Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Being a Vegan is Easy?

Well, my recipe for Quinoa Tabbouleh is, anyway!
When likeminded professional foodie, John Tanasychunk (of The Sun Sentinel) talks, hungry people listen. He wrote about “The Vegan Poet” and her upcoming appearance in a Broward County library. About 200 people showed up. I know it’s a bad pun, but Holy Cow!
As a cookbook author myself, I can’t afford to ignore how popular vegetarian/vegan lifestyles are becoming. Sublime Restaurant is a smashing success in my home base of Ft. Lauderdale, on the periphery of every savvy South Florida diner. In fact, veganism is such a lingering hot topic that when I started my food blog in 2009, I was encouraged by other bloggers to climb aboard the vegan train and try for the astonishing number of followers they seemed to have over us meat eaters.
Well, I said then “welcome to my uphill battle” and I still say it. As a meat lover on the same wave length as Anthony Bourdain (who dismisses veganism as “a first world phenomenon; completely self-indulgent), I still take note when I run into articles hypothesizing that climate change could present meat lovers with real problems by the year 2050. Read about it on Blisstree). So I looked to the Vegan Poet, aka Butteflies, for proof that becoming a vegan is easy.
Whether it is or it isn’t remains to be seen. Members of the audience were treated to a 9 minute clip of a documentary called Earthlings, which deemphasized our place in the food chain, and just about chastised those in the room who think farm animals belong outside. The disappointment was palpable; the notes takers with celiac disease and faulty gall bladders left their pages bank. It was easy to get the idea that most had come that day to learn about where to find vegan ingredients (the unusual stuff like agave syrup and tempeh), substitutions in lieu of dairy and meat products, and see if it was practical to give the lifestyle a try. If there hadn’t been food and plant based-hypoallergenic samples available (pictured here), I feel sure 90% of the audience would have walked out.
A fair number stuck around and paged through Butterflies’book. She’s a chef in New Zealand, currently touring the U.S. She’s got 6,000 followers on Facebook, and as someone who has worked very hard just to climb to 2,000 fans on the Nana Network, I can appreciate how interesting her subject matter must be to people. Her food that day had a super fresh, unprocessed taste. You could identify each and every herb from its Hari Krishna inspired spice rack, and there was also that comfort that subsequent heartburn was next to impossible.
I wrote this post so that my fans could have one-click access to some very good shortlists on how to stock up your vegan pantry: Here they are.
There’s also this cheat sheet/palm card I’ve typed up for you here:
• Nuts of all varieties
• Quinoa
• Chia seeds (for fiber)
• Oatmeal
• Dates
• Beans of all varieties
• Hummus
• Tofu
• Non diary milks (i.e. almond or soy)
• Nutritional yeast
And there’s my foolproof recipe for Quinoa Tabbouleh that functions almost like a currency among New Age eaters. I whipped this us last night and found that it has spot-on portions of the ingredients that make tabbouleh, tabbouleh: mint, parlsey, lemon juice, garlic….and the English cucumber that makes you feel special and refreshed just looking at its super-skinny, shrink-wrapped shape. Try it before September’s over—it’s National Yoga Month after all, and the enlightened eaters are more on our radar now than ever. Namaste, everyone.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa looks like a grain, acts like a grain and tastes like a grain, but for all those gluten-free types, the good news is that quinoa is really a seed akin more to spinach and beets than to wheat. Using quinoa in tabbouleh is a brilliant way to add a bunch of protein to your salad.


1 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
Juice from 1 large lemon, about 2 tablespoons
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon yellow mustard
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse pepper
1 large English cucumber, diced into ¼-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
4 to 5 green onions, thinly sliced, about ½ cup
½ cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley
½ cup chopped fresh mint

Place the quinoa into a saucepan. Add 1 ¼ cups water and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid and simmer until the water disappears and the quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic and mustard in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season the dressing with ½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Stir in half of the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight). Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, parsley and mint to the quinoa. Toss with remaining dressing.

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