Chef Ellen Kanner Offers Tips for Post-Hurricane Vegan Eating

Mango and black bean no-cook salad
Mango and black bean no-cook salad
Courtesy of Ellen Kanner

Unlike many other recent arrivals to Miami, Ellen Kanner is no stranger to hurricanes. 

In her book, Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith, and What to Eat for Dinner, the local chef and author recounts her Hurricane Andrew experience. It was during that legendary storm that she developed her recipes for chocolate cake (whipped up before the power went out) and ten-minute pasta (made via Sterno).

Though Miami got lucky yesterday by escaping the path of Hurricane Matthew, we're not in the clear yet. Weather models still show a distinct possibility the storm could loop back around early next week. And some people are still without power this morning. That means tips on how to make the best vegan meal without electricity are always welcome.

"The whole idea of hurricane preparedness is that your pantry is already stocked, so you don't have to open it and hope something is there," says Kanner, also known as the Soulful Vegan. "Canned beans, canned tomatoes, tahini, peanut butter — these things will save your life. Even the ready-done bowls of instant oats and granola — those are good."

She also suggests mixing tomatoes and black beans, especially if you have chili powder or Tabasco sauce on hand. Hummus is also an option — even without any appliances. "It is quite possible to make hummus with chickpeas without a food processor, which is of course how our grandmothers did. Put the chickpeas in a plastic bag and roll a bottle or rolling pin over it."

Kanner spent much of yesterday prepping for Matthew. "Everything does turn nasty really fast as soon as the power dies, so any produce you have, use it now," she says. She warns that it's important to be stocked up, because it could take days or even weeks (as in the case of Andrew) before power is restored.

Other suggestions from Kanner: Soak oats and almond milk or chia seeds and almond milk for an energizing breakfast. Stock up on nuts and dried fruits. She also recommends a massaged kale salad. "In addition to the savory version I have here, kale loves dried fruit, nuts, and fresh sliced Granny Smith apples," she says.

And if you have Miami favorites such as black beans, cilantro, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) handy, this recipe needs simply a knife and a cutting board: 

Fireworks Black Bean and Mango Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 jalapeño, minced (wear gloves when handling chilies — really; yes, even you)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or 4 cups cooked black beans)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 mangos, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped 
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas for garnish, optional (they add a fabulous crunch, plus healthy amounts of manganese and magnesium)
  • 3-4 cups fresh greens such as spinach, arugula, or frisée

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, gently mix jalapeño, diced red pepper, and celery. Add the black beans and combine well.
  • Add the cumin and the lime, and toss to coat.
  • Just before serving, add the mangoes and chopped cilantro. Season to taste. Place atop greens and serve at once, garnishing with toasted pepitas if you like (and you will).
  • Serves 4 to 6. 

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