December 2008

Spice It Up

Countries such as India are largely vegetarian due to their religious beliefs. Yet India has one of the most exquisite and delicious range of foods in the world. From mild and creamy kormas to knock-your-socks-off madras, their curries offer a wide variety of meal options to suit any palate. The style of cooking varies from region to region, with some cultures preferring fried food with a high oil or butter content while others lean towards more tomato based recipes.

While lamb and chicken dishes may have been popularized in Indian restaurants and frozen meals around the world, the majority of traditional dishes in India do not contain any meat, providing an abundance of interesting recipes for vegetarians.

Vegetarianism Helps the Environment

Are you tired of friends and family members harassing you about your vegetarian diet? Do you hate the superiority of carnivores? I have good news for you: there is another reason, in addition to ethical concerns, to adopt a vegetarian diet. It is good for the environment. According to a 2006 report by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), livestock accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Although livestock only account for nine percent of carbon dioxide emissions, it accounts for 37 percent of methane, which has a warming potential 23 times greater than carbon. Livestock also account for 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions (the majority comes from manure), and 64 percent of ammonia emissions, which contribute to acid rain. Every year, livestock produce over 100 million tons of methane, and 85 percent of methane is produced in the digestive tract of livestock. Methane concentrations since pre-industrial times have more than doubled.

Tofu stroganoff recipe from Bastyr University

My love affair with tofu stroganoff began when I worked at The Seattle Times and frequently went to Whole Foods for lunch. Their hot-foods area -- a buffet, essentially -- was a mixed bag, as some dishes were insufficiently seasoned, and it was nearly always cheaper simply to buy groceries and prepare something back at the office. One dish in the buffet, however, consistently won my heart: the tofu stroganoff. It was hearty (no meat, but real sour cream!) and flavorful (thanks to a generous quantity of mushrooms) and always a welcome sight. Luckily, it wasn't featured too often, which made it both a special treat and something I wasn't able to indulge in very often. I haven't tracked down Whole Foods' recipe, and it may not exist online, but when I Googled "tofu stroganoff," I found a promising, similar-looking recipe from Bastyr University, the famed naturopathic school in Kenmore, Wash., that's well known for its excellent vegetarian cafeteria. I've made this dish several times at home, for myself, guests, housemates, and dinner parties, and it never fails to impress.

A Delectable Vegetarian Sandwich

Let's face it, the sandwich world is dominated by meat. Everything from hamburgers to ham and cheese fill the space reserved for ideal sandwich standards. This doesn't necessarily need to be. Here is the recipe for an out-of-this-world vegetarian sandwich that's quick and easy to make. Creamy Garden Sandwich
  • Artisan bread
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Red bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Dill
This one's an easy, refreshing update on the classic cucumber sandwich. Start with two slices of your favorite fresh, rustic bread, such as batard. The soft, grainy inside and crusty outside will add a lot of flavor and texture to your sandwich that pre-sliced, mass-produced breads just won't. Now, let's get to building our spread. The traditional spread for cucumbers sandwiches is cream cheese with a liberal dash of dill. The problem with this is that cream cheese on its own is just too heavy, even when it's whipped. By adding a bit of sour cream to the mix, you can smooth out and lighten your spread without compromising the overall creaminess.