Vegan Before it was Cool
It might be hard to believe, but veganism has not always been as mainstream and popular as it is now. Years ago, veganism was on a similar level as the crazy fad diets like South Beach or Atkins. Now, nearly every cafe or restaurant you walk into offers vegan-friendly options. Corbin Hill Food Project Site Coordinator, Chiquita Mccullough, has been vegan for 45 years.
After years of antibiotic misuse and overuse caused by her doctor, Chiquita’s immune system became compromised. In an effort to restore her body’s natural balance, she sought the advice of a holistic practitioner. A holistic practitioner is one who considers the whole person-body, mind, spirit, and emotions in the quest for optimal health and wellness. Through this natural path journey, Chiquita began transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.
In her early years of being vegan, her greatest challenge was getting people to accept that she was eating differently from them. Many of her friends categorized her as being someone who was caught up in yet another crazy, diet fad rather than recognizing she was making a major lifestyle change in order to repair her immune system. When she would visit her friends, they would be stumped at what to offer her. Their go-to was usually a salad, “rabbit food” as they liked to joke, or steamed veggies. Slowly, Chiquita’s friends started to realize that this was not a phase and began to accept her lifestyle choice. Many of her friends are Caribbean or Southern, so they began to get creative and cook a variety of vegan-friendly dishes for Chiquita to try. Now, they make sure that she is not locked into just a salad or steamed veggies. Chiquita doesn’t have to explain her choice to be vegan as much as she used to. The people she meets now are usually impressed by her discipline and dedication to health and wellness.
Chiquita has always had a passion for healthy food. As a young girl, Chiquita moved in with her grandparents who were farmers. She still remembers all the produce that filled her grandparents’ backyard. Her familiarity with fresh produce led her to later organize and run her own food co-op in the Bronx. Chiquita reached out to all her friends about the major benefits of fresh, seasonal produce. She pushed people to think outside of the box and informed them that if they pulled their resources together, they could get high-quality produce at a cheaper price, which is a similar methodology for how Corbin Hill creates its Farm Share. She ran this co-op for a few years before joining a few local CSA programs. It was through a CSA program that Chiquita met one of Corbin Hill’s organizers. This connection prompted Chiquita to apply for an open Site Coordinator position, and she has been with us ever since.
Chiquita is our longest standing Site Coordinator of 6 years. Each Tuesday, you can find Chiquita at Riverside Church swapping recipes and information with Shareholders about the items they are receiving. Chiquita always has a creative recipe or preparation hack for every vegetable known to man. If you name it, she has tried it and has a delicious recipe for you to experiment with. She has convinced many Shareholders to try veggies they would typically leave on the grocery store shelf. Chiquita loves sharing her passion for health and wellness with anyone who is looking to make healthier choices. If you are looking to make a lifestyle change or are making efforts to become healthier, Chiquita has simple advice, “Learn how your body responds to food.” If you want to be well, you must take time to know what you are putting into your body and how you respond to it. It is a process. You must begin to educate yourself on different foods. Know the ins and outs so that you are able to make an educated decision about your own health and wellness. And if you ever want to know how to use a certain vegetable, ask Chiquita.
Cabbage can be prepared several different ways in numerous recipes. You can steam, stew, braise, roast, sauté, and eat it raw. Before you place your cabbage in the swap box, check out the following recipes. The fresh flavor and crunch of cabbage shine in both of these dishes.
1 large head green cabbage, sliced into wedges vertically from head of cabbage about 3/4 to 1-inch thick
3 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried marjoram
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Fresh lemon wedges or crumbled bacon, for serving (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Pour olive oil into a small bowl then press garlic through a garlic crusher into bowl (or mince), stir well to infuse garlic flavor then pour and press mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl to remove garlic pieces (I like to do this just so they don't burn while roasting at high heat for so long. Use a rubber spatula to press garlic against strainer to extract juices). Stir marjoram into oil mixture.
2. Lay cabbage wedges on a prepared baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil mixture and season with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven 15 minutes then carefully rotate and roast 15 minutes longer (if you don't want the slightly charred edges, you can cover with foil during last 10 minutes). Garnish with parsley if desired. Serve warm with optional bacon crumbles or spritz with lemon wedges.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy
Cook Time: 30 mins
2 pounds cabbage, roughly chopped
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup water
2 and tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
1 cup rice, washed and rinsed well
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 lemon, squeezed
A handful of chopped parsley
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Chop the cabbage roughly and blanch in boiling water, for about 5-10 minutes.
2. Heat a pan over medium heat and add ground beef with 1/4 cup water. Cook until it releases water, reduce the heat. Cook it stirring and pressing on the ground beef until there aren’t any blocks left.
3. Cover the pan and cook until there is little water left.
Add olive oil, onion, garlic and cook stirring for 5-10 minutes. Add in 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes. Stir well. Add rice and stir. Season with salt, black pepper, and dried mint.
4. Add in the chopped and blanched cabbage in the pan. Pour lemon juice over it. Stir well. Add chopped parsley on it, pour 3/4 cup water and cover the pan. Cook it over the lowest heat until water is absorbed and rice is cooked, for 15-20 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
6. Add cayenne pepper and add 1/2 cup tomato paste into the pan, stir and transfer it to a casserole pan that is lightly brushed with oil. Bake for 40 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Give Recipe
Cook Time: 40 mins