Monday, January 28, 2019

The NEW Canada Food Guide: Cultural Dilemma to Life With Less Meat?

The Canada Food Guide was developed during World War II when there were disruptions to the general lifestyle and economy and it was felt that there needed to be some sort of "rules list" to ensure for a healthy populace.  The Depression that followed World War I with crop failures and stock market plunges and job scarcity no doubt had some input into the formation of the 1942 Food Rules.

If you grew up, like I did, in the Prairies in the 50s and 60s, you might not be unfamiliar with the following sort of plate (meatloaf=protein, potatoes and corn=vegetables-- there was likely a slice or two of bread and butter on a side plate, and maybe some canned peas or such, and likely a dessert that contained the necessary dairy and maybe some raisins to represent fruit.  If you were a kid, a glass of milk was generally served at the same meal if your parents were intent on "building your bones".):
Perhaps you see the same plate on your table today.  I am not criticizing (here).  This was pretty much the dictate of the 1942 Food Rules.  If you ate a "hearty" breakfast at home once a week, it likely looked a little like the following:
And again, maybe this is standard weekly fare for you to this day.  Perhaps you are new to Canada and this represents the wonderful benefits of living in this abundantly food-ed country.  I must admit that this picture does make me salivate even though I have not eaten bacon and eggs for quite a while and probably will not again.  Note the glass of orange juice-- in the old Food Rules, juice was a legit substitute for a piece of fruit.  No more.  Nor is milk considered an appropriate beverage in meeting the new guidelines.  Plain old WATER is the suggested beverage in the latest Health Guide.

                   THE MEAT CULTURE
I will assume you have not been living under a log and know all the arguments for eating animal products-- meat, eggs, poultry, fish, dairy, and other animal excretions.

The eating of animal products seems pretty well embedded as one of the bonuses of being a dominant species on this planet.  We have placed ourselves at the "top of the Food Chain" and have piles of rationals and explanations for the eating of other species and the drinking of their milks.

I am pretty sure that there are large components of every language and ethnic group on the planet with a vociferous plan for maintaining their dominant, traditional, social and cultural ties to eating meat.

On the other hand, there is also a growing groundswell of agreement that factory farming, factory fishing, ocean pollution, massive cuts of rain forests for ranching, climate change, and a prodigious ongoing appetite for animal foods is destroying not only the other species on Earth, but is not doing us any health or social benefits, either, but is ,indeed, also contributing to individual and collective human poor health and vitality.  Some of the world's longest-living people eat no or little meat or animal products.  (See the The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest)

What about the Hunter-Gatherer argument, that global indigenous peoples have lived by hunting animals and gathering wild herbs and fruits, and that this lifestyle has afforded both healthfulness and natural balance?  Apart from the vegan argument for the same respect for not eating all/any sentient beings (living creatures who experience sensation and emotion), there is a bit of a skew in seeing that there are in fact enough wild "food" animals for all the people of the world to hunt and eat without the further depleting of entire species, as already happens with the more global open season on sea animals, for example.  Where is the balance?  Read about this indigenous scholar's decision to go vegan and the cultural factors that figured into her choice.

So, yes, meat-eating is heavily upheld by many as a positive, traditional, and therefore culturally inviolate way of life.  On the other hand, like the indigenous scholar above, many peoples with a strong culture and tradition around eating animal products have 'come out' and are embracing a plant-strong lifestyle.  I think the Canadian Food Guide 2019 carries a proactive vision that will be echoed and enlarged by more and more Canadians and global citizens as the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and diet are recognized.  I commit to providing delicious, healthy recipes here that reflect the intent of the Food Guide.  If you are interested in following me on Facebook, I post recipes there about three times a week at Organic Granny Veggie Recipes group.  I like to include a lot of recipes that are similar to the 'meaty' comfort recipes people miss or look for when they transition into a plant strong diet.  I also like to include a Monday Mock Meat recipe, a Tuesday Tofu recipe, and a Wednesday Wellness recipe, all plant-strong, and mostly low fat and often gluten-free.  JOIN US!

Learn How To Set Up A Vegan Diet For Weight Loss, Building Muscle, Healthy Eating, Meal Planning & Vegan Bodybuilding

Vegans are a counter-culture in Canada, and likely in most world ethnic cultures today.  As a long-time Adventist Christian, I have had the opportunity to mix with vegetarians and vegans on a regular weekly basis over the past 25 years, and since my husband was an Adventist prior to that, we have been vegetarian-flexitarian-vegan for probably about 45+ years.  By flexitarian I mean to say that we have gone back to meat-eating at various times in our past, but have resolutely returned to a plant-strong diet, and now I believe that we are fixed there because we definitely enjoy vegan food and find the concept of killing and eating animals to be very troubling in a country that is rife with other forms of protein (the main reason that meat-eaters have claimed that they eat meat is because of the protein factor, in my experience).  BUT-- I am still regularly directly and subtly challenged by non-vegans about the inadequacy of my diet and other things, such as how "politically-correct" veganism is, and how they can never see themselves giving up meat for various reasons.  The 2019 Food Guide might appear to be a Vegan cultural switchover to meat-eaters, but so far, the counter-culture is still Vegan.

If you are curious about how/why some meat eaters made the transition, here are some "testimonies" on video by some of prominent vegan physicians, and some recipe books by members of  various ethnic/national/religious groups who recognize the delights of a vegan diet (or, at least, of a vegan recipe that is patterned on their traditional food treats).  Enjoy!

  Dr. Michael Greger talks about his daily public service (videos and blogs at dedicated to his Grandmother who inspired him to become vegan and a lifestyle physician.  
Dr. Cauldwell Esselstyn, Jr. talks about his work with patients with breast cancer and how he became tired of 'losing' patients regardless of what 'medical interventions' were introduced... the reason he is so passionate about medicine today is because of the science-based evidence that food (plant-strong) can reverse disease.
From a Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) conference:What Dr. Neal Barnard and other vegan doctors eat during the day!


Friday, January 18, 2019

5 Recipes for Veggie Chick'n Nuggets

ChickPea Nuggets (recipe #1 Below)

Chicken Nuggets were a huge treat back in the day when they first emerged amt the famous fast food joint.  They seem to have continued as a favourite snack, especially for children.  So, how nice for all of us that there is a kinder, healthier, and, I think, tastier vegan/vegetarian alternative.

If you go to Pinterest, you will find that there are MANY veggie versions of chick'n nuggets, with main ingredients ranging from chick peas to jackfruit to pumpkin to jackfruit and several other versatile plants.  Some people seem intent on replicating the original chicken-like texture and flavour in their nuggets, while many of the other recipe creators simply look for new ways to create a savoury chunk of yumminess with the capability of holding together for a dip.

If you have fond memories of the nugget, and/or your child or other loved one has a craving, one of the following recipes will satisfy I am pretty darn sure.  If you are looking for another creative recipe for Meat-free Monday/Meatless Monday, the same is true.

1. ChickPea Nuggets (as in the picture above).  This recipe uses actual chickpeas, canned or home-cooked.  In the picture above, you see that the baked batter on the nugget is maybe a little paler than you would expect-- that is because I used ground Soda Crackers as my coating.  Looks pale, but is a nice light battering and something a lot of folks have on hand.  Otherwise, these nuggets taste not unlike falafal, if you are familiar with the lovely Middle Eastern savory chickpea balls.  Indeed, these particular nuggets make a great insert into wraps with lots of fresh salad greens, some red pepper slices, tomato, and a lovely Lemon-Sesame Dressing.  But they are also super-great as a dippable Nugget.  The original delightful recipe for these ChickPea Nuggets can be found HERE at Vegan Heaven.

2. Cauliflower Chick'n Nuggets
The recipe for these mouth-watering looking morsels can be found HERE at the Healthier Steps site.  They are vegan and gluten-free, so a healthy match for anyone who is looking for those criteria.  What I appreciate about this recipe is that it uses a shorter list of ingredients than many of the nugget recipes.  If you have cauliflower florets and a few other ingredients on hand, you have the makings of a great, quickly-put-together snack!

3. Actual VEGGIE Nuggets
The following video is an example of not being so much hung-up on the "chick'n" part of the nuggets but really digging the little dip-worthy nuggets for themselves.  As you can see in the video, an egg is used in the recipe (the actual recipe is right under the video HERE) but you can sub with a tablespoon or two of chia or flax seed added to the blender/processor, or you can use one of the many egg-substitutes available commercially.  Definitely worth a try!  

4. Tofu Chick'n Popcorn Nuggets

This recipe (shown just above) offers a pretty good take-off on the more common commercial vegan small-sized nuggets, or "popcorn".  The real benefit of using tofu is that it is a high plant protein binder with the same gripping quality as egg would add to your recipe.  Be sure to use ORGANIC, NON-GMO Tofu though.  You don't want to be suffering from the chemicals that go with GMO agro-industrial growing, and the ORGANIC labeling is generally the way to ensure that you don't have a GMO product.  In fact, be sure to buy ORGANIC-grown and NON-GMO in general.  Grow your own if you have the opportunity.  You can find this recipe HERE at the Under A Lemon Tree site.

5. Gourmet No-Chicken Nuggets

Gourmet No-Chicken Nuggets (see above)

This final recipe is definitely the more time-consuming and ingredient-diverse of the nugget recipes listed above, but has a very good response from people who have made and eaten it.  I don't think it is a mistake that the website's name is Connoisseur us Veg-- pretty witty if you say it aloud and think about it.  So, yes, the recipe not only contains chickpeas, but also artichoke heart, red wine vinegar, and liquid smoke.  The nuggets are also both breaded and coated.  I am thinking that these are the nuggets that you serve to an adult dinnah pawtay and not to your kiddos at lunchtime! hehe.  They sure do look luscious and I am sure the gourmet vegan chefs out there are drooling to try these!  Find the recipe HERE.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Vegan Baked Beans

Vegan Baked Beans.  

When I was a kid, and oblivious to a lifestyle that didn't include dairy, eggs, and chunks of animal flesh, I absolutely loved Pork 'n' Beans from a can.  My mother was a 'modern' 50s mother-- she didn't waste time with baking bread or canning or such.  There were so many other things to do, more interesting than slaving over a hot stove.  We did have a large electric frying pan that contained some sort of 'goulash' every day at lunch time.  Usually the base item was hamburger (there really are 101 ways to serve hamburger).  

As a young adult university student, and later, as a young wife and mother in the 70s, I came across Diet for a Small Planet by Francis Moore Lappe.  I relished the lovely vegetarian recipes, mostly swimming in cheese or containing eggs-- ovo-lacto vegetarian.  But it was at that time that I let go of the old myths around needing to eat animal products to be healthy.  By and by, over the years, my husband and I committed to veganism for health and ethical reasons.  I am SO happy that I have never had to give up beans, although I guess there are a few "vegetarian"- type diets around that believe that the leptins in beans are a bad thing.  I don't belong to that group of veg-heads.  And I definitely DO NOT miss the little slimy piece of pork in my baked beans.
Bleak and dreary foggy January day-- with no view of the Comox Harbour-- when Baked Beans are really appreciated!


  • 4 C. of Cooked White Beans-- Great Northern or Navy Beans-- or 2- 15 oz. cans of Beans
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped fine
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, chopped fine or minced
  • 3 C./711mil Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce (I use the "Simple Organic" brand from Costco)
  • 1/4 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 C. Maple Syrup
  • 2 T. Blackstrap Molasses
  • 1 T. Prepared Mustard, your choice
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 Large Bay Leaf
  • Pepper (to taste-- or about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 T. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 C. Water
I could well have done these baked beans up in my Instant Pot in less than half the time, but the truth is that I wanted to use my mother's sweet old (1960s) Ellgreave "Saxony" design bean pot.  I LOVE my Instant Pot, but there is something very soothing about a pottery baking pot.  My mom was a big fan of legume dishes-- she would have welcomed these beans!

  • Using a large wok or skillet, saute the onions until translucent and then briefly saute the garlic.
  • Add all other ingredients to the wok/skillet and bring to a boil, stirring.  
  • Turn down to low and put a lid on the wok/skillet.  
  • Let the mixture simmer for the next 3 hours, stirring and checking often so that the beans do not burn.  Add a little more water if the mixture is dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 300-350 degrees Farenheit/150-177 degrees Celsius
  • When the beans are soft and the sauce is rich and thick, transfer the pot to the oven.  I put mine in a cake pan to catch any possible overflow (and there was some).
  • Cook for 3 hours in the oven, checking occasionally to stir and see that there is no over-drying and burning.

Organic Granny Reviews "Stop What You Are Doing And Read This" by Carmen Callil et al

Stop What You Are Doing And Read This!Stop What You Are Doing And Read This! by Carmen Callil

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was deeply into a detective-mystery novel when my husband ruptured my thrall (twice!) to suggest that I might want to read this book of essays on the power and joy of reading literature. I was irritated and made rude dismissive gestures.


I ran out of something to read and decided to pick this up.

I apologized to my husband for my unspoken assumptions. This slim and quickly read book contains eleven essays by twelve esteemed writers talking about their individual love stories around reading. It was a little like stepping back into an English Lit class at University nearly 50 years ago, but, really, a great pleasure to have the rich experiences and rewards of books and reading reiterated in a time when the electronic media would sometime make "old school" literature and literary pursuits seem outdated and without value in a changing world. Not so.

Since reading this book my husband has pitched to our younger grandchild (11 years old) that we would like to read to her at least weekly. Online of course, since she lives in another province. She was highly receptive, even thrilled, and suggested that our reading aloud to her would be "soothing", which was not exactly the descriptor we expected, but given her very stressful young life, the word is fitting. She even suggested a couple of her favorite books. Her teen sister has not returned our call yet-- she might be a harder sell.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Veggie Pie in a Quinoa Shell - Vegan, Gluten-free, No Oils

This is a delicious and easy-to make recipe, and I vouch that the crust for this veggie pie is absolutely not able to be a disaster (from a person who always fails at pie crusts).

I suggest that you might want to make the following ahead of time:

  • 1 1/2 Cups of White Beans (or you can just opt out and buy a 15.5 oz can)
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Cooked Quinoa
  • 1 Cube of Best Golden Soup Bouillion (or 1/4 Cup of your usual vegetable broth)

     Here is the list of other ingredients that go into this pie:

    • 1/4 Cup NonDairy Milk (unsweetened works best)
    • 2 T. Nutritional Yeast (NOT brewer's yeast or baker's yeast)
    • 1 T. Almond Butter
    • 1 T. Corn Starch
    • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked (ground) Black Pepper
    • 1    small Onion, minced
    • 4 cloves   Garlic, minced
    • 9 ounces Baby Spinach
    • 6 ounces Cremini (brown) Mushrooms, finely sliced
    • 1/2          Red Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
    • 1/4   Cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, soaked in water to rehydrate, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes or other seasoning of choice (optional)

    1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180Co
    2. Line pie tin with parchment paper OR use a silicone dish (I used a silicone cake dish).  Alternately, if you are not worried about oil, spray lightly with a non-stick cooking spray.
    3. Blend up the white beans and milk in a high speed blender (or in a regular blender until the mixture is totally blended).  Add in the nutritional yeast, almond butter, corn starch, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Blend until totally smooth.
    4. In a medium size bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa with a 1/3 Cup of the above bean mixture until well combined.  
    5. Press the quinoa-bean mix into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin (or other pan you are using).  
    6. Bake the shell for 8 minutes, and then transfer it to a wire rack to cool.
    7. Heat the Best Gold Soup Bouillion and a couple of tablespoons of water (or 1/4 cup of other broth) over medium heat.  Add the onion, and cook to soften.  
    8. Add the minced garlic and the baby spinach to the pan, stirring until the spinach wilts (in about 2 minutes).  
    9. Add in the mushroom slices, bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and 1-2 tablespoons of water or broth to keep the vegetables from sticking (if needed).
    10. Add in your preferred seasoning. Add in the salt and pepper as well.
    11. Cook until the veggies are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. WARNING: the fragrance will be somewhat overwhelming and you will be tempted to "test" the vegetables-- don't. Just kidding.
    12. Combine the rest of the bean mixture (like a custard) with the cooked vegetables and spoon and spread the mixture evenly to the top of the quinoa shell.  
    13. Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil and bake until firm (about 30-40 minutes).
    14. Let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving!
    This pie is a variation of a recipe in the fab book One-Dish Vegan: More than 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Easy and Delicious One-Bowl and One-Plate Dinners that you can order through Amazon by clicking on this link.

    One-Dish Vegan contains chapters for making:

    • Vegan Main-Dish Salads
    • Vegan Stovetop Simmers and Stews
    • Vegan Chili Recipes
    • Vegan Sautes and Stir Fries
    • Vegan Pasta-Plus
    • Vegan Oven to Table: special recipes like this Veggie Pie that can be served up during the most elegant of dinner parties or to your family, of course.
    See more and purchase by clicking on the image below:

    Organic Granny's RECIPE INDEX

    Organic Granny's RECIPE INDEX
    Mostly Vegan & Gluten-Free Recipes