This is the May 2006 issue of the Low Budget Vegetarian newsletter.

This issue includes:

- making greens the center of a meal
- a new tofu dip I'm working on


Making Greens the Center of a Meal

I have a new challenge to deal with in my cooking now. We discovered that my wife has borderline osteoporosis, and a big part of controlling or reversing that, is related to calcium in the diet.

Other than supplements, the main dietary sources of calcium are dark leafy greens, some seaweeds, and dairy products.

Neither my wife nor I get along well with a lot of dairy.

There are some foods, like soy milk, that come with added calcium. However, I have found that the 'supplemented' soy milk products are more processed, have a longer list of ingredients, and taste inferior to pure soymilk made with just soybeans and water.

So, I have been experimenting with creating main course dishes built around cooked greens. I use mostly the dense, dark greens - kale, mustard greens, turnip greens and collards, since they have the most calcium.

All of these greens need to be cooked to tenderness, from around 15 minutes for mustard and turnip greens, to 30 minutes or more for kale.

In general, greens do not hold up well in leftovers, so I don't use them in bean and vegetable stews, which typically last 3 to 5 days at our house.

For a hearty main course dish, I find that any of these greens combine well with potatoes. The heavy, creamy quality of soft-cooked potato blends well with the somewhat bitter cooked green. Adding a combination of sour, salty and hot spices complements the greens nicely. Add some good quality toasted bread and you have a meal.

For a starting place, there is a good basic recipe for greens and potatoes out on the LBV site -

To vary the dish a bit, I have found the following ingredients to work well with the greens and potato
- garlic and onion, diced tomatoes, basil and lemon juice
- fresh ginger (lots!), onion, salt and lemon
- indian spices - cumin, asafetida, turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, black or red pepper
- olive oil and butter, garlic and onions, salt and a little lemon juice
- asian spices - garlic, chilis, soy sauce, rice vinegar. (If you use fish sauce, that combines well also.)

I have also found that mustard greens work well stirred in with rice and vegetable dishes. Mustard greens are available frozen in some stores, so this makes a good quick meal alternative. You can use the same spice patterns that work with greens and potatoes.


A new Recipe-In-Progress

This is a new dip I'm working on. I don't quite have the proportions perfect, but I'm close enough that I will share my ideas here.

I got the idea for this dip from a spread I bought, that was cream cheese and sour cream based, that used feta cheese, roasted peppers, garlic and lemon for flavor. It was very tasty, but too heavy on dairy and too high fat for me to indulge in often.

I'm working on a similar dip, using tofu instead of the cream cheese and sour cream mix. This makes it lower in fat, and a lot lower in dairy.

Feta cheese, crushed garlic and lemon work well with tofu.

On a whim, I discovered that tomato paste blends well with the spread also. It adds a rich tomato taste without thinning down the texture at all.

I am going for a sandwich spread texture here, so the tofu is fork mashed rather than put through a blender. All the ingredients are blended in by fork also.

When I get the proportions perfect I will put the recipe out on my site. Until then, hopefully I've given you some recipe ideas to play with.


And that is all for this month.

Happy and healthy eating to you, and best wishes for the New Year.

Charlie Obert


Low Budget Vegetarian Survival