July 24, 2013 Updated: July 25, 2013 at 9:22 am
I'd never heard of a "hippie bowl" until I attended a vegan cooking class by JL Fields at the VegFest Colorado Health & Environmental Fair in Denver. And while I wouldn't call myself a hippie or a vegan, I would say that I'm now a fan of this yummy, protein-filled dish.
Fields and Virginia Messina, who co-authored "Vegan for Her: The Woman's Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet," were speakers at the two-day event, which covered everything you'd ever want to know about following a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Field is the cook behind the recipes for the book, and Messina - a Washington state-based dietician, vegan and author of eight other books - covered the nutritional advantages of vegan diets for the book.
The hippie bowl is a great dish for vegans.
"They are called hippie bowls because back in the old days, people assumed only hippies were vegan and that they usually only ate beans, greens and grains," Fields said. "For me, a hippie bowl begins with a grain, and then I add a bean and a favorite cooked or raw green, like arugula. I like to make nut sauce in my Vitamix and drizzle it over the mixture. When I do that, I get four of the five vegan foods."
Those five "fabulous" food groups, she said, are veggies, fruits, legumes, grains and nuts.
During their presentation, they were asked by several in the class about getting adequate protein from a vegan diet. Messina quickly responded.
"Eat plenty of legumes," she said. "They are much more than beans. And this is where you will get your essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Try to work three servings of legumes into your diet daily."
It could sound daunting (and a little uncomfortable) to eat beans three times a day. But as Messina pointed out, legumes include peanuts (think peanut butter) and soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, soymilk, veggie meats, textured vegetable protein, soy curls and soy yogurt. In addition to dried beans, there are also dried peas and lentils.
Fields suggested that if the time it takes to cook dried beans is a turnoff, then use the pressure cooker.
"I'm cuckoo about pressure cookers," she said. "They are a vegan's best friend. They are a game-changer for cooking beans. Instead of taking hours to cook dried beans, you can get the job done in 15 to 20 minutes in the pressure cooker."
And it saves money. A 16-ounce package of dry beans costs about $3 and makes roughly 7+ cups of cooked beans. So 1+ cups of cooked dry beans cost about 64 cents compared with closer to $2 or more for canned organic beans.
When asked if something is missing from a plant-based diet, Messina gave an unexpected answer.
"If you feel that something is lacking in your vegan menus and you can't quite put your finger on it, it's possible that you are missing umami," she said.
Umami adds the savory taste of the amino acid glutamate. It's usually in animal products such as cheese and fish. It's in plant foods, too, and easy to add to vegan diets.
Messina suggested other sources of glutamate such as ripe and sun-dried tomatoes, ketchup, wine, tamari (soy sauce), miso (fermented soybean paste), Marmite (thick, yeast-based spread), nutritional yeast, dried mushrooms, olives, balsamic vinegar and sauerkraut.
During the cooking demonstration, Fields told us she is a lazy cook and doesn't like to spend a lot of time fussing with preparation. She further emphasized her so-called laziness by having someone from the audience put on her apron and do the cooking for her. But this was a great way for Fields to prove just how easy it is to prepare her six-ingredient Creamy Kale Miso Soup, another outstanding dish for vegans.
I must confess I've tried a lot of kale dishes without feeling a lot of love for them. This recipe was an exception, and I will be making it a regular on my menus.
"Vegan for Her" is available at Nourish Organic Juice, 303 E. Pikes Peak Ave., and local bookstores for $16.99. Visit theveganrd.com and jlgoes vegan.com.
Contact Teresa J. Farney at 636-0271
Creamy Kale Miso Soup
Yield: 8 servings
32 ounces (4 cups) low-sodium
1 cup yellow onion, diced coarsely
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped in big chunks
1 block (14 ounces) soft tofu (not silken), pressed and drained
4 cups kale, loosely packed
1/4 cup yellow miso
A few pieces of raw kale, for garnish
Bring vegetable stock, onion and garlic to a boil in a large saucepan.
Cube the pressed tofu, add it to the saucepan and bring back to a boil.
Add kale (torn into large pieces), stir, cover and simmer on low for 5 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat and stir in miso — it’s OK if it doesn’t all dissolve because you soon will be blending it.
Transfer soup from the saucepan to a high-speed blender (I used a Vitamix), cover tightly and blend for 30-60 seconds, 3 cups at a time.
Spoon into a bowl and top with a few pieces of raw kale as garnish.
Source: JL Fields @ JLgoesVegan.com