Archive for August, 2011

Summer (or anytime) Vegan Chili

Today’s Meatless Monday recipe is brought to you by my dear friend and client Leila. She brought us meals more than once during the weeks following our boys’ births and deaths. This recipe she was a little nervous about because she was just starting the adventure of vegan cooking but it turned out great! This chili is very tasty and it’s even nice for summer because it’s lighter than a traditional chili- with pinto beans replacing kidney beans, and a light tomato base- and the corn is sweet and in season. Enjoy!

Pinto Bean Chili with Corn and Butternut Squash

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups chili + 1 lime wedge)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups (1/2 inch cubed and peeled) butternut squash (about 1 pound)
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn (can use frozen)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chilies, not drained
  • 6 lime wedges

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Place onion mixture in a 5 quart electric slow cooker. Add butternut squash and next 6 ingredients (through chilies). Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until vegetables are tender and chili is thick. Serve with lime wedges.

 

 

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Vegan Love

After we got home from the hospital our good friend Rebecca was kind and thoughtful enough to set up a “Take Them a Meal” schedule. She sent it out to many of our friends and we were blessed with meals every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for over a month! Jeremy and I were humbled and amazed at the love and willingness of others to do this for us and it really helped. Especially in those first weeks when we honestly wouldn’t have remembered to eat unless someone showed up on our door step, meal in hand.

I was impressed too by how many people tried their hands at home cooking, vegan style. I’ve decided to start publishing the recipes from our friends on Mondays. Mondays, as some of you may know, are a part of a movement in the veg world to go meatless on that day every week as a way to reduce- impact on the environment, natural resources, animal suffering, waste. So in honor of “Meatless Mondays” I will share the recipes that graced our home in our time of need and filled us with nourishment and love.

I told my friend Danielle that I was planning on doing this as a way to “transition away from death.” She laughed and I appreciated that. I like when friends can laugh with me in the dark times too. I always envisioned this blog as having things like vegan recipes and products too. Of course I thought a lot of that would relate to what I’d be feeding our boys and cloth diapering and eco-friendly versions of products like diaper cream .  But some days I come here to write and it’s too hard. The pain is too much. So a recipe is a little lighter and easier. My friends had no idea when they brought those meals how even now it’s helping me to still write, still process, but have a little break from it too.

Today’s recipe is a Wheat Berry Salad from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking cookbook. Our dear friends Joellen and Geir made it for us and brought it by with a bottle of wine and spent some time hanging out. It is light and delicious- absolutely perfect for summer. I’m still doing the juicing and hot yoga detox, which Jer calls”baby Auschwitz” (funny and offensive!) because the first time I was doing this combo in January I didn’t know I was pregnant! Our poor little boys were sweatin’ it out with nothing but juice to get through their first couple of weeks. I didn’t know, sorry. The minute I saw a plus sign I ran and ate a cantaloupe. True story. Anyways, when I’m off the juice (ha!) I’ll be making lots and lots of this salad. It’s that good. Enjoy!

 

 

Wheat Berry Salad with Citrus, Pine Nuts, (Vegan) Feta and Spinach

Ingredients:
2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed
6 cups water
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed
Citrus Dressing:
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 generous handfuls spinach leaves, stemmed and well rinsed
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup crumbled (Vegan) feta cheese
Combine the wheat berries, water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy, about an hour or so. The berries should stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they’re done is to taste a few. Drain and season to taste with more salt.
To make the dressing, combine the orange zest and juice, lemon juice, and shallot. Whisk in the olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Toss the hot wheat berries with the spinach, pine nuts, citrus dressing, then top with the (Vegan) feta. Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with a bit more salt if needed.
Serves 4 to 6.

The Face of Grief

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, I know. I’m not supposed to start out a blog like that, I know that too. I’ve had lots on my mind as you might imagine, and have planned many times to write it all out. Every time I went to do so the thought of it seemed too overwhelming, too tiring. But today it’s been 2 months since our boys were born. Two months since we held them and kissed them and said good-bye. It’s gotten harder in many ways with the distance of time. I know “time heals,” but I think the time frame on this particular wound is pretty long.

There’s a resistance to the passing of time, at least for me. The more time passes the more separated I feel from the life and lives I so desperately wanted. For a woman who normally embraces change, the thought that I wish the world would just stop or better yet go backwards is replacing my normal push forward. This new life, which is in essence my old life, is difficult to accept. Rationally I know the deal. There is no “new” or “old” it’s all just life. My life. As unfair and no where near what I wanted it to be as it is. I also know that this may not even be the worst of it. I can only control my actions and reactions, nothing else. Knowing that something just as or even more terrible (what could that be?) might be lurking around the corner is a constant. I worry much more about Jeremy than ever before. I’ve always worried, especially when I know he’s driving, but it’s intensified. I try not to act on it but if it’s getting late and I haven’t heard from him that he’ll be working late I can feel a bit of panic creep over me and I call him hoping, but not necessarily expecting, to hear his voice on the other end. I still choose to live and leave the house- which is harder some days more than others. I find that I really like being at home and even alone much more than I did before. There’s a safety here, a quiet that I crave. And my boys are here. At least their physical selves in their tiny urns. It’s something. It’s what I have.

Being out and about these last two months has been hard. Unexpectedly so. Everywhere I go I remember the last time I was there when I was pregnant. How it felt to even walk to work or cross the street pregnant. To go to church and worship, so thankful for the babies inside me. I remember how others looked at me, helped me, opened doors, asked about the babies. There was an excitement and a purpose to every step. My life had a definite direction, new and intimidating and awesome. I really miss that. And I really, really miss my boys.

Recently I’ve thought a lot about the pregnancy. I realized that throughout the pregnancy I was drawn to stories of loss and told stories of loss. As I’ve mentioned before, my friend lost her baby boy at 19 weeks and I thought a lot about her during my pregnancy. Reading her baby loss blog connected me to other blogs that dealt with loss. I would read them and weep, knowing there were no guarantees with my pregnancy either. A friend from high school contacted me when she heard we were having triplets. She has twins, but she also told me about the baby girl that she lost, stillborn, and how she and her husband dealt with that. Then our fellow blog friend who was pregnant with triplets lost her babies. Again, I just wept for her and her husband and hung on every post wanting to know how they were surviving through such tragedy. Friends told me not to read them. They said that of course my babies would be fine, not to worry. I didn’t really think anything would happen to our babies, but I did have a strong sense that those stories of loss deserved my attention and respect. Even when getting my blood drawn a woman in the waiting room asked about my pregnancy. When I told her it was triplets she told me that she also had triplets, but that they died the day they were born. It was heartbreaking and shocking, yes, but instead of feeling upset at her for telling me or stopping the conversation, I felt compelled to know more. What happened? How was she doing now, years later? I told her again and again how very sorry I was and felt only love for her. Looking back now (and even at the time, though I dared not admit it) I see a preparation that was happening for my loss. God knew this would happen and He knew He would not stop it from happening, so He provided connections to others who have experienced the loss of a baby or babies. Connections that have led to even more stories of loss and more amazing women behind those stories who are becoming friends in the darkness.

I’m also doing some things for me, as people keep telling me to do. I’m giving myself at home facials and getting pedicures and massages. I’m using a scrub consistently for the first time in years, enjoying longer showers and the hope of glowing skin. I’ve started doing hot yoga 6 days a week at an hour and a half a pop. My body had not had a work out in 6 months so it was a bit of a shock at first but it’s starting to shape up and enjoy the process. It’s been therapeutic and detoxifying for me to be doing yoga again. And necessary as I have 30 pounds to lose to get back to pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not hard on myself for the weight- I know it was necessary- but honestly, it makes me really sad to have it without my babies. I’m also juice fasting– 10 days in- and plan to do this for 21 days. That’s again something I’ve used in the past to detoxify, recharge, reset. I do it a lot during times of extreme stress or when I notice my lupus and fibromyalgia are acting up. It helps to focus me during stress and it alleviates my symptoms completely. I take it really seriously and there’s a control to it and a methodology for juicing which feels nice when your world is so emotionally chaotic. Put the pieces of the juicer together; wash and cut the produce; juice; clean and dry the juicer; repeat.

Here I am in a lovely minty mask from "earthscience" purchased at Whole Foods.

The veggies for one of my juices.

The downside- all those veggies only make this much juice! But it's so yummy.