I have been reading a new book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, the man who wrote The China Study. It discusses how and why a plant-based diet prevents and fights against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It also discusses, more as a side note, the negative environmental effects of raising animals for food and the morally reprehensible treatment of animals raised on large, corporate farms for food, including dairy cows. My reading is pushing me more and more towards veganism. It is a process, for sure, but I am finding that my tastes are changing, so that it becomes easier and easier to choose meals that don't contain animal products. Yesterday, I went out for lunch, and most of the choices included meat and/or cheese. I ended up ordering a vegetarian panini that had fresh mozzarella. As I was eating it, I wished I had asked for the sandwich without the cheese, even though no vegan combinations were listed on the menu. Even though I have always loved fresh mozzarella cheese, I found that I am now craving the cleaner tastes of fresh vegetables without cheese.
After feeling kind of yucky following my cheese consumption at lunchtime, I wanted to create a main dish salad for dinner that had no animal products at all. I had been soaking wheatberries since the night before; I just decided to soak them without knowing how I would use them the next day. I also wanted to use white beans, because I had them and felt I needed to combine the wheatberries with some kind of legume for a main dish. Next I evaluated other ingredients I had on hand, which included a jicama, which I am not that familiar with using, but know that it is considered good in salads. I looked through other recipe sources for inspiration and discovered that jicama is often paired with avocado or oranges in salads. I had both ingredients on hand, so I included them. I had small amounts of dried cranberries and walnuts in my pantry, so I added them--I might have used larger quantities if I had them (maybe 1/4 cup of each rather than 2 TBS of each, as written in my recipe). I wanted to base the salad dressing on Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar, because I have a bottle and really like dressings I have made from it. Then I included other ingredients that I instinctively felt might taste good with the combination that was developing. I tasted the dressing as I added things, deciding to add a little maple syrup and garlic after the taste told me that it needed something more. I was pleased with the result, and my teenaged boys liked it, too.
1 cup raw wheatberries, cooked (about 2-2 ¼ cooked)
1 ½ cups cooked white beans (such as cannellini)
1 avocado, diced
½ jicama, diced
2 oranges, peeled into sections
2 TBS dried cranberries
2 TBS chopped walnuts
2 scallions, sliced
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 TBS Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (I use Trader Joe’s)
6 TBS walnut oil
½ tsp cumin
1 TBS ginger juice
1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS maple syrup
1 garlic clove, pressed
After cooking wheatberries (soak overnight, if possible, then simmer in 3 cups salted water with 1/2 onion for 1-2 hours; drain and discard onion), combine salad ingredients. Combine dressing ingredients separately, stir, then pour over salad and toss. Serves 6-8.
I served this salad with Krispy Roasted Kale (see my posting from March 12, 2012 for the recipe), which complemented it nicely. Any leftovers taste delicious the next day!