Tag Archives: Vegetarianism

Vegetarian Kids

Vegetarian Kids

I was reading a few prominent internet articles this week about nutrition and promoting healthy foods for kids. Over ninety percent of the recipes suggested in the articles contain dairy and cheese, swap out chicken for beef, and promote substituting turkey for just about everything except shampoo. America’s ongoing romantic relationship with meat and dairy is both disturbing and dangerous. The idea that one might consider eating meat or dairy free at least three times a week is a concept that pushes people into panic mode. However, amidst all of this chaotic and conflicting information, I was heartened to learn that there has been a remarkable increase in college student demand and desire to eat vegan and vegetarian.

Nearly one quarter of college students are vegetarian and sales of vegetarian meals at Universities doubled between 1998 and 2003 and continue to grow. This is good news and very telling. Conversely, while these future consumers are busy helping create a multibillion dollar mock meat industry there is little response and advice from mainstream nutritional “experts” to assist parents in preparing and creating meatless meals at home that address this current trend. Despite the fact that we still find it a challenge to sell the concept of an all vegetarian cooking show, it appears, when we look at the facts, vegetarians might just turn out to be a powerful economic force to be reckoned with.

Texture Tips

Texture Tips

One of the most important elements people seek in food, especially vegetarian food is texture. From the moment we begin eating solid food, texture plays an extremely important role in our diets and our palates. Taste is equally important, but how food “feels” remains an issue for many. Consequently, tofu, beans, and other vegetables are given a bad rap while fried and processed foods are touted everywhere.

One of our goals is to show our viewers how easy it really is to change and increase the texture and palatability of soy and vegetable-based dishes. Simple adjustments like choosing whole grain breads versus soft white, adding nuts and whole grains to vegetables, and roasting foods instead of boiling can make a huge difference not only nutritionally but in our mindset. Old habits die hard and diet is no exception. In fact, diet is one of the most difficult things of all to change because our choices are so often steeped in family tradition.

If you want to add texture to your diet, nuts are a wonderful and easy way to begin. Adding toasted nuts to pasta sauces, cereals, desserts, and vegetable dishes not only adds terrific texture but necessary vitamins and protein as well. Another way to get more texture into your food is the use of whole grains. Millet, buckwheat groats, and quinoa are easy to prepare, delicious, chewy and nutritious ways of getting your grains and boosting the texture of just about anything you add them to. These wonderful grains can be eaten at just about any meal, added to baked goods, soups, muffins, meatless burgers, combined with rice, or simply eaten on their own as side dishes. Lately, I’ve been using kasha frequently in my recipes. It cooks quickly, in fifteen minutes or so, has a wonderful nutty taste, supplies more than 20% of your daily fiber, is loaded with B vitamins, protein, and amino acids. I usually make a double batch and use leftovers during the week. Having it ready to go increases the likelihood that you’ll use it. Stored in the refrigerator, cooked grains should last up to seven days. So when you make your resolutions to eat healthier be sure to put nuts and whole grains on top of your list. It’s so easy you’ll wonder why you waited all year.

A New Direction

A New Direction

Frequently I’ll catch health and nutrition news on television. Unfortunately, it’s been the same report for the last ten years: our health continues to decline. Apparently Americans are just not listening. And sometimes it seems that whoever is involved in developing new food programming has been left out of the loop entirely. Obesity and obesity-related health issues have reached epidemic proportions among adults and children in the US. Why is it that it’s still virtually impossible to have access to solid common sense food information? Do we need to learn five thousand different ways to deep fry a turkey, make whole cream all butter potatoes, pasta literally buried under a mountain of cheese and a ten egg bread pudding that utilizes day old doughnuts in place of bread? How can anyone really think Americans need more creative ways to deep fry or pack our arteries with more fat, butter and meat? If you pay a little attention, it’s absolutely astounding how much truly harmful nutritional information crosses our television screens in a day, let alone during “the holidays.”

Moderation is the hallmark of the Mediterranean diet and one of the biggest reasons Europeans are in much better physical shape than we are. Yet I know – since we’ve been on the air – that there are a great many Americans out there seeking help, advice, and encouragement to assist them in incorporating healthier foods and a more balanced approach to their daily diets. Clearly, mainstream television food channels are obviously not committed to offering solid nutritional options to their viewers. In fact, they do for food what music videos do for music. Packaged properly, just about any idea can be sold.

Delicious TV’s Totally Vegetarian will continue working hard to meet the challenges of adequate funding for our program and I hope you – our viewers – will continue to support our mission and goals by requesting our new season through your PBS stations. In the words of Gandhi, “We have to be the change we wish to see in the world.” After all, our lives depend on it.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Around the holidays, the media is full of suggestions about how to relax and make things easy on ourselves. Many of the stresses we’re attempting to reconcile revolve around entertaining, but we can safely add diet and family issues into the mix. Often it’s a tangled web of all of the above. Admittedly, I struggle like everyone else and, as a vegetarian, problems can unfortunately center on the food I’m preparing, or the foods I’m not preparing: that is, the enormous turkey and all the high-fat trimmings of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

At some point in our recent history, Thanksgiving became entirely focused on consuming turkey which (sadly) now symbolizes the holiday. The tradition of Thanksgiving – of being with loved ones and giving thanks for all our blessings – struggles to maintain that original intention. I’m increasingly aware of how “the holidays” are morphing into something more superficial and hectic than ever before. In fact, these days it’s all too common to see Christmas promotions right next to the half price Halloween candy.

So, while modern American culture keeps throwing us curve balls, keeps turning up the heat and attempting to diminish all that we should truly be thankful for, including our food choices, I urge you to keep the faith. From all of us at Delicious TV’s Totally Vegetarian to all of you: wishing you peace, health, and the best vegetarian holidays ever.

Take it Easy

Take it Easy

I receive many emails with questions about preparing vegetarian meals and recipe ideas. I really believe everyone is good, maybe even great, at preparing something. I’m not a professional chef, have never claimed to be, and truly that’s not something most people strive for. Most of us simply want to eat healthier (better) and be comfortable preparing nutritious food that goes over well with friends and family.

One thing I suggest is to take a recipe or some basic ingredients that you’re comfortable with and expand on them. I love recipes that can be used many different ways, and just about every recipe has that option. This concept makes it easier on you, the kitchen cook, and everyone you cook for. If you are really good at Italian cooking for example, you’re just a small step away from literally hundreds of vegetarian meal ideas. It’s a great way to develop your own vegetarian “comfort zone” and, frankly, that’s probably the most important element for doing anything in the kitchen.

Cooking is a process and the more relaxed you are the more you and everyone will enjoy your culinary creations. Keep things simple, especially when you’re just starting out. Never hesitate to experiment with new foods, but don’t raise your stress level by jumping into complicated recipes if you’re entertaining or especially when feeding children who may not be ready for exotic or experimental combinations.

Eating vegetarian cuisine should not be about deprivation and what we’re leaving out. Rather, it should become all the wonderful things we can add to create delicious, colorful meals that will leave you, and your friends and family healthy, happy, and satisfied. Chances are if you list all the individual foods you love, they can be converted to vegetarian options, and mixed and matched easily. Please feel free to use this blog page to share your ideas, questions, and solutions with others. It’s my experience that most people love to share ideas and learn more about food, so we hope you’ll visit us often.

New Resolutions

New Resolutions

It seems that every new year brings on the same commitments to change as the last. We promise ourselves to change our diets, our sleep patterns, get more exercise, read a great book, even drink more water. The problem is not so much that we are entrenched in bad habits that we simply cannot change but rather we can’t find simple ways of changing our habits.

If we maintain an attitude of deprivation instead of adopting an attitude of enrichment, change is not only difficult, but virtually impossible. For example, we give up nothing by cutting down or even eliminating meat from our diets. Instead we open the door to a more healthy, socially responsible, and compassionate link to our environment and all its inhabitants. This one simple step helps us take control of our health and our bodies by adopting the diet human beings were physiologically designed to eat.

There is a whole world of vegetarian foods that are not only nutritious, but delicious and truly easy to prepare. Keeping it simple will help make these changes habits for life. Let’s start this New Year with a brighter outlook on the blessings and bounty we have, whatever our means, and take some easy steps to a better life for all.

Vegetarian Holidays

Vegetarian Holidays

Our very first episode of Totally Vegetarian was created because of the dilemma of what to make for a vegetarian holiday meal. Because holiday meals are usually based on family and cultural traditions, often the idea of introducing something new and different presents panic and dismay, yet there are so many wonderful meat replacers that substitute for turkey, chicken, pork, or beef in your favorite holiday recipes.

Even the very simple adjustment of replacing vegetable broth for animal-based stock, making a wonderful nut or mushroom loaf, entrées like stuffed squash, or creating a festive Tofu Pot Pie can easily solve your vegetarian menu problems, while at the same time making your friends and family feel welcome and engaged in healthier, more compassionate holiday meal choices.