Welcome to Our Community Kitchen
Our Community Kitchen is the place to find answers to all your questions about what it takes to transition to a “plant-strong” lifestyle, as well as recipes and tips for creating great tasting, vegetarian meals for your entire family.
We are all at different stages of our journey, and in the beginning it will be different. Don’t become discouraged – this isn’t a sprint – you may want take “baby-steps” before you are able to start running. The goal is to replace any nutritionally-deficient foods you are currently consuming with healthy, life-giving foods.
Whether you have recently made the decision to adopt a more plant-based diet, looking for alternatives to your favorite meals or just looking for some new “quick and healthy” recipes, Our Community Kitchen will be here to assist you along the way.
- Where do I start?
- What should we eat?
- How will I make school lunches for my kids?
Another great place to start is by watching the movie, Forks over Knives. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, we urge you to watch it on Netflix or better yet, get your own copy to share with your friends and family!
Our Team of Contributors
We’ve grown and want to introduce you to the contributors of Our Community Kitchen. We will all be sharing our stories, our favorite recipes and fielding questions.
If I give up meat – where will I get protein?
The idea for Our Community Kitchen came about because of Laura’s own personal struggle with how to cook for her family once they decided to make the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle.
Below is a reprint of Laura’s story we think answers the question we all ask ourselves when we first consider eliminating animal protein from our diet.
Hi! My name is Laura. For as long as I have known Wayne, he has been a vegetarian and a strong advocate for no dairy.
While I could understand the health benefits, I wasn’t compelled to revamp how I cooked. I felt our diet was already healthy; we seldom ate red meat, but we did eat chicken, pork or fish with a good mix of vegetables almost every night.
I had the opportunity to watch a pre-screening of the movie “Forks Over Knives.” Sitting in that darkened banquet hall, I was stunned at the information shared on the screen. I had heard most of it before, but the term “plant-strong” appealed to me. And to my delight, it appealed to our 11 year old son Jacob too.
We left the movie that night thinking we have to change how we eat. And then reality set in; we have to change how we eat! This meant I would have to change how I cook. Thoughts started rushing through my head about where would I start? What would we eat? How would I make the kid’s lunches?
I was overwhelmed just thinking about it. I wondered, is there a class I could take? Where do I find someone to teach me to cook this way?
I went to our local library and checked out a bunch of vegetarian cookbooks. I was excited, thinking this might work, but so many of the recipes were labor intensive – requiring 2+ hours of preparation and cooking time. Plus most of the recipes used a lot of dairy; milk, creams and cheese.
I began experimenting in my kitchen and experienced moments of “culinary genius” like using pureed cannellini beans to thicken a soup, paired with moments of disaster like how was I supposed to know tofu has to be pressed to remove moisture?
Quick & Easy “go to” Meals
I wanted to figure out my 20 “go to” meals for each season of the year. I wanted meals that are easy (and quick) to make. Most of us don’t have 2 hours every day to cook – I needed meals I could make in 30 minutes or less that our kids would enjoy too.
If you’re like me, my biggest question was protein.
I have a sensitivity to soy, so I didn’t want to just substitute tofu for meat. When I began researching, I was surprised to find out how readily available protein is.
- Beans & Lentils are a good start. They have 7-10 grams of protein per 1/2 cup cooked. Soybeans have 14 grams per 1/2 cup and split peas have 8 grams per 1/2 cup. All these 1/2 cup measurments are for cooked beans. Lentils are also really good with 9 grams per 1/2 cup.
- Vegetables have protein too. Asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and watercress all have 3 grams of protein per 3.5 oz or roughly 1/2 cup. Baked potatoes also have protein coming in at roughly 4 grams.
- Nuts & Seeds. High in fat and calories, these are used more like a condiment; sprinkled on a salad, in stir-fry, or a small handful for a snack.
- Peanut Butter (2 tbsp) – 8 grams
- Almonds(1/4 cup) - 8 grams
- Peanuts (1/4 cup) - 9 grams
- Cashews (1/4 cup) – 5 grams
- Pecans (1/4 cup) – 2.5 grams
- Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup) – 6 grams
- Pumpkins seeds (1/4 cup) – 19 grams!
- Flax seeds (1/4 cup) – 8 grams
These are high in fat & calories, so even a quarter cup could be more than you would want to use.
- Fruits have some protein. Kiwi, banana, blackberries, grapes, mangos, oranges are about 1 gram per cup of fruit.
- Grains were a surprising source. I thought they’d be just carbohydrates. Quinoa is a protein rich grain at 24 grams, and also has essential amino acids. Other grains to try are Amaranth (28 grams), Oats, (26 grams), Teff (25 grams), Buckwheat (22 grams) and Millet (22 grams). These measurements are for one cup of uncooked grain, which would normally yield 3 cups of cooked grain.
When cooking grains, especially quinoa, rinse the grain well before you cook it. There is a coating that if left on will leave the quinoa with a “soapy” aftertaste. Rinsing any grain helps to break down the outer coating and allow more even cooking.
- Soy is high in protein. Tofu has 9-20 grams per 1/2 cup, depending on if it is firm, extra-firm, silken or soft. Most meat substitutes are made from soybeans, so these are naturally high in protein. Tempeh is another soy-based substitute.
- Seitan is made from wheat gluten and is often used in meat alternatives, providing 15 grams of protein for every 4 ounces (1/2 cup). Quorn and other companies make meat alternatives using wheat & egg whites, but you’d have to read package labels to get the protein content for those.
But How Much Protein Do We Really Need?
I read somewhere that average person needs 0.8 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight. An easy conversion (and close approximation) is to divide your body weight by 3. For example:
- A man weighing 180 pounds would need about 60 grams of protein.
- A woman weighing 140 would need around 47 grams.
When eating 3-4 times a day,this means men would need about 15-20 grams per meal, women a little less at 12-15 grams.
It doesn’t seem difficult to get this amount when you look at all the available protein sources listed. Even if you were to make a sandwich with hummus and veggies – the bread, the hummus and the veggies all have available protein. Protein is literally everywhere.
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Garden Tomato, Cucumber and Black Bean Salsa Salad
A favorite recipe of Connie’s is so easy that even a child can prepare it – her kids actually do! This recipe is so versatile you can add and omit items based on your personal preference.
“I enjoy simple, stress-free meals that don’t require a lot of prep – are gluten-free – and that my girls will enjoy. They love to eat this with tortilla chips. It is yummy and filling! Sometimes I add a little white corn or a bit of spicy jalapeno or serrano and lay it over a bed of fresh greens. You can also add a can of organic pinto beans and put the whole combination into a whole grain or gluten-free wrap!”
- Connie Albright
Reprinted from TastyPlanner.com
6 cups diced cucumbers
4 large tomatoes – diced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 can of organic diced green chilis
1 or 2 cloves finely chopped garlic – to taste
1 large avocado, diced
1 red and green pepper thinly sliced & diced
1 cup of your favorite olives, halved (optional)
1 can organic, black beans (drained)
8 oz. diced tofu (as small as you can get)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix it all up in a bowl – it’s super fast and delicious!
Do you have a favorite recipe, that you would like us to make-over as a vegetarian meal?
Email us with the recipe and the story of your journey. Your recipe and story may be published in a future newsletter for everyone to enjoy.
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Let’s eat dinner together tonight -
Laura, Connie, Lisa, Greg, Pamela, Dale and Wayne