Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Baby Navy Beans with Olives, Jade Pearl Rice with Kale (No Added Fat)

I made a simple bean dish accented with olives. Here is what I did.

  • 2 cups baby navy beans (dry), rinsed and soaked for about 8 hours or more, and then rinsed again
  • Enough water to just cover beans
  • Vegan bouillon cube (I forgot but this would have been a good addition)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") minced
  • 1/4 cup finely (less than 1/4") chopped onion
  • 1 cup frozen (or fresh) peas
  • 1/2 cup pitted and quartered olives (it took about 20 medium olives)
  • 5T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 2t chopped basil (I used frozen cubes)
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  1. I put the beans, water, bouillon cube, and garlic in my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 25m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then opened the pot.
  3. I mixed in the onion, peas, olive, nutritional yeast, oregano, basil, turmeric, salt, pepper, and lime juice, and served.
I served with some Jade Pearl rice cooked with a vegan bouillon cube and hand-torn kale leaves.

Dinner was good! My daughter encouraged me to add so much nutritional yeast, and I think that flavor nicely complimented the dish.

Ideas for the future

I could have put more onion in but, at the urging of my onion-averse daughter, used just a quarter cup. The dish could have had more olives. Squash pieces would have gone well with the bean dish, as well.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Pressure-Cooked Risotto with Artichoke and Asparagus (No Added Fat)

It's been, I think, almost 10 years since I've made risotto. We quite like risotto, and I make a "conference call risotto". I had the idea of making an artichoke and potato risotto and thought I'd see what the Instant Pot pressure cooker could do in terms of risotto. I readily found one of Laura Pazzaglia's many Hip Pressure Cooking recipes, Easy Pressure Cooker Risotto. Here is my version of it - the first time I've tried a no-oil risotto.

  • 1/2 cup onion cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") minced
  • 3 medium crimini mushrooms cut into 1/2" cubes (1 cup)
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 or 2 T red or white wine (I used port)
  • 1/2 cup frozen (or fresh) artichoke heart quarters
  • 1/4 cup chopped (1/4" squares) bell pepper
  • A bit less than 2 cups of water
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup asparagus cut into 1/2" lengths (about 4 thick stalks; it probably would take 6-8 regular thin stalks)
  • Medium baking potato cut into 3/8" cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  1. I put the onion and garlic into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on low saute for a minute or so, then added the mushrooms.
  2. I cooked for about 3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onion was clear and the mushroom cooked down a bit.
  3. I then added the rice and gently toasted it. Since I didn't use oil, the grains didn't absorb the oil and didn't really become translucent, but, stirring occasionally, I started seeing a bit of golden color in the grains after about 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. I then added the port, stirred, and let the wine clean up any residue on the bottom of the Instant Pot container.
  5. I added a cup of water then put the artichoke and bell pepper in the cup measure and filled the measure with water to total another cup, adding this water, artichoke, and bell pepper to the Instant Pot.
  6. I added the bouillon cube, asparagus, potato, salt, black pepper, and nutritional yeast.
  7. I pressure cooked for 5 minutes.
  8. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed the risotto.
I served along with some sautéed (in a cast iron pan with no added oil) seitan and bell pepper.

Wow, Laura Pazzaglia's recipe pointed me in the right direction! It is easy to make tasty and creamy risotto in the pressure cooker. My whole family loved the dish; it was filling, satisfying, and tasty. Even my daughter, who doesn't like asparagus, enjoyed the bit of asparagus in this dish (it must have been the taste in combination). The moisture was just about right - any less and there would be too much sticking to the pot (next time, I might err on the side of a just a bit more water).

Ideas for the future

I should consider trying risotto like this again soon after making my tried-and-true "conference call" version to better compare. Next time, including one more strongly flavored ingredient and a bit more water would be interesting. Grilled artichokes would be an improvement, and non-frozen (grilled or not) artichokes that I could cut into pieces would be good. Olives would be nice, as would more mushrooms (maybe oyster mushrooms or large chunks of Portobello mushrooms). Sweet potato (instead of potato) and/or some greens would be great. Roasting the bell pepper would be good. A little more wine (not port) would add a nice flavor. Fresh herbs or citrus zest would be good garnishes.

I have, unfortunately, never had a whole-grain risotto, but just looked and, indeed, there are recipes for it. I found an interesting article from the Washington Post from this past February that sounds promising. It's great that I can make a no-oil risotto; I should try a no-oil whole-grain one!

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sweet Potato and Corn with Sea-Beans (No Added Fat)

I found sea-beans at Whole Foods Market yesterday; I have used them once in a great while, when I can find them, such as last June (I thought they were "sea beans" but it looks like they need a hypen in their name). I came up with the idea of using the sea-beans as punctuating flavor in a sweet potato dish. Here is what I did.

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (I used my favorite, the white-fleshed Japanese sweet potato) cut into 1" or so pieces (about 4-5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (I used frozen, but fresh is good, as well)
  • 1/4 cup sea-beans
  1. I put the sweet potato pieces in my Instant Pot pressure cooker and pressure steamed for 8m. My intent was for them to be slightly undercooked, but they were actually cooked just right.
  2. In the meantime, I put the onion into a large Saladmaster stock pan, not yet on.
  3. After the pressure cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then added the sweet potato to the stock pan atop the onion.
  4. I added the corn and then the sea-beans to the stock pot and then cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 5m (normally 20m, but the sweet potato was cooked and I just needed to blend flavors and cook the onion a bit and defrost the corn.
  5. I mixed and served, along with a bagel and black beans.


Ideas for the future


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tomato Soup, Quinoa and Corn, Whole-Grain English Muffin with Olive Spread (No Added Fat)

My 2nd grader enjoys sometimes helping me to cook dinner. I got the book Eat Your Greens, Reds, Yellows, and Purples by DK Press from the library, and she enthusiastically picked out several recipes. We're at the end of a few days of unseasonably cool and rainy weather, so one of her choice's, that of a tomato soup, sounded good. Here is the recipe with our modifications. She did most of the cooking with some help from me!

  • Small onion, chopped (3/8" cubes, 2/3 cup)
  • Small carrot, chopped (3/8" cubes, almost a cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped (3/8" slices, about a cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1T all-purpose flour (we used whole wheat bread flour)
  • 14 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1T tomato paste (we used the full 2T in the small can we had)
  • 1T fresh thyme leaves (I didn't have thyme so we used 2t frozen basil)
  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable stock (we used water and a vegan bouillon cube
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  1. Saute onion, carrot, and celery [and garlic - see note] for about 5m till soften (the recipe suggests adding garlic in the next step with flour, but I'm going to add it at the beginning) in a large Saladmaster stock pan with no oil (the book called for a traditional saute with olive oil)
  2. Stir in flour and cook for another minute
  3. Add canned tomato, tomato paste, basil, stock, and sugar
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 25m
  5. Add salt and pepper and blend until smooth (the recipe called for returning the soup to a pan, but my Vitamix blender runs so speedily that it continues to heat the soup)
We served with quinoa and corn, along with whole grain English muffin halves topped with an olive spread (just a little, and that contributes so little fat that I will keep the description as "no added fat").


Dinner was great! My daughter, who normally doesn't like quinoa, even liked that - and she suggested that maybe it was because she had helped to make it :-) . My daughter initially loved her soup but then said that it was a bit bitter. I should not have doubled the tomato paste. On her request, I went light on the onion, but a little more onion might actually have sweetened the soup - as well as a second pinch of sugar.

Ideas for the future

I wonder what tomato soup blended with a little watery avocado (maybe the large Floridian ones and not the haas variety we usually buy) might be like.  I want to get my daughter's suggested recipes and help for more meals!

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Indo-Italian Red Lentil Pasta with Tempeh (No Added Fat)

I have heard of people making curried tomato sauces and found a simple and interesting recipe that I could easily make vegan. It calls for cooking onion, bell pepper, garlic, curry powder, and thyme till vegetables are soft, then adding stewed tomato and simmering for 5m. I thought I'd use fresh tomatoes.

I was thinking of making a rich Indian-Italian inspired tomato sauce and mix in artichoke quarters, but as I got going, I thought that I had a good collection of vegetables and that artichokes wouldn't be properly hilighted. Below is what I came up with.

By the way, a fellow Food for Life instructor, Cathy Katin-Grazzini, shared today a very nice "cheese" sauce recipe that I should try. Her website is a great resource for healthful vegan cooking.

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • 1 medium shallot, finely (1/8-1/4") diced
  • 3 spring onions cut into 1/2" lengths
  • Medium bell pepper cut into approx. 1/2" squares (about a cup)
  • 3 medium shiitake mushrooms cut into thick 3/8" slices
  • 2 medium tomatoes cut into 3/8" cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 4T tomato paste
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 leaves fresh oregano, finely (1/8") minced
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t garam masala
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  1. I put the garlic and shallot into a stainless steel pan and cooked, stirring, on medium high, with no oil or water, for a few minutes till the garlic and shallot was starting to brown.
  2. I then added the spring onion, bell pepper, and mushroom, and cooked for two more minutes, stirring.
  3. I added the tomato, tomato paste, salt, and black pepper, stirred, and simmered for 15m (or longer), uncovered, on low.
  4. I added the remaining spices and oregano, stirred, turned off the heat, and served atop organic red lentil penne, along with tempeh sauteed with no oil on a cast iron pan.


Dinner was good, though my daughter didn't like the sauce. I thought it was a good first try, but I should not have used cumin, the flavor of which wasn't consonant with the rest of the sauce. I knew that it would be a little tricky marrying in a reasonable way very different flavor profiles. I rarely mix Indian spices with Italian herbs.

Ideas for the future

I should try again in making a curry tomato sauce. A pinch of cinnamon may work. I might try cutting the garam masala back and adding a little asafoetida powder, perhaps, as well as a bit of mustard powder. Perhaps a pinch of salt or a tiny bit of maple syrup may work.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pressure-Cooked Jerusalem Artichokes with Edamame (No Added Fat)

[picture is temporary] I like roasted Jerusalem artichokes, but haven't seen anything about pressure cooking them. I thought I'd try pressure cooking for a short time (5 minutes) and making a main course, combined with edamame. Here is what I did.

  • Approx. half a cup of Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes; about 2 - 2 1/2 dozen), washed and eyes removed
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (fresh or frozen; I used frozen)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • 1/3 t garam masala
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cups onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Medium bell pepper, roasted and then cut into 1/2" cubes (approx. 1 cup) [to roast: I put the pepper atop my gas range flame and occasionally turned it till it was mostly blackened, then put in a brown paper bag that I closed down and, after 15m [I actually had a few hours, which got it even more smoky], rinsed it under running water to remove the charred areas]
  • 1T miso
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  1. I put the sunchokes, edamame, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, and water into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 5m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then added the onion, bell pepper, miso, salt, and garlic powder; I pressed down on the miso to mix it in well.
I was out but had my wife prepare Jade pearl rice (1 part rice to 2 parts water, a vegan bouillon cube, and a pinch of salt simmered, covered, for 20m). We brought home from today's farmers' market some tasty and inexpensive baby lettuce (just $1 for a large head!), and very flavorful tomatoes, which provided for our salad.

Dinner was good! We all enjoyed it. The sunchokes were reminiscent of tiny baked Yukon gold potatoes. I think that my family enjoyed the sunchokes even more than I did - they certainly were good, but I think I like the sunchokes better roasted.

Ideas for the future

I should continue to experiment with sunchokes. I think that my 5m intuition on the pressure cooking time was about right - any longer and they would have been perhaps too soft. I wonder if they would have more of a "bite" of a texture if cooked for 4m. It might be fun to mash sunchokes, but they are so small that it would take quite a quantity to have a meaningful amount of mashed sunchokes.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Australian Sweet Potato and Chive Damper

My daughter's Girl Scout troop is having a program this Tuesday about Australia. Some of the girls, including my daughter, are supposed to bring in traditional Australian foods. I did a little searching online, and found a nice sounding recipe for sweet potato and chive damper that could easily be veganized with Earth Balance margarine (or any number of other vegan spreads, such as Miyoko's European-style "butter")replacing butter.

Here is the recipe reproduced from the taste.com.au website.

My daughter enthusiastically helped, and especially enjoyed getting her hands nice and clean then diving in with the mixing.

I also cooked some green beans with no added fat on a cast iron stove. Using a trick I learned in Italy, I served with a little lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.


The damper was very good. My daughter loved it! It was heavy and quickly filled us. I'd say that this loaf is enough for at least 6-8 servings.

Ideas for the future

I'm woefully ignorant of Australian food and am thankful for my daughter and her Girl Scout troop for having me explore today. After dinner, I contacted a friend of mine, also vegan, in Australia, and she said that the "damper" is a common traditional bread; during early European settlement, many people worked in remote locations, and damper was an easy bread to make, requiring the settlers to just carry salt and flour. They would mix these into a dough and then bake on a camp fire. "Nowadays," she wrote, "lots of people add different things to it to make it more interesting. For example, a friend adds rosemary, dried tomatoes & olives to it."

I see from wikipedia that damper "was normally cooked in the ashes of the camp fire. The ashes were flattened and the damper was placed in there for ten minutes to cook. Following this, the damper was covered with ashes and cooked for another 20 to 30 minutes until the damper sounded hollow when tapped." I'll have to experiment with my own types of damper. I bet I could make a subtly sweetbread with currants and almonds, perhaps like a scone.

I bet I could slice damper and add items like seitan or beans (whole or blended), as well as maybe crunchy greens like Romaine lettuce. Leftovers for later this week?

This meal wasn't one with no added fat. I translated the 60g of butter to about 2 ounces of Earth Balance; we didn't have that much Earth Balance, and, at least the first time with such a recipe, I wanted to not yet focus on cutting the fat a lot, so I used a little canola oil (nowadays, the only time I use oil at all is to clean my cast iron pans and to rub a little on and then rub off to get a little browning when I cook foods like tempeh on cast iron) as well. Two ounces of Earth Balance (a tub is 15 ounces and the nutrition label says that 1/30 of the tub is 1T, which is 11g of fat) has about 2/15 x 330g fat, or about 44g of fat. If one loaf serves 8, that's a little over 5g of fat per serving. In the Food for Life program, we recommend that no one dish have more than 3g of fat, so, while high, this dish isn't extraordinarily high in fat. I simply don't bake enough to know about ways to reduce the fat significantly, but it probably would be worth trying with maybe half as much fat.

I rarely bake but usually enjoy it when I do. Now that we bought some self-rising flour, I should experiment with biscuits, something I've never cooked.

My friend tonight also described other traditional Australian dishes like ANZAC biscuits (cookies), Lammingtons (sponge cake with chocolate and coconut atop, often served with jam), pumpkin scones, pavlova, pie floater, sausage sizzle, fairy bread. I've never heard of any of these and perhaps should explore them. I'm so lucky - she has promised to send me some Australian herbs and spices!

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Brown Rice with Seitan and Shiitake Mushroom, Brussels Sprouts (No Added Fat)

I picked up some great looking shiitake mushrooms at the farmers' market the day before yesterday and thought I'd make a simple rice dish topped with seitan and sauteed shiitake mushrooms (I sauteed them in a cast iron pan where I added a little oil and wiped it off before starting, cooking onion and garlic along with the mushrooms). The rice was brown rice, cooked in a 1 part rice to 2 parts water, a pinch or two of salt, a vegan bouillon cube, and 1/4 t turmeric thrown in for good measure. I also sauteed in the same way Brussels sprouts with onion and garlic, then mixed in salt, black pepper, capers, and lemon juice. I made a massaged kale salad, as well.


Dinner was good - we all enjoyed it. I wish that I had some tomato to add a nice contrasting color accent.

Ideas for the future

One thing that I rarely do in my cooking is to use sauces. Tonight's meal is the kind that could have benefited from a sauce, perhaps a lemon tahini or citrus mint with the Brussels sprouts. I should continue to experiment with more ways to serve roasted Brussels sprouts. Mushrooms and seitan go well together; a little mole sauce or seasoning could go well, as could some fresh rosemary needles.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spigariello, Navy Beans with Roasted Bell Pepper (No Added Fat)

At the Carrboro Farmers' Market today, a farmer was selling an interesting sounding vegetable called spigariello, a leaf broccoli. He suggested cooking it uncut with a little bit of olive oil. I bought one bunch and thought that I would pan saute it, but then decided to cook it waterlessly. Here is what I did.

  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • 3T onion (3/8" cubes)
  • 1 bunch spigariello (or broccoli rabe), rinsed and ends cut off
  • About half dozen drops balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  1. I put, in this order, the onion, garlic, and spigarello into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 20 minutes.
  2. I mixed in the vinegar, salt, and pepper, and served.
I also made a white bean dish; I used navy beans, but cannellini or lima beans would also work great. I had my wife cook 1 1/2 cups beans in the Instant Pot pressure cooker after soaking them. When I came home, I roasted a bell pepper and, after it cooled, cut it into approx. 1/2" squares. I mixed into the beans the bell pepper, as well as 1/4 cup onion (3/8" cubes), 1/4 t garlic powder, 1/2 t turmeric, 1t ground cumin, 1T fresh squeezed lemon juice, and 1/4 t salt.

I quite liked dinner; the greens were good and reminded me a bit of chard, and the beans were good and filling. My family thought that the spigriello was "okay" but loved the beans.

Ideas for the future

I wanted to prepare the spigariello simply this first time, but am interested in exploring further. I generally cook with no added fat, but maybe using a little crunch, such as commercially available crispy onions, might be nice with the greens. The greens would also go well with crispy seitan or tempeh. I found some ideas about using spigariello with lentils or in lasagne; that would be fun to try. As to the beans, I should cook beans and roasted peppers together again once in a while; it's a good combination.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Jerk Mango and Seitan with Madagascar Pink Rice (No Added Fat)

I had some tasty mangoes and had the idea to cook some mango with seitan. My idea was to saute onion, mango, and seitan, and serve with jerk seasoning.

I also took a look online and found that I'm (of course!) not the first to think of cooking mango with seitan. I found an interesting sounding Thai Mango Seitan Stir-Fry recipe where the mango is made into a sauce; I should try an approach like this sometime. But for tonight, here is what I did.

  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, cut into thin (approx. 1/4" x 1"; I used almost half of a small onion) half moon slices
  • 1 1/4 cup Russet (I used a medium one) or Yukon Gold potato cut into approx. 3/8" cubes
  • 8 ounces seitan cut into approx. 3/4" cubes (ideally - my package had seitan in strips maybe 1/4" x 1 1/4", and that was what I used)
  • 1T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2-3 T coconut aminos (or low-sodium soy or tamari sauce)
  • 1/3 cup mango pieces cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (I used a medium ataulfo "champagne" mango, one of my favorite types)
  • (optional) 1/4 t organic lemon or lime zest (I had an organic Meyer lemon so instead just chopped up the lemon after squeezing and used a full teasponful)
  • 2/3 cup bell pepper cut into approx. 1/4"x3/4" strips
  • 1t jerk seasoning
  1. I put the garlic, onion, and potato into a stainless steel skillet with no oil and cooked, stirring occasionally, on medium high heat for about 10 minutes till the potato was a bit softenened and just showing a little bit of browning.
  2. I then added the seitan and lemon juice (and would have added the coconut aminos, but we were out), stirred and cooked for a minute
  3. I added the mango, zest (Meyer lemon pieces), and bell pepper, stirred and cooked on low for about 5 more minutes, then served my daughter's portion. For my wife and me, I mixed in the jerk seasoning first.
I served  with Madagascar pink rice (normally it is cooked in a ratio of 1 part rice to 1 3/4 cups water and a bit of salt, simmered for 18-20m, but I use a ratio of 1:2, and include a vegan bouillon cube; this time, I added a pinch of turmeric, too, for its health benefits). I also made a chopped salad with tomato, olive, ume plum vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, a dash of salt, and chopped oregano leaves from the garden.


Dinner was good - we all enjoyed it. The potato would have cooked better either if baked and then cubed or just cooked on my cast iron pan.

Usually when I cook on my stainless Saladmaster skillet, if I add acid like tomato, anything that sticks easily comes off with a little scraping. However, the lemon juice didn't do as good a job (but the pan easily cleaned as always with a little soaking and then scrubbing). However, the bits of charred food that I did scrape off added nice specks of color and taste to the main course.

Ideas for the future

I should explore a mango sauce served with a seitan course, perhaps like the referenced recipe at the top. Maybe I should try making a main course as I often do in my Instant Pot and simply mix in raw cubes of mango. Mango is so good and I'm looking forward to expanding its use to more main courses!

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Vegan Macaroni and "Cheese" with Steamed Kale and Cauliflower (for kiddo and me)

We're in the midst of our favorite event of the year, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the country's largest such festival, and just a few miles from our house. My wife and I usually spend all day (maybe 10a-10p or beyond) and we bring our daughter to a number of films that she may appreciate and enjoy. I review films for a South Asian regional magazine, Saathee - my online review for the week is available.

My daughter and I had about 3 hours off this afternoon, so came home for a bit, and I made one of her favorite dishes, macaroni and "cheese", for the two of us, using Daiya brand macaroni and "cheese" (with vegetables). I also prepared a large serving of steamed cauliflower and kale (she got raw kale, which she prefers) by pressure steaming in the Instant Pot for 3 minutes and serving with a bit of salt.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Sandwich Bun with Grilled Tempeh (or Tofu) and Vegetables (No Added Fat)

My wife had picked up an interesting looking thin sandwich bun (OneBun Multigrain by Ozery Bakery) that was a bit like an English muffin but that was pre-split to open into two thin halves. I made a simple dinner by putting a little oil on a cast iron pan then wiping the oil off, and grilling tempeh (tofu, in a separate pan, for my daughter), bell pepper, mushroom, and onion. I served the grilled vegetables with mustard, mixed greens, and pickle in the warmed buns. We picked out some huge tomatoes recently, and I served each of us a thick slice from one.

We all enjoyed dinner. I don't usually eat sandwiches for dinner, but this one was good and welcome.

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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Artichoke Heart and Seitan Stew with Jade Pearl Rice (No Added Fat)

  • 1/4 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • 1 cup bell pepper (I used 1/2 cup yellow and wanted to use 1/2 cup green, but we didn't have green, so used 1/2 cup red) cut into approx. 1/4"x3/4" strips
  • (optional) 2 or 3 white or crimini mushrooms cut into 1/2" cubes (I only included mushroom because I had two that had to be used up)
  • 6 ounces artichoke hearts cut into 3/4" or so cubes (I used grilled ArtiHearts; they have 5g of fat in all, so I feel justified calling this a no added fat meal - less than 2g of added fat per serving)
  • 8 ounces of seitan cut into any reasonably small size (the seitan we bought was cut into maybe 1/2" chunks)
  • About half (I actually used a bit more than half) of a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1t chopped basil (I used a frozen cube)
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt (or to taste)
  1. I cooked most of the ingredients waterlessly. I put, in this order, the onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushroom, artichoke hearts, and seitan into a large Saladmaster stock pan.
  2. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. I turned off the heat, then added the diced tomato, basil (if I were using fresh basil, I'd add the basil just before serving and not heat it), black pepper, and salt. I mixed and let it sit for two more minutes, covered.
I served along with Jade pearl rice (cooked in a 1 part rice to 2 parts water, along with a bit of salt and a vegan bouillon cube, simmered for 20m) and radish and cucumber.


Dinner was great! We all enjoyed it.

Ideas for the future

My favorite artichoke is the grilled ArtiHearts, which I first discovered in 2007. We need to get these more frequently and continue to come up with dishes with them. I particularly liked how the artichoke hearts contributed texture when cubed instead of when they have soft rounded edges.

My wife and I added crushed red pepper to the main course at the table. I could have used a little jerk seasoning in this dish. I wonder what artichoke hearts with vegan sausage might be like.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cruciferous Three-Bean Stew with Kale (No Added Fat)

I had soaked three kinds of beans to make a main course, but I hadn't decided what the dish would be. At the coop today, they had organic cauliflower on clearance. I like how cauliflower cooks down quickly under pressure and can form a thick gravy-like matrix for other ingredients. Though only a few minutes would be needed, I thought I'd cook the cauliflower along with the beans for 25 minutes. Here is what I did.

  • 1/3 cup each: Anasazi, and Flageolet beans, rinsed and soaked overnight (or rinsed and then soaked in boiling water for 3-5 hours), then rinsed again
  • Enough water to just cover beans
  • Florets from small or medium head of cauliflower (large florets quartered)
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t garam masala
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 2 white mushrooms cut into 1/4" thick slices, each slice then halved
  • Approx. 1/2 cup onion diced to approx. 3/8" cubes
  • 5-6 leaves kale, roughly hand torn into approx. 1/2" squares, stems excepted
  • 1t finely (1/8") diced ginger
  • 2t lemon juice (I used organic Meyer lemon)
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • (optional) 1/4 t kala namak ("black salt" that is actually pink in color)
  • 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  1. I put the beans, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, water, mushroom (the only reason I used mushroom as it was also on clearance at the store), and cauliflower into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 25m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I would have waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then opened, but I was out at an appointment, so my wife helped herself after mixing in the remaining ingredients. (I should have used garlic but we're out - so used garlic powder; the ginger I added when I got home as my daughter doesn't like ginger, but I'd have preferred to cook the ginger with the dish.)

We had some broccoli that had to be used up, so I served a large "tree" on the side, hence the "cruciferous" title to the meal, since both broccoli and cauliflower were used.

Dinner was good but needed some tweaking. Initially, it was a bit soupy, but the kale (actually, I just added the kale when I came home, so her serving didn't have it) brought it together and cooked enough in the remaining heat to satisfy. It also was a bit bland, but the salt and, at the table, hot sauce, brought it alive.

Ideas for the future

I was surprised that the cauliflower didn't totally turn into a mushy backdrop. I guess that cauliflower pressure cooks down quickly in a few minutes and doesn't soften further. That was fine but worth noting. If I do want a softer cauliflower, I need to remember in the future to gently press down or even blend before serving. I should explore more multi-bean dishes and come up with more ways to get the meal to shine, such as maybe using caramelized onion, capers, or maybe olives.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Three Sisters Black Bean Elbow Pasta with Butternut Squash, Green Beans, and Corn (No Added Fat)

I was busy pruning roses and it became late, so I wanted to put a quick dinner together. I had some interesting black bean pasta elbows from Ancient Harvest brand (the pasta's ingredients are black bean flour, brown rice flour, and organic quinoa flour). I thought I'd put together a Three Sisters meal with corn, climbing beans, and squash.

I used frozen vegetables -  a full bag (10 ounces) of butternut squash cubes (maybe 3/4" cubes), 8 ounces cut green beans (maybe 3/4" lengths), and 2 ounces of corn. I put in maybe 1/4 cup onion cut into 1/2" or so cubes first, and then the squash, then the bean, and finally the corn into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 20 minutes. I served the vegetables atop the pasta, and put a little marinara sauce with basil, as well as an olive, on top.


Dinner was good, though I think it could have had more flavor. The pasta was good, though my daughter didn't like it and found it bitter.

Ideas for the future

I should try more stacked pasta dishes. More seasoning including garlic (which I was out of) and oregano (fresh oregano is now returning to my herb garden!), as well as capers, would be good. I wonder what a pasta and polenta dish might be like?

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