Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Vegetarian Month!

I've been blog-absent for the past two weeks, but I promise that I have a good excuse! The excuse was celebrating Vegetarian Month with a class at the library where I work. I called it, "Veg 101: Beyond Tofu," and opened it to teens and adults. For a library program, it was surprisingly well-attended! We had about 25 people, with all seats filled and a couple of people standing! Although it was a lot of prep work (gathering materials including a third of our library's 150 vegetarian/vegan cookbook collection, creating handouts and recipe packets, and making 11 different desserts) I completely enjoyed the entire process. I especially loved sharing what I've learned about veganism (and vegetarianism) over the years. I had door prizes (including Rice Dream ice cream, Tofutti Cuties, and seitan!) and they had lots of great questions.

The top five myths we discussed:
1) The lack of protein in a veg diet (most Americans get far too much, and your body can't store it the excess, so it gets excreted (and harms your kidneys)
2) Veggie protein sources aren't good enough (government and medical sources confirm that you no longer need to "combine" veggie protein sources, and they have more nutrients and good fats)
3) Dairy prevents osteoporosis (did you know that meat and animal products are actually so acidic that they cause your body to draw calcium OUT of your bones to neutralize your blood?)

4) Athletes can't be veg (check out this link for a huge list of vegan athletes, including Carl Lewis, Martina Navratilova, and Bill Pearl)
5) Children and pregnant/lactating women can't be veg (our own government and medical communities say it's perfectly fine)

But my favorite myth to dispel is the root of the word, "vegetarian." It actually comes from the Latin word, "vegetus," which means, whole, sound, fresh and lively!

Everyone seemed to find some bit of information to walk away with, even long-time vegans/vegetarians (there was a good mix of all kinds of diets in the audience), many checked out our library's cookbooks, and everyone walked away stuffed with sweets! I made all my long-time favorite ones including: Blueberry Coffee Cake (Vegan with a Vengeance), Cookies and Cream Cupcakes (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World), Pumpkin Carob-Chip Muffins (Vegan Lunchbox), Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Raspberry Blondies (all three from Vw/aV). Some raw treats (not technically raw, but at least healthier and requiring no cooking!) rounded out the sweets. I came away with a whole new idea list of cookbooks to buy! (The library owns some great ones that are older but look awesome!). I came away with the realization that I can touch those 25 people's lives, they can go on and touch a few more, and therefore the message can be spread much further and to a broader audience than this poor blog. :)

Last week, my husband (using the library's copy of Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes, by Robin Robertson) decided he wanted to make her Tofu Pot Pie. It required quite a few steps, including making a gravy, but all in all it wasn't too bad. Here is that bad boy, hot out of the oven! Quite a nice crust - tender and flaky, although barely big enough to reach the sides of the dish.

The inside was full of steaming veggies, tiny cubes of tofu and the gravy. Results? Three stars *** for sure! If we made it again, I'd add some different veggies and double the amount of crust. Hubby loved it! He thought it would be a great dish to serve our non-veg parents.

Meanwhile, I was still trying to use up the phyllo dough I had leftover from the spanikopita (from Vw/aV)and the Moroccan-Infused Vegetable Phyllo Rolls (from ED&BV). Here is the beautiful and incredibly yummy smelling mixture that filled the Walnut, White Bean and Spinach Phyllo Rolls (also from ED&BV). I was in heaven! However, when I drizzled the finished rolls with a balsamic/flax oil sauce, the picture looked kind of funny, so I'm omitting it from this post. Just trust me that it was amazing! Three and a half stars ****! (the filling was a tad dry - the drizzle was necessary!)
My Wild Irish Stew isn't a recipe title that would ever catch my attention, especially since it basically was a root vegetable (ie-starchy) concoction, but after a weekend of making sweets for my Veg 101 presentation, I desperately needed something salty and completely un-sweet! Robin Robertson came to our rescue, as her Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes cookbook helped my husband make this stew without a whole lot of fuss. What tender veggies! What hearty potatoes! What great flavor! Four stars for sure**** and a big surprise for me. My husband graciously allowed me to have the last bowl of leftovers later that week. He has now decided that he wants to buy this book - a first!!!
I ended my two-week cooking splurge with three baked banana goods, to use up the six or seven bananas getting overripe in my kitchen! Yesterday I whipped up my favorites: Dense and Fruit Banana Bread, from Vegan Express (I exchanged wheat germ for the cocoa powder, sunflower seeds for the walnuts, applesauce for the oil), Banana Wheat Germ Muffins, from Veganomicon (again exchanging applesauce for the oil), and Banana Almond Coconut Carob Muffins, from Extraveganza (photo left - holy cow, these are good!!!). But tonight, we venture into our first chili of the season, this time a recipe from Vegan World Fusion Cuisine.


VeggieGirl said...

Glad to see you posting again!! Happy Vegetarian Month!! :0)

Wow, what a fabulous event at the library!! Especially with all of the delectable eats ;0)

VeggieGirl said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog!! Vegan (and raw, even!!) Girl Scout cookies (yes, even the Samoas!! Yum) exist:

Courtney said...

Wow--I wish I lived in your community! Our library has never done anything like that. It sounds like it was a hit--congrats!


Vegan Planet said...

I just discovered your blog and I see you're also in Virginia!

Your library event is amazing -- wish all libraries were as progressive!

I'm happy you and your husband enjoyed the pot pie and stew from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes cookbook. (That stew is a favorite of my husband too!)

Peace, Love and Veganism said...

Holy cow! Everyone HAS to go check out Veggie Girl's link to the raw Girl Scout cookies! I know what I'll be making very soon!!

Susan G said...

Wow, what a great post! Thanks for sharing all that yummy food.

Your library adventure sounds wonderful. What a way to get out the word! And I am amazed that a library has 150 vegetarian cookbooks!

Sarah said...

To all you vegan lovers and eaters out there. ( I can't claim being 100% vegan...I still appreciate a little meat in my life) Take a look at this post and comments talking about the benefits and risks of consuming diets rich in soy. Enjoy!

Peace, Love and Veganism said...

Thanks for your link. It is nice to see all the sides of a debate. Unfortunately, there is also no one "miracle" food. All in all, however, soy is not evil and it is not a magic pill. Because soy is hidden in so many packaged food items, it is wise to be aware of this and to generally limit your consumption of pre-packaged foods if you are concerned about too much soy. It is also good to do this for many other reasons, including avoiding hydrogenated oils and unncessary sodium, preservties and chemicals. Luckily, this makes you more healthy altogether! Veganism and vegetarianism stress eating a wide variety of healthful foods, and if soy was indeed a magic pill, I would really miss all the other amazing foods I enjoy every day!

Vivacious Vegan said...

I've been shamefully absent from blogland so I'm just now catching up on a whole bunch of your previous posts. This one has really inspired me. I think I'm going to look into putting on a class like this myself. I love the idea of sharing veg information this way.