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The dietary dilemma.

The following dialogue often takes place between a vegetarian and a nonvegetarian who would like to change eating habits that would eliminate animal products for health reasons, moral compunction, or the American passion for weight loss:

Nonvegetarian: "How do you keep from being hungry all the time, since you don't eat food that sticks to your ribs?"

Vegetarian: "My problem is not lack of food or food of choice. In fact, I have more varieties to choose from than ever. Besides, a proper vegetarian diet, if imaginatively conceived, is tastier than the usual concoctions that depend so much upon flavoring heaped on basically tasteless meat, fish, or chicken."

By now, most people know that the ideal diet, in terms of lowering cholesterol levels, eliminating artery-clogged fats, avoiding cancer-causing toxins, and containing foods rich in valuable nutrients, is a well-balanced vegetarian regimen. What they don't know is the richness and variety that a meat-less diet affords.

Also, without realizing it, many people do feast upon elements of vegetarian meals that constitute the basis of that diet. Spaghetti, for example, enhanced in nutrients when whole wheat pasta is used, can accommodate vitamin-mineral packed vegetables and tomato sauce to form a delightful entree. Baked potatoes, covered with a choice of toppings like tomato sauce; condensed soup sauce, such as mushroom, vegetable, or celery; or salad dressings, can be nutritious and satisfying. Health food stores feature a variety of frozen foods that can be economical, appetizing, and healthful, such as baked lentil loaf (a delightful substitute for meat loaf), lasagna filled with tofu (instead of cheese), vegetable burgers (instead of hamburger), and countless prepared meals that do not depend upon animals products.

In recent years, book publishers have provided the recipe seeker with an abundance of compilations that bring vegetarian dining to the level of epicureanism. Consider the following volumes from which only a sample recipe has been gleaned:

Italian Vegetarian Cooking By Paola Gavin, Price: $18.95 Published by M. Evans & Co.

Italians in Italy attribute their high level of healthfulness to a traditional diet high in vegetables and pasta. In the North of Italy, butter or a mixture of butter and olive oil and eggs are often used. In the South of Italy, a not-so-prosperous part of the country, pasta usually contains no eggs and olive oil is used exclusively. Because meat is a luxury in southern Italy, vegetarian cooking dominates the diet. The book features a Garden of Eden for gourmets of vegetarian persuasion. The following is a sample:

PEPPERS STUFFED WITH RICE AND PINE NUTS
6 to 8 red or green sweet peppers 1 cup brown rice, raw
1/4 cup olive oil 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 small onion, chopped 2 cups tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon dried basil) 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley cheese
1 pinch of salt Freshly ground pepper


Step 1

Wash sweet pepper and cut lengthwise into halves. Remove seeds and ribs. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and cook onion, basil and parsley for three minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for one minute. Add two cups of broth, cover, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until 3/4 cooked.

Step 2

Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, the pine nuts, and cheese; salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and dribble it over the remaining olive oil.

Step 3

Arrange peppers side by side in a well-oiled shallow baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce, mixed with the remaining 1/2 cup of broth around the sweet peppers. Bake in a preheated 350 [degrees] F. oven for 50 minutes or until the tops are golden and the rice is cooked. Serves 4 to 6.

Martha Rose Shulman's Feasts and Fetes Published by Chapters Publishing Ltd. Price: $17.95

Martha Rose Shulman is a world-renowned food expert whose books feature elegant vegetarian cooking. They are beautifully illustrated with full color photographs that depict the succulence of the foods.

A salad, for example, is composed of green beans and walnuts, including various exotic forms of leaf lettuce, chopped chives, Dijon mustard, walnut oil, vinegar, and herbs.

A dessert glistens with colorful mangoes, peaches, berries, and melon balls in sweet white wine.

Entrees are "supper-club" elegant. The following recipe crowns ordinary pasta primavera with regal splendor:

PASTA PRIMAVERA WITH ROASTED PEPPERS

AND GOAT CHEESE

For the Vegetables and Herbs
3 sweet red peppers pasta, or whole-wheat pasta
1 pound fresh peas (unshelled) 5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fresh asparagus 1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground black
1 clove garlic, minced. Coarse salt. pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh basil Radish roses for garnish
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
 (preferably flat leaf) (preferably not too salty, diced,
For the Pasta and the Rest of or crumbled)
the Dish 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 pound spinach pasta, herb cheese


Step 1

Roast two red peppers. Roast peppers under broiler or above burner flame, turning until charred on both sides. Allow to cool in a paper bag. Shell peas, cut tips of asparagus by two inches from top and trim off rough base. Cut remaining stalks into pieces about 1/2-inch long. Keep tops separate from stalks. Seed remaining red pepper, and cut into thin, lengthwise strips, then cut in half or into thirds. Remove skins when red peppers are cool enough to handle. Rinse under cool water and pat dry. Place in bowl, toss with two tablespoons of olive oil the minced clove of garlic, about 1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt, and eight large leaves of basil, cut into slivers. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Step 2

Mince the remaining basil and parsley. Set aside. Steam the peas and asparagus tips (stalks separately) until crisp-tender (about five minutes for the asparagus, five to 10 minutes for the peas). Refresh under cold water and set aside.

Step 3

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook the pasta al dente (firm, not too soft). Drain and toss with the five tablespoons olive oil (which has been mixed with one clove garlic minced). Refrigerate until shortly before serving, or leave at room temperature if serving soon.

Note:

If cheese is to be avoided, try tofu cheese-like products now available in most health-food stores.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vegetus Publications
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes; nonvegetarian vs vegetarian
Author:Richards, Valerie
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1992
Words:1096
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