A question I’m often asked is, “If you suddenly didn’t have lupus anymore, would you go back to eating the way you used to (as in, eating a standard American diet)?” My answer: absolutely not. The purpose of that question is of course to determine whether a plant-based diet is “worth it” for a seemingly healthy person, or if I regularly choke down my vegetable dinner then go to my room to cry over how much I miss chicken fingers and baked brie. Trust me, it’s so worth it.
In addition to the many health benefits of a plant-based diet (reduced cancer risk, fewer colds, etc., etc.), I find this diet surprisingly freeing. I never feel guilty about what I eat, and I don’t have to count calories. I eat as much as I want and am confident that I’m getting the nutrients I need thanks to the variety of colorful fruits and veggies I consume each day.
Changing my diet also inspired me to try different herbs, spices, and flavors. There’s so much more to cooking than simply adding butter and salt to everything! Now I cook with curries, pesto, miso paste, tamari, nutritional yeast, tahini, ginger, turmeric root, liquid smoke, roasted garlic, and all kinds of vinegars. I get ideas for flavor combinations from cooking magazines, Pinterest, and cookbooks.
Eating a plant-based diet has also made me passionate about trying all kinds of produce that I wouldn’t have been interested in before. I get very excited when I see a “novelty” fruit or vegetable in the produce section — one that’s only in season a few weeks each year. For example, I couldn’t resist these beautiful fiddlehead ferns, which are in season about two weeks at the end of May. Foragers love them, but apparently they resemble another type of fern that’s carcinogenic, so please don’t go out eating ferns you find in the woods. Leave that to the experts!
Fiddlehead ferns are the tops of young ferns that have been cut just at the right moment. They should be tightly coiled, firm, and bright green.
I like to serve them in any dish that would suit asparagus, because their flavor and texture are similar. They’re great in pasta dishes with lemon, in risotto, on pizzas, etc. Or you can do what I did and boil, blanch, sauté, then plate them with other vegetables.
The key to cooking fiddlehead ferns is to make sure you cook them long enough. If they are under cooked, they will be bitter. Trust me.
I boiled my ferns for four minutes, then blanched them in ice water to keep their bright green color. Before serving, I heated them up in a sauté pan for a couple of minutes on medium heat and sprinkled them with a pinch of sea salt. Perfection!
Another part of the produce section I love is the mushroom section. Mushrooms are so good for you, and they can add a lot to a dish. These pretty little mushrooms are beech mushrooms, and they can be purchased in one large clump, like this:
I also love to add purple potatoes and baby courgettes (zucchini) to my plates for texture and color variety. Don’t be afraid to change things up and try new vegetables!
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I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!
We had great weather here in Winston, so we took Abby to the farmers’ market and the pool. We also planted our vegetable garden (finally!), took strawberry cobbler to an office cookout, and walked around Old Salem in an attempt to get some good family photos.
Here are a few pictures of Abby enjoying her long weekend:
I’m so glad it’s finally summer! Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and make some non-toxic bug repellent! 🙂