Welcome March! As usual the days and months seem to disappear at record speed but this time of year I consider that a good thing. I certainly will not miss the cold, gray, unpredictable weather of January and February and already see the signs of spring as the days get longer and the birds start to return. What March also means is that my one year herbivore anniversary has come and gone. I don’t recall the exact date, but I gave up meat for lent last year and have never looked back.
My decision was based primarily on wanting to eat healthier and make more conscious choices as to what I ate. Vegetarianism and Veganism has become so mainstream that there is a lot of vegan junk food and highly processed convenience foods available. I try not to eat too much of these packaged foods and primarily follow a whole foods, plant based diet inspired by Forks Over Knives. Forks Over Knives was originally a documentary focused on the scientific data of health benefits of a whole foods plant based diet. The film is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime if you haven’t seen it. In addition to no meat, dairy, fish this diet limits fats. It’s not as overwhelming as it sounds, the most surprising thing for me this year has been that is actually fairly easy to make small changes with big impacts.
For example, most FoK recipes saute vegetables in water or vegetable broth instead of oil. You have to keep a closer eye on them and add more water or broth every few minutes to keep from sticking but it’s quite simple and you don’t lose anything in the finished product but calories.
I’m not 100% yet. The hardest thing for me to give up surprised me a bit…eggs. There are tofu scrambles and other such things but a fried egg on an everything bagel is the thing that makes me cheat most often. As a native New Yorker I love my bagels and my egg sandwiches. So the occasional cream cheese or fried egg have been hard to give up. The other thing that I’ve noticed is texture. The textures of foods with plant based cooking is undeniably different if you’re used to crunchy/juicy fried food.
This week was pretty exciting texture wise. I still had some leftover bolognese from last week and thought I’d make a chickpea cutlet to serve with the bolognese and some pasta. Looking through my cookbooks I chose the Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon. This recipe called for vital wheat gluten, which I have never worked with before. Apparently gluten really does hold things together because these baked cutlets had a spectacular texture. I replaced the Hungarian paprika and sage the recipe called for with basil and thyme for a more Italian flavor profile and had them with pasta for dinner and on a roll with some bolognese for a lunch sandwich.
I also made some treats this week. I made orange-cranberry bread from Veganomicon and Cranberry Bread from Happy Herbivore Abroad (pictured below). A direct comparison is probably not fair since I had adjusted the Veganomicon recipe to be gluten free for gluten intolerant family members and we’ve already discussed the importance of gluten! Both were quite good but I did find the Happy Herbivore recipe to deliver a moist quick bread while the Veganomicon recipewas more scone like in texture. I’ll have to give it another go without adjustments.
When it comes to baking plant strong, freshness is key; without the oils and fats I do find baked goods do not last as long. That said this adventure has also made me wonder if it’s really a good thing that the shelf life of some foods is as long as it is!
New Recipes Made This Week: 3
New Recipe Tally 2013: 35