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This time last year I was trying to figure out how to be a vegetarian and documenting my trials and tribulations in obnoxious detail.   Although I had been working at it for five months, by May 15, 2011 I had only made it without meat for two consecutive weeks (Enlightenment Day 125).

A year later, I’m happy to report that I have finally got the vegetarian thing on automatic. The hardest part of the conversion was dealing with hamburger cravings, especially in the summer when all my family’s gatherings traditionally revolve around eating them.

The media successfully made hamburgers much less appealing to me recently with the “pink slime” reports.  Apparently, 70% of beef products in our country contain this additive which consists of various cow parts glooped together and then gassed with ammonia to disinfect the concoction.  Yum!

This isn’t brand new news…we’ve known about this at least since 2009.

And the beef industries comeback?

“Beef is beef.”

…Yes, thank you…I’ll have the veggies.

…or at least that’s what I was instructed to do when Dana nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award in her blog. 

In reality I think my adoring crowd consists of just Dana.  But Dana, I am smiling and waving at you!

The “Rules” for this particular award are:

1. Thank the blogger who presented you with the award. Thanks Dana!!


2. Post a photo of the award.

TADA!

3. Share ten things about yourself readers don’t know.

          3-1.  I don’t have a TV, but I am maniacally tearing through two shows via Netflix. The first is Legend of the Seeker.  Everything and everybody is just so pretty on this show.  And the sword fights are like dances.  It makes me giddy.

The second is Big Bang Theory, a show that is funny and that features smart people who use big words.  Being a scientist has never been so sexy.  Thank you Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady!

          3-2. I briefly entertained the idea of going to  Cancun/Tulum/Chichen Itza  for spring break  because the  “2012 end of the Mayan calendar” seemed like THE time to go.  Then I decided I was being cliché  and that maybe I should just stay home, read a book and  and plant a garden instead. 

          3-3. Speaking of books, these are the ones I’m concurrently reading: The Lost Art of Compassion, 2012 The Return of Quetzalcoatl, Born to Talk, The Geography of Bliss.

          3-4.  I went to Tulsa last weekend, mostly to eat. 

          3-5. I ate cupcakes with eggs in Tulsa — the first violation of my dietary restriction in months.  The Devil made me do it (as usual).  He said he wouldn’t tell anyone, but there’s no point denying it happened.

Kupcakz of Tulsa! My favorite.

          3.6 While in Tulsa I also drank Irish hot chocolate. Two cups in fact. 

          3.7   Following this imbibement, I  drunk-texted my yogini support group for an emergency intervention.  With their help I managed to resist ordering a hamburger from the restaurant that serves the best hamburgers I’ve ever had anywhere. Ever.  (Thank you yogini’s for talking me down off that ledge!)

          3.8 Then I apparently took some drunken pictures of Tulsa…

          3.9  Tulsa is one of my favorite cities. On this trip we visited a spot I didn’t know existed until recently.  It’s known as “The Center of the Universe.”  It appears to be an ordinary place in downtown Tulsa  bordered by buildings and a parking garage.  However, ordinary it is not.  There is a certain place that has very odd (and unintentional) acoustic properties. If you walk up and stand at the center of a circle of bricks and speak, your voice will h ave an odd distorted quality. If your partner stands right outside the circle and you are in the circle listening to yourself talk with this weird voice, he will not hear anything odd about your voice.  If your partner stands in the circle while you stand in the circle and you both talk you both will hear the weird distortion.  If you both stand in the circle in the cold trying out a variety of weird voices to see how they will sound  you will be delighted at the effect; however, other people passing by outside the circle may look at you quite strangely and wonder if you’re crazy. At any rate, from what I’ve read the archeticture of a nearby concrete planter has a parabolic reflectivity that creates the acoustic effect.

          3-10 One last weird thing about Tulsa — the sky seems unusually high. There is just so much of it and it is so far away.

4. Choose six people to present this award to.

          4-1 Amy – because your blogs are creative, but they don’t come nearly enough.

          4-2 The Good Greatsby – because you’ve made smoking jackets cool again.

          4-3 Tori Nelson –  because letting readers plan your wedding is creative and fun and…brave.

          4-4 Rene – because Life in the Boomer Lane makes me giggle on a regular basis.

          4-5 Plum Bananas – because you promote good health and keep two blogs and reading your blog makes me feel less neurotic.

          4-6 Progress on the Prairie – because your blog inspired me to grow arugula and I have to respect a woman willing to kill for herself a life she consumes.

 Through a strange series of events I recently acquired a live-in indentured servant.  That may sound like a wonderful thing, and surely it is; however, we’re both still coming to terms with the change.   While I am adapting to the loss of my quiet solitude and independence, she is adjusting to eating (and usually preparing) the vegetarian menu. 

Earlier this week she baked vegan pumpkin cupcakes at my request.  They were so good that she baked another batch a couple days later to share with her friends.

 “I just won’t tell anyone they’re vegan.”  She said. 

I was bewildered by that statement, so I asked, “Why not tell people?”

“Because they won’t understand.”

“What’s not to understand?”

“Vegan sounds healthy, and people don’t think health food tastes good.”

“You need to tell everyone they’re vegan to eliminate that ridiculous misconception.”

“Ok, I’ll tell them after they eat it.”

This exchange left me thinking about culture and the role of language and perception in food taste.

First, why would the terms “healthy” or “vegan” automatically be perceived as something that doesn’t taste good?

Second, when I think “cupcakes,” I don’t think “health food,” vegan or not.  Despite the mass quantity of sugar, I suppose vegan pumpkin cupcakes do have relative health merits – vitamins A, E, C & K to name a few. Plus pumpkin is a pretty good source of iron. Still, it is a cupcake! Cupcakes are usually considered “junk food.”

Finally, on a related note, why would something that stays “fresh” in a box on a grocery store shelf for months (e.g., Twinkies) be perceived as food at all?  (Hint: an annual $10,000,000,000 food marketing machine.)

Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places.

—Leonardo Da Vinci

A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.

—Leo Tolstoy

Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.

—Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

 

******

To all I haven’t scared off with the above quotes,

Welcome to the latest adventure in my vegetarian escapades: broccoli sprouts! 

Broccoli is good for you.   We all know that.  It contains a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane, which helps the liver detoxify carcinogens and other funky stuff that floats around in your body, wrecking havoc on the system.  What you may not know is that broccoli sprouts contain 10-100 times the amount of this compound than mature broccoli.  Thus, eating one ounce of broccoli sprouts is roughly the equivalent of eating a pound and a half of broccoli.  Who knew?   

Here’s the weird thing about broccoli sprouts: They taste nothing like broccoli and they burn. Horseradish is one of their cruciferous cousins. I didn’t know this before hand and I was alarmed by the fire that ignited in my mouth and throat when I began gobbling them down with wild abandon.  They need to come with a warning and recipes.  So there’s your warning and in a little bit, I’ll give you recipes.  Consider this an altruistic public service announcement.  Or if you’d prefer, you can send me money.

Here’s how I made the healthful burning magic happen:

          1.  Buy sprouting seeds and sprouting containers. 

This can be done easily online at Handy Pantry by clicking  HERE.  (I’ve also found their sprouts at Whole Foods.)

          2. Pour two tablespoons of broccoli sprouting seeds into a tray, put the tray in the sprouting cover, fill it with water, and soak ’em overnight.

          3. Let the water drain from the tray and cover the tray with the cover. Rinse and drain seeds three or four times a day for three or four days. 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

          4. Uncover tray and put the tray in the sunlight for about a day so the sprouts will start producing chlorophyll.  Rinse them a couple times this day too.

          5. Remove hulls by letting them soak in water so thell hulls float up to the surface.  Pour them off the top. 

          6. Enjoy!

Below you’ll find a couple ideas and links to recipes for the sprouts.

1. Top off salads with broccoli sprouts.

2. Add ’em to veggie burgers in place of lettuce.

3. Dana of zona pellucida said she makes a mean multi-sprout springroll, which sounds amazing.

4. Spicy broccoli sprout sushi.

I haven’t tried this one yet, but given their heat, I bet broccoli sprouts would add the perfect kick.

****

(image courtesy of Tim Ferriss: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/)

In the spirit of full disclosure, Handy Pantry graciously supplied the broccoli sprouts pictured in this blog in exchange for the sprouting tutorial I wrote above.  All opinions of said broccoli sprouts are soley mine. 🙂

If you want to read something completely untainted by trade agreements, though still touting sprouting, you may check out  my first post on the topic:  Sprout it Out Loud

Lord of the Flies is freakin’ amazing and totally relevant to my weird enlightenment-no meat quest, which was totally ruined by the way on Saturday when I went to a faculty retreat and was served an eggy roll,  gumbo with crab, shrimp, clams, and crawfish, and a salad covered with bacon, chicken, and steak.  I had requested a vegetarian meal!  What the heck? This is the imaginary conversation between the food planners that played itself out in my head:

Sadistic Person A: You know what would be fun? Let’s slaughter every animal on the farm to serve to the vegetarian!

Sadistic Person B: Yeah! And then we can see what creepy crawly things we can pull out of the ocean to kill!

I tried my best to eat around all the animal bits, but I accidentally gagged down a clam thinking it was a mushroom before realizing my mistake.  There were also minute bacon bits consumed.  I considered just going crazy and eating all the meat, but somehow I couldn’t do it. There were no cravings for even the beefy bits after weeks of hamburger fantasies. On the contrary, I found it all a bit…gross.  I traded my steak and chicken for a friend’s avocados, so I guess it all worked out alright.

Anyway, back to Lord of the Flies – the way I see it killing the pig marked the beginning of the island insanity and the ending of logic and reasoning. 

I loved Golding’s way with words.  My favorite descriptions:

“His face was dark with the violent pleasure of making this stupendous noise.”

“He became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself trying to exercise control overing living things.  He talked to [the transparencies], urging them, ordering them…they were trapped and gave him the illusion of mastery.”

Enlightenment, Day 198: Vegging Out
 

If you liked the idea of raising Sea Monkeys as a kid, you will love growing your own bean sprouts.  Personally, I found Sea Monkey reality a grave disappointment.  Everyday, I would squint into the crappy magnified plastic container, point at a bubble or other floaty fleck, and ask my dad, “Is that  one??” “When will they grow hair and legs?”  “Will they be able to talk?”  Obviously, I was expecting the happy finned family on the box instead of the miniscule creepy shrimp things without smiles, much less faces.   I wanted to perform the 1, 2, 3 packet alchemy and then have something amazing happen so I could raise my hands in the air and shout, “It’s Alive!!”  But the results were never that dramatic.  Fortunately, bean sprouting totally satisfied this mad scientist craving of mine. I wish I’d known about them as a kid. They would have been so much cooler than stupid sea monkeys.  Everyday the sprouts transform into something different – something which truly warrants hands in the air shouting as far as I’m concerned. And the best part is –  you can eat them! (Unlike the sea monkeys, which you can’t eat unless you’re a whale, according to my dad.) 

With only 31 calories, about a cup of mung beansprouts will provide 7% of your daily value of fiber, 6% protein, 23% vitamin C, 43% vitamin K, 6% thiamin, 8% roboflavin,  4% niacin, 5% vitamin B6, 16% folate, 4% pantothenic acid, 1% calcium, 5% iron, 5% magnesium, 6% phosphorus, 4% potassium, 3% zinc, 9% copper, 10% manganese, 1 % selenium, 16.6 mg omega-3 fatty acids, 43.7 mg omega-6 fatty acids (based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet).

Here are annotated references for studies that show the health effects of various types of sprouts: http://www.isga-sprouts.org/MainSproutNutritionPoints.pdf

And here are their baby pictures!

Mung Sprouts, Day 1

Day 2 - Eeeeyaaa!

Day 3

Day 4 – It’s ALIVE!!

Day 4 is looking sparse because I kept eating them and taking them places before I remembered to photograph them.

A Vegetarian Spring Roll

After 46 consecutive days, I feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of this vegetarian thing. This spiritual journey has opened my eyes to a whole new world, namely the Viet Hoa Food Market, a Vietnamese grocery store on Cleveland.  I’ve driven by the place a bajillion times, but never imagined actually entering it to buy food because, of course, food is what you get in your own neighborhood at the bright, shiney store with the gleaming baskets, the automatic doors, the sale flyers in English, and the organized, waxed produced placed just so.   But Skattur had put the idea in my head that I should try to make vegetarian spring rolls, so off to the Vietnamese grocery I went.  I left with two bags FULL of food for $7.00.  

$7.00!

Then it was springroll making time. I’ve eaten springrolls before. Who needs recipes? Here’s how it went down:

The stuff

avocado
red onions
tomatoes
mung bean sprouts
cilantro
mint
lettuce
cucumbers
rice paper
rice noodles
tofu (or shrimp if you eat that stuff)

  • Wash and chop up all the veggies that go in the rolls. In my case this was avocado, red onions, tomatoes, mung bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, lettuce, cucumbers.

    The veggies

mung bean sprouts

By the way, mung bean sprouts are crazy good for you and I’ve since learned how to grow them.  But that is a different story….coming soon to a blog near you!

  • Boil water for the rice noodles. Pour off a little of the boiling water into a large bowl for the rice paper. (Realize there are no cooking instructions on the rice noodles! How long do you cook them?! Have a mild panic attack. Do an emergency Google search for how to make rice noodles.  Find a video that explains the secrets of rice noodle cooking. Kiss iphone and wonder how you ever lived without it.) Cook rice noodles 2 minutes. 

    Rice Noodles...without cooking instructions.

  • Drain gelatinous glob of rice noodles and wonder what went wrong.  Put them to the side and try to forget about them.
  • Soak rice paper in bowl of hot water until it gets soft. (About 25 seconds) 

    rice paper

rice paper

  • Put vegetables in center of rice paper. (Try to figure out how to fold paper, then resort to watching youtube videos on the topic.) Fold rice paper like a burrito. Right 1/3 folds in, left 1/3 folds in, fold bottom in and roll. 
  • Look at noodles, which have cooled into a recognizable consistency.  Add them to the next roll. 

Voila! Spring Rolls.  I made about 15-20 of them after I got the hang of it.

Here’s a video that explains it a lot better than I did.

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