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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 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 an/or get her cooking advice, .

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.


Fifty-third in a series of articles


Howdy there darlins',

Well, now, I hope y'all done said goodbye ta 2013 with a mighty fine gatherin' of friends an' kinfolk an' celebratin' with a joyful hootnanny an' some deeelicious fixin's.

If'n yer like most folks, Thanksgivin' all the way ta New Year's was a heap o' parties ta warm the spirits an' tables full o' sugar plums an' all things nice an' full o' spice--an', yes-- a heap o' them naughty l'il ole calories.

I knows, 'cause I done a tad o' that sweet, mouth-waterin' nibblin' myself--an' it was mighty nice an' full o' good memories--an' it left me with a couple a extra pounds.

But now, it's 2014 and time ta put away them purty decorations an' them speshul holiday recipes fer another year. An' it's time ta put on yer thinkin' cap and plan some resolutions that will git them extra pounds ta git up an' go away.

Long time ago I come upon a mighty fine idea ta fill the belly with plenty o' good fixin's while sayin' goodbye ta the fat an' calories holiday dishes are blesst with. So, here 'tis--New Year's Resolution Soup--two different deeelicious bowls o' healthy fixin's with plenty of goodness fer yer eatin' pleasure. Y'all git right inter the kitchen now an' start a- choppin' an' mixin' 'cause it's almost time fer dinner!

I surely do hope 2014 will be a mighty fine year fer ever'one an' that y'all git most o' yer dreams fulfilled.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Before the holidays were over, you resolved to make a fresh start and eat healthier in the new year. You vowed to walk away from the sugary, fat laden desserts and rich foods that added a worrisome quantity of calories and little nutrition. But those had become such a comfortable habit, you were in a quandary about what foods you could actually turn to for truly healthy, wholesome eating. Here's the resolution solution--naturally high fiber foods with no added fats. Foods in this category allow you take off some of the unwanted pounds gradually and steadily. And, you won't have to give up good flavors.

The legumes, whole grains, and vegetables in this charismatic soup combine to provide a great-tasting, hearty meal that becomes a delicious main dish low in calories yet high in nutrition. Serve the soup with a fresh tossed salad and whole-grain bread topped with a tofu or bean spread found in the Recipe Index under Dips and Spreads. Any leftover soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and will also freeze well.

New Year's Resolution Soup


    1 pound (450g) large lima beans

    3 quarts (3 liters) water

    8 medium carrots, sliced
    2 medium onions, chopped
    4 stalks celery, sliced
    5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    1/4 cup (60 ml) brown rice

    2 stalks kale or collards, stems removed, thinly sliced
    1 cup (240 ml) cooked kidney beans
    1/4 cup (60 ml) buckwheat, toasted or untoasted

    2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice
    Salt and pepper

  1. Pick over the lima beans and discard any bad beans and bits of gravel or debris. Rinse the beans and place them in a deep bowl with enough water to cover by 3 inches. Soak the beans for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans and place them in a large stockpot with the water. Cover partially, and bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Watch carefully to prevent a messy spill when the beans reach a boil. Turn the heat down slightly and boil gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and brown rice; then cook 30 minutes longer. Add the kale, kidney beans, and buckwheat and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until the lima beans are tender.
  4. Just before serving, season with lime juice, salt and pepper. Makes 6 hearty servings.

Here's a basic low-fat, low-calorie hearty soup loaded with good flavor and brimming with nutritious ingredients. With a soup kettle this full, you'll quickly recognize it's meant to be shared. Whether you like it spicy or mild, packed with chunky bits to chew or a simple broth, lots of noodles or none of those slippery bean threads, don't hesitate to make adjustments. You be the engineer of the kitchen by choosing the spice level, the seasonings, the quantity of veggies, and the noodles you prefer. Most importantly, welcome in the new year with joy and a lusty bowl of tantalizing soup.

New Year's Resolution Soup #2


(Pan Asian Style)

Yield: about 8 servings

    1/4 pound (113g) mung bean noodles (bean threads)
    1/4 pound rice vermicelli

    4 to 5 quarts (4 to 5 liters) water
    14 leaves Napa cabbage, chopped
    1 5-inch (12.5 cm) long daikon radish, peeled and chopped
    1/2 pound (226g) fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced
    1 large broccoli crown, chopped
    1 carrot, peeled and diced
    1 2-inch (5.5 cm) piece ginger, peeled and grated
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    Pinch cayenne

    1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce
    1/4 cup (60 ml) seasoned rice vinegar

    1 pound (453g) firm tofu, cut into bite-size cubes

  1. Place the noodles into 2 large bowls and cover with at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) of hot water. Set aside to soak while preparing the soup.
  2. Place the water, cabbage, daikon radish, mushrooms, broccoli, carrot, ginger, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne into an 8 to 10-quart (8 to 10 liter) stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the soy sauce and vinegar and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are just softened.
  4. Add the soaked noodles and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the noodles are fully softened. Add the tofu and adjust the seasonings. Serve steaming hot.

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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