I’ve decided to try something. And I’m still seeing how it fits. Veganism. I’m hesitant to call myself a true vegan, I don’t know if I’m quite there yet. I do feel that I can call myself a Veganist, though. I’m totally stealing the title from Kathy Freston, as I feel that I can most relate to her ideas and ideals about being a vegan. She talks about easing into a plant-based diet, which is precisely the path I feel I’m on. It’s been an interesting journey so far, but one that I feel good about daily (for a plethora of reasons) and one that I am proud of. It’s not been without its challenges and I can’t lie and say I’ve been 100% faithful. Forgive me father for I have sinned. I have cheated on Veganism. To be honest, though, it’s extremely rare that I veer off course. It has been infinitely easier than I ever would have thought. My biggest challenge has been kitchen creativity. See, I *love* to cook. I’ve been cooking for most of my adult life. It’s my creative outlet, it’s cathartic for me, it’s how I show love, it’s my lifeblood. So when I made the switch to animal free, I was stumped. I’m a foodie (Obnoxious term, I know. But it’s all I’ve got) so naturally I love things like real butter and fresh cream and grass-fed beef and seafood…oh how I miss seafood. So finding new ways to cook without these ingredients has been tough. For a while, I was at a roadblock. I was eating mainly veggie burgers. Yeah, those don’t get old quick. (It’s opposite day.) I started perusing every vegan blog and cookbook I could find and slowly started to create a cache of ideas and recipes. I’ve learned to love tofu and there are few veggies that I haven’t experimented with. I’ve not had great experiences with meat/cheese substitutes, so I’ve steered clear. I hear great things about seitan but it has yet to find its way into my kitchen. Please let me know in the comments section if you have had success! One of my mainstays has been lentils. I find that they virtually disappear in stews and in stir fry; they almost act as a thickener. I also think that lentils give you that “complete meal” feeling. Just a bit more substance than a plate full of green. One of my favorite ways to use lentils has been in my version of Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew. I made the recipe up as I went and you are welcome to follow suit if you wish to mix up some of the flavors. Cooking is about experimenting and finding out what tastes good. And what doesn’t; those meals are always super fun. I hope you like the stew and please feel free to share your favorite vegan recipes!
Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew
3 Sweet Potatoes – cut into bite size pieces (feel free to use yams if you prefer. sweet potatoes are lighter skinned than yams)
1 Large Onion – diced
2 Cloves Garlic – minced
Splash of White Wine – optional
3 Cups Vegetable Stock
2 Cups Lentils – (I used red)
2 Teaspoons Cumin
1 Bay Leave
1/8 Teaspoon Coriander
Pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in dutch oven or heavy bottom sauce pan. Add diced onions and saute for approximately 10-15 minutes. Onions should be medium-dark brown in color. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add splash of wine to de-glaze the pan. Add vegetable stock and bring to low boil. Add potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Add lentils, bay leaf, cumin, coriander and nutmeg. Cook for at least 15 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with organic whole wheat tortillas.
*Editor’s note: I think it goes without saying that I try to find the best organic produce I can find for my recipes, but I’m going to say it anyway.
(*photo (yes, that is tofu jumping over the fence) courtesy of extramsg.com)