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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, click on Aunt Nettie below:

Aunt Nettie

Dear Aunt Nettie,

In an effort to lose some weight, I'm looking for spread or dip recipes that are low in fat. I love hummus, but once I start chowing down that rich tahini, I can't stop--and that means putting on more pounds. How about a dip or spread that won't sink my weight-loss effort but that still tastes great on pita.


Well Howdy there Ginny,

I kin see yer frettin' but don't you mind, darlin' 'cause they's always somethin' good 'round the bend in my kitchen. I'm a hummus lover, too, but sometimes it's jes plain good to change up them flavors a tad. I got the purrfect garbanzo bean spread fer pita, an' you kin even dunk some crunchy veggies inter this bowl o' heaven. Jes wait til you taste--I jes knows in my bones yer gonna love this easy recipe.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Though garbanzo beans lend themselves to many versions of hummus, this garbanzo recipe aims for to create a light, buttery spread with flavor nuance. The Chinese 5-Spice Powder cranks up the Far East flavor, while the steamed chayote provides a uniquely delicate texture. Main-dish soups and hearty, whole-grain breads make perfect partners to highlight this recipe. Whip up a bowlful of Garbanzo Butter to top the bread or serve it as a starter with whole-wheat pita and raw vegetables.


    Yield: about 1 3/4 cups

    1 chayote squash, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

    1 15-ounce (425g) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
    2 garlic cloves
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lime juice
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice Powder

  1. Place the chayote squash in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan with water to cover. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and steam the squash for 25 minutes.
  2. Drain the cooking liquid into a storage container and reserve as a soup stock. Transfer the cooked squash to the food processor and add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides once or twice. Spoon into an attractive serving bowl and enjoy. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, Feather-Light Garbanzo Butter will keep for one week.

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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