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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,

I am 13 and have just turned vegetarian, however I am having a few problems as every Sunday we have a family meal of a Sunday Roast and my mum wants me to still have a big main meal with them but I have no idea what I could have! I also am having trouble finding foods that contain protein as at the moment I am eating mainly cheese.

Please help because it's getting me down and making me reconsider turning vegetarian. What can I get protein from? And what would be a good Sunday meal?


Howdy there Amy,

Well, darlin', I jes come back from a little vacation, so I hope you'll fergive me fer answerin' so late. Fer starters, y'all might want ta read the Vegetarian Basics 101 on our web site. That should help git ya started. Basically, here's what a healthy vegan eats during the day fer a balanced diet: fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Ya might also want ta read Protein Basics on our web site. Most folks worry too much 'bout protein. Also read The Road to Vegetaria an scroll down past the introduction fer some easy recipe ideas. Look at the Recipe Index, too. I knows I'm givin' y'all lots o' homework, but that's what it takes---lots o' learnin' is important.

Fer protein, ya jes cain't beat them beans--all kinds are mighty speshul. Tofu, soymilk, tempeh, and veggie meats made from soy are all dern good protein. Nuts has good protein, an' whole grains has protein, too. Even fruits n' veggies has protein, tho' not as much as them beans.

On them Sunday Roast days, make yer life real easy by fixin' yerself a big salad with plenty o' dark green lettuce like romaine and chop up a heap o' vegetables.

Then open a can o' beans an' add some to yer salad (but read the label ta make sure there's no animal ingredients). Buy yerself a ready-made vegan dressin' or go to the Recipe Index and choose one you kin make. Ain't none of 'em too hard ta fix in yer own kitchen.

Toast yerself a piece of whole grain bread an spread some ripe avocado on it instead o' butter. Toss some raw nuts into the salad, and finish up with a piece o' fruit.

In that one single meal ya got yer vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, an' nuts. Now, mind you don't have to have all them items in one meal all the time. That's jes one of my favorite dinners that don't take too much trouble.

I kin recommend a real fine book that's jes what every vegetarian teen oughter have at home. It's called I'm a Vegetarian; Amazing Facts and Ideas for Healthy Vegetarians by Ellen Schwartz. Y'all might see if yer library has that book. When y'all give it a good lookin' over, ya jes might want ta buy it.

'Nother thing fer more learnin' or if ya cain't git that book 'cause ya lives 'cross the ocean is ta check our Vegparadise Bookshelf in the first section that's called Children and Teens. There's a heap o' books there.

If'n there's a health food market in yer neighborhood, ya jes might want ta take yer Mum an' spend a l'il time ta mosey 'round the aisles and do some label readin'. Land sakes! She might be surprised ta see all them good ole fashioned fixin's in one place.

Well, darlin', I'm hopin' this is encouragin' fer ya. I knows it's tuff ta git started. What I done is put a l'il recipe fer my favorite dinner salad down below. The recipe makes plenty, so yer family kin enjoy some, too.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

(Main Dish Salad)


6 leaves romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
2 leaves collard greens, torn into pieces
4 leaves red leaf lettuce, torn into pieces
6 radishes, slices
1 large cucumber, peeled if thick skinned, and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 large carrots, shredded or sliced
1 bell pepper, (red, yellow, or green) chopped
1 1/2 C. snap peas, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 slices sweet onion, cut into quarters
1 wedge purple cabbage, chopped or shredded
1 fresh corn on the cob, uncooked, kernels sliced off

1 C. raw nuts or seeds (pecans, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
1 1 lb. (450 g) can beans, (black, pinto, garbanzo, kidney, etc) drained
1 large tomato, chopped
Sprouts (any kind)

  1. Into a large bowl, combine all the vegetables and toss well to distribute ingredients evenly.
  2. Bring the nuts, beans, and tomatoes to the table in separate bowls and spoon those out on top. Add a hearty serving of sprouts, and top with a ready-made vegan dressing or one you can choose from the Recipe Index. Serves 6.

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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