About six months ago my husband and I read a book called The China Study. Basically, it states and backs up with an astounding amount of data that a vegan lifestyle will stop and reverse heart disease. So that fact combined with the realization that we could grow almost all the food we needed was enough to convince us to take up the vegan lifestyle. Friends would grunt and say, "All you can eat is salads". Not true! Almost every nationality has what I call "peasant" foods, that incorporate beans and vegetables. I soon found that you could substitute beans and mushrooms for meat in many of the thrifty recipes I already had. Also soy meat and cheese substitutes are getting better all the time. The Eastern nationalities have many exotic and tempting recipes. Here is a recipe from India:
Chickpea, and Red Lentil Stew
1 lb. pumpkin, cubed (if you don't have pumpkin you can substitute any root vegetable, except beets)
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans
1 C. chopped onions
3 or 4 med. carrots, diced
1 C. red lentils (or regular lentils if you can't find the red)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste ( I often substitute ketchup for this)
1 tsp. groun ginger
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. bottled curry sauce (found in the foreign foods aisle or substitute curry powder to taste)
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 C. vegetable broth (more on this later)
Simply put everything in a pot and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender. This would be served with naan, but we like it over cornbread.
This makes a huge pot with 8 very generous servings. I would say more. And it only has 275 calories per serving for the dieter. When I did my calculations, I came up with 2 mg. of cholesterol, but since this is completely plant based I don't know where the cholesterol came from. Maybe the curry sauce?
Now for the vegetable broth. You can make your own from vegetable scraps. Just put all the leftover vegetables, salad greens that are looking a bit peaked, peels from your carrots, tops from the celery, and the tougher outer skin from your onions (you get the idea) and a clove or two of garlic into a large pot, cover with water and simmer on the back of the stove. When it starts to look like broth, turn off the heat, cool and strain. You can freeze for later use.
A word about freezing. Those reusable freezer containers are a good investment. Freezer bag prices are getting outrageous and besides plastic is a petroleum based product and we all can make little changes to help out the enviroment and our pocketbooks at the same time. When storing things in the refrigerator you can reuse clean jars or buy some reusable plastic ware (my husband has his friends save the containers from Chinese take-out) or if you don't want to use plastic, there are glass topped containers available.