• Angela

Vegan Gormeh Sabzi (Persian Herb Stew)

I have been focused on diet and cooking for the past few months. My partner and I have recently transitioned to a Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) diet for both health and ethical reasons. I had been wanting to stop eating meat for some time. Watching The Game Changers movie gave me the information and push I needed to bring it up with my partner. He’s diabetic and I’d bought into the “low-carb is the only way to go to regulate blood sugar” doctrine. We tried it for years and were never able to get his blood sugar under control. Turns out, a high-carb, whole food, plant-based, low-fat diet is WAY better for normalizing his blood sugar. We gave up eating meat almost two months ago and have been 100% WFPB for a little over two weeks. His fasting blood sugar has been in the normal to low pre-diabetic range for the first time in two decades. (Links to books and resources for a WFPB approach to diabetes are at the bottom of the post.)

Personally, my energy is much better since going meat-free and I’ve noticed a marked increase in the flow of Reiki. I’m more excited about cooking and so very happy that I’ll never have to cook another Thanksgiving turkey again! I don’t miss meat or even cheese at all. I know that Reiki – especially working with animals and Reiki – helped me to get to this change in my diet for my highest good. I used to be what I called a Conscientious Omnivore, eating as local, sustainable and humane as possible. But there is simply no humane way to kill an animal or to take a calf away from its mother right after birth. As I’ve learned in my studies about trauma, that energy of fear and sorrow remains in your body if not properly released. When you eat an animal, you are internalizing the trauma that it has suffered whether it’s in its last moments or for its entire life. Although I would bless my food with Reiki and thank the animal for its sacrifice, eating meat just became more and more distasteful.

For me, going WFPB was an easy decision. I wish I’d known that this approach would be beneficial for someone with diabetes years ago. I would have happily gotten off the low-carb bandwagon. We now eat food that is healthy, delicious, and environmentally responsible. However, the diet one follows is a personal choice. I don’t judge anyone for eating meat, cheese or McDonald’s. In a perfect world, everyone would be aware of where their food comes from, how it’s produced and the consequences of that production. Sadly, a great many Americans still think chocolate milk comes from brown cows and many more live in food deserts where they don’t have access to healthy food choices.

My partner is from Iran and happily many Persian recipes are both delicious, healthy and easily converted to a WFPB way of eating. This recipe is based on those found in the books New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij and New Persian Cooking by Jila Dana-Haeri & Shahrzad Ghorashian and my memories of cooking with Amir’s mother Mehrmah.

Vegan Gormeh Sabzi (Persian Herb Stew)

This is a simplified, one-pot, WFPB recipe. Prep time can be a bit long when using all fresh herbs, start early. Using a food processor probably cuts the time. 4 – 6 servings.

If using dried kidney beans*, start soaking beans (1 – 2 tbsp lemon juice or brine from fermented vegetables added to water) the day before. I always soak 2 cups of dried beans so I have extra after cooking them. Extra beans can be portioned and frozen for up to three months. You can cook the beans in the stew after soaking, but it makes the cook time a lot longer. If you choose to do this, get dried limes from your local Persian grocery and add a few to the stew. I cook the soaked beans in an Instant Pot on high pressure, 25 – 30 minutes, natural release 15 minutes.

Mushrooms are used in the recipe instead of meat. If you don’t eat mushrooms, don’t use them. You can add more beans or not, depending on your taste. I haven’t tried this recipe with a meat substitute, but it would probably be just fine.

Lime powder and fenugreek leaves can be found at a Persian grocery or probably online. Alternatively, use fresh lime juice and lime zest to taste. You might be able to sub ground fenugreek seeds for the dried leaves, but I haven't tried that.

  • Onions, 2 large, thinly sliced

  • Salt, 1 ½ tsp

  • Black pepper, ¼ tsp

  • Turmeric, ½ tsp

  • Parsley, 4 cups fresh, finely chopped or 1 cup dried

  • Scallions or chives, 1 cup fresh, finely chopped or ¼ cup dried

  • Cilantro, 1 cup fresh, finely chopped or ¼ cup dried (fresh is better)

  • Fenugreek leaves, 1 cup fresh, finely chopped or ¼ cup dried

  • Kale or spinach, 2 bunches fresh, finely chopped or 2 packs frozen

  • Mushrooms, 1 – 2 lbs, sliced or quartered

  • Red kidney beans, 1 – 2 cups cooked or one 15 oz can

  • Lime powder, 2 tbsp or fresh lime juice, 2 tbsp

  • Water (roughly 2 cups)

  1. Prep fresh herbs & greens if using. If using dried herbs, place in sieve, place sieve in bowl and soak herbs in lukewarm water. Prep mushrooms.

  2. Brown onions in medium to large pot. For oil free cooking, use a few tablespoons of the herb liquid or water in a non-stick pot.

  3. Add salt, pepper and turmeric.

  4. Add herbs and sauté until fragrant. If using any dried herbs, reserve liquid from soaking herbs.

  5. Add mushrooms cook for a few minutes.

  6. Add cooked kidney beans, kale/spinach, and reserved soaking liquid.

  7. Add lime powder and another cup or so of water for desired stew like consistency.

  8. Bring to boil then simmer for about a half hour, more or less.

  9. Serve with sprouted brown rice* (optional, cooked with a pinch of salt and a pinch of saffron). Have some fresh lime juice available to add to individual portions to taste.

* I believe it is very important to soak beans before cooking and to use sprouted grains whenever possible. I also soak raw nuts. You can store them in water in the fridge, changing the water daily, or dehydrate them at a low level in the oven. Sprouted nuts and grains are now widely available. Soaking and sprouting makes the nurients more bioavailable and phytic acid that inhibits nutrient absorption is removed. Arsenic levels in sprouted rice are minimal.

WFPB resources for people living with diabetes:

Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Neal Barnard, MD (PCRM)

Mastering Diabetes by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD. & Robby Barbaro, MPH

Kick Diabetes by Brenda Davis, RD and The Kick Diabetes Cookbook by Brenda Davis, RD & Vesanto Melina, MS, RD

Each of these books are great. I recommend all of them. Mastering Diabetes has a lot of information for Type 1 Diabetes and you can preview the recipes on their website. Kick Diabetes is the easiest read and the accompanying cookbook is a great resource. Dr. Neal's book is detailed about fat and insulin resistance as is Mastering Diabetes and together you get the whole enchilada, so to speak.

Can't give up cheese? Read The Cheese Trap by Dr. Neal.