Saturday, January 02, 2021

Chili with Leftover Beans, Seitan, Vegetables, and Roasted Red Bell Pepper (No Added Fat)

I had a fun demonstration (check it out on Facebook or Twitter, or outside of social media) of the PCRM 21-Day Kickstart day 2 menu of 10-Minute Mixed Vegetable Stir-Fry and Ambrosia. After that I wanted to quickly put dinner together and made a simple chili. I had baked beans and other beans as leftovers; I reheated them and cooked with them some seitan crumbles, celery, corn kernels, and roasted bell pepper pieces. It was good with some hot sauce!

Below are some pictures from the demonstration, including a shot that my wife took of me. I love cooking PCRM recipes - they're always healthy, easy, and so tasty!

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Friday, January 01, 2021

New Year's Day Black-Eyed Peas with Steamed Collards, PCRM Mixed Vegetable Stir-Fry (No Added Fat)

It's traditional on New Year's Day to make a simple dish with black-eyed peas and collard greens, and I did just that. I soaked black-eyed peas overnight then pressure cooked, mixed with garam masala, turmeric, and a pinch of salt - in my Instant Pot, it was just a 5-minute cook time!

PCRM has an excellent 21-Day Kickstart program to help people try with support twenty-one days of whole food plant-based eating - and it's free, available on the web or as an app for a smart phone. Fellow Food for Life instructor Lisa Karlan has put together a daily #LunchBreakLive January 1-21 to have a different person demonstrate that day's kickstart dishes on the Jane Unchained show, and tomorrow I'm going to be demonstrating a stir-fry and ambrosia salad so experimented with the recipes today; the stir-fry was part of our dinner and the ambrosia was our dessert.

I think that tomorrow's show will be streamed on facebook, YouTube, and twitter. It's a good way to start the new year; next week is our So Many Cooks in the Kitchen soups/stews show and the following weekend the Kids in the Kitchen interview Genesis Butler. Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Carolyn Strickland's Holiday Crescent Ring

Shortly before Thanksgiving we had a nice So Many Thanksgiving Dishes! show and my colleague Carolyn Strickland made a great looking Holiday Crescent Ring. I tried today, using squash, several kinds of mushrooms, tempeh, kale, onion and seasonings like garlic powder, lemon pepper, and oregano for the filling. I should have photographed it, but when I served I added some cranberry sauce on top.

We all loved Carolyn's dish! As a personal chef I'm delivering some food on Christmas Day and think I may make one of these rings for my client!

Ideas for the future

I wish that the crescent rolls were whole wheat. I should make my own dough or buy some whole wheat dough. I also think this would be good with filo dough. In any case, Carolyn's dish is a winner - easy, tasty, and it looks festive.

I didn't grow up with vinegar and, though I now like ume plum vinegar and use it periodically in salads, I am a relative vinegar "novice" and generally don't love the flavor. However, Carolyn's recipe calls for a vinegar glaze before baking and the results were nice. I should experiment with vinegar glazing more dishes.


Monday, December 14, 2020

Kabocha Squash (and more!) Soup (No Added Fat)

I made soup in my Instant Pot pressure cooker with a variety of ingredients, including kabocha squash, potato, and carrots. I enjoy raw cranberries and put a few in my soup. I made a cauliflower dish and a hearty tomato and chickpea salad.

We all enjoyed the soup!

Ideas for the future

Especially with the help of pressure cooking, soups always seem to come out well. I should make soups and stews more often. Our January So Many Cooks in the Kitchen show is about soups and stews!

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving Dinner from Cafe Parizade

This was our #tvsThanskgiving vegan Thanksgiving takeout. There was even more food we didn't have space for today! Here is the menu:

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Diwali Dinner: Indian Lasagna (No Added Fat)

I made an Indian lasagna for Diwali by cooking most of half of head of cabbage, cut into thin strips, in a large saute pan with no oil or water, along with onion and, near the end, 1/4 t each of turmeric and mustard seeds. I also took chickpeas that I had prepared in my Instant Pot pressure cooker and blended them with a bit of cumin, salt, and a touch of lime juice. The cabbage was the bottom layer and the chickpeas the top. I used a combination of marinara sauce and fire-roasted diced tomatoes.

The combination worked well and we all loved it! The trick was to go light on the Indian spices for otherwise they might conflict in taste with the tomato and Italian basis. I also later quickly and roughly chopped in my blender cranberries and made a compote by cooking them on low, covered, with RazzMaTazz grapes from local Union Grove Farm (I froze some that they kindly gave me some weeks back), raisins, and a chopped navel orange. I mixed a little cinnamon in at the end and sprinkled a few small chocolate chips on top.

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Thursday, November 05, 2020

Spinach and Seitan Enchilada (for kiddo and me; no added fat)


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Election Night Wontons

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Monday, November 02, 2020

Air Fried Tofu (for kiddo and me)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Honeynut and Robin’s Koginut Squash Power Plate Stew with Razzmatazz Grapes

I wrote about Robin's Kogniut squash yesterday; having Kabocha as a parent serves it well and it results in a nice, creamy texture and flavor. Maybe even more, I love Honeynut squash. It looks similar with a beige outside thin skin, but its flesh is a little deeper. It has a uniquely sweet and again smooth flavor/consistency. I am demonstrating this weekend I think a Kabocha squash dhal, and today thought I'd make a dhal with yellow split peas and both these squashes. I included greens (spinach) ntroductory comments go here. Here is what I did.

  • Medium honeynut squash
  • Medium Robin's Koginut squash
  • 2 cups yellow (green is fine, alternately) split peas
  • 3 times as much water as split peas - i.e., 6 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped spinach (or kale or finely chopped chard)
  • 3/4 cup quinoa or millet or buckwheat, or, as I did, a combination
  • 3 medium carrots cut into 3/8" thick rounds (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely (1/8" or so)/roughly chopped
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t garam masala
  • 1/4 t whole cumin seed
  • 1/8 t mustard seed
  • 1t lemon juice
  • small-medium onion chopped into 3/8" cubes (about 3/4 cup)
  1. Cook the squashes for 12m in the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. They should be done in 8-9 minutes but, unlike yesterday's dish, I wanted soft squash.
  2. When the squashes are ready, release pressure and carefully remove each squash. Cut each in half, scoop out and compost the seeds, and scoop out the flesh; each of the two squashes will yield about a cup.
  3. Return to the pressure cooker the split peas, water, spinach, grains, carrots, garlic, spices, and squash flesh.
  4. Split peas generally cook under pressure in a ratio of 1:3 to water and 8-10m (45m stovetop); I cooked for 10m to get a thicker dhal.
  5. When done, slowly release pressure, mix in the lemon juice and onion, stir, and serve. I included the tasty Razzmatazz grapes that I discussed yesterday for their nutrition, beautiful color, and to make the meal a Power Plate one that includes all of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.

The dish was good and filling, though I preferred yesterday's squash dish. I like thick dhals; this turned out so thick that I call it a stew. I love how the grains complemented the dish in texture. The grape was a delicious addition and added a welcome moist burst of sweetness, which went quite well with the squash. My wife added a bit of hot sauce at the table to her serving.

I usually prepare food for about 4 or so; my family has 3 members but my wife enjoys my meals as lunch leftovers as well, and I like sharing with my neighbors. Today's meal made about 8 cups, which would have been enough for at least 6-8 people.

Ideas for the future

We all enjoyed the meal but I so love honeynut squash that I would like to try something like this again with just that variety of squash, and with a higher concentration of squash. Perhaps I could try, for serving 4, the same amount of squash but half of the split peas, water, greens, grains, garlic, and onion, keeping the carrot, spices, and lemon juice the same. Squash blossoms would go great with this, as well. I do like thick dhals but this could use a little more water so, instead, perhaps the water could be dropped from 6 to 4 cups. I should do more cooking with grains combined with squash.

I regret running a bit late in food preparation. I wish that I had a few more minutes to work on the presentation. The grapes certainly help, but I really would like more of a "pop" to the plate, perhaps with some deep red tomatoes, which we are out of.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Squash Medley with Razzmatazz Grapes (No Added Fat)

Our So Many Cooks in the Kitchen show this weekend is on squash, and I wanted to try slightly undercooking squash so that it could have some firmness and be cubed instead of being mushy, and then cooking stovetop with a few other ingredients to create a medley. Here is what I did.

  • Medium acorn squash and medium red kuri squash - or other winter squashes of your preference
  • 3 small-medium red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 small onion cut into 3/8" cubes (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup mushroom slices (I used frozen)
  • 3 cloves (not full bulbs!) of garlic, skin intact
  • (optional) 1-2 t coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/4 t garam masala
  • 1/4 t curry powder (or 1/8 t turmeric if you don't have curry powder)
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • (optional) 1/2 pint small grapes; we used Razzmatazz, which are maybe 1/4" in diameter but if you use a more typically sized grape, first half or even quarter the grapes
  • 1/4 t salt or to taste
  1. Put 1/2 cup of water into the Instant Pot pressure cooker (or other pressure cooker) and put in a trivet so that ingredients don't touch the sides of the cooker
  2. Rinse the squash and potatoes and put into the pressure cooker along with the three cloves of garlic; cook (on the Instant Pot I use "pressure steam" since the ingredients aren't touching the sides for 8m
  3. When the pressure cooker is done, turn it off and start sauteeing over medium heat for a few minutes the onion in a stainless steel saute pan with no oil
  4. Once the onion starts becoming clear, add the mushroom
  5. Gently released pressure from the Instant Pot, then remove the ingredients
  6. The garlic will be nicely roasted; cut the tips off of each of the cloves and press the opposite ends - like toothpaste, the creamy garlic will come out (and into the pan)
  7. Cut the potato into 5/8" pieces, skin and all (if organic; otherwise, you might want to peel) and add to the pan
  8. Cut each of the squashes into halves and use a spoon to remove the seeds; compost the acorn squash seeds but reserve the red kuri seeds
  9. One thing that's great about red kuri squash is that it is entirely edible, skin and seeds as well as flesh. Cut it into medium-large pieces, maybe 3/4" in size. Also cut the acorn squash into a similar size but leave the skin behind. Add all the cut squash into the pan.
  10. Mix in the spices except for the salt
  11. Continue to cook on medium for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. If the potato or squash was a little undercooked in the pressure cooker (mine wasn't), then cook till you're happy with them. Otherwise, 2 or 3 minutes is enough - the purpose is to have the ingredients all "marry" each other and nicely relish each other's flavors.
  12. Add the coconut aminos and stir; the liquid will help clean up any residue on the pan
  13. After 1/2 a minute, add the grapes, stir, add the salt, and stir a final time (salt can scratch some pans so I prefer to add it late or once plated when stirring)
I served this with brown rice and tomato.


My wife and I loved the dish. My daughter doesn't usually like squash but thought that the main course was reasonable. She said that if she did like squash, she'd say this was one of her favorite recent meals! The grapes added not just nice contrasting color and nutrition, but also the flavor and moistness were nice contrasts to the rest of the cooking, each nicely holding the other up. 

Ideas for the future

I would like to have had time to have separated the red kuri seeds and to have added them to or atop the main course. A little bit of red wine might be good instead of the coconut aminos to deglaze and to add another complementary flavor profile. I also would add more mushroom in the future and might cut the mushroom thickly so it is more pronounced.

Getting back to the basic idea of having firm squash to work with, the butternut squash was a bit "al dente" but the red kuri was almost too soft. I should try this again with a 7-minute cook time.

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Robin’s Koginut Squash with RazzMatazz Grape, Purple Sweet Potato, and 'Cheese' Sauce (Almost No Added Fat)

I'm excited that this weekend is our next So Many Cooks in the Kitchen show where about a dozen of us Cooks will be presenting So Much Squash! and sharing tasty and nutritious squash recipes. The monthly whole food plant-based shows are broadcast live and then later edited and available on the Plant-Based Network.

I'm also excited that a new local regenerative farm, Union Grove Farm, contacted me and invited me to visit their operations. They are getting into high antioxidant muscadine grape production and grow a new small, seedless, thin-skinned variety, the Razzmatazz. I brought home some of their grapes and want to experiment with cooking with them.

Today, I used another locally grown item, Robin's Koginut squash, originally hybridized in collaboration with a chef. This variety has parentage of kabocha, one of my favorites, and butternut squashes (Food and Wine has a nice article about the squash). I love cooking winter squash in my Instant Pot pressure cooker; I simply rinse the squash, put 1/2 cup of water in the pressure cooker, and set the squash on a trivet so it doesn't touch the pot's sides. 8 minutes of pressure steaming should be enough but I used 10 minutes, and also cooked a purple sweet potato (also local, I believe!) along with the squash.

While the squash was cooking, I prepared a simple vegan "cheese" sauce. I blended about 1/4 cup raw cashews with about 3/4 cup water, 2T nutritional yeast, 1 T thick leftover kabocha squash and lentil soup, and 1/4 t each of onion powder and garlic powder, as well as a pinch of salt.

I served the squash with a sweet potato wedge and dollop of "cheese", and was going to pan saute some sweet onions but forgot (!). I did top with a small bunch of the Razzmatazz grapes. I served with a mixed grain and raw vegetables.

Dinner was very good! I love the sweet and dense taste of this squash; it was the first time I'd tried it but it will be a variety I seek out now. A real testament was that my daughter, who doesn't normally like squash, really enjoyed the meal.

My family loves the grapes from this farm! Today's meal really used the grapes as a hearty garnish, and I ate the grapes as a palate cleanser. I want to work on some recipes where these cute, small, but nutrition- packed grapes are integral, and hope this week to maybe make a squash dish with grapes as part of a stuffing.

By the way, I made some "ice cream" with the Razzmatazz grapes after dinner. I put grapes, a little bit of plant milk (I used unsweetened flax milk), and that's it into my blender and blended for maybe 10 seconds till the mixture "seized up" and looked like ice cream. It was tart for my wife but my daughter and I quite liked it!

Though I don't classify this as a no-added-fat meal, it "almost" is; 1/4 cup of cashews is about 12g of fat and the sauce was enough for the three of us. In the PCRM Food for Life program, we suggest that any one dish on the plate should be no more than about 3g of fat, and this is close.

Ideas for the future

I am excited about the squash show and will use that as an excuse this week to continue to probe new squash dishes. I am also excited about connecting with this farm and enjoying their grapes. I bet I'll have a nice grape-squash recipe to demonstrate this Saturday!

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Friday, October 09, 2020

Grits with Mixed Vegetables and Grain


Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Kabocha Squash with Vegetables

Thursday, October 01, 2020

3-Bean and Vegetable Soup

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