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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Ask Aunt Nettie

We're delighted to share our Aunt Nettie with you. She's agreed to answer any questions you might ask about vegetarian food, its preparation, and even clean-up tips. But we have to prepare you. She just might want to come right over to your house and help you fix dinner.

To send any questions to Ask Aunt Nettie, .

Editor's Note: Instead of Aunt Nettie answering individual questions, she has decided to address a number of requests from people who want to save money on the food budget and still enjoy healthy dining. This is one of a series of money-saving tips and recipes designed to stretch those slim dollars.

As an example of Aunt Nettie's impressive, penny-pinching ability to save, she still has some depression glass dishes and bowls in the cupboard--they're the real thing and she still treasures them.

In future issues of Vegetarians in Paradise, Aunt Nettie and her niece Zel will offer money-saving recipes for the most extreme skinflints along with suggestions to help bargain-hunter foodies seek out cheap fare that still brings good cheer to the table.

Red Lentil Vegetable Stew
Red Lentil Vegetable Stew

Eleventh in a series of articles


Stretchin' them dollars kin git purty rough when tough times goes on fer more 'n a few months, but I done it fer a heap o' years so I knows it kin be done. Important thing is takin' good care o' yer health. Everthing else like goin' ta the movies or buyin' a new dress kin go by the wayside--but not yer health.

Now, child, you put yer health on the top o' the list an start by cookin' up a heap o' goodness in a pot o' stew that's straight from my ole friend, Mother Nature 'cause she grows the best fixin's you ever et.

I knows you'll be happy ta hear the fixin's fer this stew is honest ta goodness dirt cheap--red lentils, carrots, onions, parsnips, yams, beet greens, zucchini, an green pepper. Nice thing is this stew kin feed a hungry brood o' youngun's on practically nothin'! That's the way ta stretch them dollars an' take good care o' yerself an' yer family!

I done set myself in the kitchen t'other day an' set my mind to cookin' up one helluva good stew that's thickened up with red lentils an' filled with more fresh vegetables than you kin fit inter a gunny sack.

Best part is it's so good fer ya! This l'il ole stew is made with them red lentils that's mighty high in that good natural fiber. 'Nother thing is it's mighty low in fat, an' ya know ya don't need more o' that-- an' dern if it don't taste good 'nuff ta put a smile on yer face!

Now some of the fixin's in this stew is gonna surprise y'all 'cause it don't have no fat added at all--no sir--not even a spoonful o' cookin' oil. Now kin you imagine that? An' do y'all know what that means?

Why, darlin', it means you won't be needin' to worry 'bout steppin' on the scale in the mornin', 'cause this stew jes might help y'all git rid of' a few pounds y'all been hankerin' ta send to yer Uncle Harry that's skinny as a rail. 'Nother nice thing 'bout this stew is it's good fer the digestion in ever' way an' helps ta keep ya reg'lar, if ya git my meanin'.

Fergot ta mention I tucked jes a smidge o' spice in the pot ta keep yer bones warm durin' this cold spell, so it's a-gonna pack a l'il giddyap an' yee-haw by the time yer puttin' that last spoonful inter yer mouth.

This here stew don't hardly take any time a'tall ta cook up. But I'm a-gonna admit it do take a few minutes fer cuttin' up all them veggies. An' child, when yer ready ta put on the feedbag an' git ta tastin' this kettle o' goodness, I know in my ole bones that you'll have a mighty deeeelicious meal that don't cost an arm an' a leg.

Now, git yer sweet hide ta the market fer them veggies! An' buy some extra fer that great big salad that's gonna git yer dinner off to a good start. Serve up some whole grain bread fer dunkin' in yer stew an yer all set.


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
    2 medium parsnips, thinly sliced
    1 green bell pepper, chopped
    1 zucchini, chopped
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1/4 of a small head cabbage, chopped
    1 bunch beet tops, Swiss chard, or spinach, chopped
    1 large yam, cut into bite size chunks
    1 1/2 cups red lentils
    1/2 to 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs discarded
    10 cups water
    1 stick cinnamon
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

    1 6-ounce can tomato paste
    1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    Salt and pepper

  1. Combine the carrots, parsnips, bell pepper, zucchini, onion, cabbage, beet tops, yam, lentils, jalapeno, water, cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and poultry seasoning in an 8 to 10 quart stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the stew for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to soften.
  2. Add the tomato paste and chipotle powder and cook about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Finish the stew by adding the garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with gigabytes of information about food and cooking. And she's just itchin' to share her learnin' with city folk who live in mortal fear of the stovetop.

Aunt Nettie grew up on the farm. She did not eat out of a can or reach into the freezer. There was no microwave to pop her food into. Everything she made was from scratch. All the food she ate was natural, without pesticides. It was grown right there on the family farm, and she had to cook to survive. At eighty-three years young she still leaps and bounds around the kitchen and can shake, rattle, and roll those pots and pans with the best of them.

Nowadays, Aunt Nettie just shakes her head and complains, "Nobody cooks anymore. They have no idea about puttin' a meal together." She's on a mission. She wants to help those younguns eat better so they can grow up healthy like her own eight kids.

Click here for past Ask Aunt Nettie Columns

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