Saturday, April 17, 2010

Homemade Veggie-Full Tomato Sauce

I am a hypochondriac. It's no secret at all. I get a headache and I'm convinced it's a brain tumor. I forget where I put my keys and I announce that I must have early-onset Alzheimer's (reading Still Alice really did not help this paranoia, I might add). WebMD is pretty much the worst thing that ever happened to me, because now I can self-diagnose to all my psychotic delight.

I am an ethical vegan, meaning I would still be vegan even if I didn't believe that it wasn't the healthiest diet option out there. However, the fact that it is so great for the body ensures that I am easily motivated to continue on this path. I feel like it's part of my armour against disease and so it helps this particular hypochondriac sleep at night. Less aches and pains and all around ickiness means I have less symptoms related to fewer obscure diseases to google on a weekly basis.

All the same, my latest panic surrounds diseases and dysfunctions related to "gender benders" (estrogen mimicking compounds), particularly those related to plastic. Public Enemy #1: Bisphenol A (BPA). Plastic in general makes me a bit crazy. When Paul wants to get under my skin he will act like he is going to microwave a plastic container, sending me into a panic because I'm not so keen on microwaves either and microwaving plastic, well, that is just asking for trouble.

Here in Canada, they have banned BPA in baby products and a lot of companies that use plastic packaging are following suit. For the most part, though, it is difficult to determine the origins of plastic packaging, nevermind the fact that we need to stop this love affair with plastic altogether, thinking of (and supporting companies that use) alternative means of packaging for their products.

Plastic seriously, seriously makes my heart hurt. It's on and in absolutely everything, including our bodies and we just sit around and let it happen. I'm as guilty as the next person, so don't take this as me calling anyone out.

Seriously though, why do cardboard pasta boxes have to be coated in plastic? Can someone explain the point of that to me, because I can't think of anything other than the fact that "prettier" things are easier to market.


I avoid plastic where I can, particularly plastic containing BPA. And while actual plastic packaging is difficult enough for determining origin, the most sneaky culprits of BPA content are canned items (not to mention they are often made of aluminum, which research has connected to Alzheimer's - see, you really don't want in my head). Most companies don't disclose whether their cans use BPA and so even the most well-intentioned buyer of organic canned items may still be ingesting BPA.

Annoying. Very annoying.

Obviously it's quite difficult to avoid all canned items, all the time. Life is busy and canned beans are cheap. We've all been there, and we will be there again. However, I am trying to be a bit more proactive and ambitious with regard to avoiding cans. My first experiment involved making a big batch of homemade spaghetti sauce and freezing it in meal-sized portions for future use, in lieu of the canned variety that we have been known to buy.

It's a very simple recipe, loosely based on the one found in How it All Vegan and involves a ton of different vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper, onion, lots of garlic and of course, tomatoes seasoned with black pepper, cayenne, oregano and fresh parsley). It is really a standard issue tomato sauce, but it freezes really well and even from-frozen it tastes better than the canned variety. Other than chopping the vegetables there is very little labour involved in cooking up a big batch of this stuff. It tasted particularly awesome with spinach spaghetti and lentilballs:

I've also ventured into the world of cooking/freezing dried beans. Admittedly, I'd always found them a bit intimidating - the soaking overnight, the cooking for a couple hours. $1 cans of kidney beans just seemed more practical. But I set aside an afternoon and cooked up several bags of dried beans just like I did the pasta sauce, freezing them in their own juices, in serving-size portions.

Soaking overnight

Into the freezer they go. BPA-free plastic bags, of course, but still plastic nonetheless. Boo.

I think I'm going to ask for a deep freezer for my birthday this year.


Bliss Doubt said...

I worry about bisphenol too, among many, many other things. It's pathetic how our so called leaders allow so many toxins in the delicate chain of our ecology on this continent, in the cause of profit making. Europe is not so lax. See

I try to think that if I eat the rainbow and try to eat fresh, raw or cooked from scratch, regional and organic, I'll be ahead in the game, though I think in this era we are evolving to tolerate plastic lined veins and lead painted lips. I'd love a little peek into the future, to know what 22nd century humans will be like, if the human race survives.

Mary said...

I am of the same line of thinking. There are many things we cannot prevent, many things we can do our best to avoid but because they are so rampid in our society find their way into our bodies somehow. The key is to avoid what we consciously can and fight tooth and nail anyway for that which we can't - and in the end hope for the best. I also would like to see what our species looks like in two hundred years (if it still exists, that is).

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