Split pea-stuffed tomatoes

After a long hiatus from blogging, I’m feeling particularly inspired by the combination of cool fall weather and the mountains of summer’s fresh produce that are still piled on farmer’s market tables. I’ve been cooking up a bit of a storm. This weekend, I just couldn’t leave without a big box of field tomatoes, and while I planned to slice one up to go with some beet black bean burgers (recipe coming soon), I had four others that needed to be eaten sooner rather than later.

Some searching led me to this straightforward recipe for veggie stuffed tomatoes. Preferring something that packs a bit more protein and cuts some of the refined carbs, I modified it to include yellow split peas and oats (and skipped the parmesan cheese, although if I make it again for company, I’d add some as a treat and extra touch). Here’s what I came up with:

Veg Split Pea-Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup yellow split peas, dry
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil (or 3-4 fresh leaves, thinly sliced)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine (or veggie broth)
  • 2 tbsp large flake oats
  • 1 tbsp milled flax seed

Instructions

  1. Cook the split peas – rinse them and then boil them for about half an hour.
  2. In the meantime, cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Reserve the tops. Scoop out the innards and put them in a bowl, leaving about a half inch shell.
  3. Grate the carrot and onion, and crush the garlic. Saute the mixture along with the spices in the oil until tender. Add the white wine (or broth) and let simmer for a few minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the drained split peas once cooked. Stir in the oats and flax seed.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Fill the tomato shells with the split pea mixture and put the top back. (I accidentally threw my tops out, and they weren’t nice-looking anyways, so I topped mine with a slice of onion, which was a nice addition.)
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Simplify, substitute, make it your own!

I liked the yellow split peas to make for a nice, autumn-y colour combination, but green split peas, red lentils, or possibly green lentils could also work well. These would make for a nice side dish or an appetizer.

High protein snacks (from nothing but plants): A round-up

Including good sources of protein in snacks helps you feel full without eating too much while contributing to meeting your daily protein needs. When it comes to plant-based high protein snacks, aside from the obvious handful of plain nuts or seeds, here are a few ideas to mix it up– some from Eating Greener, and a couple from some other great plant-based food bloggers.

Lemon Dill Sunflower Seed Spread

Lemon dill sunflower seed spread with broccoliThis recipe from Becca’s Kitchen has a subtle dill flavour that works well as a veggie dip. She has other yummy serving ideas, so check out her post! The recipe is very simple; just remember to soak the seeds over night in advance.

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted chickpeasEating Greener‘s most popular post (and pin!) to date–one additional factor that led me to think people are on the hunt for high protein plant-based snacks! You can roast these on their own without oil and play with the spices as you like, or roast some nuts along with them.

Jam-Candied Walnuts

Jam-candied walnutsThese are a great way to add a hint of sweetness to your snack. All you need: a bit of your favourite jam and some walnuts (other nuts would likely be good, too). I used hibiscus jam that I brought back from travels in Senegal. See how it’s done over at Elle’s Vegan Food Diary.

Colourful Hummus

Colourful sweet potato and beet hummus variationsHummus is a vegetarian staple, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Here are recipes for a pink beet hummus and an orange sweet potato hummus. There are so many other flavourful and colourful variations–try adding roasted red pepper, or cooked edamame, or substituting black beans for chickpeas.

Do you have other ideas for plant-based, high protein snacks? I’d love to hear about them, and I’ll be sure to keep posting as I come across others!

PS: Just a reminder that Eating Greener is now on Facebook— come on over and get updates right on your newsfeed!

Spilling the beans: A cook book review

“Nobody’s perfect, but in the food world, beans are about as close as you can get.”

As perfect as beans may be, and as important as they may be in cuisines around the globe, they are conspicuously absent in standard North American cooking. I imagine this at least partly explains why omnivores are so easily baffled by the concept of a plant-based diet. As authors Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan point out in their cook book, Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking With Beans and Grains Every Dayone of the reasons for this is likely the fact that most people simply don’t know how to cook with legumes.

Spilling the Beans cover

My aunt excitedly gave me a copy of this book and has been cooking up a storm with beans since she came across it– and she’s not a vegetarian or vegan. While some of the recipes include meat, many are vegetarian or offer instructions on how to make the recipe without meat. Perhaps writing a cook book about legumes without using a label like vegetarian is a good inclusive strategy. The likelihood that everyone will suddenly commit to vegetarianism is probably slim, but the chances that people will cook with less meat if they learn about the alternatives seem more likely. Perhaps a great gift idea for omnivores who like to cook?

“Cream” of tomato and fennel soup (with white beans)

I know, I know… it’s spring, but as far as I’m concerned, a good soup never goes out of season. Plus, I came up with this neat concoction that I really want to share. Not only is this a hearty, meal-in-itself kind of soup, but I’ve found a way to make it “creamy” without adding cream (ie: without the animal product and unhealthy fats).

"Cream" of tomato and fennel soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • approximately 1/2-3/4 of a fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • approximately 1 3/4 cups white navy beans, measured cooked (or 1 can)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Instructions

  1. Sauté the onions, garlic, and fennel for about five to ten minutes, until soft.
  2. In a large pot, combine the vegetable stock and can of tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the onion and fennel mixture, the white beans, and the dried herbs. Simmer for about ten minutes.
  3. Purée the soup with your hand blender or in a food processor.

Simplify, Substitute, Make it Your Own!

You could likely go without the fennel and just make a “creamy” tomato soup if you wanted, but I haven’t tried it. You can play with the spices, too, as always. I’ll likely be experimenting with other types of “creamy” white bean soups, too, and will share some recipes when I do!

Sh*t omnivores say: “I’m practically vegetarian; I just eat chicken.”

Comic showing chicken being harvested froma tree.

Granted, the labelling of different types and levels of commitments to plant-based eating can be confusing–some vegetarians eat milk and/or eggs, a lot of vegetarians seem to eat seafood (a topic for a later post, perhaps),vegans eat none of the above–but if there’s one thing I think we can all agree, it’s that chicken is not a part of a vegetarian diet.

Why is this important? First, let me say that I commend those who reduce the amount of red meat in their diets for the health benefits that this purportedly brings (the details of which aren’t the focus of this post). However, to declare oneself a “vegetarian” when doing so completely ignores the negative health and environmental impacts of producing chicken for food. As I addressed in a recent post, chicken is the most consumed meat in Canada, and its production is far from harmless. Claims to be vegetarian while eating chicken undermines efforts to communicate to restaurants and the food industry that, for example, soups and other foods cooked with chicken stock are not, in fact, vegetarian. And the little things like this do matter– how can we reduce our dependence on animal products when we aren’t willing to make the simplest, most basic substitution of veggie stock for chicken stock?

Again, awesome if you’ve reduced the red meat in your diet, but please don’t add unnecessary confusion to an already confusing labelling situation. Say it as it is: “I don’t eat red meat,” or if you feel the clarification is necessary, “I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat red meat,” NOT “I’m practically/almost/ basically/etc. a vegetarian; I just eat chicken.”

*Image © www.vegancooking.com. Used with permission.

Welcoming picnic season on Earth Day: Simple dijon-chickpea sandwiches

Buying bread is a rare occasion for me because a) I’m not much of a sandwich fan, nor do I own a toaster, and b) I’m a bit of a bread snob, so I generally prefer to go without bread rather than surrender to my bank account’s limitations and buy affordable bread. Picnics, though, are a different story entirely: I feel like they require sandwiches. Egg salad used to be my favourite, but since I’ve been aiming for plant-based whenever possible, I wanted to come up with a new type of sandwich filler that would meet all the same standards as egg salad (including being a protein source, relatively simple, and delicious), but without any animal products. I’ve found it, and it couldn’t be simpler: mashed chickpeas with Dijon mustard. Since I was out on my first picnic of the year today (to celebrate Earth Day!), I was reminded to share this with you all.

Dijon chickpea sandwich with avocado and spinach on whole grain bread

Here’s what you’ll need to fill one sandwich:

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup chickpeas (measured cooked)
  • 1 generous teaspoon dijon mustard (give or take depending on your taste)

Instructions

Mash up the chickpeas (canned if you’re in a hurry, or soak and cook dried ones  if you have time) with a fork, then stir in the dijon mustard. Leafy greens (spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, whatever) give the sandwich pleasant crunch and moisture, and I added a couple slices of avocado. Divine!

Migrant labour in organic farming: A greener eating equity issue

As I’ve said before, while I think eating more plants and less animals is a worthwhile goal for environmental, social, and health reasons, it’s equally important to continue thinking about issues of inequality and privilege that persist outside of livestock production.

So, since I haven’t had time to write much this week, I thought I’d point out some alternative reading in the form of an interesting article on the issue of using migrant labour in Canada’s organic  agriculture industry.

“Propping up a localized food system with a broken, exploitative and imbalanced labour system is simply not sustainable, nor is it just.”

Check out the full article over at This Magazine, and while you’re at it, This publishes lots of interesting pieces on the politics of what we eat, so you might want to browse around– it’s a great publication!