Sunday, March 21, 2010

eating (and drinking) the rainbow

I haven't forgotten you, National Nutrition Month!

Years ago, when I worked in social services, I worked with a small woman who could most kindly be described as eccentric. She was deeply involved with yoga and meditation, had converted from Christian Science to Reformed Judaism, followed a macrobiotic diet in her recovery from cancer, and exercised harder than her 70-year-old body wanted to most of the time. Although she and I frequently argued about whether or not you could call yourself a vegetarian when you consumed fish on an almost daily basis (she did), she admired that I was a vegetarian and that I had a similar interest in caring for my body. I think she thought she had found a kindred soul because our colleagues had anything but healthy eating behavior - three of them were dangerously obese.

I was still relatively new to vegetarianism at this point and was rather proud of the spinach-n-sprouts sandwich that I frequently brought for lunch. I was even more pleased when I had the opportunity to share food with my colleagues on a two-day work retreat. I made a pasta salad with all manner of tasty veggies - it was beautiful. I had never heard the expression "eat the rainbow" until that day, when my crazy, er, eccentric colleague complimented me on doing so.

We have been following that sage advice ever since, and it was more evident than ever in our dinners the past couple of nights.

Last night, I made Pasta Jambalaya from Vegan Express. Usually, I use cavatappi pasta, but the tri-colored rotini just looked so cute on the grocery store shelf (and so on sale, too!). It really changed the look! I accompanied our jambalayas with a healthy-sized salad of organic mixed greens, shredded carrots, quartered kalamata olives, and dried cranberries. As Mister approached the table, he couldn't disguise his happiness when he said "Ooh! Dinner's so pretty!" I'm going to add this dish to my list of Great Foods for Large Gatherings, because I had forgotten how much it makes - we have a ton of leftovers.

Tonight, we had Sweet and Sour Tofu with Dark Leafy Greens with Sesame Miso Dressing from The Vegan Table. While not as colorful as last night's dinner, it was still bright and colorful. The recipe originally calls for tempeh, but since Mister's belly hates tempeh, I decided to freeze and thaw a block of tofu and then I roasted it. The roasting dried it out a little, but did accomplish the crispy outside I was hoping for. Next time I will marinate the tofu before roasting to see what that does. The dressing on the greens was a little much for my little bundle of chard. "Bunch" is such an arbitrary measurement - what if her market is more generous than mine? I think it is, because there was a little pool of very intense dressing at the bottom of our little bowls. It was very good, but we couldn't finish even the 1/2 cup we each got because of the intensity of the dressing.

The sweet-n-sour sauce (homemade, thank you very much) was far more mild than I expected - it was perfect, if you ask me. Although the recipe called for apricot preserves, Superfresh was having a sale on Polaner All-Fruit, and I find Smuckers and their store brand revolting, so all that was left (and acceptable, AKA not sweetened artificially) were Pineapple preserves - I think that made a big difference.

The final "rainbow" I tasted was another color in the Yellow Tail rainbow: Riesling. It is very easy to drink. It's nothing special, honestly. It would be a good wine to drink for the sake of getting drunk because it goes down very smoothly, but one of the things I cherish in Riesling is the crisp "bite" a good one delivers - this one, like Polka Dot, has no such bite. It's really nearly a Pinot Grigio, which kind of enhances my curiosity to try the Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio, one of the few "colors" left. I was up in the air as to whether I wanted a red or a Riesling, and I almost shelled out for an Eiswein (Ice Wine, from grapes harvested after the first frost). I ended up with a bottle of Black Tower Riesling when I saw the Yellow Tail display and thought, "Well, I already know YT is vegan, while I know nothing about Black Tower other than that it has a cool bottle." Click on the link for Polka Dot (above) if you want to know how effective that method of choosing wines is. In the end, I wanted to try the YT Riesling anyway, so I chose that one. It will do, but I won't buy it again. I think this is the first color to fail and that doesn't really surprise me since I'm ultra-finicky about whites.

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