Monday, December 29, 2014

Eggplant and Potato served with Grilled Jerk Eggplant and Jade Pearl Rice (No Added Fat)

I have tried cooking with eggplant in my Instant Pot, where it takes only 2-3 minutes to cook. I've been thinking that more flavor would be in the eggplant if it were sautéed first, and the Instant Pot has a sauté feature. Here is what I tried for cooking my last dinner for the year:

  • Medium eggplant cut into 3/8" slices; reserve three slices and then cut remaining eggplant into 3/8" cubes
  • 4 small Yukon gold potatoes cut into approximately 3/4" cubes
  • 1 ounce water
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/2 head kale, stems removed (I composted them) and leaves roughly hand cut into approximately 3/4" squares
  • Another ounce of water
  • Cup of onion cut into 1/4" x 1" or so slivers (it took about 1/3 of a medium onion for me)
  • 4 ounces crumbled seitan
  • Approx. 1/4 cup marinara sauce

  1. I put the eggplant cubes, potatoes, ounce of water, and bouillon cube into my Instant Pot and turned it on in sauté mode on low. I cooked, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes till the water was absorbed and ingredients began sticking to the pot.
  2. I turned the Instant Pot off, added the kale and additional ounce of water, and cooked on high pressure for 3 minutes.
  3. When I was ready to serve, I slowly released pressure, mixed in the onion and seitan, and served to my Dad, who doesn't eat garlic. I added the marinara and served to my wife, daughter, and myself.
I also made some Jade pearl rice (I sauteed a bit of onion and ginger in a pan without any oil, then added rice and water in a 1 : 2 ratio, along with a pinch of salt and a vegan bouillon cube, brought to a boil, and simmered on low heat for 20 minutes). I sautéed the three eggplant slices on a cast iron pan with no added oil, dredged with jerk seasoning, and served, as well, topped with baby arugula and a tomato slice.


Dinner was good. This was the best that eggplant has come out from the pressure cooker. I've enjoyed it in the past, but the pressure cooking really didn't add any flavor to the eggplant. This time, it did have some flavor, but not as much as the sautéed slices (they were good, too!). The dish as a whole was good! The sautéed eggplant with the tomato and arugula was a good combination.

Ideas for the future

The main dish would have benefited from some garlic, either separately grilled and diced and then mixed in at the end or, for a milder flavor, added to the pressure cooker at the beginning (pressure cooking garlic gives it a mild roasted flavor). The marinara was good but I think a more spicy sauce would be even better, perhaps an Indian spice sauce (which would, however, preclude my daughter's enjoying the dish), or at least perhaps a doubling of the marinara sauce. Capers could have been nice in the main course, as well. Using more seitan (6 or 8 ounces instead of 4) would have been reasonable.

I should make several more dishes with eggplant cooked this way. Perhaps I could then try additional ways of cooking eggplant (slow cooking?) in my Instant Pot.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Black Eyed Peas with Kale, Jade Pearl Rice with Shiitake Mushroom, Baby Arugula Salad (No Added Fat)

My family loves Jade pearl rice but we've not been able to find it locally for some weeks now. But I found a single bag of it a few days ago! I picked up some shiitake mushrooms and decided to make a nice rice and mushroom side dish.

Earlier in the day, my wife had made black eyed peas in our Instant Pot pressure cooker. I think that she soaked the peas overnight then cooked for maybe a half hour with small chunks of potato and onion. I didn't realize that she also had included some turmeric and garam masala.

I decided to use the black eyed peas as a starting point for the main course along with collard greens that my wife had picked up. I also had some yummy baby arugula on hand. This is what I did:

  • Head of collard greens, stems excepted (I composted them) and then leaves roughly hand torn into approximately 3/4" squares
  • 3 cups prepared black eyed peas (as per discussion above, my wife had made some with potato)
  • 3 carrots cut into 3/8" slices
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt to taste (I used about 1/2 t black salt - kala namak)
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/3 cup onion cut into 1/4" cubes

  1. I put the collards, black eyed peas, carrots, bouillon cube, and water into my InstantPot and cooked at high pressure for 3 minutes.
  2. I let the pressure cooker come down in temperature so that I could open it (one could slowly release pressure, as well). I added the turmeric, salt, and onion, and served.
I also served a shiitake mushroom Jade pearl rice and baby arugula topped with tomato.


Dinner was good. My wife loved the main course; I thought it was good but we both agreed that it had a touch too much turmeric (I didn't know that she had already added turmeric!). Eating Jade pearl rice was a welcome treat! I didn't know that arugula is available in a small baby form and love it!

Ideas for the future

I wonder how collard green stems might cook. I could try adding stems cut into small 3/8" pieces in a pressure cooked dish sometime. Corn would have gone well with the main course. We rarely cook with collard greens - I definitely prefer kale, but should get collards more often.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Spicy Cauliflower Stew, Brown Jasmine Rice Pilaf (Almost No Added Fat)

This past August, I made a tasty cauliflower stew. My wife picked up a head of cauliflower, and that brought back nice memories of it, as well as a creamy mashed cauliflower that I also made that month. My daughter ate earlier a vegan grilled cheese sandwich and other items, so I was free to make something spicy, and thought I'd use a prepared Madras simmer sauce. It has garlic, so I thought I'd make a version of the stew, serve my Dad, then simmer with the sauce for my wife and me. In the original stew, I had zucchini, garlic, and oregano; I skipped those, used green onion instead of regular onion, and took my suggestions from when I made it last, and added garam masala and corn.

We love Jade pearl rice, but it's not been available recently. My daughter picked out brown Jasmine rice (cooked in a 1:2 ratio for about 45-50m, like other brown rices), and I thought I'd make a pilaf to accompany the cauliflower. Here is what I did:

  • Head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1T miso
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • (optional) 1/8 t garam masala
  • 5 scallions cut into 1/4" pieces (alternately, 1/4 cup onion chopped to 3/8" cubes would work well)
  • 6 ounces (half of the 12 ounce bottle) Madras simmer sauce

  1. I put the cauliflower, miso, water, and corn into my InstantPot and cooked at high pressure for 2 minutes.
  2. I let the pressure cooker come down in temperature so that I could open it (one could slowly release pressure, as well). I added the turmeric, garam masala, and onion, and served to my Dad.
  3. I added the Madras simmer sauce and turned the InstantPot on in low saute mode and cooked for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring, then served.
I also made a pilaf from brown Jasmine rice. I sauteed over medium heat in a small Saladmaster stock pan three green onion stalks, chopped to 1/4" or smaller pieces for a few minutes, then added a similarly chopped carrot and cooked another minute. I added just under a cup of rice, stirred for another minute or two (some of the rice started cooking and clarifying in color), added about 3/4 teaspoon finely chopped ginger, cooked another half minute, then added a vegan bouillon cube, a little salt (maybe 1/2t), twice as much water as rice, and a cup of frozen baby peas. I brought to a boil then simmered on low heat, covered, for 45m.


When I made the stew back in August, I thought that the dish was good but my wife craved more spice. She and I loved today's dish - the spice was good but still maybe a bit mild. The pilaf was also very good.

Ideas for the future

I label the main course "almost no added fat" because, as it turns out, the simmer sauce has a little oil. But the total amount of fat in the whole bottle is 12g, and I only used half a bottle, so each serving was only about 3g of fat.

I like the simmer sauce that I purchased; it uses high quality, organic ingredients (water, tomatoes in juice, onions, tomato puree, sunflower oil, tapioca starch, evaporated cane sugar, cilantro, sea salt, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, chili pepper, fennel, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves). I could try making my own sauce, but this hardly seems worth it as the quality of the prepared sauce is good, and the added oil isn't too much.

The cauliflower was still soft! Maybe I should try 2 or 3 minutes pressure cooking at low pressure, and to do a quick release as soon as the time is up? I have not yet experimented with low pressure cooking in my InstantPot.

The corn added a nice texture. Some chopped kale, collards, mustard, or other greens could have been nice, as well, in the stew. I was pleased with the consistency as well - much less water and I probably would have had some sticking to the pot; more, and it would have been too soupy.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rainbow Chard with Black Beans (No Added Fat)

My daughter and I picked out a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard a day or two ago, and I thought it would be nice to make a pressure-cooked meal with it today. I thought that I'd include some finely chopped potato so that it could cook along with the chard in 3 minutes, and wanted to include some black beans that we had on hand. Unfortunately, on principle, my Dad won't eat any leftover foods, so I was momentarily stumped. Then I realized that I could make my dish sans beans, serve it to him, and mix in the beans for the rest of us - and some garlic (he doesn't eat garlic), as well! This is what I did:

  • Medium or large Yukon gold (or other) potato cut into small cubes about 1/8" or slightly smaller
  • About a quarter cup (maybe a fifth of a large onion I had) onion chopped into 1/4" x 1/2" strips
  • Rainbow (or Swiss) chard bunch, stems cut into 1/2" lengths and leaves hand torn into approximately 3/4" squares
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup prepared black beans
  • 1 clove (NOT whole bulb!) garlic, finely diced
  • Salt to taste (I used approx. 1/2 t), as well as freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/4 t)
  • Approx. 1/2 t tarragon

  1. I put everything but the beans, garlic, and seasonings into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for 3 minutes.
  2. When it cooled down a bit, I gently released steam, added the seasonings, and served to my Dad.
  3. I added the garlic and black beans, and served to the rest of us.
I also served some corn kernels and fresh tomato with hemp seeds.


Dinner came out well! The main course was better than I had expected. Initially, my daughter liked the main course, but then the raw garlic was "spicy" to her, so she lost interest, unfortunately.

Ideas for the future

The garlic was indeed strong and would have been better cooked with the vegetables. I really liked the main course and can't think of useful changes except perhaps including a little bit of squash or pumpkin with the vegetables.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Baby Sweet Potato with Brussels Sprouts and Lentils (No Added Fat)

Yesterday, a friend brought a bag of small sweet potatoes that she has been finding at her nearby farmer's market. I'll call them "baby sweet potatoes" and update here with a comment anything else that she may find out from the market about them. They are thin, maybe 5-6" long and about 1/2" thick. I loved the idea of cooking with them, as they should cook quickly. Here is what I came up with for tonight though, as described below, it turns out we'll eat this tomorrow.

  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 10 Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 10 baby sweet potatoes (approx. 6" long by maybe 1/2" thick; it was about a half cup); for regular sweet potatoes, just cut them into pieces 3-6" long and 1/2" or so thick
  • approx. 1/2 cup onion cut into approx. 1" x 1/4" strips (about a quarter of a large sweet onion); another 1/2 cup cut into 3/8" cubes reserved
  • 4 leaves kale, stems discarded (composted), and roughly hand torn into approx. 3/4" squares
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 2t finely chopped ginger
  • Salt (I used about 1/4 t) and freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/8 or 1/4 t) to taste

  1. I put the lentils, 1 1/2 cups water, and bouillon cube in the Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker and cooked for 10 minutes.
  2. When it cooled down a bit, I gently released steam and added the Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, the first 1/2 cup of onion, kale, turmeric, and ginger, then cooked for another 6 minutes at high pressure.
  3. When I was ready to serve (or not - see result below), I slowly removed the remaining pressure and opened the lid, mixing in the second half cup of onion, as well as salt and pepper.
I also made some quinoa.


I had already quickly fed my hungry kiddo earlier some leftovers. My wife decided not to eat; she had gone out to a film and eaten earlier. So, it was my Dad, whom I did serve the meal, and me left. I hate to eat before my wife, so decided to save tonight's dinner and serve it tomorrow. As I usually do when spicing at the end, I took a little sample - it tasted good!

Ideas for the future

A little garlic might have gone well with the dish, as well as a little hot pepper, but my Dad wouldn't have eaten with the garlic, and my daughter would have objected to the second.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Brown Lentil Dhal with Sweet Potato and Baby Greens (No Added Fat)

It was a cool and rainy day, and the idea of a hot lentil dish sounded appealing. I made a nice brown lentil dhal with kale, corn, and preserved lemon this past July in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. I thought I'd make something similar without the lemon, marinara sauce (my Dad doesn't eat garlic), jalapeno (my daughter doesn't eat spicy food), or corn

  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 small-medium sweet potato (mine was organic so I didn't peel, but otherwise it should be peeled) cut into 1/4" cubes (approx. 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 2 carrots cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1 cup, pressed, greens - I used a mixture of baby greens, including red & green Swiss chard, beet, tat soi, arugula, and spinach
  • 1 medium roma tomato cut into 1/4" cubes (it made just shy of a half cup; I would have liked a full cup, but didn't have a second roma tomato)
  • Another 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t mustard seed
  • 1/4 t black salt (or regular salt)
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes

  1. I put the lentils, 1 1/2 cups water, sweet potato, 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 carrot, greens, tomato, and 1/4 cup water. 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 seasonings, and served.
I also served some mashed potato (with nutritional yeast and shallot mixed in) and avocado.


We were pleased with the dhal. I was originally thinking of making a thick mélange which could be served in the plate, but liked the thick dhal consistency; I wouldn't change the liquid. (If one wanted a lighter dhal, an extra cup or two of water would have been appropriate.) The flavors were quite appealing and went well together - the sweet potato added a subtle nuanced flavor - one wouldn't know there was sweet potato in it. Garlic wouldn't have been a good addition and, in hindsight, the one tomato was just right.

Ideas for the future

As I mentioned when I made the dhal in July, I should marry the nice combination of spinach and lentils. I'd like to make a simple dish with spinach, lentils, maybe celery, maybe a bit of tomato puree, and little else, and make it more liquidy. I can't think of how to improve tonight's dhal - it is a keeper!

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Black Beans and Plantain with Brown Jasmine Rice (No Added Fat)

I was in the mood of cooking with plantain, and we picked one up last night. In May 2012, I made a
Cuban "moros y cristianos" black bean-plantain dish, but today wanted to make a pressure-cooked medley of beans with plantain and onion. This is what I did.

  • 1 cup dry black beans, soaked in ample water overnight, optionally with several large chunks of ginger (to lend a bit of flavor and reduce gasiness that may result from the beans)
  • Water to just cover beans (approx. 1/4 - 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 red onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 plantain cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • Medium shallot cut into 1/4" cubes
  • Salt to taste (approx. 1/2 t is a good starting point)


  1. I drained and rinsed the beans (and should have removed the ginger, but forgot - my wife ended up biting into a large piece of ginger, but really didn't mind), then put them, along with enough water to just cover them, into the Instant Pot pressure cooker.
  2. I cooked for 15 minutes on high pressure. When I was ready, I slow released any remaining pressure and opened the pot.
  3. I added the onion, plantain, and tomato, and cooked on high pressure for another 4 minutes.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly released remaining pressure, mixed in the cumin, shallot, and salt, and served.
I also made some brown Jasmine rice (1 part rice to 2 parts water; I put this along with a vegan bouillon cube into my rice cooker and cooked as a brown rice), which I served with soy sauce.


All of us enjoyed dinner. My wife and I added hot sauce to the main course, a natural addition with the plantain and beans. It was hearty and tasty - and the kitchen smelled great.

Ideas for the future

The beans were done but could have been a little softer. I might try cooking the beans for 20 minutes in the first cycle next time.

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Rutabaga and Pineapple with Seitan, served with Whole Wheat Orzo (No Added Fat)

I picked up a pineapple on sale from Weaver Street Market a few days ago and thought that we'd enjoy some fresh, maybe put some with tangerines perhaps in my blender for a beverage, and make a sweet and sour pressure cooked meal. I also picked up a rutabaga, a root vegetable that I rarely use; I think that I last used it February 2012 when I made what turned out to be a tasty rutabaga - pistachio/pecan soup.

My Dad was visiting with friends today, so I was free to use garlic. Noting that rutabaga chunks take 4-6 minutes of cooking time in the Instant Pot, here is what I did.

  • 3 rutabagas, unpeeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Medium shallot cut into thin strips approx. 1/8" x 5/8"
  • Garlic clove finely diced
  • About 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into 1/2" cubes (it ended up being about 1/3 of a pineapple, core excepted)
  • 1T miso (I used chickpea miso, but any kind is fine)
  •  8 ounces seitan cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1t dried tarragon
  • Little bit of freshly ground salt and pepper to taste


  1. I put the rutabaga, water, and bouillon cube into my Instant Pot pressure cooker  and cooked on high pressure for 4 minutes.
  2. After the pressure cooking and when I was ready, I slowly released the pressure and removed the top.
  3. I added the shallot, garlic, pineapple, and miso, and cooked for another 2 minutes.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out the pressure, mixed in the seitan, tarragon, salt, and pepper, and served.
I also made a whole wheat orzo - it cooks in 9 minutes. I cooked with a flavorful vegan bouillon cube; though I had some marinara in mind, it had a good flavor without the sauce, so I served it with just some nutritional yeast mixed in and some chopped tomato on top.


Dinner came out great, better than I had expected. I don't normally particularly like rutabagas, but my wife and I loved their flavor and soft and inviting texture. The pineapple went great, particularly with the seitan, and the combination just worked well, flavors marrying each other nicely.

Ideas for the future

Another clove of garlic would have been good. The pasta was a little bland, especially for my daughter, and would have been better with a sauce and perhaps some vegetables. I still have plenty of pineapple; if I don't use it up eating out-of-hand or pureeing for drinks, I may make another pressure cooked dish, perhaps with beans.

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Tempeh-Broccolini-Kale with Avocado Salad and Thin Crispy Crackers (No Added Fat)

Thanksgiving was great last week. We had 122 people at our pre-Thanksgiving on Monday and 622 at Thanksgiving. All three evening news programs covered our Thanksgiving event. This was probably the smoothest Thanksgiving we've had with minimal lines. People loved the food!

Often, we get away for a long weekend right after Thanksgiving, and we did just that this time, enjoying a relaxing visit to Wilmington, NC, about 2 1/2 hours away. We always like visiting Tidal Creek Coop there and stopping at Eden's Vegetarian Restaurant enroute (on the way back this time). Today, I cooked with parsnip in the pressure cooker for the first time, and made a tempeh-broccolini-kale vegetable dish.

  • 3 ounces tempeh cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 broccolini, top 1" and then 2nd 1" cut across, rest of stems composted
  • 1/3 head kale, stems composted and leaves roughly hand cut into 3/4" squares
  • 1 parsnip and 1 carrot, each cut into 3/8" slices with wider slices halved
  • 1 large shallot cut into approximately 1/4"x5/8" slices
  • 1t ginger finely diced
  • 1T chickpea (or other kind) miso
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. I put all of the ingredients into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked at high pressure for 3 minutes.
  2. After the pressure cooking and when I was ready, I slowly released the pressure and removed the top, and served.
I also made a simple avocado - tomato - shallot salad; I wanted to mix in some lemon juice to delay browning of the avocado, but we were out of lemon and lime, so I used a bit of apple cider. I brought back from the coop in Wilmington a new Crunchmaster cracker that has plenty of taste but only 3g of fat per 12 crackers (I served three crackers apiece, so feel comfortable labeling this dish as no added fat), and included this as well.


We all enjoyed dinner. The main course had a good substantial feel and taste. The parsnips were good pressure cooked.

Ideas for the future

I couldn't add it because I was cooking for my Dad, who doesn't eat garlic, but some garlic would go well with the avocado as well as with the main course.

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