Sunday, April 30, 2017

Baked Potato with Vegan "Cheese" Sauce, Seitan with Vegetables, Barbecued Jackfruit (Almost No Added Fat)

My wife and I were in Charlotte, NC for the day yesterday. We had lunch at Bean Vegan Cuisine and a very nice dinner at Fern Flavors from the Garden. My wife had a sandwich with barbecued jackfruit, and I used some leftovers with dinner.

I was in the mood for baked potato so cooked medium potatoes, intact, for 20m with the pressure steam function of my Instant Pot pressure cooker. I made the "cheese" sauce that I most recently described on March 19, and a simple seitan and vegetable saute, plus the jackfruit with lettuce.


Dinner was good. I have had barbecued jackfruit and not liked it - and still don't. But the rest of dinner was good!

Ideas for the future

I should make the cheese sauce more often.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Barley, Pea, and Lentil Soup with Green Tomato, Frisee Salad, Grilled Artichoke Hearts (No Added Fat)

I had a pre-packaged combination of barley, peas, and lentils that I bought from Whole Foods Market. The packaged suggested cooking (conventionally, not with pressure; pressure would work but would take much less time, perhaps 1/4 - 1/3 as much) with three times as much water for 23m if one wants soft grains or 10m for tougher grains.

I cooked in the prescribed ratio of 1 part to 3 parts water, plus a vegan bouillon cube, a bit of salt, and 1 1/3 cups green tomato (a medium tomato) cut into 3/8" cubes. I forgot how long I cooked for, but believe it was 20-23 minutes. I mixed in a little lemon or lime juice at the end.

I had purchased the green tomato from our local farmers' market, and also purchased some frisee, which I used along with tomato as a salad. Grilled artichoke hearts completed the meal.

The soup was good! I like the textures and the light flavor that the tomato contributed.

Ideas for the future

I should make more soups with green tomatoes - but it's not always easy to find unripe tomatoes in the market. Some turmeric and cumin would also be nice. My family didn't like the bitter frisee; I love the look and enjoy the taste in small quantities.

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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.

Dinner was good! The sea-beans can be salty, but turned out well in this dish.

Ideas for the future

I rarely see sea-beans in our grocery stores. I should continue to buy them and experiment with them when I do see them.

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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

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 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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