Foodie Friday! Summer (or anytime!) Pistou

Pistou is a French version of pesto but without pine nuts.  The pine nuts make traditional pesto somewhat expensive to prepare but this delicious recipe uses almonds which are far more affordable. 

Dr. D. made for me late in the summer when he harvested the yellow squash from his garden but the ingredients can be found any time of year to enjoy this amazing stew.  This recipe comes from one of our favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health.

An actual picture of the actual stew!  So pretty!

Summer (or anytime!) Pistou

For the stew:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper (omitted)
2 cups green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
4 cups chopped yellow summer squash
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (15 ounce) cans red or white beans, undrained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the almond-herb pesto:

1 cup toasted almonds
1 cup packed fresh basil
2 cups packed fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoon water, optional

Make the stew:

In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and bell peppers, and cook for about 3 minutes. And the green beans and broth (or water) and simmer until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Add the yellow squash, tomatoes, and beans. Return to a simmer and cook until all of the vegetables are tender.

Make the Pesto:

Combine the almonds, basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth. Add water if you would like a thinner consistency (Dr. D. did this).

Serve the stew topped with a generous dollop of the pesto.

6 to 8 servings

Blog of the Week – Happy Herbivore

Lindsay Nixon, The Happy Herbivore
Lindsay Nixon is an ambitious young woman.  She left a career as a lawyer and now is an author of four fabulous cookbooks.  All her recipes are plant-based, use no oil (translation: low-fat) and are easy to make.  

On top of those accomplishments, she also has meal plans to get you started toward a healthier way of living.  She creates the weekly menu and gives you the recipes and a shopping list!  Cool, right?

Her blog is really amazing.  Happy Herbivore blog features a Herbie of the Week (readers who have lost weight on a plant-based diet), tips for living vegan in the real world and now she’s even developed an Exit Strategy program for those looking to quit their full-time job and live their dreams.  I honestly don’t know when she has time to sleep.  

Oh, did I tell you she’s a Pug Mama?  What’s not to love!
Lindsay’s puggy, Quaid

Field Trip – A Visit to the Nutritionist Part II

I had my second appointment with the nutritionist on Thursday afternoon. The goal of this appointment was to discuss the findings from last week’s visit.  We sat down in his consultation room and he presented me with the report.

My Symptom Survey Score was a 979 with 1000 being a perfect score.  My Health Score equates me to a cellular age of 50.  I will be 50 in April.  So far, so good.  My Body Fat Analysis is right where it should be and my Visceral Fat Score is normal.

I’m in great health yet he still wanted to put me on supplements to help my liver become more efficient.

I do need to tell you the supplements I would give you contain animal products.  Do you have a problem with that?

Yes, I do.  I won’t use anything containing animal products, not even gelatin used for capsules.  You might call me a militant vegan.

Then I’m afraid I won’t be able to help you.

That’s when he had me sign a waiver stating I’m declining his services.  Services which I obviously don’t need according to his tests.

He did give me some advice on how to use foods to help my liver function better.  Nuts, avocados, beets (blech!) and fermented foods.  
I wonder if fermented grapes count.  



Foodie Friday – Cream of Squash Soup

This soup comes from The Great Life Cookbook and is perfect for those fall potlucks or make a batch and freeze some for later.  Only four ingredients and deliciousness beyond belief!

I will admit it took some time to peel and chop the squash but I think it was worth it.  I did see some pre-peeled and chopped butternut squash in the produce section this week which would greatly help the next time I make this.

Just look at that creamy deliciousness!

Cream of Squash Soup

2 large butternut squashes (~14 cups)*
4 medium onions, chopped coarsely (~6 cups)
Water to almost cover squash (~2 quarts)
1 Tbs. sea salt
4-6 Tbs. brown rice syrup (optional but I used 1 Tbs and it was plenty)
1/2 bunch of parsley (optional)

  1. Peel squash, cut in half, remove seeds and chop into large 2-3″ cubes.
  2. Water saute onions in an 8-quart pot for 4-5 minutes; add squash, water and salt.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer; cover and cook until squash is soft, about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Carefully puree hot squash in a blender using just enough liquid to blend, possibly not using all the liquid (I used none of the liquid).  A slightly thick creamy texture is preferred.
  5. Add brown rice syrup, if needed.
  6. Garnish with parsley.

*I used one large and one medium and still needed to use half of another medium squash.  Mother Nature is never very consistent in how she allows vegetables to grow.  

Thoughts on Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals

A big fan of the Skinny Bitch books by Rory Freedman, I was excited to read her latest book.  I wasn’t disappointed.   Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals brings the author’s social, health and diet agendas to new levels.

Beg is a short book.  So short that I actually gasped when it ended.  (That’s the problem with the Kindle app; you don’t pay attention to how many pages are left.)  If you’re anything like me, you will fly through it and wish it was longer. 

In her latest book, Freedman allows us to go with her on her journey from omnivore to vegetarian to vegan and shares the reasons which led her toward a completely plant-based diet.

She covers topics such as adopting shelter animals, factory farming, animal testing, and wearing wool, fur, and leather including the environmental and health impacts of the leather business. Want to know what’s so awful about wearing wool and using down to keep warm?   That’s in there too and her argument for finding alternatives is strong and fact-based. 

Freedman makes the reader think about what’s involved when animals are kept in zoos, aquariums and circuses and used in movies.  I honestly had not considered many of these things before reading this book.  It opened my eyes to the many forms in which animal mistreatment rears its ugly head.

I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this book came at its end when Freedman writes about her sudden desire to stop using profanity.  Those of you who read Skinny Bitch know of her love for shocking through obscenity.

“Because we’re having so much fun, let’s bash the shit out of Splenda, one of the newer sweeteners.” ~ from Skinny Bitch

Yeah, Rory had a potty mouth.  She gave up using bad language after the book was finished and according to a recent interview with VegNews magazine, actually called her literary agent when Beg was in its final stages to ask them to remove all the colorful language. For those of you who enjoyed her style of writing and worry it will lose its edge without it, never fear.  This book is beautiful and entertaining on its own. 

Freedman has evolved.

She writes:

So I’m speaking to you honestly and earnestly and trying to address the highest common denominator – the divine seed in your heart.  The part of you that maybe lies dormant, but is stirred by truth and beauty and the chance for elevated spirit.  The part of you that might not have known existed but is quickening now with an ancient remembrance.  The true you.  

She’s come a long way from “bashing the shit out of Splenda”.

I can relate to Rory Freedman’s evolution as it’s been similar to my own.  A move toward a kinder, more compassionate way of living.  Less violence, less harshness, less allowing our culture and others to dictate who I am.  Becoming the person I am meant to be and the person I wrote about becoming in my Life at the Lake blog post here.

Becoming someone unafraid to let her freak flag fly proudly.

Blog of the Week: The Dirty Hippie and the Bohemian Girl

Totally gratuitous picture of me with
my Willow taken by “The Dirty Hippie”

Today’s blog belongs to two friends of mine.  We were brought together by a mutual love of greyhounds and wine.  I met Nathaniel Corn in 2011 during the Grapehound Wine Tour where he took some amazing photographs of me with my Willow.  Check out his awesome work at his website, Balance Photography!  

It wasn’t until after I got to know him and his beautiful wife, Rissa Miller that I realized they’re both vegans (and bloggers).  How cool is that!

Their The Dirty Hippie and the Bohemian Girl blog described as “an eco-aware, flower power, neo-hippie vegan blog” gives you an idea of the beautiful energy and enthusiasm these two have for their vegan lifestyle and life in general. 

Check it out!

Field Trip – Gluten Free Vegan Potluck

My brother, Eric a.k.a. The Meaty Vegan and his beautiful wife invited us to a potluck at their home in Ithaca last night.  All the dishes had to be gluten free and vegan so I made Cream of Squash Soup from The Great Life Cookbook which will be our Foodie Friday Recipe later this week. There were about 20 people there including the kids who had their own room to hang out in and do crafts.

I took Dr. D. and my 13-year-old Miss M. with me.  Since the BMW has leather seats, Dr. D. designated his other vehicle to be the one we take to vegan dinners.

He’s a funny guy!

The assortment of food was amazing!  Tempeh, pasta Alfredo, buffalo chicken strips, guacamole, bok choy salad, macaroni and cheese, savory pie and three different kinds of pizza.  All gluten free.  All vegan.  And if that weren’t enough, the guests and conversations were just as varied and enjoyable as the food. 

I wanted to take a picture before the food was gone but it went too quickly!
A testament to how delicious it all was!

Dr. D. and I had a great time and it’s always a good thing when I can show him how amazing a vegan lifestyle can be.

One thing I did learn last night was to never allow Miss M. to bring her gelatin filled gummy worms to a vegan dinner again.  She got all the details on where gelatin comes from.

Thanks for a fun night, Eric and Jen!