Like most vegetarians, I wasn’t raised chomping on kale and quinoa. I grew up in a somewhat traditional midwestern kitchen, where meat was a staple and rarely seen without pasta, dumplings, breads, or potatoes of some variety. As a child I would only eat corn or cauliflower for vegetables…everything green was absolutely off limits. I would painstakingly pick out all the onions from every recipe, and I would adamantly refuse eating peas (even if it meant I had to sit at the table all night long). Does this sound familiar to any other ex-omnivores?
I don’t remember exactly why, but when I was rounding out my high school years I suddenly made up my mind to try to live a vegetarian lifestyle. It was definitely influenced by working in the kitchen at Hog Heaven (making rump roast for a living is enough to turn even the most dedicated meat-lovers to the dark side, I suppose). I bought all the veggie versions of familiar, favorite foods, i.e. veggie burgers, chik’n nuggets, not-dogs, etc. Since I didn’t know how to properly cook anything (except omelets…thanks Dad!) a typical dinner would consist of microwaved veggie meat with some carbs. Needless to say this was far from healthy.
My diet didn’t improve that much when college rolled around. I lived in a dorm at Ohio State with three other girls (which was pretty awesome, by the way) and would sometimes eat steamed rice for dinner. That’s it. Or ramen. Or crackers with mustard. I’m not joking. It was pathetic.
Although we each were trying to survive on little over five dollars per day, we still managed to drink an embarrassing amount of cheap beer and usually followed that with either A) Steak and Shake fries/shakes, B) McDonalds Fries or C) Gumby’s Pizza and Pockey Stix. It’s true, and yes, that is the correct way to spell “stix”.
Finally when I entered grad school I started to really take food seriously. Partly because I had a beautiful man around that I loved to cook for and in part because I had started to notice the effects of poor nutrition. Gone were the days that I could binge drink till 5am and inhale a pizza before going to my 7:30 am organic chemistry lab. Unfortunately, this is also the time that I started to notice problems with my digestion. Although I was cooking healthy food almost every night, I still had (and have) occassional stomach pains in the morning, bloating, and discomfort.
This has been an issue for several years now. I have tried (not so effectively) to identify what could be the cause, but still have no idea.
I have long suspected that it could be caused by diary (especially now that I live in Holland, the land of diary!) or maybe a gluten intolerance. These are both quite common relative to other food allergies, and therefore might be good things to eliminate, and then reassess how I feel.
So. The combination of
2) feeling like *%$# for too many days and
3) vegan success stories like this one
have collectively persuaded me to try a whole foods, plant-based diet. After 11 years of vegetarianism (and occasionally eating fish)…I’m finally trying veganism. Now that I am posting this for all to read, I hope it help to keep me motivated.
Vegan Japanese Curry with Oyster Mushroom, greens, pumpkin and oat groats
1 cup spinach, or other greens
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1-2 cups of frozen pumpkin, or fresh pumpkin cubes
2 cups of whole oat groats (not rolled oats)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp whole cumin seed
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp japanese curry powder (or one Golden Curry Block), or regular curry powder
After I decided to take the vegan plunge, I went to the BioMarkt to see what cool stuff I could buy. I left with some beautiful oyster mushrooms and some random greens, called postelein. They have a spongy texture. I also bought several kinds of whole grains. Since they are in Dutch, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was buying (I love a mysterious ingredient!) and ended up with a bag of oats.
This is the same grain that is more commonly used for rolled oats, or oatmeal, however this is the minimally processed version. To prepare the oats, wash well to remove any debris. Then for each cup of oats, use three cups of water in a pan. Bring water to a boil, then reduce for 45-60 minutes, or until you reach desired texture.
To make this delicious curry while the oats are cooking, first mince the onion, garlic and mushrooms, and cook over medium heat in the olive oil, until just tender.
Once the mushrooms are cooked through, add the greens, and toss until wilted. Next, add all the spices to the oil mixture, and then roast them for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add two cups of water to make a thin gravy. Add the pumpkin cubes, and then cook for 6 minutes.
Serve on top of cooked oats, garnish with fresh mint.
Follow up your guilt-free, cruelty-free meal with a soy yogurt parfait.