Happy weekend! As promised, I am posting a menu for Week 2 of the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco 21-Day Plant Power Challenge. (To learn more about it, with tips on getting started and suggestions for weekend prep, visit last week’s post.) If you’ve been joining in virtually, how’s it going?
I found that more than ever, having a well-stocked pantry and an organized meal plan helped a lot. I did run into a small meal planning fail on day 4, when the menu called for falafel, but I didn’t have any chick peas! It was too late to run out to the grocery, so I improvised by cooking day 5’s meal, my award-winning vegan chili, which was sped along by the fact that I had some leftover black beans from Taco Tuesday and always keep chipotles in adobo in the fridge (really). The chipotles add a depth of flavor in no time. While my improvised chili was bubbling away, I was able throw together a very moist vegan cornbread. I could have also just eaten leftovers, as many of last week’s recipes made more than we needed. Here’s another tip: soups and stews are perfect for batch cooking and freezing for later! Or sharing with your neighbors– I shared some minestrone and cornbread with our dear neighbor, Rick, who was so touched that he trimmed our overgrown Mexican sage in gratitude.
I had fun engaging with some of the >400 KPSF staff and physicians who have joined the challenge at our relaunched farmers market at our hospital, where I did a cooking demo showing how to make carrot top pesto and massaged kale salad (trust me, it’s a game-changer) with a citrus vinaigrette. One of the good questions I was asked was, “Is it normal to feel hungry [when transitioning to a plant-based diet]?” My tip was to add more fat, fiber, and fluids, to feel full and satiated.
It was also a great week to launch the new Thrive Kitchen catering menu we’re piloting at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. At this week’s meeting, we had the spring rolls, rice salad and edamame quinoa you’ll see on this week’s menu. (For those of you who were there, they did leave out a few key ingredients, but you’ll just have to try the recipes for yourself to see how they were intended!)
What have I missed? As an omnivore who eats mostly plants, I didn’t miss meat, but even though I don’t really consume that much dairy, I became obsessed with replacing milk. I don’t even drink much milk, only mainly in my morning coffee and in my afternoon tea. With the insufficiently specific grocery list I provided my husband, he bought literally three types of plant-based milk (soy and two types of cashew milk) and I liked none—all tasted sweet, and all had additives that gave them a gummy texture. The coconut milk I tried in my matcha latte at Starbucks tasted too much of coconut. Finally, I found my two favorites, closest tasting to regular milk—macadamia nut milk from Milkadamia (a glass of which has 100% of the RDA for vitamin B12), and Three Trees almond milk. (I do not get any kick-backs from either of these, just trying to save you the trouble!) Of course, you can always make your own plant-based milk, which will always be the best tasting. Here’s my recipe for making soy milk and here is an excellent tutorial on making any type of nut milk.
Now, getting to the menu. Last week I used a lot of legumes, as they are a diverse and inexpensive source of plant-based protein. This week, I’m focusing on tofu, which I love in all the ways it is used in Asian cuisine. Tofu is complete protein, and a good source of iron, calcium, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1. You can eat it raw, bake it, pan fry it, even deep fry it if you want. I have found pan-frying pressed, firm tofu a very tasty and versatile protein to add into anything. This week, I’m using it plain in fresh Vietnamese spring rolls; absorbing up all the flavors in a Thai red curry; and glazed with miso to accompany an edamame quinoa salad. You’ll see how versatile it is. On Wednesday this week, we’re having this month’s Thrive Kitchen class on Spring Vegetables, so the menu for that day will be a couple of the recipes from that class. It’s like being with us in the Thrive Kitchen!
Week Two Dinner Meal Plan
Monday: Baked Coconut Tofu with Spiced Coconut Rice; Kale Salad with Green Apple, Edamame and Sesame-Rice Vinaigrette
And don’t forget dessert! I tried out a wonderful recipe for a coconut chia pudding from Bon Appetit whose flavor reminds me of the Mexican rice drink, horchata. It requires only a few ingredients, no added sugar and no cooking, just some soaking time. It is absolutely delicious. My stance on desserts is that I’ll always choose an infrequent small bite of an outstanding dessert over an everyday, full portion of a “healthy” dessert. There can be so much satisfaction in a bite or two of a excellent dessert, and so much that can feel like you’re just getting a pale substitute with a dessert intended to be “healthy.” This recipe actually qualifies for both. I’d recommend adding some oats to this recipe to make it a breakfast-worthy overnight oats recipe, and garnishing with some fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nuts—perhaps toasted cashews to carry the theme. (Note: I actually found it to be too sweet the with the amount of dates called for, so start with half and add more to taste.)
Finally, registration is open now for next month’s Thrive Kitchen class 5/9 to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Email SFHealthEd@kp.org or call 415-833-3450 to register. Details at http://www.Facebook.com/TheDoctorsSpicebox.
Hope to cook with you soon!
Please comment if you plan to join us in the 21-Day Plant Power Challenge and let me know your questions, concerns, requests, ideas, strategies and recipes!