Sunday, 10 June 2012

Day 31: Kale and bean stew

One of the most common questions I get asked when it comes to food is why I am vegetarian. The other question is how long I have been vegetarian for. Well, if I answer the second question, the answer to the first one might make sense. I have been vegetarian since primary school so for over twenty years and the reason I became vegetarian was that I felt sorry for the animals that I was eating. That simple. My mother probably thought it was a phase I was going through but, in fairness, she never questioned it so when she was dishing up the traditional potatoes, meat and two veg, I just had the potatoes and veg.

Sometimes I actually wish that I wasn’t vegetarian. Why, you ask? Well, for one, I am always last to get served at any function no matter whether it's a wedding, dinner dance, conference. Always. Secondly, considering that only 1% of the population is vegetarian, the majority of restaurants don’t exactly pull out the stops for us so it’s usually the same old one vegetarian dish on the menu that consists of pasta and tomatoes. Ground breaking. I know. Thirdly, as someone who has always had a healthy take on food, I actually think that it’s healthier to not be vegetarian. That might not go down well with fellow vegetarians but in order to make up for all the nutrients a vegetarian misses out on, you would have to be absolutely meticulous in your meal planning to ensure that you consume the correct amounts of vitamins, minerals, oils etc. from plant sources – all of which are necessary for a healthy, balanced diet. I’m not saying that I am a big advocate of people eating red meat because I definitely think that eating red meat should be limited but eating chicken and good oily fish is healthier than not eating it.

Another question that has popped into my head is when people ask me if my children are vegetarian and I say no. The way I look at it is that if they want to be vegetarian when they’re older, they can but I’m not going to impose it on them. Plus, I think children are healthier if they eat a good variety of foods including oily fish, chicken and a small bit of red meat.

A lot of vegetarians also tend to be anaemic and that includes me which is why I take a daily iron supplement. However, the human body absorbs iron from meat sources much more readily than plant sources. But, did you know that when you supplement your diet with iron, it actually causes your zinc levels to decrease and that’s according to the British Journal of Nutrition?! You see, being vegetarian sounds simple but it’s actually complicated and a nuisance.

So, getting back to the Challenge. I was delighted to come across a vegetarian dish in the cookbook which I had not made before so, for lunch today, I made Kale and bean stew.

First of all, I had to sauté chopped carrot, celery, shallots and garlic in oil. They then cooked for about 12 minutes. The recipe called for white wine to be added at that point but I just used extra vegetable stock instead. I then added the cannellini beans, the vegetable stock, chopped thyme and a bay leaf. Once it all came up to the boil, I simmered it for 15 minutes before adding the kale for a further 5 minutes. This was the first time I had cooked kale or cannellini beans. The kale was already prepared so all I had to do was wash it and the cannellini beans came in a tin. Towards the end of the cooking time, I actually added in a bit more stock as it was slightly thicker than I thought it should’ve been. I don’t think I added any salt into it as it had enough from the vegetable stock but I did add a small bit of freshly ground black pepper. Finally, I added in a bit of sherry vinegar and sprinkled with parsley.
The verdict…

This dish was super wholesome, super healthy but most importantly, super tasty so 8 marks out of 10. I really didn’t think it was going to taste as good as it did but I had to have another bowl of it so if anything speaks volumes about a dish is the need to have seconds. I’m also looking forward to having it for lunch tomorrow. I didn’t even go near Dear Husband and Dear Son with this one as I could have predicted the verdict so I made them something else. I will definitely make this again but I’d say it’s more suitable for the dark nights of winter. Nevertheless, even though today was such a lovely day weather-wise, I was still glad I made it. And, to be honest, it’s not often I come across a really good-tasting new vegetarian recipe that I get to keep and eat - just for me. But, in conclusion and getting back to the vegetarian debate, one extremely smart man by the name of Albert Einstein once said…

               "Vegetarian food leaves a deep impression on our nature. If the
                whole world adopts vegetarianism, it can change the destiny
                of human kind."

Hmmm, maybe being vegetarian isn’t so bad after all…

P.S.  I forgot to say yesterday that the blog reached over 3,000 page views so thank you once again J

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