I am thrilled to be a new contributor to PPR and will be writing articles about “healthy” food choices. Some of the foods I will be featuring are tofu, tempeh, seitan, whole grains, the legume family and delectable desserts. Each episode will feature some interesting facts about the nutritional value of these super foods as well as pointers on how to prepare divine dishes that will nourish your family both in body and spirit.
Veganism is a lifestyle as well as a way of eating that takes compassion for all living creatures into consideration. The Vegan diet allows one to consume an enormous variety of plant based foods that are low on the food chain and contain the main elements for excellent nutrition. Note that vegetables, fruits, and legumes contain NO cholesterol and therefore deliver optimum amounts of rich antioxidants which promote good cardiac and cerebral health. These fabulous foods are also easy to digest because of their high fiber content.
Protein is always the question that arises when a Vegan diet is suggested and the answer is that protein is incredibly abundant in nuts, seeds, whole grains, as well as legumes (beans, peas, lentils, and soybeans). Protein deficiency is virtually unheard of in this country and many diseases actually stem from over consumption of this element.
One of the best and cheapest forms of protein is found in the simple garbanzo or chickpea, which contains high amounts of iron, zinc and is low in fat. One of my favorite recipes is a spread which is incredibly easy to prepare and is delicious both as a sandwich filler or as an “appeteaser” served with whole grain crackers or pita bread.
For ease of preparation, I begin with a can of chickpeas, although it is always preferable to prepare the garbanzos from scratch, which included soaking them overnight and cooking for at least 1 ½ hours until soft. Everyone I make this dish for raves about it and wants the recipe.
1 can (15oz.) Organic chickpeas
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup celery diced
1/2 cup green pepper diced
1/2 tsp. paprika
3-4 tbs. Vegenaise (egg free mayo)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. tamari soy sauce (low sodium) or more to taste
Salt and pepper (optional)
Rinse well and drain chickpeas. Place in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped but still have some texture. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients in the order listed, mixing well after each addition. (Note: Cutting the vegetables by hand rather than in the processor is preferable because blades extract too much moisture and change the texture of the spread.) Serve chilled. Sprinkle more paprika on top and/or create a veggie face with olive eyes, cut green pepper smile and lettuce “hair”.
Carole Baral: MS in Edu./Certified Yoga instructor for 35 years. She has taught vegetarian cooking through Carmel High School’s Adult Education program. The Silo Cooking School (Conn.), and at national conventions as a Board Member of The North American Vegetarian Society for over 20 years. Carole has been Vegetarian for 40 years and Vegan since 2010.