Latino Vegetarian Recipes Part II

Cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force.

After reading multiple stories this week, including this one in the New York Times, about radiation-tainted beef in Japan’s markets, I thought would update my post about meatless Latino dishes.

Like many Puerto Ricans and Cubans in Miami, I grew up eating all kinds of meat from Cuban pork sandwiches to bacalao — a delicious Puerto Rican cod fish. I love especially seafood. But seeing how polluted our oceans and land have become, I now limit my meat consumption to the occasional meal at a restaurant or a friend’s home. At my home, where my family eats almost all the time, I cook only vegetarian.

There are benefits to a vegetarian diet not only in health — we are definitely eating our fair share of vegetables and grains! — but also reducing our carbon footprint.

Simply cutting back on meat has a monumental (positive) effect on our environment, in terms of reducing our fuel consumption to feed and raise animals for food, and cutting back on poisonous gases emitted by factory farms that make us sick and contribute to global warming. And while I am by no means a purist in that I can’t say that I never eat meat, I know that if every single American ate meat only a couple times a week or occasionally, it would make a real difference in preserving our environment.

I thought I would use this opportunity to share with you some of my favorite regular veggie meals at home — as well as get ideas from you:

Vegetarian Paella
Half cup of Sofrito Sauce (see recipe below)
1packet of favorite seasoning. (I use Sazón Goya con culantro y achiote.)
Two cups of rice
1 can of white kidney or cannellini beans (drained)
1 can of garbanzos (drained)
2 fake Italian sausages (see right), diced
1 can of hearts of palm (save water and dice)
Favorite veggies, chopped (I tend to cook with mushrooms or zucchini)
1 lemon, juiced
salt to taste

Sofrito Sauce
2 onions
2 green peppers (use poblano if you want spicy)
8 garlic cloves
2 cups of cilantro

Use half of cup of sofrito for paella and freeze the rest for future meals. In a pot with a cup of water from the hearts of palm and an additional cup of water, add sofrito, sazón, all beans, “sausage”, hearts of palm, vegetables, lemon and salt. Stir and/or add water until completely cooked. I taste for salt and to make sure that rice is completely cooked. Rice cooker okay, too.  

Serve paella with additional lemon wedges. For spice, eat with red hot sauce.  

Pasta with Sofrito Sauce
1 cup of sofrito
1 cup of tomato sauce
1 cup of tomato paste (with water)
1 cup of spaghetti sauce
Fake soy beef (I use MorningStar Meal Starters. It is in the frozen food section.)
Favorite veggies, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

I serve with any pasta and top off sauce with parmesan cheese, or any cheese of choice. This sauce makes good lasagna filling, too. Again, if you end up with extra or make extra, you can freeze for future use.

Enjoy! What are some of your favorite veggie recipes?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Susan Klebold, the mother of Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold, wrote a personal essay for the November issue of Oprah magazine. The article is not online, but the TODAY Show did a segment on it, including an interview with Columbine author Dave Cullen.

If you subscribe to a community-supported agriculture (CSA) weekly produce delivery, I am sure you come across fruits and vegetables you have no idea what to do with. Some of those fruits for my family are cantaloupes and melons. We love them, but they are so big and there are only four of us. So I was grateful for this tip I spotted in Parents magazine: Scope them out with an ice cream scooper and serve them on cones like sorbet. They are cute, tasty and the kids love them!

In somewhat related (veggie) news: “A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home,” according to the New Scientist.  

The Associated Press wrote about the quiet movement among preschools and daycare centers to offer healthier meals and snacks.

Also in AP: Swine flu has killed 76 U.S. children, including 19 last week alone, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The regular flu kills between 46 and 88 children a year, according to the CDC.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would consider violence against gay people a hate crime, according to the Los Angeles Times.

MSN ran an article on five $50,000-a-year careers that require only an Associate’s degree. They were webmaster, industrial engineering technician, occupational therapist assistant, dental hygienist and claims adjuster.

Another couple has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for praying for their toddler rather than taking him to the hospital for bacterial pneumonia, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Health Report: Allergy Alert

This health story, from all places Vogue magazine, was eye-opening. It is not in our imaginations that more and more adults and children have allergies.

Due to global warming, more people are becoming allergy-prone, according to Vogue. Global warming is causing longer springs, which means more pollen in the air. The rising levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, has caused plants to grow bigger and produce even more pollen. From Vogue:

Surprisingly, doctors now say you may need to watch what you eat, too. “We’ve recently realized that the protein in some fruits and vegetables is similar to that in certain types of pollen, so it exacerbates your symptoms, causing itching, tingling, or swelling in your mouth, tongue, and throat,” says (Dr. Clifford) Bassett. This cross-reaction affects about one-third of people with seasonal allergies, who may have to avoid foods such as peaches, pears, apples, bananas, cucumbers, and zucchinis.

To combat the added pollen in the air, the magazine dispensed these tips:

• Keep pollen out of your home (especially your bedroom) by closing the windows, taking off your shoes at the door, and changing clothes and washing your hair after a day outside.

• Keep an eye on the pollen count, and try to spend more time indoors when it’s high. The local newspaper usually has pollen information on the weather page, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s Web site has periodic tallies from pollen-counting stations around the country;

• Wear sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting on your eyelids and lashes and irritating your eyes.

• Take a mid-allergy-season vacation by the ocean, where pollen counts are typically lower.

Then we have that larger battle to wage: global warming.