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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, .

Dear Aunt Nettie,

The weather is heating up and my appetite is practically dragging on the floor. I know I have to eat to survive. Any suggestions for something really light but still wholesome?


Howdy Marsha,

Now that appetite draggin' on the floor sets me all to worryin'. Let's git that picked up off the floor quick as a wink an' bring it right on over to the table 'cause I sure as shootin' have the purrfect dish ta charge up yer energy.

In summer, when the weather practically roasts away yer energy, it's not unusual fer the appetite ta drag on the floor. That's when we need foods that are mighty light 'n moist to freshen us up. This time of year I jes' love quinoa. It's the ideal grain ta build a summer meal 'round 'cause it's feather-light. Here I've rustled up some fresh vegetables from my garden, veggies with high water content and sweet as can be.

Well, Marsha, hope the quinoa perks ya up the way it did ta them Incas in Peru.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie



1 1/2 cups (360 ml) quinoa grains
3 cups (720 ml) water
3/4 teaspoon salt

3 medium yellow crookneck squashes, finely shredded
1 medium onion, finely shredded
3 Roma tomatoes, (Italian plum) or 1 medium tomato, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup (120 ml) water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Finely chopped fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, basil, cilantro or mint

  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine strainer for 1 to 2 full minutes to remove the bitter coating of natural saponins.
  2. Place the quinoa in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan with the 3 cups (720 ml) of water and salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and steam for 15 to 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and grains are tender. Remove from heat and allow quinoa to rest, covered, for 10 minutes to fluff.
  3. Meanwhile, saute squashes, onion, tomatoes, garlic, and the 1/2 cup (120 ml) water together in a large skillet or wok until just tender, 3 or 4 minutes. Season vegetables to taste.
  4. When quinoa is cooked and fluffed, remove to a large shallow serving bowl and top with cooked vegetables. Sprinkle lightly with fresh chopped herbs for the finishing touch. Serves about 5 or 6.

NOTE: If you would like to serve this dish as a complete entree, cut 1 pound (450 g) of firm or extra firm tofu into bite-size cubes and brown in 1 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos and 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add to the cooked vegetable topping.


1 to 2 cups (240 to 480 ml) cooked and drained beans of your choice

8 ounces (225 g) pkg. tempeh, diced and browned in 1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos and 1 tablespoon lime juice

1 to 1 1/2 cups (240 to 360 ml) nuts of your choice, ground or chopped, raw or toasted

3 portabella mushrooms, chopped and sauteed in small amount of extra virgin olive oil and seasoned to taste with Bragg Liquid Aminos, freshly ground black pepper, and lemon or lime juice

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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