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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 more 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.

Italian Bread Salad

Sixteenth in a series of articles


Well, darlin's, I ain't no Italian, but fer jes one afternoon, I done turned Italian when I made this here salad. After tastin' it, I nearly went a-hootnannyin' 'round the kitchen. My! It tasted good!

The other day a young'un done give me a recipe fer Italian Bread Salad an' said it was her favrite. Well, I tell y'all I looked at the recipe an jes shook my head. All's it was is a heap o' white bread, some tomaters 'n onions, an a whole lot o' olive oil. Now, that don't make a bowl o' healthy fixin's!

So, I'll bet y'all knows what yer ole Aunt Nettie done with that recipe. Then I set right ta work makin' my own Italian Bread Salad that's got some goodness ta stick ta the ribs. I done started with two whole-grain pita breads that's got some good fiber ta start with. Then along with them tomaters, I made sure this salad would do more 'n' jes taste good--it would keep ya fired with fuel till the next feedin' time. My secret is addin' some beans, 'long with a heap of veggies ta make the salad good eatin' an' mighty purty ta git yer appetite goin'.

Now, the really speshul thing 'bout this salad is there's no olive oil or any other kinda oil, fer that matter. So, you kin see right from the start that this here salad does away with at least 120 calories fer every tablespoon o' oil you mighta added.

Second things is, it's got plenty o' fiber that helps ya git rid o' a few calories. Nother' thing 'bout that fiber is if y'all eats plenty of it, why you won't be needin' any o' that metamusil or laxatives that so many folks buy ta git them goin' regaler. Jes eat the fiber, darlin' an' you'll be regaler as a l'il puppy. 'Nuff o' that talk!

Great thing 'bout this salad is it's purfect fer summer an' its sooooo easy!

I surely hope you likes it too!

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Italian Bread Salad


Yield: about 4 to 5 servings

    2 whole wheat pita breads about 6 to 7 inches in diameter

    1 15-ounce can cannellini or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
    2 large tomatoes, or about 1 1/4 pounds, chopped
    1 small sweet onion, cut into thin half moons
    1 green bell pepper, chopped
    2 Japanese or Persian cucumbers, chopped
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    2 cloves garlic, finely minced
    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon salt

    1/4 bunch parsley
    2 orange slices

  1. Tear the pita bread coarsely into bite-size chunks and place them into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, toss well, and transfer the salad to an attractive serving bowl.
  3. Garnish with the parsley and orange slices at the edge of the bowl and serve.
If you prepare the salad a day ahead, leave out the bread to prevent it from becoming soggy. Add the bread 30 to 60 minutes before serving so it marinates.

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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