Last year I was trolling around a very small health food store that I found on some random adventure, and came across a vegan cookbook from the 1960s. I'd never seen anything like it. No pictures, just pages of blocky black text and a plastic spiral spine. I am kicking myself now for putting it back on the shelf because there is something cool about experimenting with an old cookbook, especially in the case of veganism. This cookbook was made back in the day...WAY back, before things like soy cheese, veggie ground round and Amy's frozen dinners were even a twinkle in our forevegans' eyes. These people were keeping it REAL: meat-free, dairy-free goodness in the form of loads and loads of whole grains and fresh produce. Don't get me wrong...there's not much I love more than Thursday Taco Nights at our place, but I think it's important to give a nod to our vegan ancestors now and again and acknowledge their fight and how it paved the way for us modern vegans. So that we may enjoy our Thursday Taco Night without having to make our own ground round...finding the Yves variety right in our very own standard issue grocer (not even a specialty store - I bet they never imagined such a thing!).
This recipe is hardly going way back to the grassroots of veganism like that strange little cookbook I found a year ago, but it is from a cookbook that is prior to the new Skinny Bitch and beyond vegan generation. Published in the 1990s, this book is called CalciYum and it focuses on calcium-rich dairy-free meals (duh). Interestingly, it does not use the term "vegan" once throughout the entire book, although all meals are free of meat, eggs, dairy, honey and other animal products.
Calcium is to vegans what protein is to vegetarians - I know when people find out I'm vegan the words "but what about osteoporosis?!" get thrown around quite a bit. Never mind that newer research shows osteoporosis is more related to how the body ABSORBS calcium and the role vitamin D has in aiding this absorption, rather than the sheer quantity of calcium consumed within one's diet...not to mention the research showing the highest rates of osteoporosis among citizens living in cultures that consume the MOST dairy. AND studies have shown that calcium obtained from vegetable sources is more easily absorbed by the human body than is calcium combined with animal protein (what you find in dairy). I think I have ranted about this before? You'll have to excuse me; it's a bit of a touchy subject.
Veganism can ensure you get enough calcium; you just have to do it properly. This cookbook really helps with meal planning. Before the authors even give you any recipes there is a thorough guide to stocking a calcium-rich vegan refrigerator. Spoiler alert: It involves dark, leafy greens and veggies. A lot of them.
This tomato sauce takes advantage of one such leafy green: Bok Choy! It further features broccoli, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, green beans and onion.
Now, I'm aware that there are a lot of picky eaters out there. Especially those of you, bless your hearts, raising children while having the tv constantly telling them that McDonald's is the motherland. I don't normally condone the blending and "hiding" of vegetables because I think children should learn to love them (I honestly believe if it wasn't for our pesky society the child-based aversion to veggies we have come to know would be strongly limited, although I know nothing about children or parenting so you can just file that under Mary Propaganda). However, I understand resorting to kitchen trickery when there is a cranky child screaming in your ear about not LIKING bok choy (do kids even know what bok choy is?). This here is the recipe for you during those moments of desperation because all the veggies are blended into oblivion. If they are still fussy about the green bits poking out here and there, just drown it out with more tomato sauce. They'll just assume it's Chef Boyardee.
Speaking of which, just be thankful that you didn't have to raise me. When I was 7, we went on a trip to Europe and my mom had to pack a suitcase full of Chef Boyardee because she knew I would throw a hissy fit at dinner time and refuse to eat everything presented to me in a foreign country. Brat, much?