Guest Post by Mary Pomerantz of Science of Spirituality’s Vegetarian Life blog
When I became a vegetarian 43 years ago there was very little support for the neophyte. I only found one vegetarian cookbook that was published by the Seventh Day Adventists called “Ten Talents.” It was a vegan cookbook before that term was ever coined. By the time I stopped using it, my favorite recipes were marked with stains. There were no blogs because there was no internet. The choice of entrees in restaurants was limited to pizza, baked potatoes and side vegetables with a salad. Vegetarian restaurants may have existed in larger metropolitan areas but not in my smallish city in Michigan.
Vegetarianism has come a long way, baby. It is so easy eat a plant-based diet today. There are cookbooks galore, entrees on the menus of most restaurants and of course there is an abundance of recipes online from every ethnic cuisine in the world. Suddenly vegetarian cooking is in and people are excited about finding new ingredients and trying new spices. This is not new for me. I started exploring cuisines of the world forty years ago, trying to make meals more interesting. I found that trying dishes from other countries was a way to keep me from missing the meat that I had eliminated from my diet.
However, the pleasure of eating involves more than just the taste of the food being consumed. The texture or chew factor also influences the joy of eating a good meal. When I first became a vegetarian, I missed the chewiness of meat. At that time, while some meat substitutes were available, they were expensive and not very good. One ingredient that gave me the satisfying chewiness that I missed was the mushroom. Back in 1969 in Michigan where I lived when I became a vegetarian, the only type of mushroom that was available to me was in a can. Because I didn’t know the difference, that is what I used and mushrooms went into almost everything I cooked.
How the world of produce has changed! So much fresh food is available to us now that I never knew existed back in those early days. And the mushrooms! Button, shitake, king, crimini, Portobello, enoki, and oyster. Some have rich smoky flavors. Others have a more delicate, lighter taste. But they are all chewy, some types more than others. I never get tired of finding ways to incorporate them into the foods that I make.
Besides tasting good, mushrooms are good for you. Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, and the essential minerals, selenium, copper and potassium. Dr. Joel Fuhrman calls them a “super” food that helps our immunity. In his book Super Immunity, he says that mushrooms “capture microbial pathogens and abnormal cells so that other immune cells can destroy them.” This seems like another good reason to add mushrooms to a healthy diet.
I used a lot of mushrooms in this recipe: Portobello, enoki, button, crimini and shitake. I cut them all up into medium-sized chunks, except for the enoki mushrooms that I just sliced in about 1 inch pieces. I had some bok choy that needed to be cooked (as a side dish) so I flavored the mushroom dish with Thai-like spices and the bok choy with garlic, lemon and ginger. I made the main dish a stir fry using quinoa instead of rice. I currently do not use oil in my cooking, nor do I use added sodium. Feel free to use both, if that is what you like. I hope you enjoy it!
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 4-6 cups of a variety of mushrooms, cut into medium chunks or slices
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon no-salt seasoning , such as Mrs. Dash
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 8 ounces spinach, chopped
- 2 teaspoons red or green curry paste, such as Thai Kitchen (buy only non-fish type)
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- A dash of cayenne pepper , optional
- 1/2 cup coconut creamer, such as So Delicious Coconut Creamer
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- Salt or tamari to taste, optional
- Cook the quinoa with 2 cups of water in a medium sauce pan.
- Bring it to a boil, cover the pan and turn the heat down, simmering on low until the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.
- As the quinoa cooks, prepare the vegetables. Cook all of the mushrooms, except the enoki, in the 1/4 water with the onion powder and the no-salt seasoning over medium-high heat.
- Cover the pan, stirring often.
- When the water starts to absorb, take the cover off of the pan and turn the heat up slightly. Stir constantly as the water evaporates and the mushrooms start to brown. This only takes a few minutes. When they look cooked and slightly brown, turn off the heat and put the mushrooms into a bowl.
- Cook the onions in the last 1/4 cup of water with the garlic. Follow the same procedure as you did with the mushrooms, steaming them to start.
- As they brown and caramelize, watch them carefully to prevent burning. When they are cooked, add the mushrooms, the quinoa and the rest of the ingredients.
- Warm over a low heat, stirring to incorporate all of the ingredients. Put the cover back on the pan for about 3-4 minutes, while the spinach wilts.
- Serve with a side dish of mixed greens or vegetable of your choice.
Mary Pomerantz has been a vegetarian for 43 years. She raised her three children as vegetarians and now her seven grandchildren are following a plant-based diet, too. She has enjoyed a passion for cooking for 50 years and especially loves trying new spice and herb blends. Mary writes a vegetarian blog for the Science of Spirituality. You can check it out at: http://www.sosvegetarianlife.com/.
Thanks so much, Mary, for bringing a special perspective to this website. It’s an honor to have your writings here. The work you do on your blog is so important! ~Veggie Val