Monday, March 30, 2015

Baby Artichokes with Kale Sprouts, Leftover Vegetables and Vegan "Cheese Sauce" over Maifun Noodles (Almost No Added Fat)

My wife picked up a new kind, to us, of chard that looked a little like bok choy. I picked up today kalettes™, a newly hybridized kale sprout (a cross between kale and Brussels sprout), and decided to cook these with baby artichokes waterlessly like I described preparing artichokes on February 24. I taught two Food for Life classes yesterday and had a vegan "cheesy sauce" made with, among other ingredients, nutritional yeast and cashews, leftover, as well as some vegetables. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 3/4 of a medium onion cut into approx. 1" x 1/4" half moon slices (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 baby artichokes
  • Small (maybe 1/2" thick) slice of lemon, lime, or Meyer lemon
  • 6 ounce packet of kalettes, rinsed (about 3 cups)
  • 1 small bunch of chard cut into 1" length pieces from the stems through the leaves
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) freshly ground black pepper

Process
  1. I put the onion slices into a large Saladmaster stock pot.
  2. I prepared the baby artichokes as I've described before: "I removed the tough outer layers of leaves till I got to fairly tight and lighter colored ones, cut the bottoms and a little more of the tops off, then quartered them and placed them in lime juice to avoid discoloration." However, instead of placing them in lime juice (I actually used Meyer lemon), I Instead quickly coated the cut artichokes as I generated them and put them on top of the onion.
  3. I added the kalettes, then the chard.
  4. I turned the pan on medium high and covered until I heard the vapor release rattling. I then turned the heat down and cooked on low for about 20m.
  5. I squeezed the lemon for about a teaspoon of juice, and mixed that in, as well as the salt and pepper.
I heated the leftover vegetables and sauce, and made some maifun brown rice noodles (easy to make by boiling for 3m). I served the leftover vegetables over the noodles and put a dollop of "cheese sauce" on top. Chia and hemp seeds topped some tomato slices.

Though the sauce had cashews, each serving of the sauce has less than 2g of fat, so I will call this an almost no added fat meal. It looked good and wasn't difficult to make.


Results

Dinner was good. I like kale sprouts, and this was the first time I cooked them waterlessly.

Ideas for the future

Additional seasoning like black sesame seed and maybe jerk seasoning or some herbs would have enhanced the main course.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baby Navy Beans, Whole Grain Pizzettes (No Added Fat)

I made a simple but tasty dinner. I cooked some baby navy beans (I soaked them overnight, rinsed, put them in my Instant Pot pressure cooker with just enough water to cover, and pressed the "Bean" button then the negative button twice to cook for 28m under high pressure; I added a little salt, oregano, and ginger, as well as a vegan bouillon cube, then, uncovered, ran the Instant Pot in the slow cook mode to keep it warm and cook off excess moisture for 15-25m or so till I was ready to serve) and served them with a little bit of salt in between two carrot halves. A simple pizzette of toasted whole grain English muffin topped with marinara, nutritional yeast, and vegetables, completed the meal. It was good!

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cranberry Bean with Zucchini, Acorn Squash Reduction with Corn and Marinara (No Added Fat)

I wanted to make a cranberry bean dish tonight. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry beans soaked in ample water overnight (I soaked for about 15 hours, but 8-10 hours would have been plenty), with water optionally occasionally changed
  • Enough water to just cover the beans
  • Small zucchini cut into 3/8" cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Medium bell pepper cut into 3/8" cubes (about a cup)
  • 1T finely minced (1/8" or so) ginger root
  • 1/2 medium onion cut into 3/8" cubes (approx. 1 cup), divided into 2 halves
  • (optional) about a 3/4" length of a jalapeno diced into 1/4" cubes (maybe 2T - but, of course, this can be to taste)
  • 1 T finely minced (approx. 1/8") ginger
  • 1T lime (or lemon) juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt (I used kala namak)
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 t turmeric

Process
  1. I drained and rinsed the beans, then, adding enough fresh water to barely cover them, cooked on high pressure for 27 minutes in my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
  2. When I was ready to proceed, I slowly let out remaining pressure and opened the pot.
  3. I added the zucchini, bell pepper, ginger, and 1/2 cup onion, then cooked on high pressure for another 2 minutes.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly released pressure, mixed in 1/2 cup onion, as well as the lime juice, salt, cumin, and turmeric, and served.
I also had some leftover butternut squash reduction. I added a little shallot, corn, and marinara sauce, and heated it for a nice side dish.


Results

Dinner was very good! At first I said that I loved the main course - I did, but then I came to like the side course even more. The main course was a no-brainer - how could creamy, well cooked beans not result in a nice dish? The more surprising dish was the quick side. I made for a client a thick acorn squash soup a few days ago simply by high pressure steaming for 9 minutes uncut squashes then easily cutting them open, removing the skins, then blending the pulp with some broth. On a whim, tonight, I decided to add the marinara and corn, and they both turned out to be great ideas. The marinara, besides flavor, added a unique color and tempered the bright squash yellow. The corn added good texture and flavor.

Ideas for the future

I should do more with squash reductions. If I had added bell pepper, I'd have had a "three sisters" dish. I like cooked zucchini but rarely use it anymore as my daughter doesn't like it (tonight she had eaten most of her dinner when we visited a new nearby coop that just opened this past Wednesday, so I felt fine in cooking with zucchini since I knew she'd not eat much more), but hope that I can more frequently use it in my cooking.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries with Vegetables, Butternut Squash Reduction (No Added Fat)

I wanted to cook with hard red winter wheat berries (normally, 1 part berries to 3 parts water for 30m under high pressure in a pressure cooker). I served my daughter some leftover kichedi (rice and lentils) and my Dad was eating out, so I cooked just for my wife and me. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup hard red winter wheat berries
  • 1 1/2 cups (i.e., 3 times as much as wheat berries) water
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 10 asparagus spears cut into 1" lengths (approx. a cup)
  • Medium-large zucchini cut into 1/2" cubes (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms (about 6 medium-large mushrooms) cut into 3/8" slices
  • 1 carrot cut into 1/4" slices (approx. 1 cup)
  • (optional) about a 3/4" length of a jalapeno diced into 1/4" cubes (maybe 2T - but, of course, this can be to taste)
  • 1 T finely minced (approx. 1/8") ginger
  • 1 T citrus juice (I used tangelo - pulp and seed all blended, but simple lemon or lime or other citrus juice would be fine)
  • 1 cup onion cut into 1/4" cubes (I used a combination of scallions and yellow onions)
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt

Process
  1. I put the wheat berries, water, and bouillon cube into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for 28 minutes.
  2. When I was ready to proceed, I slowly let out remaining pressure and opened the pot.
  3. I mixed in the asparagus, zucchini, mushroom, carrot, jalapeno, and ginger, and cooked on high pressure for another two minutes.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly released pressure, mixed in the juice, onion, and salt, and served.
I had some thick butternut squash that I had leftover from when I made it for a client a few days ago. I cooked it down in a stock pan a bit, adding in some garlic, shallot, and citrus-infused salt, and served it, along with tomato.


Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chickpeas with Rainbow Chard, Basmati Rice with Peas and Carrots (No Added Fat); notes on homemade applesauce and pressure-cooked oatmeal

I've been wanting to cook with chickpeas for a while - it's been too long! I soaked some chickpeas last night and decided to make a dish with rainbow chard that I purchased today. My thought was to cook the chickpeas in the pressure cooker, add the chard, cook for another minute, and then add raw onions.

My daughter had a bit of an upset stomach, so I wanted to maximize simple foods like white (not brown) rice, banana, applesauce, etc. We rarely eat white rice, but I bought white Basmati rice today. She wanted carrots in the rice, and I also wanted to add peas. Because the main course (I also served her tofu) wasn't going to be for her, I had the rare luxury of spicing it up and bought a jalapeno (yay!) today. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups chickpeas soaked overnight in ample water (say, 5 cups)
  • Water to just cover the beans (maybe 1/2 cup?)
  • 3 stalks chard sliced straight across into 1/4" strips (approx. 3 cups); bok choy could be substituted
  • (optional) about a 3/4" length of a jalapeno diced into 1/4" cubes (maybe 2T - but, of course, this can be to taste)
  • 1 T finely minced (approx. 1/8") ginger
  • 1T tangelo juice (or lemon or lime juice)
  • 1 cup 1/4" onion
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/4 t ground cumin

Process
  1. I drained and rinsed the chickpeas, then, adding enough fresh water to barely cover them, cooked on high pressure for 22 minutes in my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
  2. When I was ready to proceed, I slowly let out remaining pressure and opened the pot.
  3. I mixed in the chard, jalapeno, and ginger, and cooked on high pressure for another minute.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly released pressure, mixed in the juice, onion, salt, and cumin, and served.
I also made white Basmati rice (1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts water simmered for 20m). I didn't use a vegan bouillon cube as I usually do for rice, as I wanted something with more of an Indian flavor. Instead, I first sauteed for just a minute or so (with no added fat or liquid in my small Saladmaster stock pan) a little onion and cumin seed, then added the water and rice. After the 20m, I turned the heat off and added frozen peas and strips of carrot, and re-covered for several more minutes.


Results

The chickpeas were great - what a treat to have some cooked-in hot pepper "heat"! The moisture was just right, the texture was good, it was all quite good. The only change I'd at all consider is to maybe soften the chickpeas just a little by increasing the initial cook time to 23 or 24 minutes. But the chickpeas were just fine as they were!

The rice was good but not fluffy enough. It could have used more moisture. I think I'll up the ratio next time to 1:2.

Ideas for the future

I don't cook white Basmati rice often, but will try to remember to try a 1:2 ratio of rice to water. I need to cook with chickpeas more often!

Addendum on Applesauce and Oatmeal

By the way, I feel a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I had never made applesauce before. I rarely eat it but my Dad does, and he always likes to get one that just has organic apples and nothing else. With my daughter needing simple foods, yesterday I decided to try a simple homemade applesauce for her.

I cut the core out of an apple, put it in my Vitamix blender, added a little segment of peeled and seeded lime, and, using the food pusher, pushed the apple and lime into the blades running at medium high. I served with cinnamon on top. Wow - it was the best applesauce that I've ever had, and the red skin of the Pink Lady added a pretty color, showing up like confetti. I bought some organic Granny Smith apples and want to make apple sauce in this way with Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples - the green and red color will be appealing, no doubt.

I also recently started occasionally making oatmeal in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. It's simple; I put in a measure of rolled oats and twice the amount of liquid (water could do, I guess, but I use either soymilk or homemade unsweetened almond milk), add a handful of raisins and a little cinnamon, then press the "Porridge" button for a 20m high pressure cooking cycle.  It gives the best oatmeal I've ever made - and the raisins bulge up and become particularly tasty.

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Japanese Sweet Potato with Tomatilla and Roasted Red Bell Pepper, Tricolor Quinoa with Corn (No Added Fat)

Back in 2007, I had a small experience grilling with tomatillas but, other than using prepared tomatilla salsa occasionally, I can't remember doing much cooking with tomatillas. I picked a few up today and decided to try using them in the pressure cooker. They're so moist and, though I don't think are eaten raw, I figured just a minute of pressure cooking would result in an interesting flavor.

My wife had prepared some sweet potatoes by pressure steaming them just before I made dinner. I used one, still warm, in the main course. I also used up the remaining roasted red bell pepper that I had. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 2 medium tomatillas cut into 3/8" cubes (approx. 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1/2 cup bok choy cut into 1/2" cubes; other greens could be used
  • (optional) 4-6 leaves of kale roughly hand-torn into approx. 1/2" squares, stems excepted
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1T ginger finely (1/8" diced)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Cooked sweet potato cut into 3/4" cubes (1 1/2 cups); I usually leave skin on, but decided to compost the skin
  • (optional) approx. 1/3 roasted bell pepper cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" strips
  • 2 scallions cut into 1/2" lengths
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) hot red chili powder
  • Lemon pepper and salt to taste (I used about 1/4 t of each)

Process
  1. I put the tomatilla, onion, bok choy, kale, bouillon cube, ginger, and water into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for just one minute under high pressure.
  2. When I was ready to proceed, I slowly let out remaining pressure and added the remaining ingredients (sweet potato, roasted pepper, scallion, and spices), and served.
I also made tricolor quinoa with corn.


Results

Wow, the tomatilla was excellent! My wife and I loved the main course. The tomatilla added a moist and nice taste to the dish. I love white-fleshed Japanese sweet potato, which I used - the combination was great. I had made something else for my daughter today, so was free to use spice, which went well with the main course.

Ideas for the future

I should occasionally cook with tomatillas!

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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Cranberry Beans with Kale and Tomato, Jade Pearl Rice with Roasted Red Bell Pepper (No Added Fat)

I've not been able to find cranberry beans in the grocery store recently till just a few days ago, and so when I found them, I bought a good quantity. I let some of the beans soak overnight (about 12-13 hours, but 8 would be sufficient) in ample water.  I ended up with what may be my favorite cranberry bean dish that I've made by including raw tomato - the combination of raw tomato, raw scallion and onion, and beans were great. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups cranberry beans soaked overnight in ample water (say, 5 cups)
  • Water to just cover the beans (maybe 1/2 cup?)
  • 1 or 2 cloves of finely minced (approx. 1/8") garlic; I was out of garlic, so used a teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 medium shallot cut into 3/8" cubes (approx. 3T)
  • 1 T finely minced (approx. 1/8") ginger
  • 5 leaves kale, stems excepted, roughly hand-torn to approximately 3/4" squares
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 t dried oregano
  • (optional) 1/4 t lemon pepper
  • 2 scallions cut into 3/4" lengths
  • 2 or 3 T of chopped (1/4") onion
  • Medium tomato cut into 1/2" cubes (approx. a cup)
  • 1t lemon or lime juice (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1/2 t salt

Process
  1. I drained and rinsed the beans then, adding enough fresh water to barely cover the beans, cooked on high pressure for 28 minutes in my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
  2. When I was ready to proceed, I slowly let out remaining pressure and served the beans to my Dad, who doesn't eat garlic.
  3. I mixed in the garlic (powder), shallot, ginger, kale, corn, bouillon cube, oregano, and lemon pepper, and cooked for one more minute under high pressure.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out remaining pressure slowly. I mixed in the scallion, onion, tomato, lemon juice, and salt.
I also made Jade pearl rice and mixed in some roasted red pepper strips that I had made a few days ago, as well as a little nutritional yeast.


Results

I was quite happy with dinner. The main course was particularly good - and the rice, as always, was tasty. I really liked the raw tomato and onion/scallion with the cranberry beans.

Ideas for the future

I can't think of any way to improve the main course. The textures and flavor combinations were quite good. I should try experimenting with other dishes with raw tomato and onion mixed in.

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