Tuesday Tidbit “Lentils”

I must admit that before starting down this healthy path I think I maybe had purchased lentils once and used them in a soup recipe.  I certainly would never have walked into a restaurant and been excited seeing lentil soup on the menu.  But, my how times have changed.  Did you know that there is more than one types of lentils and they each have a subtlety different flavor, I bet you thought they were all the same.  Brown lentils are what is commonly sold in the store in a package that states simply, lentils.  Red, brown and green lentils are what I use because they don’t end up mushy and are great for most of the dishes I make.  Maybe my future holds some experimenting with black, red, yellow etc. but for now I’m happy with red, brown and green.

 

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I discovered a quick and easy trick for making lentils that doesn’t require you to watch them to see if they are boiling or set a timer or anything, my rice cooker!  As all rice cookers are slightly different I’ll tell you what works for mine and then you may need to play around with it a bit.  I haven’t tried the yellow or black lentils in my rice cooker, actually I haven’t tried them at home at all.  It is my understanding from reading about them that the yellow and black can become mushy so I would guess putting them in the rice cooker may not turn out so well.  After rinsing brown, green or red lentils, I pop them in my rice cooker and add twice the amount of water, close the top and push the white rice button, and walk away.  So for example if I use 1 cup of lentils dried I add 2 cups of water with them in the rice cooker.  They will double at least,  in size so if you have a small rice cooker be careful not to overload it.

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A half cup of dried lentils yields a little more than one cup of cooked lentils.  Better to have too much than too little is my motto, so you will tend to find some extra cooked lentils in my fridge at all times.  I’m not sure how long they last once they are cooked because I use them within the week.  I toss them on salads, on top of pizzas, in budda bowls, not to mention all the tasty recipes they go in, lentil pasta and lentil sloppy Joes, lentil loaf.

The best thing about lentils is how healthy they are for us.  They are exceptionally nutrient dense, rich in protein, fiber, calcium, iron and B vitamins.  One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, which makes them a perfect chunk of my daily 48 grams of protein.  Lentils are little lens shaped legumes and lenses were named after lentils…lens is lentil in latin.  Lentils are one of the oldest legumes, dating back to Ancient Greece.  Enjoy your healthy lentils!  ❤️ur❤️

 

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh

This recipe is a great way to use up any extra quinoa you may have on hand.  If you are making fresh quinoa for this recipe please refer to my previous post and try your hand at making quinoa in your rice cooker.   Remember quinoa is gluten-free and packed with protein!  I usually have a big bag of regular quinoa from Costco in my pantry.  I also have small bags of multi colored quinoa that have found at my local Kroger grocery store. Tabbouleh is traditionally a vegetarian salad made of mostly finely chopped, parsley with tomatoes, mint, onion, bulgur, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.   This as you will see is an adaptation of the traditional, absolutely oil free.   I am sure there are numerous ways you can play with this recipe and make it your own.  For now this is what our family enjoys, however each time I think we tweak it just a little, so tweak away.  I serve this cold as a side salad.

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Quinoa Tabbouleh

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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a delicious side salad best served cold.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa (7 1/2 cups cooked quinoa chilled)
  • 3 1/4 cups water ( if using uncooked quinoa)
  • 1 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cups minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • leaves from 3 stalks of mint, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Directions

  1. If you are using uncooked quinoa, combine the quinoa with the water in a pan and bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 min., fluff with a fork and refrigerate until chilled, approximately 2 hours.
  2. Combine chilled quinoa, parsley, cilantro, cucumber, mint, red onion, salt and ACV, mix together and serve immediately or chill.

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Tuesday Tidbit – Quinoa

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.IMG_5939

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.IMG_5943

Cauliflower and Peas Masala (Gobi Matar Masala)

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.

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Cauliflower and Peas Masala (Gobi Matar Masala)

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 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

Paste

  • 3 tomatoes, parboiled and peeled
  • 2 green chiles
  • 1″ ginger piece
  • 10-12 cashews

Directions

  1. Place cauliflower and peas in a pan with 1 cup of water and boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare the paste by pureeing the 3 tomatoes, 2 green chiles, 1″ piece of ginger, and 10-12 cashews.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Mix the cauliflower and peas into the masala
  7. Add garam masala, cilantro and water for making a gravy consistency.
  8. Cover the pan and cook 2-3 min. on low flame, so that all the spices get absorbed into the vegetables.
  9. Serve with rice and naan.

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Roasted Beets

As a child the only way I had ever seen beets served was in pickled beet eggs.  That tradition is from an old Pennsylvania dutch recipe where boiled eggs are refrigerated in pickled beet liquid along with the pickled beets and allowed to marinate until the eggs turn a deep red color, they are then both served together.  As a child these red eggs with the yolk sections stained pink and their accompanying beets were less than appetizing.  As it turns out beets are rich in natural nitrates, which your body uses to make nitric oxide (NO).  Nitric Oxide is important for your body because it helps dilate your arteries, delivering more oxygenated blood to your organs.  My husband carries a small bottle of nitroglycerin to take if he begins to experience chest pains,  nitroglycerin is converted by the body into NO and dilates the coronary arteries, allowing more blood to flow to the heart muscle  Recently it was discovered that NO actually enables your body to extract MORE energy from that oxygen.  A recent study quoted in Dr. Gregor’s “How Not to Die”, states that men and women eating one and a half cups of baked beets seventy-five minutes before running a 5K race improved their running performance while maintaining the same heart rate and they even reported less exertion.  While I haven’t tried that out for myself, it is good to have a little extra blood flow to the most important organ of the body, the brain.  Studies also show that researchers have been able to get a 10 point systolic blood pressure drop in volunteers within hours of their consuming beet juice – an effect that lasted throughout the day.  Roasted beets are so easy to make and keep easily in the refrigerator to be chopped up and added to salads, budda bowls, stir-fries, or just plain throughout the week.  As a grown up I have now aquired a taste for these roasted beets.IMG_0323

Roasted Beets

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of red beets ( usually 3 beets) scrubbed clean, green tops removed
  • 1 bunch of golden beets ( usually 3 beets) scrubbed clean, green tops removed
  • white balsamic vinegar ( I use lemon grass white balsamic)
  • salt

In my photo I used a lidded corning ware dish, previously I have made them using foil in my dish, either way works, however there was a lot of scrubbing to get that dish clean that I hadn’t lined with foil.  This photo is when they were fresh from the oven and still have their skins on.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° and line baking dish with foil.
  2. Rub beets with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt, place in dish and cover with another sheet of foil.
  3. Roast for 1-2 hours.  After 1 hour test them with the tines of a fork.  Typically average sized beets take an hour and a half.  Once the fork tines slide in easily the beets are tender and ready to be removed from the oven to cool.
  4. After the beets have cooled a bit but are still warm, peel off the outer skin.
  5. Cut and eat, or put in the fridge.

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WFPB Stuffed Grape Leaves

IMG_5883.jpgA 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

  • Servings: 50 grape leaves
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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.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • water

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. Pulse the garbanzo beans in a food processor until you get a crumbly texture without any whole beans.  Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the mint, parsley, dill, juice from 1 lemon, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, mix thoroughly. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  6. 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)
  7. Line the bottom of the pot with any torn leaves and a few slices of lemon.
  8. Arrange the stuffed grape leaves in tight layers. Place lemon slices on the top.
  9. 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.
  10. Bring to a boil over high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
  11. Once rice is cooked remove plate and allow grape leaves to cool.
  12. Enjoy!

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Zucchini Hummus

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.

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Zucchini Hummus

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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a wholesome, tasty, plant-based dip for all your dipping needs.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Grind the sunflower seeds and set aside
  2. Add apple sauce, lime juice, onion, garlic, salt, paprika, cumin, ground mustard, and black pepper and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add ground sunflower seeds and chopped zucchini. Blend until smooth
  4. Serve with your favorite veggies!  Enjoy!

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Barley Lentil Soup

IMG_5849.jpgLentils 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

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Cook garlic and onion a splash of water (to prevent sticking) in soup pot.  Sauce 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add carrots and celery.  Sauce 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add 6 cups vegetable broth, mushrooms, lentils, barley, tomato paste,  and seasonings from thyme to parsley. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer 60 to 70 minutes or until the lentils and barley are tender, but not mushy.
  5. Add in remaining broth, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Remove bay leaf and serve.  Enjoy!

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“Chicken” Salad

 

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Chicken Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A lite chicken salad substitute, with a crisp celery crunch. We have eaten this on 100% whole grain buns, as a dip with Marys crackers, or as a salad topping.

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of dill pickles, chopped
  • sprinkling of hemp seeds
  • pepper to taste
  • sea salt, optional

Directions

  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas
  2. In a medium bowl mash chickpeas with a fork or potato masher
  3. Add tahini, mustard, maple syrup, red onion, celery, pickles, hemp seeds, pepper and optional salt. Stir until well mixed
  4. Eat as desired, as a sandwich salad, as a dip, or as a salad topper

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