Slow Food, Green Food, Live Food, Clean Food

By Herb Gardener –

The veal-stock besotted set wants us to believe that vegetarianism is a cult bent on destroying all that is decent and pleasurable about cooking and eating. Why do these partisans feel so threatened?

After all, without health and vigor we don’t enjoy much of anything except a cynical hedonism. Pulled pork as a hamburger condiment may be haute cuisine, but the fun stops once you swallow.

As my last article explained, I am personally experiencing the benefits of reducing animal products and dairy in my own diet in favor of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

Thus, I wasn’t surprised when my editor assigned Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well by Terry Walters, and Pure Pleasures: Luscious Live Food Recipes from the Glowing Temple Kitchen by Natalia to review this month.

Natalia makes a case for choosing raw, uncooked, and live (sprouted seeds, for example) foods. New cuisines often require home cooks to invest in equipment and ingredients. Are you ready to dehydrate vegetables for several hours to achieve ideal flavor and texture profiles? Is it worth all the trouble to make glace de veau?

To the extent that Pure Pleasures attempts to place live food in a holistic context of physical, emotional, and spiritual elevation one may be more motivated to accept its rigors than for the sake of impressing dinner guests.

I most enjoyed the sections featuring beverages and sweet treats. As one who whirls up a fruit shake most mornings, I appreciate ideas for incorporating vegetables like kale or cucumber into a smoothie (see below). Chai spice cheesecake or mojito tart, along with several chocolate treat recipes, demonstrate creativity and playfulness in the pursuit of palate delight.

Clean Start is Walter’s follow-up to the best-selling Clean Food, which espoused a philosophy of eating locally grown, seasonal and fresh food for maximum nutrition and sustainability. In keeping with the book’s theme, recipe chapters are arranged by seasonal availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. Where Natalia’s book has the charm and limitations of a self-published venture, Clean Food is a handsome, detailed hardback printed on recycled materials with agra-based ink.

Four dinner guests joined spouse Flora and me to taste-test spring’s “festive quinoa with apricots and orange zest.” The recipe was well-received, though quinoa needs an assertive hand with seasonings. Sample and adjust prior to plating. My overall impression is that Clean Start will appeal to those who want to cook, sauté, grill, etc. — rather than assemble and mix — vegan ingredients.

Americans inherit a long history of and admiration for evangelism of all sorts so I’m listening to vegetarians and vegans, including many healthcare professionals, who beckon unconscious eaters to their revival with promises of a healthier, happier, even ecstatic life. For their part, Natalia and Walters challenge vegan caricatures with positive affirmations and flavorful recipes, but without a whiff of “die carnivores” bluster.

Isn’t it time for the lamb shank to lay down with the hemp seed?

From nut purees to smoothies, vegan cooking will keep your blender blades spinning. Here is a savory green smoothie from Natalia that one could also consider a cold soup.

Green Smoothie

1 cup pure water

4 celery stalks with leaves

1 avocado

1 medium cucumber

1 lemon, peeled and seeded

1 handful parsley

1 clove of garlic

¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Serve in either a glass or bowl. If serving as a soup, garnish with a bit parsley or a thin slice of avocado.

(Walters, Terry. Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well. New York: Sterling Publishing, $25.)

(Natalia. Pure Pleasures: Luscious Live Food Recipes from the Glowing Temple Kitchen. $26.95.)

Errata: In last month’s article I left out “one leek, chopped” from the Live to Eat Tomato Bisque recipes. I regret the omission.

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