The Frugal Vegan

Beans and rice are cheap, but, for many of us, vegan diets aren’t. Tofu, veggie burgers and soymilk are important staples in some veggie households, and they are often—or usually—much more expensive than their animal-derived counterparts.

But with a little bit of planning, you can cut costs in your veggie kitchen. Here are a few ideas:

Get back to basics: Whatever happened to beans and rice, anyway? They are still the best foods on earth—always good for you, good for the environment, easy on the pocketbook.

Take the condiment approach with meat substitutes: Progressive dietitians have long advised that meat should be treated as a condiment in healthy diets. No more big slabs of beef on the plate—but rather, small amounts of meat should be ... Read More >

Eating for the Earth:Locavore or Vegan?

Voltaire said that the best (or the perfect) is the enemy of the good. And when it comes to diet, there is a definite risk that setting standards of perfection will paralyze us into inaction. On the flip side, it’s not great to let a few good choices make us so complacent that we don’t seek to do more.

A good example of this in the world of dietetics occurred when Americans got cholesterol savvy and started trading in beef for white meat such as chicken. That was a moderate improvement in eating habits that let people feel good about their diets—but by itself, it doesn’t make a diet “heart healthy.”

More recently, I’m seeing examples of this in regard to diet and ... Read More >

World’s Best Peanut Butter Cookies—and Yes, They Are Vegan

I made these cookies for a fundraiser last night and, as always, was a little worried about the texture. It’s tricky to get vegan cookies to be tender, (and these are definitely crisp, not soft) but several people told me that they were the best peanut butter cookies they had ever tasted! (And one of them was my friend Phyllis, who is pretty much the most inspired baker in the history of the world.)

I used Adams brand peanut butter—the only PB I use for anything. It’s the closest thing to homemade, and it wasn’t involved in the recent recall. I buy mine at Costco in 5-pound tubs.

Admittedly, these cookies are no great nutritional bargain. They are mostly fat, sugar and white ... Read More >

Great Vegan Bean Cuisine

The absolute best meal I’ve ever had was a platter of chickpeas and fresh tomato sauce; it had simmered all day on the open hearth of a restaurant in Sicily, and—along with a little pasta, escarole, and Chianti, of course—created a meal that could never be rivaled by even the most expensive cut of meat!

Other wonderful bean-based delicacies: garlic-infused Cuban black beans, spicy Indian lentil curry, or lemony chick pea hummus from the Middle East. Beans are world class cuisine!

I always keep a good supply of canned beans on hand for fast meals. But they have become expensive lately, and they also have a higher glycemic index than those you cook from scratch. And cooking your own dried beans is easy.

... Read More >

Beans for Vegetarians and Other Smart Eaters

Beans for Vegetarians and Other Smart Eaters

I’ve got beans on the brain. I’ve been thinking about them a lot because—like everyone else—I’m trying to cut back on expenses. But even in the best of financial times, beans are nearly always on my menu. I love and adore them. Here is what’s so great about beans:

  • They are central to all kinds of exotic and exciting world cuisine, so beans lend themselves to fun recipes.
  • They are gorgeous! Lentils and black beans may not be all that exciting, but look around for some of the “boutique beans” like Christmas limas, Calypsos, and Black Valentines. They are kitchen art!
  • They’re plant foods, so of course, eating more beans (and, therefore, less meat) is good for the environment. But beans are even better ... Read More >

Vegan Cocktail Party: Fast and Fun!

I’m having friends over for a little cocktail party (well, really just wine and beer) and am enjoying the challenge of putting together a good menu. My friends are easy-going types, but they aren’t vegan (or even vegetarian) so I want to make sure everything is especially yummy. And I want it all to be finger food. And I don’t have time to do a whole lot of cooking, so it has to be easy with a mix of fast recipes and store-bought items.

Here is what I’ve decided to serve:

Phyllo Cups with Artichoke Filling. In the best of all worlds—in which I’d be a lady of leisure—I would make my own little phyllo cups, but I’m using pre-made ones which I found in ... Read More >

This Vegan Dietitian Eats Fast Food!

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday and he is not the world’s easiest guy to shop for. I got him a classic Led Zeppelin CD (the one with Stairway to Heaven on it) and I know he’ll love that, and also a pair of gloves which he badly needs.

I also picked up a gift card to Subway, and I suspect this will be his favorite present. He loves their Veggie Delight sub, and since the burger they use is vegan, I’ll probably let him buy me dinner with his gift card at least once.

I steer clear of fast food establishments where the only vegan options are salads and fries. I like salads and French Fries very much, but I want to patronize restaurants that ... Read More >

Vegan Calcium is the Best Calcium

A friend asked me today whether I worry, as a vegan, about calcium. Well, I do worry about it, but not because I’m vegan. Calcium is an issue for all women. No matter what type of diet you follow, it’s important to identify good sources of this mineral.

Plant foods that are good sources of calcium include many leafy greens, like kale, collards, and mustard greens; broccoli; some legumes like black beans and vegetarian baked beans; blackstrap molasses (but not regular molasses); fortified soyfoods; fortified juices; and tofu if it is has calcium listed as an ingredient.

Some foods—like spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, and certain seeds—have lots of calcium, but most of it doesn’t get absorbed. These foods contain compounds called oxalates that interfere ... Read More >

Favorite Vegan Cookbooks: They’re Like Old Friends!

I don’t know whether it’s the cold northwest climate or the chilly economic climate, but I’ve been hunkering down in the kitchen and cooking up a storm lately. My husband is ecstatic. Every time he walks into the kitchen I’m pulling lasagna out of the oven or madly stir-frying a heap of Asian veggies.

I have around 100 cookbooks on my shelves and access to thousands of recipes on the internet so coming up with ideas isn’t a problem. Even so, I often find myself pulling out much-loved older cookbooks—the ones that are tried and true. Some of them have been used so much that they are in two or three pieces. (A true sign of a really good cookbook is one that is held ... Read More >

Protein for Vegans: Old Myths Die Hard

I’ve talked with three different reporters this past month, all with questions about vegetarian diets. All three asked, of course, which nutrients require special attention in vegetarian diets. And each expressed surprise that I didn’t mention protein. They also asked about soy—and whether it was true that it’s the only plant food that is a “complete protein”—ie, the only one that contains all 9 of the essential amino acids.

The answer is no. All plant foods that contain protein—which would be all grains, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables—provide all 9 of the essential amino acids. So they are all “complete proteins.”

It’s true, though, that certain plant proteins are lower in quality. They are still “complete,” but some of their amino acids are a little ... Read More >