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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

Hi Aunt Nettie,

I'm trying my darndest to get my kids to eat more veggies. I know they're so healthy, but they don't. Anytime I serve a regular salad they just peck at it. What do I do?


Howdy there Danielle,

I knows them young'uns can oftentimes be a bit persnickety when it comes to them crunchy veggies, but sometimes ya jes gotta find a way ta motivate 'em into thinkin' veggies are speshul. How 'bout tellin' 'em that kids in a far away place called Langoon jes love their veggies with chopped peanuts an' noodles all mixed up together in a sauce that has really delicious spices from that far away place. (honest, darlin', I don't even know if there is such a place called Langoon--I done made it up).

Now if yer little ones do like some veggies, be sure to include them into this salad an' leave out the ones y'all know they jes won't touch. No point in makin' a fuss--it jes starts trubble an' ya don't want that. Eatin' oughter be fun!

Mind, this salad kin even be a whole meal fer the kids an' even the big folks, too.

Now, darlin', you give this salad a try an' let me know how them li'l rascals like it.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

A well-seasoned salad with a colorful palate of vegetables and a hearty tofu and peanut component is always a welcome treat for a light lunch or side dish. Quickly prepared, the salad is ideal for moments of spontaneity. Keep a variety of ingredients on hand that can stand in as substitutes when your pantry is lacking an item or two.


Yield: 4 servings.

    1 pound (450g) extra firm tofu, rinsed and cut into bite-size chunks
    2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    4 to 5 quarts (4 to 5 liters) water
    1/4 pound (115g) sweet potato starch noodles or other thin pasta

    2 cups (480 ml) shredded Napa cabbage
    1 large broccoli crown, cut into bite-size florets
    1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
    1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely shredded
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1/2 cup (120 ml) roasted, unsalted peanuts
    1/2 cup (120 ml) low-fat coconut milk
    1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice
    2 tablespoons maple syrup
    1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or low-sodium soy sauce
    Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the tofu, soy sauce, and lemon juice in a large, deep non-stick skillet. Using a wooden spoon, cook and stir over high heat about 6 to 8 minutes to brown the tofu on all sides. Continue stirring after the liquid has evaporated until the tofu cubes are golden brown. Transfer the tofu to a large bowl.
  2. Place the water into an 8 to 10-quart (8 to 10-liter) stockpot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook about 5 minutes or until the noodles are soft and completely transparent. Drain and add to the bowl with the tofu.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well to distribute the flavors evenly. Adjust seasonings if needed and serve.

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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