Category Archives: Vegetarian

The Birth of a Bean Freak

Nearly 48 years ago, my parents brought me home from the hospital, wrecking my sister’s run as an only child. I’ve been wrecking shaking things up for her ever since. Poor thing.

Don’t shed a tear! She gets hers, lemme tell you. She’s hardly helpless. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that she set me on my current path to becoming a complete bean freak. See, here’s how it started (and how I’m totally blaming her):

In her 20s, Chele spent a few years living in Germany where they were huge into recycling – even in the 80s. She really got into it – both in deed and in spirit. She got used to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and brought the ideas home with her. Once stateside, it was tough to recycle anything much more than aluminum cans; but, until there were actual recycling programs, she continued her mission to reduce and reuse. And was she ever an evangelist about it! I’m pretty sure that there were times I threw things away that resulted in some discourse ending in, “Can I get an AMEN!”

You see, unlike my sister, I was still a giant, spoiled, American baby. I bought things. I used them. I threw them away. Disposable anything was just fine with me. I gave no thought to excess plastic or packaging. I went to Kroger, bought what I needed, consumed it, then threw the remains in the landfill, never giving it a second thought. Well, not a second thought until the Earth Queen got ahold of me, anyway. This went on for years – her fussing, me ignoring – until I lived in New Orleans where the city had a recycling program. Since it was not big deal for me, I separated my plastic containers and put them in the bin. I started recycling in the laziest of ways. Still, I started.

After Katrina, we moved to Tennessee where I met my friend Sean who is also an advocate of recycling. He didn’t really give me grief about it, though. He just told me where I could take it and how easily we could set up collection bins on my back porch. Before I knew it, I had bins for plastic, steel cans, cardboard, aluminum, glass and paper. The truth is, I’m not entirely sure I set these up. It’s possible that he did it while I wasn’t looking. Still, nearly ten years later, I still recycle everything but plain paper (they don’t take that anymore, but sometimes I shred it and add it to my compost pile).

So, you see? It’s totally their fault! Between Chele and Sean, I began to be aware of the environment and the impact on it my choices have. This made me fertile ground for the vegan message, particularly after becoming such a fan of veggies during the Big Reduction. Even realizing that they all have their own agendas, films like Fat,Sick and Nearly Dead, Vegucate, Forks Over Knives, Fed Up and Food, Inc. found a willing convert in this nascent Bean Freak.

So, it’s been nine months since I started my vegetarian experiment – nine months with a total of maybe six servings of meat. Eggs and dairy have fallen by the wayside in the last couple of months – except when they are in something processed. (I’m not turning down a slice of cake to avoid a little egg.) And, as I’ve told you (and my sister, ad nauseum), I feel better than ever.

My sister, who is visiting me this week, is getting the full-on vegan treatment (Except for that cow’s milk she insists on drinking in her tea) whether she likes it or not. We’ve had black bean burgers, wild mushrooms, portobellos in peanut sauce, Jamaican Black Beans with pineapple chutney, cashew and almond milk frozen desserts. It’s all good stuff! Can I get an AMEN!

(I work tonight. Watch for her at the Wendy’s drive-thru as soon as I leave.)


Revival of the Fittest

So, like I said, I got my books and I’ve dug into them. However, just reading them isn’t going to get me where I want to be, now is it? I’ve got to put my fanny in gear and get with the program.

And, yesterday, that’s exactly what I did.

Sunday night, I looked through the recipe book, planned my menus for the next week (Actually, since many of the recipes make four servings and freeze well, the meals will last for more than just the one week.) and made my grocery list. Then yesterday, I grabbed my grocery bags and headed out to Aldi and Kroger. Many of the items I bought were larder stocking kinds of things like nutritional yeast, chia seeds, dried beans, canned diced tomatoes, and spices. I tell you that because I had to say it to myownself at check-out so that I wouldn’t hyperventilate at the totals. Nearly gave myself a stroke, I did! Now, normally, I look in my refrigerator and cabinets to see what’s there and I concoct something edible with the ingredients (the ketchup pizza being a notable exception to the edible thing). However, as I fully transition into this Whole Foods, Plant Based lifestyle, I wanted to make some proven recipes so that I can learn to cook without butter, oil, cream or even cheese. It’s not like I used cream or cheese all that frequently to begin with; but, I have no idea how to make sauces creamy without them. Using the recipes in the Forks Over Knives books, I’ll learn how to do that.

Now, let’s take just a minute because I can hear some of you rolling your eyes at me. I’ve gone off the deep end – no animal protein. What?! Have I lost my mind?! And I used to be such a nice girl! Well, the nice girl thing may be a bit of a stretch; but, otherwise, I can totally get where you’re coming from. I used to dig into a rack of ribs like someone was going to steal it. I enjoyed my steaks so rare that some of them may have moved. Hot, buttered bread, okay, hot, buttered anything was a favorite. Although allergic to dairy, I love ice cream enough to make the bathroom my home for hours after eating it. I was a carnivore who loved all things dairy. Now, what am I? Some kind of bean freak?!

Maybe not yet, but I can totally see myself getting there. Particularly since my cookbooks have arrived and I’m going to learn how to cook with new ingredients and how to use familiar ingredients in a whole new way. And, don’t even think I’m going to be eating grass and twigs.  My refrigerator and freezer are soon to be stocked with:

  1. Sweet Potato Pie Oatmeal
  2. Portobello Florentine
  3. Breakfast Fruit Crisp with mixed berries
  4. Red Lentil Dal
  5. Creamy Polenta with Wild Mushrooms
  6. Baked Ziti
  7. Polenta Pizza with pesto, caramelized onions and potatoes
  8. Jamaican Black Beans
  9. Pineapple Chutney
  10. Whole Grain Penne Primavera
  11. Stir Fried Bok Choy and rice in garlic sauce
  12. Black Bean Burgers
  13. Black-Eyed Pea Burgers
  14. Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Nope. No grass and twigs here, friends. It’s gonna be good eating at the Doty Hjem! And every single recipe is designed to give my body varied and complete nutrients for better health, and to give my taste buds a big, ole tent revival with every single bite!


Vegetable Medley

1/2 grapefruit, dry toast, boiled egg.  Baked chicken, green beans, and salad.  Baked chicken, green beans, salad.

We’ve all tried this diet, haven’t we?  This one or another that was about as enticing as a dose of cod liver oil.  There’s no way anyone can stay on a diet like that in our society.  We are accustomed to too many choices.  Any plan to narrow food intake to just those items is doomed from the start.

During my lifestyle change, I wanted to keep mealtimes interesting.  To do that, I tried lots of new foods.  You saw some of the choices on the menu here yesterday.  There may be some things on that list that are unfamiliar to you or you may just not think of eating them often.

328134_10151065513318197_1002986048_oTo the list of vegetables I eat regularly, I added eggplant, kale, collards, turnip greens, edamame, rutabega, beets, beet greens, sweet potatoes, parsnips, purple carrots, butternut and acorn squash, yellow tomatoes, Italian rabe or rapini, etc.  I still keep broccoli, carrots, grean beans, tomatoes, salad greens, spinach, cauliflower, cucumbers, yellow and zucchini squash, onions, mushrooms, cabbage, asparagus, sweet peppers and some others I’m sure I’m forgetting.  Look at the variety there!  And there are still lots of things I haven’t tried – kohlrabi, fennel, to name two!  Switching up what I cook keeps mealtimes interesting.  It also switches up the nutrients I’m getting, making my diet more balanced. You might have noticed that I don’t list corn or white potatoes anywhere.  That’s because corn has very little nutritional value for humans – which is a crying shame, if you ask me.  I do enjoy corn on the cob or a corn salad every great now and then, but maybe only two or three times a year.  And white potatoes are really starchy.  Again, they are something I just don’t eat often.

My point is this: vegetables come in a huge variety! Try something new.  If you don’t like it, don’t eat it again.  If you do, you’ve just found something new to add to your rotation.