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.

Labels: , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Grilled Artichoke Hearts with Baby Lima Beans, Plantains, and Quinoa (No Added Fat)

I made a simple waterless main course with two tablespoons of onion cut into 3/8" cubes, 1 clove garlic finely (1/8") chopped, 1 cup frozen baby lima beans, and 6 ounces of grilled "artihearts" put, in that order, into a 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. I mixed in 1/4 t kala namak ("black salt", but other salt could be used), 1/4 t dried tarragon, and 1/8 t garlic powder, then served with plantains cooked on a cast iron pan with no oil, as well as quinoa.


Dinner was good! The artichoke-lima bean combination was better than I expected. I sometimes add turmeric to quinoa and did so today, but I used more turmeric than usual - not enough to make it bitter, but enough to add a nice, stronger flavor to the quinoa.

Ideas for the future

I should explore more artichoke flavor combinations. I bet artichokes with potato and leeks, for example, would be good!

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Grilled Artichoke Hearts with Brussels Sprouts, Baked Beans (No Added Fat)

I have some extra grilled "artihearts" (grilled artichoke hearts) leftover from our glorious Thanksgiving dinner so will be coming up with several meals featuring them. Here is what I did today.

  • 2/3 cup onion cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2/3 cup frozen mushroom slices
  • 2/3 cup frozen Brussels sprouts
  • 1 6 ounce packet grilled "artihearts" (grilled artichoke hearts; alternately, regular artichoke hearts) cut into approx. 1/2" cubes (a little over a cup)
  • 2/3 cup frozen bell pepper slices (maybe 1 1/4" x 1/4")
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 t garlic powder
  • 1/8 t tarragon
  • 1/8 t fennel seeds
  1. I put, in this order, the onion, mushroom, Brussels sprouts, artichoke, and bell pepper 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. In the meantime, I had my wife start some Madagascar Pink rice.
  3. I mixed in the spices and served the artichoke heart dish with the rice.
My daughter has taken a particular liking to baked beans, so I heated up a can of baked beans and served them along with dinner.


Everybody enjoyed the meal. I think that the main course could have had a little more flavor, but was reasonably tasty.

Ideas for the future

It would be easy to add flavor to the main course. Some roasted garlic would have been good

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sauteed Tofu and Vegetables, Lentil Grain Bread with Tomato and Guacamole (No Added Fat)

I was out and about and got home late; my family had eaten, so I made a simple dinner for myself. I sauteed on a cast iron stove with no added oil tofu, asparagus, onion, garlic, and mushroom. I also roasted a jalapeno pepper and mixed some of it in.

I like a veganic company, One Degree Organic Foods, and enjoy their cereals. I found their bread in the frozen section; they had an interesting lentil grain bread, which I bought, toasted, and served with tomato and a bit of guacamole.


Ideas for the future


Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sprouted California Rice (brown-red-black rice mixture) with Peas and Mushrooms, Massaged Kale Salad, Plantain (No Added Fat)

I was thinking of cooking rice with riced cauliflower, but then thought I'd instead use peas, which my daughter loves. I had on hand some Trader Joe's brand "sprouted California rice" and used it. Here is what I did.

  • 2T onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 cup brown, red, and black rice mixture
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushroom
  • Ingredient 2
  • 8 ounces of seitan
  • 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. The rice that I used calls for simmering for 25m in a 1 1/4 : 2 ratio to water, but I favor extra water to be sure that rice is moist, so went with 1:2. I first sauteed for a few minutes on medium heat the onion, stirring occasionally, then added the rice, water, salt, and turmeric.
  2. I brought the rice to a boil then reduced heat and simmered on low, covered, for 25m.
  3. I let the rice sit, off heat, for about 5 minutes, then mixed in the frozen peas and mushrooms. Luckily, there was a little bit of water left; I turned the heat on just for 2 or so minutes with the pot covered, then turned the heat off and let the pan sit for another few minutes (just to be sure that the peas and mushroom were cooked).
I served the rice along with a massaged kale salad and plantain slices, which I had cooked, without oil, on a cast iron pan.


Wow, dinner surpassed my expectations. Though it was fairly simple, all of us quite enjoyed the meal. The rice dish was "just right" - I can't think of much to do to improve it, but will see if I can come up with some ideas below. The rice came out better than I thought it would.

Ideas for the future

I like the ratios of ingredients I used in the rice. Perhaps a little saffron might have been interesting? For some reason, I've lately been thinking of saffron and should buy some saffron threads, though they are expensive. I've not used them in cooking for many years.

I could make similar dishes with other kinds of rice, but I think that one thing that made tonight's meal so interesting was the combination of rices in the main dish. Some curried cauliflower mixed in might be nice.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Polenta with Mushrooms and Smoky Tempeh, Freekeh (No Added Fat)

I thought that I'd make a dinner of polenta with mushrooms, and had some freekeh (roasted green wheat) on hand that I thought I'd use as a side dish. Here is what I did.

I used maybe 2/3 of a 17.3 ounce tube of prepared polenta, cut into 1/4" cubes. I cooked, along with onion and mushroom over medium heat in a cast iron pan, for maybe 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the polenta was showing a little brown.

On another cast iron pan, I had heated some strips of smoky tempeh that I had purchased. I mixed the tempeh and the contents of the other pan in a serving bowl, along with some capers, and kept it warm till the rest of the meal was ready.

Freekeh, roasted green wheat, cooks in a  1:2 1/2 ratio to water simmered for 20-25m. I sauteed some onion with no added oil, then put in maybe 1/2 cup freekeh, 2 1/2 times water (i.e., about 1 1/4 cups), a touch of salt, and a vegan bouillon cube, brought to a boil, and then simmered on low, covered, for 20 minutes. I let it sit a few more minutes off-heat, then mixed and served.

Dinner was good. I should cook with both polenta and freekeh more often. I should make polenta from scratch more often, as well.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Blended Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potato (No Added Fat)

We are having colder than usual weather, so I thought I'd make a soup. Split pea soup always turns out well, and I had the idea of making a dhal with chunks of sweet potato. Then, on further reflection, I thought I'd blend sweet potato into the dhal. Here is what I did.

  • About 2 cups of cooked sweet potato
  • 1 cup yellow (or green) split peas (1:3 8-10m)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups potato cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (I used a small Russet potato)
  • 2 cups carrots cut into approx. 3/8" thick slices (2 medium carrots)
  • 2 leaves kale, stems excepted, roughly hand torn into approximately 1" squares
  • 1t finely (1/8") diced ginger
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 t garlic granules (or powder)
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes (I used half red onion and half sweet onion)
  • Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon (or lemon or lime); if organic, as mine was, then use the peel as well
  • Additional cup of water
  1. I first prepared the sweet potato. I had 3 or 4 small (maybe 3/4" thick by maybe 5" long) locally grown sweet potatoes that would cook quickly; I pressure steamed for 10 minutes (the sweet potato was quite soft and could have cooked in 7-8 minutes I bet), along with one medium purple sweet potato that I had first cut into chunks maybe 1 1/2 " long.
  2. Split peas cook in a 1:3 ratio to water for 8-10 minutes. I usually like this to be thick, but with my experiment with the soup, I thought I'd go with just 8 minutes of pressure. I put the split peas, water, potato, carrot, kale, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and garlic powder into my Instant Pot and cooked for 8 minutes.
  3. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the onion, lemon juice, and salt.
  4. I reserved about 1/4 of the soup and put the rest in a blender, along with the lemon peel, and blended for maybe 15-20 seconds till homogenized. (I also blended in the extra cup of water as the soup thickened.)
  5. I combined the blended soup with the reserved portion, then served, along with salad, and tomato-topped crusty bread.

All three of us enjoyed dinner. Surprisingly, my daughter didn't complain about the ginger; in fact, after dinner, I made mango-ginger-pineapple ice cream (just blended in my VitaMix blender with a vegan almond cream) topped with cardamom, and we all enjoyed it, too!

Ideas for the future

The soup was thicker than I had thought it might be, but that's okay - it has a "stick to the ribs" warmth, good for cooling temperatures. I wasn't so happy with the color and wonder if I could make it more vibrant with perhaps a dollop of my homemade soy yogurt and, for adults, a slice of red jalapeno, perhaps. I might also experiment with similar soups, but with more chunkiness. I hope to make more blended soups!

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Waterless Beans with Mixed Greens (No Added Fat)

My daughter had eaten a bit while we were out today and then leftovers, so I just cooked for my wife and me. I made a simple waterless dish of beans, onions, roasted jalapeno, ginger, and mixed greens. When it was done after cooking for about 15m, I added a little turmeric and salt. It was good!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Seitan and Kale, Whole Wheat Couscous with Brussels Sprouts, Fermented Vegetables with Bell Pepper (No Added Fat)

Happy Halloween! I had a little pumpkin puree on hand and was very happy with my recent (October 18th) experiment cooking with seitan and pumpkin puree. I came up with the idea of cooking seitan with vegetables and pumpkin, then mixing in fresh, raw tomatoes when I served. I made the mistake of mixing the tomatoes in with the couscous which I had thought to make as a side dish - and, in hindsight, I think my "mistake" was fortuitous as it nicely elevated the taste and presentation of the couscous. Here's what I did.

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 3/4 cup water (I accidentally used 1 cup)
  • 1 cup frozen Brussel sprouts
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 2/3 cup tomato cut into 1/2" cubes (much of a small-medium tomato)
  • 2T minced basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup onion cut into thin half moons app. 1/4" x 1 1/2"
  • 8 ounces of seitan (I used strips, but any convenient size can be used)
  • 1 1/3 cups carrot cut into 3/8" widths (I used two medium carrots)
  • 1 2/3 compressed cups kale in approximately 1" hand torn pieces (stems excepted)
  • 4 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 t salt
  1. Whole wheat couscous cooks in a 1 : 1.5 ratio to water, but I accidentally used 1:2. I put the couscous, water, salt, and bouillon cube in a small pan and brought to a boil.
  2. I added the Brussels sprouts, let the temperature come back to a boil, then simmered on low heat, covered, for 10m.
  3. In parallel, I made the main course by cooking waterlessly. I put, in this order, the onion, seitan, carrot, kale, and pumpkin into a large 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 20 minutes.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I mixed in salt in equal parts (i.e., 1/4 t each) to each dish; to the couscous dish, I also added the tomato and basil.

Dinner was good. I liked the main course, though I think that I preferred how I prepared the seitan and pumpkin better almost two weeks ago. The couscous was very good!

Ideas for the future

I should in fact try a simple seitan and pumpkin dish with fresh herbs and raw tomato added when served. I'll bet such a dish would be good. I'm glad that recently I've been making whole wheat couscous dishes, and need to keep experimenting. Fresh dill or oregano would be a nice addition, and cubed squash would be great with the couscous.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cauliflower Crust Pizza, Citrus Chickpea Salad, Leftover Mexican Kale Salad (No Added Fat)

I was trying to decide what to make for dinner tonight when my daughter suggested using a Trader Joe's brand cauliflower pizza crust. We rarely go to Trader Joe's, but did visit last week and I found and bought this crust. I thought that it would be like a soft cauliflower "shell" but it turned out to be a thin disc.

In Food for Life classes, I love teaching a citrus fennel salad and today came up with the idea of making a chickpea salad with citrus. I combined chickpeas with tangerine pieces, salt, miso, fresh basil, roasted bell pepper, and freshly ground black pepper. I also served leftover Mexican kale salad from my Food for Life class this past Sunday.

The crust was a bit crumbly and broke into a few pieces when I turned it over in the oven. Though my family enjoyed it (and I did to some extent), I thought that the crust was not nearly as good as regular wheat crusts or even other gluten-free crusts I've had.

Ideas for the future

The chickpea salad was good; I should build on the idea and include additional ingredients like citrus zest and cumin.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Red Split Lentil Dhal with Pumpkin, Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous (No Added Fat)

I wanted to continue experimenting with pumpkin puree to add a holiday taste to main courses, like I did with my seitan dish last Wednesday. I thought that I'd try a dhal.

  • 1 cup red split lentils
  • 4 T pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup eggplant cut into small 1/4" cubes (I used 6 small graffiti eggplants)
  • 1 clove elephant garlic cut into small cubes app. 1/8"-1/4" (or regular garlic cut into 1/8" or smaller dice)
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 2 1/4 cups water (red split lentils cook in a ratio of one to between two and two and a half of lentils:water pressure cooked for 13-18m; I picked 16m)
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into approx. 3/8" cubes
  • 2T lemon or lime juice (we were out, alas, but tangerines have just started becoming available - yay! - so I used fresh squeezed tangerine juice, instead
  • (optional) 1T vegan yogurt per serving 

  1. I put the lentils, pumpkin, eggplant, garlic, turmeric, and water into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 16m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the tangerine juice and salt. I served with my homemade soy yogurt.
I also made some whole wheat pearl couscous (one part to one and a half parts water, a vegan bouillon cube, salt, and carrot, simmered for 10m then allowed to sit off the heat for 2 more minutes). Oh, and


My family enjoyed the meal. I did, too, but wish I had added onion to the couscous for more flavor. The dhal was fine and nice and thick, but I think could have also had more flavor.

Ideas for the future

Pumpkin didn't really enhance dhal, though I can try other approaches, such as a pumpkin soup with a little lentil dhal mixed in.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Food for Life Kickstart your Health Orzo and Kale Salads, Corn with Squash and Pepper (No Added Fat)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Sweet Potato with Leek, Kale, and Edamame (No Added Fat)

My friend Fran Costigan is in town for a cooking demonstration tomorrow and I was lucky to meet her today for lunch. I wish that I could attend her demonstration tomorrow but hope that we can have her back for an event in the future.

For dinner tonight, I decided to make a waterless dish. Here is what I did.

  • 1/8 cup leek, carefully cleaned, and then cut into 1/2" squares (alternate: 1/8 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes)
  • Medium sweet potato cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 3/4 cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup (compressed) kale, roughly hand torn into approx. 1" squares (stems composted)
  • 2t lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t salt
  1. I put, in this order, the leek, sweet potato, edamame, and kale 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. When I was ready to serve, I mixed in the lime juice, turmeric, and salt.
I also made a guacamole and tomato salad with oregano, salt, pepper, Ume plum vinegar, and lime juice.



Ideas for the future


Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seitan with Roasted Bell Pepper and Pumpkin Puree (No Added Fat)

I was thinking of, with respect to the upcoming Halloween season, making a pumpkin dish. I didn't have much time to put dinner together and had hoped to find cubed pumpkin, but I didn't. Instead, I bought organic pumpkin puree. Here is what I did.

  • 1 clove elephant garlic chopped to about 1/8"-1/4" pieces (or a clove of regular garlic finely diced to about 1/8")
  • 8 ounces of seitan (strips or cubes, as preferred)
  • 1/2 medium green tomato cut into 3/8" cubes (maybe 3/4 cup)
  • App. 1/2 cup roasted bell pepper cut into approx. 1" x 3/8" strips (maybe 2/3 of a medium pepper)
  • 8 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  1. I put, in this order, the garlic,  seitan, tomato, bell pepper, and pumpkin 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.
  2. I then mixed in the spices and served, along with brown Basmati rice and a tomato-olive salad with Ume plum vinegar, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Dinner was great! We all loved it. In hindsight, the puree worked out better than the cubes. I used the right amount to include the pumpkin flavor without overwhelming the dish. It formed a very nice curry sauce. As usual, the meal was one with no added fat, but it tasted sumptuous.

Ideas for the future

I should explore more dishes with pumpkin puree and not wait for the Halloween season. I bet that a little bit of pumpkin puree could be beneficial in many dishes. Pumpkin puree and potato chunks? Kohlrabi even? I bet there's a lot of great dishes waiting to be explored with pumpkin puree.

Labels: , , ,