Monday, October 28, 2019

Plant-Based on a budget - update

To me, this is as important as anything. The truth is there are too many recipes that are overly fancy, and before you know it, you end up thinking you really need all that to live plant-based, but you don't. You can start very simple.

I will discuss some sites here and leave you with some suggestions based on conditions in our own neighborhood.

Here is one great site:

but the best one is perhaps Plant-based on a budget, just like the title of this article.

But, there are plenty of ideas. It starts with buying in bulk wherever suitable.

I always like to point out that on our street in the Bangladeshi stores, there is an absolute feast of staples available...

  • 10 lbs brown basmati rice $12-15
  • 10 lbs onions $1.99 - $5.99, depending on the grade of onions and with seasonal variations
  • 4 lbs red lentils $3 or 2x4 lbs for $5.
 And here is a wonderful suggestion from Costco:

Once you have those kinds of things in stock, and some condiments, the sky is the limit and for your other veggies you buy whats on sale/in season, and of course various fruits in between.

You start your days with steel cut oats, 30 Oz is still $3.29 at Shoprite, and I make it with a constantly varying set of fruits, usually starting with a Granny Smith Apple, and some Blueberries, some raisins and goji berry, and whatever else comes along - I usually add a banana as well.
I usually decorate it with balsamic vinegar (4% acidity) and hemp seeds.

You can also work wonders with frozen vegetables of various kinds. Or, when I find some great vegetable on sale, I might cook ahead.

St. Helena's Communal Meal Prep 10/26/19

This time the theme was leafy greens.

Eating leafy greens, either raw or cooked 4-6 times a day is the standard recommendation of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn for it will keep your arteries flexible. Chewing the leafy greens will convert nitrate and with the enzymes from your saliva ultimately it will produce the nitric oxide that helps your bloodvessel stay limber.

Some of the best foods for this are:
  1. Beets
  2. Garlic
  3. Leafy greens
  4. Pomegranate
  5. Nuts and seeds (but.. we want to go light on those because of the high oil content).

Two Salads

Green Salad

  • 1 Green lettuce
  • 3 Vine tomatoes
  • a can of black-eyed peas (or whatever beans or peas you can find)
  • some quinoa
  • yellow, red, green peppers
  • a can of sliced beets
  • a carrot sliced thin (we skipped this because we already had the veggie spaghetti salad with carrot)
  • capers
  • olives
  • a red onion, cut up.
  • a pomegranate
  • 1/2/3 dressing: 1 measure maple syrup, 2 measures Dijon Mustard, 3 measures Balsamic Vinegar, and lemon and lime juice to taste
  • add milled flax seed and/or chia seeds for Omega-3's
Endless variations on the above are possible, and depending on the addition of quinoa and beans, you can make this a meal salad.


 Veggie Spaghetti Salad

We made this with a mandolin, but you could use a spiralizer of some sort. Taste is the same, but the long spaghetti strands present better - maybe.

For a dressing we used some 1/2/3 dressing with thyme and some Veggie Mayo (see below).

  • Shredded Zucchini
  • Shredded Daikon
  • Shredded Green Papaya
  • Shredded Carrot

Veggie Mayo

  • 1 package of Silken Tofu
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or date sugar)
  • 1 tpsp red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of Dijon Mustard
 Drain the tofu on a paper towel, and mix the ingredients with an immersion blender.

Leafy Greens Galore

It was Khokon, the owner of Neerob Restaurant, who taught me to make a medley of green leafy vegetables.

The message is that you can make either pure spinach, or Malabar spinach (poi leaf for the Bangladeshis), or Swiss chard, or any other green leafy vegetables by itself, or you can make a medley.

You can create a simple and delicious flavor with caramelized onions and garlic, some turmeric (preferably fresh) and perhaps Panch Puran or other spices.

 The way to build it up is to caramelize the onions first:

  • cut up the onions finely
  • optionally: cut up some chilis
  • roast dry for 5 minutes - just until the onions start turning brown and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • mince some garlic
  • mince turmeric
  • 1/2 cup of veggie broth 
  • now stir-fry for five minutes, keeping it liquid with the broth.
  • meanwhile cut up the stems of your leafy greens if they have heavy stems.
  • now stir-fry another 5-7 minutes with the stems.
  • cut up the leaves into 1-1/2" strips and add
  • cook on medium until the leaves are al dente
The above is just perfect for making green leafies as a side dish. Alternatively, you can make dal, as follows:
  • after stir-frying with the stems, you add more water and red lentils (hulled red lentils) in about 2:1 proportions water to lentils, let it cook about 10 mins then add the green leaves and let it cook for five minutes.
In other words, you start the same way for making green leafies as a side dish or the dal with green vegetables.

Butternut Squash

The last thing we made was butternut squash. We cut one in half lengthwise and put two garlic cloves in the hollow, and filled it up about half-way with veggie stock.
30-40 minutes in the oven at 400F, until soft.

Desert was grapes, which were also delicious.

It seemed everyone enjoyed the meal.

From the money dept

We had eight people, or $120 in funds, and we spent $87.31. In short, we are donating $32.69 to St. Helena's. There was plenty of food, even considering that two people did not show up. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Low Down on Veggie Broth in the Hood

OK, it's time to take stock of (veggie) stock in the hood. I am not sure what the difference is between veggie stock and veggie broth. Wikipedia quotes James Beard as saying:
...that stock, broth, and bouillon "are all the same thing"
and it goes on to say that the distinction, if any, tends to be fluid. Swanson does seem to know the difference, but they don't explain it either: Organic Vegetable Broth, v.s. 100% natural vegetable cooking stock, and Vegetable Broth. I use them interchangeably.

One of the insidious features of any packaged foods is that you really need to read the label, for too often too much salt, sugar, or oil sneaks in, not to mention some other nefarious chemicals you may not like. However, if you do get into the habit, you will be rewarded and soon you will find your way to better solutions.

Remember always to check for what they say about serving size, for those can often be wildly unrealistic. A bag of potato chips may contain many "servings" but I don't know anybody who would not eat the whole bag. With veggie broth it seems to be easier - a serving is an 8 Oz cup. That much is straigtforward. The % of RDA means nothing for the RDA is completely different in plant-based nutrition. You want 10% of calories from fat (no added fat), 10% from protein, and 80% from Complex Carbohydrates. For sodium, the recommended level in the plant-based community tends to be 1,500 mg daily, whereas generally, anything below 2,000 mg daily is regarded as low sodium.

This time I want to research Vegetable Broth/Stock in our area. I am listing ingredients and prices and a recommendation. I will keep adding to the list. Besides Chiang-Li and Key Food, I will also visit ShopRite on the Bruckner.
I make note of the color because for some situations the dark color might be too much, e.g. if you want to create a light-colored sauce.

As to the salt content, clearly, there are several reasonable ones and a couple of very good ones. If the goal is not to exceed 1,500 mg a day, you can see how it adds up. Again, in general, anything below 2,000 mg/day is looked at as low salt.

Broth Alternatives

In our cooking classes, we have discussed both Bragg's Liquid Aminos and Yondu as easy alternatives to veggie broth.

For example, when caramelizing onions, you really only need a little bit of water to keep them good and liquid and prevent them from sticking to the pan or getting burned.
I typically use about 1/2 cup of water with a teaspoon of Yondu or Braggs if I do not have veggie broth handy.

Both are alternatives that are reasonably low in sodium.

At the other extreme, I periodically am brave enough to make my own veggie broth from roast veggies. Sometimes, when I do this, I also freeze a couple of trays of ice-cubes of veggie broth. 2-3 icecubes of broth may be all you need to liquify stir-fried onions.

Chiang-Li Supermarket

  •  College Inn, 32 Oz 100% Natural Garden Vegetable Broth - $3.39
    • 20 Calories
    • 0 g of Fat (0% of RDA)
    • 0 mg Cholesterol
    • 700 mg Sodium (30% of RDA)
    • 4 g Total Carbohydrates (1% RDA)
      • 3g added sugars
    • 0g protein
    • NB.: High in Sodium! This is a light colored broth.
  • College Inn, 32 Oz, 100% Natural Garden Vegetable Broth (40% less sodium) - $3.39
    • 0g Fat
    • 0 mg Cholesterol
    • 420 mg Sodium (sic!)
    • 4 g Carbohydrates
      • 3g added sugar
    • 0g protein
    • NB: This is a light colored broth.
    • Recommended!
  •  Swanson, 32 Oz, Organic Vegetable Broth - $3.79
    • 10 Calories
    • 0g Fat
    • 0 mg Cholesterol
    • 530 mg Sodium
    • 2 g Total Carbohydrates
      • 1 g added sugars
    • 0 g Protein
    • Recommended!
  •  Kitchen Basics, 32 Oz, Unsalted Vegetable Stock.
    • 0 g Fat
    • 0 mg Cholesterol
    • 210 mg Sodium
    • 100 mg Potassium
    • 6g Total Carbohydrates
      • sugars 4g
    • 0 g Protein
    • Recommended! 
    • N.B. Color dark. 

 Key Foods, Metropolitan

  •  Swanson, 32 Oz. Vegetable Broth,  on sale 2 for $6.
    • 10 Calories
    • 0 g Fat
    • 0 mg Cholesterol
    • 800 mg Sodium
    • 2 g Carbohydrates
      • 2 g sugars
    • 0 g Protein
    • NB: High Sodium - avoid, color light.
  • Swanson, 32 Oz. Vegetable Cooking Stock, on sale 2 for $6
    • 15 Caloreies
    • 0.5 g fat
    • 0 g Cholesterol
    • 550 mg Sodium
    • 2 g Total Carbohydrates
      •  2 g Sugars
    • 0 g Protein
    • N.B. Light color
    • Recommended!
  • Pacific Foods, 32 Oz. Organic Vegetable Broth - $3.99 (on sale)
    • 15 Calories
    • 0 g Fat
    • 0 g Cholesterol
    • 500 mg Sodium
    • 3 g Carbohydrates
      • 1 g Sugars
      • 1 g Dietary Fiber
    • 1 g Protein
    • N. B. Light color
    • Recommended! 
Options galore. I will keep adding to this as I take inventory at Shoprite.

ShopRite Bruckner Commons

Ok, I finally made my veggie broth run to ShopRite. Here's the harvest (I am reporting list prices, though some were on sale):
  •  Wholesome Pantry, 32 Oz Vegetable Cooking Stock, $2.21
    • 10 Calories
    • 0 g Fat
    • 0 g Cholesterol
    • 570 mg Sodium
    • 3g carbohydrates
      • includes 2g added sugars
    • 0 g Protein
    • N.B. Light color
  •  Swanson, 32 Oz Vegetable Broth, $2.79
    •  Otherwise as above
  • Swanson, 32 Oz Organic Vegetable Broth, $3.49
    • Otherwise as above
  •  College Inn, 32 Oz, 100% Natural Garden Vegetable Broth, $2.99
    • Otherwise as above
  • Progresso, 32 Oz, Vegetable Broth, $2.19
    • 5 Cal
    • 0 g Fat
    • 0 g Cholesterol
    • 400 mg Sodium
    • 0g carbohydrates
    • 0 g Protein
    • N.B. relatively low sodium
  • Emeril's 32 Oz Organic Vegetable Stock, $2.19
    • 10 Calories
    • 0 g fat
    • 0 mg Cholesterol
    • 570 mg Sodium
    • 2 g Carbohydrates
      • 2g sugars
    • 0 g Protein
    • N.B. dark color. Sodium in mid range.
  • Rachael Rae, 32 Oz All Natural Veggie Stock $2.60
    • 10 Calories
    • 0 g Fat
    • 0 mg Cholesterol
    • 480 mg Sodium
    • 2 g Carbohydrates
      • less than 1g sugar
    •  0 g Protein
    • N.B. Sodium about average. Darker color.
    • Recommended
In all almost all the broths were on-sale, so I did considerably better than the list prices indicate.