I have been using a rice cookers for several years and I am currently on my second one. The one I have has two setting, one for white rice and one for brown rice. I have consistently cooked either brown or white rice and nothing else, it does have a steaming basket but I have yet to try it. A few weeks ago my son purchased a rice cooker for his apartment and read the instruction book, something I had neglected to do since mine only had two buttons and I think I can tell if its brown or white rice. He informed me that his rice cooker could also cook quinoa and had a button specifically for that purpose. I curiously went to my stash of instruction manuals and fished out the one for my rice cooker, but there was no mention of quinoa or any other grains that could be cooked in there. Having burned quinoa on my stove top before I was anxious to give my rice cooker a try. Using a 2/1 ratio, 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, I clicked the white rice button and waited.
Quinoa is a seed related to the beet and chard families that looks and tastes like a grain but packs as much protein as meat. It is versatile and can go almost anywhere a grain can go. It can replace rice in a stir-fry or couscous in a salad. You can even eat it in the morning instead of oatmeal. Quinoa is gluten free and easy to digest. Quinoa is native to Andean cultures and the Incas referred to is as “mother of all grains”.
The light on my rice cooker clicked from red to green indicating that it was finished. Tentatively opening the lid I found to my delight that it was fluffy and steamy, and a success. No longer will I accidentally burn quinoa to the bottom of my pans, my rice cooker has a new purpose.
We recently discovered a gem in our little Fort called Taj Mahal Indian restaurant. One of our favorite restaurants when we lived in Shanghai was an Indian restaurant and Taj Mahal brought back memories of those times. While it doesn’t sit next to the ever exciting pearl market of Hangqiao there is a small grocery next door called Taj Food and Gifts. This small grocery has been a fabulous find. We have enjoyed the Indian whole food plant based items in the restaurant and decided to experiment and try some Indian recipes at home. This is where the Taj food and gifts came in very handy. Thankfully they have a wonderful staff, who were able to help me go down my ingredients list and find all the items I needed. Taj food and gifts is where I found asafetida, and dried fenugreek leaves, I found the garam masala at my local Kroger. The garam masala was there all the time I just never noticed it until I needed it, much like many of the plant based whole food items we use now. My photo includes cauliflower and peas masala, oil free falafel bites, 100% whole wheat naan, quinoa tabbouleh and Silk plain soy dairy-free yogurt alternative.
Cauliflower and Peas Masala (Gobi Matar Masala)
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 cup green peas, frozen
- 2/3 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1-2 pinches asafetida
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 tsp. coriander powder
- 2 tbsp. apple sauce
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp. red chile powder
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 tbsp. dry fenugreek leaves
- 3 tomatoes, parboiled and peeled
- 2 green chiles
- 1″ ginger piece
- 10-12 cashews
- Place cauliflower and peas in a pan with 1 cup of water and boil for 5 minutes.
- Prepare the paste by pureeing the 3 tomatoes, 2 green chiles, 1″ piece of ginger, and 10-12 cashews.
- In a second pan, add 2 Tbsp apple sauce ( this is the oil substitute) heat until warm, add cumin seeds, asafetida, turmeric, dry fenugreek leaves, coriander and sauté.
- Add the previously prepared paste and the red chile powder, stir and cook until bubbly. A bit of water may be needed as these ingredients sauté so they don’t stick to the pan. This is the masala.
- After the 5 minutes, check the cauliflower and when tender, add 1/2 tsp. of the salt to the cauliflower and 1/2 tsp. of the salt to the masala, stir well.
- Mix the cauliflower and peas into the masala
- Add garam masala, cilantro and water for making a gravy consistency.
- Cover the pan and cook 2-3 min. on low flame, so that all the spices get absorbed into the vegetables.
- Serve with rice and naan.
A few weeks ago I rediscovered an old Greek recipe book I had long stuck in the back of my shelf. A plethora of recipes handed down for generations, each needing only a small alteration to make them whole food plant-based. As a side note my first trip to Greece was with my grandparents many moons ago over spring break. The smells, the food, the rich history, the view of the Acropolis above the city, lit up against the night sky, and then to stand in its midst the following day. My first taste of the thick licorice liquor that I would come to learn is a Greek tradition, ouzo. In the midst of these memories I started off on my quest to find grape leaves in the midwest. After ventures to most of my local shopping marts turned up empty, I turned to Georges International Market. There I found what I was looking for, Krinos imported grape leaves in a jar. Each jar contains approximately 50-51 leaves according to the label, probably 10 more than I actually needed for this recipe. As you can see from my photo, I need to practice my wrapping skills as some of my filling decided to escape from my grape leaves. I’m sure it’s an acquired skill from lots of practice…I’ll keep trying. We enjoyed these with my previous post, zucchini humus.
WFPB Stuffed Grape Leaves
Grape Leaves – layer grape leaves on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking or burning. (preferably the broken ones). To fill, lay leaf flat with vein side up, place filling by stem end (stem removed), fold bottom edge up, fold sides in, roll to tip, place in pan seam side down.
- 1 jar grape leaves, rinsed well
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice (uncooked)
- 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium mushroom, finely diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, finely diced
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped finely
- 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 1 Tbsp. dill
- 1 lemon juiced and zest and 1 lemon sliced
- 2 cups vegetable stock + for sautéing
- salt and pepper to taste
- Drain the grape leaves, soak them in hot water for a few minutes and then put them in cold water for 5 min, then rinse them well. Separate them and cut off the stems if needed. Allow them to drain in a colander while you make the filling.
- Pulse the garbanzo beans in a food processor until you get a crumbly texture without any whole beans. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, sauté onions and mushrooms in vegetable stock for 2-3 minutes until the onions become translucent. Then add the brown rice and toss with a bit more stock to coat.
- Add the tomato paste, garbanzo beans, and the vegetable stock and mix in. Cover the pan and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
- Add the mint, parsley, dill, juice from 1 lemon, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, mix thoroughly. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
- Lay a grape leaf flat, vein side up and place 1 tablespoon of rice mixture on the stem end of the leaf. Fold the sides in and roll to the point. (See note)
- Line the bottom of the pot with any torn leaves and a few slices of lemon.
- Arrange the stuffed grape leaves in tight layers. Place lemon slices on the top.
- Place a heavy plate upside down on top to weigh them down and cover with water to a level a little over the plate, then cover with the lid.
- Bring to a boil over high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
- Once rice is cooked remove plate and allow grape leaves to cool.
While on a frequent business trip my husband picked up a vegan cookbook for us. It is packed full of vegan recipes from many different restaurants around the world. Although each recipe needs a slight tweaking to be whole food, plant-based, no oil. This past weekend we tried out our version of zucchini hummus and it was wonderful. We made some veggie stuffed grape leaves and used this hummus as a dip, it was fantastic. We also tried some with our favorite original flavor Mary’s gone crackers, as you can see in the photo.
a wholesome, tasty, plant-based dip for all your dipping needs.
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. lime juice
- 1 1/4 cups red onion diced
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 3/4 cups chopped zucchini
- Grind the sunflower seeds and set aside
- Add apple sauce, lime juice, onion, garlic, salt, paprika, cumin, ground mustard, and black pepper and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Add ground sunflower seeds and chopped zucchini. Blend until smooth
- Serve with your favorite veggies! Enjoy!
Lentils are mentioned in the Bible in Genesis, in the story of Esau who gave up his birthright for a dish of lentils. (Genesis 25:30-34)
We were enjoying a lovely lunch the other day at Chick P in Brooklyn, when I happened to remember a Greek cookbook a friend gave me years ago. The falafel deluxe sandwich was incredible as was the lentil soup. I couldn’t wait to get home and see what kind of plant-based treasures from Greek grandmas I could discover in that long forgotten book. I was not disappointed, there are lots of recipes I plan on trying. The first to get a little WFPB makeover was this Barley and Lentil Soup. I made it for just my husband and I and it has taken us a week to eat it all, so it really does serve 8.
Barley Lentil Soup
- 5 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 7-8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup lentils, rinsed
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1/4 tsp. of each turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander, and cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. salt (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- Cook garlic and onion a splash of water (to prevent sticking) in soup pot. Sauce 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add carrots and celery. Sauce 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add 6 cups vegetable broth, mushrooms, lentils, barley, tomato paste, and seasonings from thyme to parsley. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer 60 to 70 minutes or until the lentils and barley are tender, but not mushy.
- Add in remaining broth, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Remove bay leaf and serve. Enjoy!
As I scrolled through my Facebook the other day I came across this sweet potato toast recipe. The post actually stated that sweet potato toast is the new avocado toast. I’ve never had avocado toast, in fact until recently I’ve only eaten avocados in guacamole and occasionally had some chunked in my salad. So being always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to eat healthy I checked it out. This is the link in case you would like to check it out too, it comes with a video sweet potato toast. I changed the recipe just a bit because we try and follow the Esselstyn diet as much as possible, so no oil and no dairy.
I started with a large sweet potato and had a rather difficult time slicing it
into 1/4-inch slices…note to self I need a new knife or a better way to cut sweet potatoes length wise. I prepared my cookie sheet along with my non stick mat. Instead of the 1 Tbsp of olive oil I substituted 1 Tbsp of apple sauce. This made the mixture that was to be brushed on the slices of sweet potato thicker than my liking. I decided on 2 Tbsp of applesauce, I used gogo squeeze organic appleapple applesauce. Since I was doubling the applesauce, I decided to double the paprika and cinnamon, leaving the sea salt at 1/4 tsp. I don’t have a toaster oven but found that a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes does the same job.
For the topping I used Silk dairy free plain soy yogurt, along with walnut pieces and apple slices.
Sweet Potato Toast
A quick, healthy, warm breakfast.
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 Tbsp. apple sauce
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt (optional)
- Silk dairy free plain soy yogurt
- walnut pieces
- apple slices
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Slice the potato into 1/4″ slices, lengthwise.
- Mix the applesauce, paprika, cinnamon and optional sea salt.
- Brush the applesauce mixture on both sides of the sweet potato slices.
- Place slices on prepared baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, until they are just tender when poked with a fork.
- Garnish with silk yogurt, walnuts and apple slices.
Engine 2 Lasagna
This veggie lasagna has been a hit several times with my family. It’s an easy dish to make ahead and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to heat and serve. I use Kroger brand 100% whole wheat lasagna noodles, and Kroger brand Simple Truth Organic Marinara Sauce with Mushrooms. (This sauce is one of the few that doesn’t contain any oil) I begin by cleaning and cooking the sweet potatoes in the microwave while I sauté the rest of the vegetables. I usually substitute fresh spinach sautéed in the liquid from the veggies in place of the frozen spinach used in the Engine 2 version. We are on the Esselystyn diet which means we skip the cashews on the top, and we avoid any oils. This recipe completely fills a regular size 9 x 13 pan to the top, so it’s the perfect dish for feeding a crowd. The last two times I’ve made it the pan has been almost over the top so I am currently looking into a deep dish lasagna pan. www.engine2diet.com/recipe/raise-the-roof-sweet-potato-lasagna
Engine 2 Lasagna
A hearty pasta dish very reminiscent of Grandma's lasagna.
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 head broccoli, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
- 1 package firm tofu
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. basil
- 1 tsp. rosemary
- 2 jars pasta sauce
- 2 boxes 100%whole grain lasagna noodles
- 2 cups fresh spinach (engine 2 says 16 oz. frozen)
- 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
- 6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
- Optional: 1 cup raw cashews, ground
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
- Press the tofu in a tofu press and set aside to drain.
- Cook and mash sweet potatoes and set aside.
- Sauté the onion and garlic on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp. Put aside in a large bowl, leaving the juices in the pan.
- Sauté the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and then add to the bowl with the mushrooms.
- Sauté the peppers and corn and then add them to the vegetable bowl.
- Sauté the fresh spinach and set aside separately from the vegetable bowl.
- Break up the tofu in the vegetable bowl, add the spices and combine.
- Cover the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce.
- Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another layer of sauce.
- Add the sautéed spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce.
- Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes. Cover with foil. Bake immediately or refrigerate until ready.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and (sprinkle optional ground cashews) return to the oven for 15 minutes.
- Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.