Today’s guest post is from a local Minnesota food blogger, Keane Amdahl. Keane writes the blog Food Stoned and is very involved with the MN Food Bloggers group. He’s been working hard to put together the group’s 1st potluck this coming Sunday.
Nothing gives me warm fuzzies as much as hearing about people profess their love for vegetables. Reading Keane’s post made me so happy. I hope it does the same for you.
Give Veg a Chance: Keane Amdahl
I am an adventurous eater. I may not be Andrew Zimmern style crazy, but I’ll pretty much try anything twice. I’ve eaten some of the oddest cuts of meat off of some of the oddest animals. I’ve eaten blood and I’ve tasted guts. If you were to have asked me eight months ago what’s one culinary adventure that I couldn’t see myself embarking upon, I probably would’ve responded somewhere upon the lines of, “vegetarianism”; which is precisely why eight months ago I set upon the one thing I dared to never consider.
I spent an entire month as a vegetarian.
It was something I had been thinking a little about a few weeks prior to my start, but I really never thought that I’d go through with it. In fact, on that very first day, when I first awoke that morning, I hadn’t even decided that I was going to do it. Then, when faced with actually having to make that first and most dreaded decision, I decided to go veggie. This rang true the next time as well. Decision after decision I managed to stay on track with something I wasn’t even sure I was going to do in the first place. Day after day I kept making these decisions and I somehow managed to stay the course.
The next thing I knew the month was over…
It honestly felt like some kind of crazy miracle. I managed to make it through a holiday and several special events (including the Super Bowl!) without slipping.
I did it and I felt good.
My little recant might at first make it sound as though it was an agonizing process, but the truth of the matter was that it was frighteningly easy. I found the challenge of creating vegetarian cuisine an absolute blast and I still enjoyed making regular meat food for my significant other. It didn’t bother me at all. It was fun to try and create like dishes; one version veggie and one version meat. You might actually be surprised at how easy it is to substitute a vegetable for a protein, and the results can often times be stunning.
It’s now been just over eight months since my little experiment and I can honestly say that I no longer fear ordering vegetarian food in restaurants for fear that they may not hold up to their meat filled counter parts. I often find myself turning to veggie burgers now instead of the beef burgers I had become so reliant upon. Would I ever consider trying this experiment again; perhaps on a more full time level? The answer is that I’m not really sure, but I do know now that I could and that in my mind is a pretty big win.
So what’s the big take away here? If I had to say anything, I would say that
this little adventure definitely sparked a love for vegetables that I didn't really realize I had.
I’m now more prone to hunt and peck through the produce isles looking for new and interesting items. I peruse the farmer’s markets with an eagle’s eye looking for the nicest and freshest looking veg, all the while plotting new and exciting recipes I can subject them to. It’s also sparked an interest in foraging; not something I’ve done as of yet, but you better believe I will be soon! Vegetables are obviously a great healthy option, but from a purely culinary perspective, they have more to offer than a lot of people tend to realize.
Next time you go to the store, pick up a vegetable you don't recognize. Bring it home and do something with it. Anything.
If you really don’t know where to start you can try the Internet, but I bet once you first cut into it, you’ll figure it out.
Just give the veg a chance.
I’ve decided to provide a recipe here for a really great fall soup that is easily served with one of my favorite accoutrement. This soup would make a great starter for a nice dinner or as a simple supper all on its own. This Thai style pumpkin soup is particularly awesome when topped with my quick pickled onions. These onions also make a really versatile topper for a lot of other things (tacos, sandwiches, eggs, etc). For the soup itself, I’d recommend adding a dollop of sour cream and topping that with the onions. Serve with some cilantro leaves and should you feel even more daring, you can toss on a few Sriacha peas and a few drops of chili oil! It’s a total win!
I sincerely hope that you’ll give the produce section at your local supermarket a more thorough inspection the next time you pass through, and that you’ll really give some of those oddball veggies a better chance. I promise you, both your health and your palate will thank you!
Quick Pickled Onions
1 large red onion; sliced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
Salt and Pepper
1. Place sugar and vinegar in a sauce pot and simmer until sugar dissolves.
2. Add sliced onion to pot and cook until onions soften.
3. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Cool, chill and serve!
Thai Style Roast Pumpkin Soup
2 small-medium sized pumpkins
1-2 Thai red chilis
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice
1 tablespoon diced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 1/2-3 8oz cans coconut milk
Juice of half a lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Remove skin, guts and seeds from pumpkins and dice into ½ inch cubes.
2. Place pumpkin in a roasting pan and toss with all ingredients except for coconut milk, lime juice and salt.
3. Once pumpkin is thoroughly coated, place in a 425 degree oven, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.
4. Once pumpkin has softened, place into a dutch oven or stock pot with 2 cans of coconut milk. Simmer over medium high heat until pumpkin becomes very soft.
5. In increments, place soup in blender until smooth. Add additional coconut milk in order to reach desired consistency.
6. Place back in pot and add lime juice.
7. Salt to taste
8. Garnish with sour cream, pickled onions, and cilantro leaves.
9. Eat and Enjoy!
Have you ever thought of going veggie for a month, or have you recently done it? Share your story with us in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter. If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!