The Secret Life of Plants
Written by Peg Moline
Plants have become nutritional rock stars. “The plant-based eating
movement has grown steadily over the years,” says Erin Hoffman,
a former clinical social worker who now leads Eat Clean & Green: Torrance
Memorial's Plant-Based Lifestyle Group, a monthly meeting to help
community members learn to live a plant-based lifestyle. “And it’s
gotten even stronger since the documentary Forks over Knives was released in 2011.
“Plant-based eating means, quite simply, eating fruits, vegetables,
beans, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados and minimally processed
whole grains in their recognizable forms. It could mean being vegan or
vegetarian, but some vegans eat Oreos and French fries and not many whole
plants,” Hoffman says. “For optimal health, eating more whole
plant-based foods with all the inherent fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals
and micronutrients and much (much) less fried and processed packaged food
and sugary products—which are pro-inflammatory—is the goal.”
With that goal in mind, Hoffman shares two easy cold-weather recipes—a
chunky game day-worthy chili and a creamy soup—that provide plenty
of all of the above. “Eating like this, it would be hard to not
get the nutrients you need and not have to rely on expensive supplements.
In our group, we encourage members to communicate with their physicians
and only take a supplement when there is a known deficiency.”
Hoffman began eating her well-rounded vegan diet a few years ago, and her
autoimmune conditions eased as a result. But she realizes it is not an
easy switch. “I encourage people to watch Forks Over Knives so they
understand the importance of minimizing or eliminating meat for their
own health and for our environment. A new documentary called The Game
Changers is releasing this year and will also definitely grab people’s
Vegan Pumpkin Chipotle Chili
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: About 8 cups
This recipe is from Brandi Doming’s website, thevegan8.com, which
also is the name of her new book, The Vegan 8,” Erin Hoffman says.
“I like the common ingredients and detailed instruction she gives.
Go to Doming’s website for a vegan Lemon Cream Sauce or use regular
non-dairy sour cream for topping.
- ½ cup water or low-sodium vegetable broth + 1 cup extra
- 1½ cups finely chopped white onion
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 (15-ounce) cans chili beans, rinsed
- (or 1 can black beans, 1 can pinto beans and 1 can kidney beans)
- 1½ cups tomato sauce or puree (not paste)
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 2-3 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (remove seeds if you
don’t like super spicy)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1½-2 teaspoons fine sea salt (will vary depending on your tomato sauce)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
- Fresh cilantro and lime for garnish (optional)
1. Place ½ cup water/broth in a pot with the onion and garlic over
medium heat. Once it starts bubbling, let it cook 8 minutes until the
onions are very soft and the liquid has evaporated.
2. Get remaining spices and ingredients ready while the onions are cooking.
Add all remaining ingredients, plus 1 cup water/broth. Stir really well
and bring back to a boil. Turn to a simmer and cook 10 to 20 minutes until
chili is flavored through and has thickened. If needed, add up to 1/4
cup more broth if a thinner consistency is desired. Taste and add any
more salt or chipotle if desired. I used 3 teaspoons, and it was nice
and spicy but not overly so.
Creamy Golden Bisque
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 16 minutes (with pressure cooker,
45 minutes stovetop)
Yield: 8 servings
“This soup is so smooth and satisfying, and I like how quickly it
comes together,” says Hoffman. The recipe is adapted from a recipe
created by Chef AJ, who has been featured many times at Torrance Memorial,
and Mary McDougal, who’s married to retired physician John McDougal,
MD, who practices nutrition as the first defense against disease (drmcdougall.com).
It uses an Instant Pot pressure cooker, but you can adapt by simmering
on the stovetop in a cast iron pot.
- 1½ pounds cauliflower
- 1½ pounds peeled and rough-cut Hannah yams (tan skin with yellow flesh)
- 5 cups veggie stock or water
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 8 cloves garlic (smash, peel and let rest 10 minutes before adding)
- 2 tablespoons no-salt dill blend (or equal amounts of dill and oregano)
- cayenne pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons Benson’s Table Tasty (bensonsgourmetseasonings.com)
- 4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Put all but the last 3 ingredients in the Instant Pot. Use the manual setting
for 6 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes.
[If you are cooking on the stovetop, bring ingredients to a boil, then
simmer 40–60 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender.] Use an immersion
blender to purée the soup. Add the last 3 ingredients; purée
again to mix. Taste. Add more cayenne pepper if you’d like a little
heat and additional water if it’s too thick.
Eat Clean & Green, Torrance Memorial’s Plant-Based Lifestyle
Group meets monthly (usually the second Monday), 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the
West Tower Auditorium. Speakers and topics vary. Go to TorranceMemorial.org/PBLG.