peanut stew

Giving the peanut stew recipe from the Vegan Stoner a whirl:

1. chop half an onion & cook in pot

2. add a can of stewed tomatoes, a half cup of crunchy peanut butter, & a half can of garbanzo beans [chickpeas]

3. chop a potato & add to pot* with a sprinkling of thyme

4. cover pot and cook on low heat for 20 minutes

5. serve on rice

6. munch

* may want to parboil the potato first, or ensure you cut very small pieces so they cook through

I’ve never bought or cooked with stewed tomatoes before and at first I wasn’t so sure about the peanut butter. I like peanut butter, but I am not much in the habit of cooking with it; my mum is very allergic to nuts, so I never ate them growing up. You can’t miss what you’ve never had, but, oh! I tell you: when I moved out and discovered I could buy and eat all the Nutella I wanted … that was a wonderful and a dangerous day.

I digress.

why this recipe is cool

Like many Vegan Stoner recipes, it calls for a bunch of non-perishable and inexpensive food items. (Dried thyme is an exception to “inexpensive”, and I’m using posh all-natural peanut butter because I got it on the cheap at an army surplus store in Kamloops. I’m not even kidding.)

Food waste is something I’m pretty concerned about, so I try to be mindful of how much fresh stuff I buy, but cooking for one presents some challenges: fresh stuff often comes in rather massive bundles. It’s always a song and dance trying to make sure things get used up before they rot or trying to work out clever things to do with food items that are fast approaching the end of their fridge-lives.

Trying to buy less but shop more often is something I’m working on, but sometimes time is tight because I planned poorly and I just can’t swing a shopping trip. In such cases, how marvelous to be able to put together a whole meal from things in the cupboard.*

making stew!

I prepared all the ingredients and added some extras, seeing the excellent opportunity provided by a stew to deal with some fridgy** items. Some beet greens, some red pepper, an already-opened can of chickpeas. I also added a spoonful of tomato paste because I like tomato-y things.

Easy peasy: set the rice on in one pot, throw the ingredients in the other pot.

the result

A delicious, nutritious, hearty dinner. I’d not hesitate to make this again for myself, or for nut-eating friends 🙂

–x–

*Now that I’ve written this, I see the irony of and the privilege in my enthusiasm over tinned food. I’ve little to complain about in life if I’ve always enjoyed meals made from fresh ingredients, and making things from cans is a novel experience…

**My mother uses this word to describe the way things smell when they’ve been in the fridge too long. Highly accurate, worth bringing into the general lexicon.

Ta-BOO-lee

How’s this for point/counterpoint: Amy is making wonderful-looking no-knead bread while I am thinking about:

Things ‘gluten-free’

(Disclaimer: my information comes from talking to people with opinions, reading food labels, and doing some random internet searching. Therefore, please read with grain of salt in hand.)

Lately there is a lot of fuss about gluten-free food and gluten-free diets. As with any (food) trend, there are a couple of vocal camps; in this case, the ‘gluten is bad for you! live a healthier life by going gluten-free!’ camp, and the ‘those crazy people on their gluten-free diets have no idea what they’re talking about and the whole thing is a load of BS’ camp.

Then there’s this other camp of folks who are forgotten in all the buzz: those who actually really can’t eat gluten or else bad things happen to their bodies, i.e. folks with Celiac disease. The bodies of people with Celiac disease cannot process gluten. It jams up intestines and prevents absorption of other nutrients, which is very, very not good, and which can (and does) make folks feel very, very, very ill. For a person with Celiac, not eating gluten is a good way to fix this and restore digestive health.

Ok, wait: what is gluten? Basically gluten is a thing found in wheat and barley and rye. It is in flour, in bread, in pasta, in beer, and shows up in a lot of processed foods as a filler and additive. Gluten is NOT in things like rice, (wheat-free) oats, potato flour, quinoa, and polenta (cornmeal). Things gluten free (e.g. bread, tortilla wraps, &c.) are becoming easier and easier to find in mainstream Canadian grocery stores. The Canadian Celiac Association outlines a gluten free diet.

I don’t know enough about the reasons for and against opt-in gluten-free diets (as opposed to necessary-to-digestive-health gluten-free diets), so will not weigh in on that particular food trend debate. What I do know is that some people think that eczema can be worsened by gluten. Because I sometimes have to deal with eczema, I experimented for several months with cutting gluten. I learned that, for me, stress is a greater irritant than gluten, so cutting gluten didn’t directly help in my case. However, I liked a lot of the food I was making, and, unsurprisingly, eating a lot of bread and pasta, and drinking a lot of beer make me feel not very nice, so I continue to pursue alternatives, like…

Gluten-free Tabbouleh!

(I checked with my friend Emily: at least by white people in Canada, tabbouleh is pronounced ‘ta-BOO-lee’.)

This recipe is adapted from Julie Van Rosendaal (see this post) and the recipe on the back of my bag of chia seeds.

½ cup quinoa (brought to a boil in 1 cup of water, then reduced to simmer for 15 minutes; it’s cooked when the little white coils around the quinoa start to come off)

½ can chickpeas (optional, though a delicious addition)

¼ cup chia seeds (optional)

2 tomatoes, chopped finely

2 cups chopped fresh parsley

a few green onions (or a small red onion, chopped finely)

⅓ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Cook the quinoa. Chop things. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil in a little bowl. (In the last minute or two of cook time for the quinoa, I like to throw in the chickpeas to soften them a bit.) When the quinoa is done, stir everything together in a bowl and pop it in the fridge for a bit so all the flavours blend. Eat!

–x–

This was so delicious! So quick to make, meets tricky dietary requirements (it is gluten-free AND vegan), and is such a lovely, light, hot weather food. I divided it up into Ziploc containers took them to work for lunch (leaving these in the fridge for another day or two had the added bonus of making it even more flavourful).

Kate’s parsley plant: parsley is one of the main ingredients in tabbouleh