Fall is the perfect time for comfort food, and if your meal can be comforting and healthy all the better!
Since going gluten-free over a year ago, there have been very few sandwiches on my menu, but then I discovered Johann’s Bakery. Johann’s is a 100% dedicated gluten-free facility in Vista California, where they bake 100% gluten-free breads. If you have ever eaten pre-baked gluten-free breads you understand they are generally disappointing. Not Johann’s! Think high quality artisan bread – soft, firm, with a pleasing taste and texture. Delicious!
So this was dinner last night.
I have been eating a meatless diet for the past several weeks. The traditional yogi diet is vegetarian or vegan. Growing up in a meat-and-potato family, meat has always been the cornerstone of most meals I prepare, especially dinner. I have easily embraced a meatless diet and am enjoying exploring the many vegetarian options for meal planning.
I found the recipe for this amazing Pumpkin Miso soup at The Veggie Table. They have many great recipes, including several pumpkin offerings – perfect for the fall holiday season.
For the grilled cheese sandwiches I sliced a fresh vine-ripe tomato and used a combination of swiss and cheddar cheese with just a little butter to help brown the bread slices.
There is a difference of opinion among vegetarians about the consumption of dairy and eggs. Some believe as long as you do not eat meat, you are considered a vegetarian. Others believe if you eat eggs and dairy you cannot call yourself a vegetarian. Personally, I am not concerned about the label “vegetarian” and choose to continue eating eggs and dairy.
I made the decision to eliminate meat from my diet for many reasons – health, environment, animal cruelty – but the primary reason for my decision was food preference. As I mentioned, I grew up in a meat-and-potato family. I married into a meat-and-potato family. I ate meat for 41 years because it is all I have ever known, but I have always had an underlying distaste for meat, in fact sometimes it just completely grossed me out!
I have never been comfortable with handling raw meat, especially raw chicken. I would use tongs to avoid touching the meat and make faces as I cut and seasoned it. Often it would carry over to my eating experience. I think intuitively I have always been a non-meateater. In fact when I told my mom about my decision to stop eating meat, she told me that if I had been allowed to follow my food preferences as a child I probably never would have eaten meat.
It took me 41 years to embrace my personal food preferences. Going gluten-free was out of necessity and my health has improved as a result, but eliminating meat is a personal choice – although there are also tremendous health benefits to this choice. The main thing both changes have reinforced in me is that food matters.
At some level we all intuitively know what foods are best for our bodies, we just need to be self-aware enough to listen to our intuition. You do not need to be gluten-free or a vegetarian to be mindful of what you eat. Just eat real food that nourishes you and eliminate or reduce what does not. It is that simple.
Miso Soup with Pumpkin and Onion
Yield: 2-4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Tools: Medium saucepan or wok with lid, Wooden spoon, Small strainer
2 T peanut or canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 t curry powder (optional)
2 c or 3/4 lbs fresh pumpkin, peeled and cubed
4 c vegetable stock
2 1/2 to 4 T miso
3-4 shiso leaves shredded or 2 T cilantro chopped
Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Optional: add curry powder and sauté for 30 seconds more.
Stir in pumpkin, then add stock. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and let simmer 10-15 minutes, until pumpkin is just tender.
Place miso in strainer, lower into soup, and use spoon to force miso through into the soup.
Remove from heat, stir, sprinkle with shiso or cilantro and serve.