Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Kala Channa with Greens and Tomato (No Added Fat)

I loved kicking off the new show So Many Cooks in the Kitchen (the livestream is available online and an edited version will soon be on the Plant-Based Network!) this past Saturday all about beans. I came up with this idea a few weeks ago - I love working with fellow Food for Life instructors; they're all so knowledgeable about food and nutrition. We formed a group to periodically go online and teach in rapid-fire fashion kitchen-to-kitchen.

This time, our topic was beans and next time we'll move on to vegetables. Each of us had about 6-8 minutes to share from our kitchens. I showed how to cook beans and talked about a few varieties.

Today, I made kala channa  (a chickpea variety, also known as black chickpea or Bengal gram; it takes longer to cook but results in a nice, nutty and more textured result). Combined with a few spices, greens, and fresh tomato, it made a healthful, easy, tasty, and colorful dinner. Here is what I did.


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups dried kala channa (you could also just use dried chickpea - or even canned and skip cooking - and cook for less time)
  • 3/4 cup frozen chopped or fresh kale; if fresh, roughly hand tear from stems (composting or otherwise discarding stems) into approximately 1 1/2" pieces
  • 2/3 t turmeric
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t garlic powder or garlic granules
  • 1/2 t lemon pepper (or freshly ground pepper)
  • 1/2 chili powder (to taste; can certainly be omitted or increased)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion or, if not available, yellow onion, cut into large 1" pieces
  • 2T lime or tangerine juice
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
Process
  1. Sort through the chickpeas, removing any debris like leaves or branches, rinse, and soak in ample water for at least 3-5 hours, but ideally overnight. Discard soaking water, and rinse again.
  2. Put chickpeas into Instant Pot pressure cooker along with just enough water to cover the chickpeas.
  3. Add the kale and spices and cook under pressure for 40-45 minutes. Black chickpeas do take significantly longer to cook than regular chickpeas. If you are using regular chickpeas, cook for 20-25 minutes.
  4. While the chickpeas are cooking, put the onion in a cast iron pan with no oil and cook, stirring once in a while, over medium high. Let the onion get nicely charred for a tasty carmelized touch.
  5. After the cooking is done, you can wait a few minutes and gently released pressure, or do as I did, and cook at least a half hour in advance and let the pressure naturally reduce.
  6. When I was ready to serve, I opened the pot slowly, and added lime juice and tomato. I added the onion at the table since my daughter doesn't like much onion (but she loved how carmelized the Vidalia onion was).
I served with brown rice and an avocado piece.
Results

We all loved dinner. It's been a while since I've made kala channa; it has a stronger flavor than regular chickpeas and is fun to make and enjoy. The spicing was good, though I'd add more cumin or perhaps garam masala for spice lovers, as well as more heat, perhaps including some serrano or jalapeno pepper.

Ideas for the future

Some of my homemade vegan yogurt would go well with such a channa dish; if I did use the yogurt, I'd probably also want to increase the spiciness. I could use more vegetables, such as chopped carrot, additional greens like spinach and, to increase the flavor, mustard greens. Turnip greens would also be good. While the fresh tomato was good, cooked green tomato or tomato paste would also be a nice variation. 

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Thursday, May 07, 2020

Black-Eyed Peas Stew (No Added Fat)

I was going to make a simple black-eyed pea side dish but ended up focusing on the black-eyed peas. I rinsed about a cup of them, soaked them overnight in ample water, and rinsed them again. I put them in my Instant Pot pressure cooker and added a clove of garlic, minced finely; 1/4 of a bunch of rainbow chard, cut across into 1" or so lengths; a small-medium sweet potato cut into approximately 3/8" cubes; 2 medium tomatoes cut into 3/4" cubes; and 1/2 t ground cumin seed, 1/4 t lemon pepper, and 1/4 t garlic powder. I cooked under pressure for only 5 minutes.

In the meantime, I cooked without oil a little onion and frozen corn just for 2 minutes or so, and then added tricolor quinoa in a ratio, as usual, of 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, plus a pinch of salt. I brought it to a boil and cooked for a few minutes on low, then turned the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes.

I got some particularly sweet Vidalia onions last weekend, so quickly grilled some slices. When I was ready to serve, I mixed in to the black-eyed peas fresh squeezed pixie tangerine juice from one small tangerine (I've loved the pixies we're getting and using them instead of lime or lemon juice) and 1/2 t salt. I served the black-eyed pea dish with the quinoa and a salad of cucumber and white carrot, with onion atop.

Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Baby Navy Beans with Field Peas, Brussels Sprouts, and Japanese Sweet Potato (No Added Fat)

I did the equivalent of soaking a cup of baby navy beans overnight in plenty of water (I put them in my Instant Pot pressure cooker with ample water anc cooked for zero minutes) and later rinsed them. I put them in my Instant Pot with 1/2 cup of field peas and enough water to just cover. I also added a Japanese sweet potato cut into 3/8" cubes, a half dozen Brussels sprouts each cut into about eighths, 2 cloves of garlic finely diced (1/8" or so), a carrot cut into 5/8" lengths and then quartered, a vegan bouillon cube, and pinches of curry powder and ground cumin seed. I cooked for 15 minutes under pressure.

When the dish was done, I mixed in a bit of lemon juice, 1/8 cup onion cut into 3/8" pieces, and salt to taste. I also served white rice (which I rarely do but I didn't have enough time to make brown rice) and tomato slices.


Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Lady Cream Pea Soup with Vegetables, Bagel with Brushcetta (Almost No Added Fat)

This was the first time all winter that we had snow; it was coming down reasonably fast but with temperatures above freezing, not much stuck. Though it wasn't so cold, I thought that soup was in order. I had some dried Lady Cream Peas (so named but really beans) and decided to try using them in a soup.

I put maybe a cup of the peas and a quarter cup of green split peas into my Instant Pot pressure cooker with ample water (maybe four parts water to beans), along with garlic, onion, ripped kale leaves, thickly cut carrot, a Russet potato cut into 1/2" cubes, and 1/2 garam masala.

I cooked under pressure for 12 minutes. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in salt. I served with whole wheat bagels with bruschetta (only 2g of fat per serving, and we had less than a full serving per bagel half, so I'll list this as almost no added fat.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

Friday, January 03, 2020

Air Fried Sunchoke with Vegan Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage (Almost No Added Fat)

I had some sunchokes and decided to air fry them. We had some Field Roast vegan sausages; I cut them into long pieces and cut the sausages into halves, then air fried, along with some rings of onion, at 350°F for 9m then 425°F for 2m. I also made mixed vegetables with spinach, cooked waterlessly, and a salad with tomato, cucumber, radish, salt, freshly ground black pepper, lime juice, and ume plum vinegar. The sausages have 7g of fat per link and one link sufficed for the three of us, so I'll call this an "almost no added fat" meal.
Results

Dinner was good. The sunchokes were crispy; my wife enjoyed that texture and I did, too (though my daughter didn't), but I think I'd like to try them roasted or maybe boiled.

Ideas for the future

I should get sunchokes again and try roasting them or maybe trying them raw and diced in a salad.

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Thursday, January 02, 2020

Black-Eyed Peas with Brussels Sprouts (New Year's Hoppin' John inspiration), Baked Potato, Guacamole (No Added Fat, Gluten-Free)

Happy 2020! It's tradition in the south of the U.S. to start the new year with Hoppin' John. We ate out on New Year's Day due to schedule issues, so this was our first home dinner of the year and, while I didn't make a traditional Hoppin' John, I made a main course inspired by it.

I did a waterless black-eyed pea dish. I put into a Saladmaster stock pan, in this order, chopped onion (and I would have put in a clove or two of garlic if I wasn't out; I did have garlic greens, which I added later), fresh black-eyed peas, Brussels sprouts cut into approximately 1/4" cubes, bell pepper, garam masala, turmeric, kala namak (black salt), and freshly ground black pepper, as well as a few tablespoonfuls of stewed tomato. 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, then I mixed in some lemon juice and salt.

I also made (10 minutes under pressure in my Instant Pot pressure cooker) baked potato. I mixed avocado with lemon juice, onion, garlic powder, salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and served this guacamole atop a lettuce leave. An optional (not gluten-free) garlic cracker/chip topped the guacamole.

Results

We all enjoyed dinner. The black-eyed peas were well spiced and hearty.

Ideas for the future

I should explore more black-eyed pea ideas. What about a mash mixed with vegetables? Or mashed patties air fried?

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Waterless Seitan, Potato, and Green Beans with Garlic Simmer Sauce; Israeli Couscous with Peas (Almost No Added Fat)

I decided to make a waterless dish in a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked waterlessly some potato and seitan - i.e., I put in garlic, onion, seitan, diced Yukon Gold potato, and frozen green bean pieces, 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. I like Frontera Foods' conveniently packages sauces; nevermind that they describe them as appropriate for carnivorous dishes, these are good for plant-based dishes and are reasonable in fat content. I used one of their garlic sauces and mixed it in to the dish, then cooked, stirring a few times, for another minute or so.

I also made an Israeli couscous dish by sauteing a bit of onion, then adding a cup of the Israeli couscous, 1 1/4 cups water, 3 leaves of kale (roughly hand torn -skipping the stems, which I put in our compost bound container - into about 3/4" pieces), a few shakes of salt, 1/8 t or less of turmeric, and about 1/3 cup of frozen green peas. I brought to a boil and cooked on low heat, covered, for about 8-10 more minutes.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Field Peas with Brussels Sprouts and Red Chard, Volcano Rice (No Added Fat, Gluten Free)

I had some dried field peas; I made a dish with them a month or two ago and thought I'd make another one. I read an article extolling their virtues and suggesting a 30m cook time. I tried 6m under pressure.

I soaked about 3/4 cup of field peas for about 5 hours then drained, covered with enough water to just cover, and cooked along with a cup of chopped red chard (chopped into 1/2" squares) for 6 minutes under pressure. In the meantime, I cooked 1/2 cup of Brussels sprouts by briefly putting them in the blender.  started heating a Saladmaster stock pan under medium heat with 1/8 cup of onions cut into 1/4" cubes, then added the Brussels sprouts once the onion was warm. 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.

I combined the cooked field peas, Brussels sprouts, and pinches of garam masala, turmeric, cumin, salt, lemon pepper, and garlic powder, along with a tablespoon of Meyer lemon juice and about 2 T of additional raw onion chopped into 1/4" cubes. I served with volcano rice and a macadamia nut milk smoothie with blueberry and mango.

Results

The meal came out well, though I think it could have been more flavorful. My wife quite liked the meal.

Ideas for the future

A little bit of jalapeno or hot sauce would work well with the main course. I should experiment with cooking chopped Brussels sprouts more, perhaps mixing in a sauce of some sort.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

1-Pot Blanched Spigarello with Vegan Chorizo Seitan atop Reginetti Pasta (No Added Fat)

I picked up some organic spigarello from Open Door Farm at the Carrboro Farmers' Market and thought I'd make a dish with blanched spigarello. I had some tasty reginetti (we love its texture and firm bite!) pasta from Sfoglini, and thought I'd use it as the base. This is what I did.

I started by blanching the greens. I rinsed the spigarello bunch and put it in heavily salted boiling water. I let it boil for 2-3 minutes till the greens were darkened in color. In the meantime, I had a large bowl of ice water ready. I plunged the spigarello into the ice bath and let it sit for a few minutes till cool, about 10 minutes, then drained.

I used the water that the greens had been boiling in to cook the pasta for its 9-10 minute cook time. When it was done, I drained and rinsed the pasta, then plated it. I used the same pan to saute over medium heat:

  • 2 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped into 1/4" pieces)
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into 1/4" cubes
  • medium bell pepper cut into 1/2" chunks
for about 5 minutes. Then, I mixed in:
I let it cook on low heat for about 7-8 minutes, then coarsely chopped the greens (into maybe thirds), mixed them in with the heat off, and immediately served atop the pasta.

I offered a bit of grated Violife brand Just Like Parmesan to top the pasta; I had a little bit (maybe I should count this dish as almost no added fat, but the "parmesan" is only 5g of fat per ounce, and we had maybe 1/10 of an ounce. It went well with the sauce.

Results

We all enjoyed the meal! I quite enjoy this pasta's rugged texture. The combination was good and it was fun to blanch the spigarello.

Ideas for the future

I should blanch greens more often. I wonder what it would be like to blanch greens and then do a quick blend of most of the greens, mixing in to get a textured green sauce.

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Jacob's Cattle Beans Stew with Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries

Last weekend, I picked up some fresh, organic, locally grown
Jacob's Cattle Beans from the Carrboro Farmers' Market. They looked good and I thought I'd cook them tonight with hard red winter wheat berries.

I rinsed and then soaked the beans (I had a quart bag full) for about 8 hours; since they're fresh, I didn't really need to soak them or, at least, not for so long. But it doesn't hurt and was convenient. I drained the beans and put them in the Instant Pot pressure cooker with just enough fresh water to cover them. I thought that I'd cook them for 20-25 minutes under pressure.

Wheat berries cook in a 1:3 ratio under pressure for 25-30 minutes. So, I measured out about a half cup of the wheat berries and three times (i.e., 1 1/2 cups) water, and added to the Instant Pot. I also mixed in:

  • a medium carrot cut into approximately 1/4" slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (into maybe 1/4" pieces)
  • 1t ginger, finely (1/8") minced
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t lemon pepper
  • 1/8 t onion powder
Then, I cooked under pressure for 30 minutes. I waited a few minutes for the pressure to come down, then I carefully opened the pressure cooker. I mixed in:
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1t lemon juice
  • 3/4 t salt
  • a touch of hot sauce
I had a little bit of crisp lettuce left, so cut the lettuce into 1/2" pieces and mixed it in, as well.

I served along with Jade Pearl rice and, atop lettuce leaves, small sweet peppers and blistered Greek peppers - I picked these up from the farmers' market, as well; they're a lot like shishito peppers that I quite enjoy, and also have almost no heat - that I sprinkled salt (I recently bought Portugese fleur de sel with citrus that I quite like) atop.

Results

Dinner was good! My wife had been traveling for a few days but just returned tonight and enjoyed the meal. My daughter had a friend staying overnight with us, and both children enjoyed the meal. I was pleased; the beans had a nice flavor and the combination was quite good. The proportion of bean to wheat berry was also pleasing, with the wheat just giving a bit of bite and texture.

Ideas for the future

I don't know why I don't use wheat berries more often - I should. I would like to get more Jacob's Cattle Beans! Maybe I could try another bean dish with ample crispy lettuce pieces mixed in at the end.

Friday, July 05, 2019


Monday, June 10, 2019

Black Bean and Cornmeal with Brown Rice (No Added Fat)

I had soaked a cup or so of black beans to make some unspecified black bean main course I thought I'd come up with later. When I got to start cooking, I noticed some cornmeal around and wondered what a polenta-like black bean-cornmeal dish might be like. I rinsed the beans again and then put them in my Instant Pot pressure cooker with water 1/4" over the beans, plus maybe 1/2 cup of cornmeal and two cloves of garlic, minced, and pressure cooked for 27m.

Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Waterless Caulifower and Plantain, Bean and Lentil with Millet and Flax Crackers (Almost No Added Fat)

I had a head of cauliflower and decided to make a waterless main course. I simply cooked it in my large Saladmaster stock pan, putting in half moon red and sweet Vidalia onions, a chopped clove of garlic, then florets from almost the whole head of the cauliflower, and finally a little bit of spinach. 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, then I mixed in about 1 or 1 1/2 ounces that I had leftover of  an 8 ounce bag of Key Lime skillet sauce (I think it was 1g or 2g of fat per serving), a handful of chopped flat parsley, salt, and lemon pepper.

While that was cooking, I sauteed with no oil on a cast iron pan a plantain cut into 3/4" rounds. Once lightly blackened, I quartered the rounds and then, once the cauliflower was done, mixed them in to the main course.

When I was cooking a recent Food for Life class and needed baked tortilla chips, I instead used a cracker that I used to occasionally get, Sami's millet and flax
garlic and plain chips. They're great - I can't understand how they are so luscious (the garlic is quite strong!) and seemingly decadent, but they are only 2g (3g for the garlic) of fat per serving (sixth of the bag). I had (and still do!) plenty of leftovers from a few days ago when I made the bean and lentil soup; I didn't add more water but heated it up and spread the thick paste atop some of the crackers.

Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Edamame with Kale and Shiitake Mushroom (No Added Fat)

For dinner tonight, I got a waterless dish going by putting, in this order, a chopped clove of garlic, 1/8 cup onion cut into approximately 1/4" thick half moon slices, a half dozen kale leaves roughly hand torn from the stem into approximately 1" squares, and 1 cup of frozen shelled edamame into a small 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 12 minutes, then opened the pan, mixed in 1/4 cup crushed tomato, a bit of salt and kala namak (pink salt), freshly ground black pepper, Italian seasoning, and cumin. I covered and continued to cook on low, and a little lemon juice.

In parallel, I had sauteed on a cast iron pan with no oil 4 large shiitake mushrooms and half moon slices of onion. I mixed this into the main course before serving.

I also made corn -on-the-cob (for the family) and -off-the-cob for me, including jerk seasoning, salt, and lemon juice. Brown rice completed the meal.
Results

The main course was surprisingly good. The lemon and tomato really brought the edamame alive.

Ideas for the future

I should use edamame more often in my dishes. I wonder what air fried edamame might be like.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Thai Mango Vegetables with Seitan (No Added Fat)

My daughter ate a simple Udon noodle dish by design, as her stomach had been a little upset, so I made a spicier main dish for my wife and I . Last week, I had purchased Thai Mango simmer sauce with no fat; I thought I'd use it with a noodle dish.

I sauteed some potato, bell pepper, onion, and garlic on a cast iron pan with no oil. After the potato had a little bit of browning, I put it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes till just cooked.

I mixed in the vegetables with cooked Udon noodles, garlic powder, salt, freshly ground black pepper, a few chopped leaves of fresh basil and fresh mint, and the sauce. I simmered for a few minutes, then served with slices of tomato.

Results

Dinner was good! I like the sauce and am so happy it adds significant flavor without fat.

Ideas for the future

I'm generally not good with using sauces but especially when I can get quality fat-free sauces pre-made, I should take more advantage. I'd like to try cooking some savory dishes with chunks of mango, as well.

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