Sexy Legumes

Well, what do you eat?

Growing up I had the fun, glamorous experience of being a vegetarian in the public school system. Whenever it came up (usually the first day in a new school, during lunch break), the other kids looked horrified and fascinated. From kindergarten through high school I got the same reactions. What do you eat?

It didn’t help that I was a bit chunky through high school. The general assumption was that vegetarians looked like waifs. Like starving heroin addicts. Oh, and that we supposedly smelled like vegetable soup. Huh?

The response of course was, “everything you eat except for the animal parts”. Often waving at my overly generous hips, I would elaborate on pizza, cookies, ice cream, and everything else that tastes yummy and can make you fat. To this day, I know some of those kids didn’t believe me.

Then I found a kid in high school that was trying to convert to being a vegetarian. He confided in me that he had only been eating rice and lettuce for a month and wasn’t sure he was going survive. Well, duh! We fellow vegetarians got together and gave him a quick education on nutrition. Maybe I’m biased, but I think that people with ‘alternative dietary habits’ tend to have a bigger education on nutrition than those ‘normal’ people. Survival skills.

The number one problem with being a vegetarian (besides the weird beliefs of the carnivores) is getting proper protein in your diet. There’s an ongoing argument about protein sources, so it’s a good idea to vary types of protein on a daily or weekly basis. And legumes are your BFF.

Legumes are peas, beans, soy, peanuts (no, they are not nuts), and lentils. There are many more that are not a common food source. They contain the essential amino acid lysine, but lack methionine. Which is nice because whole grains are rich in methionine and low in lysine. When you combine legumes and whole grains, you create the complete protein necessary to keep you going. This doesn’t mean you have to do this at every meal. Your liver stores various amino acids, so by keeping a balanced intake, your body can actually build protein as it gets the necessary parts.

If you look back at history and traditional meals of different cultures, you’ll see that meat at a meal was often a once-a-week thing (if at all, depending on wealth, the season, and environment). A lot of traditional meals already combined these two elements because people aren’t stupid and natural selection picks off the people that don’t eat properly.

In India there are a lot of rice and dahl combinations. Asian cuisine likes to combine soy with rice, and Indonesians like tempeh with rice. The Americas with a lot of Spanish and native influence combines beans with corn. Even kids like peanut butter sandwiches.

(Okay, don’t get all upset if I mention the word ‘tofu’. That’s another five-page essay in itself. People who don’t know it, think it’s like eating slugs. And people who know it too well, think it’s one of the worst things you can eat because it’s over processed. So we won’t even go into tofu right now.)

There’s always a lot of argument going on when you get people who feel passionately about eating ‘right’. So everyone has something to say about what the perfect diet is. I’m more of a moderation kind of person. The Man and I try to eat a wide variety of foods to not only fill our nutritional requirements, but to keep from getting bored, and learn to make different kinds of food. I feel like anything carried to an extreme is unhealthy. Whether that’s food, religion, politics, or even washing your hands.

Being a vegetarian is a challenge for many reasons. But like anything else, if you have a basic education in it, you can make good decisions. You know what GI Joe says about knowledge.

There are literally thousands of ways to bring legumes into your diet. And yes you can make it taste awesome. Don’t forget your whole grains along the way. When in doubt, put some cheese on it. That’s my usual M.O. Yummmmm!

[Girl21]

Organic Cherry Ale, Samuel Smith

It’s all about expectations. This is why relationships fail. And why blind dates end in disaster. Reality mixes with your expectations, setting off an interesting chemical reaction.

Sam Smith Brewery has been making beer in the U.K. since the mid-1700s. Unless you are complete heathen who only drinks Bud Light or whatever is on special at your local gas station, you probably have seen (and maybe tried) something by Sam Smith’s brewery. You probably don’t know that (with one exception) all of Sam Smith’s brews are vegan.

Sam Smith brews tend to be reliably drinkable and traditionally made (yes, you can taste this). We picked up the Organic Cherry Ale at our last trip to the Wall of Beer at Ward’s. I’m a cider fan, but a fruit beer will also do. The Man is very patient with me on this. He likes IPAs and high ABV Belgian beers that are like getting hit in the mouth by a sack full of flavors. He doesn’t take my more timid approach to beers well.

Anyhow, I was tempted first onto the beer path through Lindeman’s lambic beer, often flavored with fruit. I challenge anyone who dislikes beer to have some of this and say it even tastes like beer. There’s nothing beer about it. Lambic beer is a seasonal beer that is very mild because it is spontaneously fermented, and the ingredients are selected to have very subtle flavors.

Not so for any of the Sam Smith brews. I went into this cherry ale thinking of the delicate Lindeman’s kriek (cherry) lambic, which it is not. Lindeman’s is a fair and cultured lady, where Smith’s is her country cousin that wears boots and mucks out the barn. Not that it is bad. It’s loud with sweet and sour cherry flavors, a bold ale body underneath, and a flurry of bold bubbles.

My fault was the expectations I had. Once I adjusted my brain and started drinking it again, the cherry ale went down a bit better. It had a great big fragrance of cherry pie, but the taste of cherry wasn’t quite as strong. The earthier notes of the grains came through better after I got past the shock of the sweet cherry. In fact, as I drank it, it lost the sweetness of the cherries and was left with that super tart flavor which was refreshing.

The Man had a hard time with it because he was thinking of ale when he started drinking it, and he quickly got burnt out on the fruit flavors and the sweetness. The hoppiness came out after a while, which filled out the flavors of grains and fruit. But for him, it has been permanently consigned to the “baby, you finish that so I can drink my good beer” list.

Overall it wasn’t bad. Samuel Smith consistently produces good beer. This is one of those things you can only drink one of. In fact, share it with a couple of people for an evening of beer tasting just for fun. Just be aware that if you invite this girl, she’ll still be wearing her boots from mucking out the barn. I’ll stick to the Lindeman’s lambic.

Samuel Smith
Organic Cherry Ale
1 Pint Bottle | 5.10% ABV
Price: $4.50-6.50

[Girl21]

Boxtastic Breakfast

Cheating is such an ugly word.

The fact of the matter is that I’m not a morning person. I’ve never been a morning person. Ask my friends and family. They have scars to prove it.

If you wake me up in the morning and expect food to magically appear out of the kitchen, it had better involve a box. And preferably something that doesn’t require me to handle a knife before I’ve had coffee. Since there are only two kinds of cereal after a few minutes in milk (mush and gravel), I’ve never been a big fan of that option. Bagels are delish but I can tell you the statistics for people going to the ER to get stitches or parts of fingers reattached because of a stubborn bagel.

That leaves something tasty from the oven. I vote for muffins mostly because they’re supposed to be lumpy. Not all boxed muffins are created equal though. You often get that overtone of chemicals and flavorings that are mixed in 55 gallon drums. I stumbled upon the Krusteaz (because I am a Publix BOGO fanatic), and like to keep a box in the pantry for impromptu muffin cravings.

Specifically, the cranberry orange muffin mix. Yes, feel free to put your thumb over the ‘Fat Free’ part of the label because I hate fat free marketed products, and these just don’t taste like they’re short of anything. The fun thing about this boxed mix is that the cranberries are in a cute, mini can.

Toss the mix in a bowl with a cup of water, and stir it up so it’s lumpy. Add the cranberries and stir a little more. Drop the batter into 10 or 11 muffin cups, and bake for about 15 minutes. Simple, and no one gets hurt.

So this is one of my secrets. If you get these on BOGO, grab a few boxes and you’ll thank me later. It’s easy to remember … Krusteaz… like Krusty the Clown from the Simpsons.

[Girl21]