Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Skip the milk

I thought I had posted about the many reasons that you should find alternatives to drinking cows milk, but it seems that I have not yet posted about this. There are many reasons not to drink milk. There are also many alternatives. I'll talk about both.

First, drinking cow's milk is just plain weird. That's right. Weird. It would be less weird if we drank human milk, but we don't and we even find that to be pretty disgusting (outside of feeding babies). I don't know why we don't think it is just as disgusting to drink cows milk. Even so, we really shouldn't drink human milk either. I just wanted to make a point. Cow's milk is for baby cows. Human milk is for human babies. What if I offered you some dog's milk to drink? I bet you'd think that was pretty weird and you'd probably say no. Most animals (including most of us) become lactose intolerant as we grow out of babyhood because we don't need to keep drinking milk after this point. "Human beings are the only species (other than house cats) to consume milk past childhood." [1]

Cows are killed to make that gallon of milk for you. A lot a vegetarians think it is ok to drink milk because "no animal gets hurt". This is just not true. Cows do not miraculously generate milk. They have to be regularly impregnated to produce milk (just like humans). Dairy cows are forced have a calf about 2x a year to produce this milk. These calves are IMMEDIATELY separated from their mothers (and the mother cows get very upset by this). If the calf is female she will be raised to replace aging dairy cows. If male, they will either be raised for beef, killed immediately for dog food, or sent to be shackled in a small crate for veal. Dairy cows, who would normally live to be about 20 years old, are sent to slaughter after about 3-5 years when their production wanes. They are killed for a hamburger. [2]

Dairy cows do not live an idyllic life in a nice green pasture. The cows you generally see in fields are usually beef cows. Dairy cows are forcibly impregnated and kept pregnant to produce over 100 pounds of milk a day[2]. They have been genetically modified to produce this much milk. This is stressful and they have a lot of mastitis infections, which causes all that pus in the milk that I posted about a few weeks ago. Dairy cows have a hard miserable life.

Oh, and they won't explode if you don't milk them. I don't know where this weird notion comes from.

Milk does not do a body good. Milk isn't very good for you. You can get calcium from other sources. Dairy consumption has been linked to numerous diseases including [1]: ovarian cancer, diabetes, prostate cancer [3], obesity, heart disease.

Alternatives - Any of these alternatives can be used in cereal, or used interchangeably in reciples that call for milk or you can just drink them. Experiment and see which one you like and see if you can remove milk from your diet:

Soy Milk
Rice Milk (tastes like skim milk)
Almond Milk
Oat Milk

Soy Creamer for coffee (Silk or Wildwood)

Other sources of calcium: broccoli, dark leafy greens (such as kale), firm tofu, soy milk, fortified cereals, blackstrap molasses, soy beans, white beans, cow beans (I think these are black-eye peas), sweet potatoes, bok choy, oranges, pears, raisins, dates, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, filberts, sesame seeds, tahini (sesame seed paste), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peas, amaranth, quinoa, oats and barley... [4]

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Vegan Fried "Chicken" with Mashed Potatoes and Brussel Spouts... and brownies

Well, my week of only cooking from recipes that I can give you from the web is over. So, tonight I cooked vegan fried "chicken" from a recipe in La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. It was really really good. There was no disagreement in the house about the fact that this was coming back again. We served it with mashed potatoes (made with soy milk and earth balance) and roasted garlicky brussel sprouts (from Vegan with Vengeance).

Vegan Fried Chicken

Yesterday we made brownies from Vive Le Vegan, by Dreena Burton. They are all gone. Here is a pic, for those of you who thought that vegans couldn't have brownies:

Vegan Brownies

Our other interesting cooking experiment for the weekend was to make our own vegan cheese from a recipe in the Uncheese cookbook. We made a colby style. I haven't tasted it yet, but it smells really good. I'll let you know how it is. I have a few things planned for the vegan cheese this week. I'll try to remember to take some pictures of it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Roasted Vegetable with Kale and Quinoa

This is one of my favorite recipes and it is pretty easy once you have chopped up all the vegetables (psst - this is a great thing to do with all of those CSA root vegetables). In the extended entry are full instructions along with preparation pictures.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Black Eyed Peas and Greens (4 stars)

This was super easy and very tasty. Oh, and it's good for you too. Last night we made Mollie Katzen's recipe for Black Eyed Peas and Greens. We had it over brown rice and had baked sweet potato on the side (we baked the sweet potatoes and scraped out the insides into the bowl of beans).

Black Eyed Peas and Greens

Can you believe it? No modifications this time. We made this with a half a bunch of Swiss Chard and a half a bunch of Mustard Greens. If you make this, you should definitely use the mustard greens. They really made this dish.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Unbeef Stew (Rating = BLEAH)

Tonight we made "Unbeef Stew" in the crockpot**. We served this with a big salad. I hated it. It had that metallic undertone that often comes with pre-made vegetable broth. I didn't even take a picture because it was frankly just that bad. Skip this one!

We were supposed to make this yesterday, but I got started later than I was supposed to due to an appointment, and then the tofu was still frozen. I had taken the tofu out of the freezer at 5:30 am and set it on the counter and it was still frozen at 1. Tofu evidently takes a long time to thaw. It was a good thing that I was not able to start this recipe at 1 in the afternoon, thinking that we would eat at 8, because the drying out of the tofu took a lot longer than expected today. The recipe doesn't really give any good indication, but I took my tofu out of the fridge, pressed it for an hour and cut it up, and then started drying it out in the oven. It took at least 2 hours.

** If you've noticed that dinner's are a little plainer than usual this week, it is because I am haing some dental work done and I am not allowed to eat any foods that would stain a white t-shirt: no curry, no tomato sauce, no red wine... etc. It is actually quite limiting.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Vegan Shepard's Pie (3 stars)

For dinner tonight we made a shepard's pie. This was kind of an impromptu, what the hell are we going to eat, kind of dinner since I screwed up the timing on what we were supposed to have (more on that tomorrow). Neither of us was up to cooking anything complicated so we settled on this recipe for shepard's pie. It was better than expected, and despite the fact that neither of us is particularly fond of parsnips, the parsnip was actually quite good in this. We had a nice big salad along with it. The recipe has some errors and I made some tweaks, so I will repost it here with the changes.

Vegan Shepard's Pie

Shepard's Pie
4-5 peeled, cubed yukon gold or red potatoes
4 peeled garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs vegan margarine
1/2 cup soy milk or more as needed

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 large parsnip, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
12 oz veggie ground round crumbles (Yves or Light Life)
1 cup potato water
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup frozen green peas
salt and pepper to taste


Prepare mashed potatoes: Cover potatoes with water and add garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 min until potatoes are tender. Drain and reserve 1 cup of stock. Mash potatoes with soy milk and margarine. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add onions, carrots, and parsnips and saute for 5 minutes (or more, until the carrots and parsnips are starting to look cooked).

Add garlic and thyme saute for 2-3 minutes. Add veggie ground crumbles, potato water, soy sauce and cornstarch mixture. Simmer and stir constantly for 2 minutes until sauce thickens.

Add the peas, salt, and pepper, then transfer to a lightly oiled 1 1/2 quart baking dish.

Spoon mashed potatoes on top, drizzle with some more olive oil if desired (I left this out) and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for about 20 minutes until top is golden.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Banana Pancakes and "sausages"

This morning we needed a hearty breakfast before shoveling the 8 inches of snow topped with 2 inches of rain. We made banana pancakes and Light Life Sausage Links. We really liked the pancakes, but we split on the verdict of the sausages.

I only made minor changes to the Banana Pancakes recipe. I did not use a blender as suggested, but rather just mashed the bananas. I mashed ALL the bananas instead of adding slices to the batter. I added a couple of extra banana slices while cooking for decoration. I used 1/8 tsp cinnamon and 1/16 tsp allspice (the recipe isn't clear on this).

Go forth and make pancakes!

Connect with your food: Join a local CSA

CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture. The way a CSA generally works is that you sign up and pay the farmer for a weekly share of the crops from around June to October. Sometimes there is also a work commitment. At Stearns Farm (which I belonged to in years past), I was required to work 12 hours over the growing season. This entailed planting crops, pulling weeds, haresting, etc. I actually liked this part because it really connected me to the farm and I could walk through the farm and say "I planted that Kale and those tomatoes". This year I joined Lands Sake Farm which I don't think requires a work commitment. It is a little closer to my office and will be easier to pick up each week.

CSAs can be expensive, but you get a ton of local organic vegetables every week (most CSA farms are organic). If the rates seem high to you, you can sometimes purchase a 1/2 share or find a friend and split a share. Generally, when splitting a share, you would pick up every other week. In addition to getting great local organic vegetables, you get fresh picked, minimally transported vegetables (your car)... thus also helping the environment!

You can find a CSA near you, by checking out this web site. You will need to sign up right away as it is already getting late in the sign up season and some farms will already be sold out for the season. If you live in the MetroWest area of Boston, Lands Sake farm still has some open shares.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Roasted Squash Pasta (4 1/2 stars)

Tonight we made Roasted Squash Pasta. It was really good. I made a few minor modifications. I only used 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (this was plenty). I cooked the squash at 385 degrees. And, I added the garlic, pine nuts, and spices after the squash had been in the oven for 10 minutes so that they wouldn't burn. I stirred during this addition and again 15 minutes later. We had it with some steamed broccoli. We both called this one a keeper.

Roasted Squash Pasta

** Note - peeling butternut squash - While this looks really difficult, it is actually quite easy. You can peel a butternut squash with a regular old vegetable peeler. After peeled, slice it down the middle and scoop out the seeds and goo. Then chop it up.

A week of easy/quick vegan recipes from the web

This week I have a theme. It is recipes that I find on the web that look pretty easy and tasty. This doesn't actually mean that everything I make this week will turn out... but I'll post either way. A week doesn't necessarily mean that I will post 7 recipes, as we eat leftovers every once in a while. So, this will probably mean 4 or 5 recipes. You might get a couple of bonus breakfast recipes since it is snowing here and that makes me want to make big breakfasts.

** Note - due to a family situation, I may have to suddenly go out of town, and pick this back up when I get back... just in case I seem to fall off the Earth.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Free Candle Cafe cookbook!

I have an extra copy of the Candle Cafe cookbook (which is great) to the first person who responds to this entry and agrees to go vegan for 3 weeks! I'll even pay to ship it to you. It's easy. Just give it a try and I'll give you this wonderful cookbook.

Reply to this entry with an email address and a promise to try veganism for 3 weeks and I'll email you for your address and send you the book.

You aren't an environmentalist unless you are vegan

I know that is a strong title, but honestly it is true. Eating meat is worse for the environment than driving an SUV. So, if you are driving around in a hybrid or other gas efficient vehicle for the environment (which I think is great), you should also go vegan.

"Which causes more greenhouse gas emissions, rearing cattle or driving cars? This question was posed in a recent report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which concluded the livestock sector “generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent—18 percent—than transport.”" - Satya Magazine

Satya magazine has an article this month about how being vegan is best for the environment, and at the bottom of this article is an excellent chart entitled "Do you eat like an SUV" which compares eating habits to driving certain types of vehicles. It is an excellent way to put this in perspective. So, please, go look at the chart. The article is a Q&A with authors of a study about eating and globa warming. Here is a link to the study.

Do it for the planet. Cut out the meat!