Sunday, April 1, 2012

When nice nieces go vegan

Most of us have friends or family members who enthusiastically announce they have gone vegan, and in reaction to the big news all the rest of us can usually muster is a snort and an elaborate eye roll. Sometimes the veganism lasts a week – usually when they realize they can’t eat cheese and chocolate anymore – but it can also last for years.

Though I have altogether too many vegetarian friends, I have yet to befriend a long-term vegan. That said, my teenaged niece Madeline, recently decided to go vegan seemingly for ethical reasons. I gave her a week but she’s already a couple of months in. A happy offshoot is that she’s taking more control of the cooking process (seeing as this was her choice and she’s the right age to start cooking some of her own meals). So she’s whipping up dinners to suit her needs and tastes, and I’m a fan of that. Here’s a meal she prepared at the cottage during March Break, under the guidance of my mother, a Dietitian. After all, we don’t want a bunch of vegan teenagers growing up brittle boned and anemic because they love animals. Plan your vegan means accordingly.

Maddie’s Easy Vegan Tortilla Soup

(Makes 6 serving/ 8 cups)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small sweet onion, diced

1 vegetable bouillon cube

5 cups boiling water

1 cup Israeli couscous

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup beans of your choice, such as cooked chickpeas, black beans or navy beans, rinsed and drained

500mL salsa

Tortilla chips and avocado garnish (optional)


Brown the onion in oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. When onion is browned, add couscous and stir. Add the water and bouillon cube and stir again (note: if you have 5 cups of vegetable stock on hand, use that instead of the bouillon cube and water). Let cook covered for 10-12 minutes until couscous is almost tender. Add corn, beans, and salsa and cook covered for an additional 10 minutes to finish cooking the couscous. Top with tortilla chips or avocado cubes and enjoy! Tip: This is even better the next day, though you may need to thin it with a bit of water.

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