It’s on and off around here, but sometimes I don’t notice because around midterm season (yes, for me mid-September is in fact midterm season, I have one on Tuesday..) I tend not to leave my house for hours at a time. Especially on the weekends. Instead, I spend my days indoors, in sweats and a ponytail, studying (to me, this means lecturing aloud while pacing my room and probably annoying my roommate to no end) and occasionally making (what I assume to be) weather-appropriate food.
So, last weekend, when I saw that the weather outside appeared to be frightful, I decided to make a scrumptious favourite in my house: chicken pot pie. Sans chicken.
Before you say it, don’t. This is just as scrumptious and amazing as any artery-clogging meat-filled extravaganza pie and I promise, you’ll love it. It has all the goodness of puff pastry, rich (but not fatty) ‘cream’ sauce and enough mushrooms and peas to make you sing with joy. And, on top of all that, it’s easy as pie. HA!
I used this recipe, but not really. As usual, I observed that recipe, then did it the way I wanted to. :) I’ll tell you what I did!
Vegan Veggie Pot Pie
1 package of frozen puff pastry shells (Tenderflake makes them in a pack of 6)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
Handful of mushrooms, chopped
Approximately 1/2 cup of olive oil
3/4 cup flour
Salt & Pepper
Soy milk (or regular, if you don’t need it to be vegan)
4 cups vegetable broth (make from those cubes)
1 cup frozen peas (approximately)
Follow the directions on the pastry package to cook them (they should take about 20 minutes).
Saute the onions, garlic, carrots and celery in some olive oil in a pot until they are tender crisp. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until all the veggies are done.
Put the veggies into another bowl, but don’t get rid of the pot just yet! Whisk together the olive oil and flour until it is nice and thick. Add the salt/pepper to taste, then slowly add the veggie broth and soy milk. Whisk it all together, making sure that the floury mixture doesn’t stick to the sides of the pot.
Add all the veggies back in, and put in the peas. Keep cooking the mixture until the peas are cooked through. Season to taste.
Spoon the mixture into the shells and sprinkle with dried basil (to impress your guests!), and put the little hats on top. :)
Dig in!! YUM. Soul food.
Delish! The only thing I would say is that our version ended up a tiny bit too floury for my liking, but it’s probably because I didn’t add quite the right amount of olive oil. Next time I’ll be sure to be more precise, but if you make this recipe let me know how it turns out for you!
So, you wanna eat more plants, eh? Maybe you read any book on the subject of the food industry? Maybe you just learned about the health horrors of eating too much meat? Maybe you read my post on the topic?
Anyways, I’d like to welcome you aboard!
**Important: note that I didn’t call this post “The Beginner’s Guide to Vegetarianism”. That’s because I don’t want to limit the number of people who hear my message. I don’t want people to be scared off by the thought of becoming a strict vegetarian or vegan. In my own life, I have started to eschew labels entirely, and have created for myself a hybrid eating pattern that falls under no label. I would encourage everyone to do the same! If you don’t think you can give up eating meat entirely, don’t. Cut back instead, to whatever you feel comfortable eating! It’s not all-or-nothing folks. In my opinion, the most important thing when it comes to ‘vegetarianism’ isn’t people sitting around criticizing each other for their eating habits, and fighting over who is the better ‘vegetarian’. It’s about education, about more and more people learning the information and starting to ask for different practices in the industry. It’s about us realizing we could unite instead of divide against this problem. I’m so sick of people having to be strict vegans for their choices to ‘count’ or to ‘matter’. Screw that! Let’s all eat whatever we want, get educated, and ask for something better. Let’s not ostracize each other or scare people off from learning the information. **
So. Whoever you are, welcome aboard! You’ve decided to eat more plants! Good for you. Plants are good, plants are great. I love plants.
Here are some reasons I love plants:
They harvest their energy directly from the sun! No middlemen for plants.That’s messed up!
“Common estimates are that 2-5 times more grain is required to produce the same number of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption”(1). Aka the amount of plants that you feed to one cow could feed five times the number of people that the cow could feed. That’s messed up.
They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. They’re so exciting and exotic. There’s so many to discover!
Plants help you poop great! Thanks fibre. Thanks.
Plants are full of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and yummy goodies that keep us strong and healthy.
How To Eat More Plants
1. Develop your own eating mantra.
If labels are scary, take the pressure off. Who says you have to answer for your choices anyways?? Certainly not me. It’s up to you what you eat, when and why! If you can’t fathom giving up seafood, focus on eliminating everything else. If chicken’s your downfall, eat less of other meats. Or if you want to eliminate all animals, do that! Just make sure your eating mantra reflects your true beliefs about your health and happiness. Once you’ve established in your mind what you want to avoid, what you want to consume, and what you want to explore, solidify it. Stand by it. You really aren’t obligated to explain your lifestyle decisions to anyone else! For example, my eating mantra is: Avoid meat and seafood, unless farm fresh or organically/sustainably farmed (and only extremely occasionally); consume as many plants as possible; explore new sources of protein and new types of fruits and veggies! I still own a leather jacket from before I was a vegetarian, I still eat eggs and cheese on occasion, I’m forever trying new vegan cheeses and recipes. I am a contradiction by other people’s standards but I live by my own. Decide what to be, and go be it. Don’t apologize!
2. Take Vitamin B-12.
If you do decide to stop consuming meat and dairy (0r a lot of meat and a lot of dairy) I (and various nutritionists) recommend taking a vitamin B12 supplement. B12 is one of the only vitamins which is essential and is very hard to find in large amounts in plant sources, making it important to take as a supplement. In my readings about health and plant-eating, it’s the only supplement you really need to be taking, as long as you’re eating a variety of plants, getting protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin D. Sound hard? It’s not. See below!
3. Eat the right foods!
This article from Vegetarian Times is an excellent one. It explains 8 foods that are essential for herbivores (although most carnivores should really be eating these super healthy foods too!). I’ll re-list them here, along with some easy, yummy recipes to try for each!
Tofu – excellent source of protein, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D.
Tofu scramble tastes deliciously like scrambled eggs, minus a lot of the cholesterol and plus all the goodness of tofu! This recipe is great because it breaks down how to choose the right tofu and make a no-fail version yourself. Or check out this one from Oprah.com!
Pad thai is an excellent thing to add tofu to, since tofu (by nature) soaks up the flavours of what it’s marinated in, and tastes just very yummy. Pad thai is one of my favourite dishes of all time! Check out this recipe.
Lentils – protein, fibre, iron, B vitamins, folate
Keep in mind too that people are crazy these days about ‘getting enough protein’. The truth? We currently consume about twice as much protein as we need!(2) So relax a bit. It’s highly unlikely that you will suffer a protein deficiency. Concentrate on the above foods and you will get more than enough vitamins, protein, iron and fiber that you need daily. So don’t listen to the uneducated naysayers about this..
4. Avoid the wrong foods!
As you can see from #3, there are so many delicious foods that can be used creatively to make delicious meals. There is no shortage of yummy vegetarian recipes that do not include massive amounts of processed anythings, so explore the world of plant-y goodness! But make sure that along the way you’re not taking the lazy, unhealthy way: the path away from goodness and health. Here are some foods you definitely do not want to eat!
Processed foods – well, even if you’re not eating a plant-diet, you still shouldn’t be eating too many of these foods. I know they’re hard to avoid, but the amount of sugar and salt and the lack of nutritional value makes foods like chips, pop, junk or fast food bad for your body and mind. And just because they’re ‘vegetarian’ doesn’t automatically make them a healthy choice!
Starchy, white carbs – carbs are our friends, but not of the white, thoroughly processed and stripped of their nutritional content variety. Don’t head towards white pastas and pizzas, just because they don’t have meat in them! That is not the way to go, especially since incorporating whole grains and veggies into your diet is not very hard at all, once you make the decision to.
5. Continue to educate yourself.
Learn learn learn! Learn as much as you can about the power of plants, about the terrors of our food industry, about what you can do for your health. Look up recipes online for ways to incorporate super foods! Read up on the health implications of eating more plants! Once you’re educated on the topic, you can start to reach out and inform others. Education is the catalyst for change, and our generation can be the critical mass against the food industry! So learn and teach and educate. Here are some resources I truly love and recommend:
Okay my plant-based friends, I hope that my guide to plants and their delights helped you in one way or another. Maybe it inspired you to try making an animal-free meal, or maybe to give up animals altogether! Either way, I hope that you learned something of value.
Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this stuff. Most of my information comes from the books I’ve read (all of the ones listed above) and various articles online. I urge you to read the material yourself and come to your own conclusions, choose your own path. Try to eat consciously, monitor how you’re feeling and consult your doctor if you experience any health issues. Generally though, if you follow a colourful and careful plant-based diet, you’ll be doing more for your health than with any other eating pattern out there!
Alright people, listen up. I am about to say something very important:
EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES.
I am so serious.
This is so important.
Please do this for yourself.
Fruits and veggies are *magical* foods. They will rock you to your core. They are the secret to longevity and happiness. I’m not making this up! Eat them!!
Okay, let’s get all sciencey on you. Read up on the Free-radical Theory of aging. It basically says that when certain particles in your body have too few electrons in them, they go wild! They are reactive and try to grab at more electrons, causing damage to your cells. These particles are called free-radicals, and they are VERY BAD, basically. That’s why you need antioxidants! They freely give some electrons to these free-radical particles so that the free-radicals are satisfied and stop ravaging your body. That’s why anti-oxidants slow the aging process, because they cause less damage to be done! Yay antioxidants!
The Gist of It..
The amount of key antioxidants that many species maintain in their body is directly proportional to their lifespan
-Richard Cutler, M.D., former director of Aging Research for the National Institutes of Health
Antioxidants are so amazing. Higher levels = less damage to your body = less chance for disease. Great equation.
Higher levels protect against
Hmm, does this sound intimidating?
Here’s what you should do to protect, help and strengthen yourself!
Eat your fruits and veggies! Nine servings total daily is what Health Canada recommends, AIM HIGHER! They provide tons of natural antioxidants to soothe those sad little free-radicals. Fruits and veggies are the #1 best way to get your antioxidants + they’re so yummy and so awesome so EAT THEM!
Look out for challenges! Some challenges to antioxidant absorption are stress, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics. Look out for these and try your best (if possible) to avoid them, or supplement with extra fruits and veggies.
Get your antioxidant level measured! I got mine done at my optometrist, who was checking in order to prevent macular degeneration down the line. Ask your doctor about getting your levels tested, and talk to him about choices going forward (supplements like omega-3 oils and antioxidant pills could be recommended by your doctor)
Okay, I now sound like an advertisement for the fruits and veggies society of Canada or something like that (does that even exist?) but I feel very strongly about this subject! I can’t help myself. I want all of you to be healthy + happy!
The person who made this would have to be a magical personal chef, since he would have to alter my stomach to be unlimited for one night only. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to eat all the food I want. I usually eat an appetizer and then end up stuck halfway through the main course.
pitcher of sangria with lots of fruit
freshly bakes bread
goat cheese, cranberry and walnut spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette
five layer dip with baked pita wedges
biscuits and gravy
sweet potato fries
portobello mushroom burgers with fresh cut fries and onion rings