{Book review} Greenilicious: 101 Ways to Love Your Greens

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Last year,  I reviewed Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food by Australian cookbook author, Leigh Drew.

Today, I am delighted to feature a review of Drew’s latest vegan cookbook, co-authored with Amanda Benham.

Greenilicious: 101 Ways to Love Your Greens is promoted as a recipe book and a ‘how to’ manual on green vegetables. Greenilicious features over 40 different green vegetables – from witlof to okra, and tatsoi to basil.

Drew’s creative recipes demonstrate that green vegetables are nutritious and delicious. With a scrumptious collection of healthy, vegan recipes, my copy of the book is fast becoming well-thumbed. I have cooked and tasted over a dozen of the recipes thus far. I want to share my Greenilicious journey with you.

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stir-fry

With only six ingredients, Baby Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushrooms Stir-fry is quick and easy to prepare. My sister and I prepared it for a lunch with my parents, and served it with white rice. It was very popular, and I am keen to make it again.

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edamame

Chilli Garlic Edamame is a favourite of the tiny vegans. They are enamoured with edamame, so this simple and tasty dish was devoured in no time! I reduced the chilli content to ensure that it was not too spicy for the youngest of the tiny vegans.

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cauliflower curry

Cauliflower Pea Curry is easy to prepare and features ingredients that are readily available in my kitchen- spices like garam masala and turmeric, and vegetables like onions, tomatoes and, of course, peas and cauliflower. I adjusted the chilli content for the tiny vegans. The leftovers were delicious the next day with some coconut milk added.

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sesame halva

Greenilicious contains a comprehensive collection of delectably named and scrumptious-tasting green smoothies. We indulged in Sesame Halva, Cooper’s Cherry Pie, Lamington, Blueberry Pancake, and Mango Ice-cream. My father, who is no stranger to green smoothies, was captivated by Sesame Halva. He deemed it ‘beautiful’. I enjoyed all of the smoothies, but I particularly adored the rich cherry flavour of Cooper’s Cherry Pie.

I have adopted Drew’s practice of adding frozen peas to smoothies. What a brilliant idea! Reluctant green smoothie drinkers (ie. children!) are unlikely to detect a handful of frozen peas added to their favourite smoothie.

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quiches

I am always on the lookout for lunchbox suitable recipes, so I was thrilled to discover Mini Asparagus Crustless Quiches. I served the (gluten free) mini quiches as an entree for dinner one night, and the leftovers were divided between lunchboxes the next day. The mini quiches can be eaten warm or cold. I cooked them in silicone muffin cups (rather than a muffin tin), which works really well for popping them into lunchboxes. If you aren’t a fan of asparagus, the recipe includes a variation for baby spinach, rocket or kale.

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roasted balsamic

Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli is a simple and delicious recipe, comprising only six ingredients. I enjoyed the flavour of the oven-roasted greens – a nice change to my usual practice of steaming broccoli and brussel sprouts. I served it as a side dish with other vegetable dishes, including Ethiopian Greens (see below).

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tzatziki

Pine Nut and Almond Tzatziki is a raw recipe that contains three varieties of greens – cucumber, parsley and mint. This recipe is suitable as a condiment (for curries) or a dip (with vegetable crudites). I also enjoyed it on a salad wrap.

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tofu salad1

Tofu Salad with Shredded Cabbage, Peanuts, Chilli, Mint and Miso Dressing is one of my favourite recipes from the book (so far!). It consists of Chinese cabbage, cucumber, mint and a green fruit – Granny Smith apple. The recipe calls for fried tofu puffs, however, I cubed and pan-fried the same quantity of  firm tofu (as I was unable to locate tofu puffs). I was also unable to locate a Chinese cabbage, so I used a Drumhead cabbage (ie. green cabbage) instead. Truly delicious!

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rocket frittata

Rocket Frittata contains silken tofu, potato, nutritional yeast, and chickpea flour – and is gluten free. My sister and I prepared it for a family dinner. We made it earlier in the day and served it cold, with salads. The next day, I  heated a leftover slice. It is tasty served either way.

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ethiopian greens

Another favourite recipe from the book is Ethiopian greens with spiced chickpeas. This side dish, comprising rocket and English spinach, is very flavourful and moreish – and was also popular with Mat and my daughter. The spiced chickpea component of the recipe is presented as a dip and, therefore, is suitable for use where one would use hommus. The spiced chickpea ‘dip’ is stirred through the greens after serving. The spiced chickpea ‘dip’ also found its way into the tiny vegans’ lunchboxes.

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About the book

The 208-page book contains 101 recipes presented in 8 chapters (with charming titles), including:

Not Just Salad Days

From the Cabbage Patch

Turn Over a New Leaf

Flower Power

Like Peas in a Pod

To give you an idea of the layout of the book, the Not Just Salad Days chapter consists of recipes containing salad greens and lettuces, while Flower Power comprises recipes containing broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower and artichoke (and more). Like peas in a pod includes recipes that contain…yep, you guessed it!

The recipe instructions are clear and unambiguous. Symbols are used to highlight the gluten free or raw status of a recipe. Recipes that require 30 minutes or less cooking time are also highlighted.

For the information of gluten free readers, the book contains 90 recipes that are gluten-free, including Classic Cavolo Nero Rissotto, Cauliflower Marinara Pizza and Thai-style Snake Bean Green Curry.

The food photography is visually appealing, and every shade of green imaginable is represented throughout the book. Moreover, the layout of the book is easy to navigate (if you have some kale wilting in the fridge, locate the Turn Over a New Leaf chapter or head to Super Smooth – for a delectable smoothie).

Greenilicious features an introductory chapter called Welcome to the Wonderful World of Greens, which includes useful information about the nutritional benefits of green vegetables, tips for encouraging children to eat vegetables, and suggestions for easy and quick ways to incorporate greens into your daily meals. A two page nutrient content table is also included in the book.

What am I cooking next?

It has been very hot in my part of the world this week, so I am keen to prepare a hearty salad whose preparation does not require the use of an oven. There are several good options, including: Oak Leaf Salad with Shaved Beetroot and Avocado Dressing, Shredded Snow Pea Salad or Butter Lettuce Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Lemon Olive Oil Dressing.  And, of course, on a hot and humid day, a delectable – and very cold – smoothie is most welcome. A Watermelon Sorbet smoothie would be a refreshing and delicious choice.   

For lunchboxes, I would like to try Rosemary Crackers, Coriander Pesto and Pumpkin Scrolls and Broccoli Fritters. And, once the weather cools down, I am keen to taste some of the delicious soup recipes: Miso Soup with Tatsoi and Mixed Mushrooms, Watercress Soup and Cavalo Nero, Lemon and Garlic Soup.

What about dessert?

Let’s face it, no recipe book would be complete without the addition of at least a few  sweet delights. Greenilicious does not disappoint! Among the book’s pages you will find Spiced Chocolate and Zucchini Cake with Macadamia IcingChoko Apple Pie and Hint of Mint Cheesecake. All with a healthy dose of greens.  

Curious about the meal on the cover?

That’s Raw Tex-Mex Tacos.

If you are keen to get your hands on a copy of Greenilicious, or if you think the book would make an ideal gift for a special person in your life, you can purchase a copy here or here.

About Leigh Drew

Leigh is based in Sydney, Australia, and has been vegan for over a decade. Greenilicious is her fourth cookbook.

About Amanda Benham

Amanda became vegan in 1983, and is a leading expert in plant-based nutrition. She has been a nutrition consultant and dietitian for over 20 years.

Disclosure: A free copy of the book was provided to me by Arbon Publishers. All opinions expressed are my own (except those attributed to the tiny vegans and other family members– of course!).

Ally 

{Recipe} Baked Pumpkin, Chickpea, and Grape Tomato Salad | Zesty Lemon Dressing

It was time for salad….

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…..We were halfway through our Sydney vegan eating tour holiday.

Mixed Berry ice creams, Vegan's Choice, Newtown

Mixed Berry ice creams,
Vegan’s Choice, Newtown

We had (over) indulged in yum cha, Thai food, Chinese food, tofu ice cream, baked cheesecakes, raw cheesecakes, cupcakes……More temptations awaited us in the days ahead. I was beginning to fear that my jeans would require alterations.

Salad-therapy was required!

I prepared Baked Pumpkin, Chickpea, and Grape Tomato Salad for a family dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. She prepared a delicious rice salad and a scrumptious roast vegetable dish. Perhaps a healthy dose of salads would negate some of the sugary morsels that I had enthusiastically consumed? Well, one can have hope!

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Baked Pumpkin, Chickpea, and Grape Tomato Salad with Zesty Lemon Dressing

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

2 cups chopped pumpkin

1 1/4 cups /200g grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)

3 1/2 tightly packed cups /120g  mixed lettuce leaves

1 cup chickpeas, cooked or tinned

1 avocado, sliced

1/8 cup chopped red onion

1/8 cup walnut pieces

For the dressing:

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp hommus

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp tamari/soy sauce

Method

1. Place the pumpkin on a lined baking tray, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for 20-25 mins. While pumpkin is baking, prepare the other ingredients.

2. Spread a large serving platter with the lettuce leaves.

3. Scatter the lettuce with grape tomatoes, chickpeas, walnuts, onions, and avocado.

4. Once the pumpkin is cooked, add it to the platter.

5. For the dressing: Add all of the ingredients to a small jar. Stir with a fork, then screw on the lid, and shake the jar until ingredients are mixed well.

6. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving.

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What foods do you turn to when you have over-indulged on treats and restaurant meals? When was the last time you over-indulged?

Every Monday, I share a delicious vegan meal that is enjoyed by my family. I sincerely hope that your family enjoys it too. 

I am submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Fridays. Check out the recipes for delicious inspiration!

{Vegan Children} An interview with Ginny Messina, Registered Dietitian (AKA The Vegan R.D)

Are vegetarian kids less robust?

A fortnight ago, someone entered the above question into a search engine before navigating to Made of Stars. 

I have not written a post that discusses the ‘robustness’ of vegetarian or vegan children. I did, however, write an article called Raising Children as Vegan: A Healthy Alternative a couple of years ago.

The term ‘robust’ means ‘full of health and strength; vigorous’.

Perhaps this individual was seeking to determine whether vegetarian children are smaller and weaker than their peers. Maybe they were trying to find information about the well being of vegetarian children, and whether they are as healthy as their non-vegetarian counterparts.

What is the collective noun for a group of vegan children?

What is the collective noun for a group of vegan children?

Recently, I received an email from a fellow blogger and reader of Made of Stars, Nat

In the email, Nat provided a link to the blog post of a decade-long vegan blogger and raw food advocate who had recently abandoned veganism. One of the blogger’s main motivations for embracing animal based foods again was, apparently, her toddler daughter. More specifically, she expressed concern that a vegan diet was not providing adequate nutrition for her growing daughter.

Although this blogger’s story partly inspired my current blog post, I don’t feel comfortable commenting publicly on other people’s reasons or motivations for abandoning veganism. Especially people I have never met!

I prefer to keep my comments directed at my motivations for embracing veganism and raising vegan children.

Readers of this blog know that my husband and I, both long-term vegans, are raising vegan children. Mat and I have chosen veganism for our family for ethical reasons.

Robust is my middle name!

Robust is my middle name!

We also believe that children thrive on a healthy vegan diet. We have seen it with our own eyes.  But don’t just take my word for it…..

Are vegan diets healthy for kids? 

Personal stories and anecdotes can be interesting and inspirational. However, I encourage parents and parents-to-be to do their own research. Peer-reviewed studies are a good starting point.

In relation to vegan diets for children, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states:

‘…appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes’.

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An article in Pediatrics in Review, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, discusses vegan diets for children:

‘Multiple experts have concluded independently that vegan diets can be followed safely by infants and children without compromise of nutrition or growth and with some notable health benefits’.

In order to discuss an ‘appropriately planned’ vegan diet, and determine the possible ‘notable health benefits’, I contacted Ginny Messina, registered dietitian and ethical vegan.

I was thrilled when Ginny agreed to answer my questions!

You can read more about Ginny, and her educational and professional experience, on her blog the Vegan RD.

I started by asking Ginny if there was any validity to the claim that vegan diets are unsafe for children.

Ginny: No, there is no validity to this claim. We know that vegan diets can meet the nutrient needs of children, and see that children eating healthy vegan diets grow and develop well. Children have no requirements for compounds like cholesterol or preformed vitamin A.
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Ally: Are there any particular vitamins or minerals that parents of vegan children should particularly focus on? For example, ones that are challenging to obtain on a vegan diet? How can parents ensure that their children receive sufficient amounts?
Ginny: Since most people are used to getting calcium from dairy foods, parents of vegan children need to identify good sources of this nutrient. While leafy greens like collards and kale are good sources, these are foods that aren’t always popular with children.
Fortified plant milks and juices, calcium-set tofu, and almond butter are all good kid-friendly calcium sources, though.

Parents also need to make sure that children are getting plenty of zinc, by including whole grain bread and seeds in menus.

And while iron is found in a wide range of plant foods, it’s important for children to have a good source of vitamin C at as many meals and snacks as possible to enhance iron absorption.

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Ally: What is the best way to ensure sufficient intake of Omega 3’s? Is it best for parents to provide their children with whole food versions (eg. flaxseeds) or oils (flaxseed oil), or a combination? Should parents give their children a DHA supplement, or rely on conversion from ALA?

Ginny: It’s important for children to have a good source of the essential omega-3 fat ALA, which is found in walnuts, walnut oil, flaxseed, flax oil, or canola oil.
Kids need only a very tiny amount of these foods to meet needs–just a teaspoon or so–so it really doesn’t matter whether they get it from whole foods or from oil.
Whether or not children need a supplement of the other type of omega-3, DHA, is something we don’t know. To be on the safe side, it’s fine for kids to have a small supplement–around 100 mg per day.
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Ally: Are there any circumstances in which you would recommend vitamin and/or mineral supplements – in addition to B12 -for vegan children?
Ginny: Many vegan (and non-vegan) children need a supplement of vitamin D unless they are getting adequate sun exposure year round.
And, if children don’t have a little bit of iodized salt on their food, they many need a small iodine supplement.
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Ally: Are there any particular health benefits to raising children as vegan?
Ginny: Since vegans tend to have lower blood pressures, cholesterol levels and body weights, we can assume that children raised on vegan diets will reap some of those benefits.
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Ally: Thank you Ginny. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.
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Veganism is more than a diet
Of course, for ethical vegans, our food choices are a daily manifestation of a deeply held belief system. It is one way of reducing suffering, of taking a stance against violence and exploitation.
It is only natural that we seek to impart our vegan values to our precious children.
While teaching our children about compassion and respect for animals – and choosing not to serve animals on our dinner plates – we can rest assured that our children’s growing bodies are receiving adequate nourishment from plant foods.
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What is your favourite resource for information about vegan nutrition? Please share the link (or book title) in the comment section. 
I have a much-loved copy of Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, R.D  & Vesanto Melina, M.S, R.D . 
Ally

{A-Z:Veganism} I is for Inspiration

I is for Inspiration.

Who (or what) do you credit with inspiring you to embrace veganism?

I credit Dr. Neal Barnard with inspiring me to consider (and, ultimately, embrace) veganism.  Or, more accurately, a magazine interview with Neal Barnard.

It was 1995. December. The festive season.

I was 18, a university student, and one of those ‘vegetarians’ who ate seafood.

I was heading to beautiful Byron Bay with my mum, sister, and our friend Jasmine, for a two-week holiday.

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I had brought along a copy of (the now defunct) New Vegetarian magazine, to read in the car as we headed up the coast. It was the spring/summer issue, with KD Lang on the cover.

The cover also featured a smaller, black-and-white photo – a bloke called Dr. Neal Barnard, standing in front of the Sydney Opera House. I had never heard of him.

Somewhere north of Coffs Harbour, I began reading a 4-page interview with Dr. Barnard. As I read the opening paragraph –

‘Dr Barnard grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, near the Canadian border, in the middle of cattle country….’

– I had no idea that my belief system was about to be radically challenged.

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The early part of the interview discussed Dr. Barnard’s experiences in medical school. It focused on his experiences with patients suffering from debilitating heart disease, and breast cancer. He mentioned his mother’s battle with a ‘dangerously high cholesterol level’, and how 6 weeks of following a vegan diet led to the level plummeting. She was a convert after that!

Some of this information was not new to me. I knew that I did not require red meat to be healthy, and I had ditched it a couple of years earlier, inspired by a book called Old McDonald’s Factory Farm (You can read about that ‘realisation’ here).

Then, I came to the topic that would change my world view.

‘As a committed vegan, Dr. Barnard is scathing about the western preoccupation with milk and dairy products…’

I didn’t know any vegans at that stage of my life.

I adored cheese. I knew that rennet was made from the stomach lining of baby cows, so I chose to purchase a ‘vegetarian’ brand of cheese that didn’t contain rennet.  I thought baby cows were adorable, and the thought of harming one was abhorrent. Even during my time as a meat eater, I chose to abstain from eating veal. I didn’t understand carnism back then!

Dr. Barnard seemed to be saying that dairy products weren’t healthy. Really?

The interview jumped back to Barnard’s childhood in North Dakota, where he ate ‘pork chops or roast beef just about every day’. The impact of his ‘scathing’ opinion may have been lost. But, fortunately, there was more compelling ‘anti-dairy’ information to come.

Just to drive home the point, and ensure that I never regarded dairy products in the same way again, the entire last page of the interview detailed some of the health concerns of dairy products. Dr. Barnard stated: ‘I have ten main reasons why dairy food is not good for health…’ Ten! Wow. This was news to me. I re-read and reflected, trying to absorb the details.

All these years later, I still remember the initial impact that the information had on me.

By the time we reached Byron Bay, I had begun to seriously consider ditching dairy from my diet. Discovering that dairy products were not healthy allowed me to remove my blinkers. I could no longer disregard the cruelty of the dairy industry. If dairy products were not necessary for bone health…. in fact if they were actually injurious to human health, I needed to stop consuming them.

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I had some familiarity with the workings of a dairy farm. As a child, I spent Christmas holidays at a dairy farm owned by my aunty and uncle (in fact, we also visited the farm during our Byron Bay holiday. That’s me cuddling my friend Charlie, the fox terrier, above).

On the farm, over the years, I learnt that the calves were removed from their mothers shortly after birth. I knew that a truck came to ‘collect’ some of the calves, and that the mothers bellowed for days. I knew that the incessant bellowing saddened my mum too. No one wanted to tell me or my sister that the calves were going to their deaths.

I had been led to believe – as all of us are – that dairy farming was necessary. I accepted that humans required cows milk for bone health. 

Now Dr. Barnard was telling me otherwise.

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The trip to Byron Bay marked a significant time in my life. I was a teenager, at the dawn of my adulthood. I had finished my first year at university. I got my first (and only) tattoo that holiday!

Most significantly, the journey that began a couple of years earlier with the discovery of a book about factory farming, was now gathering momentum.

The interview also mentioned Neal Barnard’s recently released book Food For Life: How the New Four Food Groups can Save Your Life. I purchased a copy upon my return to Sydney. I read it cover to cover, enthusiastically consuming and absorbing the words. I still own the book. It sits on the same bookshelf as Diet for a New America, another truly inspirational book.

By late March 1996, I was 19 and a vegan.

I wholly embraced that part of my heart that loved and respected animals. I faced up to the fact that ocean dwelling creatures were sentient beings. I acquired the knowledge to live a healthy life, without consuming dairy products and eggs. I began reading about animal rights.

I had embraced a vegan ethic, not just a vegan diet.

This ethic shapes and influences all facets of my life today.

So, thank you Dr. Neal Barnard, from the bottom of my heart. I owe you.

I also extend my gratitude to the interviewer, Robert Fraser, for bringing the words and wisdom of Neal Barnard to my attention.

Who has inspired you on your vegan journey? I’d love to hear your stories!

Ally

In my A-Z of Veganism series, I discuss and explore a topic or issue related to veganism, and my experiences as a vegan – as I work my way through the alphabet!

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