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Living on Vegetables April 13, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Ecology, Fitness and Nutrition.
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Trying to stay healthy into my old age so I can keep on diving is a challenge. Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol down can be a difficult as you age, and I lot of people I know that are my age are taking Lipitor and other medicines. That’s always an option but I’m doing my best to fight it without resorting to a lifetime on prescription drugs.

One of the things that’s changed slowly over the last 20 years is that we eat a lot less meat than we used to. We’re down to once or twice a month now, and the less we eat it the less we like it. We eat fish, mostly salmon, once a week, and there’s a scallop dish (based on a fiery Thai shrimp recipe) that’s a Saturday night staple, but otherwise it’s vegetables supplemented by low fat cottage cheese to keep the protein content up. Scallops by the way are very low in cholesterol, unlike shrimp.

It’s tough to make this kind of diet appetizing, although I like hot pepper and for me a little or a lot of pepper sauce is great addition to most vegetable dishes, along with other herbs and spices. It’s all the more important as I don’t add salt to anything.

But one thing we learned in cooking school I’ll share, and I think it’s important both environmentally and gastronomically, is the creation of vegetable stock. As we eat of lot of stews and soups, using stock instead of water adds a lot of flavour. Stock cubes, like Knorr or Oxo, are full of salt and who-knows-what-else, and I try to avoid them. We used to make chicken stock, but as we don’t each chicken more than twice a year or so we can’t make it any more.

So what I learned was that all the things that normally get thrown in the garbage like the ends of carrots, potato peelings, stalks of herbs, onion and garlic skins, or just about anything else can be set aside for making stock. So we just stick it in a container, along with any water used for steaming, and freeze it after a week. Once we have a bunch of containers it all gets boiled into vegetable stock, which is then used and/or frozen for later use. It adds a ton of flavour to anything we cook and is free.

Once the stock is made, all the vegetables are tossed into the composter along with coffee grounds, tea bags, paper towels, wine corks, apple cores, banana skins, avocado pits and so on to support my wife’s gardening habit, and along with the paper, cardboard, glass and plastic recycling we hardly have any non-recyclable garbage to speak of. In fact, most of that garbage consists of plastic bags, which we (a) reuse at least once, and (b) are trying to cut down on. We’ve even started to bring home compostable stuff from lunch at work which may be bordering on fanaticism.

It’s a contribution. I still don’t feel it’s enough.

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