Sunday, August 17, 2014

Green Lentils with Potato and Kale, Quinoa (No Added Fat, partially Waterless Cooking)

. I thought that I would make a dish with lentils in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. I've had good luck including small squares of kale, and thought that I would experiment with tomato; this past Sunday I enjoyed including green tomato in a pressure-cooked dish, but wanted to try a dish where a more robust tomato flavor would fit in. As a final touch, I had some preserved lemon and thought that it would contribute a nice taste. I was free to spice the dish as I made a vegan grilled cheese sandwich and a variety of vegetables for my daughter.

Instead of brown lentils, I used French lentils. I skipped the garlic and jalapeno, and served raw onion at the table to be mixed in

  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly cut into approximately 1/4" pieces
  • 6 medium red potatoes (approximately 1 1/2") cut into quarters2
  • 2 carrots cut into 1/4" slices
  • 3 leaves kale, roughly hand cut into approximately 3/4" squares
  • 1 red onion cut into 3/8" cubes; 1/2 reserved
  • 1 medium tomato cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t cumin seed

  1. I put the lentils, water, bouillon cube, turmeric, and garlic in the Instant Pot and cooked for 12 minutes on high pressure; I let it finish and cool down till I could remove the top
  2. In the meantime, I put in the potatoes, carrots, kale, half of the onion, and tomato into my large 3 quart Saladmaster stock pot; I should have preheated the pot, but it's okay not to.
  3. I mixed the ingredients then, with no added liquid, covered the pan and set on medium; once the vapor button started rattling, I reduced the heat to low and cooked for 20m.
  4. Once the 20m was up, I mixed the lentils, remaining half onion, salt, and cumin seed into the cooked stock pot ingredients, and served.
I also had made some quinoa (1 : 2 ratio of quinoa to water; I first sautéed some bell pepper and onion, then added the quinoa, water, and bouillon cube, and served with a bit of salt).


Dinner was good! I thought that the potato could have been cooked another few minutes, but my wife liked it as is with a good bite. The combination was good and the moisture was just right and not runny. The lentils went well with the quinoa.

Ideas for the future

I think I'd cook the vegetables in the stock pot a bit longer so that the potato would have been cooked just a bit more - maybe 5 more minutes. A little bit of jalapeno could go well with the lentils.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Stew reinvented with Eggplant and Salsa, Uttapam (Almost No Added Fat)


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower served with Limed Jerk Seitan and Heirloom Tomato topped with Hemp Seeds (No Added Fat)

I don't often eat cauliflower; I occasionally enjoy a bit raw in a salad, or perhaps cooked Indian-style as part of a curried dish. But I've heard of creamy mashed cauliflower and what I've heard is that it's easy and quite tasty. An online search came up with just such a recipe from a blog called A Vegan and a Vitamix. I modified it slightly to double the liquid and garlic, and add nutritional yeast. The recipe calls for initially steaming the cauliflower florets for about 13 minutes, and I used a hint about steaming cauliflower in a pressure cooker which suggested 3 minutes of steaming under high pressure would do (the Instant Pot website has a good summary of pressure steaming). Here is the recipe with these modifications.

  • 1 cup water
  • Medium head of cauliflower cut into maybe a half dozen smaller pieces, leaves and large stem removed and remaining cauliflower cut into sections of florets (I guess it could be cut into the individual florets, but it would have taken more time and been more difficult to keep atop the steamer trivet)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened (homemade) almond milk (this is a staple for us, but any other plant "milk", preferably unsweetened, could be used)
  • 3T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  1. I put the trivet (just a little metal basket or shelf to get ingredients up off the water level and off of the pot sides) in the Instant Pot, and put the cup of water in, double checking that the trivet was above the level of the water (it was - if not, I'd reduce the water till it was at least a bit below the trivet).
  2. I then added the cauliflower, closed the pot, and selected "Steam", which is high pressure steaming; I set it to 3 minutes.
  3. When I was ready for the cauliflower, I let out any remaining steam and pressure (just a few minutes later, there was little pressure left), and put the cauliflower into my Vitamix blender (any reasonably powerful blender should do).
  4. I added the rest of the ingredients (garlic, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper) and, using the tamper (a pole that pushes ingredients down into the spinning blades), blended on a variable setting of about 7 (out of 10; beyond that, the blender can go into a high speed mode) till the cauliflower was homogenized. It was soft and pliable, but not runny - for those who want it a bit softer, some more milk could be used.
  5. That's it! I served it, using the plastic Vitamix long spatula to scrape out remnants.
I also made my signature lime-marinated jerk seitan (a video is available) by sautéing with no added fat in a cast iron pan seitan and onion, then mixing in lime and jerk seasoning (I prefer to first marinate the seitan in lime, but not when I am cooking in cast iron), as well as a bit of salt.


Dinner was great! What a nice and easy recipe that cauliflower dish is - it's a winner! I think that I overdid the garlic, though my wife enjoyed it. The nutritional yeast was a good addition - just enough to lend a subtle hint. We always love the limed jerk seitan!

Ideas for the future

I'd like to try this again but cut the garlic in half. Maybe I should try this as is but with the garlic pressure cooked, making it have a milder roasted flavor. My wife suggested that a little bit of chunk in the form of some raw onion cubes might be nice, though I'm not sure. I wonder what similar dishes would be like with other vegetables like turnips or some other mild vegetable.

While I was preparing the seitan, I came up with an idea - seitan would be good with some raw tomato mixed in (and maybe raw onion) when served. Another idea would be to mix in some pressure cooked green tomato to get just a subtle tomato flavor.

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Stew with Jade Pearl Rice (No Added Fat)

One of the families in my daughter's preschool just had a baby, and I was honored to be on the list of folks bringing a dinner over. I decided to make a stew with Jade pearl rice, as I could easily make a large quantity and save enough for our own dinner before taking the food over.


(Since the sweet and other potatoes were organic, I left the peel on; otherwise, they should first be peeled.)
  • 1 cup small (about 1 inch long) fingerling potatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, frozen cubes approx. 3/4"
  • 2 cups sweet potato cut into 5/8" sections the length of the potato, and then quartered
  • 2 cups of a heirloom variety of potato similar to Yukon gold plus another 2 1/2 cups Yukon gold potatoes (or a total of 4 1/2 cups Yukon gold), cut into 5/8" cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic cut roughly into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups carrots, cut into 3/8" chunks
  • 3 cups onion cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1T ginger, diced to 1/4"
  • 1/2 cup broccoli stalks, cubed to 1/4" pieces
  • (Optional) 1/2 cup stewed tomatoes; 1 cup green tomato cut to 3/4" cubes could be substituted, or the tomato could be skipped entirely
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • (Optional) 1/2 cup dry red wine (I omitted because I didn't have any small open bottles, but wine adds a nice subtle flavor, and the heat removes almost all of the alcohol)
  • 3 cups mixed bell peppers (different colors add to the presentation) cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 16 ounces (2 boxes of my favorite brand, WestSoy) seitan strips cut into 3/4" pieces
  • (Optional) 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • (Optional) 1 cup (compressed) baby spinach leaves
  • 3T lemon sage (basil can be substituted)
  • 1/4 t dried oregano
  • 1/4t freshly ground black pepper


Potatoes or sweet potatoes take 7-9 minutes to cook in my Instant Pot pressure cooker when cut into cubes; frozen chunks of butternut squash take 10-12 minutes; broccoli stalks take 3-4 minutes; carrot chunks, onions take 2-3 minutes; and bell pepper chunks take 1-3 minutes. I wanted the vegetables crispy and knew that I could simmer further to soften, if necessary, so aimed to undercook the recommended times a bit. Here is what I did.
  1. I put all of the potato, squash, sweet potato, the 3 cloves roughly cut garlic, and the cup of water in the electronic pressure cooker and set on high for 3 minutes.
  2. To avoid overcooking, I quick release the steam then added the s a bit. I was surprised - all the ingredients were definitely done and maybe a bit too soft. I was going to add the other ingredients and then return to pressure cooking, but instead just emptied the pot and saved the cooked vegetables.
  3. I put the carrot, onion, ginger, broccoli stalk, stewed tomato, bouillon cube, salt, and boiling water into the empty pressure cooker and cooked on high for 2 minutes 
  4. I quick release the steam, then added the bell pepper, seitan, nutritional yeast, herbs, and black pepper.
  5. I added the baby spinach and stirred. Spinach cooks down nicely but all it needed in this stew is to be stirred in and allowed to sit for a few minutes before serving.
I also made Jade pearl rice by sauteeing, with no added fat, some onion, garlic, mushroom (oops! I had meant to but had forgotten the mushroom!), and bell pepper, then adding a vegan bouillon cube, and water and rice in a 1 1/2 : 1 ratio for 20m.


I have never cooked a stew this way; in the past, I've not pressure cooked and have never included healthful sweet potatoes, squash, or nutritional yeast. I also enjoyed trying using a variety of potatoes and introducing tomato and broccoli stalks. I added a bit of fresh red hot pepper to my wife and my servings, and took some hot pepper to the friends.

I was delighted that the family to whom I took the food all seemed to enjoy the meal, even the young children. My finicky daughter didn't like the stew, but my wife and I did. It had just the right amount of liquid - less and it wouldn't have been a stew.

Ideas for the future

Larger pieces of the baby fingerlings were just the right consistency, as were all the other vegetables, except the sweet potato, squash, and most of the potatoes. The good news is that this can all be made in one batch by putting all the vegetables except the bell pepper (and seitan, nutritional yeast, and herbs) in the pressure cooker initially and just cooking for 2 minutes! I should try another stew variant with some additional vegetables, such as, perhaps, celery, zucchini, and okra. Not for my wife, who can't digest tofu, but some 3/4" cubes of pressure cooked tofu (as I described on July 6th) would also be good. Chopped kale or mustard greens would be good, too.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Simple Potato Salad, French Filet Beans (No Added Fat)

  • About 20 green beans cut into 1 1/2" lengths. I used the delicate purple colored French Filet Beans (from Four Leaf Farm that I picked up just an hour or two earlier at the local farmer's market; I don't think I've had these before - they're so tender that they also taste good raw)
  • 1/8 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1/4 t lemon or lime juice
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 2T fresh basil leaves cut chiffonade style into 1/4" ribbons

  1. I put the onion into a warmed cast iron pan (I preheated on medium and started the onion when a piece would lightly sizzle) with no added fat, stirred occasionally for 2 minutes, then added the beans.
  2. I cooked the beans briefly, about 2 more minutes; as expected, the purple beans started turning a bit green, and I stopped when there was just a bit of green patches.
  3. I added the lemon juice and salt, and kept warm in a toaster oven till I was ready to serve.
  4. When ready to serve, I mixed in the basil and then served.
I also made a simple potato salad out of baby fingerling potatoes that I purchased today at the farmer's market. My daughter has been asking for potato salad; I just boiled the intact tiny potatoes, then mixed in a bit of onion, dill pickle pieces, red bell pepper, salt, and black pepper. For her serving, I added some pesto Vegenaise.


This was meant to be a quick dinner, and it was. I would have preferred to take a bit more time to make a more complex potato salad, but this one came out fine. The beans were good but perhaps I could cook them just barely next time - very little purple was left when I took them out of the toaster oven.

Ideas for the future

I should explore more fanciful potato salads, especially for my daughter.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Lemon Rice with Potato, Sambhar

We had enjoyed takeout food from a good South Indian restaurant on Saturday, and had some leftovers that I "remade" for dinner tonight. Usually, their lemon rice is quite good, but this batch was missing something. What about making a mixed vegetable dish out of it? This is what I did.

  • 2 medium baking or boiling potatoes (I used a heirloom variety that looked like a small Russet but was lightly tinged red that my wife picked up from the local farmer's market, but Yukon Gold or even Russets or other varieties would work well) cut into 3/8" cubes (if organic, leave skin on - otherwise, remove skin)
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped into approximately 1/4" pieces
  • 1/3 cup water (I boiled first but cold water is fine)
  • Small red (or other) bell pepper cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Approximately 1/4 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Prepared lemon rice (which we had as leftovers from a good local South Indian restaurant, Tower) - but any rice, perhaps a good brown rice made separately, would be good

  1. I put the potato, garlic, and water in the Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker and set it for 4 minutes under high pressure.
  2. When I was ready, I gently released remaining pressure and put the ingredients into a Saladmaster (or other) stock pot, along with the bell pepper and onion.
  3. I sauteed, with no added fat, for a few minutes till the potato was just slightly crispy, then added the rice.
  4. I continued heating the mixture on low, stirring occasionally, till the rice was well heated, then served, along with warmed sambhar (a spicy traditional South Indian soup). 

My whole family enjoyed dinner. Rice is so versatile!

Ideas for the future

I should try "remaking" other Indian restaurant leftovers.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Brown Rice Fusilli Pasta with Vegan Apple Sage Sausage

While I was exercising at the gym, my daughter became hungry, so my wife put together some leftovers and the two of them ate. By the time I got around to preparing my own dinner, it was late, so I made a simple but filling pasta me4al.

Though we don't avoid gluten, we like brown rice pastas by companies like Tinkyada. I prepared their fusilli pasta. I heated a link of Field Roast brand vegan smoked apple sage sausage; it has 10g of fat, so I won't classify this meal as even almost no added fat.