Thursday, February 06, 2014

"That damn lettuce patch never saw it coming..."

So I was thinking about the huge weight that word 'Vegan' tends to carry.  The actual definition of vegan is: (noun) A person who does not eat or use animal products.  I've never personally identified as vegan.  I like a nice medium rare steak every now and again and can chow down on BBQ ribs or chicken wings with the best of them which pretty much precludes my acceptance into that subculture.  But I naturally tend more toward vegetarianism without really trying, probably due to the fact that I was raised a vegetarian.  However, the term 'vegan', especially in certain parts of the country like mine (near Boulder, CO) tends to invite visions of dreadlocks, communal living, and unshaven armpits.  And I'm not talking about men.  

So I went to the real dictionary:  Urban Dictionary, for a definition that is truer to the actual meaning of the word,d at least where I'm from.  A user named At least I'm true to my nature defines it thus:


A mindless group of people who are totally ignorant to the feelings of fruits and vegetables.  These are people who don't eat meat for reasons other than health or weight loss.  They normally form the same argument about animal cruelty when in fact animals have no true feelings or emotion and if we didn't eat them would suffer and die anyway just like everything else does.  As for the sport of it (at) least animals have some chance of escape, unlike plants.  

That damn lettuce patch never saw it coming.  They were ambushed in the middle of the night by a band of salad-loving vegans.

Though I take umbrage with the author's view on vegans in general, and animals and their lack of feeling, the unsuspecting "damn lettuce patch" analogy cracked me up.

Tonight's dinner happens to meet the vegan criteria though and might change whatever preconceived definitions you have associated with the word!  I first saw the recipe on one of my favorite websites, PureWow.  The recipes is White Beans with Rosemary & Caramelized Onions, and is fantastic for a variety of reasons, first and foremost that its quick and delicious!

White Beans with Rosemary & Caramelized Onions

1 pound of white beans (cannellini or Great Northern)  You can also use 2 cans of pre-cooked cannellini beans from the supermarket which makes this recipe even faster and just as delicious)
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary or 2 Tbsp. of dry rosemary
1 sprig of fresh sage or 2 Tbsp. of dry sage
1 bay leave or 1 tsp. of dried pieces (how my spice came)
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
salt to taste
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 small onions peeled and thinly sliced


II.  Once the sugars in the onion have turned them that rich brown color making them sweet, dump them from the frying pan into the seasoned beans. Stir them in and allow to cook for a few more minutes.

While that frying pan is still hot, ladle a scoop of the liquid from the beans into the frying pan and swirl it around.  This is deglazing the pan and serves 2 purposes:  1) it gets all that deliciousness on the bottom of the pan into your dish and 2) It gets all that brown deliciousness off the bottom of your pan so you don't have to scrub it off later! 


IV. To serve, remove the herb stems from the beans if you used fresh.  If you want to get fancy, you can reserve some of the caramelized onions and top each bowl with a little stack and drizzle it with olive oil.  But by now the house smells wonderfully spicy and you'll be too ready to eat to make it look even better.  You can serve with a side salad or all by themselves.

I was a little skeptical about the cloves when I first tried the recipe and almost left them out.  I'm so glad I didn't!  They add an amazing and unexpected complexity of flavor to the beans.  This is one of the best bean recipes I've ever tried, and surprisingly one that Rik, a confirmed carnivore, really loves.  A single 1 c. serving is about 380 calories and the beans alone are packed with 19% of your daily calcium requirement, a whopping 44% of your daily iron needs, as well as 19 grams of protein!  That's the same amount of protein as you'd find in a 3-4 grilled salmon steak!  

And it's vegan...  :D

Here's today's food:  
My Afternoon Snack
Breakfast:  Oatmeal with brown sugar
Snack:  Fresh strawberries and pineapple
Lunch:  Spaghetti (Squash) With Meat Sauce leftover from last night, and 2 hard boiled eggs
Snack:  Protein shake
Snack:  Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
Dinner:  White Beans with Rosemary and Caramelized Onions

Breakfast:   Bob's Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal with cinnamon and honey, coffee with homemade creamer
Snack:  A Chocolate Almond Joy Biscuit left over from the party on Sunday
Lunch:  Pineapple, papaya, and strawberries with cottage cheese
Snack: Garbanzo bean poppers and Tazo Chai with skim milk
Dinner:  White Beans with Rosemary and Caramelized Onions

It really is true that 80% of your diet needs to come from whole foods.  Foods that you can pronounce, and foods that only have 1 or 2 ingredients (i.e., an apple has a single ingredient).  It's also true that when you're eating this way, you begin to feel like all you do is eat!  When your body is given what it needs to work efficiently, it process it faster and you need more of it.  Thankfully, foods like these also tend to be pretty low in calories.   I think that's one of the reasons I really liked the way the book The Conscious Cleanse set up the eating plan:  Eat as much as you want of these foods.  Eat when you're hungry.  Drink plenty of water.  Don't eat when you're not hungry.  It was that simple, and within 2 weeks or so, it was a new way of living that has ultimately allowed me to keep off every bit of the weight I lost.  Since I've begun eating clean again (since starting this post experiment a few weeks ago), I've lost another 6 pounds.  And you can see that I'm not militant about it.

It's also true that making small changes leads to long-term commitment.  Everyone can make a small change. And enough small changes can bring about the bigger changes.  

Here's a great place to start: 24 Food Swaps to get you headed in the right direction right now.