August 22, 2012

Asparagus & Sage Soup

I often feel like a big bowl of soup for dinner. I've been thinking of an Asparagus soup for a while. Also, I've had Sage in my herb garden all summer and I'm embarrassed to admit that I had no use for it ;) !! Except for adding large bunches of it to my vegetable scraps for my Home-made Vegetable Broth, even that was a desperate attempt to use the growing jungle!!! I guess I also never tried hard enough to find a plant-based recipe that required Sage. Today, I was determined. A quick Google search revealed this recipe at The Cooking Club. It required however, 2 tablespoons of butter, a half a cup of Parmesan cheese and chicken broth. I wasn't planning on using any of those items; so here's my plant-based version. 

Asparagus & Sage Soup
Prep Time: 20 min

  1. 1 lb Asparagus, chopped coarsely
  2. 1 medium Red Onion, chopped coarsely
  3. 2 cups Vegetable broth
  4. 3 cloves Garlic
  5. 2-4 tbsp of fresh Sage leaves
  6. 1/3 cup Brown Rice
  7. 0.5oz Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
  8. 1/3 cup Baby Spinach
  9. 1/3-1/2 cup Non-Dairy Milk
  10. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Add everything to a pressure cooker, and steam for 10 min. Let steam dissipate naturally, open, mix with a large spatula and puree using a stick blender, or in a regular jar blender. Add Non-Dairy Milk and mix well. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper & Enjoy!! 

Herb & Spice Fact of the Day

Sage, or Salvia is a perennial shrub with woody stems and greenish-grey leaves. 

It has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, for snake bites and for supposedly increasing fertility in women. 

It has a savory, slightly peppery flavor and is a common ingredient in Italian, Balkan and Middle-Eastern cooking. In American cooking, Sage & Onion stuffing is often used for roasting Chicken and Turkey. Dried leaves are often used as a rub for meats and cheeses. 

Sage tea, is used is several parts of the world as a domestic remedy for the common cold. There is evidence to show that Sage is effective as an anti-perspirant, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, and estrogenic. There is also some evidence to show that Sage may be effective in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and also in management of hyperlipidemia. Active ingredients incude essential oils (e.g. cineole, borneol, thujone), organic acids (e.g. tannic, oleic, ursonic), niacin, nicotinamide, flavones, flavonoids and estrogenic compounds.

August 20, 2012

Red Potatoes in HH Brown Gravy

Sounds sinfully good, doesn't it?? Before going all plant-based in my food choices, I always preferred brown gravy to white gravy. I ate brown gravy on mashed potatoes, on steak, on turkey ... always brown gravy. Needless to say I was skeptical about trying out a 'plant-strong' version of it. But The Happy Herbivore has not disappointed me too many times with any of her recipes, so I tried the HH Brown Gravy yesterday. The only modification I made was that I added a 6 sliced brown mushrooms to the pan as the gravy was simmering, before I added the corn starch. Yesterday, I ate is simply as a topping on a mashed potato (heavenly!). So today I decided to use it in a different way .. 

Red Potatoes in HH Brown Gravy
Prep Time: 15 min

  1. 4 Red potatoes, diced into bite-sized chunks
  2. 1 cup HH Brown Gravy, with Mushrooms
  3. Pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, on medium heat, add potatoes and top with the gravy. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender. Toss well, Season with black pepper and enjoy!!

Nik's & Alex's Reaction: A hit!!! Both of them enjoyed the potatoes more than anything else on their plate tonight!! :)

Tempeh Curry

To be very honest, when I first tried Tempeh several months ago I was not a fan. I bought some because I didn't want to dismiss this food that everyone raved about after just one trial. But I was hesitant to try it again, until I had an idea ... and suddenly, Tempeh got its second chance :) !!! The problem with tempeh is that to the unaccustomed palate, it tastes dry and grainy and doesn't have much flavor. It has the wonderful property, however, much like tofu, that it can take up whatever flavors are added to it. One of the things I was told by others who love it is that it helps to boil it before using it in a dish. My answer to that? Pressure cooking!!  

Tempeh Curry
Prep Time: 20 min

  1. 1 8oz pack of Tempeh, cut into 1" pieces
  2. 1 large Onion, diced coarsely
  3. 1 large Tomato, diced coarsely
  4. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  5. 2 cups Vegetable Broth
  6. 2-3 tsp Cumin seeds
  7. 2-3 tsp Coriander powder
  8. 2-3 medium Bay leaves
  9. 2 inch piece of cinnamon bark
  10. 4-6 whole cloves
  11. 2-4 tsp Garam Masala
  12. Salt & Pepper, to taste
Add everything to a pressure cooker and steam for 15 min. Open, stir well, allow some of the water to evaporate, if a thicker curry is desired, or eat as is. 

I served this curry over a bed of rice and it tasted great. Tempeh will most definitely have a spot in my fridge from now on. It had an almost creamy texture after being pressure cooked. All the spice flavors penetrated well during the pressure cooking process and for those used to Indian cooking, Tempeh tasted a little bit like Paneer to me. Hope you'll give it a chance, or a second chance. Nom Nom!!!

Spanish Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

This recipe is a variation of the original Cauliflower Rice recipe I posted a few weeks ago. While reading Chef AJ's book Unprocessed, I found that she had a recipe for Raw Cauliflower Rice, which was similar to what I had found a few weeks earlier on the internet, but she used an 'Orange' cauliflower instead of the usual white one and called her raw version, Spanish Rice. So I decided to try this modified and 'cooked' version. 

Spanish Cauliflower Rice Pilaf
Prep Time: 10-12 min

  1. 1 head of Orange cauliflower
  2. 1/2 Onion, diced finely
  3. 2 Portabella Mushrooms, diced
  4. 1 tbsp Taco seasoning
  5. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Shred cauliflower using a hand-held shredder, or in a food processor. Set aside. Line a large skillet with water and cook onion until it is transparent and cooked down. Then add taco seasoning, and another splash of water, if necessary. Add in Taco seasoning, Salt and Pepper and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until mushrooms have released most of their water, and the whole mixture is about dry. Turn off heat. Add Cauliflower and toss well and the transfer everything to a microwave safe bowl, with a lid. Do not add any water. Cover and microwave on high for 6 minutes. Uncover, toss and microwave on high for another 2 min, if necessary. Remove and leave covered, until ready to eat. I served this as a side with TVP Tacos. Umm Umm Good! 

August 8, 2012

Gimme More ... Sautéed Mushrooms

I never met a mushroom I didn't love. I often sautéed mushrooms as a topping for my mashed potato, baked potato etc. This is definitely a Gimme More recipe.

Prep Time: 5 min


  1. 4-5 Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
  2. 3-4 Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
  3. 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  4. 1 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  5. 1-2 tsp Soy Sauce
  6. 1 tbsp Vegetarian Oyster Sauce
Line a skillet with milk and add ginger-garlic paste. Once fragrant, add mushrooms, and condiments and sauté until mushrooms are done. Serve over rice. 

Tonight, I served these over a bed of Cauliflower Rice. The sauce, and all the lovely flavors in it, was soaked up immediately by the cauliflower. I also had a side of Wilted Kale which worked beautifully with these mushrooms. 

LOVE LOVE LOVE Mushrooms! 

Wilted Kale with Onions & Miso

Being hypothyroid, I try to avoid eating some foods in the raw state because they are known to be goitrogenic i.e. they suppress Thyroid gland function. Since I endogenously supplement with thyroid hormone on a daily basis, I think its probably wise to stay away from foods that affect its uptake and overall function. So I typically cook kale and broccoli and cauliflower, all foods that have goitrogenic potential. One of the easiest ways to cook cake in my opinion, is to wilt it. I used Purple Kale today, which is also known as Salad Savoy.

Prep Time: 10 min


  1. 1 bunch of purple kale (New Veggie #23), leaves torn and stems removed
  2. 1 medium Red Onion, sliced
  3. 1-2 tsp Minced Garlic
  4. 1-2 tsp Liquid Aminos
  5. 1 tbsp White Miso (New Veggie #35)
  6. 1/2 cup Vegetable Broth

Directions: Line a skillet with 1/4 cup vegetable broth and add minced garlic to it. Once the garlic is fragrant, add liquid aminos, mix and add onion and kale. Reduce heat to a medium low, cover and allow the kale to wilt. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dissolve Miso in the remainder of the vegetable broth and set aside. Once the kale is wilted, turn off heat, mix well and then pour the Miso/Broth mix on top. Give it all a quick toss, re-cover and set aside until ready to serve. 

I served my wilted kale with a fresh batch of Cauliflower Rice and Sautéed Mushrooms. Great dinner tonight!

Home-made Vegetable Broth

Since I became plant-based a little over 7 months ago, I've also been pretty much on a no-added-fat diet. Essentially what the means is that I don't use ANY oil whatsoever in my cooking. I use several non-fat liquids like juice, wine, nut milk, water and vegetable broth. One of my favorite brands of Vegetable Broth is Kitchen Basics. Their Unsalted Vegetable Stock is made from onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers and tomato paste. It does however, have the mystery ingredient 'natural flavors'. Now from what I understand, natural flavors could be just about anything - including non-plant-based products. Quite honestly, I've not worried about it at all and have used it when I needed to use vegetable broth. But it does contain 240 mg of Sodium per cup of broth. 

I'm part of a 'New Herbies' group on FB and just this past weekend another member posted a picture of how she was making vegetable stock at home, from her vegetable scraps (a big shout out to Lori Pacheco). Immediately, I was interested. This seemed like a wonderful idea. I already make sure that I wash my fruits and vegetable really well before I cut into them. Here's a great post on cleaning fruits and veggies (Happy Herbivore). I simply use a vegetable brush. I started a gallon ziploc bag in the freezer and put all my vegetable and even fruit scraps in this bag. In 4 days, I had a full bag. I had stems (purple kale, mushrooms, mint, cilantro, cauliflower, broccoli) and ends (onion, tomato, cucumber, carrot, celery and strawberry) and even the core of a couple of fruits (apples and pears).  

Tonight I put all the scraps in a large pot, covered everything with 9 cups of water and added 1 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste, 2-3 bay leaves, 1 small stick of cinnamon, 4 cloves, 2 large cardamoms, a big bunch of fresh Sage, 2 tbsp worth of fresh Thyme and at least a 1/2 cup worth of fresh Oregano. Once the water was boiling, I reduced the heat t a simmer, covered the pot and let it simmer on the stove for an hour. After that, I simply strained the veggies out using a large colander. The final product was this tasty, LOW SODIUM, fragrant vegetable broth!! From 9 cups of water, I got about 7 cups of broth. I divided it up into 4 tupper are containers and it is all in my freezer now, waiting to be used for my next exciting recipe :) LOVE it!!! 

Update: Ever since I got an electric pressure cooker, I now use that for making broth. I collect all my scraps and when my gallon bag is full, I add 8 cups of water to the full bag of frozen veggies and cook under high pressure for 10 min. I then let the steam dissipate and I can get almost the full 8 cups of broth back, and depending upon the kind of veggie/fruit scraps I had, sometimes more. I also make sure that I squeeze out as much liquid as I can from the veggie scraps - I just use a potato masher and press down on the veggies with  it. There is so much fiber that they don't get mashed but they release a lot of water they're holding. The best part about home-made broth - it tastes like the fruits and veggies I already like. :)

August 5, 2012

Oven Fried Green Tomatoes

At Norman Yoder's farm market earlier this week, I picked up green tomatoes. Now I've had green tomatoes before but only as 'Fried Green Tomatoes' in restaurants. Each and every time I am reminded of The Whistle Stop Cafe :) !! This time, though I was craving fried green tomatoes, I knew I wasn't going to be eating deep fried, egg and breadcrumb coated tomatoes. I needed a healthier version. Someone suggested a FFVK version but I didn't have several key ingredients. Then Lindsay Nixon (aka Happy Herbivore) suggested I modify the Baked Onion Rings recipe from her book (The Happy Herbivore). Yes! That seemed like the perfect solution. I had everything I need on hand and all I needed was to crank up the oven. 

I did give the honor of being New Veggie #39 to Green Tomatoes. Since they're basically raw tomatoes I'm not going to do a veggie fact of the day today. They're crunchy and tangy and full of fresh vitamins and minerals. Yum!

The recipe is copyrighted. But my modifications aren't. Here's the additional spices I added to the dry 'breading' mix in Lindsay's recipe. A teaspoon each of amchoor (dried mango powder), black salt and red chilli powder and a pinch of roasted cumin powder. That's it. Um Umm good!!