Many people are more concerned about their health this holiday season amid the ongoing pandemic.
An International Food Information Council food and health survey found that as many as 85 percent of Americans made changes in the food they eat or how they prepare food due to COVID-19. A study by Ipsos Retail Performance shows more people are following plant-based diets than ever before.
An Atlanta-area personal chef Lashaunte Wade invited Atlanta Black Star into her kitchen in the Atlanta suburb of Conley, Georgia, to show us how she prepares two delicious vegan dishes. Wade, who grew up in Macon, Georgia, says she embarked on her culinary career while working in California as a photographer.
Wade says she began catering her photo shoots, and as she developed her cooking skills, she began exploring healthier food options. “Basically raw diets, raw sports nutrition, vegan cuisine, things like that, so that helped me a lot with the nutrition side of things,” Wade said.
Her background in vegan cuisine inspired her holiday meal options: Vegan lentil meatloaf, and smothered green beans with bell peppers. Lentils are a great source of B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Lentils, which contain more than 25 percent protein, make a great meat substitute, according to Healthline.com.
Wade, whose website says she has a degree in culinary arts from The Art Institute of California-Inland Empire, says you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy these healthier options.“I do tend to eat vegan-related foods because I feel a lot better,” she said. “I’ll ease up on the proteins and substitute it with a vegan version of protein, and I’m still full, I’m still getting my nutrients and it’s good, it also keeps me very creative.”
A good way to ease into a vegan diet, according to onegreenplanet.org, is to add to your diet before you start taking food items away. Begin adding more beans, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds into your meals.
Below are the recipes for two delicious vegan holiday dishes Wade says are simple to make and affordable for most budgets.
Vegan Lentil Meatloaf:
- 1 cup dry lentils (use green or brown lentils)
- 2 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or steam sauté using 1/4 cup water
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced or grated
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- 3/4 cup oats (Wade uses gluten-free oats)
- 1/2 cup oat flour or finely ground oats (or any flour of choice)
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 heaping teaspoon cumin (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder and onion powder
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (optional)
- cracked pepper and sea salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons organic ketchup
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Prepare lentils — Rinse the lentils, remove odd pieces. In a large pot, add 2 1/2 cups water/broth with lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s OK if they get mushy, we are going to roughly puree 3/4 of the mixture when cooled. Once done, remove lid and set aside to cool (there should only be a little bit of water, so do not drain), lentils will thicken a bit upon standing, about 15 minutes is good.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make flax egg — In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and 1/4 cup water, set aside for at least 10 minutes, preferably in the refrigerator. This will act as a binder and will thicken nicely upon sitting.
Sauté vegetables and spices — In sauté pan, heat oil or water over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes. Add spices, mixing well to incorporate. Set aside to cool.
Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and pack the meatloaf into a loaf pan. Spread the glaze on top of the meatloaf before placing it in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour at a temperature of 350 degrees.
Smothered green beans with bell peppers and onions:
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 12 oz green beans, frozen is fine
- 1 bell pepper, sliced and halved
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Baking and Spices:
- 1/2 tsp all-purpose seasoning blend or spices of choice
- 4tbs cornstarch
- 8tbs or more of water (to make slurry)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 spoonfuls Better than Bouillon vegetable base
On stovetop with medium-high heat in a large sauté pan, add a little oil to pan. Once hot, add green beans. Add your bell peppers and onions. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and seasoning. Once all incorporated, add your stock and base. Cook for 5 minutes. Watch to make sure sauce does not evaporate. Once green beans are tender to liking, lower to medium-low heat. Add slurry to thicken. Add a little bit at a time; you might not need all of slurry. Once sauce is thickened to liking, you may enjoy.