The World’s Most Perfect Vegetarian Meal: A Grain, a Green, and a Bean

In my last post, I wrote about saving money on healthy vegetarian food.  You guys responded with perhaps the best batch of comments this site has seen, adding enough useful tips that, in theory, none of us should ever have to pay more than about thirty-eight cents for a week’s worth of groceries again.

One of the most important tips on my list was a simple, one-pot meal that happens to be cheap, filling, and nutritionally outstanding — what I like to call “a grain, a green, and a bean.” (AGAGAB?)

You really don’t need a recipe for the most basic version, but as I mentioned, it can stand to be jazzed up with other ingredients.  So that’s what today’s post is: A simple, just slightly fancied-up version of an AGAGAB that you can use with different combinations of ingredients, to eat for dirt cheap as often as you like.

Clean Start

The recipe is from CLEAN START, which is Terry Walters’ follow up to the simply amazing (in my opinion) CLEAN FOOD.  Terry happens to be a marathoner and cyclist as well, and in addition to letting me share a few recipes here, she was one of several authors, bloggers, and athletes who contributed a few tips to my new vegetarian first-marathon guide (which I *think* should be available next Wednesday, February 9!).

The recipe here is a good example of what you’ll find in CLEAN START, which follows the same basic blueprint of CLEAN FOOD: seasonal recipes that combine simple, fresh ingredients, turning them in just a few steps into something healthy, filling, and wonderful (and vegan).

This is not one of those vegan cookbooks that has you molding strange mixtures of beans and breadcrumbs into something that vaguely resembles a piece of meat in the way it looks but feels and tastes nothing like it.  Instead, CLEAN START is about appreciating ingredients for what they are and preparing them in the way that best showcases them without doing too much to change them.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have a feeling NMA readers can dig that.

Here’s the recipe from CLEAN START, by Terry Walters, Sterling, 2010.  (By the way, “aduki” is not a typo; it’s an alternate spelling of adzuki or azuki.)  When I made this recipe, I added quite a bit of sea salt (since I’m a salt fiend and that’s what salt fiends do) and used hot sauce in place of the ume plum vinegar.  Partly because I don’t know what an ume plum is.

Millet in the Pot with Aduki Beans and Collards

  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
  • 2 carrots, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
  • 1 cup cooked aduki beans
  • 1 bunch collard greens, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 dashes ume plum vinegar
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Place millet in fine-mesh strainer, rinse and drain.  Heat Dutch oven to medium, add millet to dry pot and stir 3-4 minutes to toast.  Add vegetable stock and bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer carrots, beans, and collard greens on top of millet (do not stir).  Cover, increase heat to medium and continue cooking 20 minutes longer or until liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, drizzle with olive oil and ume plum vinegar and fold to combine all ingredients.  Serve topped with pumpkin seeds.



Another favorite combination for this recipe is brown basmati rice, kidney beans, and a combination of kale and mustard greens.

Foodily launch!

One more quick thing today — there’s a new recipe site that just launched yesterday called  It’s an innovative “recipe search engine” with tons of other features, including sharing and a community aspect.  I’ve fooled around on the site and it can do some really neat things.

Also, I’ve been working with Foodily and WebMD to include some NMA recipes in WebMD’s Daily Bite newsletter.  I even have my own biography on WebMD, which tells me that my devious plan to fool the world into thinking I am awesome is working.

That’s all for today.  Check out Foodily, try Terry’s recipe, and sign up to be notified as soon as the Marathon Roadmap is available next week!  And tomorrow Susan has a fun announcement, so make sure you check back then!



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  1. I think more people need to realize that this is the perfect meal for anyone! Cheap and healthy!

    But I also must admit that I get a little tired of the flavor of beans. I know there are tons of different types, but they all start to taste the same. Finding new ways to jazz them up is a constant adventure.

  2. I love this! I call it “vegan bowl” but AGAGAB sounds much catchier!

    Favorite combos include:
    -barley, kale, chickpeas
    -whole wheat pasta, spinach, chickpeas
    -brown rice, black beans, chopped tomatoes, swiss chard (that includes a red as well!)
    -wheatberries, lentils, chopped collards
    -collards, tomatoes and hominy (no bean but you could add one!)

  3. Stephanie says:

    Can I just say how awesome you are? I love getting your info. I am not into spending hours scouring the web or reading 300 emails a day. I am a busy working mom of two boys and trying to raise them Vegan (we’ll see what we can do about the Meat-lovin’ husband). You are a no-nonsense person that tells us how it is. I get lost in all the odd-ingredient, expensive Vegan meals. Keep your awesome-ness flowin’!!

  4. I didn’t know that about adzuki bean spelling. The recipe sounds so simple yet so tasty. So many times the simpler the recipe the better it turns out.

  5. I love the AGAGAB idea. I had an amazing salad today with romaine lettuce, brown rice, and edamame (among other things). I felt so good after and it kept me full for a while. It was also delicious!

  6. If you haven’t tried ume plum vinegar, you should get some! It is a delicious seasoning that can be used in place of salt– try it in stir fries, scrambled tofu, over quick steamed greens. You can get it at Whole Foods or a natural food store. It is the best!

    On a side note, umeboshi plums (Japanese pickled plums) are also a delicious seasoning. They are also used medicinally, due to their alkalizing qualities. They are also, incidentally, a fantastic hangover cure.

  7. Love these last few posts! I’m a foodie who’s starting to run to get in shape (because of being a foodie). I absolutely love the AGAGAB idea. We’ve recently started meal planning by writing down some of our favorite foods and drawing them lottery style each week. It has helped so much with money and with the stress of deciding what to cook!

  8. Love this recipe. Is it wrong if I use the money I save making this meal to buy the cookbook?

    • Connie Fletcher says:

      (Chuckle) (tee hee) OK….Is it OK??? I believe it may be mandatory….at least that’s what I tell my husband. Not sure he’s buyin’ it though!!!

  9. Made this for dinner a couple of nights ago and it turned out awesome! I usually cannot just throw things in a pot and have it turn out awesome, but I did and to my surprise I loved it! This is the ingredients I used…..

    black eyed peas

  10. Thank you so much for this post! I have been so busy lately and creating healthy meals every night has become a week night challenge. This was a reminder to keep things simple. I took this advice and threw a bunch of stuff in a pot last night- lentils, mustard greens, assortment of chopped veggies and some veg stock. I added some chopped up veggie sausage at the end and voila! perfect meal for when we got home from various activities, everyone had seconds! Thanks so much!

  11. Nice to see a recipe post. Seems like the site has been lacking these as of late.

  12. This dish looks amazing, thanks for the review I have been thinking about buying this book for awhile now!

  13. Hi! Preparing to make this recipe tonight. Looks like there might be a line missing in the directions? After covering the millet to cook… how long do you cook the millet before you add the remaining ingredients? And what do you do with the onion? Thanks!

    • 15 minutes, then add the other stuff, including the onion. Yeah I must have omitted something; I’ll fix that. Sorry!

      • Thanks so much! I winged it and used quinoa, black beans and collards. It was delish!!! Thanks for sharing.

      • The directions do not say what you wrote in your comment. Hope its okay to cook the ingredients with the millet. I just put them in the pot on top of the millet.

        • Everything turned out fine. Tasted wonderful; loved the toasted pepitas, which I thought I didn’t like after trying them years ago. Thanks. A tip for anyone: Anytime I cook with nuts I add them to my bowl, not the whole dish. Works better for leftovers.

  14. So easy to make. Great dish! Just made it with Bok choy for the greens. Delicious!

  15. I love this combination :). I am a vegetarian by day, vegan by night and this is my favorite combination after a long day of school/work.

    Saute some tomato, mushrooms, green pepper and red onion on a pot. Add a little PAM if you’d like.

    Add 1 cup of Quinoa (white is my favorite, red is good too) and stir and toast with the veggies.

    Add 2 cups of water and let it boil for 5 minutes or so

    Add the bean of your choice, I like black beans. I also season it at this point with a dash of cummin and turmeric (the stuff that makes yellow rice yellow)

    Add your green (spinach is my favorite!).

    Reduce the heat and cover for 10 minutes or so, until all liquid is drained.

    You are done!, enjoy!

    I also like to take a couple spoonfuls of this “Vegan Bowl” and wrap it into a tortilla (mix it with some red pepper hummus and you have a winning combination!).

    Hope this gives a few ideas to some of you!, Enjoy!

  16. Connie Fletcher says:

    This AGAGAB is the best post ANYWHERE that I’ve read in a long time…thanks Matt

  17. Dmitri Mosier says:

    I don’t usually go for greens (except cabbage and broccoli; mainly cabbage and mainly because it’s cheap) but this may just make them palatable :). I’ll have to try different combos and report in.

  18. This is great because I don’t have the time or money for expensive lengthy recipes. I love my brown rice and beans and they fill me up. I can’t stick with anything that leaves me hungry.

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