Thursday, November 4, 2010

veganmofo.1.4: Squash and Adzuki Beans

As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm trying to avoid sugar in my diet for the long-term. This is very difficult for me, as I've been raised on crazy amounts of sweets since I was a baby. As a kid, when I had friends over, their eyes would pop when they saw all the candy and cookies and ice cream we had. You know how most college kids gain weight when they move away from home? Well I actually lost weight because I no longer had a candy shop for a pantry!

As an adult and as a vegan, I've been much healthier in terms of the sweets I do eat, using natural sweeteners and whole-grain flours and such, but a wholegrain vegan muffin still does not replace a healthy whole foods meal or snack. In the recent past, sometimes if I went to a vegan-friendly restaurant or cafe and couldn't afford a meal and a dessert, I'd skip the meal and just get dessert. Or sometimes I would get an energy bar and a sweetened soy latte and call it lunch. I think these poor habits crept up on me, as over the summer my energy got really low and I went to the doctor and found out I was anemic. I knew it was totally my fault for not eating a balanced vegan diet. I just can't seem to find a balance of eating sweets only every once in a while - I want to eat them every day! It's an emotional attachment I think, wanting to 'treat' myself when I'm feeling down or am bored or stressed.

So I want to cut out sugar until I know I've broken my emotional attachment to it, and then maybe I'll start introducing small amounts of sugar every once in a while, or maybe not - who knows. I've cut sugar and coffee together before, but after a week or two I always caved in because I felt too tired and blah without them. So this time I decided to just cut the sugar and keep the coffee (I am an architecture graduate student after all, and I usually just have one cup of coffee in a day anyway). It has been almost two weeks now, and I feel fine! I didn't notice any withdrawal symptoms like headache, just the occasional craving when I'm feeling down or tired. I think my body was just really ready to quit this time.

Now, when I want to 'treat' myself, I'll take a hot bath, watch a movie with a nice cup of tea, or take myself out to dinner. I'll share some of my other coping strategies later, but diet-wise, I've been eating lots of squash lately (in case you didn't notice) - it satisfies my want for something sweet and starchy.

earlier this week I got to sleep in, and I really felt like baking. Except I don't have an oven (to make savoury muffins). So how to satisfy my desire to bake? I thought about pancakes. They are a cake, of sorts. How can I make a yummy pancake without sugar that feels like a baked good? I decided to combine squash and adzuki beans - both are naturally sweet, they are a lovely combination, and they were both in my fridge. So I did some experimenting, and here's the result:

Unfortunately my gas stove does not like cooking things at a low temperature, so burning was a problem (I burnt my last pancake, even at the lowest heat and with constant checking). They were also a bit greasy for what I'm used to (I used to make pancakes with spray oil, which I don't have here) but they did hit the spot at the time.

Then tonight I had more cravings (long day), so I went home and stuffed some squash with polenta and adzuki beans, served alongside a simple but tasty salad with cabbage, mizuna, snow peas, bean sprouts and a sesame oil dressing. By the time I was finished dinner, the cravings were completely gone, and now I feel fine. So yay for squash!


  1. Those pancakes look pretty good! They've inspired me to try making some with delicata squash, because it's also really naturally sweet...
    Oh, and congratulations on your resolution to deal with sugar. I can completely understand that, because I definitely eat when I feel bored/emotional/stressed. Your list of 'new' treats for yourself has inspired me to try to stop snacking so often. :)

  2. All the nutrition data I can find online says that azuki beans are virtually sugar-free. We think of them as being sweet because they are often served in dishes with added sugar. (Pecans are another sugarless food that has the same association.)

    Try putting oil on a paper towel and then wiping that on your pan. That's how I keep my pancakes between sticking and greasy.

  3. Megan - I bet delicata squash would be so yummy in pancakes!

    Jared - thanks for the research and the paper towel tip. I'm also sorry I never sent you a lentil loaf recipe suggestion, but I've actually never made a lentil loaf before. Terrible vegan, I know!