(Don’t) Eat Like You’re in College

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pizza

POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

Thirty-five years ago this month I graduated from college.  I’m proud of it, but, man, it seems like a long time ago.

We played frisbee on the quad.  If you had a decent stereo, it took up one-third of your dorm room.  Ronald Reagan was in the white house. Michael Jackson was at the height of his power.  It was the early days of AIDS and the final days of M*A*S*H.

I would like to say that I started honing my solid eating skills at that tender age, but, sadly that’s not the case.  I once won a six pack of beer off a neighbor for eating something on a dare.

My private, liberal arts college spoiled us in many ways.  While we had one central dining hall on the weekend, several dorms had cafeterias where you could eat three meals a day, Monday through Friday.  How great was it to roll out of bed and walk downstairs for breakfast on a rainy or cold morning? Pretty great.

To the best of my recollection (thirty-five years, don’t forget), here are some of the highlights of four years of college eating.  Be forewarned that not everything was on the meal plan.

ECLAIRS.  Is this really how I want to start this list?  Yes, it is. College ruined whatever affinity I had for eclairs.  I used to love these delicate pastries with the Bavarian cream filling and a stripe of chocolate on top when I was younger. They must have been something we had for special occasions. In college, I don’t remember us having many desserts. Besides eclairs, I’m picturing a cheesecake that was much too smooth, creamy, and tasteless to be cheesecake.  But I remember eclairs often being the default dessert. I ate so many eclairs, today I can’t even look at one.

PIZZA.  Thankfully, pizza in college did not ruin me for pizza after college.  We ate pizza at the student center. We knew every place in town where you could get pizza.  Some were legendary and some were not. It didn’t matter; we ate them all. If anything, I think I could have eaten more pizza in college and been just fine.

SALAD.  You could easily live off of salad in college.  Every meal had a huge salad bar. The weekend dining hall had an even bigger selection of greens and toppings. If you didn’t like what was being served, you could fall back on salad without a problem. Still, I remember thinking at the time, “Who would put chick peas on a salad?”

IHOP.  While there was a popular diner for late night, off campus eating, my crowd was big fans of the International House of Pancakes.  Though I shudder to think how we got there and back, I can still taste their huge cheese omelettes which came with a side order of pancakes.

GRILLED CHEESE.  During my Junior year, one of the Freshmen had a roommate who dropped out.  His double room became a regular hangout. No one had microwaves then but some people had toaster ovens.  Once we savored the deliciousness of a late night grilled cheese sandwich, we all began bringing bread and cheese back from dinner to stock his fridge.

BRUNCH, PART ONE.  If you could drag yourself out of bed on Saturday or Sunday before it ended, brunch was something to look forward to.  You didn’t have to wonder what would be served. You could count on scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, sausage, and many cups of coffee.  Halfway through, it became less about the food and more of a social event.

BEER.  If you’re lucky enough to go to college, you will drink a lot of beer.  In my Sophomore year, we had t-shirts printed with our dorm name scrolled over the Moosehead beer logo.  I think I still have mine somewhere. But, leaving breweries and craft beer houses aside, can we admit that keg beer is not very good?  After you pumped it to death (because that’s what you do), you had to pour about a hundred glasses before getting anything other than foam.

BRUNCH, PART TWO.  If you knew someone with a car and had a few dollars in your pocket (maybe some students had credit cards but I didn’t), you would go off campus to a restaurant in town that did an amazing brunch.  You would bring your parents there if they came to visit. Omelettes made to order, steamship round, desserts, french toast, and the list goes on. It put our school brunch to shame.

We have been on some college campuses in the last few years and things have changed.  Kids today have a lot more choices. If you are the parent of a college student, you needn’t worry.  The quality of the beer, er, salad is a lot better too.

What was/is your favorite college food?   Please leave a comment…

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The Banana Essay

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Note:  I wrote, last time, that this site would be down for an overhaul. Alas, it appears as though I have lied.  Haha…
This post comes from the vegan husband and while I have been working on both a new look for this site and a community project, he has been busy keeping his commitment to writing an article once a month.  Enjoy!

POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

I’m looking at a banana on my desk and thinking: Is there a less forgiving fruit than bananas?

I’ll grant you that bananas are not as tricky as oranges or peaches, which can look and feel great from the outside, but can be dry or off tasting on the inside. Watermelon is pretty consistent, but I once bought a whole one where the insides disintegrated when I cut into it. It turned to red juice and a pile of seeds. How does that happen?

No, with a banana, you know what you’re getting.  Occasionally there is an unexpected bruise upon peeling, but this is one book that you can judge by its cover.  If a banana were a book, it better be a novella, because the shelf life is maddeningly short.

Back in the pre-vegan days, we purchased six bananas on our weekly shopping trip so that we could each eat one a day for three days.  And then we would go four banana-free days. We didn’t do that because we got sick of bananas after three days, or because we only had a budget for six bananas.  We did it because, after three days, we couldn’t stand to look at the bananas let alone eat them.

For the occasional banana that snuck past the three-day limit, I invented the “banana surprise” to eat for breakfast.  I’m somewhat embarrassed to say this consisted of a banana smothered in peanut butter and topped off with m&m’s, whipped cream, and a drizzle of maple syrup.  You could smell an old banana from one or two rooms away, and say, “That’s going to have to be a banana surprise.”

Growing up, I never ran into these kind of problems.  My parents bought bananas for the sole purpose of putting on cereal.  You would slice up half a banana for a bowl of cereal, and then stick the other half into a glass for the next day.  I thought that’s how everyone ate bananas. Only monkeys peeled and ate the entire thing all at once.

Now that we are veganish, we can’t handle a four-day banana drought.   Our bodies would rebel or simply shut down. So, on the second day, or maybe the third, we purchase bananas again.  Depending on ripeness, we may buy another six or maybe only four. We may even make a third trip to the store. No matter how you slice it (sorry), we’re eating bananas every day.

And this can be a struggle.

Where three bananas a week was too few, maybe seven is too many. Although I do occasionally slice up a banana for my cereal, I usually bring mine to work. I can eat it as soon as I get to work (to recover from my morning workout) or at my mid-morning coffee break.  I can even eat it as part of my lunch with some other fruits.

If I was going to eat some kind of fruit every day, I don’t know that it would be a banana.  I’d like something with a little more staying power. Blueberries can last two weeks or more and require even less preparation than bananas.  If it’s fall in New England, you could have apples last for a month. And, where a banana is a banana is a banana, you could have a different kind of apple every day for a week.  But apples lose some of their luster in the off-season.

Cantaloupe, especially cut up into cubes, can last a while, but they are often hit or miss with regard to quality.  The vegan spouse gets super excited by pineapples, but she said only about 10% are awesome.

So it appears I’m stuck with a daily banana.  It’s not the worst thing in the world. I just wish we didn’t have to buy them so green that they taste like styrofoam on the first day, perfection on the second, and ready for banana bread on day three. The one on my desk is turning browner by the minute.

Anyone for banana surprise?

What is your go to fruit?  Please leave a message…

Call Me Flexitarian

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POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

Note:   2010 called and it wants its website back.  I will be working on a new look, so this site will be down in the coming weeks.  I leave you with a great post from the hubby that I think may resonate with many. See you soon and thank you for following!

In the almost six years that I’ve been writing about the forks-over-knives lifestyle, I feel that I have been an above-average advocate for veganish eating.  I have chosen kale over kebabs, soy over sirloin. I have turned my nose up at a pulled pork sandwich.

But not always.

That’s because I am known in dieting parlance as a flexitarian.  I was labelled as such in this space earlier this month.  And I’m totally fine with it now that I know what a flexitarian is.

Several sources on the internet cited Dawn Jackson Blatner’s book, The Flexitarian Diet, for a definition.  Essentially, it’s a plant-based diet with occasional meat and fish.  Some sources mentioned the conscious addition of more fruits, grains, and vegetables, while others talked about limiting processed foods.  No matter what source you trust, it’s got me pegged.

And that’s bothersome.

I feel like I should be able to adopt the vegan way of eating 100%.  But I can’t. If I don’t bring my lunch to work, there may not be a vegan option in the cafeteria, or, if there is, I may not like it.  I don’t think of myself as a picky eater, yet there are definitely some foods that I just won’t eat. If I skip lunch, things will go off the rails in the afternoon.  And, by “off the rails” I mean “toward the vending machine.”

So, for fun, let’s assume there is always a vegan option available to me.  Would I then be able to make the leap to veganism? In theory, yes. In reality, maybe not. Below is a list of foods that, for now, keep me a flexitarian.

CHEESE

Although it doesn’t have quite the hold over me that it once did, cheese would be hard to walk away from.  Growing up, we only had American cheese, provolone, and Crackerbarrel cheddar in the house. The Crackerbarrel was for putting on crackers when company came over.  The American was for grilled cheese sandwiches. The provolone was for making a sandwich that had meat in it. I could give up American cheese today, but a cheese that has great flavor is like a completely different food.

When I think about not eating cheese, the first thing that comes to mind is pizza. Pizza is something that I couldn’t give up. We eat cheeseless pizza, but I would prefer a pie whose crust can barely support the cheese on top.

FISH

I could try listing all the types of fish that I like, but it would be easier to list the ones that I don’t like.  And, I’m just telling you, it’s a pretty short list.

In a restaurant, fish is usually my go-to.  Aside from the mercury worry, fish does not get much bad publicity.  You don’t hear about people getting obese or high cholesterol from eating too much fish.  If restaurants had five solid vegan meals (not including salad), I could probably avoid fish.  Until then, give me some salmon, scallops, or shrimp.

EGGS

I’m not someone to order a couple of fried or scrambled eggs at the diner, but eggs are in a lot of things that I like.  Pancakes and waffles are high on my list, but they could both be made with egg replacers. Let’s just say there are lot of dessert items that are made with eggs that would make my sweet tooth cry if it didn’t get any.

CHICKEN/TURKEY

I lump these birds together as they are another restaurant go-to.  Especially at lunchtime. We don’t buy chicken or turkey at home, but if we’re travelling, and it could be a long time until the next meal, a chicken or turkey sandwich is often my option.  Still, the chicken and turkey we end up eating don’t get treated well and that weighs on me.

ICE CREAM

There are some households that have ice cream in the freezer all the time. They might even have more than one kind. I might only have ice cream ten times a year. But to stand up and say, “That’s it, no more ice cream for me….” Whoa. I think a shiver just went up my spine.

MAYONNAISE

Think of all your classic salads: tuna, potato, egg, pasta, lobster, chicken. What’s the common denominator? Mayonnaise is not the best thing to put in your body, but they are starting to make healthier mayo options, so maybe there is hope.

BACON/SAUSAGE

I’m kind of a bacon snob.  At home, right off the frying pan, with the aroma to go with it, you’ve got me.  Under different circumstances, for me, bacon starts to lose its appeal pretty quickly.  Sausage is kind of the same thing. There are times when I prefer sausage to bacon, and other times when it just turns up in something, and I say, “Oh, what’s this doing here?”  Bacon and sausage could be the first ones to drop off this list.

Is a flexitarian diet right for you?    Please leave a message…

Oh Hominy, How I Love Thee. A Soup/Stew Recipe

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Hominy as” kernels of corn that have been soaked in a caustic solution (as of lye) and then washed to remove the hulls”.

A caustic solution?  When I read that, visions of the bathtub scene in Breaking Bad came to mind.

But this soaking isn’t as breaking bad as it sounds.  Hominy is field corn that is soaked in an alkali solution through a process called nixtamalization. The corn, which is dried before being harvested, is soaked in lye or lime. This loosens the hull, softens the kernels and doubles their size. Hominy is a whole grain that is rich in calcium, carbohydrates and fiber.

And.  It.  Is.  Delicious.

 

Hominy

You will often see hominy listed as a component in posole recipes. It is also ground to make masa flour and is a common ingredient found in such things as grits, tortillas, and atole. It can be used in soups, stews, casseroles, chili and in whatever else your imagination allows. Hominy can be purchased canned or dried. The dried version is difficult to find in my area.  Be sure to soak the kernels (in water!) if you purchase them in their dried form. If you are like me, you may enjoy learning about the science behind hominy and nixtamalization.  It’s fascinating and you can check it out here.

This dish can be served as either a soup or stew (by reducing the liquid).  It is satisfying as a main meal or a side dish.  The black lentils are optional but recommended.  The last time this dish was made the lentils were thrown in at the last minute. They were left over from a different recipe and I didn’t want them to spoil.  Think of them as a bonus as they are scrumptious and give the dish a nutrient boost.

Hominy Stew

Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS:
1-1/2 c small red beans & its liquid, soaked overnight
1/2 c black beans & its liquid, soaked overnight
4 poblano peppers, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
28 oz fire roasted tomatoes
2 zucchini, chopped
3 cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 tbsp liquid smoke
8 c vegetable broth
salt, to taste
1 c quinoa, dry
bunch of kale
1 c cooked black lentils (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Cook beans, separately, on high until they boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook until tender. About 1 hour.
NOTE: ADD BEAN BROTH, TO KEEP THE INGREDIENTS FROM BURNING,  AT ANY POINT DURING THE COOKING PROCESS DESCRIBED BELOW.
Heat a large soup pot on high. Add hot peppers and onions.
Reduce heat to medium low and cook until tender. About 5 minutes.
Add carrots. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
Add garlic and other spices and mix well.
Add tomatoes.
Add zucchini, hominy, liquid smoke, beans, vegetable broth, remaining bean broth and salt.
Rinse quinoa and add to pot.
Add kale.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes for soup.
Continue to cook, reducing liquid, if stew is desired.
Add cooked black lentils about ten minutes before serving.

 

 

Do you have a favorite hominy recipe?  Please leave a comment…