Monday, February 3, 2014

A Southern Vegetarian Cookbook Giveaway + Cauliflower Couscous with Sautéed Kale and Artichoke Hearts

+++ This contest is closed. Thanks for all the great comments! +++


Commenter #6, Joan
Commenter #9, Tofu Mom (aka Tofu & Sprouts)
Commenter #8, Liquid Extrovert
You have won your very own copy of The Southern Vegetarian cookbook courtesy of Memphis Fight OnPlease private message us on Facebook with your address and we'll get the book in the mail right away. Thank you for your compassion and support.

The Chubby Vegetarian is proud to partner with Fight On, a local community of cancer survivors, current fighters, and supporters sharing stories of survival and strength. The nice folks at Fight On are giving away three copies of our book, The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table. To win your very own copy of the book, leave a comment below sharing your words of encouragement and support for those who are just beginning their fight and then go and 'like' the Fight On Facebook Page. We also encourage everyone to visit the Fight On website to learn more about this great organization. 

The three contest winners will be chosen through a random drawing and announced on Monday, February 10, 2014.  (Winners must be in the 48 continental United States. Only one winner per household. Winners will be chosen using a web-based random number generator. Enter as many times as you'd like. Comments are moderated. We will review and post them at the end of the day.)

Cancer has touched each of our lives at some point. When our friend Denny was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2010, we were all shocked. Cancer has the power to do that, you know? A tickle in the throat led to tests and more tests, which turned up the conclusion that no one wants to hear.

No one would have ever guessed that cancer would choose Denny. He's an absolute bad ass, a Marine, pilot, runner, and gym rat who is built like a brick mailbox and probably did more reps last Tuesday that I'll do all year. In addition, he eats healthier than anyone I know and always has. His plate is always loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables with a side of lean protein. So in this situation, it would be easy for anyone to throw their hands in the air and scream, "Why?" But he dug in and asked, "How are we going to fight this, and what do we need to do to win?"

"It's really a great time to have cancer," he once told me. As strange as that sounds, I understand what he means. We have so much research, information, and technology to assist us in the fight; now a diagnosis doesn't mean the exact same thing it used to mean. So he organized his game plan, which included treatment, chemo, and most of all, continuing to exercise and eat healthfully every single day.

Even when he felt weak from the treatment or nauseated by the chemotherapy, he'd show up at the gym and work out on the elliptical or train with weights. According to published reports, exercise during treatment not only doesn't harm the effectiveness of the treatment, but improves multiple aspects of one's quality of life including maintaining strength and range of motion and combating fatigue and depression. 

He knew he was on the right track. Even when he told us everything tastes "like I'm chewing on aluminum foil," he continued to eat healthfully because we all know that food is fuel for our bodies, and he was fueling up for his fight. This is where we knew we could help. To celebrate Denny's progress, we threw him a dinner party with dishes that displayed a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. On the menu: Green Pea Hummus, Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho from our book The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes For The Modern Table (Thomas Nelson, 2013), and Cauliflower Couscous with Sautéed Kale and Artichoke Hearts, a dish we created just for him.

We came up with this dish after researching what one should be eating while undergoing treatment. The list wouldn't really surprise anyone. Multiple sources describe a diet overflowing with fresh vegetables as a great way to combat cancer. One thing I learned about after a tip from Denny is how to make sure the foods you're eating are alkaline as opposed to acidic. Alkaline foods supposedly don't cause inflammation in the body like acidic foods can. Admittedly, we got a very surface education in this before diving right in and cooking. Many of the favorite foods we already love are on the alkaline list, including cauliflower, mushrooms, artichokes, and kale.

We were thrilled that Denny loved our meal! Denny, his wife Nina, Amy, and I ate and laughed and forgot for a moment what we were celebrating…which was the whole point. We are so thankful for his spirit and his friendship. As you can see, he is a great inspiration in our lives. He's still fighting the good fight, and we hope hearing about him today has inspired you as well. 

Cauliflower Couscous with Sautéed Kale and Artichoke Hearts
(Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Alkaline)

2 large artichokes
2 organic lemons
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Kosher salt (more to taste)
2 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
1 8-ounce package baby bella mushrooms (quartered)
1 large shallot (sliced, about 1/2 cup)
1 large head curly kale (stems removed, chopped)
1 cup roasted, salted almonds
3 cloves garlic
1 medium head cauliflower (leaves trimmed, roughly chopped, about 7 cups)
parsley and finely diced red pepper (to garnish)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

In a large soup pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Halve one of the lemons, squeeze the juice into the water, and then add both pieces to the water. Add the Italian seasoning and the salt. Trim the top third off of each artichoke. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the stem and trim the end off of the stem. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise and place each into the boiling water. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until stem is tender. Remove artichokes from the water. Once the artichokes are cool enough to handle, pull the fibrous "choke" out of the middle using a spoon. It should slip right out. Set aside.

Discard water and lemons and use the same large pot for this part. Over high heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil and the mushrooms. Allow them to cook undisturbed for one to two minutes or until the mushrooms are nicely browned -- mushrooms don't burn easily because of their high water and low natural sugar content. Once mushrooms are browned, add the shallots and cook for one minute. Add the kale and sauté until bright green. Add 1/4 cup of water, use a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, remove from the heat, and cover. Season with salt and pepper and set aside until ready to serve.

Into the work bowl of your food processor, add the almonds and garlic. Process until very finely chopped. Add 1/3 of the cauliflower and process until it's very fineley chopped and the cauliflower resembles sand. Repeat until all cauliflower is processed. In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the processed cauliflower mix and stir with a wooden spoon; allow the bottom to brown before each stir. Cook for five to six minutes or until heated through. Add 1/4 cup of water and stir. Season with salt and pepper and set aside until ready to serve. The texture will resemble a fine-grained couscous.

To serve, place the warm Cauliflower Couscous on a platter and cover it with the kale. Next, position the artichoke hearts, which may be seared in a little olive oil to warm them, on the top. Garnish with the juice and zest of one lemon and some parsley and red pepper. (Serves 4.)

*It should be mentioned that eating healthfully doesn't always have to break the bank.The ingredients for this whole dish only cost about $15!