Today’s health tip is a continuation of last week’s column about how to transition to plant-based nutrition, based on a patient handout developed by my wife, Kathy — a nurse practitioner and an excellent cook.
THE FREEZER IS YOUR FRIEND
• When cooking items such as grains, beans, soups and vegan chili, always make extra and freeze it.
• Keep your freezer stocked with such store-bought items as corn, peas, onions, breads, seeds, nuts and organic edamame, which makes food preparation easier.
• Buy lemons on sale, squeeze them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Do the same thing with veggie broth, which you can use later when cooking.
• Freeze sliced bananas to use for smoothies and desserts.
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MENU IDEAS FOR DINNER PARTIES
• Salads, such as niçoise. You can add tuna, salmon or shrimp for non-vegans.
• Kebabs — lots of flexibility in providing for vegans and non-vegans.
• Vegan stir fry, curries (avoid ghee and coconut), lasagna.
• Risotto — try the pressure cooker recipe on the internet.
• Tacos — a taco bar is a fun way for people to have different options to put on their tacos.
• Burritos are always popular.
• Noodle or rice bowls — have vegan and non-vegan options for people to add to their bowls (use veggie broth for the noodle bowls — non-vegans won’t complain if they can put chicken, meat or fish on top).
A FEW RECiPES
• Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas — vegetariantimes.com, 12/20/2011.
• Four grain and vegetable burritos — myrecipes.com.
• Spinach, chickpea and squash gnocchi — eatingwell.com.
• Black (“forbidden”) rice salad with mango and peanuts — epicurious.com.
• Vegan lasagna — chow.com (it’s important to slice the eggplant ¼-inch thick).
• Ginger cookies — joyofyum.com.
• Chia pudding (top this with bananas foster and sprinkle granola on top) — joyofyum.com.
IMPORTANT PRODUCTS TO KEEP ON HAND IN THE CUPBOARD
• Agar-agar is a plant-based thickening agent made from sea vegetables. Like gelatin — an animal- based product — it has no taste. Found in the Asian markets such as Carol’s in Grand Junction, or in the baking section of large grocery stores. Arrowroot powder can also be used for thickening.
• Agave nectar, dates and maple syrup are good sweeteners for baking and cooking. You end up using less than you would if using sugar because the flavors are more intense.
• Unsweetened soy, almond, hemp, and rice milk can be substituted for cow’s milk — usually recipes specify which one to use, as some work better than others depending on the recipe.
• Fresh herbs are nutritious and tasty — freeze what you don’t use.
• Raw, unsalted seeds are good on salads and soups. Use pinion nuts more sparingly. Keep chia and ground flaxseeds on hand. If you don’t use these items within a few days, move them to the freezer so they don’t become rancid.
• Keep raisins, currents, dates and figs, grains, beans (dried and no-added-salt canned), chickpeas and lentils on hand.
• Nutritional yeast has a rich, nutty flavor and is good for making a cheesy sauce (recipes in vegan cookbooks and websites). Try sprinkling it on popcorn, along with No-Salt Salt (potassium instead of sodium) and cinnamon.
• Low sodium veggie broth and canned tomatoes.
• Unsweetened applesauce for baking and salad dressing.
• Wild rice pasta, which is more filling than regular pasta — so you eat less.
• Gnocchi is a potato dumpling and needs only some veggies and marinara sauce for a great, quick meal. Shelf-stable whole wheat gnocchi only needs to be browned, then it’s ready to eat (no boiling necessary).
• Kombu is a type of sea vegetable found in Asian markets or the Asian section of large grocery stores. Use a thumb-sized piece when cooking beans, legumes and soups to enhance flavor. A side-benefit is that it helps break down gas-causing components of beans. Kombu is a good source of omega-3 and iodine.
• Dulse is another sea vegetable that is delicious when added to soups, sandwiches, salads and stir-fries. It can be found in the same places that kombu is found, and is a good source of iodine, vitamin B6, potassium, iron and fiber.
• Keep a supply of dried mushrooms in your pantry, especially shiitake and porcini. They need to be soaked for about an hour before cooking, and should not be eaten raw (raw mushrooms have a mild carcinogen that is destroyed by cooking). They are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and cancer-fighting phytonutrients.
Websites for Vegan Recipes
• Minimalist Baker, Oh She Glows, Joy of Yum, Chow.com, 101 Cookbooks, Martha Stewart vegan recipes.
• “Oh She Glows,” “Isa Does It,” “Thug Kitchen,” “Forks Over Knives Cookbook,” “Simply Delicious,” “How Not to Die Cookbook,” “Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen.”
FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Remember Tofurkey, available at Whole Foods and some other grocery stores. It comes with vegan dressing and gravy. It tastes and looks like turkey and has the same texture. It’s much easier to make than real turkey. Add cranberries, veggies cooked without oil or butter, and yams rather than mashed potatoes. Try some of the vegan desserts mentioned in the recipe section above.
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and other medical issues. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at email@example.com.