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

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!

As we end the week commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington it's gratifying to see that Martin Luther King Jr. dream is as strong as ever. His dream is not just for history, it is a living struggle that permeates our everyday existence. His dream is with us as we fight to stop voter disenfranchisement, for wage equity, fair hiring practices and to protect the gains that were made with the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. MLK recognized that we must always look forward and he would have understood the threat that climate change presents to minorities and to those most vulnerable. As a visionary he could have articulated solutions with the purpose of bringing people together to solve the most critical issue of our time: climate change.

MLK has not lost the power to inspire and today I dedicate this post to those still carrying on the struggle.

Today I have lightened and made Earth friendly some of the food identified with the African-American culture. It's likely MLK would not have recognized the recipes but he would have recognized the familiar ingredients.

COLLARDS and POTATO SOUP with CORNMEAL DUMPLINGS
This is an awesome, updated soup utilizing traditional ingredients

For the soup:

one onion, halved and sliced
4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 bunches collards, de-stemmed and torn in manageable sizes
1-2 tb butter (I use Earth Balance vegan butter)
1-2 tb olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock and same amount water
salt and pepper to taste

for cornmeal dumplings:

1 cup finely ground cornmeal, grits or polenta style
1 tb all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
some liquid from the above soup

Heat oil and butter in a heavy bottomed pan under high heat. Add onions, and caramelize them by cooking until you have a nice brown surface on the bottom of the pot of when the onions look brown (but not burnt). The trick is to keep turning so they don’t burn.

After the onions are caramelized, add a little bit of veg. stock and scrape the bottom to get the brown bits. Then add rest of stock, an equal amount of water, and potatoes. Bring to a boil then simmer. Add collards, one handful at at time, submerging them to make them soft. When they are all added, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes, until potatoes are soft and collards are silky smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Do not turn off heat yet.

in the meantime, make corn dumplings. Mix cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper, then add just enough liquid to form a paste (it should not be too wet- if you’ve made matzoh balls you’ll understand this). When your soup is ready, wet your hands and form a small ball (about 2″ in diameter) and place in soup (the dumplings should float on top). When all dumplings are in the soup (you should use all of the dough), cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.

BAZILIAN COLLARDS
I love collards so today is my chance to share a couple of my fave recipes. This is an everyday 5 minute recipe! Great with the beans and hominy cakes below.

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
as much garlic as you like, minced
2 bunches collards, washed and destemmed
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
apple cider vinegar or hot pepper vinegar (recipe below)

Slice the collards into ribbon-thin (about 1/4″ wide) strips by first flattening the leaves and piling them on top of each other, then rolling the collards, then slicing them (this method works for any green leaf, especially basil) Heat a skillet with 1-2 TB olive oil over med-high heat and when hot, add onions and garlic. Let soften for 5-7 minutes.

When the onion-garlic mixture is soft, add collards handful by handful, and stir them around. Keep doing this until all of the collards are in the pan, and until they soften/have absorbed the oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with apple cider vinegar or hot pepper vinegar- you’ll be surprised by how much the vinegar will make a difference.

hot pepper vinegar is easily made- just add 3 jalapenos or other spicy peppers into a cruet filled with 1 cup white vinegar and let rest in fridge for a long time (weeks or even months!).

ROOT BEER BAKED BEANS
If you don't want to turn on your oven, here is a fast, tasty, awesome recipe. Serves about 6-8

1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 16-ounce cans vegetarian baked beans
1/2 cup root beer (use cane sugar sweetened)
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Pepper, freshly ground to taste

Cook onion in oil until tender. Add remaining ingredients.

Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer. Stir often until mixture is slightly thickened; about 20 minutes.

GREEN TOMATO PARMESAN
This is a healthy, Earth friendly take on southern-soul fried green tomatoes.

Four green tomatoes, sliced
1 cup cornmeal
4 tbsp Rice Parmesan
3/4 cup soy cream
Egg Replacer for 1 egg
2 tbsp agave syrup
Salt, Pepper
1 tbsp minced parsley

Vegan Mayo (I use Veganaise-yummy!)

Dip the tomatoe slices in the mayo and the in the corn bread batter. Place in cooking oil and fry 4 minutes or on greased cookie sheets and bake at 400 degrees 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with more Rice Parmesan and serve with your favorite marinara sauce or ketchup.
Serves 4, generously.

WARM HOMINY CAKE
This is southern-soul decadent goodness

1/2 cup canned hominy - pureed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup nut milk (almond is good here)
1/4 cup corn meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons EVOO
Replacer for 2 eggs
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup soy cheeze, shredded

Combine all ingredients and fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake 350 degrees 30 minutes. Makes 12.

SWEET POTATO and BLACK BEAN CHILI
A southern-soul hearty favorite. Serves 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 12-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or roughly 1.5 cups [dry measure] cooked)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, washed and dried

Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, red pepper, garlic, and salt. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes.

Add the sweet potato and lime zest, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, continuing to stir occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, black beans, jalapeno, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cocoa, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Serve over brown rice, if desired, with lime wedges and cilantro, or with corn bread, biscuits, or taco chips alongside.

SWEET POTATO PIE
It doesn't get better than this Earth friendly healthy pie, so good I'm sharing two of my fave recipes! I share-you decide

PIE I
For the crust

1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the filling

3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 sweet potatoes, cooked
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the coconut whipped cream

1 can chilled full-fat coconut milk (fat solids only)
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Add pecans and rolled oats to a blender and grind to a powder. Make sure you don't overblend — you may end up making a paste. Place flour in a medium-sized bowl and add pecan and oat mixture. Mix well.
    Add the coconut oil and mix with a fork until it is thoroughly incorporated into the flour mixture.
    Stir in the maple syrup; mix just enough to blend well and form a dough that will hold together when pressed.
    Transfer mixture to a 9-inch pie pan and spread into an even thickness on the sides and bottom of the pan.
    Poke holes in bottom and sides of the crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the crust cool before filling.
    While crust is baking, make the pie filling: in a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and cornstarch until combined. Add sweet potato, almond milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt and whisk until blended. Pour mixture into pre-baked pie crust.
    Bake 1 hour or until edges are set and center slightly jiggles. Let cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour before serving.
    Once pie has cooled, open the can of chilled coconut milk, turn upside down, and open. Pour out the liquid at the top; you'll use the cream part, not the liquid.
    Gently pour the coconut fat into your chilled mixing bowl and whisk with a hand blender or standing mixer until whipped. Add confectioners sugar and vanilla or maple syrup and whip again until fully incorporated. Spread evenly onto pie and refrigerate.

PIE II
This is so easy and healthy enough for breakfast!

    1 14 oz container soft (silken) tofu
    1 14 oz container firm or extra-firm tofu
    1 24-oz can sweet potatoes in syrup
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp ginger
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp salt
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 pre-made or store-bought pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend all the ingredients (except the pie crust!) in a blender or food processor until free of lumps. Pour into the pie shell and bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

"A Day In The Life"   The Beatles    "somebody spoke and I went into a dream"

"Sun King"   The Beatles

What have you all been cooking? Please share your recipes and fave Beatle music here!

Originally posted to Meatless Advocates Meetup on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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