Ful Mudammas – Vegetarian/Vegan Recipe

A Middle Eastern recipe featuring fava beans!


2 cups dried fava beans (preferably blanched and pre-peeled)
6 cups water
4 TBSP + of olive oil
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
½ lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
tomato, diced (optional)
black olives, pitted (optional)
sliced boiled eggs, sliced or fried egg (optional if not vegan)
breads, pita, cucumber slices etc. for serving


Bring fava beans and water to pressure and cook 40 minutes if using pressure cooker. If not using pressure cooker, on stove top, cook until beans begin to fall apart and are soft. Set aside. If the beans are not pre-peeled, see packaging for cooking/shelling directions.

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add beans and spices and continue to cook until soft and warmed through. As you stir, the beans may break up and mash. That’s fine! When the beans are complete, add lemon juice and mash with a fork or potato masher until they are mashed but still chunky (more chunky than hummus).

Garnish each serving with (optional) diced tomatoes, olives and/or egg, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with toasted breads, pita, cucumber slices, or just a fork!

Tips for Making the Vegan Transition

IMG_0986webI have been a vegan for a longish time now (8-9 years) and a vegetarian for almost two decades. I am often asked by vegan-curious folks (sometimes vegetarian and sometimes omnivore) about how to make the switch. There is not one best way to make this switch, but having tried to be vegan a couple of times before it really took, I do have a few thoughts that I share with people contemplating the change, and I share them with you here.

1. Make a commitment. It doesn’t matter if you decide to go “cold tofurkey” on all animal products or if you phase them out one at a time. The key is to think it through and make a firm choice.

Decide what you plan to do and then write it down. If you are going to give up one item at a time, make an actual schedule and mark it on your calendar. If you are making the switch all at once, make yourself a list of things to eat (see below) instead of the animal products you normally consume.

Waffling on it, or just trying to move toward it by reducing overall consumption makes the whole process take longer, because there are going to be situations where it is a challenge to avoid animal products, and if you haven’t already made a firm choice and established your boundaries, you aren’t likely to make it though those.

2. Research alternatives before you start. You know what your animal product weaknesses are. Think about how you will replace them in your diet. Is it cheese? Milk? Jerky? Honey? Burgers? Almost anything can be replaced with something vegan that will satisfy the same taste urges, but you have to figure out what it is, and that’s easier when you aren’t starving or trying to cook dinner in 20 minutes.

There are so many sites online that can help you in this process. I like to think that this is one of them, but it’s certainly not the only one. Since this month is the Vegan Month of Food (VeganMoFo), there is a wealth of informational links available for you at http://veganmofo.com. Check it out!

3. Think about ways to maintain your usual ratio of “fun” to nutritious foods at first. If you are accustomed to having Doritos every night for a snack, and you go vegan and only eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you are going to be an unhappy camper.

There is plenty of vegan fun (or “crap” depending on your frame of reference) food, so it is not necessary to deprive yourself. You can start changing the ratio after you get more comfortable with the overall choice. In fact, if Doritos are your go-to snack, I have an idea for you!

4. Be open to prepared foods for a while. I am not a big fan of them, but when you are first starting a vegan diet, it might be easier to microwave a Boca burger and some veggie baked beans, or an Amy’s meal, than to come up with a menu on your own. It’s more expensive and you don’t have as much control over nutrition, but that will come.

If it’s a choice between going vegan and eating some prepared foods, and not going vegan at all, then take the prepared foods. Mainstream vegetarian brands (Boca, Morningstar, Gardenburger) have some vegan items, but be sure to check the labels for milk and eggs. Lightlife brand has mostly vegan items, but again the label should be checked. Tofurkey brand is, I think, all vegan.

5. VARIED diet. I really can’t stress this enough. If you start out by eating salads for every meal, with the same set of four ingredients, you are going to get bored and frustrated and are more likely to crack and order an extra large cheese pizza from Pizza Hut.

Buy a cookbook or find a blog or website you like to peruse.  Even if you never actually  use any of the recipes, you will get some ideas about how to eat in a vegan style, and will probably be shocked by the amazing variety of choices.

If you make your meals interesting enough, then you will probably find that you forget what you aren’t eating. In fact, you may find that the things you thought you would miss aren’t a problem at all. I was sure that giving up cheese was going to be awful for me, but, it really wasn’t (and my cholesterol dropped 65 points giving up dairy and eggs).

Happy veganizing!


Does Your Food Remember?

Dark-Tower-1Flashback Friday! This is a post that I originally wrote for VeganMoFo in 2010. It certainly still applies!

In the Dark Fark Tower series by Stephen King (a set of books that I dearly love), the main character, Roland, frequently extorts his companions – of one era or another – to “remember the face of your father.” In the context of the series, this means that the characters should honor their ancestors by being true to their roots and to their family values. They need to remember from where they came.  (Important note – I have nothing against mothers; I am one.  I’m just working with the quote.)

For me, this phrase constantly comes to mind when I’m thinking about, or talking to people about, the best way to eat. I’m a vegan, so sometimes that means that those I talk to assume that I certainly would eat a very sound diet.  Frequently, where I work, someone sets out cookies or cakes or candy, and then remarks to me, “Of course you don’t eat that kind of stuff,” assuming that my veganism is equal to eschewing all but fruits and veggies. But, being vegan or vegetarian does not, in an of itself, mean eating healthy foods. A vegetarian can eat cheese pizza, chips, and peanut butter cups for every meal. That is all vegetarian, but it sure is not healthy. A vegan can live – for a while, at least – on ramen noodles, pretzels, and Swedish fish. That’s all vegan. But, wow, it is not healthy.

These food items are so processed and so refined that all of the natural nutritional value has pretty much been extracted. They do not remember the face of their fathers. They are so removed from their fathers that it’s crazy.  They don’t even know that they ever had fathers!

The best foods, nutritionally, can remember the face of their fathers. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes – even if they have been a little engineered in the name of mass farming, and even if they aren’t totally organic, and even if we cook them up and add some seasonings and sauces, at least they remain fundamentally in their natural form – they can remember the face of their fathers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pretzels. I love them. We have a long-term relationship. I’ve been trying to break up with them – again – recently and we are seeing much less of each other. Though I love them, I know that they aren’t giving me anything that I need nutritionally, and when it comes right down to it, they really don’t taste as good as a big bowl of roasted vegetables or some butternut squash risotto. I also really enjoy tofu, and I think it isn’t as bad for you as a lot of things, but it is pretty far from its father, isn’t it?  I’m not a huge sugar fan, but I do once in a while get on a candy or cookie kick. Where is the ancestry there? And there is some food that is marketed specifically for vegans that is a very very long way from remembering its father (I’ll not name any particular items here so as to not cause trauma).

Does your food remember the face of its father?  Should it?  It’s an interesting thing to think about before you take that next bite or plan your next meal.