Breaded Vegan Eggplant – So Good!

As is probably the case in many houses, it’s hard to tell what will happen with vegetables in The VeganAsana home. Sometimes, the kids eat them like they have never seen food, and other times the dogs end up with some vegetables or I have a lot of leftovers.

Breading vegetables, while not particularly beneficial to their nutritional value, is one way to increase consumption around here. This past Friday, I made breaded eggplant and they ate every scrap. There wasn’t even a slice of leftover (other than what I froze before cooking – see more below). So, I’m going to call it a success.

Ingredients

2 eggplants (medium to large), sliced thinly
1 sleeves of wheat saltines, blended to a coarse powder (pretzels or will work)
2 cups panko bread crumbs (or increase the crackers)
3 cups flour
4 tsp salt
4 tsp ground pepper
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
4 cups soy milk or rice milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
1/2 cup white vinegar
olive oil

(note – depending on how big your eggplants are, you may need to do a second batch of the wet and dry mixes)

Process

Place soymilk in a shallow bowl and add vinegar.  Whisk until the milk thickens. It will smell sort of like buttermilk.
Place dry ingredients in larger shallow bowl and mix well.
Individually, dip slices of eggplant in the milk mix (both sides) and then press firmly into the dry mix (both sides)
Coat a baking sheet with olive oil and place slices in one layer. Bake at 425*. Flip when the bottom begins to brown to cook the second side.
We like them served with fresh marinara. Delicious!

If you want to make extra to freeze for later, you can stop after the breading step, place them in a single layer on a pan in the freezer for 8 hours, and the transfer to a freezer bag. When you are ready for them, just pop them out of the freezer, bake, and enjoy.

Go Back to Class!

A joke for only the coolest Internet dorks.

As my Facebook friends know, I have a learning thing. I love to learn new things.

In the past six months, I’ve taught myself to knit, learned to use Photoshop, completed a set of classes on digital photography (doing more of that now), started really learning about vegetable gardening, and toyed with the idea of starting reiki classes in the fall.

This spring, another person sought my advice about adopting a vegetarian diet, meal planning, and nutrition. And it occurred to me that I could better serve the people who come to me with such questions, and even work that into my future plans for The VeganAsana, if I completed some real training in nutrition.

My good spouse, who has tremendous patience with my desire to learn and learn again, gave me a “gift certificate” for Mother’s Day to start my classes toward certification as a health and nutrition consultant. Sweet!

So, now I’m back in class, studying calories (4 per gram of carbs or protein and 9 per gram of fat, by the way), macro and micro nutrients, FDA labeling laws, and the like. Most of it is a refresher for me, as I’ve been studying nutrition for a long time on my own, but it’s great to have this organized curriculum, and I’m learning tidbits here and there that are news to me.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about nutrition on this blog in the coming months, so stay tuned (ominous or inviting, you be the judge).  And now, back to my books!

Namaste,

L

Meatless Monday for the Omnivore Family

If every American went vegetarian for just one day per week, the effects would be startling, on the animal kingdom, the environment, and potentially even the health of those involved.

Eliminating meat from the diet for 1 day reduces saturated fat intake by 15% according to a study from Yale University. It’s true that this reduction may not make a huge difference in overall health, but then again it might, as it could be enough to make subtle changes in cholesterol levels and heart health.  Studies also suggest that reducing meat intake can be associated with lessened cancer risk.  While a once a week vegetarian diet may not have dramatic impacts, eating this on Monday may serve as a gateway to a more consistently herbivore diet.

In 2010, over 10,000 million land animals were killed in the U.S. for food.  Aquatic animal deaths are harder to estimate, but appear to be over 53,000 million per year.  By simply eliminating meat/fish from the diet for one day per week, that number would be reduced by 1,477 million land animals or 7,830 million aquatic animals (or some combination thereof).   The average American eats over 60 pounds of beef per year.  1 meatless day per person per week would reduce that consumption by around 8 pounds of beef per year, saving more than 14,000 gallons of water used for cattle livestock (based on a number of 1,750 gallons per pound, which is a mid point between the estimate given by cattle ranchers and that produced in environmental studies).    A family of 4 could save 56,000 gallons of water in a year.

I could go on with the stats, but my goal here is less to convince people than to support those who might already be thinking about adopting a meatless day in their lives.  While the change may seem like a challenge, it’s not as hard as it appears, because many foods that omnivores enjoy can be easily made vegetarian and create a good option for a meat-free menu.  I’ve listed a few options below for each meal.  I controlled myself and only listed six items for each, but there are many other options to explore!  Note that I haven’t attempted to make these items all vegan; however, even that might be easier than you imagine for 1 day each week.  Vegan items or vegan options are noted with an *


Photo: Health.com


Breakfast ideas

Breakfast usually isn’t too bad to switch up, as many omnivores eat a vegetarian breakfast many days anyway.  The basic idea is to think of meals that you already enjoy for breakfast, and then simply eliminate the meat sides of sausage or bacon.  You can then begin to move on to more elaborate vegetarian breakfasts if time and desire so indicate.

  • Omelets (with whole eggs or egg whites for reduced calorie and cholesterol content) with your favorite vegetables, cheese, or peanut butter
  • Oatmeal with fruit, nuts, and/or granola toppings (* if made without milk)
  • Yogurt with fruit and/or granola (or other cereals)
  • Cereal and toast (* if made with soy milk and veg butter)
  • Breakfast casserole (use your favorite recipe but remove the sausage/bacon and add more seasoning)
  • French toast or pancakes with bananas, strawberries, or sliced peaches (* use vegan recipe for pancakes)

Lunch ideas

Vegetarian lunch doesn’t mean a plate full of celery.  There are plenty of non-meat lunch items that are probably already part of your family omnivore diet.

  • Peanut butter and jelly/jam/honey/syrup/pickle sandwiches (*if no honey)
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
  • Chef salad with cubed cheese, diced egg, Bac~os (or other veg bacon bits), and plenty of veggies
  • Veggie dogs (try Tofu Pups or Smart Dogs for vegan options) and macaroni and cheese
  • Cheese pizza and side salad
  • Vegetable lo mein*

Dinner ideas

Dinner might seem like the most complicated meal, if you are used to making meat the focal point.  However, many recipes that contain meat can be adapted for vegetarian cooking, and you may be surprised at how much you don’t miss the  meat part of the dish.  Eating vegetarian doesn’t have to mean all new foods.

  • Chili* (maybe with a veggie dog side or a salad)
  • Spaghetti with marinara sauce and a salad*
  • Bean burritos and Spanish rice*
  • Nachos with refried beans (* if cheese omitted or replaced with Daiya)
  • Sesame noodles, edamame, grilled tofu*
  • Navy bean soup and cornbread (*if made with vegan recipe)

Combining the items above gives you over 200 different “days” of menus, and that is just the very tip of the iceberg for what is available.  If eating a vegetarian diet for only 1 day a week, issues like protein, iron, and calcium are probably less concerning, but even there it’s not too hard to figure out how to manage the day.   Over the entire day, shoot for 2 servings of dairy or calcium fortified items, 3-4 servings of legumes (beans,  nuts, tofu, soy products) or eggs, 6-10 servings of grains, and 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables.  If that sounds like a lot, remember that a serving is smaller than you might think.  A serving of grain is 1 slice of bread, 1/2 a bagel, or 1/2 cup of pasta or rice.  A serving of legumes is 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of beans, 4 oz tofu, or 1 veggie burger.  A serving of vegetables is typically 1/2 cup for most cooked vegetables or 1 cup for uncooked leafy greens.  A serving of fruit is 1 piece of fruit or 1/2 cup if chopped/sliced.

Even if you aren’t planning to move into a full vegetarian or vegan diet, observing meatless Mondays is a good way to contribute to the health of our environment, the well-being of animals, and even your own health. You can learn more about the Meatless Monday campaign, including many recipes, at http://www.meatlessmonday.com.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you!