Sunday, December 29, 2013

AngelMay Makes Vegan Cornbread

Now cornbread might not be on everyone’s top ten items of must-have foods, but I’m a Southern gal and I have to have my cornbread.  The problem is, I’m used to making cornbread with eggs and milk and a ton of vegetable shortening.  And adopting a low-fat Vegan diet has put an end to that.

So, this might not matter much to you and you might say, “Just go to the internet and get a recipe for vegan cornbread.  There are tons of them out there.”  Ha!  Easy for you to say!  And, well, yes. I could do that.  But, for years I have made cornbread with this:

And when you have fifty-seven 2-lb bags of the stuff in your freezer, you want to use it.  At least I want to use it.  Thus, the great vegan cornbread adventure.   And, in case you are wondering, I was just kidding about having fifty-seven of them.  I actually have closer to a dozen.   Oh, all right!  I’ll go count them!  Nine!  I have Nine – plus the one that is already open.  Happy now?  But however many I have, you just can’t beat Martha White and I’m not even going to try.

Also, all the recipes on the internet have tons of sugar in the list of ingredients.  SUGAR!  No Southerner worth her salt is going to put sugar in cornbread.  Not even with a gun held to her head.  No way.  Not happening.  Not now.  Not ever.

No problem deciding which milk substitute to use.  I’ve tasted soy milk and ... Yuk Patooie!  That stuff does not taste good.  I’ve also tasted Blue Diamond Almond Breeze – and that one tastes pretty good.  However, no milk substitute I’ve ever tasted is as good as the favorite in this house:  Vance’s DariFree

This “potato based milk” tastes even better than the regular cow’s milk we’ve always been used to.  It tastes so good, in fact, that AngelSpouse switched to this product approximately thirty years ago!  He uses it in his cereal in the mornings.

Back to the experiments.  Knowing what milk substitute I would be using, what I needed next was a substitute for the egg.  I had a couple of choices in mind.

First, I baked up a skillet of cornbread using a medium-soft tofu in place of the egg.  I really should have used a very soft silken tofu but I didn’t have any.  However, the medium-soft worked pretty well after I smashed it really good and gooped it up with some of the milk before adding it to the cornmeal.

Here is the finished product using tofu in place of egg:

It didn’t rise like my usual non-vegan cornbread and it took a little longer to bake.  The length of the bake time, however, could be the fault of my oven, which is not altogether truthful with respect to temperature declarations.

This cornbread was also a bit “heavy”.  But I have to tell you – it didn’t taste bad at all.  In fact, we nearly finished it off about 30 minutes after it came out of the oven.  (Do keep in mind that my cornbread skillet is pretty small – about 6” diameter – just so you don’t think we are total gluttons here.)

That was yesterday.
Today, I made cornbread again.  This time using a commercial egg replacer in place of the egg:

And, of course, I used the DariFree milk substitute as before.

Here is the cornbread made with egg replacer:

This skillet of cornbread had a higher “rise” than the tofu cornbread.  It was fluffier but also a little more crumbly.  I think the tofu kept the first skillet of cornbread from being crumbly, but, as I said, it was a bit heavy.

Disclosure 1:  To the cornbread made with the egg replacer I also added 1 tablespoon of instant mashed potato flakes.  I figured the milk substitute is made from potatoes and I use instant mashed potato flakes in my home-baked bread so why not give it a try?  Anyway, I doubt it did much to the taste but it could have added just a smidge to the lightness of the cornbread (as opposed to the heaviness of the tofu cornbread).

Disclosure 2:   To the cast iron skillet, I have always added a BIG old glop of Crisco vegetable shortening, placed it over high heat until it melted and the pan was very hot, then poured the hot, liquid shortening into the cornmeal mix, stirred it all up, and finally returned everything to the skillet and popped it into a 450 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.  For these low-fat versions of cornbread I used maybe 1 teaspoon of the shortening – just enough to coat the skillet with a tiny bit left over to add to the mix.  Ergo, little bit crumbly because not so much fat to hold it all together anymore.

Moment of truth:  This cornbread made with the egg replacer tastes GREAT!  I can’t wait till lunch in a few minutes because I’m going to scarf that thing down.

Southern Gal gets her cornbread after all!  Low Fat!  Dairy Free!  And tastes great!
Happy dancing around the oven!  And it looks just like….wait for it….CORNBREAD!

~ AngelMay  ~

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My (Almost) Vegan Journey To Better Health

I guess some of you have noticed my last two posts entitled “New Shoes” and “Beautiful Soup.”  The shoes, while pretty good looking, are in the closet gathering dust.  The soup, was cooked and eaten.  It was really good.  And the soup brings me to the subject of this post:  My (Almost) Vegan Journey To Better Health.  I say “almost” because I’m not going to beat myself up over an obscure animal product in the production of the vitamin D in the milk substitute I use.  For just one example.

I first need to preface this and future posts by saying that this is going to be a sort of documentary journal for myself (as well as any interested others) to track my progress in losing weight and getting my blood glucose levels under control.  The cholesterol levels should take care of themselves if I am able to achieve the other two.  And if they don’t, well, I’m not worried about them in any event.

Secondly, I will not be preaching to anyone about what they eat.  Your food.  Your choice.  Your body.  Your health.  This is all about me.

And finally, I do not – repeat DO NOT – advocate that you follow my lead in stopping your medications (whatever those medications may be).  You should talk to your doctor about the things that concern you.  I’m a bit of a wild one and have always gone in my own direction.  My husband declares me the world’s worst patient.  And he’s probably right.

So here we are.   And here I stand.

A bit over a year ago – maybe two years now – I was told by my doctor that my cholesterol levels were too high and that I was pre-diabetic.  Well, great!  That’s just what I needed.  He sent me off to a class for pre-diabetic patients at the hospital.

Now, I am fairly well-read when it comes to nutrition (but do not claim to be an expert) and I took one look at the handouts they gave me in the “pre-diabetes class” at the hospital and wondered why they were trying to kill me instead of making me healthier.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure they had my best interests at heart.  But beside every beautifully-colored pretend-plate of food there was a glass of milk.  Milk.  The very thing that contributes to Type 1 diabetes in children.

Even I know that milk is for baby cows and not for humans.  Even I know that dairy is not good for you.  Yet there it was.  Both beside the plate and actually on the plate.  Also on the plate was chicken.  And beef.  And cheese.  I rolled my eyes.  Even though I was already eating all that stuff (nobody loves a juicy filet mignon better than I do), I knew it wasn’t good for you in any amount.  I was absolutely amazed to find it on the plates in the literature that was supposed to help me.  At least, I had thought they were going to help me – not kill me.  But what the heck.  I gave it a try.  Unbelievably, I lost 25 pounds over the next 3 months – mostly due to the small portions allowed.  But I couldn’t stick it out.  Counting carbs was a ridiculous way to live and I gave up.  And I went right back to eating my same old way and gained back the 25 pounds.

Then we moved from Washington State to California for more sunshine, more convenience, and to be closer to my best friend.  Then my best friend died.  It has taken me these past 6 months to pull myself up again after that blow.  I still think of him so fondly and very often.  But he’s gone now.  And I’m still here.  And I have to keep on keeping on.

And all that time I was taking my prescription medications (simvastatin and metformin) and feeling like absolute hell.  I decided I had had enough.  So I stopped taking the simvastatin in early October of this year.  I decided the body needs cholesterol and it’s smart enough to know what it’s doing when it makes it.  Ha!  I was taking control, by golly!  My life.  My body.  My health.  Me.  No more cholesterol meds.  Ever.  The decision has been made.

Then I decided the Metformin had to go.  If you want to know why it had to go, I will tell you.  Taking that stuff – even the 500mg per day baby dose I was on – rendered me unable to go anywhere.  Here’s a lady who sums up the problem beautifully:

I urge you to read it.  It’s not too long and it’s an absolute hoot.

So I stopped taking the Metformin in early November.  Hooray!  Now I can go places!  Now I can have a  life!  (My doctor will be told of these … er… adventurous decisions the next time I see her.  No point worrying her with it right now.  It’s not an emergency.)

I also dragged off the shelf my copies of several books on nutrition and controlling disease through diet.  The one most important to me (at this particular time) that fell under my hand was this one:


I re-read it.  Then made the decision to go for it.  If a Vegan diet can do the wonderful things he says it can do, it’s definitely worth a try.  So for the past two months I’ve been on a (mostly) Vegan diet.  And I’ve lost – drum roll please – just over twelve and a half pounds.

I also made the decision to begin checking my own blood glucose levels instead of waiting around for the doctor to send me to a clinic for an annoying blood test.  So I purchased a blood glucose meter at Amazon.  They are dirt cheap.  I purchased the Accu-Chek Nano.  But the test strips will break you if you are poor or have no insurance to cover the cost.  I also get those at Amazon for a little less than 50 cents per strip.

What do you know?  Not only is my weight coming down on this diet, but my blood glucose levels are coming down, too.

Finally, I want to say that counting carbs is hopeless.  And also ineffective for doing the job I want done.  But this way of eating that Dr. Neal Barnard recommends is beyond easy to follow.  You can eat as much as you want – just as long as you don’t eat any animal products and consume VERY, VERY little  fat.

This means no meat.  No butter.  No eggs.  No milk.  No cheese.
This means you eat tons of vegetables.  Tons of fruit.  Tons of beans.  And tons of grains.  You use only the tiniest amount of added unsaturated fat to your food.

And the weight will fall off.  And the gunk in your arteries will flush away.  And your body will once again be able to use the insulin it produces.  And you will feel better.  Heart disease will back off.  Diabetes will reverse.  Obesity will be a thing of the past.

I believe every word of this.  I’ve always believed it – even when I was stuffing my face with steak and macaroni and cheese.  It remains to be seen if I can continue to stay on this path.  I wonder if it’s too late at my age to even begin such a journey.  But it’s the only age I have and I can only go forward from here.

If you are interested, please watch this:

These videos (and the above mentioned book) could save your life.

More next time. 
Please, wish me luck on my late-in-life journey back to health.

~ AngelMay ~ 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Beautiful Soup

This is the photo of the "Hearty Quinoa and White Bean Soup" found on page 65 of Mary McCartney's cookbook "FOOD".

I was so taken by this and so wanted to try it that I returned to the bookstore when I discovered that the recipe was not among those in the cookbook that I purchased that day.  I searched and searched through all the Vegan cookbooks.  Then I began searching through the Vegetarian cookbooks.  Finally,  I laid my hand on Mary McCartney's beautiful book and pulled it from the shelf.  I began searching through the recipes and there it was!  Needless to say, the book came home with me and, after a trip to the grocery store in the very near future, a pot of this soup will be simmering in my kitchen.