Thursday, August 20, 2009

PeTA's Save The Whales Campaign

If you haven't seen PeTA's recent billboard, feast your eyes.

Offensive? Sure. Effective? Maybe. Attention-getting? You bet. And that has been PeTA's strategy from day 1. The billboard has created quite a buzz, which, of course, is PeTA's goal. I found it kind of funny in a satirical way, with a healthy dose of discomfort over their choice to call large people whales. Yes, it stings, for those of us who are heavy or really anyone who's ever struggled with weight or loves someone who does. But it's important to look at the big picture: Will some people identify with it and maybe pass up their burger tonight? Maybe, maybe not. Will they think twice next time they hear something about the cruelty on factory farms? Perhaps. Will they listen up next time they hear about yet another study suggesting that vegetarian diets protect against obesity and chronic disease? Maybe. Advertising experts tell us that we need multiple exposure to an idea before it becomes part of our consciousness. Is PeTA going on that theory? I'm not an advertising expert or psychologist, so I do not know; I'm just putting ideas out there.

What I do know is that the American Dietetic Association's (ADA's) response to it was almost as inappropriate as the ad itself. Watch this video:

I found Zied’s “Vegetarian diets CAN be healthy IF PROPERLY PLANNED” remark (I lost count after 4 times) far more offensive than the whale ad.

Meat-containing diets CAN be healthy IF PROPERLY PLANNED too, but she, as most do, confirms the ideology that eating animals is the norm and that eliminating their consumption is something to be approached “with caution.” The ADA is doing nothing to challenge this ideology, which is literally killing millions of people in the form of preventable chronic diseases.

Furthermore, Zied attempted to contradict the assertion that vegetarians weigh less than their omnivorous counterparts by claiming that the ADA Evidence Analysis Library tells us that there are other effective ways to lose weight besides going vegetarian. That was not the issue, and no one is disputing otherwise. Did she selectively ignore ADA's very own position paper on vegetarian diets, part of the Library, which clearly states that vegetarians have lower BMIs than meat eaters? Who’s selling the distorted messages here?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quick (REALLY!) Eggplant and Quinoa Salad Recipes

My evening of cooking started out rough. I boiled a cup of quinoa while prepping some organic broccoli I bought from my local organic farmer at the farmers' market last weekend, and while doing so I noticed a LOT of aphids on the broccoli. I did a quick soak in warm water and rinsed them once more, but still found hundreds of these little buggers clinging to and hiding in the otherwise gorgeous broccoli florets. So one centimeter at a time, I went through the broccoli with TWEEZERS and removed these creatures. After clearing six florets, I gave up and threw the rest away. Which I absolutely hate to do. The whole ordeal took a little over an hour! Ben (who just turned 4 last week) said "MMM broccoli!" so I gave him the bug-free greens and he gobbled them up with some pasta and tomato sauce. I was planning on eating together, the 3 of us as a family, but the broccoli took so long and Ben was hungry, so I had little choice but to feed him first and make something for Dan and me.

Ben's dinner done, I opened the fridge in frustration, poking through the veggie drawer, wondering what to make for the two of us.

I spied a bug-free (!) eggplant I'd purchased from the same organic farmer, so I scrubbed it while trying to figure out what to do with it. Eggplant is usually a production for me -- in casseroles like vegan eggplant parmesan, or in ratatouille, or sauteed for a long time. None of those ideas appealed to me. Another challenge with eggplant is that it soaks up cooking oil like a sponge, so it's easy to prepare a dish with too much fat. Under pressure, I created the following recipe, which was ridiculously easy and honestly, absolutely delicious. Redemption.

QUICK and Tasty Eggplant

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 medium to large eggplant, cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil (depending on the size of the eggplant)
  • 1-2 tbsp Balsamic Glaze (such as Blaze)

Place the broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally to cook evenly, for about 8 minutes or until tender. Drain out the excess broth in a colander by shaking the eggplant around.

Return the eggplant to the pot, add the oil and balsamic, stir until well blended, and serve.


As you can see by the photo (click it to enlarge), I also made Quinoa Salad. This dish, though never prepared exactly the same, is becoming a staple in my house. Here's all you do:

Quick Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups water
juice of 1 large lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
handful of fresh flat parsley, chopped
1-2 scallions, white and green, thinly sliced into rounds OR 1/2 small red onion, chopped finely
1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes, halved, OR 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (packed in oil and drained)
1 can (1.5 cups) beans (I like chick peas best), drained and rinsed
Freshly ground sea salt to taste

any raw veggies, finely chopped, such as:
* bell pepper
* celery
* carrots
* cabbage
* spinach

* chopped olives
* nuts (sliced almonds, pecans, or pine nuts work great)

Simmer the quinoa in water for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients. When quinoa is done, transfer to a bowl and fluff. Let cool or not (warm is nice too) and add remaining ingredients. Toss well.

This is really nice on a bed of fresh salad greens.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Easy Recipe: quick kale, collards, or mustard greens

No longer is the excuse "they take too long to wash and chop" acceptable as a reason not to eat leafy greens every day. While I do still buy full bunches of greens (particularly from John, my favorite local organic farmer), I also pick up bagged, prewashed, ready-to-cook greens in a bag. Glory brand greens have become my guilty pleasure for everything greens. Even my local Pathmark sells these greens -- I've gotten kale, collard greens, and mustard greens there. And unlike most ready-to-eat options (versus fresh produce), these greens don't cost more! Add to that the fact that you don't have to wash, chop, and discard the tough roots (such as the kale), you've got a wonderfully healthful, easy, versatile, and affordable dinner option.

My recent favorite way to prepare greens has been a big hit with my family and guests, and it's so easy, people can't believe it! I never was a big fan of boiling vegetables, but when it comes to leafy greens, it's my new way to ensure tender, evenly cooked leaves. Here is my recipe:

Greally Great Glory Greens

  • 1 bag of Glory greens (or about 1 1/4 pounds fresh greens, weighed before discarding tough stems and chopped into large bite-sized pieces)
  • water for cooking
  • 2 tbsp of Bragg's Liquid Aminos or Tamari
  • 1 tbsp hemp oil (optional, but a great source of vegan omega-3s)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Fill a big pot of water with a couple of inches of water. Bring to boil.

Add prepared greens and, with tongs, turn them several times over several minutes so they cook evenly. Collards need 5-10 minutes, while kale needs 10-15 minutes. They're going to shrink big time. Don't overcook; taste as you cook and stop when they're ready.

Discard water or save for soup stock.

Whisk the Braggs and oils together, and toss the greens with the dressing. Adjust to taste (you might like more Braggs or sesame oil). Toasted sesame seeds make a nice topper too.

Serve immediately.

Want more greens recipes? Check out this older blog post, What to do with kale.