Friday recipe: tantalizing tempeh and chickpea curry

David Spreadbury and Joy Schiller show that healthy eating is delicious.

David Spreadbury, Ph.D., chair of the biochemistry and nutrition department, and Joy Schiller, director of DMU’s Wellness Center, teach a very popular healthy eating elective in the Wellness Center kitchen. These two heroes of health also periodically offer lunch-hour cooking demonstrations and discussions, such their session this week on incorporating plant-based dishes in one’s diet.

This delightful duo served a to-die-for lunch (note to file: run, don’t walk, any time you can get Dr. Spreadbury and Joy to cook for you). Dr. Spreadbury also provided plenty of food for thought on the sustainable aspects of eating more plants and less meat. That’s consistent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new “Choose My Plate,” the recent replacement for the food pyramid that recommends we fill more than three-quarters of our plate with fruits, vegetables and grains. It’s also easier on the environment. Some quick facts presented by the professor over our lunch:

  • 10 billion animals are slaughtered per year for our consumption.
  • If everyone in China ate just one more chicken per year, that increase would require the entire annual grain production of Canada.
  • Meat production requires a huge level of agriculture, the modern practice of which consumes vast amounts of fossil fuel.
  • The amount of arable land per person in 2002 was about half what that amount was in 1961.
  • Converting plants into meat is highly inefficient: For example, it takes about eight pounds of feed to produce one pound of steer, and only about half of that cow is edible.
  • Only 13 percent of the protein fed to a pig is retained in its meat.
  • And not that you want to think about this over lunch, but Iowa hogs produce more than 50 million tons of manure annually – 16.7 tons for every human in the state.

Dr. Spreadbury doesn’t push people to become vegetarian; he isn’t one himself. But for our environment and our waistlines, putting more plant-based dishes on the menu is a good idea. He and Joy incorporated at least 20 different plants in our very tasty lunch, including some that are high in protein. Give these two a try!

Spreadbury’s tantalizing tempeh

  • 6 ounces organic tempeh, cut into half-inch cubes
  • 2 small leeks, cleaned thoroughly and cut into half-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts
  • 4-5 ounces sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon vegetarian broth
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water

Brown the tempeh in one tablespoon of the canola oil for approximately 15 minutes in a shallow, nonstick pan. Add the soy sauce and set aside. Combine the artichoke hearts and leeks with the other tablespoon of canola oil in a deep 10-inch pan. Saute on medium heat until soft, approximately 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the artichoke hearts and leeks and brown them. Add the broth and two tablespoons water; stir. Add the tempeh to the pan. Stir and cook on low heat for another 15-20 minutes. Mixture can be served over quinoa, whole-grain brown rice, farro, barley or other whole grain.

Chickpea curry

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup diced eggplant, in one-inch pieces, with skin
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon curry paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (available at health food stores)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (optional)
  • 2 cardamom pods (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)

Soften the onion over medium heat in a covered pan. Add the potato and eggplant and cook, occasionally stirring, until the eggplant begins to soften. Add the peas, raisins, garlic and curry paste, and cook for five minutes, stirring as needed. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and add just enough water to cover. Add cumin seeds and cardamom pods if using. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cook for 45-60 minutes. Remove from heat, add the cilantro and serve. Any other vegetables can be added or substituted for those in the recipe, so experiment to find your favorites!

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