Vegan Stuffed Swiss Chard

I used to really almost loathe swiss chard, which is surprising because I’ll eat just about anything that grows from the ground. I found it too earthy and gritty, but since I’ve been working at Greenbrier and bringing home copious amounts of the colorful, beautiful leaf, I had to find a way to make it that was completely delicious.

Sauteing it with some olive oil, garlic, cumin, sriracha (who doesn’t love the red rooster sauce!), salt, and a hint of maple syrup sold me. But I wanted more–more variety, more flavor, and something that wouldn’t leave me hungry a half an hour later!

Cheezy, slightly spicy, with the flavor of sweet corn and sweet potatoes.

Vegan Stuffed Swiss Chard
10-15 Swiss Chard leaves
1 Medium size sweet potato
1/2 chopped white onion
1 15 oz can black beans (well rinsed)
1 cup sweet corn
2 cups cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa)
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
Sweet Potato Cheeze Sauce  

Sweet Potato Cheeze Sauce
1 cup cooked sweet potato (about half of the sweet potato listed above)
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp turmeric (for color)

1. Cut the sweet potato in half and chop coarsely. Cook on stove top over medium-high heat with olive oil. While this cooks, start the rest of your sauce.

2. In a food processor, blend the cashews, sunflower seeds, garlic, non-dairy milk, and water until smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients. When the sweet potato pieces are soft, add to the sauce and puree until creamy.

3. Make sure your swiss chard is thoroughly washed, and remove the stems by slicing them off of the leaf. Don’t discard them–chop them, the other half of the sweet potato, and your onion and saute in a pan with olive oil.

4. Cook until the sweet potatoes have begun to soften and add black beans, corn, and cooked quinoa. Sprinkle with salt, curry powder, and garlic powder.

5. Now it’s time to stuff the chard! Lay one row of leaves in a 9X13 glass pan. Spoon a generous amount of the sautéed mixture onto the leaves.

6. Add some cheeze sauce and roll the leaves. You will have to break the stalk as you roll it. Continue until you’ve stuffed all your chard (sounds like an insult, doesn’t it?)

7. Top all of the rolled chard leaves with the remaining sauce.

8. Bake in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.

 I enjoyed mine with some sriracha 🙂 You’ll need a fork and knife to dig into this baby . . .

How do you prepare swiss chard? 

This is shared on: Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday.

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My First Taste

Travelers, yesterday I sampled some of the local cuisine. For the first time in over four years, I had a taste of meat.

Crazy, huh? It was chicken, and just a bite at Greenbrier. Since I’m working there, I get to see how the chickens live, and sometime this month I may get to see how they die. They live like chickens–skittish and slightly stupid, but seemingly happy out on the pasture.

I’ll have to post a series soon on my reasons for eating vegetarian, vegan, and now being open to some good farm raised animal flesh. Even eating it, I don’t think I’ll ever prepare meat for myself. Maybe when it is offered to me on the farm, or when I’m with my sister preparing her chickens, or if my other sister cooks some quality meat from the farmer’s market to share with the family . . .  But it isn’t something I particularly want.

I actually only ate about a third of the chicken showing here, if that.

It tasted fine, nothing spectacular or anything I felt like I needed. And even though I only had a bite, I felt slightly sick to my stomach about an hour after. I guess my body wasn’t acclimated to it yet.

When I got to the farm, we headed out to harvest some more spinach for the CSA that was going out yesterday. Much of my day yesterday was bagging and prepping for the CSA. I got to leave early, which was nice! I’ve been working hard, and haven’t been working out. By the time I get back to the house, I’m usually super tired. Yesterday, though, since I was done early I got to walk around the farm a bit. It was great to get a whole picture of it, and appreciate it for what it is–beautiful. I’ve been so enmeshed in washing greens, I feel like I haven’t been outside beyond the morning harvesting.

Be excited for tomorrow! I have a super tasty dish to share with you that I’m preparing for some friends tonight.

Are you particular about where your meat comes from? 

 

First Day on Farm (2)

So, yesterday I finished with my visit to the hogs. Afterwards, we cleaned the onions we’d just picked.

Even though I’d had my super duper delicious breakfast, I was ravenous by 10:00. I’m going to have to eat more in the mornings before I go to work! I ate lunch at one after washing several batches of spinach and salad mix. Throughout the course of the day, I think I washed about 60 pounds. This was my view at lunch:

For lunch, I had brought some food because I wasn’t sure what the situation would be. I ended up eating some food Amy, one of the owners, prepared, as well as everything I had brought! It was a hungry, food-filled day yesterday. This is the quinoa dish they prepared, and it was sooooo tasty.

Roddy, another owner, showed me several of the meat products they’ve made, including some sausages. I told him If I eat meat this month, it will be the first time in over four years. He was quite excited that I’m open to trying some Greenbrier meat! I am completely comfortable with the way the animals live and are cared for. Ten minutes after this conversation, a concerned Amy came to tell me that she didn’t know I was vegetarian, and that the delicious quinoa dish had their chicken stock in it. Probably the best way to get my system acclimated, I assured her.

After lunch consisted of more washing and packaging!

 All in all, it was a great first day. It wore me out though–I was exhausted and ready for more food by the time I got home.

xoxo Michaela.

What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve done this week? 

Are the farmer’s markets in your area getting started?

First Day at the Farm!

Well, I started my day bright and early this morning! I was expected at the farm at 7:30, so I had to leave the house by 7:00 and be up at 6:30.

Because I was going to be working all day, I had to have a big breakfast to fuel me up. I made myself a delicious breakfast burrito with a quinoa, corn, black bean mixture I made yesterday, leftover sweet potatoes from a house dinner last night, cilantro, and daiya cheese. Check out this beauty: 

When I got to Greenbrier I was thrown right into the thick of things! They have their first farmer’s market tomorrow, so today was going to be a busy day. Megan, another intern working and living on the farm, took me out to water the plants in the greenhouse and harvest spinach.

Beautiful, huh? That’s the garden!


This dill is going to make some delicious pickles one day . . . 

Picking the spinach. I’m pretty sure the people I was working with were really amused that I kept pulling out my camera!

Then we went to visit the hogs. Pigs were my favorite animal as a child, so I was pretty excited!

Look at these little guys! So curious. I’ve read that pigs have the intelligence level of three year old children–pretty crazy! They rank fourth on the list: humans, primates, dolphins, then our porcine friends.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow I’ll share the rest of my first day at the farm.

Doubting What I’ve Dubbed ‘Veganism’

This is another hard one. Being honest on here is crucial, but boy is it HARD sometimes. I’m taking encouragement from one of my favorite bloggers, Glennon, on this one. She is honest and open, and it’s wonderful and vulnerable and scary all at once.  I think I’ve avoided delving in enough. Shall we?

Lately, following a vegan diet has been very, very difficult for me. Not necessarily the food, but social occasions revolving around food. Especially when I don’t have control over my food, such as when I’m traveling or at other’s homes. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone, nor do I want to be defined by what I eat.

It’s interesting. Not eating animal products makes sense to me, both for the feel-good body benefits, the environmental benefits, and because I have a skin condition that seems to be exacerbated when I consume dairy. I was vegetarian for a long time before I went vegan, and choosing to eat vegan stemmed from not having as much control over the origin of my food while at college. It’s just a part of what I do, not who I am. Yet, people identify me as a vegan, as if my whole self was tied into the eating choices I make. I’ve been introduced as, “This is Michaela. She’s a vegan.” But, I am so much more than that–aren’t I?

I chose to identify myself as vegan because I figured that was easier for people to understand. Rather than be more of a conscientious omnivore/vegetarian that said “I eat some animal products when I know where they are from, but mostly I’m vegan, but even though I’m flexible I’m choosing not to eat what you’re preparing for me. . . ” seems so pretentious, unsociable, ungrateful. While I obviously would never say that to anyone, I was afraid that my choices would say that to some people. I do eat eggs when I’m at home, because we get them from a neighbor. I’ve also had a bite of fish that my uncle caught. That is the type of flexibility I desire.

Social situations are very difficult. Early on, I didn’t struggle as much with that, because I was typically eating meals in our dining hall where I had plenty of options and could share the moment with everyone. But in certain situations that food is provided, not being able to share those moments has made me feel sad, emotional, tearful, and un-included. And not because of those hosting the events–it is a self imposed exclusion, based upon what I feel is right for my body and the environment.

I suppose it is ok for that definition to change. I will be working on a farm this May with practices I can laud, and I am open to trying some of their meat. No definitive statements at this time . . . the thought of eating meat is still very weird, even though I choose to eat vegetarian for environmental reasons and this meat wouldn’t have those complications. At this point, I think I will choose vegan foods when I have control over what I am eating and when I am organizing social organizations, but be open to being flexible meals including dairy and eggs when someone else is feeding me.

Maybe this makes me a sellout to the vegan community, or means that I’m not being a good “vegan role model”  to the meat eating community. And I think both of those things will somehow have to be ok. I think I’ll wait, though. I realize some people will be confused about the shift back, and I’m uneasy thinking that it could invalidate my eating choices now. Though basing my choices on the reactions of those around me seems superficial, it might be easier for me to stick out this school year. I don’t know.

Have you ever struggled with your food choices? 

How do you deal with social situations when you are eating differently than other people? 

Greetings!

Somehow, though I love to write and this should feel more like an introduction than a chore, I feel like I’m about to begin one of the college application essays that plagued me last year around this time. Wouldn’t it be nice if my blog were already established, if you knew me already and I could just muse about the day or share some tasty tidbits.

But you don’t, so here goes! A sampling of sorts with more substance to come in later posts. 

My name is Michaela. It’s nice to meet you. As a college freshman meeting new people every day, I’ve pretty much gotten brief introductions with strangers down. This, however, will take a little bit more time. I’ll try to keep it from getting too wordy, but please forgive me if I do!

I go to school in South Carolina at a small liberal arts university that I love. I have not yet declared a major, but I am passionate about sustainability (particularly in relation to food and agriculture) and nutrition, but I am also enamored with the Spanish language. It was a twisty road that brought me to where I am (not only geographically—also spiritually, mentally, and physically!), but one I’m glad I ventured upon and emerged from whole. I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Growing up, I had a less than notable yet perfectly idyllic childhood placed in central Ohio. My family owned a little over 13 acres in the country, and I since I was homeschooled until sixth grade I had ample opportunity to roam the woods, play in the creek, catch tadpoles from the pond, and perform my allotted chores associated with our hobby farm. The youngest of four girls, my older sisters flip flopped between doting on me and teasing me mercilessly, but I even when I whined I loved the attention and affection. 

I’m the cute, slightly odd-looking baby with what appears to be a Mohawk.

When I was fourteen, the father changed jobs and up and moved us from the farm to the dismal, dreary place of his birth . . . Houston, Texas. I’m not going to dwell too long on Houston, except to say that I was not initially a very happy camper. Moving was good for me. It helped me to mature, but after the move I found that I missed the community that had been established for me in the Midwest. I missed my childhood friends, the church I’d grown up with, and the land that was my home. Friendships took effort, and as a slightly embittered teenager I wasn’t eager to reach out and abandon my claim to my home, to Ohio. This left a hole. I was no longer sure who I was, where I fit, and what gave me value.

My, this is turning out to be a bit longer than I expected! Hold on for just a bit longer, I’ll wrap it up soon!

 I’m pretty tall and somewhat slim, so I’d always experienced a litany of folks either telling me to model or asking if I did. When I saw an ad online for a casting call at my local mall, I tentatively approached my mother and father. Though rather ambivalent, my mother accompanied me on the excursion that was to send me sliding down an oily and perilous path. Naively, (or dumbly) I thought that modeling would somehow give me value and make me special. Instead, it led to a long battle with my body, isolation from my family and friends, a vacancy in my relationship with God, and a distorted relationship with food. Somehow, I forgot that I was already valuable, and already very unique. 

Whew. It’s been awhile since I’ve looked at any of these photos. Well, that’s me—skinny, trying desperately to convince myself I wasn’t miserable. I’ll probably end up telling the whole story one post (or two or three or four, trying to contain it to one . . . that would be a challenge). I stopped modeling, I regained myself and my values, and now I’m on a journey, a pilgrimage if you will, to health. I desire health overflowing—mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

And I welcome you to come along with me.