Health Notes #29

Easy Does It !

Have you ever thought: "How can I become a vegetarian? Its too complicated!" Or have you overheard someone saying, "Me be a Vegetarian! I can't eat salads all the time?"

When I became a vegetarian about 26 years ago, I had both these thoughts in mind. What a surprise I was in for! I found the variety and availability of choices at the supermarket almost over-whelming. The only limitation was my pocketbook.

My brain was given a good stretching as I sought to redo my kitchen supplies and put out appetizing, colorful meals for my family.

Having been through many ups and downs and preparation extremes, I have finally come to the conclusion that It doesn't need to be complicated to be nutritious or tasty. The fact of the matter is, the less complicated the better.

Too many combinations and a mixture of fruits and vegetables at the same time causes war in the stomach. We should eat no more than 4 different things at a meal. For instance: a main dish, bread, vegetable, and salad is plenty. We need to learn to eat more of few things rather than a little of many at each meal. It cuts down on the preparation time and gives you more time to do other valuable things like be with your family.

Your main dish may be:
 (1) a baked potato with a creamed vegetable or baked beans on top as the gravy and a tossed salad or sliced fresh vegetables. Another suggestion:
(2) baked squash or sweet potato, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and a sandwich spread.

Try this idea for simplicity:
(3) Spinach bake. This recipe has your vegetable, grain and protein so all you need to add is a plate of cut vegetables or carrot salad, etc.

One last suggestion:
(4) Three Bean Salad, made right after breakfast so it can marinate, Pour Crackers, (next column) corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes.

Most important of all, you know your family, so gradually wean them away from the less desirable items by making your meals interesting, and as decorative as possible. Decorate your salads with real flowers. Nasturtiums and violets are not only colorful but edible. It is said that if your plate has a variety of color, then it is also nutritious. So take that step and remember: Easy Does It.

Soup or Salad Croutons

Cut several slices of whole grain bread into one-half inch squares. Lay out on a cookie sheet, one layer thick and toast in a slow oven under 200o F until crunchy. You can put your croutons in an oven that has just been turned off. For a savory crunch you may brush your bread slices lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt and herbs before cutting and toasting.

Pour Crackers

Blend 1 cup oats, 1 cup water, and 1/2 tsp. salt in the blender. Pour onto a large, sprayed cookie sheet with sides. Tip the pan so the batter is spread evenly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350o F for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200o F until the crackers are crisp. You may need to break off the edges before the middle is thoroughly done.

Break this thin, crisp sheet into desired size pieces and serve. Your family will want you to make more and more of this easy cracker. Experiment with different grains and seasonings.

Spaghetti Salad

Served with whole grain bread or crackers this makes a full meal.

6 oz. thin, whole grain spaghetti, cooked and cooled
8 oz. Italian dressing
1/2 c. chopped pepper
1/2 c. onion
1/4 c. sliced olives
2 c. marinated, firm, baked tofu
1/2 c. tomato
1/2 c. cucumber

Cut a one pound block (2 c.) of tofu into small cubes. Spread onto a baking pan. Sprinkle with 2-3 Tbs. soy sauce. Mix gently and bake about 15 minutes in a 350o F oven. The baking will firm-up the tofu and help embed the flavors. (If you are in a hurry this step is not necessary.) Mix all ingredients together, adding the tofu last. Use any combination or amount of the above vegetables. I like to add two or three times as much of each, except the onion, because we try to eat a large amount of our meal raw.

When you make a freezable entree or patties, double the recipe and put a portion of it in the freezer for a later quick meal.

Another hint:

Plan your menus in advance.

For me the planning is the hardest part.

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