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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Healthy Vegan Eating: Quick Cooking


Are You New to Healthy Food?

I remember when I was new to vegetarianism. I didn't know how to handle the cooking. I had learned to cook with meat and chicken and now I was lost.

I have been vegetarian since 1977 and vegan since 1989. Outside of my family, most of the people I know and associate with now never knew me before I was vegan, much less before I was vegetarian. When new (kosher) restaurants open up in town, they find out pretty quickly that I'm a "go-to" person to check with if they want to find out if their vegan food tastes good to a vegan.

For the most part, I do my own cooking. But there are times that I'm really busy or really tired, so I have to have all sorts of recipes in my repertoire.

Quick and Easy Chili

When you're new to the world of vegetarianism or if you just want a quick, easy, meatless meal, you need a few ideas to get you started.

I usually do a lot of cooking since I'm the only vegan in the house and if I don't cook, I don't eat. So I keep a number of items on hand for those days that I just don't have the time or the energy to cook a full meal.

Canned beans fill almost an entire shelf in the basement. I use them very liberally. I also try to keep cans of tomato products (fire roasted tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, etc.). I also like to buy hot peppers when they are available in the organic section (I broil them and then freeze them so I can use them months later). Keep a collection of spices you like -- I like curry powder, coriander, fresh ginger and several other spices. Oil is also an important ingredient. I usually use olive oil, but canola, peanut, walnut and almond oil, or other high monounsaturated oils should be on your cabinet shelf. Nuts add healthy fats and crunchy textures. Vegetables, fresh or frozen, round out the important ingredients.

These recipes can save you time:

  • large can of crushed tomatoes (the variety is up to you)
  • 1/2 cup each of raw peanuts and almond
  • bell peppers of any color
  • onions/garlic/leeks/scallions
  • hot peppers to taste
  • mushrooms (your favorite variety)
  • two cans of your favorite beans (I usually use one can of black beans and one can of red kidney beans)
  • spices
  • Frozen vegetables

Take a large can of crushed tomatoes (the variety is up to you) and pour it into a pot. I add 1/2 cup each of raw peanuts and almond and cook on a low flame about 1/2 hour. In the meantime, I saute veggies: bell peppers of any color, onions/garlic/leeks/scallions, hot peppers to taste, mushrooms (your favorite variety) until cooked through.

When the peanuts and almonds are cooked through, add two cans of your favorite beans (I usually use one can of black beans and one can of red kidney beans). Add spices you like (I use brown mustard, curry powder and chili powder). Add the sauteed vegetables. After stewing a bit, add frozen vegetables (broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, etc.). Stir it all together and stew until it's all cooked through.

Another Quick Recipe

  • Oil for sauteeing (Olive Oil)
  • Fresh ginger
  • mustard
  • a small amount of sweetener
  • Curry Powder
  • Minced Garlic
  • other veggies you like (onions or other similar veggies)
  • Favorite Beans (canned or cooked dried)

Put two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, grate some fresh ginger and add a bit of mustard, a small amount of sweetener (I use stevia or agave nectar), curry powder. Add minced garlic and any other veggies you like (onions or other similar veggies), peppers, etc. When the veggies are cooked through, add a can of your favorite beans (I like black beans) and cover the pan. Cook on a low flame until all the ingredients are heated through.

You can eat this alone or add it to cooked pasta -- you can also use some pasta cooking liquid, mash the beans and add the liquid for a thinner sauce.

Experiment with these ingredients and others, to your taste. Beans and vegetables spiced correctly can make a very filling meal. Enjoy!

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