Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Eating At School: A Vegetarian's Nightmare

I've been remiss to blog lately. Mainly, this is due to the utter lack of time to cook during this, the spring semester of my first year in my MFA program. Compounded to that is our severe lack, of late, in the food budget fund. Sadly, given the tight money and the time-suck of classes, the entire house has reverted to eating canned food, boxed food, and frozen veggies purchased on sale 10/10 at the Kroger in Michigan that we visit whilst visiting the family on alternate weekends.

There has been little actual cooking, but there has been an increase in inventiveness in the lunch food department. You see, Monday nights, I spend at a night class workshopping poetry and the entirety of Wednesday, I spend on campus for over nine hours, teaching one class and then taking two. That Wednesday especially, I head off to class with a giant canvas bag of food that is none-to-easy to cart on the train/bus combo that gets me to campus.

Now, since becoming vegetarian, I am always very aware of the food I eat in a day because I know it's so important to vary my diet to include all the necessary nutrients. For on-the-go meal packing, the veggies and grains are a synch. Pack a salad or some carrot sticks. Pack a sandwich with some tomato. Pack rice cakes. Take some left-over spaghetti from the night before. Protein is a bit trickier, especially given that nuts are not the best protein option and cheese is to be used sparingly. In my kitchen experiments, I have arrived at a protein and veggy heavy meal easy to tote around, one that will even stay warm if put inside one of those travel thermoses. I call it Peas n Beans Casserole. It doesn't use the freshest or most organic of ingredients but substitutions can be made if time allows the healthier route.

What you need:
1 can black beans
1 can cream of mushroom (try a health-conscious variety if you can)
1 can sweet peas
1 small sauce pan

Combine all in food in the pan, sans the water they are packaged in and heat over med flame until bubbly. Portion into tupperware as needed.

My boyfriend calls it disgusting to look at. I call it tasty and ingenious. You be the judge.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

food that is white

Yesterday, my friend Veronica made me stir fry for dinner. As I sit here alone in my apartment, eating the remnants of its leftovers (I eat all the veggies out first), my bowl of white rice with bits of egg white, white beans, and water chestnuts reminds me of an article I read in "Alone in the Kitchen with Eggplant." The article in question discussed at length that a vast majority of individuals find comfort in eating white food, as in food that is white. This fascination with colorless food has left me befuddled in the wake of my turn toward healthier eating. White food, by and large, is made that way artificially.

White flour is only white flour because it was once wheat flour that was bleached of all its natural nutrients. I tend to avoid white food. Wheat noodles instead of plain. Yogurt with fruit in it instead of just plain yogurt. Multigrain breads instead of white bread.  The list is endless. Of course, when Veronica made her stir fry, I was not going to complain about her use of white as opposed to brown rice. I was too busy appreciating her cooking of my meal. But I wouldn't have chosen white rice if I had made it myself. I'd have used brown.

Generally, I've found that in addition to being more nutritious, the non-white versions of foods are more flavorful as well. Even so, as I sit alone in my apartment, picked up bits of water chestnut in my target-purchased chopsticks, I can't help admitting that its sort of like a security blanket, the sticky rice, the beans, the egg, and that satisfying crunch of water chestnut between my white, white teeth.