaction to sugar, there's no need to bake so much)
Office supplies (um, why do I have paperclips? It's a mystery)
Purses and shoes (too many)

I'm even looking at furniture especially since our new place is so very tiny. We can share a desk and we don't need a large pine cabinet that is not only too large for this space but also is just too big and too big to move again. We don't need two snow shovels; we only have to clear the path to our front & back doors--the association takes care of the rest. Heck, we could even share with a neighbor.

Our ultimate goal is to pare down so much stuff that, when our Pittsburgh adventure is over, and we move back to Michigan, we can find a space between 500 and 600 square feet, either a large studio or one bedroom apartment or loft.

Some people have asked me why I am doing this. Well, to be honest, since moving to another state, I've come to realize what's really important; family, friends, relationships. Stuff no longer means much.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vegan Sampler Part III

Music: soundtrack to Sense & Sensibility (1995)

Non-vegans are always perplexed (and even look a bit worried) that I can't possibly get enough of a variety of foods in my diet. I'll let you in on a little secret: I eat way more variety now than I ever did as a non-vegan. Take a look at these delicious meals.

Oat sage patties on a toasted Food for Life sesame bun with the fixings (greens, onions, avocado) and Dill Cauliflower salad.

Steamed then broiled brussels sprouts sprinkled with nutritional yeast, sauteed tofu, and Trader Joe's brand Harvest Grains blend on the side.

Leftover Cuban beans and rice (black beans & short-grain brown rice) with pickled pepperoncini, and steamed bok choy with ume plum vinegar & olive oil.