Better Health With Fewer Costs: Nutrition, Health, and Outlook - More Vegetables For Happier Living
As a child, I knew only a few vegetables: Corn, green beans, navy beans, peas, onions, tomatoes (yes, yes - it's really a fruit), Lima beans that were too starchy for me to be able to swallow, and canned rope masquerading as spinach that made me gag.
I knew only two root vegetables: 1) potatoes and 2) sweet potatoes that made me gag because of the abundance of sugar syrup on them.
When I was 6 or 7 years old, I discovered broccoli in the hospital. It was over- cooked, olive drab, and looked like trees, so I gathered I was being punished or tricked. It was so rubbery that I could not cut it. The next morning, a nurse's aid served me cooked cereal, except it was uncooked, straight out of the box and hard as a dish of buckshot. There was not even any milk to put on top. I knew this had to be a trick, but it had nothing to do with vegetables. I still hoped they fired her at the time. Luckily, I never saw her again - or over-cooked trees or dishes of rocks served as food.
The only other time I was in the hospital as a child, I was in for two days observation, in which they forgot to feed me altogether. This could have been a good opportunity in which to try new vegetables. However, I was not afforded the opportunity. being placed into a double room that was being used for storage, the second bed piled high with unused equipment.
The staff forgot about me after the first half day. That first day, I received a couple of family visitors, staff examined me, they later removed the IV line, then simply sat the bedpan on the other bed, and then no one ever came back for 30 hours. My father walked into the room after work that day with an invoice in his hand and asked me how the food was. I said, "What food?" it turns out that the hospital invoice contained a large figure for food service that I did not receive. There were also charges for medication that I was never given. Lots of charges, little service, no vegetables.
This all may be the source of my irritation with bad restaurant service today.
Regardless of odd food experiences as a youth, I began trying new foods in college, which included dozens of vegetables. After I began an exercise program, I also found that I felt better when reducing my intake of meat a few days every week. Thus, I have collected many recipes, some of them vegetarian and which I will share with you here.
Imported from Tunsia
North African Grilled Vegetable Salad
This dish can be found in many locations within Northern Africa, including Egypt and Tunisia. You can use an outdoor or indoor grill for this salad, or even a boiler.
- 3 large tomatoes, any type
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 6 cloves garlic
- Juice of one large lemon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Extra Virgin olive oil (read intro)
- Grill whole tomatoes, bell pepper, and unpeeled garlic until charred on both sides.
- Place charred vegetables in a clean paper bag and close it, permitting vegetables to sweat inside for 15 minutes to loosen the skins.
- Remove vegetables from the paper bag and remove the skins, membrane, and seeds from the peppers, and the skins from the tomatoes and garlic.
- Into a ceramic or pottery bowl, dice the tomatoes with their juice.
- Dice bell peppers and mince garlic into the bowl.
- Add lemon juice and toss vegetables, then season with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle EVOO over the top of the vegetables and serve.
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North African Beans and Almonds
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 Pound fresh green beans (canned will not be good)
- 4 Cups salted water
- 3 Tbsp olive or peanut oil
- 1 Clove garlic, mashed
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 Tbsp slivered almonds
- Wash and trim green beans, then simmer in salted water until crisp-tender - 30 minutes. Drain these and place them into a serving dish.
- Place all remaining ingredients except the nuts into a cooking pot and place on top of medium heat, cooking for just two minutes while stirring.
- Add and almonds and stir, then pour this oil-based dressing over the green beans and toss and serve.
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Kosheri - Lentils and Tomatoes With Rice
- 2 Cups uncooked rice – white, brown, or basmati
- 1 Pound lentils
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 Cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2, 16oz cans tomato sauce (32 oz total)
- 1/2 C water
- 1/4 C white vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Onion, sliced thin.
- Cook the rice per package directions and set aside and keep warm.
- Rinse lentils and place in a pot, cover with water, and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer on low until nearly all water is absorbed and lentils are soft. Add water as needed.
- SAUCE: Saute garlic until gold color, then add all of the tomato sauce. Simmer 15 minutes and add water and vinegar.
- Bring to the boil and then remove from heat immediately.
- Add salt and pepper,
- Saute onion slices until crispy brown.
- In a serving dish, arrange a layer of lentils, a layer of rice, then a layer of onions, then sauce on top. You can also put the onions on top of the sauce, instead.
Mujaddara- Seasoned Rice & Lentils
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