Monday, July 21, 2014

Leftover District of Pi Pizza, Eggplant Stew with Added Napa Cabbage, Salad with Pear

We just got back this evening from an educational, productive, and fun visit to Washington, D.C. I attended a Food for Life instructors' summit, then the 2-day International Conference on Diabetes. Many well known speakers presented, including Neal Barnard (who organized the conference), Brenda Davis (my favorite nutritionist), and John McDougall. At the end, these tentative guidelines to prevent and manage diabetes were presented:

  1. Plant-based foods should be the primary part of one's diet;
  2. One should reduce oils and fried foods;
  3. One should favor low glycemic index foods;
  4. One should limit sodium (to about 1500 mg/day); and
  5. One should include B12 supplementation daily (especially for all people age 50 and above)
For dinner tonight, I heated up the great deep dish pizza that was leftover from last night's dinner in Washington at District of Pi, as well as the eggplant stew from last week that I added raw Napa cabbage to. I also made a broccoli, tomato, and pear salad.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Brussels Sprouts with Zucchini, Seitan, and Napa Cabbage, served with Tri-Color Quinoa with Kale and Carrot (No Added Fat)

My wife's sister-in-law isn't familiar with Brussels sprouts, and I wanted to introduce them to her. Here is what I did.

  • About a dozen Brussels sprouts, outer leaves and stem end removed
  • Zucchini cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Half red onion cut into 1/4" cubes (any other onion could also do)
  • Cup of water
  • Another half red (or other) onion cut into 1/4" cubes
  • Cup of shredded (approx. 1/4" x 1" pieces) Napa cabbage
  • Approximately 4 ounces of shredded seitan
  • (Optional) 1/2 t salt


  1. I put the zucchini and the first half red onion into the Instant Pot, added the water, then put in the pot's mesh.
  2. I put the Brussels sprouts on the mesh - there was just enough water that it wasn't touching the sprouts.
  3. I turned the pot on high pressure for 3 minutes.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I released any remaining pressure gently and opened the pot carefully.
  5. I like how Brussels sprouts come out in the pressure cooker, but they are sometimes overcooked. I now sliced each sprout in half - by doing so at the beginning, they would have been even softer.
  6. In a bowl, I mixed the cooked vegetables, the second half onion, the cabbage, and seitan; I skipped the salt.
I also made a tri-color quinoa with vegetables. I put in a pot about a teaspoon of chopped ginger, 3 kale leaves roughly cut (stems composted) into 1/4" squares, a carrot cut into 1/4" thick quarters, a vegan bouillon cube, and about a half cup of quinoa and twice as much water. After bringing to a boil, I simmered, covered, for 4 or 5 minutes, then let it sit, covered for another 5-10 minutes till ready to serve (the characteristic spiral in the quinoa was evident).


I suspect the main course wasn't spicy enough for my wife's sister-in-law, and my wife felt that the sprouts were too soft. Overall, I think that the main dish was good; I liked the crunch of the cabbage but wish that the vegetables were more firm. The quinoa came out great!

Ideas for the future

I'd like to try cooking Brussels sprouts in 2 minutes under high pressure. A dish like the main course with one or two crunch vegetables like water chestnuts or celery may be interesting.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 14, 2014

Eggplant Stew, Madagascar Pink Rice with Seitan (No Added Fat)

I was pleased with how quickly (3 minutes) and how well eggplant came out in the pressure cooker when I made a dish on July 5. I had a thick Italian eggplant, so decided to let my family try a version of what I made earlier. I made a few modifications, adding some Indian spices and ginger that my wife's sister-in-law would likely enjoy, as well as adding potato for more texture.

In the end, I didn't mix seitan in as I had last time, because I felt that it would clash with the Indian seasonings. Instead, I prepared Madagascar pink rice and, when ready to serve it, I mixed in some seitan. Here is how I made the main course:

  • Medium to large Italian eggplant cut into 3/4" cubes (it ended up being about 6 cups); since it was organic, I kept the skin on
  • 3 medium carrots cut into 1/4" slices
  • Medium onion cut into 3/8" cubes with 1/4 cup reserved
  • 3 cloves garlic clove, chopped finely (I was out of garlic, surprisingly, so used a medium shallot)
  • 4 kale leaves, stems discarded (composted) and leaves roughly torn into approximately 3/4" squares
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato cut into 1/4" cubes
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1T coarsely chopped ginger
  • 1t (or to taste) finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 t kala namak (black salt - or any other salt)
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1t black sesame seed

  1. I put everything up to but not including the basil and spices (i.e., all the vegetables except the reserved onion, as well as the bouillon cube and water) into the Instant Pot and set it to cook for 3 minutes in high pressure.
  2. Once I was ready to serve, I would have gently let out the remaining steam, but it wasn't necessary as the pressure had dropped by then. I opened the top and mixed in the reserved onion, basil, salt, and spices.


I was surprised that the dish was so soft and rather mushy, though I think it tasted good. My wife enjoyed it, as well, but I think that it was under-seasoned to her sister-in-law's taste (she is visiting from India). The eggplant didn't bring much flavor or texture to the meal.

Ideas for the future

I had feared that the potato wouldn't cook in only 3m, so cut it into such small cubes. To get more texture, I wonder what a 1/2" or even 3/4" cut would be like. I should try larger eggplant cubes and perhaps saute the eggplant first. There was too much water - I'll bet 1/4 cup would be plenty.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vegan Macaroni and "Chreese" with Seitan and Broccoli, Waterless Okra, Sungold Tomato

My wife and her sister-in-law enjoyed ample food on an outing in the afternoon, so weren't very hungry for dinner and were just going to eat leftovers from their outing. I took advantage of that to prepare one of my daughter's favorites, vegan macaroni and cheese, using Road's End Organics shells and "chreese". I almost always add to the macaroni, and today used broccoli, seitan, and onion.

My wife picked up some beautiful thick okra from the farmer's market. I took about a half dozen or eight spears, cut them into 1" lengths, then split them in half. I put them, along with about 1/3 cup sweet onion cut into approximately 3/4" x 1/4" chunks, in a 1 quart Salad Master stock pan (which I should have preheated but I usually forget!), covered, and brought to heat over medium high for a waterless dish. Once the little cap allowing steam to escape started jiggling, I reduced the heat to low and cooked for about 20 minutes. I then mixed in about 1/4 t turmeric, 1/4 t dried oregano, and a bit of salt; I wish that I had amchoor (dried mango) powder, which would have been good with the okra.

Dinner was good! I added some hot sauce to the macaroni to make it even more tasty. The packaged macaroni and "chreese" is only 2g of fat if one were to eat the whole prepared box and the soy milk that I mixed in has 3.5g fat per cup (I only used 2/3 cup). I didn't add any margarine. Surprisingly, then, this is an almost no added fat meal!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 11, 2014

Brown Lentil Dhal with Kale, Corn, and Preserved Lemon, served with Madagascar Pink Rice, Baby Lettuces, & Sungold Tomato (No Added Fat)

My wife and daughter returned this afternoon from their 3-week visit to India! My wife brought her sister-in-law with her - what a pleasure to have her with us on her first trip out of India! She is in the States for about a month, mostly with us, but also visiting relatives in Illinois and Wisconsin.

For my wife's sister-in-law, I wanted to make an Indian-inspired meal for this first dinner with us. I thought that I would make a dish with lentils in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. I've had good luck including small squares of kale, and thought that I would experiment with tomato; this past Sunday I enjoyed including green tomato in a pressure-cooked dish, but wanted to try a dish where a more robust tomato flavor would fit in. As a final touch, I had some preserved lemon and thought that it would contribute a nice taste. I was free to spice the dish as I made a vegan grilled cheese sandwich and a variety of vegetables for my daughter.

  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 2 small bell peppers cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 3 kale leaves, stems discarded (composted) and leaves roughly hand torn into approximately 1/2" pieces
  • 1 carrot (I wanted two, but just had one!) cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1 cob corn, kernels stripped and cob discarded (composted)
  • 2t chopped jalapeno
  • 1T marinara sauce
  • 1 tomato cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 3 slices of preserved lemon, each slice cut into thirds (I used thin slices that I purchased from a self-serve olive bar; though it was preserved in oil, the amount of oil that made it into the dish is rather insignificant, so I still am labeling this as a no-added fat dish); alternatively, one could use an organic lemon, preferably Meyer lemon
  • 1/4 t black salt (or regular salt)
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t mustard seed
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes

  1. I put the lentils, water, garlic, and bouillon cube in the Instant Pot and cooked for 12 minutes
  2. When it cooled down a bit, I gently released steam and added the remaining ingredients, except for the onion. After stirring,  I turned the pressure cooker on for 3 more minutes of high pressure cooking.
  3. When I was ready to serve, I gently released steam, mixed in the onion, and served.
I also had made some Madagascar pink rice cooked with mixed bell pepper and shallot. Tasty Sungold tomatoes with baby lettuces accompanied the meal.


We all seemed to enjoy the meal. I loved how all the flavors worked well together.

Ideas for the future

I'd like to try using preserved lemons in other dishes. I should try cooking with Meyer lemons. Spinach goes great with dhal; I remember fondly such a dish that my Mom would make. I should try a green or red lentil dhal with spinach sometime.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Bibimbap (rice with vegetables) - prepared

I don't often use prepared frozen foods, but they do come in handy once in a while. I'm trying to get a number of things done before my wife and daughter return from a 3-week trip to India this Friday and tonight had to focus on some items that had to be done by tomorrow. Conveniently, I found a frozen vegan bibimbap by a company called Saffron Road at Whole Foods a few days ago on sale. Why not try it out and if it's great, I could pick another up for a future meal?

Some years ago, I was lucky to have a very nice visiting family that I helped to host from Korea through the UNC International Friendship Program. They introduced me to their homemade delicious bibimbap; it is fun to pronounce and, more importantly, a healthful and tasty dish of rice with vegetables and pickles. I subsequently visited them in Seoul and enjoyed this national dish at home and in several city and village restaurants.

I should learn to make this highly customizable dish. Here are a few recipes that I found during a quick search online that perhaps I could use as a point of departure for my own attempts in the future:
  • Omitting honey, sugar, and oil, and reducing vinegar, this recipe sounds easy and good
  • With suitable changes, this recipe is a tempting look at how one could make a variety of ingredients and then have diners make their own bibimbap bowls
  • offers a detailed description of ways of preparing bibimbap
 I should also probably visit some area Korean restaurants to try their vegan bibimbap.

Getting back to dinner, I was mildly disappointed. The vegetables in the main course were not so tasty. The tofu was good and there was a bit of hot spice that worked well. I need to make bibimbap from scratch! This serving didn't even remind me of the times that I had this Korean specialty in the past. Luckily, I also fire roasted an ear of corn and served it off-the-cob, and also served some excellent Sungold tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tempeh, Kale, and Brussels Sprouts served with Tri-Color Quinoa (No Added Fat)

A friend, who is joining me for the American Dance Festival show tonight, was possibly coming for dinner, depending on her schedule, and she doesn't eat onions, peppers, or much spice. I prepared a meal in case she could make it. I turns out she couldn't, but I took a serving for her to enjoy for lunch tomorrow. Here is what I did.

  • 4 ounces tempeh cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 medium carrots cut into 1/4" slices
  • Cup of broccoli florets
  • Medium Japanese eggplant, cut into 3/8" slices
  • 12 Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 6 cremini (or other) mushrooms cut into 3/8" slices
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1t ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 leaves kale, stems removed, then leaves roughly hand torn into approximately 3/4" squares
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/8 t salt
If I were cooking for myself, I'd also add half a cup of onion cut into 3/8" slivers, a diced clove of garlic, a bit of turmeric and ground cumin, and a vegan bouillon cube.

  1. I put all the ingredients into the Instant Pot pressure cooker and set on a 3 minute high pressure cycle.
  2. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let the steam out and served.
I also made tri-color quinoa. I sprinkled hemp seeds atop tomato slices (but took the photograph here before adding the seeds).

The dish was good but, to my onion- and spice- preferring palate, a bit bland. I added hot sauce to my serving. This was also my experiment with pressure cooking tempeh. I liked the results with tofu from the day before yesterday, but the tempeh wasn't as positive. It really just tasted like hot tempeh, like I might use in a pasta sauce. It was fine, but the pressure cooking didn't seem to add to the flavor or change the texture of the tempeh at all. It will be good to see what my

Ideas for the future

Even if serving as a no-spice dish with no onion or garlic, I could enhance the dish with some fresh lemon sage or oregano. A little more salt could be helpful. I'd make this with tofu (if not cooking for my wife, who avoids tofu, which upsets her stomach) or maybe lentils. Onion and broth certainly would improve the dish.

I'm glad that I experimented with tempeh. Perhaps tempeh would be more successful if first marinated and then pressure cooked in the marinade. I hope to try that sometime soon.

Labels: , , , ,