Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Vegan Black Bean Soup in Slow Cooker

Within the past couple of months, I have read or heard from at least 3 different sources with good culinary reputations that soaking dried beans is unnecessary if you cook them slowly for a long enough time.  So I decided to try a black bean soup in the slow cooker without soaking the beans the night before.  It turned out fine, so I guess those culinary experts are correct.  I wonder why the "old wives" wisdom says that you need to soak beans the night before?  Although I developed this recipe myself using a combination of flavors I have become familiar with over the years, I have to thank Deborah Madison, a cookbook author I admire, for the idea of using chipotle pepper to give black beans that smoky flavor that a carnivore would get from cooking the beans with a ham bone.  

Even though I love beans cooked with a ham bone or a smoked pork hock, I am trying to make that transition to completely vegetarian beans as my contribution to better planet sustainability.  If we eat meat, it is very hard to limit ourselves to locally and sustainably farmed meat unless we eat only at home and purchase such meat exclusively.  Industrially raised animals tend to eat antibiotics, food laced with pesticides, and possibly hormones.  The resulting manure returns to the soil and those chemicals leach into our water supply.  Even if we try to buy organic meat at the supermarket, it is likely to come from a place that is unkind to the Earth, or possibly unkind to the animals.  

As I learn more and more about climate change and the human activities that contribute towards this catastrophe, I resolve not only to act in a way that takes fewer resources from Earth, but also to try to inspire others to increase their environmental thoughtfulness.  If each of us pursues this, perhaps we can change the negative course our planet is on.  The idea that my future grandchildren or great-grandchildren might suffer extreme hardships, perhaps even struggle to survive, due to climate change causes me to shudder, and to think hard about what I can do about it.  

Sustainable eating is one way to help combat climate change.  Methane gas is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and agriculture is the primary source of methane gas emissions globally, with methane production coming from animal digestive processes.  We can reduce the demand for livestock by eating plants instead of meat, and thereby reduce carbon emissions.

So make this vegetarian version of black bean soup in your slow cooker to take one small step towards saving our planet.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Smoothie with Berries, Banana, Pear, Apple and Various Superfood Powders

I know that I have posted smoothie recipes before but I am discovering more and more superfoods that I add to the daily smoothies I blend.  Also, I discovered something interesting the other day when I mixed up my morning routine a little bit.  Usually, I start my day with a cup of coffee and some toast.  Later, I might drink some of the smoothie that I blended for my son, if there is some leftover.  But then this one day I made more smoothie than usual so that I could have a whole, tall glass.  I found that it gave me so much energy that I did not even WANT a cup of coffee.  I did not feel my usual craving for caffeine.  Isn't that interesting?  It must be all these superfoods.  I don't know if it is one of them or the combination of all of them, but it has to be a good thing.  I don't think there is any other breakfast that gives me such an energetic start to the day.   Certainly not what I formerly would have thought was a hearty breakfast:  bacon and eggs or pancakes or french toast.  None of those things replaces coffee!  And I was not even seeking to eliminate coffee from my routine.  In fact, I have not eliminated coffee from my routine, because I like it.  But I have started making enough smoothie every day so that I can have a whole glass for myself.  And I skip the toast sometimes, because the smoothie is usually enough to fill me up for awhile.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pasta with Vegetables and White Balsamic Vinegar

I am on an email list for America's Test Kitchen, and periodically receive recipes that have been tested and are usually good.  Recently, they sent me a recipe for pasta with pan-roasted vegetables, which I adapted to include many more vegetables, what I had in my kitchen, and what I thought would taste best.  The main thing I got from them was the technique of cooking the vegetables in the pan with a cover to steam them, an interesting idea.  The result was a nice vegetable sauce with plenty of flavor.  Together with the whole wheat pasta, this dish seems hearty enough to fill you up for a main-dish supper.  With all the various nutrients from the different vegetables, you don't need to worry about getting a well-balanced diet.  This provides lots of nutritional balance.  Grated parmesan cheese is a nice touch at the end, though if you are following a vegan diet you will not include this.  It is good either way.  I put a pot of water on the stove to boil, then cut up all the vegetables and put them in little bowls, so that when I started cooking them, they were ready to throw in the pan.  You can cook the pasta while you are cooking the vegetables--just don't forget to ladle out some of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta!