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Soup Time!

Every year I look forward to the arrival of the cool fall days so that I can make a BIG pot of soup!  Making soup is one of my favorite things, for many reasons:  it’s really easy, I get to be creative with whatever is in the frig and pantry, it’s delicious, and very nutritious, and….. because I make a BIG pot of soup, there’s always leftovers!

Carrot Soup with Cilantro

 

 

 

Though this soup doesn’t have squash in it, it looks and tastes like the perfect fall soup.  It’s a carrot and sweet potato soup shared by my friend, Geri, from the cookbook, Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook, by Lucy Moll.

Carrot Soup with Cilantro (serves 6)

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted vegan butter, or high-heat oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons brown basmati rice or regular long-grain rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric or curry powder (I put in both!)
  • 5 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or fresh parsley

In a large pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon butter or oil over medium heat.  Toast the fennel seeds until slightly darkened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the apple, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the rice, turmeric or curry powder, vegetable stock or water, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer until the rice and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  Remove and discard bay leaf.

Let cool some, and then transfer mixture, in manageable batches, to a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.  Return the pureed soup to the pot.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, if desired.

To serve, drizzle the soup with the remaining melted butter or oil and sprinkle with cilantro or fresh parsley.

Pumpkin Soup (serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized leek, white parts only, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped apple or pear
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1  (15-oz) can low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • About 30 oz. pumpkin puree (either from your own pumpkins or cans)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • Cayenne, and dill or parsley  for garnishing

In a medium-large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.  Add the leek, apple, sugar, spices and salt, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the leek is softened.  Add the vegetable broth and water.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the apple pieces are very tender.

Stir in the pumpkin puree.  Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender until smooth, adding a bit of the coconut milk and almond milk to each batch until all has been added.  Return the soup to the pot and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, to desired temperature.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and fresh herbs of your choice.

I hope you enjoy these fall soup recipes.   If you’re like me, you’ll probably double the recipes so you’ll have soup for days!

Coming soon is a recipe for Rooibos Butternut “Pizzettas”, a very simple and delicious way to roast squash rounds and serve as a fun fall appetizer.

Until then….. JOYFUL EATING!

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Sea Vegetables? The What and How….

Several people have asked about my last post, Skipping the Middle Fish and Going Straight to the Source, saying that they have been concerned about mercury and other toxins in fish, and it makes sense to go straight to the source for the nutrition, and eat sea vegetables.   You may also be asking the question that if there is mercury and toxins in fish, why wouldn’t they also be in the sea vegetables?

Most research shows that while anything from the sea is vulnerable to mercury and toxins, levels in sea vegetables are lower than in fish. According to Livestrong, “A study published in the 2009 issue of the “Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health” indicates that seaweed presented a relatively low quantity of mercury in the Korean diet, where seaweed is eaten frequently — 0.02 mg per person per day compared with the 1.8 mg per person per day from seafood, considered to be the greatest mercury risk (and) the small risk might be mitigated by the health benefits of seaweed.”

Dangers of contamination can be further reduced or eliminated by purchasing “certified organic sea vegetables”.   Most reputable companies have test results that are far below accepted safe standards. Fortunately, there are no known allergies to sea vegetables, so pretty much everyone is safe to incorporate them into the diet.

TYPES OF SEA VEGETABLES

Finding sea vegetables in a normal grocery store is likely impossible, though you might check the health foods section. But I’ve noticed quite a few different types of sea vegetables at my local Whole Foods and New Seasons.  These marketing terms are mainly broad categories, rather than specific species.

  • Alaria – A black or dark green seaweed
  • Agar-agar – Seaweed-derived gelatin
  • Arame – Dark black and mild in flavor
  • Dulse – A cold-water red algae common in Iceland
  • Kelp – Large brown seaweeds
  • Kombu – A specific class of edible kelp
  • Nori – Dried sheets of red algae
  • Sea Lettuce – Leafy and dark green
  • Wakame – A bit stronger flavor and tougher texture than most

HOW DO I USE SEA VEGETABLES?

With so many varieties of sea vegetables to choose from, there are naturally any number of ways to use them. Here are a few that I’ve used or read about.

  • Soup/stew – Add kombu or alaria near the end of cooking to increase the mineral content of the soup.  A couple strips chopped is all that’s needed as it grows several times it’s size when hydrated. They do not need to be soaked.
  • Salad – Add soaked and chopped wakame (10-15 minutes) to a green salad.
  • Stir Fry – Arame works really well to add to your stir fries, especially when cooked up with something brightly colored to contrast its blackness. Carrots, green beans, red peppers…all offer a visually appealing contrast. Soak for about five minutes, then add to your dish.
  • Beans – Kombu helps them cook faster and improves digestibility.
  • Nori Rolls – Have fun making sushi.  It’s so easy!  Simply take a sheet of nori, add some cooked rice, cucumber slices, avocado, shredded carrot, or other veggies of your choice, roll up and slice.  Serve with some tamari and (a little) wasabi.  Yummm….   Some stores also carry nori “crackers” seasoned and ready to eat.
  • Dulse – This is a great, “salty” snack right out of the bag.

And of course don’t forget that you can always use the soaking water in your cooking to retain the few minerals that soak out and to add more flavor. In my experience, sea vegetables aren’t going to ruin a dish with their taste, since what I’ve had has all been pretty mild.

Here’s a recipe for a Mock Tuna Salad!

2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

1/2 medium-sized white onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 to 1/2 cup Veganaise

1 dill pickle or equivalent of dill pickle relish

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

roasted seaweed (optional)

Drain both cans of chickpeas and rinse very well.  Mash up with a fork or place in a food processor to get them to the consistency of shredded tuna.  Place chickpeas in a mixing bowl.  Dice the pickle, half of the white onion, the celery, and place in bowl.  Mix in Veganaise (amount depends on how creamy you want it), mustard, salt and pepper.  I know I said the roasted seaweed is optional, but I would highly recommend putting it in there.  It’s what gives it that slightly “fishy” flavor.  You can usually find a package of multiple sheets in the Asian section in your grocery.  I found mine at Kroger.  They are supposed to be used for sushi, so I took an entire sheet (approx. 8″ by 9″) and crumpled it as fine as possible and threw it in the mix.  Don’t be scared.  It adds the finishing flavor touch.  Mix well and scoop on toasted bread with lettuce, tomato, or whatever your heart desires!  Also great on crackers!

As you can see, there are quite a few options to get your sea vegetables!

References

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/470501-what-are-side-effects-of-eating-seaweed/#ixzz284QeSkwg

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Skipping the Middle Fish and Going Straight to the Source

I have been hearing a lot of people talking about the importance of fish in their diet – that they could never become vegan because they know how fish, and fish oil, is good for them.   If you only skim this article, please read carefully the paragraph in bold marked ***Bingo***!

There was a ton of great information available on the 30-Day Vegan Challenge with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.   One of the messages was so important, that I want to share it with you on this site.  In one of the sessions, Patrick-Goudreau is talking about the importance of the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, and also the absorption of these essential nutrients.  She writes:

A nutrient – like protein and calcium – that has been touted as strictly animal- based is Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements are flying off the shelves, and fish is routinely recommended as the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. Not only is this doing serious damage to the oceans and killing millions of marine animals each year, people are taking in mercury, other heavy metals, a variety of environmental contaminants (PCB’s DDT, dioxins, etc.), as well as saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.

That doesn’t sound so good.

So, we are offered another solution: eat farmed-raised salmon.

Having pretty much wiped out the wild salmon population on the East Coast and having almost succeeded in doing the same on the West Coast, 90 percent of the salmon now consumed in the United States is – in fact – farm-raised. Of course, as with all animal factory systems, the fish are kept in intensive confinement, where they absorb and consume antibiotics and pesticides, along with 100 other pollutants. What’s more, they’re fed a cheap diet of fish-meal, which is comprised mostly of wild-caught fish; in other words, farm-raising fish contributes to even more animals taken from the ocean. And of course you still have your contamination from heavy metals (because the farmed fish are eating the mercury-laden wild-caught fish), and you still have your unhealthful saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.

It seems to me that we have ANOTHER option – a better option for everyone involved – for obtaining essential fatty acids! We can stop going through the fish to get to the nutrients the fish get from eating plants, and go directly to the source!

Original watercolor by Madeleine Tuttle

What are essential fatty acids and why are they important?

 Our bodies absorb and convert fatty acids into a form that our bodies can use.  This form is called DHA.  Omega 3 fatty acid, or alpha linolenic acid, also known as ALA, is one of the two primary essential fatty acids. Essential means our bodies can’t manufacture it, so it’s essential we get it from our diet.  Another is Omega 6 fatty acids, linoleic acid, or LA.  We want to maintain a balance between these.  The problem is, most people don’t get enough omega 3’s and get too much of the Omega 6’s, because they are cooking with oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil.  Also, people are eating a lot of packaged foods that contain these fats, and are consuming a diet heavy in meat, dairy, and eggs.  So, one solution to finding a healthy balance of these fatty acids is eating fewer omega 6 fatty acids, and increasing our consumption of omega 3 fatty acids.

 Omega 3 fatty acids –  EPA and DHA are essential because they reduce inflammation all throughout the body thereby increasing blood flow, and preventing heart disease and stroke, joint pain/arthritis, and because they concentrate in the brain, they’re also very beneficial for cognitive and behavioral function.  These essential fatty acids protect against diseases such as Alzheimers, as well as reducing depression and fatigue.

 So, these are very important nutrients to consume, but we don’t need fish to do this.  Fish don’t make EPA and DHA.  These are made by algae and phytoplankton.  Because the fish eat other smaller sea creatures like krill, and the krill eat the phytoplankton and algae, the fish take in these nutrients through the plants, and we can do the same thing.    The algae, not the fish, provide these important nutrients.  (***Bingo***)

 For the sake of our health, and for the sake of marine life, and for the health of the oceans, we need to skip the middle fish and go straight to the source.

 We need to:

  1. consume plant foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids
  2. increase our absorption of these fats
  3. decrease our consumption of omega 6 fatty acids

 

Dark flaxseeds

How do we get plant-based omega 3 fatty acids?

Flaxseeds and hempseeds are great sources of omega 3’s.  Flaxseeds need to be ground first, and you can do this in a coffee grinder.  Store the ground flaxseed in a jar in the freezer or frig.  The whole seeds do not need to be refrigerated, so you can simply store them on your pantry shelf.  Both golden and brown flaxseeds are nutritionally similar.  Add these to smoothies, oatmeal, sprinkle over salads, etc.  Hemp seeds and walnuts are other good sources.

 Consume 1 tablespoon per day of ground flaxseeds or 3 tablespoons per day of shelled hempseeds (don’t need to grind) or about 14 halves of walnuts a day, or about 1 teaspoon of flax oil.  You can also bake with flaxseeds, ground or not, but don’t cook with flax oil.  Take it by spoon or put it in a smoothie.

 So now you’re eating more of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids, and less of the omega 6 fatty acids.  We want to increase the absorption of these nutrients, and improve your body’s ability to convert these omega 3’s in to a form your body can use, namely into EPA and DHA.   How do we do this, and does everybody’s bodies convert these fats equally well?  EPA and DHA are found mostly in sea vegetables such as the algae mentioned above, so one of the things we can do is go straight to the DHA supplement sourced from algae and skip the heavy metals, skip the saturated fats, skip the pollutants in all of the fish, and go straight to the plant!  You get all the good stuff without the harmful stuff.

 Do we need to take a DHA supplement?   Are most people fine with simply consuming their flaxseed, hempseed, or walnuts?  Yes, most people are fine with simply increasing the omega 3’s in their diet, and reducing the omega 6’s.  However, there are some people who do not efficiently convert omega 3 fatty acids in to DHA.  These are people who may be more prone to allergies and prone to depression.  Also, people with diabetes don’t efficiently convert ALA into EPA and DHA.  Also, the rate of conversion of these fatty acids slows down as we get older. 

 Experts surmise from the evidence available that if you have diabetes, if you’re over 65, if you’re pregnant or lactating, if you’ve been suffering from depression, allergies, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, alzheimer’s disease, you might want to take a direct DHA supplement.  If you’ve been consuming a lot of omega 6’s, you might want to take a direct DHA supplement while decreasing your consumption of these omega 6 fats, and increasing your consumption of the omega 3 fatty acids.

 If you’re not in one of these groups, you may not need to take a direct DHA supplement, but I take one a few months on and a few months off, while consuming my ground flaxseeds daily, and avoiding much of the omega 6 fats, just as an insurance for optimal health.

 If you want to find out about my favorite DHA supplement, visit my website at www.compassionatecook.com

(The Joyful Eater again here)  I hope you have found this information helpful.  There is increasing evidence that the protein and fats we get from animal-based products is detrimental to our health in many ways, and that plant-based eating is the healthiest way to eat  – for our own well-being, and for the well-being of all living things, and for the well-being of our planet.

JOYFUL EATING!

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Checking Back In…..

Hello!

Since it’s been weeks (months?) since I’ve last written on my blog, I thought I would get back in to it with a brief summary of where I’ve been for the last few months!

Two very important events in my life have kept me focused on other things besides writing.  First, I have been working with a group of people to bring an Indian spiritual master to Portland.  A small group of us went to India in 2006 and 2007 to see Sri Tathata, who lives at an ashram in southern India.  In February of this year, we learned that Sri Tathata would like to come to Portland as part of a 2012 World Peace Tour.  This would be his first time on U.S. soil!

We all promptly said “yes” to this call, and have been busy planning and organizing the event, which took place September 7-9 here in Portland.  Sri Tathata, five monks, and nine others from France, Canada, and Tahiti came to Portland for six days.  Here they are arriving at the Portland airport!

Arriving in Portland – first time on American soil!

Nine people travelling with Sri Tathata to the U.S. stayed in our home for the week!  I now have nine new wonderful friends across the globe!

Sri Tathata offering teachings

The program was a wonderful success.  We were all very happy!

Saying goodbye to Sri Tathata and our international friends.

Goodbye photo

Beautiful Hope

The second big event in my life is the loss of my beautiful kitty, Hope.

She was in late stage renal failure during the event with Sri Tathata, but she managed to hold on throughout the week, and actually really enjoyed being in the wonderful energy of the house.

Hope at home

A few days after Sri Tathata left, it became apparent that she was really struggling, so we called Compassionate Care to come in and help ease her transition.  It was a very difficult day for me.

I still, and will always, feel her loving presence…..and I miss her soft-silky furry body on my lap so much!

Mister and Hope

Mister misses her a lot, too…..

Thank you for sharing with me a bit of my life, and why I have not been blogging recently.  I do intend to get back to regular writing and posting, and plan to have lots of wonderful recipes and helpful information to share with you.

I had the wonderful opportunity to learn more about Indian cooking while our visitors were here, and find it to be a very easy, nutritious, and delicious way to eat!  Basically, saute onion and garlic together in a large pan.  Add to that any veggies you have on hand.  I put in chopped carrots, potatoes (sweet and regular), cauliflower, broccoli, some chopped kale, spinach, or other greens.  Add a little veggie broth, but not too much.  You want this to be stew-like.  Then, toss in some lentils, chickpeas, or other legumes for healthy protein, and add some spices of your choice.  I like cumin, turmeric, and a little curry powder.  Have you ever tried ginger powder?  Yummm.    Cook until legumes and veggies are tender, and it has a stew-like consistency.  If you like cilantro, chop up some and sprinkle it on top.  Serve over rice or purchase some chappatis, naan, or roti at the store for a good taste of India!

Please let me know if you’re looking for specific information regarding plant-based eating, and I’ll do my best to pass along information that may be helpful to you on your journey to JOYFUL EATING!

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Sometimes it’s Not About Joyful Eating

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted on The Joyful Eater site for a couple of weeks.  As we all know, sometimes life gets so full that we only have time and energy for what is right in front of us, and nothing more.  That’s what the last couple of weeks have been like for me and my family.

So today, after a night of getting only about 4 hours of sleep, and working steadily all day, I had no energy to get creative and joyful in the kitchen.  In truth, sometimes it’s not about joyful eating; it’s simply about getting some nutritious sustenance.

As I was finishing up work about 7:00 p.m., I thought about how I used to simply call in a pizza delivery on days like this.  Until there’s a vegan pizza joint (with gluten-free pizza crust) in the area, that won’t be an option for me and my family.  So, I went in to the kitchen and started browsing through the freezer, and I realized what my next blog would be titled….Sometimes it’s Not About Joyful Eating.

A crucial thing to staying with a vegan diet when the going gets tough, is to stock up on some good, nutritious frozen food options.  This was our dinner tonight…..

Vegan Fast Food

  • Frozen veggie burger
  • Frozen vegetable fried rice
  • Corn on the cob

I went to the freezer and pulled out some pre-packaged, pre-cooked foods and heated them up in about 5 minutes!  I did put some corn on the cob on the stove, which took a little longer, but the whole meal took very little time and energy.  I like Dr. Praeger’s Gluten-Free California Veggie Burger (voted best frozen veggie burger for weight loss by Dr. Oz!)  I just like it because it tastes good, and it’s gluten-free!  Check out their website for more easy, nutritious meals for the whole family.

Here are a few more of my favorite “fast food” vegan meals:

  • Trader Joe’s Thai Vegetable Gyoza
  • Fried Rice  (also frozen)
  • Frozen Edamame (good amount of protein)
  • Refried beans on a tortilla with salsa, lettuce, tomatoes
  • Frozen veggie burger on a bun with lettuce, onion, tomato, condiments.  You can melt some vegan cheese on the patty if you like.
  • Cook some pasta, heat some marinara sauce, toss in some frozen veggie meatballs, and make an easy salad, or just heat up some frozen peas.

I’ll share more vegan fast food ideas as they come up, and would love to hear about your favorites!

As I said, sometimes it’s not so much about creative cooking, but about putting a nutritious meal on the table.  By taking advantage of these easy, nearly ready-to-eat products, we can maintain our commitment to eat in alignment with our values, feed ourselves and our family a nutritious and tasty meal, and not stress out about it!  It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN!

That’s my idea of JOYFUL EATING!

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The 30-Day Vegan Challenge Begins Today!

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's headshot

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s headshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Come join us in The 30-Day Vegan Challenge!

Whether you want to improve your overall healthshed a few pounds,demonstrate your compassion for animals, or help the environment, expert Colleen Patrick-Goudreau gives you the tools and resources you need to make the vegan transition – healthfully, joyfully, and deliciously. Addressing your every question and challenge, Patrick-Goudreau holds your hand the entire time, helping you to break free from old habits and to experience lasting benefits – both tangible and intangible.

The cost is only $20 for an entire month of recipes, audios, videos, shopping tips, and so much more!

If you’ve been thinking it is time to move to a more plant-based diet, you’ll want to take advantage of this great opportunity to receive lots of support and helpful ideas!

Together, we can create a world of compassion and well-being for all!

JOYFUL EATING!

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A Spontaneous Expression of Who We Are

“When we are drawn toward a plant-based way of eating, it is in no way a limitation on us; rather it is the harmonious fulfillment of our own inner seeing.

At first we think it’s an option we can choose, but with time we realize that it’s not a choice at all but the free expression of the truth that we are.

It is not an ethic that we have to police from outside, but our own radiant love spontaneously expressing, both for ourselves and for our world.

Caring is born on this earth and lives through us, as us, and it’s not anything for which we can personally take credit.  It is nothing to be proud of.  It is simply a spontaneous expression of who we are.

This is a prayer for all animals enslaved in entertainment, such as zoos, circuses, rodeos, aquariums, theme parks, canned hunts, etc.

May compassion and love reign over all the earth for all the beings used in the human entertainment industry.”

From The World Peace Diet, Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony, VegInspiration, www.theworldpeacediet.com

The more I follow this path of plant-based eating, the more in tune I am with my own compassion for all living beings.  It truly does not feel like deprivation in any way.  My body, mind, and emotions have fully aligned with the expression of compassion and love for Life! – not only my own, but for all the beings of creation.  It is a Joy to eat this way, because it really isn’t about choice any more.  As stated above, it’s about the spontaneous expression of the Truth of who we really are – loving, caring, compassionate human beings!

For those of you who know it is time to make a shift – for your own health, for the health of a loved one, for the benefit of the environment, and for the benefit of the animals enslaved for our food and entertainment purposes, consider signing up for the 30-Day Vegan Challenge for lots of information and support!

I am happy to support you in any way I can!  Feel free to get in touch if you have questions or concerns.  If you don’t want to sign up on wordpress to make a comment or ask a question, you can follow The Joyful Eater on Facebook!

Go to my Favorite Recipe page for how to make a really delicious Vegan Pizza!  As I said…..this is not about depriving oneself!