Beginning

Starting is not hard.  The challenge comes with the stigma that’s attached to an animal-free diet.  Our culture has so much cheap meat–much more than ever in our history (see Michael Pollan’s writings on government subsidies and factory farming)–that it was made our NORMAL.  Our industries and government led us to believe that to eat meat was to live the good life.

So first, embark on this by rejecting what you’ve been told is normal.  When I was a kid, meat was always the centerpiece.  When I would say, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”  She’d reply, “Pork chops” or “hamburgers” or “chicken.”  The vegetables were the decorative sides–sometimes the vehicle that made the dry, chewy meat more palatable (sorry, Mom).

So, let’s get started by going shopping.  Some of the stuff vegans eat can be really intimidating.  I’m still learning, so I’ll just share my path.  I waded in with “unscary” stuff first.  Here’s the beginner list:

Pantry

Whole wheat pasta, Brown rice, Whole wheat flour (for the record, I never have luck with generic/store-brand flours), White unbleached flour, Beans (to get started, just get the canned kind – black, cannellini, garbanzo/chickpeas), Canned diced tomatoes, Canned artichoke hearts, Canned beets, Vegetable broth (try for good, organic stuff), Pizza sauce, Olive oil, Canola oil, Roasted red peppers, Canned pumpkin, Raisins, Dried cranberries, Real maple syrup, Agave sweetener(natural foods), Brown sugar, White sugar, Steel cut oats (I like McCann’s), Old-fashioned oats, Almond Milk (kept in pantry until opened), Balsamic vinegar, Lots of spices, Parchment paper (baking section or foil/plastic wrap section), cornmeal

Refrigerator stuff

Baking yeast, ground flaxseed (natural foods), Earth Balance margarine (either natural foods or near butter/margarines), soy yogurt, soy milk (regular and fun-to-drink chocolate!), leafy greens (kale, swiss chard, definitely spinach), red or yellow or orange peppers, savoy cabbage, whole wheat tortillas, basically, and basically any vegetable in season, sweet onions, garlic, apples, oranges, any other fruit you love, salad greens, avocado, shitake mushrooms

Freezer Stuff

Frozen fruit (blueberries- I love the wild blueberries best, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, whatever!), frozen corn, peas

Other stuff

Sweet potatoes, Yukon golds

Wanna cook?  Here’s a great one to get started…

Whole wheat pizza (adapted from a great bread book:  Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/ )

3 cups very warm water

1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast

3 Tbsp. honey or agave

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup olive oil

6 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds

If you have a mixer with a dough hook, get it out.  Mix water and yeast, with mixer running add each ingredient one at a time.  When you get to the flour, add one cup at a time.  Only mix it until it’s well mixed.  You can certainly mix by hand with a very sturdy wooden spoon. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.  Prepare three no-rim baking sheets: line each with parchment, sprinkle with cornmeal.  Divide dough into three pieces.  It will be very sticky, so use a knife to cut, wet your hands and pull out each piece. With your hands or a small roller, spread the dough to the desired thickness.  Allow to rest and rise a bit for another 45 minutes.  Heat oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone in the oven.  If you don’t have a stone, you can bake your pizza right on the baking sheets.  I like the stone because of the way it makes the crust crispy on the bottom.

The fun part is to top these.  I love roasting sliced onions, sauteeing spinach with garlic and olive oil, and joining them with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and shitake mushrooms.  I don’t miss the cheese AT ALL!  My daughter just loves sliced, fresh red peppers, and my vegetarian daughter likes sauce and cheese.  My husband still enjoys his turkey pepperoni, but I don’t often have it in the house.  He loves feta, black olives, spinach, and mushrooms. I drizzle a little olive oil on the top of all of them.

If using a stone, slide the parchment and pizza onto it; otherwise, put the whole baking sheet in.

Bake for 12 minutes and then keep your eye on it.  We all like our pizza with different “doneness.”

Makes 3 big, yummy pizzas.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Denise on January 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    This is amazing information for anyone who wants to make really positive changes! Two things I will add from my experience is to find a primary care doctor who “gets you” and understands the value of eating a vegan diet. I changed doctors and mine insisted on a variety of blood tests to ensure I was getting sufficient nutrients. One thing that came back consistent low was my iodine level, so as a “fix” he suggested adding A BIT of iodized salt. I don’t use any canned vegetables which might provide a sufficient amount of iodized salt and had stayed away from all but tiny amounts of sea salt because I thought it was better, but with this tiny adjustment my last levels were normal. He also suggested adding a vitamin D supplement since we rarely see the sun in Cleveland, and again, this has been sufficient. Keep it up Lori…this is great!

    Reply

  2. Thanks, Denise! This is really good info. I’m hoping that this becomes a community of shared experiences that fully informs in ways that one person could never do. So true about the doctor and YES to Vitamin D!!!

    Reply

  3. […] – Whole Wheat Pizza (see recipe: https://healthyisnormal.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/beginning/) and a giant salad (that’s just what we do on […]

    Reply

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