Introduction to Vegetarian Cooking By Maggie Jones

Presented by the Kootenay Co-op

FOOD FOR THOUGHT  from Maggie Jones/ Whole foods consultant and Cooking teacher at Kooteney Co-op

‑changing your diet can be difficult and frustrating ‑ be patient and persevere

‑whole or natural foods are those foods which are eaten in their unprocessed, unrefined state; nothing is added to these foods

‑eating whole foods puts you lower on the food chain, lowering your exposure to harmful toxins

‑organic foods are natural or whole foods which have been grown without harmful chemical pesticides or fertilizers


‑look ahead at the meals you’d like to prepare over the coming week

‑remember to include a whole grain and compliment with beans or dairy for complete protein.

‑protein need not eaten at every meal, or can be eaten in small quantities, beans and grains do not have to be eaten together

‑choose from the expansive array of beans including; lentils, kidney beans, black beans, lima beans,

‑make use of instant bean products, canned beans, and quick soy foods like tofu burgers, or wieners

‑buy bulk to save money, to build up your pantry and to help you plan ahead

‑cook large quantities of beans and freeze them in one meal sizes

-stock a good selection of basic items to that you have the raw materials to make basic meals even if you don’t have a lot of selection.


What is does Certified Organic Mean? …and how is this different from organic or transitional foods?

Foods or products that are Certified Organic have been grown and/or processed by strict standards that are set by the local governing body. This ensures that the products are completely free of chemical residues and methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water as well. The farms plant certified organic seed and may not use any Genetically Modified seed.

Farms are inspected yearly and must adhere to the standards as well as have a buffer zone separating them from conventional farms. Organic farmers build healthy soils by nourishing the living component of the soil—the microbials that release, transform and transfer nutrients.

They build the soil with compost, cover crops, manure and natural soil amendments such as kelp meal and this also increase the soils water holding capabilities. It is interesting to note that it is a common misconception that organic food holds a greater risk of E. coli contamination. In reality organic farmers must compost their manure for a minimum of 90 days while commercial farmers have no regulations and can apply their manure with no supervision.

Organic Farmers control weeds through crop rotation, mechanical tillage, hand weeding, mulching and flame weeding etc. Yields on organic farms are about 95% of those grown on commercial farms. They control pests through insect predators, mating disruption, traps and barriers.

Food processors must also adhere to guidelines which dictate how the foods may be processed including no irradiation, no addition of artificial ingredients into the product and minimal processing. The processing plant must also receive certification in order for the food to be certified and must employ natural pest control, and are not permitted to use chemicals in the processing.

Packaged food products must contain 70% organic ingredients to have “contains organic ingredients” on the label and must be 95% organic content to have “certified organic” on the label.

In terms of fresh product the word organic means nothing as there is no supervision of how that food was grown. 

The Benefits of Choosing Organically Grown Foods

*There are many positive reasons to support organic farmers. Organic farming practices are sustainable and ensure that soils will be maintained and improved so that future generations will be able to farm the land for years to come. The constant rebuilding and replenished of organic matter and nutrients by organic farmers prevents soil erosion, the major cause of loss of arable land in North America.

*Organic foods do not contain chemical herbicides, fertilizers, fungicides or pesticides—many of which were approved for use after the 2nd World War, without adequate testing. It is widely thought that 90% of all fungicides, 60% of all herbicides and 30% of all insecticides are carcinogenic.

A note on Toxic Levels of Pesticides……

About 20% of the commercially grown foods that we eat are contaminated with trace amounts of pesticides that have been banned for decades.

A normal adult who eats a balanced diet of commercial foods may be ingesting up to 90 times the acceptable limit for exposure to a group of chemicals called “persistent organic pollutants” or POPs. (This includes DDT and dieldrin—banned since the 1970’s.)

Top foods containing POPs are commercially produced butter, cantaloupe, cucumbers, meats, peanuts, popcorn, radishes, spinach, summer squash, strawberries and winter squash.

*Contamination of ground water by toxic farm chemicals found in run off has become a real problem.  Streams, creeks, sloughs and farm wells, the place where we get our drinking water, become catch basins for these chemicals.

*As well as accumulating in the environment, farming chemicals can be harmful for the people who produce our food.   A National Cancer Institute study revealed that farmers who were exposed to herbicides are 6 times more likely to develop cancer than non-farmers. This is an unacceptable risk for the people who work so hard to grow food for us.

*Organic farms are mostly independent farms, family operated and consisting of less than 100 acres. Organic farms provide ethical, sustainable employment for people. By supporting these farms we are putting our food dollars into the hands of the people who grow the food, helping to keep farmers on the land and keeping smaller communities alive.

*Organically grown foods also taste better. Healthy, fertile, nourished soil produces superior quality foods, foods that are also richer in nutrients.   Unfortunately however, organically grown foods often cost more than their commercially produced counterparts. This is because organic farms generally use more labour as many tasks are done manually and because they do not mono-crop.

Where to Start With Organics

Peanuts and peanut butter should always be organically grown. Peanuts are often rotated in with non-food crops such as cotton, on which toxic chemicals are routinely used. These chemicals are taken up by the peanut crop. Children eat a lot of peanut butter; organically grown peanut butter is a good way to lower their exposure to toxins.

Grapes, raisins and grape products are also generally high in toxins. Grapes tend to grow moulds and fungus and so require frequent applications of chemicals. Strawberries are said to have the greatest amount of chemical contamination of any produce item. Apples are also heavily sprayed.

Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, chard, kale and endive are best purchased organically grown because with these foods we eat the part of the plant that is in direct contact with farm sprays. With nothing to peel or scrub away, the leaves themselves become the receptive part of the plant for chemical applications.

Another good idea is to always use organically grown citrus fruit when using the zest or peel in a recipe. Non- organic citrus crops are heavily sprayed with a variety of toxic chemicals and often the fruit is dyed before being shipped and sold.


‑is based on whole grains which are complex carbohydrates and are digested at a slow and steady rate (brown rice, barley, whole wheat, millet etc.), in conjunction with beans and legumes as protein sources (also dairy and/or eggs)

‑combine grains and beans at a 2.:1 ratio for optimum protein completion, (2—1/2 cup servings of beans per day min. and at least 4-5 one half cup servings of grain)

‑includes “super vegetables” such as broccoli, all dark leafy greens (spinach, chard etc.) Brussels sprouts and fresh peas

‑can include soybeans and soy foods–they contain complete proteins, (there is some debate about eating fermented soy to increase digestibility and nutrient absorption, this would include foods like Tempeh and Miso.)

‑make up the rest of your diet with a good selection of raw and/or cooked vegetables (eaten in abundance), fresh or dried fruits, nuts, nut butters and seeds etc.

Wherever possible eat your fruits and veggies raw for optimum nutrition and to maximize living enzyme intake.


‑use only cold pressed, naturally expelled oils for cooking and light sautéing including, sunflower, safflower, avocado, coconut and extra virgin olive

‑if the oil does not smell and taste likes the plant or seed it comes from then do not use it

‑avoid all hydrogenated fats including margarine, vegetables shortening and lard, refrigerate all oils

‑avoid also all processed tropical oils such as palm, also avoid cottonseed oil

‑keeps fats and oils to a minimum when cooking, use moderate heat.

‑do not deep fry/use low heat because heat denatures oils and makes them harmful and toxic

‑certain oils contain Omega 3 Fatty Acids or EFAs which cannot be manufactured by your body and so much be eaten. These include raw flax seed oil, Hemp Oil, Fish oil, Evening Primrose oil, Borage Oils and blends of these oils.

Whole Grains Cooking Chart

GRAIN                                    RATIO                        COOKING TIME       YIELD

Brown rice                              2:1                               50 min                         2.5 cups

Millet                                      3:1                               20 min                         3 cups

Bulgur wheat                         3:2                              12 min                         3 cups

Buckwheat (kasha)               1.5:1                            15 min                         3 cups

Cracked oat groats              2:1                               30 min                           2 cups

Quinoa                                 2:1                               20-25 min                  3 cups

Cous-cous                               2:1                               8 min                           3 cups

Barley                                     ample: 1                      60 min                         2 cups

Wild rice                                2:1                               2 hours                       2 cups

-When cooking whole grains, bring the required amount of water to a boil, add if salt if desired, add the measured amount of grain, cover, and cook on low heat for the required amount of time.

allow at least 1/2 cup of cooked grain per person for breakfast, to be served with fruit, or as a side dish at lunch or dinner

use nut butters as a base for or addition to sauces for grains i.e. make a white sauce, omit the milk and instead use water and almond butter, add salt, pepper, dill weed, Tamari…delicious!

serve sautéed veggies, chunky tomato sauces, or curried vegetables on a bed of steamed brown rice, sprinkle on toasted almonds

Try quick cooking grains and grain products of stuck for time

often it is most effective to leave the grain plain or under seasoned and combine it with a spicy dish we can taste; sweet, bitter, sour, pungent (hot), and salty, the art of seasoning is to find the balance

Store grains in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.

-grains should be washed and picked over for debris before cooking

Fool Proof Bean Cooking

-sort, wash and drain beans

-cover beans with 3 times as much water as beans

-let sit at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours, (for pressure cooking 6 hours min.)

-in hot weather soak beans in the fridge to prevent fermentation

-drain beans and add fresh water

-cook according to the chart below

-do not add salt or seasonings until beans are fully cooked

Beans Cooking Chart

Bean type               Cooking time (regular cookware/pressure cooker)

Adzuki                        1 hour/15 min

Chickpeas                   2.5 hours/25 min

Black Turtle               1.5 hours/15 min

Great Northern        2 hours/15 min

Black-eyed Peas        1 hour/10 min

Kidney                         2 hours/20 min

Broad                          2 hours/20 min

Mung Beans                1 hour/10 min

Lima (Butter)            1.5 hours/15 min

Pinto (Romano)          1.5 hours/15 min

*Lentils(green)          40 min/8 min

Soya                            4 hours/25 min

*Split Peas                 1.5 hours/not recommended

*Lentils(red)              30 min/8 min

*does not need to be soaked

-cook beans until they are completely tender; do not eat “crunchy” beans

-most beans and legumes yield 2 1/4 cups cooked per cup dry.

-kidney beans contain toxins that are destroyed by boiling for 10 min so ensure that you boil them first if you intend to cook them in a slow  cooker type crock pot

Relative Yields per Acre:   

1 acre soybeans                    = 6 years food for one person

1 acre wheat, corn, rice       = 2.5 years food for one person

1 acre used for poultry       = 6 months food for one person

1 acre used for beef                        = 2 months food for one person


‑cooking to accommodate allergies can be difficult‑there are a lot of alternative products on the market such as soymilk, rice milk, soy cheese and tofurella wheat free breads, yeast free breads, yeast free breads, alternative flours such as oat, barley, buckwheat etc.   BOOKS AVAILABLE; The Gluten Free Gourmet, Allergic People Eat Dessert Too, and Good Food, Milk Free, Grain Free.


Diet For A Small Planet       Frances Moore Lappe

Farm Vegetarian Cookbook Louise Hagler

Laurel’s Kitchen                    Laurel Robertson and friends

Ten Talents                           Rosalie Hurd

Uprisings                                The Cooperative Whole Grain Bakers Education Assn.

Becoming Vegetarian                        Brenda Davis

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