Not Just Tofu

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Article: Vegetarian Goodwill

In Editorial, Recipe on December 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Happy Holidays Not Just Tofu Family!!! This year I was honored to be a part of the Holiday Dinner hosted by the Community SDA Church of Englewood, NJ.  Last year was the first year that the church had opened its doors to host a dinner for families of the community and distribute gifts to the kids.  The kicker is that the meal is vegetarian.  Due to the health beliefs of the church, they don’t serve meat.  The committee was weary, wondering if the non-vegetarian families would enjoy a meal without their usual turkey or ham,  To our surprise, they enjoyed the meal and even took some home. 

What did we serve?  The meal was started with 2 soups: homemade roast pepper bisque and winter harvest soup.  As for the main meal, baked Worthington Meatless Smoked Turkey Roll was the protein.  The trick to making Turkey Roll  enjoyable is to slice it, season it and make a great gravy to bake it in.   We served very well cooked familiar foods which included, black beans and rice, West Indian rice and peas, candied yams with pineapple, baked macaroni and cheese, mixed vegetables, corn and salad.  I mean it was a feast that herbivores and carnivores could enjoy. 

Falcon Pathfinder Club

What I enjoyed even more were the kids that came to help serve the meal.  The Falcon Pathfinders Club of the church donated hours to help set up, serve and clean up the event.  Without their cooperation, it would have been a lot more difficult to pull off this event.  Another surprise was that the kids enjoyed the meal including the Turkey Roll.  This just goes to prove that people are not opposed to eating a vegetarian.  I think that as long as vegetarian food is prepared well and served tastefully, people can give up meat for one meal. 

I just wanted to say thanks to all the volunteers from the church that helped to make the 2nd annual Holiday Dinner.  As an adult, we sometimes don’t get excited because we give more gifts than we receive.  When it comes to good works, you are giving your time but your gift is the smiling faces and many thanks you get from those that attend.  That is a gift that never gets old.

Recipe: Full Proof Gravy

  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of seasoning salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth

Recipe:

  1. Melt margarine or butter in sauce pan
  2. Add celery, garlic and onion to melted butter
  3. Cook till soft
  4. Dust vegetables with flour and cook for 1 minute
  5. Slowly whisk in vegetable broth
  6. Season broth with seasoning salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper, onion and garlic powder.
  7. Let simmer until slightly thickened (if too thick, slowly add more broth)

Article: Veg Edge, the beginning of vegetarian tv

In Editorial on December 27, 2010 at 2:47 am

Today I was fortunate to catch the replayof ” Veg Edge” on The Cooking Channel.  Was is Veg Edge?  Veg Edge is an hour long cable program highlighting the vegetarian movement happening across America.  My only question is, why don’t we have a daily vegetarian cooking cable program on either The Cooking Channel or Food Network.  They have shows dedicated to international cooking, desserts, eating healthy but not one show about vegetarian cooking. After watching the program, you realize that this lifestyle is truly taking off. 

I also realized that for the first time, Eastern US is catching up to Western US.  For instance, Portland, Oregon is populated with vegetarian restaurants where as New York is more of a steak and potato place.  One restaurant that I am dying to try is Dirt Candy imn New York City.  A fan of Iron Chef America, Chef Amanda Cohen’s take on broccoli as the secret ingredient was very impressive.  She was also highlighted in the program and quoted to say “Anyone can make a hamburger, leave the vegetables to the professionals.” I hope that I will be able to enjoy her vegetarian creations soon but for now I will follow her blog/website  www.dirtcandynyc.com.  Maybe it’s because we don’t have local year round farmer’s markets like California or get to enjoy the outdoors like Oregon why we are playing catch up to the west coast movement of vegetarian cooking.

I also realized that they didn’t only fill this program with commentary from vegetarians, they included meat eaters who just wanted a change of pace.  That message is right in line with the Not Just Tofu’s philosphy that vegetarian cooking is not just for vegetarians but for anybody who is looking to eat better.  After watching this program, it made me want to get back into my kitchen and cook creatively.  I know that Not Just Tofu is targeted to help beginners, but I think we have been playing it too safe.  I think that with the new year approaching we should vow to become better cooks and eaters.  I am not saying that we have to eat wheat grass and switch to agave nectar.  What I am saying is that there are a multitude of greens besides kale, collard greens and spinach; we need to try dandelion, mustard and turnip greens.  Let’s not use fresh ingredients on the side but make them the highlight of our meal.

Back to my original question; why hasn’t The Cooking Channel or Food Network created a show focusing on vegetarian cooking.  I hope the Ved Edge is their first step to putting a highlight on a strong and fast movement that not helps vegetarians but meat eaters too.  Maybe we need to start a petition.  For now, if you are looking for a vegetarain cooking show, try Delicious TV (beginner friendly) or Christina Cooks (advanced) on PBS or your public television stations.  

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Shopping: Matisse Chocolatier

In Cool Stuff, Editorial, Products on December 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

A GREAT gift!

If you are like me,  you are looking for the perfect gift this holiday to give to the teacher, bus driver, doctor, etc…  Nothing says thank you like a box of chocolate.  My office sent me the best platter of handmade chocolates from Matisse Chocolatier located in Englewood, NJ. 

Why chocolate?  Dark chocolate does not only taste good but is good for you, in moderation.  Matisse does not only make quality chocolates, they include healthy ingredients into their handmade dark chocolate products.  Not milk chocolate but dark chocolate has been reported to have antioxidants.  What are antioxidants?  Antioxidant are molecules that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules.  Simply put, antioxidants are important in fighting free radicals which are known to cause cancer cells. 

Some of Matisse’s dark chocolate products are the barks with cranberries, almonds or orange peel.  Almonds are the preferred nut suggested to those who are dieting because combined they satisfy the craving for something sweet while providing fiber which fills your hunger longer.  So if you know a nut lover, get them dark chocolate covered almonds to provide that mid day pick up. Why cranberries?  Why not cranberries should really be your question.  Besides tasting so good, cranberries are an antioxidant too.  Dried cranberries, otherwise known as craisins, provide natural complex sugars found in fruit which will provide longer lasting energy than processed sweets. I know orange peels are the part of the fruit you throw away.  Not so fast, orange peel is known to lower cholesterol, help relieve digestive problems and contains as much vitamin C as the juice. 

So this year when you want to give a gift, give one that not only taste good but is good for you.  Let the people in your life know that you want them to stay in your life by giving something you would buy yourself.  What is a holiday without having people to share it with?  On the other hand, if you want to splurge and just eat something that taste really good; I suggest that you try the chocolate covered potato chips.  I know it sounds odd, but it will be even more odd that you won’t try them.  Have I ever stared you wrong?  Enjoy your holiday NJT Family.

Matisse Chocolatier
260 Grand Avenue
Englewood, NJ 07631
201.568.2288
w2w.getfreshchocolate.com

Article: Are You a Healthy Vegetarian?

In Editorial on December 9, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I think that most people consider vegetarians healthy because they don’t eat meat.  If someone is a vegan, you might think that they are very healthy because their diet is so strict.  Vegetarian or vegan does not mean healthy just like skinny does not mean healthy.  Being a vegetarian or skinny just means that the odds of being healthy is better than those of the opposite. I started to think about this when I was watching the Today show a few months ago.  They did a feature about the hidden bad habits of skinny that make them unhealthy.  It made me think about what is  hidden in a vegetarian diet can cause them to be unhealthy.

First I thought about the meat substitutes; Vegetarians diets are flooded with processed products.  Lately we have been told that processed equals unhealthy and cause more bad than good.  After reading food labels of meat by products, I noticed is the high sodium percentage that averages 25% per serving. High sodium equals high blood pressure which is one of the highest killers in our society cause by diet. 

Secondly, I can not tell you important it is to read labels.  As a vegetarian, it is obvious that you won’t buy chicken, steak and for some of you fish.  Are you aware of the chicken fat or chicken broth that is used to flavor boxed or prepared sides and soups? Alvin hates plain rice, so I use to make boxed rice all the time.   I can’t tell you about the msg found in some of these products.  For instance, you use vegetable bouillon to flavor your soups and rice.  Did you know that most of them have msg in them?  MSG aka monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer but has also been linked to cancer.  Call me crazy but that doesn’t sound healthy.

Another thing making vegetarians unhealthy is how we are cooking our foods.  A lot of us are frying our food which we know can take a low-fat food to a high fat food in seconds.  If we are not frying it, we are hiding it under cups of cheese.  It may not be meat but it sure is not healthy.  In the transitional period, we depend on pizza and stir fries to get us through our craving for familiar flavors.  Satisfying your cravings is key, not satisfying it can cause to weight gain because you keep eating trying to fill the need. I am so guilty of this. We have to be conscious of our choices.

How do you know if you are a healthy vegetarian?

Vegetarian Food Pyramid

  1. Make sure that you are fulfilling the requirements of the Vegetarian Food Pyramid.
  2. When buying processed soy products, check the sodium count per serving.
  3. Read labels!  Look for hidden meat byproducts and MSG.
  4. Try not to fry or camouflage your veggies in cheese.

My best advice is to cook for yourself as much as possible.  When you cook for yourself, you are in control of what is going into your body.  If you do like to eat out, keep in mind why you became a vegetarian.  What’s the point of consciously making the decision to eat healthy if you  are not conscious about what is healthy?

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