I’ve been practicing a lot of yoga lately. After beating myself up with some tough runs this summer and early fall, running had become a chore and I was looking for another outlet. I’ve been a sporadic yogini for years, but have been practicing pretty consistently for the past three weeks. On Friday night, I went to a C2 PowerYoga class with a teacher named Jess at the Broadway CorePower studio. She kicked my ass. She led us through a sequence in which we were squatting/lunging for so long, I was in danger of my legs buckling under me. I tell you this story not because of the anaerobic stress endured by my quads, but because of the commentary she was delivering while this suffering was happening. Jess was talking about the importance of being mindful, of being present in the moment. She lamented how people are perpetually in a state of “constant bleed”, where one event continually bleeds into the next. We are rarely present as we are usually thinking about the next thing. I am certainly guilty as charged. However, in rare moments, I can be mindful and be present. For me those moments happen on the trail, on the mat, and in the kitchen. While I am cooking, I am completely present. I need to pay attention to what I’m doing right now, lest I cause a fire or bodily injury. My grudging donning of the apron began because I wanted to eliminate dairy from my diet. My dear husband, who for years has done the cooking in our house, pointed out that while I was very much interested in where my food came from, I was not very interested in preparing it, and while he would support this vegan experiment, he’d like me to be more involved in the food preparation. I couldn’t argue that (believe me I tried to think of a way). So, while I entered the kitchen mostly because I couldn’t think of a fair reason not to, I stay because while I’m wearing my apron (which is super-cute btw; it has little pictures of vegetables on it), I get to practice mindfulness.
A couple things I’d like to mention before I get to the menu…
First, the studio I’ve been frequenting is located close to Sweet Action Ice Cream (http://www.sweetactionicecream.com/). This is becoming dangerous. I bring this up because a lot of people think plant-based eating is about deprivation. If you ever had any of Sweet Action’s delicious vegan ice cream and ice cream sandwiches, you’d realize that scrumptious dessert is certainly still on the menu. Recently, I’ve had vegan pumpkin pie (made with local pumpkin), vegan chocolate, and a vegan praline cookie with lemon ice cream sandwich. Another local company that we like a lot for ice cream is Cow’s Gone Coconut (http://www.cowsgonecoconut.com/). You can get their stuff at Whole Foods. The salted caramel is divine.
Matt and I have been members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for the past 5 years. If you aren’t familiar with the CSA model, it is basically a farm share. We pay into the farm in the late winter and then receive a weekly share of what the farm has to offer. Our CSA is with Miller Farms (http://www.millerfarms.net/Home_Page.html). We pick up our share every Sunday at the Pearl Street Farmer’s Market. Last week was the last week of the market and our CSA share. It’s always a little more difficult to continue our commitment to eating locally in the winter. As a result, when I became aware of MM Local’s Harvest share program, I was psyched. MM Local (http://mmlocalfoods.com/) is a Front-Range company that buys produce from local farmer’s and then preserves it. We purchased a quarter-share and picked it up yesterday. Everything we got looks delicious and we were even able to swap things out and add items on. I’m especially excited for the spicy kale kimchi. If you aren’t aware of the health benefits of fermented foods like kimchi, check out this article from the Washington Post (http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-parenting/post/fermented-foods-bubble-with-healthful-benefits/2012/11/19/db70ea76-329b-11e2-9cfa-e41bac906cc9_blog.html). We made our own kimchi a few months ago. Here is the recipe we used if you are interested (http://mynewroots.org/site/2013/01/fabulous-fermentation-week-kimchi/). MM Local is taking $50 deposits towards 2014 Harvest Shares as a way to provided needed income now to farmers along the Front Range impacted by September’s flooding.
The sauerkraut (also a fermented food) that we got with our share inspired the pepper, onion, “sausage” sandwiches we had for dinner last night. Since we were already in North Denver picking up from MM Local, we decided to swing by Nooch, Denver’s own vegan market (http://noochveganmarket.tumblr.com/). They have lots of great items. For dinner we picked up some Field Roast “sausages”. If you’ve never tried Field Roast products, I recommend them highly (http://fieldroast.com/). If you are avoiding gluten, this wouldn’t be for you are all their products are “wheat meat.” I always get a few of their Holiday Roasts for an easy vegan addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. You can get Field Roast products at Whole Foods. We also picked up some Match Meats products (http://matchmeats.com/wp1/). I’ve only seen this brand at Nooch. We picked up some vegan crab cakes and vegan Mediterranean stuffed chicken. So, I guess the truth is out…we don’t always cook everything from scratch. Yes, these technically are processed foods, but I can pronounce all of the ingredients. This is my litmus test; if I can’t pronounce it, I won’t eat it. It’s nice to have some of these things in the freezer for when both of us end up working late. This is especially important for me as I am slow in the kitchen and I am prone to getting hangry (hungry-angry) when my blood sugar is low. It’s best for everyone if I have quick access to food. The last thing we picked up at Nooch was black bean tofu from a company called Lambert’s (http://www.lambertstofu.com/). They are out of Colorado Springs which makes me happy to have another local tofu option. The other is Denver Tofu Company (http://www.denvertofu.com/). I, personally, happily enjoy soy in my diet. I do feel you need to eat a diverse diet and since soy can and is added to so many things, I like to branch out when I can, hence black bean tofu. Matt and I are like this with our grains as well. Neither of us have issues with gluten, but there are so many other grains out there other then wheat. If you are concerned about soy, I think it’s best that you know that science backs up the inclusion of soy in a healthy varied diet. There are many articles out there about “the soy controversy”. Here’s one from Dr. Neal Barnard, Founder and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neal-barnard-md/settling-the-soy-controve_b_453966.html). Be aware that a lot of soy is GMO, so be sure to look for the Non-GMO symbol if you are concerned. GMO soy and other GMO food products is another post.
Quinoa Ceasar Salad with Breaded Tofu (http://www.theppk.com/2013/11/quinoa-caesar-salad/).
The Post Punk Kitchen is the blog of Isa Chandra Moskowitz who is also one of the co-authors of Veganomicon (one of our vegan cooking bibles). She is amazing and I have devoured everything of hers that I’ve cooked. We’re gonna use our black bean tofu in this one. Now seems like a good time to discuss quinoa. Up until relatively recently, quinoa consumption and cultivation was isolated to the altiplano of Bolivia and a major staple of the inhabitants diet. The health benefits of quinoa are varied and it has exploded onto the plates of the mainstream. With any resource, a conscious consumer should be concerned with whether or not demand is being met sustainably (this goes for palm oil too, but that is also another post). It is essential that you purchase fair-trade quinoa. Be aware of where your quinoa is coming from and vote with your dollars. This article from Fair Trade USA explains in more detail (http://fairtradeusa.org/blog/its-ok-to-eat-fair-trade-certified-quinoa).
Spiced Greens & Potato Tostadas & Roasted Cauliflower Soup (http://thekitchenmix.com/spiced-greens-and-potato-tostadas/ & http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2008/02/roasted-cauliflower-soup.html)
Match Meat Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken with Mashed Parsnips (http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/mashed-parsnips-with-crispy-parsnip-ribbons/)
Chana Dal Kitchari
This recipe is from Vegan Indian Cooking by Anupy Singla. Kitchari, which in Hindi means “all mixed up”, is a porridge of equal parts lentils and rice mixed with cumin, coriander, tumeric, ginger, chilli powder, cardamom, and carom seeds. Carom is pretty much a specifically Indian spice and while we have a spice rack to be proud of, we don’t have carom. Dried oregano is a decent substitute. We like to throw in some peppers for heat. Kitchari is great with any type of lentils and rice. This one calls for split chick peas and brown rice. It takes time to cook the lentils and rice in the slow cooker (approx. 4 hours) so if you’re going to make this one, plan accordingly.
Soba Noodles With Onion & Umeboshi (http://www.thesaladgirl.com/2009/05/29/delicious-soba-with-onions-umeboshi-macrobiotic/)
While soba noodles (Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour) are a regular guest in our house, umeboshi is relatively new. I bought some umeboshi paste over a year ago and used it once in a salad dressing. Matt has demanded that we begin using the paste, so I was hunting for other uses. Turns out, it is a great way to add umami (savory) flavor to just about anything. Umeboshi paste is made by pickling ume plums, which is small fruit similar to an apricot. Here some info on umeboshi paste and it’s uses (http://www.kitchenlaboheme.com/2011/06/what-is-umeboshi-paste-and-how-to-use.html?m=1).
Ok, well, that’s all for now. I guess I need to return to grading these essays.Have a great week. Go plants!