Vegan. Thinking About It Part II
If you want to read this later, or not at all, skip on down to the recipe for these great rolls. This is a summer dinner that requires no cooking and will make your friends think you are into magic.
When I left off yesterday I was just about to tell you what caused me to get serious about taking my own diet from vegetarian to vegan. I bet you’re thinking it’s because of the horrible lives that dairy animals and egg-producing factory-farmed chickens lead? Or perhaps because I sincerely believe that your health is directly connected to what you eat. Right? Actually, no, although those factors are certainly important. Some depressing photos of myself 30 pounds ago is what got me to a place of radical change. Everything I read and heard about the vegan diet pointed out one great result: weight loss. One of the first books I tried was “Skinny Bitch”. It is so hard-core about animal suffering that I just couldn’t read parts of it, but the title definitely stuck with me. I coupled this with knowing that I needed to give up wheat. Not because of allergy but because of reading the book “Wheat Belly”. I was a bread and pasta junky. Everything in that book rang true to me. Since making these dietary changes I have lost 30 pounds, gone down 3 sizes, and am not grossed out when I see photos of myself. My hair and skin are also better. I am sure that eliminating wheat from my diet at the same time I switched to vegan has made the weight loss easier. But the good news here is that there are some perfectly good wheat-free breads. I’ll get into these as this blog goes along. Just look forward to cornbread, pancakes, biscuits, tamales, tortillas, etc., etc. This is not about depriving yourself.
Now, time for a confession, and this keeps me from being a true, 100% vegan. I haven’t given up farm eggs. I am very particular about what eggs I eat, but if the chickens are free to roam, scratching in the dirt, and not being horribly abused, I feel okay about eating eggs. I visited Wild Acres Farm, the home of Carolyn Truscott (the delightful lady who puts “Carolyn’s Eggs” on the shelves at the Turnip Truck), and I just don’t feel bad about adding a well-produced egg every now and then to my meal. But if you do, I support you. We all have to figure out what works for us.
I had never had a weight problem until I hit my fifties. But for the last 20 years my vast consumption of cheesy pasta had been no help in my battle. I tried the Zone Diet with good success but ultimately it was just too much work to count everything I ate. Once I made the commitment to wheat-free and vegan I honestly don’t have to think about it so much. Of course, I am mindful of the size of my portions, and have to be careful of those pesky carbohydrates in a glass of wine. I really limit sugar in my diet and use maple syrup as my main sweetener.
But, that’s it in a nutshell. I know that one of the keys to looking my best and feeling my best is eating healthy and keeping my weight down. And it’s a lot more fun to shop when you aren’t limited to the Lots to Love section.
I should mention that I am married to a guy who loves what I cook. He eats just like me when he’s home, and when we go out he orders whatever he wants. He knows that he is healthier because of what he eats at home and has pretty much lost interest in red meat. It would be much harder to do this if he was difficult to cook for. But one thing most people don’t realize about vegan cooking is that it can be wonderfully delicious. And that’s how I would like to be helpful to anyone who is interested in making this change; by showing you some delicious ideas for meals that are easy to prepare. You’ll be lighter, and I promise, you’ll amaze your friends.
Now here’s a recipe for a quick, light summer meal. Spring Rolls.
Easy Dipping Sauce for Spring Rolls
This sauce will show up on another post for sesame noodles.
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup dark tamari soy sauce, or Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 T maple syrup
3 T creamy peanut butter
3 T sweet chilli sauce–Thai style. Not hot, sweet.
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Mix with a whisk
Spring Rolls, makes four
Slice into long skinny pieces (julienne)
4 baby carrots
3 green onions, trim off most of the green stems
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cucumber, with seeds scooped out.
About 1/4 a piece of soft lettuce per roll, torn into small pieces.
4 ozs firm or extra firm tofu. Press water out of tofu between paper towels, and slice it into strips the same size as the vegetable strips. (If you have some of the tofu cheese left over from the vegan pizza recipe, you can also use that. 2 teaspoons per roll. )
Prepare mung bean vermicelli, also available at Thai groceries. In the package I buy there are 10 small packs in the 14oz total bag. You are going to want about 2 T per roll.
I put one small pack of the noodles in hot water to soak for 7 minutes. Stove free cooking! After soaking, rinse with cool water and drain. You don’t want warm noodles here.
When you are ready to make the rolls have all your ingredients ready. This is a real assembly line project.
Rice paper rounds are available at Thai markets. I get all my Thai ingredients at International Market on Belmont Blvd here in Nashville, where my friend Patti Myint has been serving up Thai foods and supplies since 1975.
To make a roll, immerse a rice paper round in hot (not boiling) water for 5 seconds, then quickly remove it and lay it out. After I lay it out I quickly blot with a paper towel. Moving fairly quickly (because the rice paper will start to get stickier and stickier as it sits), put your ingredients in a neat long pile on the edge closest to you of the rice paper round. I start with the lettuce, then tofu, then cucumber, then onion, then carrots, then bell pepper. Top it off with the noodles.
On top of the pile, put a generous sprinkling of black sesame seeds.
When you’re ready to roll, pull the edge closest to you over the ingredients to wrap and roll tightly. Pull in the sides towards the middle, fold over, and finish rolling, the tighter the better.
Cut the rolls in half at a slight diagonal. Serve on plate with the dipping sauce.