Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Year of the Pulses 2016 - United Nations

The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulses. As luck would have it, I live in little Bangladesh, on Starling Avenue in the Bronx, and there are some ten stores on my street alone that sell any number of pulses: endless varieties of lentils (red lentils, whole lentils, Urad Dal, Masoor Matki-crimson lentils), green peas, yellow split peas, chick peas, and on and on and on.

In supermarkets around there are many more varieties from Spanish Cuisine, the entire Goya Foods line, either dried, or in cans, and there are even some interesting organic entries here and there, some you can find at Chang-Li supermarket (they stock Braggs Apple Cider and Liquid Amino's) on Benedict avenue, and Pioneer Supermarket on Castle Hill has a small, but growing section of organic produce and some organic dry goods, including excellent organic black beans from a brand called Wild Harvest.

In short, I am in Pulse heaven, and gradually I am learning more and more recipes, and ever since I decided to go 100% vegan a year and half ago, I am having more fun with food than I ever did in my life before.

One recent favorite recipe came from the Whole Foods website,
for Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup:

Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cups dried yellow split peas
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • vegetable bouillon, tamari, or liquid aminos to taste 
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes or until translucent, adding little water if necessary to prevent sticking. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add 8 1/2 cups water, peas and sweet potato and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover and continue to simmer 15 minutes. Carefully purée soup with a hand held immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth and creamy. Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

My personal variation is that I spray the pumpkin seeds (available at Chang Li), with Bragg's Liquid Aminos after toasting them on an oven tray. That just gives them a little extra flavor. You can just snack on them, or use them as suggested here, to spice up certain dishes.

The recipe is simplicity itself, and my routine has become to cook large pans of soup, and freeze two or three portions, so that I always have soup in stock in case I have limited time for cooking. A quick soup and a salad will tide you over.

Veganism is spreading

Lately it seems that veganism is spreading with amazing speed, both the no-oil vegan cuisine promoted by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, also known as the Plant Perfect Diet, and the low fat Engine2 Diet promote by his son, Rip Esselstyn, aka the Plant Strong Diet, and then there is always the hybrid program,  Forks Over Knives, based on the movie.
The number of stories is growing, and in many cases people are successfully eliminating a whole list of medications from their lives, and instead of spending the rest of their lives worrying about the side effects of their medications, not to mention drug interactions, eating healthy is becoming more wide spread.