Eating Well All Year

By Beverly Kehe-Rowland

RANDOLPH – ‘Tis the season of weight gain and unhealthy eating, but not so with Erin Van Gelder as she eats a healthy, vegan diet year round.

“Both sides of my family get together for Thanksgiving and the majority of both sides come for Christmas, four generations in some cases,” she said.

Because she, her mother and her aunt are vegan, they each try to take vegan recipes to the family meals.

“Since becoming vegan we kind of break tradition and bring recipes that aren’t traditional,” she said. “We say ‘Oh, this recipe sounds good,’ and make it. I always look forward to the pies my aunt brings. She likes to cook and always brings something different.”

She says that her mom’s side is “hardcore” always having to have their meat and potatoes, but is always willing to try everything. She remembers three varieties of stuffing being present on the holiday table.

“There was the stuffing from the bird, a vegetarian stuffing with cheese and a vegan recipe with no cheese,” she said. “I look forward to having stuffing. It was always my favorite.”

“We already had Thanksgiving once before my sister and brother-in-law left for Africa. My pinto bean gravy was sitting next to the turkey,” she said, smiling.

Even though the family had an early celebration, they are planning another on Thanksgiving Day.

“For as far back as I can remember my grandfather has always made French onion soup. After my aunt became vegan he changed it by using vegetable broth instead of beef broth,” she said. “Last year on Christmas Eve we had vegetable sushi.”

Our featured cook teaches Bible studies for the Randolph Seventh Day Adventist Church as well as healthy cooking classes that are open to everyone. She is currently discussing brain health and nutrition and demonstrating healthier versions of traditional holiday dishes, as well as new dishes that could be added to the holiday.

“Increasing evidence indicates that if we subject our brains to abuse early in life or do not protect them sufficiently, we put ourselves at risk for illnesses later in life. This abuse can be in the form of psychological trauma or it can be in the form of nutritional insult (i.e. caloric deprivation or phyto-chemical insufficiency). The components to creating a healthy brain environment are wholesome diet, mental challenges, physical activity, positive attitude and proper rest. Brain cells in a healthy environment grow bigger and better.”

She will also offer ideas for healthier New Year’s appetizers. She also offers home health studies, with one of the lessons about how to have good digestion.

Although she is currently living in Steamburg, she is from Bath, where her parents and both sets of grandparents reside. She shares her apartment with her pet guinea pig, Eugenius. In her free time she likes to go backpacking and hiking. She enjoys reading, crocheting and playing the clarinet and is currently teaching herself linear algebra.

“I like to learn and I like math problems,” she said.

Everyone is invited to free weekly Healthy Cooking classes which are held at 7 p.m. at the SDA Hall located at 50 North Washington St. in Randolph. Not only do the participants receive new recipes, but get to enjoy generous samples of the evening’s cooking projects. Everyone seemed to enjoy this week’s Seitan Roast Stuffed with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries and Mushrooms with one man in particular having several servings. The Pumpkin Pie with its very generous Pecan Crust was delicious and the fact that it is a healthy recipe, made it taste even better.

Van Gelder explains that by massaging the kale in the Massaged Kale Salad, some of the bitterness is removed. She hopes readers will try some of the following recipes this holiday season and hopes to gain new participants in the cooking classes.