Nutrition: Giving vegan cooking a whirl

With all the buzz about Oprah and her staff eating vegan‘no eggs, dairy, fish or meat’for a week, I thought


With all the buzz about Oprah and her staff eating vegan‘no eggs, dairy, fish or meat’for a week, I thought it was the perfect time to give vegan cooking a try myself.

First, I checked my cupboards: lots of whole grains, nuts and some seeds and dried fruit’check. Then I opened by refrigerator: oh, no: what about those fresh eggs from my brother- and sister-in-law’s free range chickens, and the two-litre container of milk that will be off by the end of the week, and the crème fraiche from Monforte dairy in Stratford that I bought at my local farmer’s market’it’s not going to last much longer?

Obviously, I don’t have a team of dietitians and chefs to covert my kitchen into a vegan-friendly cookery, as Oprah does for herself and her staff of more than 300 at Harpo Productions’ studios in Chicago. So as not to waste food that was already in stock, I decided to do every second day as vegan this week. One last hurdle: Although my husband rolled his eyes, he was also on board.

Getting started: Checked out my favourite muffin spot at the St. Lawrence Market on Saturday, but their tasty oat bran cranberry muffins contain buttermilk and the bran apple ones contain eggs’so I’ll be doing some baking to provide a nutritious breakfast during the week.

Day one’Thought starting on a Sunday would be easiest’lots of time to get organized, track down recipes and chop vegetables. First the muffins: I tried a recipe sent in  by a Best Health reader for vegan zucchini muffins. They contain ground flaxseed and water instead of eggs and  grated zucchini and applesauce provide lots of moisture’delicious! (Look for this recipe in the Community Kitchen section of our March/April issue on newsstands February 21’I’ll let you know when it goes online.) And I can still have coffee! Although without my usual cream. So far, so good.

Part of my own personal approach to eating vegan or vegetarian is not to try to mimic meat meals: so no tofu dogs, textured vegetable protein or hidden soy bits. Rather, I turn to cuisines that are inherently vegetarian and have loads of flavour, such as Indian or Thai, or to ones that you might not think of as being vegetarian friendly, such as Italian with its love of fresh vegetables and beans.

For Sunday dinner, I made this Indian-spiced Squash and chickpea stew‘but on the stovetop rather than in the oven’and served it with steamed rice and kate chips (see Green "Chips" in 11 ways to eat dark green vegetables). It was flavourful, filling and won rave reviews. Plus, I’ve got lots left for lunch tomorrow.

Tune in next Monday and I’ll let you know how the week goes. In the meantime, I would love to learn about any tasty vegan recipes that are your favourites, and your approach to adding more vegetables and whole grains to your diet.

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Vegan Fig and Raspberry Rice Pudding
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