coconut milk

protein & the vegan elephant in the room / soba noodle veggie bowl in coconut ginger broth

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“How do you get your protein?” says everyone I’ve spoken to about veganism, ever. Yes, it’s repetitive and sometimes I have to find my happy place (translation: sparkly cave with unicorns) before I can calmly reply without cursing the popular media, western doctors and nutritionists across the globe that have brainwashed our culture into equating veganism with kwashiorkor syndrome. “Wait, what is that?” asks those same people. Oh, never heard of it? I respond coyly. Hmm, maybe that’s because it’s the name for severe protein deficiency and it’s never been documented in this country. Hooray! If you’re vegan or vegetarian you will survive after all! I don’t mean to sound cynical, and at one time I asked the same question to my sister when she first went vegan. Unfortunately, It’s the result of repeated whisperings that blow into our innocent ears from social media, parents, doctors, pretend doctors, and friends that over time harden into an accepted truth without personal investigation. It’s the same reason you think that milk is good for your bones, that cane sugar is better than high fructose corn syrup, that meat is the richest protein & B12 source on the planet, and that all soy is bad for you and will cause breast cancer. In a nutshell, you can thank the meat & dairy industries for brainwashing you, little by little, through clever advertising that we don’t even realize is affecting our opinions. So instead of marketing propaganda, let’s turn to plain old common sense.

Take a look at our fellow plant-based animal friends: elephants, giraffes, gorillas, bison, and hippos. These are some of the largest and strongest mammals on the planet, but they don’t look like they’re having any problems with protein intake do they? Gorilla5

And it just so happens that vegetables and grains are chock full of protein: spinach, broccoli, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, lentils, oatmeal, whole grain breads, cacao, quinoa, seitan, beans, and artichokes to name a few! In fact, nearly all vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts contain protein in them. Fruits, alcohol and sugars on the other hand, are low in protein so if you plan on being an alcoholic fruitarian, then yeah, you’ll risk becoming deficient in protein (and friends), but if you eat lots of vegetables and whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds you’ll be a veggie-powered superhuman! So next time someone asks you where you get your protein, gently point out the literal vegan elephant in the room…

Now that you’re armed with confidence and gorilla strength about your protein intake, why not rub it in a little more and make a cozy, protein-filled soba noodle bowl in a coconut peanut broth! Peanut butter, chickpeas, broccoli and whole grain soba noodles are great sources of protein. This dish is perfect on a day like today – a freshly snowed, gray skied wintry heaven.
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Veggie Soba Noodle Bowl with Coconut-Peanut Sauce

1 package soba noodles (I recommend Eden)

1 T refined coconut oil

1 small yellow onion or 4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 inch knob of ginger root, peeled

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1 head of broccoli, chopped

1 T mirin

1 T tamari or shoyu

2 tsp brown rice vinegar

1 T maple syrup

1 can coconut milk 

1/4 cup creamy unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter

1 aseptic package or can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper

Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Top with sriracha or favorite hot sauce (optional)

Cook soba noodles according to package directions in a large pot of salted, gently boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside. In a deep saute pan, heat coconut oil on medium to high heat, and add onions or scallions. Cook for a few minutes, then add garlic and use a microplane grater to add ginger knob. Toss in broccoli, peppers, and carrot and continue to saute until veggies are bright and beginning to soften. Deglaze with mirin and use a wooden spoon to scrap up any pieces of food stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour the coconut milk in and bring to a lively simmer, then reduce heat to low and add brown rice vinegar, tamari, maple syrup, peanut butter, chickpeas and chili powder. Simmer and stir occasionally until ingredients are well mixed and peanut butter has melted into the coconut broth. Remove from flame and toss mixture with soba noodles and cilantro. Drizzle with sriracha or hot sauce. Makes enough for 4 unicorns with shiny, flowing manes and rippling muscles from their protein fabulous vegan diets.

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thanksgiving / mashed cinnamon ginger sweet potatoes

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When I think of Thanksgiving, I envision pilgrims with buckle shoes and ridiculous hats gathering around wooden tables with a bunch of natives with headdresses, celebrating their most genuine “friendship” by feasting on a giant dead bird (with cranberry sauce and grandma’s pumpkin pie, obviously). However, because I’m highly educated, I know that this is a gross misconception of a holiday that has nothing to do with a dead turkey and everything to do with William Bradford (the badass governor of the 1620 American colony) proclaiming that all his puritan buddies should gather together and thank God for helping them thrive in America.
But let’s be honest, this is not interesting at all…
Turkey day (as I like to call it) is a time for families to come together and eat and drink as much as humanly possible, fall into a trytophan-induced coma, then wake up the next day and act like raving lunatics as they shop from 5am onwards to get the best deals on crap they don’t need.
When I was in fourth grade, we dressed up like pilgrims and sang songs with the “native americans” (fifth graders) about peace and corn and turkeys…then we cut out a giant paper turkey and offered it to the natives (fifth graders), which they happily accepted with “thanks”. This was followed by a feast in the auditorium with our teachers, but all I kept thinking (between mouthfuls of mashed potatoes) was how much I wanted to be a native (because they had cooler outfits and got to make their own walking sticks). A plump pilgrim nudged me in the ribs and said, “why did the turkey sit on the tomahawk?” I said I didn’t know. “To hatchet.” A blank stare. “Get it? Hatch-it?” Oh, right, I mumbled. Needless to say, it wasn’t until high school that I realized the sweet old puritans weren’t so “pure” after all…

“Wait, so they were escaping persecution from King James I and came to America so they could be socialists and practice their own religion?”
“Yea, apparently,” I said. “But then all the indians died from disease and-”
“Dude, you can’t say indians!?!” 
“Oh, forgive me. We butchered the Native Americans, then became a capitalist society and thrived. God bless America…”
“Jesus.”
“I know, right? He’s caused us more problems…”

So, what do I celebrate during Thanksgiving? Being with my family…because there’s nothing better. Nothing. 
Well, except perhaps mashed ginger cinnamon sweet potatoes! This is a simple recipe that’s a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving spread.

Mashed Ginger Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 T ginger pulp (= peeled and grated ginger root)
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add potatoes, carrots, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and onion and fill with enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cover, then reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes. Strain water out and remove bay leaf, then season with salt and add ginger pulp and coconut milk. Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree until creamy and smooth. Serves 6 unicorns disguised as pilgrims.