Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mixed Bean-Lentil Soup with Spinach, Tomato, and Homegrown Fingerling Potato, served with Broccoli Sprouts and English Muffin Half with Herb-Garlic French-style Vegan Cheese (Almost No Added Fat)

Early today, my daughter asked for bean soup, pulling out a bag that I had of a dry bean mix (I think it had maybe a dozen types of beans and lentils). She loves soup, and I was happy to make it for her. My wife experimented with planting fingerling potatoes and harvested her first 3 or 4, which I also included in the soup.

A friend brought some herb-garlic Treeline brand cashew-based soft French-style "cheese" back from Washington, DC recently. It's tasty and the fat content is not excessive; 11g of fat per ounce, and the container contains 6 ounces. I used a smear, which couldn't have been more than 1/4 ounce (or less than 3g of fat), on an English muffin half for a side.

  • 1 1/2 cups mixed beans, rinsed and soaked overnight, then rinsed one more time (the bean mix that I used were all small beans and included lentils, so a 4-hour soak time and 30-minute cook time was more than enough)
  • Medium tomato cut into 1/2" cubes (maybe 3/4 cup)
  • 3-5 fingerling (or other type) potatoes cut into 3/8" pieces
  • 8 ounces frozen (what I used) or fresh chopped spinach
  • 1t ginger, finely (1/8") chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into approx. 3/8" x 1 1/4" half moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") chopped (I was running late when I started the cooking so skipped this, but added garlic powder to taste at the end)
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • Enough water to bring contents to about 5 1/3 cups total (I'm guessing maybe 2 1/2 or so cups)
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1/4 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • (optional) 2T nutritional yeast
  1. I put all the ingredients except the lemon juice, oregano, salt, and nutritional yeast into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and simply pressed the "Soup" button to pressure cook for 30m.
  2. When I was ready to serve, which happened to be several hours later (the machine keeps food warm for some hours), I was able to simply open the pot (otherwise, I'd want to slowly release pressure and open carefully)
  3. I mixed in the lemon juice, oregano, salt, and nutritional yeast, and served, along with the English muffin and broccoli sprouts

Everybody liked dinner!

Ideas for the future

I should make soups more often. This could have benefited from fresh garlic with the other ingredients instead of (or in addition to, perhaps) the garlic powder. A little bit of wine cooked with the soup would add a nice nuanced flavor. Other vegetables, like celery, carrot, and cabbage would go well cooked with this soup.

I should try a pasta e fagioli bean and pasta soup sometime. It sounds like it would be easy to just add uncooked pasta with the beans and other ingredients and cook together. I'll bet a rice and bean soup would be good, too!

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sauteed Tofu with Broccoli and Artichoke Hearts, Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Mixed Vegetables

My wife ate on her own at an event today so I thought I'd delight my daughter and make some Daiya brand vegan macaroni and "cheese" with mixed vegetables. I also, on a cast iron pan with no oil, sauteed some tofu with broccoli, artichoke hearts, and onion; that was my main course and my daughter's side dish. Some kale (and, for me, radishes) completed the meal. It was good, filling, and tasty!

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Peachy Broccolini with Tempeh (No Added Fat)

I picked up some organic peaches today; they're in a brown bag ripening. I had the idea of cooking with a peach, and thought it might go along well with some broccolini that I also picked up.

  • Medium peach, just yielding to pressure but not yet fully ripe, cut into 3/8" cubes (a cup)
  • Medium broccolini (or small broccoli) stalk, stalk cut into 1/2" lengths (about a cup) and remaining florets cut down in length by half (about three cups)
  • Clove of garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • (optional) 1/2 t jerk seasoning
  • 4 ounces tempeh cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 cup onion cut into approx. 1 1/2" x 1/4" half moons
  1. I put all the ingredients except the salt, jerk seasoning, tempeh, and onion into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for "zero" minutes - i.e., the machine came up to pressure then turned off.
  2. In the meantime, I sauteed in a cast iron pan with no added oil the tempeh and onion. I also made quinoa (1 part quinoa to 2 parts water and a vegan bouillon cube simmered for 2 minutes then left off heat, covered, for about 10 minutes).
  3. When the Instant Pot was done, I waited a few minutes, carefully opened it, and mixed in the salt.
  4. My daughter doesn't like tempeh, so I served her the broccolini with cubes of tofu, but, for my wife and me, mixed in the tempeh and onion, along with jerk seasoning.

Dinner was good; my wife particularly liked it. The peach flavor was subtle but the peach added nice moisture and a hint of fruitiness.

Ideas for the future

I should experiment with pressure cooking fruits like peach or mango. The combination with spicy flavors seems to work well, and the fruit moderates the heat of spices.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Green Lentil Pasta with Blistered and Salted Shishito (Padrón) Peppers and Artichoke Hearts, Bagel with Mustard (No Added Fat)

Recently, I found an interesting green lentil pasta in the store; it only has green lentil and quinoa flours as its two ingredients. At the local farmers' market today, I picked up very tasty sungold tomatoes (my daughter usually heads straight for these and we ate one of the two pints before we got home) and a new favorite of mine since I discovered them last year, shishito peppers (also known as padrón peppers).

I love simply putting these small peppers in a cast iron pan with no oil and, on medium heat, occasionally turning till dark and blistered. Letting them cool off a bit, I dip each pepper in salt (ideally, large grained salt) and enjoy. It's an adult pastime as the occasional pepper is fiery. But most of the time, it's a great taste with no heat.

I decided to make a simple lentil pasta with artichoke hearts (that I cooked in a Saladmater stock pot with no oil, along with shiitake mushroom for a few minutes, adding sungold tomato for just a minute or so) and olives. I blistered and salted the shishito peppers and topped the pasta and vegetables with the peppers.

We had picked up bagels today, and I served each of us a half toasted bagel with mustard. Cucumber slices completed the meal.


Dinner was good. I should have made some sort of a sauce with the pasta; I had some marinara on hand, and was thinking of using it but didn't. The pasta itself didn't have an impressive texture or flavor, but I liked the ingredients and nutrition profile. I love blistered and salted shishitos, especially when I avoid hot ones!

Ideas for the future

I'll have to try additional experiments with these peppers. I like them just warm with salt, but found a number of interesting ideas online, such as one that includes garlic and green onion. I should try making more pasta dishes with mainly cooked vegetables and some interesting sauces, such as a low-fat béchamel or something like my July 2011 Alfredo.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cauliflower with Zucchini and Edamame (No Added Fat)

  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame
  • Medium zucchini cut into 3/4" cubes (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • Florets from a medium head of cauliflower (about 3 cups)
  • 2 minced (about 1/8" or smaller) cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • (optional) 1/4 t ground mustard
  • Small shallot, diced (app. 1/4" cubes)
  1. I put all of the ingredients except the shallot into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for "zero" minutes - i.e., I let it come up to pressure and then turn itself off.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then opened the pot and served, along with brown rice (cooked in a 1:2.5 ratio of rice to water, as well as a vegan bouillon cube, simmered for 45m, covered) and tomato slices.

Dinner was good. I enjoyed the creaminess of the cauliflower.

Ideas for the future

I should make more dishes with soft, creamy pressure cooked cauliflower.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pasta and Tofu for Kiddo and Daddy (No Added Fat)

My wife had eaten on her own, so I made a simple tofu and pasta dish for my daughter and me.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Cannellini Beans with Creamy Cauliflower (No Added Fat)

I wanted to cook with cannellini beans, which I've not used in some time. I also bought some fresh cauliflower and was thinking of using it; I figured that it could be cooked very briefly but had the idea that if I let it cook with the beans, the cauliflower would be very creamy. Here is what I did.

  • 2 cups dry cannellini beans, rinsed, soaked overnight, and then rinsed again
  • Enough water to just cover the beans
  • Florets from medium head of cauliflower (florets kept large and not subdivided; about 4 cups)
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 3 scallions cut into 1/4" pieces (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1T (or bit more) lemon juice (I squeezed a Meyer lemon)
  • 1t salt (more or less to taste; I used a combination of kala namak and Himalayan salt)
  • 1/4 t lemon pepper (or freshly ground black pepper)
  • (optional) 1/2 t tarragon
  1. It takes 20-25m to cook soaked cannellini beans; of course, the cauliflower would be done in just a minute or so. I kept the cauliflower pieces large as I was going to include them for the whole cook time and have very soft, perhaps creamy, cauliflower. I went with a 22m cook time by putting the beans, water, cauliflower, and bouillon cube into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooking for 22m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then added the scallion, lemon juice, and seasonings, and served.
I also made some long-grained brown rice (simmered for 45m in a 1 : 2 1/2 ratio of rice to water, as well as a bit of salt and a vegan bouillon cube).


We enjoyed the creamy cauliflower texture and subtle flavor with the beans. My one criticism is that of color - I wish that I had some red splash of color to add, such as bell pepper or red chili pepper. I added more salt than I should have, but the dish was still good.

Ideas for the future

I should try cooking cauliflower with other ingredients again to enjoy the creamy cauliflower consistency and flavor. I wonder if I cooked cauliflower separately maybe for 10m or so and then maybe blended it with water and nutritional yeast if I would get a good white sauce.

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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Chickpeas with Quinoa, Grilled Figs with Massaged Kale (No Added Fat)

I wondered what it would be like cooking chickpeas with quinoa. We are getting a lot of figs from our tree; perhaps I'll make a main course fig dish this week, but did make a side dish tonight.

  • 1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas rinsed, soaked overnight (or, as in my case, soaked with initially boiling water for 3 hours or so), and rinsed again
  • 1/2 cup (uncooked) quinoa (I used one that was a mix
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped to approx. 1/8"-1/4" pieces
  • 1T ginger, finely (1/8") chopped
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • (optional) 1/4 t black sesame seeds
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/8 t lemon pepper (or fresh ground black pepper)
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • Enough water (one and a half cups by my measure) to just cover the chickpeas
  • 1/2 cups onion cut into 1/4" or so cubes ( maybe 1/6 of a medium onion)
  • 1T lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/2 t salt (or to taste)
  1. I put the chickpeas, quinoa, garlic, ginger, spices, bouillon cube, and water into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 25m (soaked chickpeas cook in 20-25m).
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then added the lemon juice, salt, and onion.
I also grilled some fig halves that my wife and daughter a half hour earlier had picked from our big fig tree. I served the figs atop some massaged kale and lemon juice, and topped with a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of salt; my wife and I also got a tiny bit of jerk seasoning.


Dinner was very good! We all liked the chickpeas. I had forgotten to adjust the water for the addition of the quinoa, but it turned out to be just right with all the liquid absorbed, though a little more liquid could have been nice. I'm so happy that I can cook quinoa with chickpeas. The grilled figs were tasty, and my wife and I appreciated the bit of hot seasoning.

Ideas for the future

I should experiment with quinoa cooked with other legumes and beans, and should figure out a good formula for how much water is needed. I have some purchased no added fat fig vinaigrette, and perhaps should make a grilled or poached fig dish, and add some of the vinaigrette.

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Saturday, August 06, 2016

Artichoke Heart, Greens, and Tempeh (waterlessly prepared) over Corn and Quinoa Pagoda Pasta (No Added Fat) [see ingredient note about fat]

I had on hand some interesting looking corn and quinoa pasta in the shape of small pagodas and decided to try a artichoke heart and tempeh pasta dish. Here is what I did.

  • 1 cup onion (about 1/3 of a medium onion) cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 cup frozen chopped greens (I used collards); fresh is fine, as well
  • 1 cup artichoke heart halves (I used frozen, but fresh would be fine)
  • 6 ounces tempeh cut into 1/2" cubes (I used 6 of the 8 ounces in a package of smoked salt and pepper peanut hemp tempeh and didn't realize till just now that this product doesn't have a trivial amount of fat - it has a whopping 40g per half package; my wife and are sharing the tempeh, so each of our servings is 30g of fat! That's a big surprise and is probably due to the peanuts; we'll have to return to more conventional tempehs which have from none to a few grams of fat. I'll still label this dinner as no added fat because most tempeh choices would indeed be no added fat.)
  • 1 cup small grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1t chopped basil (I used frozen)
  • 2T capers
  • 1/4 t lemon pepper (or black pepper)
  • 1/8 t garlic powder
  1. I put the onion then greens then artichoke hearts into a large Saladmaster stock pan that I had heated on medium first for a few minutes. The onion immediately started sizzling.
  2. I covered the pan and waited a few minutes till the vapor release started rattling, then reduced the heat till the rattling stopped and cooked for 15m.
  3. In the meantime, I  sauteed the tempeh on a cast iron pan with no oil till nicely browned on medium heat (about 6 or 7 minutes). I also got the pasta cooking in boiling water.
  4. I turned off the stock pot, quickly opened the top to add the tomato and basil, and covered it again, letting it sit for 5 minutes.
  5. I mixed in the capers and lemon pepper to the vegetables.
  6. After the pasta was done, I drained it and served on the plates.
  7. I added the vegetables atop the pasta.
  8. I put the tempeh (substituting tofu for tempeh for my daughter, who doesn't like tempeh) on top, followed by a sprinkling of garlic powder.

Dinner was surprisingly good! The pasta didn't need sauce with the tomato and rich ingredients.

Ideas for the future

Though this didn't need sauce, it would be fun to make some sort of cashew cheese sauce or a no-fat vinaigrette and try it with the pasta.

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