Delicata squash

delicataI’m a big fan of this variety of winter squash I just saw for the first time.  Like all winter squash varieties, delicata is very mild, and it is slightly sweet.

I prepared it by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds (for the garden), and then cutting it into 1/4″ slices.  I baked it for 50 minutes in a covered dish with some excellent fresh tomato sauce, shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, and about 1/4 cup of California wild rice.  I spiced it with my favorites: turmeric, black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  I also added some apple cider vinegar.  I really like this tangy addition to the dish!

It made 4 generous servings, and it was delicious and healthful.

Will do this again soon!  And, I’m counting on it growing in my garden, maybe even getting a few before our first freeze, usually in late October.

Give it a try, cooking it your way, or try mine!

Source: Delicata squash – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Suffering of animals

Cesar Chavez“I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings.”~ Cesar Chavez

Thankfully, most people believe this when they observe animals.  The tragedy is that many of the same people will justify their eating of meat by denying the very truth that is spoken here — animals do experience great fear!

One of the main motivations I have for committing to a vegan diet is my belief that meat-eating is morally corrupt and influenced by propaganda such as the lie, “Animals do not suffer at the hands of food processors.”

Here is a previous article I wrote on the reasons I am vegan.

There are giants in the land

“Some people think the plant-based, whole-foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.”

~Caldwell Esselstyn

When it comes to plant-based nutrition, there are so many “giants in the land” of the enemy that it is much easier to submit to their rule in our lives than it is to subdue them.  Just ask anyone who has ever made a life change from eating a meat-based diet to one of whole foods, based 100% in plants.

assortedplantDr. Esselstyn’s quote (above) is taken from his groundbreaking book,  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure.  It states the obvious irony: people will go to extraordinary extremes, both in health and in financial expenses, to correct, or treat, the outcomes of a poor lifestyle before they will adopt preventative one if it requires changing what they like to eat.

It’s absurd, and it’s true.  Been there, done that, with 60 years of experience!

Like anything else, however, there is comfort in numbers, and the numbers of doctors, nutrition researchers and experts, and plant-based diet adherents are growing, and this alone will turn the course toward disease prevention and away from disease treatment as the primary “fix” for health.
The benefits of a plant-based diet begin at day one when a person simply decides that disease prevention and/or reversal is their biggest health priority.  Making the decision empowers the other activities that move us physically to the better path, and it feels good just to breathe the fresh air of change.

Source for quote: The Top 100 Vegan and Vegetarian Quotes, and the aforementioned book by Dr. Esselstyn.

Why vegan? My reasons.

There have been three primary motivations for choosing to go with a plant-based diet.  I’m sure there are others, but these are my own.  These are not in any special order, and they are equally ranked.  At different times, one may be ascendant to the others, but that’s mostly because I have a particular thing in mind that day.

Day 1 sproutsHealth reasons

From my reading over several years, I believe the evidence is overwhelming, plant-based diets are better for longevity and quality of life.  The work of T. Colin Campbell, particularly, has been the most thorough and most convincing.  The diets espousing the benefits of animal protein over plant-based proteins notwithstanding, the longitudinal research of Campbell and others supports the notion that plant-based is not only adequate for protein, but is superior in every way.  For another book on this particular subject, The Protein Myth, by David Gerow Irving, is definitive.

Senseless animal slaughter

I won’t post the pictures here, but there are so many outstanding books on the subject of how we get meat, along with dairy produce, to our tables, that I believe it is morally damaging and condemnable for me to eat animal products.  One of the best books, written by Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals, opens that window into animal cruelty like no other has done for me.  There are dozens of outstanding books and films on the subject.

Environmental damage

With the evidence mounting that food shortages will become the number one global concern within my own lifetime, we can no longer afford to give up the amount of farmland it takes to satiate the appetites of a meat-eating population.  This, along with the effects of cattle raising, including pigs and poultry, upon negative climate change and water pollution, means to me that continuing to perpetuate this cycle is to commit a major crime against humanity on a global scale.

My reasons may not be everyone’s reason.  But, they have been carefully considered over many years.  The appetite was not hard to kill once the evidence was in.

Sprouts taco dinner

I was in the mood for something quick after fighting 108º F weather and commuter traffic today in the blast furnace summertime of Dallas, so I went for something that looks great, tastes great, and is sure to boost my spirits to face another day just like this one tomorrow.

I harvested my lentil sprouts this morning, so they had been in the fridge all day, just chillin’.  Summertime is a great time for good-tasting tomatoes, when the taste hasn’t been compromised by refrigeration, and I can never turn away from a just-ripe avocado!

sprout tacosThere it was, simple, tasty, and inspiring with its color and fresh taste!

I had some organic corn tortillas that were very low in sodium and no oils, and I had some spicy tomato sauce left over from last week that was just enough to mix in with my sprouts.  I pulled three tortillas out of the storage bag, heated them for 20 seconds, covered with a paper plate, in the microwave oven.

To get my quota of cruciferous veggies for the day, I steamed some brussels sprouts and diced butternut squash I had prepared for steaming over the weekend.  This couldn’t have been any easier!  Faster than waiting in a drive-thru line at a greasy hamburger joint where I used to spend my money.

The result was a full stomach, nutritious perfection, and I was done with it all by 7 p.m.  Time to kick up my feet and watch some baseball!

Pinto beans

Our family loves pinto beans!  My wife and I both learned to eat them at a very young age with cornbread.  We both had fathers who used the leftover cornbread to mix with buttermilk as a nightly treat until it was gone.  It may just be a Southern thing, but I’ve heard of lots of old-timers who did this.

The beans DO need to be soaked overnight for the best results.  Using the method printed on most labels of dry beans, to use the unsoaked beans and boil them rapidly for five minutes before leaving them to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, does not usually have great results.  They are edible, but you don’t get the benefits of the spices blending well, and you certainly don’t get the darker, soupier liquid that makes these so tasty.

It’s a tradition to put the beans on to soak and announce to my wife, “Hey, we are having pinto beans tomorrow!”  This is met with, “Yippee!” (her favorite expression of delight when it comes to food).

Here is the way I do them.

pinto beansIngredients:

1 lb of pinto beans (I use Bob’s Red Mill pinto beans.)
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 cup fresh carrots, chopped
1/2 cup fresh celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder

Directions:

Wash beans thoroughly and then soak them overnight in water.  Empty beans into a colander, rinse them, and place them into a large pan.  Cover the beans with water to twice the depth of the beans.  Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.  After boiling for a couple of minutes, lower the heat, cover, and simmer until beans are soft.  Usually, they are soft enough to eat within 45 minutes to an hour, but if you have the time, and enjoy the awesome aroma emanating from the kitchen, simmer them for a couple of hours without letting them become dry and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Fast-cook beans and mixed quinoa

This is a wonderful blend of mixed fast-cook beans and a quinoa blend of black, red, and white grains.  It was perfect for a late supper with a fresh tomato and romaine salad and tomato vinaigrette I made this afternoon.

I saved about half of it for tomorrow’s lunch at my mother’s house where I like to bring my own food so no one has to worry about what to fix for “Todd’s diet.”  Just makes it easier, a non-issue.

Fast-cook bean mix and quinoaIngredients

1/2 cup fast-cook bean mix*, washed and ready to cook
1/3 cup organic mixed quinoa, washed and ready to cook
1 stalk of fresh celery, cut in small bite-size pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tbsp of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin powder
red pepper sauce to add when serving (optional)

Directions

Place all ingredients, except the red pepper sauce, in a pot and cover with water.  My rule of thumb is to double the volume in the pot when cooking fast-cook beans.  In other words, if the ingredients are 1″ deep in the pot, add water to 1″ above the ingredients.  This is enough to cook without becoming a soup, or to let the ingredients boil dry.  Bring the ingredients to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium-low and cover.  Cook for about twenty minutes, or until the water line is no longer visible.  Test the beans to see if they are soft enough for you.  Then, serve hot.

Makes about 3 entrée-size servings

I served mine with some assorted raw veggies and slightly blanched white-cap mushrooms.

*This can be done with any fast-cook bean.  I prefer a bean blend that usually consists of green lentils, mung beans, and split-peas.