May 26, 2009

Healthy, Whole Food Grains

Whole grains should be a staple of any healthy, nutritious meal. Because of their increased fiber content, one benefit to whole grains is that they make a meal feel more filling so you stay full for longer. This is especially helpful to those of us trying to shed some extra winter weight. Many grains also come with increased vitamin and mineral content.

Some of my favorites include quinoa, barley, millet, oatmeal and wild rice. I typically purchase my grains bulk at Whole Foods as that is the least expensive option, but sometimes will resort to packaged grains if the bulk version is unavailable. I love how simple grains are to cook. Basically you put the grain in a pan with water and simmer. Its also great to cook extra for leftover or to add to another dish, such as soup or stir-fry.

Quinoa (pronounce Keen-wah) is my new favorite dinner grain, although technically quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like Kale and Swiss chard. I usually just add some garlic and olive oil and have a quick and super nutricious side dish or meal base. Of course, there are tons of quinoa recipes out there. You can add veggies, herbs, nuts or fruit for breakfast. Pasta made from quinoa is also very delicious and available at most health food stores.

My new favorite quinoa dish was found on Vegan Yum Yum (Sweet Chili Lime Tofu w/ Wok Steamed Collards and Quinoa). I typically replace the collard greens with kale or asparagus, but even the quinoa from this recipe on its own is so delicious. I made the mistake of substituting ground cinnamon for the cinnamon stick. If you are going to do this, add the cinnamon when the dish is done, or better yet, just leave the cinnamon out.

The World's Healthiest Foods website has some great nutritional info on quinoa and all types of grains.

May 11, 2009

Famous Vegetarian Musicians

It seems that our society is so fascinated with celebrities. Although I try not to put too much stock in what famous people do in their daily lives, I can totally understand the fascination, especially with musicians and other artists. Here is a brief but impressive list of some musicians I admire, who also just happen to be or have been vegetarians.

  • John Coltrane (1926-1967) - jazz legend. "His work 'A Love Supreme' was a testament to the power, glory, love and greatness of God. Coltrane felt we must all make a conscious effort to effect positive change in the world, and that his music was an instrument to create positive thought patterns in the minds of people." - excerpt from

  • Sun Ra a.k.a. Herman Poole ""Sonny"" Blount (1914–1993) - jazz musician. One of the first musicians, regardless of genre, to make extensive use of electronic keyboards. Sun Ra "maintained that everyone should be vegetarian and eat natural foods and large quantities of fruit and fiber." - Space is the place: the lives and times of Sun Ra, by John F. Szwed. Check out this video excerpt from Sun Ra's movie Space is the Place

  • Ornette Coleman (1930-) - one of the most influential jazz artists to emerge in the last century. Jim and I were lucky to see him perform at the Newport Jazz Festival a few years ago.

  • George Harrison (1943-2001) British guitarist best know as the lead guitarist for The Beatles. He also happens to have written my favorite Beatles song, While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

  • Joan Jett (1958- ) Bad-ass American Rock & Roll Goddess. Link to her interview with

  • Dizzy Gillepse (1917-1993) - American Jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, composer. Check him out on the Muppet Show here.

  • Philip Glass (1937-) - American composer. He describes himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures". Vegetarian for over 50 years.

  • Andre 3000 (1975-) - American Rapper, actor, best know for his work in OutKast. When he was asked what he would do for his last day on earth, he replied, “I’d probably go for a great meal—some broccoli probably, because I’m a vegetarian.”

  • Moby (1965-) Vegan. DJ and musician who plays keyboard, guitar, bass guitar and drums. His The End of Everything album included an essay about veganism ("Could you look an animal in the eyes and say to it, 'My appetite is more important than your suffering'?)"

  • KRS-One (1965-) - American Rapper. Recorded a song "Beef", on the 4th Boogie Down Productions album, Edutainment. Here is an excerpt from the song:
Let us begin now with the cow
The way it gets to your plate and how
The cow doesn't grow fast enough for man
So through his greed he makes a faster plan
He has drugs to make the cow grow quicker
Through the stress the cow gets sicker
Twenty-one different drugs are pumped
Into the cow in one big lump
So just before it dies, it cries
In the slaughterhouse full of germs and flies
Off with the head, they pack it, drain it, and cart it
And there it is, in your local supermarket
Red and bloody, a corpse, neatly packed
And you wonder about heart attacks?

There are so many other vegetarian musicians. Here are some rumored vegetarians that I haven't had a chance to 100% verify...

Barry White, Billie Joe Armstrong, Billy Idol, Bonnie Rait, Brian Bell (Weezer), Brian May (Queen), Chris Martin (Coldplay), Daniel Kessler (Interpol), Fat Mike (NOFX), Fred Schneider (B52s), Jane Weidlan (Go-Gos), Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), Larry Mullen Jr, (U2), Melissa Etheridge, Mike Gordon (Phish), Nelly, Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Paul McCartney, Philip Collen (Def Leppard), Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), PJ Harvey, Prince, Richie Havens, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr, RZA, Steve Perry, Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Weird Al

May 6, 2009

Fiddleheads Are Here

When I went food shopping yesterday I was happy to see Fiddleheads available once again! Although they weren't organic, they were local and I bought a nice big bag. I think I will either steam them and serve them with wild rice or pasta, or try the following recipe from Vegan Yum-Yum.

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Morels and Fiddleheads

It is now truly spring for me!

image gratefully borrowed from Libraryman