Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vegan, Vegetarian, 5% or less

You may have noticed recently that my blog posts have been featuring less and less meat or dairy products. After reading The China Study last year, I have been even more picky about what animal proteins I eat and subsequently limiting those to cheese and meat I get locally and the occasional fish at restaurants if no meat-free option is available. Is this going to lead me to eternal youth and perfect health? No, probably not, but the more I read about meat (especially low grade, fast-food type meat), the less I can stomach it. The only meat I've eaten recently is from Windy Hill Farm because I know where it came from (Dana and Charles Burrage, the best farmers around!) or from locally-sourced restaurants like Harvest Moon and Halycon.

To that end, I have gone back through all my recipes posted on the blog and added the following distinctions to each:
  • V = Vegan. This recipe has absolutely no animal protein.
  • v = Vegetarian. This recipe has no meat but may have dairy products or eggs.
  • <5% = 5% or less animal protein. According to some studies cited in The China Study, a diet containing 5% or less animal protein can significantly improve your overall health, and decrease your likelihood of getting cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other serious afflictions.
  • LPO = Local Protein Option. This recipe has protein that can be bought from North Carolina farmers that use minimal hormones, antibiotics, processing and additives. LPO's in NC include eggs, cheese, milk, cream, butter, pork, chicken, beef, lamb, goose, duck, ostrich and emu.
These distinctions are, of course, not mutually exclusive; all recipes indicated as vegan are also vegetarian, have less than 5% animal protein and no LPOs; vegetarian recipes vary in the amount of animal protein used; and <5% dishes may have some meat (and thus aren't vegetarian) but still relatively good for you.

I hope these distinctions are helpful for those of us trying to limit or eliminate animal protein in our diets as one way to lose weight or prevent diseases.

Asparagus is here!

Just a short post this week because I want to share this recipe while the asparagus is still in the markets. Put a Fork In It has had some beautiful asparagus the last two weekends but it goes FAST. I got to the market at 9:05am on Saturday and just barely got some. The other ingredients you can also get locally - the olive oil from Ohh-lio Express or both the oil and the balsamic vinegar from The House of Olives and the nuts from Chosen Roasters.

Fancy Asparagus (V)
(1 serving each)
6 asparagus stalks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar (I used the Blackberry Ginger from House of Olives)
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on a cookie sheet.
  2. Chop off the bottom 1-1.5 inches of the asparagus stalks. Lay stalks on the olive oil.
  3. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the stalks and finish with the almonds.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until asparagus reaches your desired tenderness.
I made 3 servings and saved some for later.
 That's all it is - easy to do but delicious!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Onions and Olive Oil

Have you ever had three onions in your fridge and nothing else? For me, that's now what my dad calls a high class problem because I found two things this week that may change my life.

1. The House of Olives in Huntersville. This is a relatively new business in the Birkdale shopping center that sells infused olive oils, balsamic vinegars and is the answer to any boring dinner. You might think balsamic vinegar is just for salads but it isn't. House of Olives has fruit-flavored varieties as well as sun dried tomato Parmesan garlic (all one flavor!), chive and dark chocolate. You can taste every type before purchasing and most can be paired with any other. The liquids themselves are made from European olives and some from California but the business itself is local.

2. An easy caramelized onion recipe. I found this recipe after a simple search while trying to spice up some beans and rice. The onions are from Put A Fork In It (who also had some beautiful asparagus on Saturday) at the Atherton Market and the olive oil and vinegar were from House of Olives. The combination may seem a little strange but the sweetness of the vinegar and the kick of the fresh onions was stellar.

Carmelized Onions (V)
2 onions, sliced long-ways
2-3 T olive oil
1-2 T Blackberry Ginger Vinegar
1-2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
  1. Heat oil in large skillet. When hot, add onions and coat thoroughly.
  2. Cook for 10 minutes then sprinkle salt, sugar then vinegar.
  3. Continue to stir onions, recoating every 5 minutes for 45 minutes to an hour.
This would be delicious for fajitas, sausage, or even pasta.