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

Water

Between watering the crops that farmed animals eat, providing drinking water for billions of animals each year, and cleaning away the filth in factory farms, transport trucks, and slaughterhouses, the farmed animal industry places a serious strain on our water supply. Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food. In 2008, John Anthony Allan, a professor at King's College London and the winner of the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize, urged people worldwide to go vegetarian because of the tremendous waste of water involved with eating animals.

It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months! A totally vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a typical meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.

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/McCartney music!

Mushrooms are one of the best meat substitutes ever. The chewy texture along with the deep meaty flavor mushrooms impart to gravies and sauces makes mushrooms a healthy, Earth friendly alternative to health and Earth killing animal meat. Today I'm sharing some of my favorite hearty, satisfying and delicious mushroom entree recipes.
   2012-04-01 - VJF Mushroom Stronganoff - 0015
MUSHROOM STROGANOFF
So Yummy.

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
    4 cups of coursely chopped mushrooms (I used Crimini..which are baby bellos)
    1/4 cup of  olive oil or Earth Balance
    1/4 cup of flour (you can also use wheat or rice flour for gluten free)
    2 cups of plain almond milk
    1/4 cup of sherry, madeira or marsala wine
    1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
    sea salt, to taste
    freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1 pound of pasta, cooked (I used rice pasta for a gluten-free dish)

Saute the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat until the become translucent. Add the mushrooms, and saute until they begin to shrink and darken in color. Set them aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil or melt the Earth Balance over medium heat, then add the flour, whisking it to blend thoroughly. Cook for a minute or two to cook off the raw flour taste. Add the milk a bit at a time, continuing to whisk as you do this, so as to avoid lumps. Your goal is to create a thick white sauce. Once all of the milk has been integrated, cook and whisk for another minute, then whisk in the sherry. Whisk for another couple of minutes, then remove the sauce from the heat.
Season your sauce with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Then toss in the mushrooms and stir with spoon until they are well-integrated. Serve warm over pasta or brown rice, with a side salad.
         Black Bean
BLACK BEAN TACOS with SMOKED PAPRIKA SHITAKE MUSHROOMS
A healthy light taco!

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms (or your fave shroom)
1 1/2 teaspoon neutral oil
1/4 teaspoon pimenton dulce (sweet smoked paprika) (this is so good..try it if you can) or use paprika
1 chile pepper, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1 (15 oz) can of whole black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano (I used Mexican)
4-6 leaves of Napa cabbage, washed and dried
a handful of cilantro, washed, dried and torn
1 green onion, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
kosher salt and black pepper

-Trim off and discard the shiitakes stems (or save them to use in making stock). Brush any dirt from the mushroom caps and thinly slice them.
-Add 1 teaspoon of the oil to a hot skillet or saute pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are golden brown. Toss them with the smoked paprika and a good pinch of kosher salt and remove them from the pan.
-Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the pan with the chile and garlic. Cook over low until fragrant, just a few seconds.
-Add the beans, cumin and oregano to the pan along with a good pinch of kosher salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Warm the beans and smash a quarter of them. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Remove the pan from the heat.
-Serve each leaf of cabbage with some of the beans topped with the mushrooms, cilantro, and green onion. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the "taco" before eating.
       champignon bourguignon
MUSHROOM BOURGUIGNON
You won't feel deprived. You can have this luscious, rich, iconic entree and still save the planet! Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vegan butter (I use Earth Balance), softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (cremini work as well)
5 carrots, finely sliced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled  or if frozen thawed
noodles or brown rice, for serving
Sour cream or vegan sour cream (I use tofutti) and chopped parsley, for garnish

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over high heat. Saute the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from the pan.

Lower the heat to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Add the carrots, onions, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper into the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.

Add the wine to the onions and carrots, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat up to high and reduce the wine by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Stir until the tomato paste is evenly combined, and not clumpy. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the temperature and simmer for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five more minutes.

In the meantime, prepare noodles or rice.

Then combine the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir the butter mixture into the stew. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If you feel like the sauce is too thin, boil it down and reduce to the right consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over a bowl of  noodles or brown rice, dolloped with sour cream (optional) and sprinkled with parsley (optional).          
      Stuffed Portobello with Spinach and Artichoke Hearts
STUFFED PORTOBELLO with SPINACH and ARTICHOKE HEARTS
I love stuffed bellos..they are just so cute!  This entree or appetizer adapted from Rachael Ray

Portobellos:

    2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, a drizzle
    5 medium portobello mushroom caps
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Stuffing:

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 small yellow skinned onion, chopped
    1 pound fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
    1 can, 6 to 8 count, 15 ounces, artichoke hearts in water, drained well on paper towels
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped, about 2 tablespoons
    3 slices Italian bread, toasted and chopped into small cubes
    1/2 cup  vegetable stock
    1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or vegan cheese, a handful

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of oil and the portobello caps. Season caps with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook 3 minutes on each side. Add balsamic to the pan and allow the vinegar to cook away as it coats the caps. Transfer balsamic glazed caps to a cookie sheet. Return pan to the stove and add oil, garlic and onion. Saute onions and garlic 3 minutes, add spinach to the pan and let it wilt. Coarsely chop artichoke hearts in the food processor and add to the spinach. Season veggies with salt and pepper and thyme. Add chopped toast and dampen stuffing with  vegetable stock. Combine stuffing and sprinkle in a little grated cheese. Top each mushroom with 1/5 of the filling. Set mushrooms in oven for 5 minutes to set the filling. Cut each mushroom into 4 pieces or leave whole if serving as entree and transfer to serving dish.
        Kale & Mushroom Quinoa
QUIRKY QUINOA
Easy, healthy and delicious! A meal in a bowl!  Serves 2

    2 handfuls of kale, broken into little pieces (stems removed)
    2 cups mushrooms, sliced
    2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    salt, to taste
    1 cup quinoa, rinsed
    1 1/2 cups water
    1 tablespoon coconut oil
    1/2 lemon

Cook quinoa in one and a half cups of water in a pot, bringing to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed.

In skillet, sauté garlic, mushrooms and kale in olive oil for 5 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and juice of half a lemon to cooked quinoa and stir.

Spoon quinoa into bowls and top with garlic, mushroom & kale mixture.
      spaghetti squash with mushrooms
ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH with MUSHROOMS
This recipe goes out to those of you who love spaghetti squash..Horace I'm talking to you! :)  Serves 4

    1 medium spaghetti squash, halved
    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    red pepper flakes
    1/4 cup golden raisins (optional-but I love them here)
    1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
    1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped (about 8-10 leaves)
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated or use vegan parm.
    kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Rub spaghetti squash halves with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and place on a baking sheet cut side up. Roast for 30 minutes, flip squash and roast for another 30 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally til brown, 5-6 minutes. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and garlic, cooking for about a minute. Turn the heat off, add the golden raisins to the pan and cover with a lid.

When the spaghetti squash is done, let cool for 5 minutes. With a fork, shred the meat of the squash and place it directly into the pan of mushrooms. Add the Parmesan, parsley, basil, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Stir well to combine. Season with salt & pepper and serve.
     portobello mushroom salad
ROASTED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM SALAD with HONEY DIJON DRESSING
A wonderful springtime or summer entree salad. Serves 2

2 cups salad greens
1 15.oz. can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 avocado (stoned, scooped and diced)
1/4 cup red onion (sliced)
2  roasted portabello mushrooms (see below, sliced)
may add other veggies such as tomatoes or asparagus as desired
honey dijon dressing (see below)

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms

2  portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic (chopped)

 Marinate the mushrooms in the vinegar, soy sauce and garlic for 20 minutes.
 Place the mushrooms and the marinade in a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
 Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 30 minutes.
 Flip the mushrooms and bake uncovered for 10 minutes.

Honey Dijon Dressing

1 tablespoon honey or use agave
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic (grated)
salt and pepper to taste

 Mix everything in a bowl.

"Rocky Raccoon"  The Beatles  "Rocky Raccoon checked into his room"

"Across The Universe"  The Beatles

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

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