Sunday, October 28, 2007

Update on Beans as Vegetables

The research presented by Sara Rose of Bush's Beans was fascinating. The research that they did showed that bean consumption is going down as beans don't always fit easily into the traditional family meal, as they are not thought of as a starch and aren't a traditional vegetable. So Bush's came up with a new phrase: Beans, The Vegetable With More. And their website has lots of recipes for what else? Beans.

I guess that maybe many vegetarians are making up for others in the bean department. Interestingly enough beans are an incredible food. Too bad that so many people hardly cook any more - as beans take only a few minutes in the pressure cooker. I just made a pot of rattlesnake beans with onions, garlic and smoked paprika. I had to stop myself from eating the whole pot of them, which must have been at least 3 cups worth. Instead I roasted some eggplant, red peppers, tomatoes and garlic and then mixed that with my beans. What a yummy meal, along with a salad. And then I had a couple of cups of beans leftover to either freeze for later or make into burritos or meal in a bowl with rice and other veggies.

Beans are so versatile. But with cooking skills declining, it's not surprising that people are eating less beans. I like the fresh ones best but if they'll eat can beans, so be it. At least beans are being consumed. They are a low GI food and fill you up. Eating too many may result in bloating and gas, so it's easy to have portion control.

I may never think of beans as a vegetable but if it gets some people to eat them more often, I am all for that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Vegetable Steaming Bags and Beans

I've seen the ads for the frozen vegetable steaming bags but haven't used them because I eat mostly fresh vegetables, raw or cooked. But last night I had a chance to speak to someone who has actually tried the bags and said that the vegetables turn out great. I also read that now McCormick's, the giant spice company, now has bags that are preseasoned so eating your vegetables may not get any easier. I, of course, will stick with my tried and true cooking methods, often using the pressure cooker and seasonal vegetables. I do keep frozen spinach around and sometimes have a bag of corn in the freezer but that's usually about all, unless I've frozen something from the harvest.

Now, how about beans as a vegetable? I was speaking with Sara from Bush's Beans last night and she said that people respond to eating more beans when they think of them as a vegetable. I am going to hear more about that today as I gather with a group of dietitians who are into food and culinary. I can't wait to hear but I don't think that i am likely to think of beans as vegetables any time soon. Ifit gets other people to eat more of them, well maybe I could say it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mollie Katzen of the North Bay and Vegetables

Some people have dubbed me the "Mollie Katzen" of Sonoma County. After listening to Mollie on the radio this morning discussing her new book The Vegetable Dishes That I Can't Live Without, I'd have to say that those peopel are correct. Except that I actually preceded Mollie on taking up the strictly vegetable (versus vegetarian) mission and spreading vegetable enthusiasm. Unfortunately my audience isn't as broad as Mollie's. But I am thankful that some of you have read my cookbook,The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment.

I, like, Mollie feel best when I can encourage people to eat more vegetables. Honestly, it doesn't matter to me if you are vegan, vegetarian or a carnivore, as long as you are eating your 9+ servings of veggies a day -- in a delicious way.

With that in mind, I'd like to share a really simple recipe for Curried Winter Squash and Pear Soup. You can make it with or without roasting the squash first, but it tastes richer using the roasting method.

Curried Winter Squash and Pear Soup
Serves 4 to 6 (or just you 4 to 6 times)
Even though squash is sweet, it still tastes great paired with pear. If you like, you can add a pinch of cayenne for contrast, in addition to the lemon juice in the recipe.

3 delicata or other squash, roasted until soft in the oven to equal 1 ½-2 cups
2 teaspoons canola oil (optional)
1 small onion, diced
1 medium D’anjou or comice pear, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 teaspoons or more curry powder
4 cups vegetable or other stock or broth

1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped

Roast the squash in the oven at 350 degrees until a knife is easily inserted into the squash, about 25 minutes. Cool and scrape pulp from skin.

Heat the stock pot over medium heat and add the oil, if using. When the pot is warm, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until it softens. Add the pear and curry powder and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the stock or broth and simmer for 10 minutes until the pear is soft. Add the roasted squash and simmer for another 10 minutes to blend flavors. Using a hand blender, puree until desired consistency. Taste and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley or cilantro. Serve hot.

©2005, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD from
The Veggie Queen™: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment

Serve with a giant green salad and some wonderful bread or crackers such as Mary's Gone Crackers or Dr. Kracker crackers.

This is perfect for helping keep your vegetable intake up. Mollie and I are in this together, so watch out.

If any of you know Mollie personally, please let her know that I'd like to speak to her.