My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘millet’

10 Must Have Items for a Perfect Vegan Pantry

I agree with everything except the oils.

By Stephanie Rogers, EcoSalon

Stock up on these 10 basic essentials for your vegan pantry including beans, whole grains, non-dairy milk and a variety of seasonings.

Contrary to the assumptions of many a meat eater, vegans don’t solely subsist on lettuce and carrots. But what, exactly, should be stocked in a vegan’s pantry? Anyone looking to make healthy, nutritious meals that are free of animal products should have a few basic ingredients on hand at all times to provide protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals – and let’s not forget flavor. These 10 pantry essentials make sticking to a vegan diet easy and interesting, from beans and whole grains to truffle oils and agave nectar.

Beans, Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan

If there’s one nutrient that Americans tend to focus on when it comes to healthy diets, it’s protein. But no matter what meat-obsessed fad diets imply, it’s easy to get plenty of protein from vegan sources. Beans and tofu are two lean, cholesterol-free options for protein, and they’re incredibly versatile. Canned beans are convenient, but dried beans are cheaper and don’t come with the risk of hormone-altering BPA in the lining of the can. They simply need to be soaked overnight before cooking, or you can whip them up rapidly with a pressure cooker. Firm tofu can be marinated and tossed into just about any dish, while silken tofu is a nutritious addition to smoothies. Seitan is made from wheat gluten and has a meaty texture reminiscent of chicken, and chewy tempeh is a vegan sandwich staple.

Whole Grains & Flours

The difference between whole grains and refined grains goes beyond increased fiber and nutrients. Whole grains are packed with flavor, which translates into tastier dishes and baked goods. Brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, bulgur, spelt, oats, millet, barley and wild rice are a few examples of whole grains that you can incorporate into your diet, and most of them are available in flour form, too. Flours made from quinoa and oats aren’t just for people avoiding gluten – they impart their own particular flavor and texture to recipes like chocolate amaranth quinoa cake.

Non-Dairy Milks

Who needs cow’s milk when there’s almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk and soy milk? Stock your pantry with your favorite varieties of non-dairy milks, each of which has its own particular flavor and texture. Coconut milk and soy milk tend to be richer and heavier, frothing up a little more for satisfying beverages. Rice milk and almond milk have a natural sweetness, and heart-healthy almond milk is appropriately nutty. Soy milk is the highest in protein, and hemp milk has lots of omega fatty acids. Avoid the flavored varieties to cut unnecessary sugar and calories. You can easily make your own almond milk with nothing more than raw almonds, water and a blender.

A Variety of Oils and Vinegars

No kitchen is complete without extra virgin olive oil and white vinegar, no matter what kind of foods you like to eat. Beyond those two absolute basics is a wide variety of vinegars and oils with all kinds of different uses and characteristics. Vinegars include balsamic, red wine, white wine, apple cider, rice and malt. Coconut oil is great for high-heat cooking and baking, sesame oil has lots of flavor for stir-fries and salads, and truffle oils are a luxurious treat. Try oils and vinegars infused with herbs, garlic, chilies and even fruit, too.

Nuts, Seeds & Butters

Head to the bulk bins at your local natural foods store to stock up on a wide variety of nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. You can actually use cashews, macadamias and other types of nuts to make your own vegan ricotta cheese. And when it comes to nut and seed butters, don’t be afraid to branch out from the standard peanut and almond varieties – try cashew, hazelnut and sesame.

Nutritional Yeast

Missing cheese? Aside from making your own nut-based ricotta, you can add a cheesy flavor to all kinds of foods using nutritional yeast. This inactive yeast is a great source of vitamin B12, which can be difficult for vegans to get from other sources. Light and flaky, it can be added to popcorn as a topping, melted into margarine and/or non-dairy milk for a cheesy sauce or just tossed into any dish you like.

Healthy Condiments

Most condiments are processed junk full of fat, sugar and sodium. But there are some healthy condiments that can add complex flavors to your vegan dishes, elevating a simple meal to the sublime. Mustard, soy sauce, miso and hot sauces add a huge punch of flavor with just a few drops. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, a great vegan source of amino acids, is a popular way to add a little bit of savory “umami” flavor to any dish. Agave nectar is a popular vegan sweetener, and fruit preserves are almost always free of animal products.

Herbs and Spices

Like condiments, oils and vinegars, herbs and spices simply make everything taste better. If you’re new to cooking and/or using spices, buy a variety and experiment to see what you like. Most herbs, including parsley and basil, are best used fresh, but some – like bay leaves and oregano – retain lots of flavor when dried. Spices, which are usually the dried seeds, bark or buds of plants, tend to stay fragrant a bit longer. Some basics include chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric and black pepper. Dried mushrooms are another delicious source of umami flavor.

Canned Fruits and Vegetables

Canned goods generally aren’t the best when it comes to flavor and texture, with many canned veggies – like green beans – barely resembling their fresh or frozen brethren. But they do have their use, especially as emergency back-ups and for quick meals. Home-canned fruits and vegetables tend to be superior in flavor to commercially canned goods. Tomatoes are one item that change in a positive way when canned; their flavors become richer and more concentrated, making them ideal for sauces.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

While most fresh fruits and veggies need to be refrigerated, some are ideal for pantry storage. The dark, cool and dry environment of a pantry (or a shelf out of direct sunlight) can help preserve onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash. For best flavor and texture, tomatoes should also be stored at room temperature until ripe.

http://www.ecorazzi.com/2012/07/05/10-must-have-items-for-a-perfect-vegan-pantry/

Conversations with a Meat Eater


Conversations with a meat eater generally go like this:

“You are vegan?”

“Yes.”

“Do you eat chicken?  What about fish?”

“No.  No.”

“How do you get your protein?”

It is at this point that we, vegans, have a choice about how to have a conversation that is informative and perhaps even inspirational.  The protein question gets everyone going because for some protein is a synonym for meat.  Suggesting that it is not necessary (or healthy) to eat meat goes right to the heart of the issue, which is that we have been taught to believe something and, because it is a way of life, most people don’t question it.

“We eat beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, spinach, peas, walnuts, cashews, almonds, quinoa, millet, etc.”

“Aren’t you hungry?  Don’t you need to eat meat to get iron?”

“Not hungry, I eat all day long!  And I especially love to indulge in homemade cookies.  No, you don’t need to eat meat to get iron.  I get it from broccoli, walnuts, lentils, spinach, oats…”

“But…”

Sometimes meat eaters stop here, nod and wish me luck mumbling something about making sure I eat enough.  Others want to debate the protein issue.  I am fully armed with answers based on my own experience and my Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell.

The bottom line is this: there are no nutrients in animal based foods that are not better obtained from plant-based foods.  Plants have protein too!

It is interesting that a vegan never questions a meat eater’s ability to take in all of the nutrients necessary for a balanced and healthy diet.  We don’t question their food choices.  Instead, we are the ones who need to defend ourselves. But at the end of the day, the key is to not get defensive.  The key is to offer some information that will hopefully cause the person to, at a minimum question their own dietary habits, and at a maximum will convert them on the spot!

We could talk about the benefits of a vegan diet for our health.  We could talk about The China Study and explain how some cancers, diabetes and heart diseases are hitting levels of epidemic proportions due to the intake of animal based foods.  We could talk about the outrageous sums of money being spent on health care instead of preventative medicine.  We could talk about how it is much more extreme to have major heart surgery and live on medication forever versus making dietary changes.  We could offer President Clinton’s story about his decision to go vegan and why.

We could talk about the animals.  We could reveal the secrets of the factory farm and the inhumane treatment of, not just the animals, but those that work at the slaughterhouses.  We could explain how a steady diet of hormones and antibiotics given to the animals create more disease and illness.  We could talk about how dirty the food supply really is.

We could talk about the environment.  We could quote the report from the United Nations that says that methane emissions from all of factory farmed animals are contributing more to global warming than all of the cars, trucks and buses in the world. We could talk about the oceans are being depleted and how the world is going to suffer because of it.

Any or all of these tacks make for good conversation.  In my experience however, most meat eaters can’t listen to this stuff.  Truth be told, it is tough to talk about and tough to hear.  I have my elevator speech, my condensed explanation that encompasses points about our health, the health and welfare of the animals and the planet.

I believe that the best way to have a productive conversation with a meat eater is not to have conversation at all.  Invite them out to a delicious vegan restaurant or even better invite them over and cook for them.  Change the conversation.

Lisa Dawn Angerame | Blog | Website | Facebook
Long Island, NY Lisa Dawn is an advanced certified Jivamukti yoga teacher, vegan food blogger, wife and mom. She is working hard to spread the vegan love through her cooking, teaching and blog. Lisa Dawn studies and teaches the yoga sutras. She divides her time between NYC and Northport, Long Island. Lisa Dawn is the co founder of NAVA NYC, a meditation and yoga company designed to bring yoga and meditation to corporate clients.

Photo credit: TDIV

From:  http://www.thisdishisvegetarian.com/2012/07/conversations-with-meat-eater.html

Ann Esselstyn: 8 Tips on Healthy Eating

Guest post: Ann Esselstyn:8 tips on healthy eating.

April 5, 2012

We might be biased, but we think that Ann Esselstyn is the best food coach around! Here are her tips on healthy eating:

“I am not a chef.  I don’t peel anything and if it looks even a little bit complicated, I don’t make it.  What we have found is that eating plant based  WITHOUT OIL is delicious, easy and  above all magical.

Follow 8 principles and you may well find yourself becoming PLANT PERFECT!

1. Eat oats (Old Fashioned) for breakfast, any way you can as oatmeal, as a cold cereal as we do with alternative milk and fruit or in waffles or pancakes or just put  your cereal bowl with oats, banana and alternative milk and a table spoon of flax seed into your waffle iron and you have your oat breakfast in waffle form  There are delicious ways to use steel cut  oats too.  Oats help lower cholesterol and also reduce artery inflammation.  Find the breakfast  with oats you love then eat it EVERY DAY!!!

2. Eat GREENS especially leafy greens as well as all the symphony of rainbow colored vegetables.  Cooked or raw vegetables are king!  Make leafy greens like Kale, collards and Swiss chard the nest on which you put your food, mix greens into your food or pile greens on the side of your plate.  Make kale sandwiches , mix greens into soup, cook kale, etc. cut in small pieces into pasta 4 minutes before it is done, then drain and you have a meal in one or mix a bunch of greens into pasta sauce and spread on your whole wheat, no oil pizza crust (seewww.samisBakery.com on line for an awesome millet/flax pizza crust) and top with vegetables of your choice.  Never cheese.

3. Eat Beans and Lentils instead of meat and dairy.  All lentils are delicious.  Try red lentils in soup.  They cook quickly and make the soup a nice color.  Put beans in salads.  Hummus made without tahini or oil  has become our mayonnaise as a sandwich spread or dip for vegetables and crackers and even part of our favorite salad dressing.   Our main party dish is brown rice and black beans piled high with chopped tomatoes, thawed frozen corn, chopped green onions, water chestnuts, chopped cilantro, chopped arugula, chopped peppers, etc. and topped with salsa, low sodium tamari or if you don’t have heart disease with guacamole.  AVOID all the highly processed fake soy meats and any of the vegan cheeses, which have lots of oil in them.

4. Eat WHOLE  Grains.  Be sure that the word WHOLE is in front of wheat or rye in the ingredient list.   If not then it is just white flour fancied up to sound impressive.  Check also to be sure that there is no added oil in the bread.  Ezekiel makes many wonderful sprouted grain products available in the frozen food departments of health food stores. The Ezekiel Tortilla wraps are excellent and useful for everyday or parties.  Fill them with your choice and then roll them up and bake them for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven.  Delicious!  Use whole wheat pastry flour or barley flour in baking instead of white flour.

5. Eliminate oil! Empty all oil, even virgin olive oil out of your cupboards then you CAN’T use it.  Instead any liquid works.  Vegetable broth (no sodium), water, wine, beer, orange juice, carrot juice, vinegar all work in stir -frying.  Instead of oil in baking, use applesauce, baby food prunes, bananas.    Finding a salad dressing you love is a challenge at first but there are so many possibilities out there you will soon never miss the oil filled ones.

6. Drink WATER! You can’t go wrong with water.  You can flavor it with a splash of  orange or apple, etc. juice occasionally.  Never drink juices!  And absolutely never drink pop, with or without added sugar.

7. Avoid sugar and salt as much as possible.   Save sugar for birthdays or special holiday treats.  Instead put grapes in your freezer for an amazing sweet treat or freeze bananas or mangoes and blend them in a strong blender for delicious “ice creams. “  Look at the government label for the amount of salt in a product.  No added salt is ideal or aim for the salt content being equal to the calorie content.  Instead of salt add vinegar, lemon juice,  lime juice or hot sauces.  You will lose your taste for salt before you know it.

8. Read Labels, especially the ingredients.    You will be surprised that often proclaimed zero fat products have oil listed in the ingredients.  The government allows anything under .5 grams of fat to be called FAT FREE.

Fill up with all the great plant based food.  Life is GOOD!!!”

Thanks Ann for the great tips!

Here are some of Ann’s favorite recipes:

Black Beans and rice

E2 Almighty health wrap

Kale, lemon, cilantro sandwich

Ann’s panini with spinach, mushrooms and hummus

reprinted from:  http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/guest-post-ann-esselstyn8-tips-on-healthy-eating/

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