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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Essays

Vegetarians in Paradise regularly presents informative articles by guest contributors on subjects of interest to vegetarians and vegans. This month Larry Ziegler tells his story of trying to survive as a vegetarian in the heartland of America.

Professionally, Larry is a child and family psychologist who has worked in rehabilitation centers and hospitals. Larry enjoys cooking, especially ethnic foods he prepares for friends and family.

Chef Larry says he became a vegetarian because it is a healthier lifestyle and a good way to lose weight.

Includes Recipe Below

Trying To Eat Healthy
While Living in Tulsa, Oklahoma

By Larry Ziegler (cheflz@swbell.net)

Being transplanted from California to Tulsa, Oklahoma (work related) was traumatic in itself, but going into most food markets was even more shocking, as the few vegetables there tended to be limp and unappetizing.

My wife (being from New Jersey) and I soon discovered several health food stores that carried produce as well as other foods that made our shopping more pleasant.

Larry Ziegler However, as Oklahoma was a big beef-eating state, eating out proved to be a real challenge to us, as well as having friends over to our house for dinner. Most people thought our liking and cooking ethnic foods (our favorite kind of foods) was quite strange. Most natives of the state liked mainly meat (beef) and potatoes!

My cooking interest, preparing dishes native to Morocco, tended to be unpopular with our dinner guests. One of my other food interests, Italian cooking, fared a little better. Our efforts with East Indian and many Latino dishes tended to be less popular than the others.

In general, meatless or Soy Substitutions for meat tended to be looked upon as "weird" by most others!

Because deep frying was very popular here also, our "healthier" lifestyle in cooking things was seen as "time wasting."

Once when I was hospitalized, a friend brought me some Molé (a chocolate sauce) with other vegetables in it. She had labeled it "mole." The aides and nurses thought that I was eating moles (those furry, little creatures). Most people in Oklahoma knew little about foods that are non-Oklahoman in origin!

In the past 10 years more ethnic groups have moved here (Latinos, Vietnamese, East Indians), so finding more diverse cooking ingredients (plus Ethnic Restaurants, too) is less difficult. However, at times I still must be creative in providing a reasonable substitute for an obscure food ingredient. This has become more of a challenge rather then a burden.

Since the editors of Vegetarians in Paradise asked for one of my favorite recipes, I thought I would give you my version of molé that is adapted from Nutrition Action magazine.

Veggie Molé

3 medium red onions cut into 1" pieces
1 carrot cut into 1"pieces
1 1/2 oz. (4l g) bell peppers seeded and cut into 1" pieces
3 medium zucchinis cut into 1" pieces

3 oz. (8l g) pitted prunes
4 T. cocoa powder
1 T. + 1 t. sugar
1 T. + 1 t. hot or mild chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 1/3 t. cinnamon
2 C. ((480 ml) water

7 T. of pureed garlic
Olive oil spray

1/2 C. (118 ml) pumpkin seeds
4 C. (1 liter) canned tomatoes, only partially blended
2 15-oz. (424 g) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz. (424 g) can garbanzos, drained and rinsed

  1. Chop onions in a food processor. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Chop carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini in food processor.
  2. In blender combine prunes, cocoa powder, sugar, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon with 2 cups water. Puree until smooth and set aside.
  3. Fry onions and garlic and then add bell peppers, squash, and zucchini. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and prune mixture, and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Serve over cooked brown rice. Serves 8.

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