Tuesdays with Bonnie & Sharon
There is a whole lot of chopping going on here at thisoldheartblog!
Every Tuesday morning, Bonnie and I head on down to Sojourner House at 5 AM to make and serve a hot breakfast to the guests experiencing homelessness.
And every Tuesday morning, Bonnie, a vegan, tells me how she tried another new, delicious and healthy recipe from her latest vegan cookbook: “Oh She Glows.”
She raves about the flavors and the flawless and achievable recipes. Her daughter, she tells me, praises the website and cookbook, “Oh She Glows” as well. And Bonnie adds that her husband loves each and every new vegetarian delight she makes. The concoctions sound mouth-watering but, truthfully, they sound like more work than I would be willing to employ.
But then I read about the health benefits of a vegan diet. Studies suggest that a vegetarian diet lowers risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and even some types of cancer. The American Heart Association tells us that the vegan diet is devoid of animal products, making it lower than a non-vegetarian diet in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Studies have shown this lowers your risk for coronary artery disease as well as other chronic conditions.
And then I checked out the “Oh She Glows” blog site.
“After a decade of struggling with an eating disorder and subsisting on diet, low-calorie processed foods, Angela Liddon vowed to get healthy once and for all. Done with feeling sick and tired, she threw out her fat-free butter spray and low-calorie frozen dinners. Instead, Angela embraced whole foods that made her glow from the inside out. But first, she had to learn to cook—and eat—right.
Five years ago, Angela started a blog, ohsheglows.com, to spread the word about her journey to health and the powerful transformation that food can make in our lives. Almost overnight, her energy and authenticity attracted readers eager to create their own positive life changes.”
And then I ordered the cookbook, “Oh She Glows” from Amazon.
And yes, Bonnie continues to ask me every week if I tried the cookbook. Am I cooking vegan yet?
There is so much to learn! And so many vegetables to chop!
My plan is to start with one thing at a time because my cupboards reveal I am nowhere near a vegan right now! (Good-bye chicken, burgers and ham!)
Bulgur sounded like a great place to start as I read somewhere that bulgur is the secret to weight loss due to its ability to “fill you up” with few calories. Who wouldn’t love bulgur?
Bulgur is a Middle Eastern staple because it is inexpensive, low-fat, high fiber and protein, making it a most nutritious addition to a low-calorie menu. Bulgur is a whole grain that will block the absorption of cholesterol lowering your total and LDL cholesterol levels making it heart healthy. It has a mildly nutty flavor and somewhat chewy texture. If I had to compare it to something, it would be rice.
Bulgur has fewer calories and less fat and more than twice the protein of brown rice. It can easily be substituted in your recipes when they call for rice.
I found bulgur in my usual grocery store where it came in three grains – coarse, medium and fine. Coarse bulgur is used for stuffing, stews and casseroles, while medium grind is used in baked goods and salads, including the popular Middle Eastern tabbouleh. The finest grind is used for breakfast and dessert recipes.
Store bulgur in a screw – top Mason jar in the fridge. It should keep for months.
Let’s get cooking!
My first recipe was Bulgur with Ginger and Orange – a high protein salad. I even added some extra ingredients to the recipe. I think that is what vegans do – always add a few more veggies to the recipe. It certainly sounded like a grand idea to me!
Makes: 4 servings, 3/4 cup each
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 cup bulgur, rinsed
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- Zest 1 orange; reserve the zest. Juice both oranges. If necessary, add enough water to the juice to measure 1 1/2 cups total.
- Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium–high heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bulgur and stir to coat. Add the orange juice, brown sugar and salt; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the bulgur is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until light golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add scallions, soy sauce and the reserved orange zest to the bulgur; mix gently and fluff with a fork. Serve sprinkled with the almonds.
Extraordinaire! I impressed myself. I will have to admit that my meat-loving husband said it needed a “little something like maybe chicken or pork!”
My second recipe is from the “Oh She Glows” cookbook.
Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika or ½ teaspoon regular paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
For the Casserole:
1 ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
Note: I eliminated the jalapeno as I do not like HOT foods, and added a green pepper and yellow pepper. (I love rainbows!)
1 cup corn
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes with their juices
1 cup tomato puree or sauce
1 can black beans, rinsed
2 to 3 cups kale or spinach, chopped
3 cups brown rice OR BULGAR
½ cup vegan shredded cheese such as Daiya
2 handfuls crushed tortilla chips
1. Make the Tex-Mex Spice Blend: In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and coriander (if using). Set aside.
2. Make the casserole: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a large (4 to 5 quart) casserole dish.
3. Rehydrate bulgur. Put 1 ½ cups bulgur in a bowl and pour 1 ½ cups boiling water over it — the ratio is slightly more than twice as much water to bulgur. Stir in a bit of salt, cover and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, until the grains are fluffy. Drain any excess liquid.
4. In a large wok, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and jalapeno and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
5. Stir in the Tex-Mex Spice Blend, corn, diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, kale/spinach, beans, rice or bulgur and ¼ cup of the began shredded cheese. Saute for a few minutes and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the crushed chips over the casserole mixture along with the remaining ¼ Cup cheese. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 15 minutes.
It is noted as a casserole, which it truly is, but I used it as an appetizer with Scoops Multi-grain Tostitos Tortilla Chips. I also used it as a taco salad by putting it on a bed of spinach leaves. It would make fantastic burritos as well.
What are my first thoughts on vegetarian cooking? I will have to admit vegan cooking is a bit time-consuming as there really is “a whole lot of choppin’ going on” but well worth it. The house gets a tad “aromatic” with a multitude of distinct and unique spices. I may even need another spice rack! The appetite is stimulated as you cook with “real food”, fresh from the Farmer’s Market with no chemicals, no frozen meals, no fake anything! The recipes all seem to burst with color and flavor.
Vegetarian cooking is empowering. It is positive and healthy.
Bulgur has become a new and respected ingredient as I begin my journey in vegetarian land. I hope you join me. I am anxious for you to try some recipes and hear your reactions.
Try it! Take care of your heart. ♥
Note: Tuesdays with Bonnie is an inspirational morning for me as much as “Tuesdays with Morrie” was for Mitch Albom. I am certain Bonnie would agree that our mantra could easily be taken from Mitch Albom’s book:
“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”