New Veg-Fit Club sprouts up

Cintia Lopez and Cintia Lopez

American River College has a new club on the rise, the Veg-Fit Club, and it hopes to finally become an official campus club on March 8 in the Rose Marks Pavilion on campus during Club Day from 10 a.m. to  noon.
The Veg-Fit Club is currently being run by Laurie Jones, an ARC student, and two faculty advisers, Kristine Fertel and Susan Pezone.
As a rising club, they do not have a specific meeting place, but try to meet every first and third Thursdays of the month from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Rose Marks Pavilion. In order to become a club they still need someone to be a vice president, and another person to be a treasurer.
The main focus of the club’s discussion, besides the benefits a vegetarian lifestyle has for the earth, will include topics of “health benefits of increased eating of fruits and vegetables, including vegetarian and vegan lifestyles,” said Jones.
The club will also arrange field trips to gardens, animal sanctuaries, and farmer’s markets, as well as sign-ups for walks and races to try to promote fitness.
There are four different types of vegetarians: lacto vegetarians, ovo vegetarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians and vegans. Lacto vegetarians include dairy products in their diets. Ovo vegetarians include eggs in their diet. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat both dairy and eggs. Vegans don’t eat any animal products whatsoever.
There are many different benefits that come from becoming a vegetarian; for example, it can lower the risk of heart disease, strokes, some types of cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden found that eating a plant-based diet may reduce the risk of having heart attacks and strokes.
When looking at environmental benefits, “It takes less water to produce one year’s worth of food for a completely plant-based diet, than to produce one month’s worth of food for a diet with animal products,” according to the organization In Defense of Animals.
“It has been estimated that 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of beef, while only 25 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of wheat,” stated the Animal Protection Institute.
The less meat that is consumed, the less methane and carbon dioxide is produced that can pollute the earth. A person doesn’t have to become a vegetarian in order to help decrease the United States’ carbon footprint; one simply has to reduce the amount of meat one consumes.
If you are interested in eating a more plant-based diet, or would like to learn more about what the club has to offer, contact Laurie Jones at [email protected]  Jones is very willing to help out anyone that wants to look into more of the benefits a plant-based diet may have.
“(We want to) provide information, support, socialization, vegetarian activities, (and) a place to ask questions with resources for answers,” said Jones.

Info Box

This recipe is quite similar to the lasagna that I have been making
for my family for years. This recipe uses no soy cheese, however,
which makes it lower in fat but still “creamy” and delicious. Make
sure to let it rest for at least 45 minutes before serving so it “sets
up” nicely.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Resting Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Prepare the tofu ricotta before assembling the lasagna.

Tofu Ricotta:
1 12.3 ounce package silken tofu
1 pound fresh water-packed tofu
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup soy milk
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Several twists freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth
(or see hint below). Set aside.

1 recipe tofu ricotta (from above)
1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (see hints)
8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles (see hints)
2 25 ounce jars fat-free pasta sauce
Parmesan cheese substitute (recipe May 2009 NL)

Add the spinach to the tofu ricotta mixture and stir well to mix.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour about 1 cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch
baking dish. Place a layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread half of
the tofu mixture over the noodles. Pour another cup or so of the pasta
sauce over the tofu mixture and spread evenly. Add another layer of
noodles and spread the remaining tofu mixture over them. Pour another
cup or so of sauce over the tofu and spread evenly. Top with another
layer of noodles and another cup or so of the sauce, making sure all
the noodles are covered. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese
substitute. Cover with parchment paper, then cover that with aluminum
foil, crimping the edges under the baking dish top to seal the top
well. Bake for 60 minutes. Let rest for at least 45 minutes before

Hints: To make the tofu ricotta without a food processor, place both
kinds of tofu in a large bowl and mash well with a bean masher. This
will result in a slightly less “creamy” mixture. Stir in the remaining
ingredients. For a more spinach flavored lasagna, use 2 10 ounce
packages of spinach, thawed and squeezed dry. Do not mix with the
tofu, instead, layer over the tofu mixture before covering with the
sauce. To add more vegetables to the sauce, sauté some onions and
mushrooms in a dry non-stick pan until softened, about 5 minutes. Add
this to the pasta sauce before using in the recipe. Other vegetables
may also be added as desired. Another delicious option is to thinly
slice some zucchini lengthwise and lay these strips over the tofu in
each layer. No-boil lasagna noodles are available in most supermarkets
and natural food stores. Look for whole grain varieties when possible.
For a fantastic gluten-free option to the wheat lasagna noodles, use
Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles. They also do not need to be
boiled ahead of time before using in recipes.

These are light, yet moist and delicious. This is a dessert treat that
is easy to make without any special fat or egg replacers. These freeze
well, so don’t feel you need to eat the whole thing in one night!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Servings: makes 16 brownies

1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup Wonderslim cocoa powder
1 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash salt
¾ cup applesauce
½ box silken tofu (see hints below)
½ cup chocolate soy milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the dry ingredients (first 6 ingredients) in a large bowl.
Set aside.

Place all the wet ingredients (last 4 ingredients) in the bowl of a
food processor and process until very smooth and creamy. Add this
mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until combined, but do not
overmix. Scrape this mixture into a non-stick square baking dish (see
hint below) and bake until toothpick comes out clean and top is dry,
about 45 minutes.

Cool in pan. Remove from pan and cut into squares.

Hints: Any cocoa powder will work in this recipe if you can’t find the
Wonderslim variety. To easily cut a 12.3 ounce box of silken tofu in
half, use a sharp knife and just cut directly through the box with the
knife. Store the rest in the refrigerator and use within 2 days. You
will need about ¾ cup of the silken tofu.

Silken tofu can be frozen and it will change the consistency of the
tofu somewhat, although not as much so as regular tofu that has been
frozen. Freeze silken tofu in the box, then thaw thoroughly and
squeeze out all the excess water. As you are squeezing, the tofu will
break apart into a soft, crumbled consistency, no longer smooth and
silky, which is perfect for making soft scrambled tofu. It will not
keep its shape and cannot be sliced after freezing as regular tofu

I make these in a square non-stick silicone baking pan. After it has
cooled slightly (about 15 minutes) the edges loosen easily from the
sides of the pan and then I invert it over a flat dish and remove the
entire brownie from the baking pan. Cut into squares before serving.
To freeze, wrap in squares in plastic wrap and place in freezer. They
only need about 5 minutes to thaw before eating, and are still moist
and delicious.


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