Friday, December 15, 2017

Homemade Cannellini Bean - Artichoke Burger (No Added Fat)

I had my wife make a batch of cannellini beans while I was out; they weren't soaked, so she pressure cooked a cup of them for "0 minutes" (i.e., just brought to pressure then rinsed before cooking again) and then added 1/4 cup or so of grilled "ArtiHeart" artichokes and 3 cloves of roughly chopped garlic, and pressure cooked for 20 minutes. I blended the result along with a little onion, garlic powder, salt, and nutritional yeast, then grilled on a cast iron pan with no added oil, making a patty with my hands and then covering with a light coating of whole wheat pastry flour. I also served some mixed vegetables and organic Mandarin with an olive.

My daughter especially loved the burger! I am happy that it did come out well. I should make more burgers from scratch.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Waterless Curried Cauliflower, Brown Lentils (No Added Fat); Oatmeal Raisin - Meyer Lemon Cookies

The weather became cold tonight and I felt like a warm soup. I thought I'd make a main course of a curried cauliflower dish along with a dhal. Frankly, I prefer a chunkier not even quite stew to dhal often, but though I've tried cooking dishes like lentils at the low end of the water and high end of the time required, I generally get a product more liquidy than I expect (I do like dhal and soup, but often try for something thicker, which I also like!). Tonight, I ended up with a nice consistency of my lentil dish which was actually just a tad bit dryer than it could have been. Here is what I did.

  • 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 times as much water (i.e., 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 cup carrot cut into 3/8" slices (I used 3 small carrots; if they weren't thin, I'd have halved them, as well)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") minced
  • About 2T organic Meyer lemon, including all (flesh and rind), cut into 3/8" cubes (if no organic Meyer lemon or no Meyer lemon at all is available, then skip and mix in 1T fresh lemon or lime juice at the end)
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/3 t fennel seed
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into approx. 1/4"x1" half moons
  • Florets from head of cauliflower (about 6 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Another 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2 t salt
  1. I put the lentils, water, carrot, garlic, Meyer lemon, turmeric, cumin, and fennel into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 20m (lentils cook in a 1 part to 1.5-2 parts ratio of lentils to water for 15-20m).
  2. While the lentils were cooking, I put, in this order, the onion, cauliflower, and peas into a large Saladmaster stock pan (I had a half dozen pieces of bell pepper cut up and went ahead and threw them in, as well). 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. I mixed in 1/4 t salt and the additional 1/4 t turmeric, and served.
  4. When the lentils were ready to be removed from the de-pressurized cooker, I mixed in 1/4 t salt and served.

Dinner was good! The lentil dish was a bit more solid than I had wished for, but was good. The cauliflower was tasty. Everybody enjoyed the meal.

Ideas for the future

I should try this again with a ratio of 1 : 1 3/4 lentils to water. Mango powder would go well with the lentils.


I don't cook desserts often, though I like to blend frozen fruit with a little almond creamer to make an almost no fat "ice cream". We have a cookie exchange on Friday, and my daughter wanted to make oatmeal raisin cookies. I had the idea that I could mix in some delicious organic Meyer lemon juice.

There are many good recipes readily available. I came up with the following, similar to many that I had found, such as one from, and made a batch of 10 cookies as a trial tonight. We all loved the cookies! They're not without fat, but each cookie was about 4 or 4 1/2 g of fat, which isn't bad for a treat (a Tablespoon of Earth Balance margarine is 11g of fat; I used less than 4T for 10 cookies).


  • 1/4 cup (4 T) Earth Balance margarine (or other vegan butter or margarine) at room temperature
  • 3/8 cup brown sugar (or turbinado sugar or some combination of the two)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 T ground flax
  • 1 1/2 T water
  • Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
  • Skin of 1/3 Meyer lemon cut into 1/4" pieces


  • I preheated my oven to 350°F.
  • I had my daughter mix with a utensil the sugar into the Earth Balance.
  • Once homogeneous, I started adding a little bit of the flour at a time till it was all mixed in, then continued with the baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
  • Next, we mixed in the oats, raisins, flax, water, and lemon/lemon pieces.
  • We divided the dough into approximately tablespoonfuls an inch or so apart on a cookie sheet, and pressed down to flatten the tops a bit.
  • With the preheated oven ready, I put the cookie sheet in to bake for 8-9 or maybe 10 minutes till the edges were just turning golden.
  • I removed the cookies from the oven and let them sit a few minutes till firm enough that I could remove them to a cookie wire rack to cool.
The cookies were very good! We tried some cookies with a few chocolate chips put on top of the finished cookies while still warm. They were very good, too, but didn't add a significant flavor, though my wife was partial to them.

When I make these on Thursday night in a larger quantity for the Friday event, I'll increase the raisin content a bit. The sweetness was just right. I could have included a little more vanilla if I wished. Yum!

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Potato and Black Bean Pie (No Added Fat)

My wife recently picked up a lot of potatoes. I thought I'd try a potato pie. I had one frozen whole wheat pie shell left. I recently made pizza with it and, since this shell is really meant for lighter desserts, the pie fell apart a bit when I served. My fear for that with my vegetable pie proved true, and I should try more hearty crusts or maybe a double crust for main courses. Anyway, this is what I did.

  • 4 cups Yukon Gold or yellow potatoes cut into 3/8" slices (I used 3 medium yellow potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup shallot cut into 1/4" slices (I used a big shallot that yielded the 1/4 cup with slices about 1 1/4" x 1/4")
  • 1 cup frozen sliced mushroom
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 15 ounce can black beans, well rinsed - about 2 cups
  • 9" pie shell (I used a whole wheat one)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 t salt
  • 1/3 t fresh ground black pepper
  1. I cooked the potatoes in boiling water for about 13 minutes (or until the potato was cooked at the edges but almost cooked in the center - a fork could be pressed in with a little bit of effort)
  2. I then added in the shallot and frozen vegetables and cooked for 4 more minutes
  3. I drained and put these cooked ingredients into a bowl, and mixed in the beans (if I had used fresh mushrooms and peas, I could have added them at this point instead of to the boiling water) and seasonings
  4. I filled the pie shell (and, in fact, had a bit extra filling) and cooked, uncovered, in a preheated 375°F oven for about 13-15 minutes till the crust was done.
I served with grilled "ArtiHeart" artichokes and an interesting salad, tomato and olive with a little Ume plum vinegar, salt, black pepper, and oregano, plus pieces of a small tangerine.


Wow! We all loved dinner. I was thinking that I might need a sauce for the pie, such as, perhaps, a tomato (or, for my wife and me, a spicy arrabiata) sauce. I did sprinkle a little vegan cheese on my daughter's serving, but really the pie was better than I expected, other than its not holding together.

Ideas for the future

I should make more pies with appropriate crusts. Maybe a covered pie? The seasonings turned out, we all felt, to be just right tonight, so I can't think of any improvements to the pie. I could make similar pies but incorporate other vegetables and maybe seitan instead of beans.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

"Rice Beans" (Phaseolus vulgaris) with Madagascar Pink Rice (No Added Fat)

A few days ago, I found in a gourmet market an interesting looking thin bean called a "rice bean", also known as frijol arroz. It is quite small, like large rice grains, and cooks stovetop in just 20-25 minutes with 2" of water above the beans. The website description, however, suggests 30 minutes:

Rice Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are related to the Kidney Bean. They have a mild flavor and firm texture. Grown in Idaho, these beans are 1/4" long and are pill-shaped, like a giant grain of rice. Their uniform ivory white color and unique shape make it hard to believe they're really beans. This quick cooking bean makes it ideal for dinners in a hurry, perfect for cold pasta and vegetable salads. Rice Beans are also great mixed with colored rices such as wild rice or Thai black sticky rice. There is no soaking required. Rinse beans well. Place in pot and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and serve. One cup dry yields 2 cups cooked.

How handy to have beans that cook so quickly! I was originally thinking of making a bean and rice dish but then thought I'd combine them and use the color contrasting Madagascar Pink rice. This rice cooks in 20m in a 1 part rice to 1 3/4 part water, but I usually go with a 1:2 ratio.

I had thought of making a vegan "cheese" sauce, as I have done in the past and described this past March, but I didn't have any cashews. I found an interesting potato and nutritional yeast based sauce recipe, but at that point I didn't have enough time to make it. I did sprinkle a few shreds of Daiya brand vegan "cheddar" on my daughter's portion. Here is what I did.

  • 1/3 cup "rice beans", well rinsed
  • 1/3 cup Madagascar Pink rice
  • Little less than 1/3 cup marinara sauce
  • Water: I tried having twice as much water in volume as rice, and three times as much as beans, so used 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/4 t garlic powder 25m
  • 1/4 cup (or bit less) onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  1. I mixed everything but the onion in a pan, brought to a boil, and simmered for 25 minutes.
  2. I waited a few minutes, then quickly opened the pan, fluffed the rice, and sampled the dish; the beans were a bit too firm, so I added another 1/4 cup water and simmered for another 7 minutes.
  3. I mixed in the onion and served.
I also made some waterless broccoli by putting a little onion and then frozen broccoli florets in a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked, covered, till the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat so the jiggling mostly stopped and simmered for 15 minutes or so. I added a little salt, black sesame seed, and 2 cloves finely chopped garlic, stirred, and returned to low heat, covered, for just 2-3 more minutes.


I thought that the bean didn't have much flavor and was perhaps a bit undercooked. My wife and daughter seemed to very much like the dish; I thought it was interesting and can be improved.

Ideas for the future

I should have known better than to try a new ingredient like this bean immediately in combination. I should making these tiny beans again by themselves and cooking for a longer time, or maybe just go with pressure cooking as usual and try 1/4 to 1/3 the time, or about 10-12 minutes, without soaking. I would love to figure out how to both nicely cook with these beans and to find them more commonly.

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