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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, animal rights, public health, food safety, frugal living, global food crisis and the staggeringly huge contribution of livestock/meat production to climate change/resource depletion.

Meat Production Impacts on Water

Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.22
It takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons.23
A totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.24,25
You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.26
Wow!  Check out this study which states that cutting down on meat can lower risk of dementia.  The benefits just keep building up!

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

I've missed a few weeks of Macca's Meatless Monday due to being crazy busy.  I'm working with OFA here in Florida and expect to get even more crazy busy as the election approaches.  But I'll try to sneak in a MMM post when possible.  And good news is that our Meatless Advocates group will be starting up a new weekday vegetarian series in June.  I'm very excited about Weekday Vegetarians as we have some fantastic kossacks lined up who have committed to writing one diary a month.  Looking at possibly a Wednesday post so stay tuned!  If you would like to be involved with Weekday Vegetarians please send out a message.

With my current hectic schedule I'm looking to keep up my energy with some healthy comfort food.  No, you didn't read that wrong healthy and comfort is not an oxymoron. In fact, I think it's very comforting knowing I'm eating healthy food.  Today I'm sharing some recipes for one of my fave healthy comfort foods; potatoes.  Looks like I'm not alone as potatoes are America's favorite vegetable.  They're incredibly versatile, healthy and economical..what could be better?
      potato & rosemary pizza
Is there anything more comforting than a homemade pizza..I think not!  Adapted from Mark Bittman. Serves 2

1 ball (6 oz.) of 100% whole white wheat pizza dough(I buy mine at my local bakery and keep frozen until needed)
1/2 lb. small potatoes (I used gold, but red would work great too), sliced thinly..use a mandoline or sharp knife
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary ( If you have fresh go for it!)

If your dough is frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then let it sit out at room temp for several hours. Bring medium pot of salted water to a boil, and cook potato slices until they begin to get tender (5-7 min). Drain potatoes and set aside. Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal, and then pull dough out into a 12" circle and place on baking sheet. Spread potatoes out on dough, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with rosemary. Bake at 500 until dough browns and is thoroughly cooked (8-10 min).
             Rustic Cabbage Soup with Goat Milk Parmesan
                     creative commons
Have you been looking for an easy, very cheap, nutritious one pot meal?   I thought so.
Here is a delicious hearty soup from Heidi Swanson.  Serves 4

    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    a big pinch of salt
    1/2 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
    4 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
    5 cups vegetable stock
    1 1/2 cups white beans, precooked or canned (drained & rinsed well)
    1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons (or use red cabbage as above)

    more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated or omit for vegan

Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it's o.k. to uncover to stir a couple times. Stir in the garlic and onion and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit. Now adjust the seasoning - getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. Taste and add more salt if needed, the amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is (varying widely between brands, homemade, etc)...

Serve drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a generous dusting of cheese if using.
      Twice Baked Eggs and Potatoes
              the duo dishes
This is the ultimate comfort food. Perfect for anytime of day and kids love it!  I've been making different variations of this recipe for years.  Serves 4.  Adapted from The Daily Spud

2 russet potatoes
2 tablespoons milk or use plain soy milk or veg stock
2 ounces havarti or use vegan cheese..I like daiya
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs (hopefully from your own peeps)

1. Bake the potatoes in a preheated oven at 400 degrees until soft to the touch, approximately an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to the touch. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

2. Halve the potatoes and scoop out the filling into a medium bowl. Add the milk, cheese, onions, tomatoes, spinach and salt.

3. Lay the potato skins on a aluminum foil covered baking sheet. Stuff them with the filling, pressing down to flatten around the sides and creating an indentation in the center of the potato.

4. Crack an egg into the indentation of each stuffed potato and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the eggs set to your liking.
         Potato Salad
                my veggie kitchen
What to do if you must have a burger and potato salad and you don't eat any animal products?   This is what you do.  You sub regular mayo for the more delicious Vegenaise add a veggie burger and you're in business.   Serves 6.

3 lbs red potatoes
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 dill pickle, chopped
1/2 cup veganaise
1/4 cup soy creamer (optional)
2 tbs white wine vinegar
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tbs thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp ground celery seed
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Boil the potatoes until you can press the tip of a knife through with some resistance. Drain, submerge in cold water and cool until they can be handled. Roughly peel, then cube the potatoes. I just tore off the skin that came off easily so, maybe half of the skin remained. Gently stir in the onion, celery and pickle.

Mix the remaining (dressing) ingredients and gently fold into the potatoes, stirring to distribute the dressing. Refrigerate until needed. They were better the next day, so give the flavors some time to blend.
               Laura Hartrich
Florida tomatoes are at their peak now.  And though I love them raw in a sandwich I'm also always looking for ways to feature them in a cooked entree.  This recipe is delish and makes a fantastic company dinner served with the corn fritter recipe from this diary minus the salsa.  Serves 8-10.  A Suzanne Goin recipe adapted by Heidi Swanson and now me.  You don't need to peel the potatoes here but can if you want.  Use a mandoline, to slice the potatoes if you have one or use a sharp knife.

    1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    2 teaspoons curry powder
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    6 cups thinly sliced yellow onions or sweet onions (about 2 pounds
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter(I use Earth Balance)
    1 1/4 pounds / 20 ounces yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    2 pounds / 32 oz  ripe tomatoes
    a small handful of basil leaves, slivered
    sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C with a rack in the top third.

Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside.

You can get a jump start on the onions while you slice the potatoes and tomatoes. Heat half of the olive oil, 2 tablespoons, in your largest skillet or dutch oven over high heat. When hot, stir in the onions along with a few pinches of salt. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the onions soften up - 4-5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the butter. Stirring regularly, cook another 10 - 15 minutes at this temperature, or until the onions just begin to caramelize a bit. Dial the heat back a shade more, and cook until the onions are deeply golden, this might take another 20 minutes. A minute before the onions are finished cooking stir in the spice mixture. Remove the pan from heat and set aside the onions.

In the meantime, use a mandoline to slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place in a medium bowl along with the cream, 1 teaspoon of salt, and bit of pepper. Toss well, and set aside.

Use a knife to cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange across a large plate and sprinkle with another teaspoon of salt and some pepper.

Smear half the caramelized onions across the bottom of a 10x10 inch (or equivalent) gratin or baking dish. Take half of the potatoes and half of the tomatoes and arrange on top of the onion layer (see photo). Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of cream from the potatoes and a tablespoon of olive oil. Season the layer with a pinch of salt and half the basil.

Scatter the remaining onions across the potatoes and tomatoes already in the pan. Then arrange another layer of tomatoes and potatoes on top. This will be the top of your gratin, so do your best to make it look nice. Pour the remaining cream, from the potatoes, and last tablespoon of olive oil across the top. Season with another pinch of salt and the remaining basil. Gently press down on the vegetables so the cream comes up through the layers of vegetables evenly.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours, or until the potatoes are completely tender throughout. Increase the oven to 450F / 230C, carefully uncover the gratin, and cook another 30 minutes, or until the top takes on a nice golden color.
        Sweet potato tofu curry with Coconut and Lime
                   Geoff Peters
Sweet potatoes need love too.  This dish packs most of my fave flavors into one silky,soothing, spicy entree.  A terrific company dish served with jasmine rice. Serves 4
You get the idea here ...sub whatever veggies you have on hand.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (or use 2 sweet potatoes)
1 sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
Coarse salt
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (or yellow squash)
4 ounces yellow or green beans, stems removed, halved crosswise (or use 1 cup rinsed frozen peas)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 package (15 ounces) medium-firm tofu, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, carrot, sweet potato, and 3 tablespoons of water; cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the carrot is crisp-tender, about 7 minutes.
2. Stir in the coriander and turmeric; season with salt and cook, stirring 1 minute.
3. Add the zucchini, green beans, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and tofu; simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Add the lime juice and cilantro; season with salt,  and serve.

"digging my potatoes"  cover by The Beatles   This is an early jam session when The Beatles sounded like the skiffle band they were then.

"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter"  cover by Paul McCartney   This is what Paul sounds like now.   From Kisses On The Bottom  Diana Krall on the piano and notice Eric Clapton on the guitar.

I missed (((you guys)))!   What have you all been cooking?   Please share your recipes and fave Beatle music here!

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