Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Bean Chili with Wheat Berries

Yesterday we awoke to yet another winter storm with frozen precipitation. Thankfully it didn’t amount to much, but enough to stay home and avoid the terrible drivers which always seem to go out when it snows. Whenever it snows I want something hot to eat for dinner. For some unknown reason snow makes me think of chili. Since we weren’t going to the store I used what we had on hand and this is what I made.

Two Bean Chili with Wheat Berries
Makes 4 entrée sized servings


1 cup red kidney beans, picked through and rinsed
1 cup pinto beans, picked through and rinsed
1 cup wheat berries
8 cups water
3 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
10 peppercorns
32 ounces peeled Roma tomatoes, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
½ tablespoon cocoa powder
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
20 sprigs of cilantro, finely minced – for garnish


In a large heavy bottomed pot combine the beans, wheat berries, and water. Make a sachet with the bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns and add them to the pot. If the beans were not presoaked bring the water to boil, cover the pot, turn off the heat and allow the beans to sit undisturbed for an hour. Then cook the beans until tender. Remove the sachet.

Add the remaining ingredients (except the avocado, lime and cilantro). Simmer for at least 30 minutes so the flavors can marry. Taste the chili for seasoning and adjust the salt and pepper before serving.

To serve top the chili with diced avocado, lime juice and cilantro. If desired dust the avocado with a little chili powder or paprika. We had our chili with a few corn chips and a green salad.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 525.25
Calories From Fat (15%) - 79.87
Total Fat - 9.48g
Saturated Fat - 1.42g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 775.86mg
Potassium - 1928.38mg
Total Carbohydrates - 92.41g
Fiber - 24.16g
Sugar - 9.97g
Protein -25.34g


Since it was a weekend I knew I would be taking dinner to my parents. It has become a tradition for me to cook dinner on the weekends. Most of the time I don’t mind but sometimes it is a little too much “family”, if you know what I mean. My father is very accommodating and will eat anything I prepare. My mother, on the other hand, has an opinion about everything. No matter what I cook it is too “hot”. As you will notice this chili has no crushed red pepper but somehow it was still “too hot”. I guess it was the black pepper. Sometimes I wonder if we are really related. I will put sriracha on anything and my mother thinks black pepper is too spicy. The reason I told this story is that I think this dish needs some crushed red pepper flakes. I would have started with ½ teaspoon of them if the dish was just for Dan and me.

I liked the acidity of the lime juice with the chili. Fresh cilantro also added a nice lightness to the dish. We had our chili with a few corn chips for crunch. This dish with a small green salad was a complete meal.

Unrelated note:

I have been very busy today starting our spring cleaning. A little early I know, but I was in a purging mood so I went with it.

Heather from “Where’s the Beach” and I were chatting about life and one of the things that came up was Facebook and Twitter. Being nearly a senior citizen these are things that are unfamiliar to me. I have decided to start with Twitter and see how that goes. Hopefully tomorrow I will have a link to Twitter on my blog is anyone that is interested.

On a related note if you are looking for inspiration to exercise please check out Heather’s blog. I can’t read one of her daily entries without wanted to get up and burn some calories. Thanks for the daily inspiration Heather. I really need it, and appreciate it.

Are any of you big readers? Do you always have a few books that you are reading? I love books and am always reading, or about to read something.  I buy so many books my house is starting to resemble a library. Currently the following books are waiting for me to devour them are:

• “Beating Cancer Through Nutrition” by Patrick Quillin, PhD
• “Thrive: The Vegan Nutritional Guide” by Brendan Brazier
• “Cooking with Foods That Fight Cancer” by Richard Beliveau, PhD and Denis Gingras, PhD
• “Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients” by Russell L. Blaylock, MD
• “Everyday Raw” by Matthew Kenney
• “Get On It! BOSU Ball Balance Trainer” by Jane Aronovitch, et. al.
• “Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen” by Ani Phyo

The first two I have been reading on a off for about a month. The others showed up on Friday. I am a bit of an on-line shopper. As you can see my books are about health, nutrition, cancer, exercise or food. These are my favorite topics. What are you reading now? Do you have a favorite book, or books that you would recommend? I would love to know. I am always looking for new things to read.

Also if anyone wants to know if I recommend any of these, please comment here or send me an email and I will let you know when I finish reading them. The cookbooks I was intending to review once I finish reading them.

For now I need to get going and get a few more things done. Tonight we had another variation of soup from the Deborah Madison book Oraphan sent me. Great book if anyone loves soup you should check it out.

Don’t forget today is the last day to submit a recipe for the Healthy Cooking Challenge. I won’t be checking Flickr until tomorrow morning. If anyone has a recipe but needs a few extra hours send me an email and let me know. It will take a few days to compile the data and discuss it with the judges.

Does anyone have a suggestion regarding the next topic for the challenge? Aisling suggested Vegan Fast Food. How do we feel about that? I thought was a good idea but am open to other suggestions.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Raw Boursin Cheese

Cheese was one of my favorite foods. I always loved the flavor and texture. I can easily say giving up cheese was the most difficult dietary change I have made yet. We liked the cultured macadamia nut cheese but weren’t thrilled with the time it took to make. There are many days I am not going to want to wait 2 days for a vegan cheese substitute.

Yesterday "Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen" found its way into my  book collection. (Note:  I did buy this for those that are wondering.)  Just as I do with all  my cookbooks I read it cover to cover. It is a very interesting book. Her cheese substitutes didn’t require soaking or culturing. Needless to say I had to try one today. A tasty cheese substitute in 5 minutes, can this be possible? Sign me up. This recipe is my adaptation of a few of the recipes from Ani’s book.

Raw Boursin Cheese
Adapted from “Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen
Makes 8 servings


1 cup raw macadamia nuts
¾ cup raw cashews
¼ cup raw pine nuts
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon oregano
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 cloves garlic cloves
1 tablespoon white miso
1/3 cup water (or what is necessary to process the nut cheese)


Place the nuts, salt, pepper and oregano in your food processor and process until they are fine but not paste. If you grind them too far they can turn into nut butter. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, white miso and water and process until the nuts are ground. If the nuts have not pulverized add water a tablespoon at a time and continue to process. The nuts will eventually fall about. But adding liquid you are reducing the risk of getting nut butter. The final nut butter will be very thick, like a cream cheese.   Refrigerate in a covered container until needed.

Nutritional Information:
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 206.54
Calories From Fat (80%) - 164.29
Total Fat - 19.63g
Saturated Fat - 2.95g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 300.74mg
Potassium - 167.58mg
Total Carbohydrates - 7.37g
Fiber - 2.19g
Sugar - 1.8g
Protein - 3.91g


This cheese has a great big flavor punch. As you may have noticed I like my food to be very flavorful. If you like heat in your food this would be great with hot crushed peppers (wet hots) added. It was also be good with sun dried tomatoes. This spread is a great palate for many different flavors.

We had this cheese today with raw vegetables to dip into it. It made a great flavorful snack. This spread would also be great as the “glue” to hold vegetables into a wrap sandwich. I can imagine many applications for this spread.

If you have a Vitamix this cheese can also easilry be made in that appliance instead.  I used the food processor to see if I could get it creamy enough without my Vitamix.  The food processor worked fine.

Unrelated note:

I will be back later with a recipe or two. I have you are all having a great day.

Acorn Squash, Apple, Spinach and Macadamia Nut Cheese Pizza

The weather this winter has been unseasonably cold and snowy. We have had more snow this winter than we normally get in three winters. I mention this because they are calling for a few inches of snow again today. I grew up on Lake Michigan so I normally love to see a beautiful white blanket of snow, but I am getting a little tired of it now.

Snow in Baltimore is never ever pleasant if you need to drive. Imagine someone from Jamaica on snow skis and you get the idea. Most Marylanders are clueless of how to drive in snow. They either drive 5 miles an hour or 65 miles an hour. Whenever it snows there are more cars in the ditch on the side of the road than you can count. Also there are a ridiculous number of fender benders from people following too closely and driving too fast. It is safer to stay home and wait for the roads to clear.

Why do I mention all of this? Today I had intended to run some errands, grocery store, health food store, and bookstore. However, with the snow I am going to stay how and wait until tomorrow to go out. Since I will be home today there may be a little extra cooking and blogging today.

Here is the pizza I made last weekend.

Acorn Squash, Apple, Spinach and Macadamia Nut Cheese Pizza
Makes 1 pizza – 8 slices


1 whole-wheat pizza crust, par cooked
1/3 acorn squash, cut into thin half moons (slices about ¼ inch thick) – leave skins on if organic
Freshly ground black pepper
Dulse granules (a natural salt substitute with trace minerals)
¼ firm apple, thinly sliced
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon basil puree (from the freezer)
1/6 dehydrated onion
½ cup baby spinach julienned (more if you want extra nutrition but it won’t be as pretty)
2 ounces cultured macadamia nut cheese
1 tablespoons walnuts, roughly chopped


Preheat your oven and pizza stone to 400 degrees.

Place the acorn squash in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment or silpat. Sprinkle the squash with freshly ground black pepper and dulse granules and bake until tender.

Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees.

While the pizza stone is preheating prep the ingredients. Thinly slice the apple and toss with a little apple cider vinegar. Defrost the basil puree. Julienne the baby spinach. Roughly chop the walnuts.

To assemble top the par cooked pizza crust with basil puree, acorn squash moons, apple slices, dehydrated onions, and macadamia nut cheese. Bake to finish cooking the crust and heat all the ingredients. As soon as you remove the pizza from the oven top with julienned spinach and walnuts. The heat of the pizza will lightly wilt the spinach. I add the walnuts after the pizza has baked so that I don’t oxidize the fat in the nuts.

Serve hot.

Nutritional Information per slice:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 134.79
Calories From Fat (36%) - 49.15

Total Fat - 6.22g
Saturated Fat- 0.72g
Cholesterol - 0.01mg
Sodium - 53.22mg
Potassium - 128.82mg
Total Carbohydrates - 20.77g
Fiber - 2.77g
Sugar - 0.96g
Protein -3.3g


The flavor combination of this pizza was nice. Not your typical pizza but very nice if you want something different. The next time I make this pizza I will probably make a quick spinach and basil pesto to go on the base of the pizza. I prefer my pizzas to be a little moist, and this one was a bit on the dry side.

Unrelated Note:

With the snow we decided to start the day slowly. Since it is cold we decided to have chili tonight for dinner. I am going to make a little cornbread with quinoa to go with the chili and some sort of salad. I love chili or stew when it is cold and snowy outside. What sort of foods do you tend to make when it is snowing?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cooking Today - Preview

Today I spent a good part of the day cooking with my friend Sue. We made three more dishes from Ad Hoc at Home, but made them both vegan and healthy. Today’s menu was simpler than our last outing. Here is what we made:

• Kale and Mushroom Soup

• Green Bean, Potato, Radish, Fig and Walnut Salad

• Seitan Roast Stuffed with Fennel and Fig

We started cooking at about noon and were finished at 4pm. During this time there was lots of chatting, tea drinking, and of course lunch. We even found time for a little lounging in the family room. It was a very enjoyable day. However driving home through downtown at rush hour, not so enjoyable.

I will be posting the three recipes on the other blog over the next few days.

For now I am off to make myself a big mug of green tea and to give some quality attention to the felines. Nicco does not like to be left alone all day and is being more bratty than usual.  Good thing that cat is cute and generally very loving, because he is not well behaved.

Don't forget you are running out of time to submit recipes for the Healthy Cooking Challenge.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

African Tomato and Peanut Soup

As promised I decided to make a variation of a soup from my new soup book from Oraphan. This Senegalese soup appealed to me today. I have read recipes for similar soups many times and thought they sounded interesting but wasn’t certain I would like peanut butter in soup. Now I am sorry I waited so long to try it. This soup is really tasty; actually it is so good it is almost addictive. There was a little too much tasting this evening before dinner.

I adapted the recipe from “Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen” because I couldn’t follow a recipe if I tried. I always want to tweak something. I did a little research on the flavors of Senegal and changed the soup a tad but left it similar to the original. Here is the soup I made this evening.

African Tomato and Peanut Soup
Adapted from “Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
Makes 6 large meal sized servings


1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
¼ cup water to water sauté the aromatics
20 stems of cilantro (stems and leaves diced and reserved separately) – about 6 tablespoons diced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 pinch cardamom, ground
32 ounces peeled, crushed tomatoes
4 cups water
13.5 ounces unsweetened reduced fat coconut milk
10 tablespoons natural peanut butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grains of paradise, for serving – optional, but suggested
Tofu sour cream, for serving – optional, but suggested
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges – optional, but suggested

1 cup millet
2 cups water


Water sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until all the vegetables are soft. Add the cilantro stems, pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, crushed tomatoes, water, coconut milk, and natural peanut butter and cook for at least 30 minutes to allow time for the flavors to marry.

While the soup is cooking make the millet. Combine the water and millet and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes then turn the heat off and let the millet stand for 5 minutes so the water will be fully absorbed and the millet will be fluffy.

Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust before plating. When it is time to serve place some of the millet and cilantro leaves in the bottom of the bowl and top with soup. Grind little fresh grains of paradise on top. Finish with tofu sour cream and a sprig of cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge to be squeezed over the soup before eating.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per Serving
Calories - 364.83
Calories From Fat (45%) - 165.67

Total Fat - 19.09g
Saturated Fat - 6.33g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 352.94mg
Potassium - 596.72mg
Total Carbohydrates - 39.39g
Fiber - 6.84g
Sugar- 6.15g
Protein - 12.22g


I have seen recipes for African soups with peanut butter but never made one until tonight. This is really quick meal. I added millet to this dish since millet is traditionally eaten in African, and I wanted a little grain since we hadn’t had any today.

The flavor of this soup is difficult to describe. I can taste the peanut, tomato and coconut milk and they work really well together. Turmeric, which was harsh and bitter at the beginning of cooking mellowed out and became a very subtle background flavor. I used whole seeds in this dish because I like the textural variation. If you prefer a completely smooth soup you should grind them before adding them to the soup. This soup has a flavor that is mild enough that I think anyone would enjoy it (even those that aren’t adventurous).

Next time I make this soup I will make a few changes. First I will add some cubed sweet potato to the soup, which I think will be great with the flavors. Next, I will add some fresh chopped peanuts, which I should have thought of tonight. Overall this is a really good soup that I will be repeating. And to think both the hubby and I were dubious of the idea of peanut butter in soup. In my mind this is another example of why it is important to have an open mind and try new things. If you like satay, you will probably like this sound, the flavors are very consistent.

Unrelated Note:

Currently culturing in my microwave (not on but a place where the cats can’t go) is some raw pumpkin seed cheese. Since my husband was taken by that at 105 degrees I decided to make my own version of it. I used the process from the macadamia nut cheese recipe, but substituted raw pumpkin seeds instead. I will post the results of that experiment tomorrow after I get finished cooking with Sue.

I need to reread the recipes we will be veganizing from Ad Hoc At Home tomorrow and get myself organized for the day of cooking. I will probably not be posting until tomorrow evening.

I hope you all have a great evening and good day tomorrow. Talk to you later.

Entertaining In The Raw by Matthew Kenney – A review

This the book the hubby brought back from the restaurant for me. It is a nicely bound hard back book with beautiful glossy photographs on nice paper. The pictures of the dishes are visually stunning.

The recipes themselves use some ingredients that most of us don’t keep on hand, these are:

• Raw carrageenan
• Irish moss
• Young Thai coconut meat *
• Raw carob powder
• Raw cacao powder **
• Nonalcohol vanilla extract
• Nonalcohol almond extract
• Shichimi spice
• Umeboshi plum paste **
• Nut flours (which he gives instructions on how to make)
• Mesquite powder **
• Maca powder **
• Soy lecithin (it must be powdered, but he doesn’t specify in the recipe) **

* I found this in the freezer section of my local Asian market.
** I have purchased these at my local Wegman’s.

Additionally the author assumes that everyone owns a heavy duty blender and dehydrator. If you don’t own both machines this book won’t be very useful.

The instructions seem to be written for accomplished cooks that are also familiar with raw cuisine. This is something else to keep in mind before you buy the book. One thing that surprised me is that I noticed a few recipes didn’t give measurements on the soy lecithin. I have used this before so I will use the proportions from other recipes. But I think this is something that shouldn’t have gotten through editing.

I am pretty excited to make some of these dishes in the book. The cannelloni my hubby had on Tuesday is in the book so I will be making my own version of that soon. It appears to be one of the easier recipes in the book, which makes me happy since I am fairly new to raw cuisine. As I make these recipes I will try to give you an accurate assessment of how much time and effort they actually take. I will also let you know if I have any difficulty with the instructions, being a raw newbie I may run into a few snags.

I have a few ideas after reading the book. I need to make a list of all the recipes I am going to attempt to make. My short list includes:

• Pignoli “parmesan” crisps (page 28)
• Ginger cantaloupe “gelato” and watermelon granite with muscat honeydew puree (page 34)
• Frozen pumpkin flan, cinnamon foam and mandarin candy (page 78)
• Heirloom tomato pave and preserved lemon dressing with green olives and pine nuts (page 116)
• Creamy eggplant and hummus cream in almond tart with green olive tapenade (page 156)
• Golden and green cannelloni with sun-dried tomato-ginger marinara, mint-basil pesto, green zebra tomatoes, and pine nut and black truffle “ricotta” (page 160)
• Pine nut tartlet, basil “crème fraiche” and sweet tomatoes (page 162)
• Tomato tacos with citrus cream (page 190)
• Oyster mushroom seviche and bitter orange-lime sauce (page 194)
• Summer rolls and red chili-pineapple dipping sauce (page 196)
• Vietnamese pho broth with tofu (page 226)
• Fortune cookies (page 228)

Before I make a few of these I need to find a couple of the unusual products. When I find I source I will definitely let you all know what it is. I suspect I will need to order some of this on-line.

Don’t the recipes sound amazing? I love this kind of food. When we went vegan for health I thought I had to give up “all the good stuff” as I have been known to say. But this book may just be the answer to this foodie’s prayer. I will definitely keep you all posted on how things go using this book.

Here are a couple pictures from the book to whet your appetite.

A Much Better Day and New Glass Straws

It was so nice to have my husband home last night. Nicco was very happy to see his father and slept all night, as did I. This morning I feel human again.

When I hubby came home he also had purchased some glass straws for me (like the one in his smoothie picture from yesterday). Why glass straws you say? Well, we don’t use plastic because of the BPA. I have tried to remove as many sources as I can easily (without making myself crazy). About 13 years ago I had my teeth whitened (vain I know). The dentist had recommended that I drink coffee from a straw to keep the future staining down. I thought she was nuts and didn’t listen. Well, to make a long story short the tea has done a number on my teeth (they no longer look freakishly white). The first experience with tooth whitening was so uncomfortable (and probably toxic), so I don’t want to do that again. Glass straws are perfect for drinking my green tea. Isn’t Dan just the most thoughtful hubby? Thanks for the straws sweetie; I love you and my new straws.

Today is going to be a little busy. I have a few things more to cross off my to-do list before I will be back, these are:

• Straighten up the house

• Finish documenting the cooking process for tomorrow (it will be another Ad Hoc at Home Made Healthy Cooking Day with my friend Sue)

• Start the raw pumpkin seed cheese culturing (I want to replicate the cheese Dan had at 105 degrees).

• Make another soup from Deborah Madison’s book for dinner, not sure which one yet

Once I get those things done I will be back with a review of the cookbook Dan brought home last night. It is a gorgeous book, but some of the ingredients aren’t pantry staples of mine. I will need to do a little research on where I can buy these things. Anyone have a source for Irish moss? I have heard of it but have never purchased it, or even tried to.

On a sad note the restaurant that started molecular gastronomy will be closed in 2012 and 2013 and may reopen in a different format. Be still my heart. The thought of El Bulli reopening in a different form is unthinkable. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Ferran Adria he is the chef that started the foams and airs and other fantastic molecular gastronomy dishes. Jose Andreas worked at El Bulli before coming to America to give us the MiniBar (which btw is mind-blowing but not vegan). For now I will have to be content reading the El Bulli cookbooks Dan bought me for Christmas last year. I have included a few pictures from one of the books for those of you that like good food porn. If you have any interest in molecular gastronomy his books have great instructions and phenomenal pictures. I love mine and look through them often for inspiration. No one does food porn like Ferran Adria.

I hope to be back before dinner.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dan’s Dinner at 105 degrees

As I mentioned in an earlier post Dan was texting me during dinner and sending photos so I could experience dinner with him. I asked many questions as he was eating (I am such a pest) and he was nice enough to follow up with the waiter. Dan reported that dinner exceeded his expectations for raw vegan food. On his way out of the restaurant he picked me up the chef’s book on raw entertaining. You will be seeing my variations of those ideas soon.

Here is what he had last night for dinner. His first course was kim chi vegetable dumplings with sesame foam. He described the wrapper as being some sort of spinach leather which I imagine had ground flaxseeds. The filling was pureed and had the texture of okara but the flavor of kim chi. We are both guessing they made kim chi and then pureed it and strained it. The foam he said was bland. I imagine they made it with powdered soy lecithin like they do at the MiniBar at Cafe Atlantico in DC. The black seeds on the foam were sesame.

The next course was a cacao pear lassi sweetened with date. Lassi is traditionally a sweetened yogurt drink that you find in Indian restaurants. Mango is the most common Indian version I see here. I didn’t ask what the dairy substitute was but I would assume it was raw cashew based. Dan said it had a nice pear background and it wasn’t too sweet.

Next he decided to try the aged tree nut cheese plate. It contained cashew cheese, macadamia cheese and pumpkin seed cheese served with pomegranate arils, walnuts and dark agave bread. According to Dan the pumpkin seed cheese had the creamiest texture. The macadamia nut cheese was very similar to the one I made a few days ago, only my texture was firmer which he preferred. He liked the cashew cheese but thinks that was due to the agave that was drizzled on top. He is probably right about the agave making the difference for him; he has a vicious sweet tooth. When I asked about the raw bread he said that plain it wasn’t his favorite but when it had cheese and pomegranate on top it was good. He felt certain the bread was ground flax seed based. Looks like I will be trying some pumpkin seed cheese next since he liked the texture of that one the most.

With his cheese plate he ordered a pot of green tea to wash it down. See, we really do drink green tea all day. I was happy to see him order it. You can’t have too much green tea in my opinion.

For his entree he ordered the cannelloni with pignoli ricotta, sun-dried tomato marinara, with pistachio pesto. The exterior is thinly sliced zucchini, no problem since I have a mandoline. Dan really loved the sun-dried tomato marinara so I need to make that soon too. According to him the pignoli ricotta was overwhelmed by the marinara but added a nice mouth feel to the dish. He said the pesto was very herbaceous. He didn’t taste pistachios but they did add a little textural variation.

When he sent the picture I couldn’t see the pesto so I sent him a text asking if they forgot the pesto. Here is the picture he sent me. Cute isn’t he?

After dinner we went over the gift shop. I know he bought me a cookbook. Can’t wait to see what else I am getting. I will let you all know.

We had a chance to talk after dinner and told me he was stuffed. He intentionally ordered a number of dishes with nut cheese to up the calories since he hadn’t had much to eat during the day. He said his favorite was the cheese platter. It is amazing to me how much his taste buds have changed. It wasn’t that long ago that his favorite food was a dairy cheese platter.

Day of the Living Dead

This is a picture of Daddy’s little boy, Nicco. He isn’t well behaved but he does love his human father. As expected Nicco didn’t sleep last night because his human wasn’t at home. He is very attached to my husband and can’t sleep when Dan isn’t home. He spent most of the evening walking around the house crying while I and the other two felines attempted to sleep. When I would fall asleep he would get into the bed grab a mouth full of my hair and shake his head to wake me up. Needless to say there was very little sleep at my house last night. Good thing we love that cat.

It is very sweet that he loves my husband so much that he can’t sleep when he isn’t home. But I would appreciate getting a little rest on those nights when Dan is out of town for work. Hopefully Nicco is so exhausted he will sleep soon so I can get a nap. Wish me luck.  I hope to get enough rest this morning to come back later this afternoon.

Just curious, does anyone else have animals that get upset and won’t sleep when one of their humans isn’t home? I know my felines are spoiled but I was wondering if we were alone with this particular problem.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Coconut Milk, Spinach and Shitakes

My husband was in Oklahoma City tonight for dinner at 105 degrees. He thoroughly enjoyed his dinner and was sending me photos and descriptions throughout dinner. I will blog about this tomorrow. He was quite pleased with his meal and picked up the raw entertaining book while he was there. Since I knew he was going to be having a nice meal tonight I wanted to make something nice for myself.

As I mentioned earlier I was reading this soup cookbook from Deborah Madison over the last few days. This soup stood out to me as something that was an unusual use of split peas with Thai flavors. I have changed the method and ingredients. I eliminated the added oil and added a few ingredients not in the original (lemon grass, kaffir lime, garlic, ginger and shitakes). If you like Thai food I think you will like this. Here is what I made myself tonight for dinner.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Coconut Milk, Spinach and Shitakes
Adapted from “Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
Makes 8 servings


1 pound yellow split peas, sorted through and rinsed
water to cover by a couple of inches, for soaking
8 cups water for cooking
3 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
1 stalk lemon grassed, bashed
14 ounce can light coconut milk
5 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly cut with scissors
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 ½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
20 stems of cilantro, stems and leaves separated
1 lime, zested and juiced
6 cups spinach, julienned
6 shitake caps, thinly sliced

1 cup millet
2 cups water

1 recipe tofu sour cream (oil eliminated)


Soak the yellow split peas for one hour. Drain and rinse the peas until the water runs clear. Add the 8 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Make a sachet of the bay leaves, cloves and lemon grass so they can easily removed when the beans are cooked. When the beans are tender (after about 60 minutes of cooking) remove them to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the bean puree to the pan.

When the beans are almost tender start the millet cooking. Combine the millet and water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 20 minutes. Hold the millet covered until needed.

Add the coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, salt, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger and finely diced cilantro stems to the pureed beans and simmer until the flavors have married. This should happen in about 15 minutes.

When you are ready to serve add the lime juice to the soup. Place the millet, julienned spinach, and minced cilantro leaves into the individual bowls top with soup, sliced shitakes and tofu sour cream and a cilantro and lime zest garnish.

Nutritional Information (doesn’t included the tofu sour cream):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 325.12
Calories From Fat (18%) - 57.58

Total Fat - 6.14g
Saturated Fat - 3.68g
Cholesterol- 0mg
Sodium - 441.73mg
Potassium - 771.74mg
Total Carbohydrates - 53.98g
Fiber - 15.24g
Sugar - 3.47g
Protein - 14.77g


I enjoyed the texture of this soup. It is thick without being fatty. I also like that the spinach is heated only the warmth of the soup retaining as much nutrition as possible. The original soup used white rice, but I used millet since it is healthier. The flavor of this soup is definitely Thai inspired. I would not have thought of using pureed peas with these flavors but I am very glad Deborah Madison did. This is destined to become one of my favorite winter soups.

Each serving of this soup contains approximately 3.850IU of vitamin A, 27mg of vitamin C, 100mg of calcium, 4.5mg of iron, 210mcg of folate, 150mcg of vitamin K, 270mg of phosphorus, and 120mg of magnesium.

Unrelated note:

I am off to try to get some sleep, assuming little Nicco (aka. Binky) allows his mommy to sleep. When Dan is out of town Binky doesn’t sleep, and doesn’t think I should either. Wish me luck that he has outgrown this phase, since he is 8 years old.

I will be back in the morning with the 105 degrees update. From what the hubby tells me it was quite good and he definitely had a favorite or two.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

Those you that also read Oraphan’s blog “Easy Veggie” knows that I won one of the books in her recent contest. How I managed to win a book I don’t own is a miracle. My cookbook collection is frighteningly large. Not only did I win a book I don’t own but it is by an author I like. I have spent the last few days reading each recipe and the book looks fabulous.

Deborah Madison’s” Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” is one of my favorite books. I have cooked my own variations of most of the recipes in that book. Vegetable Soups is just as nice. The book is divided into eight chapters as follows:

• Light Broths and Restorative Soups
• Hearty Bean Soups
• Lentil and Pea Soups
• Soups Based on Bread and Grains
• Vegetable Soups for Spring
• Summer Soups
• Roasted Vegetable Soups for Fall
• Winter Soups

Additionally there is also a section on doctoring up canned soups, which we can all use sometimes. Even I have some canned soup in the pantry for those times when I just don’t feel like cooking.

This book is beautifully photographed and the recipes are creative like her other books. The soup I have my eye on for tonight is a Yellow Pea and Coconut Milk Soup with Spinach, Rice and Spiced Yogurt. The original recipe is vegetarian, not vegan, but will be very easy to make vegan, like all her recipes.

I am really looking forward to cooking my way through this book. As always I will be modifying the recipes since that is how I cook. Since it is definitely soup weather I thought it would be a good idea to start with tonight’s dinner.

Thank you Oraphan for the beautiful book and the lovely card you sent with it.

For now I am off to get a pot of soup started. I will be back later with my modified soup recipe.

Don't forget about the Healthy Cooking Challenge. You have until midnight (your time) to submit a recipe.

Monday, Monday

 Typically I really dislike Mondays for a number of reasons. It means the end of the weekend, and more importantly my sweetie goes back to work. Weekends are my favorite because we can sleep in and have a nice leisurely two days together. Yesterday was a great Monday because Dan took the day off from work. That was nice since he will be in Oklahoma today and tomorrow morning.

We met some friends at the Inner Harbor for a nice leisurely tapas lunch as La Tasca. I was so busy chatting that I completely forgot to take pictures (sorry). We did have some nice things though these included: spinach salad with pear, walnut and date (hold the cheese), vegetable paella, wild mushrooms sautéed in olive oil with garlic, potatoes brava, and seared asparagus. This restaurant is very reasonably priced and has a nice waterfront view of the harbor.

Speaking of the harbor, when we got there we found out it was flooded. I haven’t seen this since the last hurricane came up the Chesapeake Bay and flooded part of down town. I have included two pictures I took with my phone.

After lunch we ran a few errands (Costco and Whole Foods) before heading home. It was just a typical day in the life of an “old married couple”.

Yesterday we went to a different Costco, the one at Arundel Mills mall. For the life of me I don’t understand why each Costco carries different things. But they do and you just need to keep that in mind when you are shopping at Costco. This store had Marantha Almond Butter, which I haven’t seen at the other local Costco locations. They also had Fage Non-fat yogurt. Why didn’t they carry that when we ate non-fat yogurt every morning for breakfast? While we were there I picked up a Yoga DVD for the Wii and a couple of pairs of yoga pants (yay).

How do I go into Whole Foods and buy a tiny bag of groceries and spend $45? But we needed the flaxseed oil. As I have told you before I am trying to learn to love it. The hubby and I decided we will add a little to his salads for extra omega 3’s and calories. Flaxseed oil has an omega 3:6 ratio of 2:1, which is pretty fabulous for anyone that is interested in reducing inflammation. We also bought a couple of envelopes of green drink since we didn’t know how the TSA would react to green powder in a baggie in his carry-on bag.  The hubby wasn't in the mood for a pat down before his flight.

After shopping we can home and had a quick spinach salad with cucumber and falafel for dinner. The dressing I used is something that I have just started making which we like. I combine raw cashews and salsa, in the blender and puree until smooth. It is fast and has a lot of flavor from the salsa. The hubby likes creamy dressings so this works well when I am out of fat free hummus for our salads.

Speaking of fat-free hummus I need to make another batch of that today. I will be back later today after I try out the new Yoga DVD and get my chickpeas cooking. I hope you are all having a great day and keeping warm.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cultured Macadamia Nut Cheese

Today we spent most of the day lounging with friends at a tapas restaurant at the Inner Harbor, or shopping. We had a wonderfully relaxing today. However, we didn’t get home until almost 8pm and still needed to put groceries away, eat dinner and get Dan packed for his trip to Oklahoma. My plan had been to get a couple of recipes posted, but as you can see that didn’t happen. I had no idea we would be out of the house so long.

This is the “nut cheese” I made this past weekend as a trial run of the method used in "The Conscious Cook". I think the probiotic powder adds a little tang in the background. But I will need to make this with almonds to be certain since that is the nut cheese that I typically prepare. Here is my adaptation of the recipe from "The Conscious Cook".

Cultured Macadamia Nut Cheese
Adapted from “The Conscious Cook”
Makes approximately 18 ounces


2 cups macadamia nuts
4 cups filtered water to soak nuts
1 cup warm filtered water (approximately body temp)
1 teaspoon probiotic powder (used All Flora)
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon salt
1 pinch garlic powder


Place the macadamia nuts in water in a covered container and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. I soaked mine for 24 hours. Drain the nuts and rinse them with warm water.

Combine the warm water and probiotic powder and stir to dissolve the powder in the water. Place the probiotic water and drained macadamia nuts in your blender and process until completely smooth. You may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides to get the nuts to blend completely. In my Vitamix the nuts were smooth in about a minute.

Line a wire colander with either three layers of damp cheesecloth or one layer of damp paper towel. I tested the paper towel inside the cheesecloth to see how it works, and it was easy to remove after culturing.

Cover the nut cheese completely in the cheesecloth/paper towel. Place another container on top of the nut cheese and add a can to the container for weight. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 16 hours. Remove the cheesecloth and paper towel and place the cheese into a container for storage. Add flavorings until it tastes right to you. I added a little nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder and stir to combine.

Refrigerate the cheese in a covered container until needed.  The flavorings will integrate through the dish as it sits overnight.  Start with a light hand so the added flavors don't overwhelm the final product.

Nutritional Information (assumes 18 servings):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 107.82
Calories From Fat (88%) - 95.05
Total Fat - 11.29g
Saturated Fat - 1.8g
Cholesterol - 0.02mg
Sodium - 65.93mg
Potassium - 55.89mg
Total Carbohydrates - 2.1g
Fiber - 1.28g
Sugar - 0.69g
Protein - 1.2g


What does the cheese taste like? The first thing I taste when the cheese is plain (eaten from a spoon), is macadamia nut. When the cheese is eaten on pizza or off cucumber rounds the nut flavor is not prominent. The macadamia nuts that I used might have been roasted and that could have altered the flavor. When I test this recipe again with macadamia nuts that are definitely raw I will let you know if that makes a difference in the flavor.  The texture of this cheese is somewhere between drained ricotta and fresh goat cheese.

Probiotic powder does seem to add a cheesy tang to the finished product. This weekend I am going to make this technique again using the almond feta recipe and see how than changes the flavor. Then I will be able to tell you if it makes sense to spend $30 dollars on a little bottle of probiotic powder.

Unrelated Note:

We need to be moving early tomorrow morning since the hubby is on an early flight. I will be back tomorrow with the pizza recipe from Sunday. I hope you all had a great day!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dehydrated Onions

The first question you are probably asking yourself is why dehydrate onions. At least, that would have been my question. Many studies indicate that raw onions are more healthful than cooked onions. However, my husband doesn’t enjoy the assertive nature of raw onions. I do many things to tame the taste of onions to get him to eat more of them. This version was something that I hoped we could use on salad or “raw uncooked dishes”. This is my first attempt at working with dehydrated onions. It turned out to be quite tasty.

I decided I wanted something that was a little salty and chewy. I soaked the onions in liquid aminos to give the onions a little saltiness. The onions dehydrated until they were the texture I wanted. These work well on pizza and salad. Here is what I did.

Dehydrated Onions
Makes 6 servings


1 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon liquid aminos


Toss the onions with the liquid aminos and allow the onions to sit for an hour. Periodically toss the onions to evenly coat them with liquid aminos.

Place the onions in your dehydrator on the teflex sheets in a single layer. Dehydrate at 105 degrees until the onions are the texture you like. I dehydrated mine for about a day.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 6.96
Calories From Fat (4%) - 0.27

Total Fat - 0.03g
Saturated Fat - 0g
Sodium - 160.56mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.58g
Fiber - 0.33g
Protein - 0.21g


These are a little difficult to explain but I would say they remind of a cross between jerky and onions. They are chewy and salt like jerky, but still taste like raw onion only much more mild.

Unrelated Note:

This may be my last post tonight. It all depends on how long my husband is in his home office on his computer.

I got a new computer earlier this week and my husband just finished setting it up for me late last night. I am still getting used to the new software. Hopefully I have run into all the computer glitches before the hubby goes back to work.

Tomorrow I will be more quiet than usual. Dan is taking the day off of work and we are going to have lunch with some friends and then run some errands after lunch. I hope to have a little time to write a post of two during the day.

An Unusual Pizza Tonight for Dinner

At 1:30 this afternoon I still didn’t know what I was making for dinner. When this happens I always solicit my husband’s opinion. He immediately said, “Why don’t we have pizza? That is always quick and easy.” So pizza it was. My first concern was for the flour, as you know I am trying to cut down. But I realized we hadn’t had any grain today or flour in a few days so I decided to relax and live a little. As usual I made the pizza crust with a combination of whole wheat and sprouted whole wheat. I used the recipe that is posted here.

The toppings of the pizza tonight were inspired by something our chef friend Ian added to his winter menu. His version was roasted butternut squash, Granny Smith apple, Italian sausage, pesto, arugula, onion confit and gorgonzola. In my kitchen this translated into acorn squash, gala apple doused in apple cider vinegar, basil puree (from my freezer), julienned baby spinach, dehydrated red onions, and cultured macadamia nut cheese. I also decided to add walnuts to the pizza. For the omnis I used mozzarella in place of the macadamia nut cheese. Surprisingly everyone liked this pizza. This was not anything that resembled a traditional pizza. I wasn’t certain how it would be received, but everyone liked it. My husband described it” as a non-intuitive combination that was delicious.”

In order to post the pizza I need to document some of the components, mainly the dehydrated onions and cultured macadamia nut cheese. Once I have those recipes posted I will return and post the entire pizza. For now I am going to document the technique for the onions.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Making Lifestyle Changes Can Improve Your Chances of Avoiding Cancer

I thought this was an interesting article worth sharing. To summarize it suggests the following lifestyles can reduce your probability of cancer:

· Maintain a healthy weight
· Be physically active
· Consume a plant-based diet which is light on meat, salt and alcohol
· Don’t smoke

Each of these has been well documented by many studies but is worth repeating.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Body fat is not just unattractive it is harmful to your health. Fat is biologically active and causes an increase in estrogen. This increases the risk of hormone dependent cancers like breast and prostrate. Maintaining a healthy weight (a BMI less than 25) is a great place to start.

Being Physically Active

We try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. People that take part in moderate exercise have more active immune systems and longer telomeres. Additionally, exercise burns glucose, which is great for reducing cancer. Since cancer is a sugar feeder anything that you can do to reduce your blood glucose is a good thing. I specify moderate activity since strenuous exercise can be inflammatory which is also potentially harmful. Moderate versus strenuous activity is different for each person. But if you are having difficulty breathing while exercising you may be taking things too far.

Consuming a Plant Based Diet

Vegetables and fruit contain more nutrition than other foods. If you want to increase your vitamin intake eat more plants in their natural form. For more detailed information on this please see the China Study. The book does a great job of explaining why a plant-based diet is better for your health.

Don’t Smoke

I think this one is self-explanatory. Don’t inhale carcinogens; they aren’t good for your health.

Saturday Morning Update with Tofu Frittata

Good morning! I am not exactly certain what happened but life at my house got very hectic over the last 36 hours. When I get started doing anything my tendency is to get hyper focused. Yesterday my target was exercising and purging the house of unnecessary stuff. Not exactly a fun day, but I was very productive. However I didn’t really cook anything that I thought was photo worthy.

This morning on Tyler’s Ultimate he was making spaetzle, and is using what I consider a crazy amount of fat. But that is my reaction to most of what I see on the Food Network. However, the mustard sauce is a good idea and would be easy to make vegan and healthier than his. If anyone else watched this episode and wants to give it a try don’t forget that there are two spaetzle recipes on my blog. One with herbs and one without that you could use in place of the traditional egg and milk version of spaetzle.

I mentioned that we went to the eye doctor about 2 weeks ago. Well, yesterday afternoon my glasses came in and my friend Jackie brought them home with her last night. Since she lives just down the street I went to her place to have them adjusted and pick them up. Now I can see to drive safely again. Yay! I had eye surgery 10 years ago so I wouldn’t need to wear glasses again, so I was surprised by how much I like the look of these glasses. They really are adorable. Jackie and Dan did a great job picking out a nice pair for me. I never thought I looked good in glasses but these are so cute I may have to rethink my position on glasses now. Who am I? This is so out of character for me it is a little crazy.

Yesterday for dinner I made a quick spinach salad for dinner. To change it a little I added lightly steamed green beans and warm grape tomatoes. I made a veggie burger to go on top of the salad and when it was cooked I tossed a cup of grape tomatoes into the same pan and seared them quickly until they were just a little warm and soft. Then we used wine vinegar on the salad to cut the “fat” in the veggie burger. This worked really well. I may start warming my tomatoes for the salad more often. Last night I did it because I know that when tomato is cooked the lycopene is better absorbed. Also, I used the burger pan since it had a little residual fat in it from the burger. Lycopene is fat-soluble so it needs to be consumed with a little fat so the body can use it.

After dinner we had a carrot, apple and ginger juice. Even the hubby liked the juice, which made me happy. He will be drinking more of these since they are good for him and he liked it.

The last bit of news is that my hubby is going to Oklahoma City on Tuesday for work. While I was doing research on where he can eat I was reminded that 105 degrees is there. I sent the hubby the link to the restaurant and now he is excited to go there. The food is vegan and raw. I can wait to get a full report from the hubby. He better send me pictures during dinner. I had looked into attending the cooking school they have but didn’t want to be gone for a month. I can’t wait to hear what the hubby has to say about dinner. Who knows, I may change my mind and go to Oklahoma City for class after all.

Tonight we are probably having dinner with Walid and Jackie. I know, we are out for dinner again. I really haven’t been doing much cooking this week. But sometimes even I need a little break from the kitchen.

Today my kitchen project is to work on changing my steam baked seitan cutlets. I am trying to cut down on our flour consumption so I want to see if I can make a cutlet without breadcrumbs but with the same tender texture. I have a few ideas for how to do this. We will see if any of them work. I am hopeful.

This morning for brunch we had a tofu frittata with millet. When we were omni I used to make many different egg based dishes. One of my favorite dishes has always been the frittata. Whenever I had leftover pasta I would use that in the frittata. Since we are trying to reduce flour from our diet as much as possible that meant that pasta was out. This morning I decided to add a little millet to the dish to see how that would work. Here is the dish I made.

Tofu Frittata with Millet Over Spicy Tomato Sauce and Broccoli
Serves 2


½ cup millet, dry
1 cup water
1 pinch salt
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup water
12.3 ounces of organic silken tofu, firm
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sprouted whole-wheat flour (can substitute whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion flakes
2 pinches of salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
sprinkle of paprika for color - optional
14 ounces tomato sauce
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups frozen broccoli florets


Combine the millet, water and salt and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook the millet for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow the millet to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

While the millet is cooking water sauté the onion until tender. Then cool the onion and drain any remaining water.

Combine the tofu, cornstarch, flour, nutritional yeast, turmeric, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and Dijon and puree in your food processor or blender.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease an ovenproof skillet to cook the frittata in.

Combine the millet, onions and tofu and stir so that everything is evenly distributed. Place the mixture in the skillet in an even layer and cook over a medium low heat to create a crust on the bottom of the frittata. If you like you can sprinkle a little paprika on top the frittata for color (I did). Five minutes is more than enough time to create the bottom crust. Place the skillet in the preheated oven and cook until the middle of the frittata is firm. This took 15 minutes in my oven. It may take a little longer in yours because I had the oven set on convection this morning.

While the frittata is cooking heat the tomato sauce with a pinch of red pepper flakes over low heat and hold until needed.

Cook the broccoli in the microwave until it has thawed enough that you can easily cut it into bite size pieces (1 ½ minutes in my microwave). Then cute the broccoli florets into ½’s or ¼’s and return them to the microwave until just warm (another 1 ½ minutes in my microwave).

To serve place the tomato sauce on the bottom of the plate. Top the sauce with the frittata and finish with the broccoli.

Nutritional information (does not include optional paprika):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 569.67
Calories From Fat (14%) - 79.18

Total Fat - 8.77g
Saturated Fat - 1.34g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 699.82mg
Potassium - 1915.51mg
Total Carbohydrates - 92.59g
Fiber - 19.29g
Sugar - 15.37g
Protein - 31.19g


As you probably know I like to combine tomatoes and broccoli because the nutrition they contain is better absorbed when eaten together. Millet was used in place of pasta because it is a nutritious whole grain. Dijon mustard was something that I always used to add to egg dishes, which is why I included it here.

The texture of this dish is not exactly like egg, but it is close enough for us. It has a nice firmness, but is still tender. We like that the bottom got a little brown and almost crisp. By creating a little firmness on the bottom it makes it easier to remove the frittata from the pan. The millet did a nice job standing in for the pasta that I used in my traditional dish.

This dish if very filling and satisfying. Each serving of this dish contains approximately 4,075IU of vitamin A, 200mg of vitamin C, 300mg of calcium, 8mg of iron, 275mcg of folate, 260mcg of vitamin K, 550mg of phosphorus, 210mg of magnesium, and 17mcg of selenium. From a nutritional perspective I am quite pleased with this meal. It was tasty, contained a nice amount of protein, fiber and nutrition. What more can you ask of your food?

Unrelated note:

I am off to experiment with seitan. My husband is in mourning already. I had to promise that my new recipe would be just as good as my old one or he could have that instead. Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

White Bean and Fennel Stew

As usual I have been pondering nutrition and how to get enough calories and protein into my husband without a lot of fat. This leads me to one ingredient each time I think about it, beans. While we have been eating salads with fat free hummus and salsa a couple times each day I though we could use a few more beans so I made this white bean and fennel stew today.

I decided to combine the flavors of Sicily in a healthy stew. I used fennel and tomatoes because they are both used extensively in Sicilian cooking. All southern Italians like spicy food, which is why I added hot crushed peppers to the stew. However if you don’t like your food spicy (or you have children) red wine vinegar will add tang and acidity without heat. Here is the stew I made this afternoon for dinner tonight and the lunch the next few days.

White Bean and Fennel Stew
Makes 8 servings (approximately 2 cups each)


1 pound dried white beans, sorted and rinsed
water to cover beans by a few inches
3 bay leaves
14 ounce can tomato sauce
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
1 large fennel bulb, finely diced (mine was 1.75 pounds), feathery fronds reserved for garnish
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced (allow to stand 10 minutes so allicin can develop)
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
12 black olives, pitted and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or 1 tablespoon of hot crushed peppers (wet hots)


Cook the white beans in water with bay leaves until they are just tender. Add the remaining ingredients until the vegetables are heated through. You want the liquid in the pot to cover the beans but not be too soupy.

Just before serving add a couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar or hot crushed peppers. If you choose the red wine vinegar you can alternately add a little to the top of the soup when serving instead of stirring it into the pot.

Garnish each serving with a fennel frond and serve hot. If desired you can drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on each serving for flavor.

Nutritional Information (assumes you used the red wine vinegar option):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 226.71
Calories From Fat (5%)  - 11.33

Total Fat - 1.32g
Saturated Fat - 0.23g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 621.44mg
Potassium - 1320.54mg
Total Carbohydrates - 41.48g
Fiber - 10.36g
Sugar - 3.89g
Protein - 14.7g


This is a very light tasting and healthy stew. The fennel flavor is very prominent in this stew. It is also very low in fat but contains a nice amount of protein in each serving. As with all stews the flavor will improve as the soup sits and the flavors have time to marry.

Each serving of this stew contains 420IU of vitamin A, 175mg of calcium, and 7mg of iron. More importantly than that it includes 14g of protein and 10g of fiber.

Unrelated Notes:

Somehow I have managed to spend half my day on the phone today. I don’t know how that happens (but it often does). I guess I should just admit that I like to chat and accept it as part of who I am.

Today was a yoga day for me and I feel very calm and relaxed now. I really love yoga and its ability to remove all my stress. Too bad you can’t bottle this feeling. Oh, I guess they have but I don’t think it is legal. ;)

I still need to write the post about dinner last night, which was fabulous. We had a great time with Phil. He is always such a pleasure to be around. It is such a shame we don’t live closer. Dan and I both always enjoy Phil’s company.

For now I need to figure out what else I am making for dinner tonight and then go get it started. I will be back later.

Interesting Tidbit about Natural Preservatives

I don’t how many of you make your own body lotion or lip balm but I thought this item was interesting. I use vitamin E when I make body lotion, but according to this I should consider using rosemary extract. It is fascinating to me that rosemary extract is a better preservative that some commonly used chemical preservatives (according this study).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Miso Soup with Soba Noodles

Miso soup is one of my favorite foods. I could happily eat it everyday. I make so many variations of miso soup depending on what I have on hand. There are a few constants in my soup. My husband likes dried mushrooms so those always seem to make it into my soup. Additionally I always add onion, garlic, ginger, kombu and miso. Other than these constants nothing really stays the same. Sometimes I add silken tofu (when we need the protein) to the soup. I tend to add more veggies to my miso soup than is traditional.

Miso Soup with Soba Noodles
Serves 2


½ cup dried shitake mushrooms
4 cups water
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ inch ginger, julienned
6 inch piece kombu cut into small squares
1 carrot, julienned
1 small single serving bundle soba noodles
2 cups napa cabbage, julienned
¼ pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white miso


Combine the dried mushrooms and water and microwave until hot. Allow the mushrooms to sit in the water for 30 minutes so they can rehydrate. Strain the mushrooms and liquid through a wire strainer lined with cheesecloth or damp paper towel to catch any sediment from the mushrooms. Chop the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and add to the liquid and bring to a simmer.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger, kombu and carrot and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Add the sob noodles and cook until tender (about 4 minutes). Add the napa cabbage, and mushrooms and turn off the heat.

In a separate small bowl loosen the texture of the white miso with some of the cooking broth. Continue to stir until the miso has all broken up and formed an even thick sauce with the cooking liquid. Add the miso back to the pan and stir to combine.

Serve the soup immediately. Top with sliced green onions if desired.

Nutritional information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 248.68
Calories From Fat (10%) - 23.85
Total Fat - 2.78g
Saturated Fat - 0.34g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1278.34mg
Potassium - 580.34mg
Total Carbohydrates - 48.21g
Fiber - 5.68g
Sugar - 4.66g
Protein - 11.66g


Miso soup has become my favorite food. I love the stuff and could eat it everyday (which is not my usual behavior) except I think my husband would get tired of it.

Each serving of this soup contains approximately 7,100IU of vitamin A, 130mg of calcium, 2.7mg of iron, 145mcg of folate, 150mg of phosphorus, 85mg of magnesium, and 7.75mcg of selenium.

This soup and a big green salad with fat free hummus and salsa and we had dinner. Soup and salad is something that we have for dinner or lunch at least 4 times a week. It is a quick and easy way to get a lot of vegetables (both cooked and raw) into a meal.

Unrelated Note:

Don’t forget about the Healthy Cooking Challenge. The sooner you submit your recipes the quicker we can compile the nutritional information.

I will try to be back later tonight with a dinner update. It all depends on how late we are out this evening.

I hope you all have a great day.

Carrot, Apple, Celery and Ginger Juice

Tonight we are going out for dinner with a good friend of ours. He lives in Springfield, Missouri (not exactly near Maryland) so we only see him about once a month. No doubt we will have a fabulous evening as we always do when Phil is in town. However, dinner won’t be a healthy as I would make for us at home. Since I know this I will be eating super healthy today until dinner.

For breakfast this morning I had a grapefruit followed by this fresh juice. I love fresh fruit and vegetable juice in the morning. Here is what I had this morning as part of my breakfast.

Carrot, Apple, Celery and Ginger Juice
Serves 1


2 carrots, scrubbed and tops removed, cut into chunks
1 apple, cored and cut into chunks
1 stalk of celery, cut into chunks
1 tablespoons fresh ginger, sliced thin (or to taste)
¼ cup of water, or what is necessary to get the food to begin to blend


Toss everything in your blender and process until smooth. You may want to start with less fresh ginger. I love the sharp taste of it, but not everyone likes it as much as I do. You may need to stop the blender and push the food down toward the blade to get it all to process.

Drink immediately.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 154.08
Calories From Fat (4%) - 6.56

Total Fat - 0.78g
Saturated Fat - 0.14g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 150.42mg
Potassium - 827.91mg
Total Carbohydrates - 37.84g
Fiber - 8.78g
Sugar - 23.02g
Protein - 2.37g


I make a lot of fruit of vegetable juices. The combination of apple and carrot is one of my favorites. Ginger just seems like a natural to add into the juice. I am a huge fan of the spicy zip of ginger. That burn you get on the back of your throat from ginger is great. As you can tell I really like it. If you aren’t as much a fan of it as I am start with less.

This morning I woke up with a touch of sinus congestion. Nothing worthy of taking a pill, just an annoying pressure in my head. Within 10 minutes of finishing this juice my sinuses were wide open. I think the ginger is what made the difference but that is just a guess based on my experience. Has anyone else had this happen to him or her?

This serving of juice contains 27,300IU of vitamin A, 80mg of calcium, 50mcg of folate, 85mg of phosphorus, and 35mg of magnesium. I love that this juice contains so much vitamin A.

Unrelated note:

It is time for me to get a few things accomplished before I need to run to the airport. With a little luck I will be back with another recipe before I have to leave.

Seitan Cutlets and Millet topped with Green Beans and Walnuts

As usual when 6pm came I had no idea what I was making for dinner. This is meal that came together based on what I had in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Their entire meal was ready in 25 minutes, the time it took to make the millet. Reheating the cutlets took 5 minutes. The green beans were ready in about 7 minutes. This is definitely one of my quick dinners. Here is what we had tonight.

Seitan Cutlets and Millet topped with Green Beans and Walnuts
Makes 4 servings


1 cup millet, dry
2 cups water
1 pinch salt
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoon water
6 cups green beans, frozen
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 cup walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
4 seitan cutlets


Combine the millet, water and salt and bring the water to a boil. When boiling reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, covered. Allow the millet to stand covered for at least 5 minutes after all the water has been absorbed.

While the millet is standing covered, start the green bean dish and reheating the cutlets.

Water sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Add the green beans, wine vinegar and cook until the green beans are hot but still vibrant green. Add the walnuts and cook a minute to heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the onions are softening heat the cutlets in a heavy bottomed skillet lightly coated with oil.

To serve, top the millet with the green beans and place the cutlet on the side. If desired top the cutlet with a little barbeque sauce.

Nutritional information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 647.51
Calories From Fat (30%) - 194.98

Total Fat - 23.08g
Saturated Fat - 2.54g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 888.68mg
Potassium - 682.91mg
Total Carbohydrates - 71.82g
Fiber - 14.95g
Sugar - 5.13g
Protein - 40.51g


This meal contains a nice amount of protein, courtesy of the seitan and walnuts. Since my goal today was more protein I would say the meals today were what I intended. The green beans have a nice flavor from the wine vinegar. I also liked the crunch of the walnuts in this dish. To make this E2L friendly be certain not to exceed the 1 cup of daily whole grains.

Each serving of this meal contains approximately 1,135IU of vitamin A, 210mg of calcium, 6.2mg of iron, 130mcg of folate, 445mg of phosphorus, 175mg of magnesium, and 27mcg of selenium.

Unrelated Comments:

I would have gotten this posted last night but we had to get up at an uncivilized hour this morning. My hubby had to leave early for work this morning so the entire house was up and moving when he got up. Not being much of a morning person these early mornings are not something I enjoy.

Since I am up early this morning I am going to try to get my Pilates in before 9am. This is very out of character for me. Only time will tell if I can adapt.

I will try to be back later today with another recipe. We are going out to dinner tonight with our friend Phil who is in town from Missouri.
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