I used to love food. Being a vegan meant constantly trying out new recipes that I would find in exciting, photo-heavy blogs and cookbooks. I menu-planned almost every week.
Then I got pregnant. Fatigue, hormones, and then, when the baby got bigger, a squished stomach, turned my appetite. I didn’t crave anything, but the list of things that I didn’t want grew larger and was liable to change at a moment’s notice. I could cook dinner and not want it by the time it was finished. This left me with very little incentive to spend time in the kitchen.
And don’t even get me started on the injustice of food in the media. There I was, innocently driving down the road, only to be slammed by gigantic billboards seemingly designed to make me… well, you know. Friends that started posting photos of food on facebook, blogs that suddenly expanded their outlook to include pictures of food, radio advertisements complete with chewing sounds and disgusting combinations (tuna and avocado, anyone?): they were all out to get me.
I write this in the past tense not because things have changed, but because I look forward to them doing so. I can’t wait to want to eat again, the way I used to. And according to the grapevine, the first postpartum meal tastes amazing.
So, what’ll it be? Spaghetti and meatballs, of course! Only, it’ll be beanballs. Now, I know you sad, sad vegans out there who are scoffing at me. “There’s no such thing as a good home-made beanball,” you say. “They’re all too mushy.” Well, scoff no more. I will tell you my secrets.
If you are pregnant, hopefully you have figured out that this post is about food, and you are now no longer reading, or you are braced for more information about food. Don’t worry. In deference to your delicate state, there is only one picture for this post. (Actually, that’s all I could stomach.)
- 1 TBSP flax seed
- 3 TBSP hot water
- 1 veggie bouillon cube
- 8 oz. tempeh
- 1 can black eyed peas
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 carrot
- 1-2 TBSP fresh garlic
- ½ large onion
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
- 8 fresh minced sage leaves (1 tsp dried)
- ½ TBSP fennel
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 TBSP ketchup
- 2 TBSP lemon juice
- 2 TBSP white wine
The beauty of this recipe is that you can make many substitutions, as desired. Don’t have pumpkin seeds? Use walnuts. Out of ketchup? Tomato paste is probably even better. (Though who really wants to open a whole can of tomato paste just to use 1-2 TBSP? The leftovers always go bad in my fridge.) No veggie bouillon? I’ve had good results with soy sauce and A-1. However, to get the texture, you must use black eyed peas. The reason this recipe took so long for me to “find” was because I tried other beans I liked the taste of better, and they all were too mushy. Another mistake is trying to fry the meatballs instead of bake them. This doesn’t really work; they must be baked. If you want to fry, you can bake and then fry. In a pinch, breadcrumbs can substitute for rolled oats, but the results are far inferior. So, those are pretty much the secrets.
- In a tiny bowl, dissolve the veggie bouillon in the hot water. Pulverize your flaxseed with either a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, and add. Let stand. The mixture will gel to make a flax “egg.”
- Steam your tempeh. Alternatively, you may boil the block of tempeh for about 10 minutes. This gets rid of tempeh’s bitter taste.
- Rinse and drain your black eyed peas. In a large bowl, mash them with a fork until only some of the beans are recognizable. You will be using the food processor for the other ingredients, but not the beans!
- Grind the oats in a food processor until you have a rough oat flour. Add to the beans.
- You will be adding the carrot, garlic, onion, and pumpkin seeds to the beans as well. I usually will grind one ingredient at a time, until I get it to the desired pulverization. Pumpkin seeds and an onion, for example, will grind at different rates, and by the time both were done, would just be a gloopy mess in the food processor. So do everything separately, and grind until just very finely minced—not until its soup!
- Now you can add the nutritional yeast and herbs to the bowl, and mix everything together. Crumble your tempeh and add that, too!
- Then add your flavorings- ketchup, lemon juice, white wine. Also add your veggie bouillon/flax egg mixture. Mix well, and taste. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Truthfully I usually add a little more of everything at this point, but I think I like herbs more than most people, so I reduced it to a good starting point.
- Roll into small balls (about 1” diameter), and place on a parchment-paper or olive-oil lined baking sheet. Bake for eight minutes at 325. Flip over, and bake for another eight minutes on the other side.
- Freeze half to take to the birth center with you. Eat the other half now with spaghetti and marinara sauce. Yummy.
This recipe makes enough for six servings. It’s filled with all sorts of goodness per serving, such as:
- Calories: 289
- Total fat: 8.4 g
- Potassium: 347.2 mg
- Total Carbohydrate: 40.9 g
- Dietary Fiber: 7.7 g
- Protein: 15.3 g
- Vitamin A: 33 %
- Vitamin B-12: 23%
- Vitamin B-6: 88%
- Vitamin C: 10%
- Calcium: 14%
- Iron: 20%
At least I won’t have to feel too guilty if I’m too busy to remember to take my prenatal vitamin that day!