Friday, August 31, 2012

Chana Saag Recipe from Vegan Slow Cooker

Next month, the VegCookbook Club will be cooking together from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester.  To entice you to join us, I asked Kathy for a recipe to share with you, so here's her recipe for Chana Saag. Yum!

If you have any questions, or need help troubleshooting slow cooker issues, Kathy said she'd be happy to answer your questions. You can contact her through her website, or on Twitter at @geekypoet

Chana Saagsoy-free, gluten-free and oil-free option

You can use any combinations of greens here, such as spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, and collards, or anything that’s plentiful where you live. Some greens, like collards, are less bitter after they go through a frost.

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil (*saute in broth or water to make oil-free)
  • 1 small onion, minced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) grated fresh ginger 
  • 1 pound (454 g) assorted greens, washed, torn into bite-size pieces, and spun dry (you can also buy a prewashed mix in a bag) 
  • Zest of 1/2 lime 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (or to taste) 
  • 1/2 cups (353 ml) water 
  • 2 tablespoons (12 g) vegan chicken-flavored bouillon or 4 tablespoons (24 g) Chickeny Bouillon (page 19) 
  • 1 can (15 ounces, or 420 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups (340 g) homemade (page 17) 
  • 1/2 to 1 cup (120 to 235 ml) plain nondairy creamer or nondairy milk 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Rice, for serving 
The night before:
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Store the sautéed onion, grated ginger, and prepared greens in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Store the lime zest separately in the fridge. 

In the morning:
Oil the crock of your slow cooker. Combine the sautéed onion, ginger, greens, spices, water, and bouillon in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours About 30 minutes before serving, purée the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a countertop blender, being careful of splatters of hot soup, until smooth. Add the chickpeas, nondairy creamer, lime zest, and salt to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 30 more minutes, until the beans are heated through. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve over rice.

Yield: 6 servings Total prep time: 15 minutes Total cooking time: 6 to 8 hours 

Recipe ideas and variations
Add 1 or 2 chopped mild chiles during the last 30 minutes of cooking to give it more heat. Don’t like chickpeas? Substitute 1/2 package (15 ounces, or 420 g) soft, firm, or extra-firm tofu, pressed and then cut into cubes. It will mimic a popular dish called saag paneer.

Full disclosure: The link to The Vegan Slow Cooker is linked to my Amazon Associates Account. If you buy something after clicking on the link, I get a small percentage of the sale, which I will most likely use to buy more books.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What environmental issues are close to your heart?

Last week, I went on a rejuvenating retreat with the folks at Upwell, a nonprofit PR firm with one client — the ocean.  One of our meeting spots was at a picnic bench by the ocean (how cool is that?), where I took these photos.

Tide Pool
Sea urchin
Bean Hollow State Beach

Now that I'm back in the city after two days in the outdoors, I've been think a lot about nature deficit disorder, and how detrimental it to us personally, as a culture (at least, in the US), that we're spending less time outside.

When reviewing the Have Fun * Do Good survey questions, I was struck by how many of you shared that you "have fun" by being spending time in nature (e.g. hiking, fishing, going to the beach, gardening, kayaking, walking). Just this morning, I read in Aging As a Spiritual Practice that one of the 8 lifestyle factors that contributes to healthy aging is being nature, so keep on doing those outdoor activities!

I'm curious.  What environmental issues are close to your heart?  I've cut and pasted the list of environmental issues from Wikipedia below. It's not meant to overwhelm you; just to provide fodder for your answers.  I'm looking forward to reading your responses in the comments (:

"Climate change — Global warming • Global dimming • Fossil fuels • Sea level rise • Greenhouse gas • Ocean acidification • Shutdown of thermohaline circulation • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Urban Heat Islands

Conservation — Species extinction • Pollinator decline • Coral bleaching • Holocene extinction • Invasive species • Poaching • Endangered species

Energy — Energy conservation • Renewable energy • Efficient energy use • Renewable energy commercialization • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Environmental degradation — Eutrophication • Habitat destruction • Invasive species

Environmental health — Air quality • Asthma • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Electromagnetic fields • Electromagnetic radiation and health • Indoor air quality • Lead poisoning • Sick Building Syndrome • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Genetic engineering — Genetic pollution • Genetically modified food controversies

Intensive farming — Overgrazing • Irrigation • Monoculture • Environmental effects of meat production • Slash and burn • Pesticide drift • Plasticulture

Land degradation — Land pollution • Desertification

Soil — Soil conservation • Soil erosion • Soil contamination • Soil salination

Land use — Urban sprawl • Habitat fragmentation • Habitat destruction

Nanotechnology — Nanotoxicology • Nanopollution

Nuclear issues — Nuclear fallout • Nuclear meltdown • Nuclear power • Nuclear weapons • Nuclear and radiation accidents • Nuclear safety • High-level radioactive waste management

Overpopulation — Burial • Water crisis • Overpopulation in companion animals • Tragedy of the commons • Gender Imbalance in Developing Countries • Sub-replacement fertility levels in developed countries

Ozone depletion — CFC • Biological effects of UV exposure

Pollution — Environmental impact of the coal industry • Nonpoint source pollution • Point source pollution • Light pollution • Noise pollution • Visual pollution

Water pollution — Environmental impact of the coal industry • Acid rain • Eutrophication • Marine pollution • Ocean dumping • Oil spills • Thermal pollution • Urban runoff • Water crisis • Marine debris • Microplastics • Ocean acidification • Ship pollution • Wastewater • Fish kill • Algal bloom • Mercury in fish • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Air pollution — Environmental impact of the coal industry • Smog • Tropospheric ozone • Indoor air quality • Volatile organic compound • Atmospheric particulate matter• Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Reservoirs — Environmental impacts of reservoirs

Resource depletion — Exploitation of natural resources • Overdrafting 
  • Consumerism — Consumer capitalism • Planned obsolescence • Over-consumption
  • Fishing — Blast fishing • Bottom trawling • Cyanide fishing • Ghost nets • Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing • Overfishing • Shark finning • Whaling
  • Logging — Clearcutting • Deforestation • Illegal logging
  • Mining — Acid mine drainage • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing • Mountaintop removal mining • Slurry impoundments
Toxins — Chlorofluorocarbons • DDT • Endocrine disruptors • Dioxin • Toxic heavy metals • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Herbicides • Pesticides • Toxic waste • PCB • Bioaccumulation • Biomagnification• Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Waste — Electronic waste • Litter • Waste disposal incidents • Marine debris • Medical waste • Landfill • Leachate • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Incineration • Great Pacific Garbage Patch • Exporting of hazardous waste• Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing"

Full disclosure: The link to Aging as a Spiritual is attached to my Amazon Associates account. If you purchase something after clicking on the link, I get a small percentage of the sale, which I'll most likely spend on more books!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Compassion and Play

Compassion: "from com- 'together'... + pati 'to suffer'"
Play: "pleien to leap for joy, dance, rejoice, be glad"

Rainbow with lightening strike by thinboyfatter

This summer, during the course of a week, one family member prepared for death, another was told she needed a mastectomy, and a friend had a stroke that required his re-learning how to speak.

It was what Lewis Richmond, author of Aging as a Spiritual Practice, calls my "Lightening Strike." The moment you wake up to your aging. Consequently, I've been asking myself all kinds of questions about the meaning of life.

What does this have to do with having fun, and doing good?  Life is short. We might as well enjoy ourselves, and play while we're here. Life is also full of suffering. It's a thread that runs through all of our lives. To have compassion, to suffer together, can be a comfort to others, and to ourselves.

As my 43rd birthday approaches, some questions I'm pondering for the next year are:
  • How can I be more compassionate with myself, and others each day?
  • How can I play each day? What makes me rejoice, dance, and leap for joy?

Have you experienced a Lightening Strike in your life? If you'd feel comfortable sharing about it, I'd be honored to hear your story.

Full disclosure: The link to Aging as a Spiritual is attached to my Amazon Associates account. If you purchase something after clicking on the link, I get a small percentage of the sale, which I'll most likely spend on more books!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thai Chickpea Almond Curry from Let Them Eat Vegan!

During my blogging sabbatical, we started a new cookbook over at VegCookbook Club: Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton. So far, most of the things I've made from it have been super yummy.

To tempt you to cook with us (we've still got 17 days left in August), I asked the folks at Da Capo Press if they had a recipe from the book I could share with you.  They sent over this recipe for Thai Chickpea Almond Curry.  Enjoy!

Thai Chickpea Almond Curry
Serves 4 to 5, depending on accompaniments

While this bakes, you will be enchanted with the aromatic mingling of nutty coconut sauce infused with lime, ginger, and curry. It is a deeply flavorful dish that is also almost effortless
in preparation. Everything comes together lickety-split and you have an exotic bean entrée to serve over rice.

1 medium to large clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt (plus another few pinches, if desired)
2½ to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 (14-ounce) can “lite” coconut milk
¼ cup almond butter
½ tablespoon tamari
1½ tablespoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger
1½ to 2 teaspoons red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional; or use more if you like the heat!)

Chickpea mixture:
2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (3¾ to 4 cups)
2 cups zucchini that has been halved or quartered lengthwise (depending on thickness) and sliced about ¼ inch thick (see note)
¾ cup green onion (mostly white bottom portion, but some green as well)
2 dried or fresh kaffir lime leaves (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil, basil, or cilantro, for garnish (optional)
A few lime wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

First prepare the sauce: In a blender, or using a deep large cup and an immersion blender, combine the garlic, ½ teaspoon of the salt, lime juice, coconut milk, almond butter, tamari, ginger, and curry paste. Puree well. Pour the sauce into a baking dish (8 by 12-inch, or similar size) and stir in the red pepper flakes. Add the chickpeas, zucchini, green onions, and lime leaves (if using), and stir well.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Then remove the foil, stir, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes uncovered. (Note that the sauce should thicken but can become too thick, so keep an eye on it, and remove once it begins to thicken, so it is does not become pasty.)

Add a few pinches of salt to taste, if desired. Serve, topping the portions with fresh herbs, if desired, and with a lime wedge on the side.

Savvy Subs and Adds: Almond butter is my first choice in this recipe, but consider switching it up occasionally with natural peanut or cashew butter in place of the almond.
Feel free to substitute other veggies in part or in whole for the zucchini. I love zucchini, so it is a natural choice for me. Other veggies to consider are sliced red peppers (and these add a lovely color), chopped cauliflower, steamed potatoes, or snow peas.

From the book Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2012. Recipe photo by Hannah Kaminsky.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Let Them Eat Vegan! Also, the link to Let Them Eat Vegan! is attached to my Amazon Associates Account. If you make a purchase after clicking on the link, I get a small percentage of the sale, which I'll probably use to buy more books.

Friday, August 10, 2012

10 Things I Learned About You

word cloud of how you have fun (:
A big thanks to everyone who completed the 10-question Have Fun • Do Good Reader Survey while I was on my blogging sabbatical. Below are 10 things I learned about you:

1. Where you live:
  • U.S. Northeast 23.3%
  • U.S. West 23.3%
  •  U.S. Southwest 13.3%
  • U.S. Southeast 10%
  • U.S. Midwest 10%
  • Europe 10%
  • Australia 6.6%
  • New Zealand 6.6%
  • Canada 3.3%
2. How old you are:
  • 35-44 30%
  • 45-54 26.7%
  • 26-34 23.3%
  • 55-64 16.7%
  • 65+ 3.3%
3. How long you've been reading:
  • 3 months, or less 30%
  • 1 year 26.7%
  • 2 years 16.7%
  • 6 months 13.3%
  • 5 years 6.7%
  • 7 years 6.7%
4. The issues you're the most passionate about are (you chose your top 3):
  1. Arts and Culture 40%
  2. Women 36.7%
  3. Human Rights 30%
  4. Volunteering 30%
  5. Children and Youth 26.7%
  6. Animals 23.3%
  7. Environment 23.3%
  8. Community Development 23.3%
  9. Education and Literacy 23.3%
  10. Economic Justice 23.3%
  11. Sustainable Food 23.3%
  12. Health and Healing 23.3%
  13. Faith Based 20% 
  14. Disability 20%
5. How you read Have Fun • Do Good:
  • Email 33.3%
  • I check out the home page once in awhile 33.3%
  • RSS 33.3%
  • Faceboook 6.7%

6. How you have fun:
 I used Tagcloud to create a word cloud of your most common answers:

7. How you do good:

8. What stops you from having fun and doing good:

9. If you were going to have tea with me, what you'd like to talk about: 

10. Any else you wanted to share:

Thanks again to everyone who participated!