I have to apologize for my recent absence and lack of posting. We spent the last weeks with our families in Europe, mostly hiking (can you see the tiny white cabins going up the mountain? It’s a very old lift and it’s extremely dangerous to ski downhill in winter),
and although I was looking forward to cooking and sharing some Austrian and Italian recipes, I found myself too busy trying to find somewhat healthy foods during our entire trip. Now don’t get me wrong- the traditional Austrian, Bavarian and South Tyrolean food I grew up with can taste great. Not necessarily is it healthy and is usually quite heavy on meat and dairy products… and a huge variety of sweet desserts. As tasty as these dishes are, we have avoided eating them a long time ago- for environmental and health reasons as you might have picked up. But on and off, we got to enjoy a rare and beautiful dish like this one:
A beautifully arranged salad on a gourmet hut in South Tyrol, high up at 2000 meters, made of 24 herbs and flowers from the surrounding alpine pastures.
What saved us was on the one hand my homemade BIRCHER MUESLI in our apartment for breakfast, made with overnight soaked oats, chia seeds, nuts, raisins, flax meal, soy yogurt and fresh fruit and…
… on the other hand… DUMPLINGS. Among the huge variety of dumplings that can be found in South Tyrol, at least a couple of them were vegetarian dumplings. And truly delicious they were- spinach dumplings, buckwheat- and red beet dumplings.
I’ll see whether I can get my hands on a plant-based recipe for them. By the way, “Knoedel” means dumpling…
What I missed most during our trip was the almost complete absence of soy milk for my midmorning COFFEE. I had completely forgotten about the sometimes sheer impossible task of finding a soy latte in certain parts of Europe. In Munich, the waitress looked at me as if I were an alien when I asked her for soy milk. Her answer was curt- “No, we don’t have anything like that here”.
Let’s remind ourselves though that a few years ago, it was a rare occasion to spot a plant-based milk in supermarkets. Nowadays, because of consumer demand, one usually finds at least one or two different kinds of plant milks on the shelves. And only because of consumer demand organic and health aisles in supermarkets were born.
It’s all about consumer demand, so if you happen to travel through Europe or live there, please don’t stop asking for soy lattes. Eventually, they will be introduced everywhere. Here in Australia, I have become quite spoiled- even at the smallest gas station am I able to get a decent soy latte. WOOHOO!!
A few more thoughts about the foods we encountered on our trip. Quite often, I stumble upon articles that talk about the safety of vegan diets and possible nutrient deficiencies that will develop on such an “extreme” diet. First of all, any diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies if it is not balanced. So how about the deficiencies of people who adhere to a traditional western diet?
Over time we see the effects that these nutrient deficiencies (primarily dietary fiber, iron, vitamin D, Vitamin A, calcium deficiencies) along with the absorption of too much “bad stuff” (animal protein, saturated fats etc) have. The consequences include a variety of so called western diseases- strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cancer (especially prostate, breast and colon cancer) plus a wide variety of other chronic illnesses.
What I have experienced is that people who adhere to vegan diets choose their foods more carefully, are often times better informed about the nutrient content of their foods, eat a larger variety of foods and are more willing to try new foods or new ways of preparing foods.
So despite the cold weather at the moment, I am happy to be home again having access to my activated nuts and seeds, my beloved blender and tons of delicious, colorful recipes that I have in mind for the coming weeks. My challenge: to post foods that are suitable for hot summer days on the Northern hemisphere as well as for cold days on the Southern hemisphere. We’ll see what I can come up with…