Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tofu and Vegetables in Seeded Pita, Basil Peas (Almost No Added Fat)

We have a Lebanese restaurant in the area, Neomonde, whose seeded pita pockets I like. I picked some up yesterday and decided to make a simple sauteed tofu and vegetable dish served in the pita. I sauteed with no added oil on a cast iron pan and, since tofu bothers my wife, made an equivalent dish for her with tempeh instead of tofu.

I also made some peas with basil. All I did was put 2 cups or so of frozen peas in a small Saladmaster stock pan along with 2t frozen chopped basil, and waterlessly cooked for about 10-15m.


Dinner was simple but good. My daughter had a girl her age visiting for the evening - she had never had tofu in her life, but enjoyed the meal. Peas and basil makes a good combination!

Ideas for the future

I don't generally serve or eat sandwiches for dinner, but a pocket sandwich somehow sounds appealing. I should serve these periodically and experiment with a variety of interesting fillings.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Potato topped with Vegetables and "Cheese" Sauce, Panzanella (Almost No Added Fat)

I was thinking of making use of the rest of the cashew "cheese" sauce that I had made two days ago to top on some baked potatoes and vegetables. I found small (maybe 3" x 2" oblong) baking potatoes in the store, so thought that I would pressure steam them for 10m and serve with broccoli and bell pepper. (My daughter much prefers sweet potatoes, so I served her sweet potatoes instead of baking potatoes.) I cooked waterlessly onion, bell pepper, and broccoli. I served the potatoes topped with the other vegetables and a bit of the "cheese" sauce (this time I used even less sauce and so feel justified in describing this meal as being cooked with almost no added fat; it was about a tablespoon and a tablespoon of cashews is about 6g of fat, but the sauce had water and other ingredients, so perhaps I added 3-4g of fat or so?).

I also wanted to use up the drying bread that I had. I've made Italian bread salad (panzanella) with oil on bread cubes roasted in an oven, but wanted to make this without oil. I cut up bread into maybe 3/4" squares and maybe 3/8" thick and put them on a plate as a single layer. I baked at 400°F for 10 minutes in a toaster oven. In the meantime, I mixed up some cucumber and tomato cubes (about 5/8" each), 1/2 t balsamic vinegar, 1t capers, maybe half a dozen Kalamata olives cut into thirds, 1/4 t dried oregano, and 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper. I mixed the croutons in and served.


Dinner was good - everybody enjoyed it. I was surprised that the panzanella came out as well as it did; it does taste better with olive oil, but my version today was still tasty!

Ideas for the future

I should try more dishes with potatoes or sweet potatoes topped with vegetables and experiment with "cheese" and other sauces.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chickpeas with "Cheese" Sauce, Mixed Salad

My daughter had a young friend over to join us for dinner tonight. I had soaked some chickpeas last night, wanting to make a chickpea main course. I decided that it's been too long since I've made and used a "cheese" sauce, such as I described in July 2011 with an Alfredo sauce or the Food for Life sauce that I made, for example, in January 2015 and April 2014.

I decided to make a simple cheesy chickpea dish. Here is what I did.

  • 2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight, then rinsed again
  • Enough water to just cover chickpeas
  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked for 30m (or more) in water
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Juice of small lime (I actually used a half lime, and it was fine)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 - 1 T nutritional yeast
  • Dash of salt
  • (optional garnish) Scallion
  1. I cooked the chickpeas, covering with water, in my Instant Pot pressure cooker for 25m.
  2. I could have waited a short while, then gently released remaining pressure and opened the Instant Pot, but I planned ahead and had the chickpeas done earlier so, when I was ready, I just opened the pot.
  3. In the meantime, I made my cashew cheese sauce. I did as I described in 2011, as below, and served a tablespoonful or so atop the chickpeas.
For the sauce, I pretty much followed the recipe that I found. I took a cup of raw cashews and soaked them for 15m (the recipe suggested 30m). I drained and put the soaked cashews into our VitaMix blender, along with a garlic clove, juice of a small lime, half a cup of water, a half tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast, and a dash of salt. I blended on high for maybe 15 seconds till nice and creamy - and that was it! The sauce tasted surprisingly rich and tasty.

I also made a salad with chopped tomato, olive, scallion, and dill pickle, along with some lime juice, salt, and black pepper. We had some crusty bread and my wife had suggested a bread salad, but our dinner guest was gluten-free, so I didn't add bread cubes.


Dinner was good! All of us enjoyed the meal. I don't use a "cheese" sauce often but, when I do, it's always nice.

I was going to describe this dish as "almost no added fat". Cashews have 12g of fat per ounce; in the Food for Life program that I teach, we recommend 10% fat calories, or, as a rough guide, about 3g of fat per serving of a dish. We used up only about 50-60% of the sauce, and that spread among the four diners. One cup is eight ounces, so each serving then had about 50% of (12g of fat/ounce x 8 ounces/cup / 4 servings) = 50% of 24 g of fat/serving, or about 12g of fat. That's not insignificant, so I'll omit the description.

Ideas for the future

I could make this an "almost no added fat" dinner by being very modest with the sauce. However, the fat isn't excessive and I think the quantity of sauce I used balanced the chickpeas well. If I didn't rely on the one-ingredient base and had other ingredients, such as perhaps raw bell pepper chunks, peas, carrots, and/or zucchini, I bet less "cheese" would be just fine.

Beyond the fat issue, the main course would have been more interesting with additional ingredients. I was planning on mixing in some chopped kale, but our visitor tonight doesn't like kale and I didn't have any other greens.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Black-Eyed Peas with Vegetables (No Added Fat); postscript about our experiences dining in Vancouver and Vancouver Island (and Seattle)

We just returned from a lovely trip to British Columbia. We loved visiting places like Victoria and Vancouver. We spent the first and last nights of our vacation in Seattle and, last night, had a particularly memorable dinner at what I was told may be the best vegan restaurant in town, Harvest Beat. I'll include, as a postscript, some notes on vegan dining that we found on our trip.

I got to making dinner almost immediately after returning from the airport. I found a few vegetables (fennel, carrot, bok choy, as well as longer-lasting onion and garlic) in the refrigerator, as well as, alas, some kale that was no longer good enough to use. I had frozen black-eyed peas but, unfortunately, no frozen greens. But I had enough to put together a tasty and healthful meal.

  • 1 cup onion cut into thin (maybe 3/8" x 1 1/4") sticks (about 1/3 of a medium onion)
  • 1 clove garlic finely (1/8") diced
  • 3T fennel bulb cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" sticks
  • 1 1/2 cups carrot cut into 3/8" lengths (I used two small-medium carrots)
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted bell pepper cut into strips approx. 1/2" x 1 1/2"
  • 2 cups prepared (freshly cooked or frozen) black-eyed peas
  • 1 medium bok choy cut into approx. 1/2" squares (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1T fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  1. I put, in this order, the onion, garlic, fennel, carrot, bell pepper, and black-eyed peas 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 20 minutes.
  3. I then mixed in the bok choy, spices, salt, and lemon juice, and served with brown rice (which I cooked simmered 45-50m stovetop with twice as much water as rice, as well as a pinch of salt and a no added salt vegan bouillon cube) and salad.

My family enjoyed the meal. I liked it, but thought that it could have been more pronounced in flavor.

Ideas for the future

Greens would have been good in this dish. I could have used more garlic or even roasted garlic. Perhaps lemon pepper would have been good.

Postscript: Our Vegan Experiences in British Columbia (and, briefly, Seattle)

It was easy to find good vegan food on our trip. Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver have many vegan restaurants! We took the Clipper Ferry from Seattle to Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island is a huge almost 300-mile-long island on the westernmost part of Canada and dipping to the country's southernmost point. The big city of Vancouver is also part of coastal British Columbia, and separated by an hour and a half or so ferry from Vancouver Island.

  • We spent the first few days of our trip in Victoria. It's a beautiful and small town of under 100,000 people. It has a number of all-vegan restaurants and is fairly vegetarian and vegan friendly. There is a Whole Foods Market that opened just a few months ago in November 2016; we didn't have time to see if there are food coops or what their other grocery stores are like.
    • Green Cuisine Vegetarian Restaurant was our first dinner stop on Victoria. It's an all-vegan buffet with many choices of good food. We loved the environment, good food, and reasonable prices.
    • We had lunch with some local vegans at a new "vegan butcher" shop that opened less than a month ago, The Very Good Butchers. The food, featuring burgers, macaroni and "cheese", and other items, was all organic and vegan, and was good and filling.
    • We had a dinner at Be Love, an almost all-vegan restaurant with an inviting meditative ambiance and tasty food. I had a simple bowl of sides, reminding me of what I might serve at home - I think I had tempeh, greens, and brown rice. I missed the opportunity to try their veganized (with cashew "cheese") Canadian specialty of poutine, traditionally French fries and cheese with gravy.
    • I had also heard about quite a few other good restaurants, such as Bliss, Lotus Pond (vegan Buddhist with mock meats), and Rawthentic, and Jusu juice bar.  Vegan Hippie Chick Cafe is a new organic and vegan restaurant that is supposed to soon open. There is a branch of Power House Living Foods here; we enjoyed eating at Power House in Nanaimo, north of Victoria.
    • We stumbled on a great find, Pure Lovin' Chocolate. Operated by a mother and daughter team, it's an organic, fair-trade, vegan, soy- and gluten- free handcrafted chocolate boutique.
  • We then spent a few days about an hour and a half north at another town of under 100,000, Nanaimo. I believe it is the major port for bringing in materials to the island, and is a major ferry port for the mainland (we traveled the 1 1/2 hour ferry to Vancouver). It has a culinary claim to fame for the Nanaimo Bar; I bet that a vegan version is available, perhaps at Power House Living Foods, and wish that I had looked.
    • We loved having lunch at raw, vegan, organic Power House Living Foods. Their serving sizes (even their half portions) were large and the presentation was gorgeous, rivaling or possibly exceeding our own very nice local Living Kitchen.
    • Unfortunately, we didn't find the town otherwise very appealing from a food perspective. There was a wide variety of restaurants and, no doubt, most could probably serve a reasonable vegan meal. We did find a pizzeria we liked, Mambo Pizza. Rather nondescript and small with seating for maybe a dozen, it appears to be mainly a take-out restaurant. I find pizzerias that use good ingredients and have good dough often make satisfying pizzas without cheese. That was the case here; the crust was particularly good and reasonably crispy, the sauce was good, and the ingredients fresh. They are accommodating of vegans and offer gluten-free pizzas, as well - they offer, at no extra charge, vegan Daiya brand "cheese".
  • My wife found at Whole Foods, both in Victoria and later in Vancouver, a fabulous fig and anise bread from a company called Terra Breads. The sourdough was a great matrix for the fig and just strong enough anise; I sure wish that this were available in North Carolina. The bread had great flavor and needed no topping - it was great at room temperature or lightly toasted. The Victoria Whole Foods had choices of how thick to have the loaves sliced; I enjoyed a 5/8" thicker slice.
  • I hope soon to add more information about the many vegan choices in Vancouver and our final dinner on the trip, a unique five-course vegan meal in Seattle.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Waterless Brussels Sprouts and Swiss Chard, Black Beans, Sweet Potato (No Added Fat)

I made a simple waterless dish by cooking in a large Saladmaster stock pan onion, garlic, quartered Brussels Sprouts, and most of a bunch of Swiss chard for about 20m. I served with sweet potato and black beans cooked in my Instant Pot. After cooking, I mixed into the beans onion, marinara sauce, fresh Meyer lemon juice, ground cumin, and salt.


Ideas for the future


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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Green Tomato Split Pea Dhal (No Added Fat)

I wanted to use a remaining green tomato from the farmers' market from this past weekend. I thought I'd make a thick split pea dhal featuring the tomato. Here is what I did.

  • 1 cup split peas (I used green but yellow would be fine)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups (what a typical medium tomato may yield) green tomato cut into 1/4" cubes (my medium tomato yielded 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1T lemon or lime juice
  1. Split peas typically take 8-10m of pressure cooking in a ratio of 1 part split peas to 3 parts water. I wanted a thicker dhal, so went with a 1:2.5 ratio for 10 minutes. I put the split peas, water, green tomato, turmeric, and cumin into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 10m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the salt and lime juice.
  3. When I was ready to serve, I opened the pot slowly, and added salt.


Ideas for the future


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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Golden Ball Turnips with Carrot, Broccoli, and Seitan (No Added Fat)

I wanted to use the Gold Ball turnips that I had purchased this weekend. This is what I did.

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh turnip roots cut into 3/4" cubes (I used the two Gold Ball turnip I purchased at a local farmers' market this past Saturday, said to taste good boiled in sugar water for 10-15m; instead, I pressure cooked 2-4 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 cup carrot cut into 1/4" slices (I had two small carrots; if the carrots were thick, I'd have halved them longitudinally)
  • 1 cup seitan cut into 3/4" cubes (about 4 ounces)
  • 1t basil (I used a frozen cube)
  • 1/2 cup water with 1t turbinado sugar dissolved in it
  • 1 cup baby bok choy cut into 3/8" slices (I used one baby bok choy)
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  1. I put the turnip, broccoli, carrot, seitan, basil, and sugar water into my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
  2. I set it on schedule to cook for 3 minutes; I stuck with high pressure though I bet low pressure would suffice.
  3. I asked my wife to remove excess water and mix in the spices and bok choy when she was ready to eat (she was going to eat a half hour before my daughter and I were to come home)


Ideas for the future


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Waterless Cauliflower and Chard (No Added Fat)

I found red chard on sale at our coop today; we've not had chard in a while, and I had a head of cauliflower in the refrigerator, so I thought of cooking a chard and cauliflower dish. Preparing it waterlessly (using a quality Saladmaster pan and cooking, covered, on low) sounded good. Here is what I did.

  • 2/3 cup onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • 5 cups (maybe 2/3 or a bit more of a medium head) cauliflower florets
  • approximately 3 cups (packed) greens (I used red chard, but other kinds of chard, kale, or, if you like a bit more "bit", mustard greens could be used instead); I used 5 chard leaves, cut the stems into 1/2" lengths to make up about 3/4 cup, then hand stripped the leaves to approximately 1" pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • (optional) 1/4 t garlic powder
  • (optional) 1/4 t black sesame seed
  1. I put into a large Saladmaster stock pan, in this order, the onion, garlic, cauliflower, greens, salt, and turmeric
  2. I turned the heat on to medium high and covered the pan; after a few minutes, the vapor release started jiggling, whereupon I reduced heat to low till the release stopped moving about, and cooked for 20m
  3. I then opened the pan, mixed in the garlic powder and sesame seed, and served
I also had some fresh French baguette, and sauteed on a cast iron pan with no oil (I first maybe 1/2 t canola oil on the warming pan for half a minute then wiped the oil off just to get a very light coating on the pan) some tempeh.

Everybody liked dinner! The cauliflower was good but could have cooked just a bit more to be more tender. A little more turmeric would have made the color more vibrant (and, of course, more healthy).

Ideas for the future

While I love pressure cooking, I always also get good results with waterless cooking. I love what the pressure cooker (very soft and, cooked for a few minutes, gravy-like) and waterless cooking (tender) does to cauliflower. I should experiment with more waterless cauliflower dishes - more vegetables like carrots, peas, and green beans would be good. A surprise element like pomegranate kernels would be fun.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Black Beans over Crispy Polenta (No Added Fat)

I was thinking of making a black bean dish and wanted to integrate polenta, which I had in stock prepared as a tube. Originally, I was thinking of chopping the polenta and mixing it in, but my daughter was talking about crispy polenta, so I decided to cook the polenta separately on a cast iron pan. I had some beans leftover from a few days ago, so didn't have to prepare them again in my Instant Pot. Here is what I did.

  • 1 cup prepared black beans
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic finely (1/8") minced
  • 1/4 cup roasted or fresh bell pepper cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1/2 of a small (14.5 ounce) can of stewed or other tomato
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 8 ounces of polenta cut into 3/8" discs
  • (optional) few extra pieces of onion
  1. I started heating the beans, onion, garlic, bell pepper, canned diced tomato, and salt on low.
  2. I wiped a little bit of canola oil on a cast iron pan as it heated on medium heat; about half a minute later, I wiped the oil with a paper towel, leaving a light coating on the pan (I wanted crispy polenta), then put the polenta on the pan. I cooked it, flipping occasionally, and adding the onion a few minutes into the cooking.
  3. When the polenta was crispy, I served it with the onion, and put the beans (first mixing in oregano) atop.
A bagel half with tomato and olive, plus a baby bell pepper, completed the meal.

Dinner was good!

Ideas for the future

I should make crispy polenta dishes more often. Capers, olives, fresh tomato, tomato sauce, basil, cashew "cheese" sauce, and many other foods could go well with polenta.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Yummy Waterless Artichokes with Mushroom and Roasted Bell Pepper, Chickpeas with Tomato (No Added Fat)

I was in the mood for artichoke hearts; while shopping, my daughter suggested and picked out mushrooms to be cooked with the artichoke. I had soaked some chickpeas and decided to make a plain side course of essentially just chickpeas (but I ended up mixing in to the 3 cups or so of finished chickpeas a small (14.5 ounces) can full of fire roasted dice tomatoes, 4T nutritional yeast, 1t oregano, 1/2 t salt, and 1/2 cup onion cut into 3/8" pieces). I cooked the main course waterlessly. Here is how I made the artichoke dish:

  • 1 cup onion cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (approx. 1/8")
  • 2 1/2 cups mushroom of choice cut into approx. 3/4" pieces (I used 7 medium crimini mushrooms cut into thirds and then halved)
  • 12 ounce artichoke quarters (about 3 cups)
  • 1T miso
  • Bell pepper
  • (optional) 1/2 t tarragon
  • 1/4 t (or to taste; remember there is also salty miso) salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  1. I put into a large Saladmaster stock pan, in this order, the onion, garlic, mushroom, artichoke, and miso.
  2. I heated, covered, the pan on medium heat till the vapor release began gently rattling, then I reduced the heat to low and cooked. With waterless cooking, 20m seems to be about right for dishes I make - longer cook times are also okay, as essentially a convection is set up and the food is just kept hot but not burnt.
  3. While the artichokes were cooking, I roasted the bell pepper by putting it on the open flame of my gas range, turning it until it was all coated in a black char. I put the bell pepper in a brown paper bag, closed the bag, and let it sit to imbue the pepper with the smoky flavor. When I was ready to serve the artichoke, I removed the pepper from the bag, and had my daughter help to run water over the pepper and rub the black char off. After removing the seeds and membranes, I chopped the pepper into approximately 3/4" pieces.
  4. I turned the heat off to the artichokes and mixed in the pepper, tarragon, salt, and pepper, and served.


Wow, I loved dinner, and so did my family and a friend who came for dinner. The artichokes were divine! I so loved this combination and the great soft texture that the waterless cooking gave the artichokes. This was one of my favorite artichoke dishes I've had. I have cooked artichokes waterlessly before, but maybe the mushroom and miso or something else about today's preparation made the dish so memorably excellent. The chickpeas were also quite good - I liked them but my wife raved and claimed that this was the best way I ever prepared chickpeas.

Ideas for the future

I will make more waterless artichoke dishes! I'll explore more combinations; capers and olives would be good. I might want to make a homogenized spread to put atop pasta or maybe a bagel.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Charred Brussels Sprouts with Tomato (No Added Fat)

Happy Valentine's Day! My family likes Brussels Sprouts but my wife prefers them pan cooked and charred, not steamed or pressure cooked, as I usually prepare them. I had the idea initially of braising Brussels Sprouts after oven roasting them and then pan sauteeing them, perhaps cooking them, covered, with broth as a final step. I thought of cutting fresh tomato into heart-shaped like sections and using them in the main dish for the Valentine's theme. Here is what I did.

  • About a half pound (maybe 8) Brussels Sprouts, end and outer leaves removed, then cut into 3/8" slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely (about 1/8") minced
  • Onion, of about same volume as garlic, also finely minced
  • 2 firm medium Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4" slices and then quartered
  • 1t fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  1. I put the Brussels Sprouts in a oven-proof dish and topped with the garlic and onion, then put in a toaster oven and roasted at 450°F for 15m
  2. I turned the toaster oven up to broil and broiled for 3m
  3. I took the Brussels Sprouts, onion, and garlic out of the toaster oven and put on a cast iron skillet that I had lightly rubbed with oil to leave almost no oil behind; I cooked, stirring occasionally, on medium high for about 5 minutes till I got the desired level of charred Sprouts
  4. In parallel on a stainless steel Saladmaster skillet, I sauteed the tomato over medium high heat for 3 minutes or so, whereupon the tomato softened almost to the point of being a very thick sauce
  5. I mixed in a bowl the contents of both pans, as well as the lime juice, oregano, salt, and pepper
I had some beans in a tomato sauce that I heated up as a side dish. A generous slice of avocado completed the Valentine's meal.


As I was cooking the Sprouts, I was quite pleased with how crispy and charred they got with almost no oil at all (I list this dish as no added fat as I really just swiped on enough oil to just barely coat the pan; any oil absorbed into the food would be a trivial amount), and decided to forego braising.

It came out great - we all loved the dish! This is a real winner and a fun dish that goes from (toaster) oven to cast iron, then to mixing bowl. It is simple with just a few ingredients, and the flavor shines. I was surprised at how good this came out - maybe it was just the relative novelty of the charred Brussels Sprouts vs. the pressure cooking that I usually use with them. I had considered mixing in liquid smoke, but other than a bit of hot sauce (which really wasn't even necessary), the dish was quite flavorful as it was.

Ideas for the future

Capers might add a nice addition instead of salt. I'd love to make more crispy Brussels Sprout dishes, perhaps with root vegetables like sweet potatoes or carrots.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Braised Fennel with Seitan (No Added Fat)

I had the idea of doing some sort of a saute of fennel with seitan. I ended up essentially braising (though not strictly as I didn't cover the pan with liquid) and came up with an interesting meal. Here is what I did.

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") chopped
  • About 1 cup of fennel bulb, chopped into approx. 1/4" x 1 1/4" slivers (most of a medium bulb)
  • 8 ounces seitan (cut not important - I used large 3/4" or so chunks, but thin slices would be good, as well, with a different but also good mouth feel)
  • 1/4 cup broth (I used a vegan bouillon cube and 1/4 cup water)
  • 1/2 cup peas
  1. I put the garlic in a Saladmaster skillet with no oil and sauteed over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 2 or 3 minutes, letting the garlic develop a nice bouquet and soften a bit.
  2. I then added the fennel and continued the saute for another 8-10m or so, till the fennel was softened and some pieces were slightly browned.
  3. I added the seitan, stirred, and continued to saute just for another 2 minutes or so.
  4. I added the broth and continued cooking for another 5 or 6 minutes, letting the broth cook down and be absorbed. (For a true braise, I'd cover and simmer on low heat for a while, but I was happy with the softness of the ingredients and wanted the excess moisture to evaporate away.)
  5. I used frozen peas and added them, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes (if I used fresh, I'd add at the very end).
I also made some brown rice pasta, with dried oregano and sliced olives.

Dinner was even better than I expected! I normally like fennel in small quantity and feared that this would be too much, but the cooking perfectly mellowed out the fennel. I liked the chunks of seitan and am glad that I didn't use thin slices. The rice was also very good.

Ideas for the future

Braised fennel is a good idea! I also have not cooked with sauteeing followed by cooking down with broth. This served the duplicate purpose of cleaning up any minimal sticking in my pan. I need to try a true braise with covering the dish. I should try a tougher ingredient than seitan to see how braising softens it - maybe fibrous kale stems? Braised fennel with tofu or tempeh would be good. This was a winning combination tonight!

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Chickpeas and Cabbage (No Added Fat)

I thought of making a chickpea dish to take to some friends who just had twin babies. Alas, they had to move our get together, so we reserved some cooked chickpeas for a future dish and made a smaller course for ourselves.

  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed
  • 3 cups cabbage cut into 1/2" or so long strips (about a small quarter of a cabbage head)
  • 2 medium tomatillas cut into 3/8" cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1T miso (I used chickpea miso, but any kind would be fine)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 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. While I was out today, my wife made a batch of chickpeas in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, so I had that as a starting point. I put the rinsed chickpeas back in the pressure cooker, along with the cabbage, tomatilla, turmeric, cumin, miso, and water, and cooked for 0 minutes (i.e., just let the Instant Pot come to pressure then turn off).
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then added the onion, lime juice, and salt.
I served along with jade pearl rice.


Ideas for the future


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Vegetables and Tempeh with Moroccan Simmer Sauce (Almost No Added Fat)

I picked up on sale some nice simmer sauces today, including a Moroccan one. I made a simple vegetable dish of tempeh, broccoli, onion, potato, and carrot cooked with the simmer sauce. The sauce packet claims to serve 7, but I think it's more like 4. Each serving has 1/2 gram of fat, so, even with larger servings, I'll describe this meal as "almost no added fat".

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Vegetable Soup with Whole Wheat Pasta, Massaged Kale Salad, English Muffin (No Added Fat)

We are having a snowy weekend with cold weather, so soup is in order. I don't usually make a straight up vegetable soup, typically including beans. I decided to make a simple vegetable soup in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. It has a "Soup" button that cooks for 30m; I was going to cook just for 20m to have firmer vegetables, but my daughter was helping me cook and wanted softer vegetables, so we stuck with 30m. I've been meaning to make a pasta e fagioli bean and pasta soup sometime; this wasn't a bean soup, but I still used whole wheat pasta in this non-fagioli. Here is what I did.

  • 3 small Yukon Gold potatoes cut into large 1" or so chunks
  • 1 small sweet potato also cut into large 1" or so chunks
  • 2 carrots cut into 1/2" wide discs
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into approx. 1 1/4" x 1/4" half moons
  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta
  • 2 vegan bouillon cubes (I wanted a strong broth, so used two cubes)
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • (optional) 2t nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 t salt
  • (optional) 1/4 t lemon pepper
  • About 6 cups (more or less depending on how thick you want the soup to be) water
  1. I put all of the ingredients into my Instant Pot and pushed (well, my daughter pushed!) the "Soup" button for 30m of cooking.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then served.
I also served a massaged kale salad and English muffin halves with tomato, pickle, and olive.

By the way, yesterday my daughter asked about fondue and I had the idea to make a simple dessert a bit like fondue. I put some frozen strawberries and mango into my small Saladmaster stock pot and cooked waterlessly (cooked on medium heat, covered, till vapor release started flapping, then reduced heat to stop the flapping noise and cooked for about 15-20m). Toward the end, I quickly opened the cover and put in a few vegan chocolate chips. It was so good that we did the same thing tonight. It tastes like a nice warm fruit compote - my family didn't even want chocolate with the fruit today. This would be really good with my vegan yogurt!

Dinner was great! We all loved it. It's amazing how tasty pressure cooking makes soups.

Ideas for the future

I should definitely make a pasta e fagioli sometime. The soup today was really good; I had considered adding cauliflower or broccoli, but am glad that I didn't. A little red wine would have been good, and even more garlic could have been nice.

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