Monday, October 16, 2017

Chickpeas with Polenta, Stewed Tomatoes, and Kale Sprouts served with local thin Sweet Potatoes and Green Luobo Radish (No Added Fat)

My daughter and I were out and came home with my wife and daughter hungry, so I got to work cooking right away. We picked up thin sweet potatoes from the farmers' market this weekend, which I was anxious to cook.

I also got from the market a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts called kale sprouts; I described in March 2015 finding these in the market place as kalettes™  and really enjoyed them (today my family popped the raw ones in our mouths and loved them, stems and all). I've not found them more recently until I saw them this weekend.

I thought that I'd use kale sprouts for the main course. I wanted some sort of bean or maybe seitan to go with it and didn't have any beans soaking. Luckily, for times like this, I have a few cans of chickpeas on hand. In order to bulk up the meal, I thought I'd use a tube of prepared polenta that I had on hand.

My wife recently returned from a trip to Bulgaria and found ample vegan options and great food choices. She brought back a spice called "savory", which appears to be something like savory (chubritsa), a common table spice. I thought that I'd try seasoning with it. Here is what I did.

  • 1/4 cup onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" half moon slices
  • 16 ounces polenta cut into approx. 3/8" cubes
  • About a quart of kale sprouts (alternate: chopped kale)
  • 14 1/2 ounce canned stewed tomatoes
  • 15 ounce canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • (optional) 2 t traditional Bulgarian spice mixture (alternative: favorite herbs)
  • 3/4 t salt
  • (optional) 2 T nutritional yeast
  1. I cooked the main course waterlessly by putting, in this order, the onion, polenta, and kale sprouts into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked by covering the pan and heating 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.
  2. I then opened the pan and mixed in the tomatoes, chickpeas, and spices.
Sweet potatoes cook in 10-19 minutes of pressure steaming, but I went with 9 minutes, serving five of these small sweet potatoes for each of my wife, daughter, and me. They were great! In fact, they could have been done in 8 minutes. But I liked the organic way in which the sweet potatoes were gently burst open. And the sweet potatoes were light, much less dense than Japanese sweet potatoes (my favorite variety). Since they were organic, as we usually buy, I ate them intact, skin and all. I also served green luobo radish, from the farmers' market as well.


Dinner was good! My one regret was with the kale sprouts; they were great, without any trimmed away, raw. They were also good cooked, but in the dish were just too big and should have been chopped. I liked the Bulgarian spice, which added a nice flavor that I can't really characterize except maybe as a non-hot Mexican sage and pepper seasoning. The sweet potatoes were very good!

Ideas for the future

I wonder why I don't cook with polenta more often. I should more frequently keep pre-made tube polenta on hand - but I should also make polenta from scratch. I think that I've only done that once, in June 2014, and it was both easy and very good. I should try a dish like this one, perhaps with chopped greens, polenta, and maybe a lot of mushrooms. A more complex tomato sauce would be good, maybe with green tomatoes cooked into it (hey, that's another idea - combining cooked green tomatoes with tomato sauce).

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Seitan with Oyster Mushrooms, Roasted Bell Pepper, and Shishito Peppers (No Added Fat)

Yesterday we bought of yummy items from the Carrboro, NC Farmers' Market, including fresh bell peppers. They have a wonderful deal that if you buy at least two pounds of any kind of peppers, they will fire roast the peppers right there for you, which is what we did. These roasted peppers are so good, and as they cooled in the plastic bags that they put them in, some liquid accumulated, which I ended up using in today's meal. I also got great oyster mushrooms, baby ginger, a new variety (to me) of heirloom apple, baby bok choy, watermelon radish, Sugar Baby watermelon, elephant and regular garlic, white kale, and more. I used a lot of the ingredients in today's meal.

  • 1 clove elephant garlic, chopped into pieces slightly smaller than 1/4" (alternate: 2 cloves regular garlic finely chopped to about 1/8")
  • 2-3 handfuls of oyster mushrooms, tough ends removed, then hand torn into maybe 1" lengths (alternate: other mushrooms can work, such as shiitake or button)
  • 8 ounces of seitan cut into maybe 3/4" cubes or strips up to maybe 1", as desired
  • 1T baby ginger (or 1t regular ginger) finely (1/8") diced
  • (optional) 2T liquid leftover from roasting a bell pepper
  • Dozen or so shishito peppers, rinsed and dried
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 2 cups onion cut into half moon slices approx. 1/4" x 1 1/4" ( maybe 2/3 of a medium onion)
  • 1 1/4 cups carrot cut into 3/8" slices (3 small-medium carrots)
  1. I put the garlic into a skillet and, without oil, sauteed on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes to get a nice bouquet
  2. I then added the mushroom and cooked for another 4-5 minutes till the volume of mushroom was reduced to about 1/3 of the original
  3. I then added the seitan and ginger and continued cooking, reducing the heat to medium-low, and stirring occasionally for another 3-4 minutes
  4. I added the pepper liquid and scraped with the spatula, which served both to add flavor and clean up the little bit of sticking I had in my skillet
  5. In parallel, I had cooked the shishito peppers by putting them on a cast iron skillet with no oil and once in a while stirring till the peppers were mostly charred
  6. I let the shishito peppers cool down a little so I could handle them, then cut off the stems and tossed them into the seitan dish
I also made some quinoa with corn and served some slices of watermelon radish (sungold tomatoes instead for my daughter).



Ideas for the future


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Friday, October 13, 2017

Chickpea with Waterless Sweet Potato (No Added Fat)

I wanted to make a chickpea dish so soaked some chickpeas. I loved the waterless sweet potato I had recently made and hoped I'd cook sweet potato this way again soon. Here is what I did.

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed, soaked overnight (or, in my case, for about 5 hours in initially boiling water) and rinsed again
  • Just enough water to cover chickpeas
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 2 cloves garlic, fnely (approx. 1/8") diced
  • 2 stalks green onion, cut into approx. 1/2" lengths
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (I used a Japanese sweet potato and a locally grown orange one)
  • Half dozen shiitake mushrooms, cut into approx. 3/8" widths
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1t fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t salt
  1. I put the chickpeas, water, bouillon cube, and garlic into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 20m (unsoaked take 35-40 and soaked take 10-15 minutes, but I wanted them nice and soft).
  2. While it was cooking, I did a waterless cook of the sweet potatoes. I put, in this order, the green onion, sweet potato, and mushroom into a small 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.
  3. When I was ready to serve, I carefully let out remaining pressure from the chickpeas, mixed in the sweet potatoes, as well as the onion, lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, and salt.
I also served Farmhouse Culture brand "garlic dill pickle" fermented vegetables (cabbage, water, salt, cucumber, dill, garlic), as well as Black Spanish Radish (it was spicy). 

Dinner was good! I was given the local sweet potato by somebody at the venue where I teach on Sundays who said that she had grown it and just picked it - it was surprisingly tender and easy to cut. The sweet potato and chickpea combination was surprisingly consonant and tasty, and I loved the texture.

Ideas for the future

Waterless sweet potato is so good! I should continue to explore good combinations with chickpeas.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Red Pinto Beans with Roasted Tomato (No Added Fat)

I prepared red pinto beans in the pressure cooker (soaked and then rinsed and cooked for 23 minutes with just enough water to cover the beans). Once done, I mixed in most of a 14.5 can of roasted diced tomatoes, a clove of elephant garlic diced to between 1/8-1/4" cubes, a little ginger similarly diced, a bit of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and dried oregano, and simmered on low for about 7-10 minutes.


Dinner was very good! My wife particularly loved it. I included green radish; it was good though a bit strong.

Ideas for the future

This dish reminded me a bit of Indian rajma. I should make rajma and should experiment with more red bean dishes. I'm not sure why I don't use red beans more often.

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Monday, October 09, 2017

Whole Wheat Pearled Couscous with Artichoke Hearts, Portabello Mushroom and Seitan with Leek (No Added Fat)

A few days ago when shopping, my daughter suggested picking up some whole wheat pearled couscous. I had a portabello mushroom left over from yesterday's Food for Life class (Kickstart Your Health class 2, where I served oatmeal with apple, a chickpea - quinoa salad, and portabello fajitas). Here is the meal that I put together tonight.

  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") dieced
  • 1/8 cup onion cut into 1/4" cubes
  • Dozen artichoke heart quarters, frozen
  • Medium carrot cut into 1/4" slices then quartered
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat pearled couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1T nutritional yeast
  • 1t fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup leek, thoroughly washed (washed, cut into quarters, and carefully washed again) and cut into 3/8" cubes (most of the white portion of a medium leek)
  • Portabello mushroom cut into 1/2" slices and then halved
  • 8 ounces of seitan
  • 1/2 t lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 t salt
  • (optional) 1t jerk seasoning
  1. I put the garlic and onion into a small Saladmaster stock pan and cooked on medium, stirring, for 3-4 minutes till nicely fragrant.
  2. I added the artichoke and carrot, and continued to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. I added the couscous, water, bouillon cube, and salt, and cooked, covered, for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the couscous was cooking, I put the leek on a cast iron pan and started cooking over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. I then added the mushroom to the cast iron pan and continued cooking for another 2 minutes.
  6. I added the seitan to the cast iron pan and continued to cook, stirring, for another 3-4 minutes.
  7. When both dishes were done, I mixed in the garlic powder, nutritional yeast, and fennel seeds to the couscous. 
I served the seitan dish, sprinkling a few drops of lemon juice, a little salt, and, for my wife and me, jerk seasoning on top. I served the couscous as well, plus some thick slices of heirloom tomatoes.


Dinner was very good, though the couscous was underspiced for my wife's taste. My daughter and I quite enjoyed it; I thought that the fennel, almost an afterthought, worked great. We all loved the seitan dish!

Ideas for the future

I should cook with whole wheat pearled couscous much more frequently; I think I have used it just a handful of times. I could make a soup with a rich broth or maybe cook an Italian-inspired dish with marinara sauce and couscous. I wonder what it would be like to mix the couscous with thin brown rice noodles and maybe shiitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and coconut aminos.

I should also cook with portabellos more often. I wonder what a 0-minute pressure cooked portabello would be like?

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Tofu with Asparagus, Leftover Chickpea-Quinoa Salad (No Added Fat) (cooking just for me)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Edamame and Kale, Fermented "Garlic Dill Pickle" Vegetables, Corn with Anaheim Pepper (No Added Fat)

I found fermented vegetables from Farmhouse Culture brand on sale at the store today, and purchased "garlic dill pickle" fermented vegetables (cabbage, water, salt, cucumber, dill, garlic). The corn yesterday was such a hit that I made something similar today using an Anaheim pepper and sale priced leek. Here is what I did.

  • 3T leek (or onion) cut into 3/8" squares
  • 1T fennel cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 cup kale (I used chopped frozen; if fresh, roughly hand tear into approximately 1/2" pieces)
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 t salt
  1. I put, in this order, the leek, fennel, edamame, and kale into a small 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 added the sauce, mixed, and covered the pan again, letting it cook for another 5-7 minutes or so.
  3. I mixed in the salt and served.
I also served the fermented vegetables with some small, tasty, cherry tomatoes, as well as corn. I heated frozen corn like I did yesterday by putting it in a bowl atop a steamer rack with about 1/4 cup of water in the Instant Pot pot, and then pressure steaming for 1 minute (I used a deep bowl with a lot of corn, and some was still cool, so I cooked for another "0 minutes" - i.e., I brought up to pressure then turned off).

I sauteed on a cast iron pan most of an Anaheim pepper cut into maybe 1/4" x 1/2" strips, along with maybe 1T of leek, cut into approximately 1/4" squares. Along with a bit of Meyer lemon juice and salt, I mixed the pepper and leek into the corn and served.

The main course was good; I wish that I had had more edamame on hand to make more of the dish. The fermented vegetables were quite sour and would be better served mixed with something like perhaps a grain or atop a burger. The corn was good but I liked the stronger pepper that was also more charred from yesterday.

Ideas for the future

I should come up with some more ways to serve the fermented vegetables, such as with a grain, maybe with potatoes, and/or with a burger or something like seitan.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Cannellini Bean with Artichoke over Country Bread, White Corn and Pepper (No Added Fat)

I loved the white bean and artichoke dish from Saturday and thought of serving it as a spread on some nice fresh bread that I had purchased today. I simply reheated the bean dish and served it atop bread, topped with pickle and slice of onion.

I purchased a kind of pepper that I've not had before, maybe 6" long and maybe 1 1/2" wide, said to be a bit hotter than a jalapeno. I was thinking of blending the pepper with the bean for the spread, but it turned out that the pepper was quite mild. Instead, I prepared some white corn and mixed in the pepper, after cutting the pepper into approximately 3/8" squares and cooking on a cast iron pan with no oil and over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Freekeh Green Wheat Salad with Tomato and Greens, Lima Beans, Sweet Potato (No Added Fat)

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Red Split Pea Dhal with Brown Rice (No Added Fat)

I decided to make a thick dhal with red split lentils. These lentils are prepared in a ratio of one part to 2 - 2 1/2 parts water pressure cooked for 13-18 minutes. I wanted it to be thick, so I went with a 1:2 ratio for the full 18 minutes. Here is what I did.

  • 1 cup red split lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups eggplant cut into 3/8" cubes (maybe 2/3 of a medium eggplant)
  • 2/3 cup fennel root cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 1/3 cup carrot (one large carrot) cut into 3/8" lengths
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") chopped 18m
  • 2t baby ginger, finely (1/8") diced (or 1t regular ginger)
  • 3/4 t ground cumin
  • 1T lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 t salt
  1. I put the lentils, water, eggplant, fennel, carrot, garlic, ginger, and cumin into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 18 minutes.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the salt and lemon juice.
I served the dhal with brown rice (which I cooked in a 1:2 ratio with water and a vegan bouillon cube, simmered for 45 minutes, just like I always do).

I loved the meal! The eggplant, as I've found in the past, didn't add much flavor, but I did like the subtle taste and texture that it contributed. I had forgotten to add onion at the end, but it turned out to be fine. I would have included a little turmeric but we're out. My wife has returned from her trip! She didn't like the dhal as much as my daughter and I did, and wanted more flavor, so added some hot sauce.

Ideas for the future

I rarely find that I use too little water, but this time there was a little sticking in the pan. I think that I slightly under-measured the water; in any case, I should next time try maybe 2 1/4 parts water to 1 part lentils. Additional vegetables like greens would have been good. I've been wanting to cook olives with a lentil dish like dhal, and should try that sometime soon.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Rice and Beans and Guacamole (No Added Fat)

My wife is still away, so I could cater to meals that I know my daughter would particularly enjoy. She loves brown rice, black beans, and guacamole, and that's what I made tonight.

I didn't get a chance to soak beans overnight, so covered them with maybe 1/4" extra water above the beans and pressure cooked for "0 minutes" - i.e., just let the Instant Pot come up to pressure then turn off. I put fresh water in, again to 1/4" above the beans, and pressure cooked for 25m (the beans ended up very soft - fine, but I could have cooked for 20-23m maybe).

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Alfredo-Style "Mac and Cheese" with Black-Eyed Peas and Kale

While my wife is away, I made a simple macaroni and "cheese" dinner with Daiya brand Alfredo-style "mac and cheese". I also waterlessly cooked garlic, black-eyed peas, and fresh kale into a Saladmaster stock pan. 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.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Tofu with Vegetables, Brown Rice Capellini with Marinara (No Added Fat)

My wife is traveling so for a few days I get to use tofu, which my wife can't eat due to problems with digesting it. I cooked on a cast iron pan some tofu, fingerling potatoes, broccoli, mushroom, onion, and garlic. I mixed in some bok choy in the final minutes of cooking and served with coconut aminos (like soy sauce) and dried chives. I also made brown rice pasta.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Mixed Waxed Beans with Seitan, Shredded Cabbage Salad (No Added Fat)

I found nice purple and yellow waxed beans in the store and thought I'd cook them with seitan. Initially, I was going to cook the beans on a cast iron pan, but then I decided to make a waterless dish.

I put, in this order, a chopped shallot, maybe 25-30 beans (half yellow and half purple), and most (6 ounces?) of a package of seitan chunks 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 15 minutes, then opened the top and mixed in a little salt, garam masala, freshly ground black pepper, and salt.

I also made a salad with shredded cabbage, kalamata olives, freshly ground black pepper, salt, a generous amount of lime juice, a little balsamic vinegar, and maybe 15 small freshly picked oregano leaves. I serve with quinoa.

Dinner was better than I had expected! It seems quite consistent that my waterlessly prepared meals are always good. The main dish was tasty and the salad was excellent!

Ideas for the future

I should try maybe chopping waxed beans into 1-1 1/2 inch lengths and pressure cooking with other vegetables for "zero minutes" (i.e., just bring to pressure then turn off) of low pressure. I should, of course, try more waterless waxed bean dishes, too. I like to prepare green beans simply like I saw in Italy - sauteed on cast iron then served just with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I should make waxed beans this way, too.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Grilled Vidalia Onion and Belgian Endive with Butternut Squash and Black-Eyed Peas (No Added Fat)

I was shopping at Whole Foods Market today and picked up some belgian endive. I didn't think that my daughter would like it, but was pretty sure that my wife and I would enjoy it grilled. I was tempted in the salad bar area with some thick grilled slices of onion; we've had Vidalia onions on sale, and I thought I'd grill some of them.

What I ended up doing is grilling thick slices of onion on a cast iron pan (with no oil); a few minutes into the cooking, I added slices of the endives. I also waterlessly cooked some black-eyed peas, butternut squash, kale, and a bit of garam masala; I mixed in a little lime juice, salt, and pepper, and served my daughter. For my wife and me, I then also mixed in the grilled vegetables. Some quinoa and thick slices of heirloom tomato on multi-grain English muffin completed the meal.


My wife was in a rush to eat so I served rather quickly and didn't taste and fine tune the seasonings before serving. She enjoyed the meal, as did I - though I think it could easily be improved. I couldn't easily tease out the endives from the onion, so served the same meal to all three of us; my daughter, predictably, didn't like the endive, though she ate her meal.

Ideas for the future

Grilled onions - well, these sweet Vidalia onions - are great! I should cook with grilled onions periodically. I'm surprised that I hadn't thought of doing this before except maybe once or twice. I'd add some jalapeno or hot sauce and maybe a miso dressing in the future to a similar dish.

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