November 16, 2014

Quinoa Taco Salad

It's getting colder out which means we naturally remove ourselves from cold, albeit fresh, salads and opt for the more meatier (plant based of course) soups and rice dishes. So we've been having a lot of rice and bean dishes ... variations of the same, according to HOMY. He'd rather not eat another rice and bean dish for a few months :) !! I have been missing the greens in my diet and today when we came home with a salad box of baby spinach I decided to make a taco salad ... except HOMY is not a big fan of TVP and is fed-up with beans .. hmm? Stuck between a rock and a hard place .. not quite so because he loves Quinoa and I had the perfect idea to turn my Quinoa Chili recipe into a Quinoa Taco Meat recipe. 

Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 1 cup Quinoa, rinsed and drained.
  2. 1 cup Water
  3. 1/2 Medium Red Onion, diced
  4. 1 can (15 oz) Dark Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  5. 2 Large Tomatoes, diced
  6. 2 cups Yellow Corn, steamed and ready to serve. 
  7. 1 lb Baby Spinach, rinsed and ready to serve
  8. 1 tbsp minced Garlic
  9. 2 tsp Cumin powder
  10. 2 Coriander powder
  11. 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  12. 1 tsp Taco seasoning
  13. 2 tsp dried Cilantro leaves
  14. 2 tsp Chipotle Pepper (add more, to taste)
  15. 1 tbsp Light Molasses
  16. 4 tbsp Soy Sauce, or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  17. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  18. Salsa, as dressing, to taste.
  19. Sliced Avocados or Guacamole, to taste (optional)
  20. Sliced Jalapenos, to taste (optional)
  21. Tortilla Strips, to taste (optional)
In a large non-stick skillet, mix quinoa, water, red onion, and all spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover and allow to simmer until quinoa is cooked well (about 10-12 min). Remove cover, mix in Kidney beans and allow the excess water to evaporate until the mixture has the consistency of well-browned taco meat. Taste test and add more cumin, taco seasoning, salt and chili peppers, if needed. Split the baby spinach into 4 large salad bowls. Top off with a generous sprinkle of yellow corn and fresh tomatoes. Drop a generous dollop of taco meat in the middle, add salsa for dressing and serve. Garnish with optional taco salad toppings, if you wish. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 349 (Fat Calories 42)
Total Fat 4.7 g; Carbohydrates 65.9 g; Fiber 12.5 g; Sugars 9.7 g; Protein 17.0 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

November 15, 2014

Steel Cut Oat Bean Chili

One of my favorite vegan chefs out there, Chef AJ, shared a recipe on Facebook for a Steel Cut Oat Bean Chili. The picture itself oh so appetizing. The recipe was super simple. It looked like it would come together is around 30 minutes. The temperatures have been dropping all week and today .. snow was coming down in gentle flurries all day long. It was a perfect day for a bowl of chili. I even had all the ingredients on hand. It was meant to be :) 

Adapted from: (original recipe in OATrageous Oatmeals, by Kathy Hester)

Prep Time: ~25-30 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 2 cups water 
  2. 1.5 tsp Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base 
  3. 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  4. 1 tbsp Oregano
  5. 1.5 tbsp Ground Cumin
  6. 1 tsp Smoked Chipotle Chili powder
  7. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  8. 1 (14.5 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
  9. 1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1-1/2 cups homemade)
  10. 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  11. 1 cup frozen corn
  12. 1.5 tsp Liquid smoke
  13. 1 tsp Freeze-dried Cilantro leaves (or fresh)
  14. Juice of 1/2 a lime (optional)
  15. Salt, to taste
I pretty much followed the directions on the website with the exception that I did not wait for the oats to be completely cooked before I added the rest of the ingredients. I let everything cook together which blended the flavors much better in my opinion. Bring the water and vegetable base to a boil in a heavy cast iron pot (I used my Le Creuset). Add oats, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Then stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil again and reduce heat to low, cover with a heavy lid to prevent excessive evaporation and serve when the oats are completely cooked (about 20 min). I forgot to use the lime juice listed in the original recipe. And with the vegetable base I used, I didn't even need to add salt to this recipe. It turned out great!!

My Assessment: This chili was really good. I love using different grains in my chili recipes and hadn't used Oats until now. The recipe was so simple, even with my couple of substitutions and additions, anyone could throw it all in a pot and have a wholesome dinner in half an hour!! A+++ 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 242 (Fat Calories 19)
Total Fat 2.1 g; Carbohydrates 44.7 g; Fiber 9.8 g; Sugars 3.5 g; Protein 12.0 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

November 2, 2014

Vegetables in Creamy Cashew Sauce

Someone in my Facebook Group (Indian Plant Based Whole Food Junkies) asked earlier today for a Korma recipe without tomatoes. Now growing up in India, I remember Korma as a hearty meaty dish with lots of caramelized onions and tomatoes. But, they'd tried it at an Indian restaurant and wanted a WFPB version. So I decided to give it a try today. She recalled it being in a creamy white sauce - my guess, they just skipped the tomatoes in their recipe. 

This recipe is an adaptation of an older recipe for TVP Korma which I modified today to make the creamy white sauce. I, of course, changed up the vegetables :) but I didn't call this dish a korma as it is not a true korma in my opinion. Maybe this isn't what you were hoping for :) but that's my 2c. 

Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 2 cups Green Beans
  2. 1 cup Corn
  3. 1 x 12 oz Pack of Extra-Firm Silken Tofu 
  4. 1/2 Medium Red Onion, pureed
  5. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
  6. 1/3 cup Raw Cashews, ground (I use a coffee grinder)
  7. 1 cup Non-Dairy Milk
  8. 1 cup Water or Vegetable Broth
  9. 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  10. 1 tsp Ground Cilantro Seed
  11. 2-3 tsp Garam Masala
  12. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Line a skillet with water and add pureed onions and 1/2 tsp of salt. Saute and caramelize onions until they are a rich dark golden color (keep a measuring cup with water handy; keep stirring the onions until they dry up and start to stick to the bottom of the pan, which is fine, add a splash of water, which will allow the caramelized onions at the bottom of the pan to soften up again. Repeat the process until the onions are are rich red color). Once onions are done, add the ginger-garlic paste and repeat the same process until the mix is fragrant (2-3 min). At this point, add beans, corn, cashew powder, 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, spices and water. Mix well, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile dice half the tofu into chunks and puree the remaining with 1/2 cup of milk. When you have a smooth creamy paste of tofu and milk, add that to the skillet, mix well and allow to simmer for another 5 min. At this point you can also add the diced tofu to the pan but be careful when mixing so as to not smoosh the pieces. When ready to serve, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and a fresh sprinkle of garam masala. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 190 (Fat Calories 78)
Total Fat 8.7 g; Carbohydrates 19.6 g; Fiber 4.2 g; Sugars 4.0 g; Protein 10.9 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

Creamy Potato Soup

Crispy fall weather brings with it evenings when all we eat for dinner is a bowl of hearty soup. Today was the first really chilly day of the year. We went on an approximately 4 mile hike (brr!) and came home and lazed for a few hours. Having been frozen to the bone earlier, both HOMY* and I wanted soup for dinner. I had some shredded potatoes in the freezer that I'd picked up on a whim and I decided to use those today. Simply potatoes has not added oils in their freezer packs so they're great to have in the freezer for on days you run out of fresh stuff.

Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 1 x 12oz Simply Potatoes (Shredded Hash Browns) or 3 cups fresh shredded potatoes
  2. 1 Medium Red Onion, diced
  3. 1.5 cup Non-Dairy Milk
  4. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  5. 1 tbsp fresh or dried Scallions
  6. 2 tsp dried Basil
  7. 2 tsp Brown Miso
  8. 1 tsp Liquid Smoke
  9. 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  10. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Line a stock pot with water and add red onion, minced garlic and scallions. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook until the onions are translucent. Add potatoes and non-dairy milk (of choice). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Cover and allow to simmer for about 10 min. After the potatoes are cooked and beginning to break down, add basil, liquid smoke, soy sauce and stir.

Add more water to achieve the desired consistency (making sure to boil and simmer for a few minutes every time you add more water, else the soup will taste watery). Remove from heat when done, stir in Miso. Taste test for salt, and add more as needed.

Serve immediately with warm bread for sopping. Enjoy! We licked our bowls clean!! 

HOMY = Husband of Many Years (term coined by my dear friend, Bindu! Thank you, Girl!)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 242 (Fat Calories 29)
Total Fat 3.2 g; Carbohydrates 44.5 g; Fiber 7.0 g; Sugars 2.6 g; Protein 5.7 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

Breakfast Cream o' Wheat

This morning I wasn't in the mood for just another bowl of Oatmeal. I've been eating the same breakfast before work every morning for almost 2 years now and I still love it. Every once in a while though, I crave other things. It was going to be a chilly day, the first of many this fall and winter and I also wanted something with nuts in it. I stared at the pantry and then the fridge and then the pantry again before I remembered one of my favorite breakfasts growing up was Doodh ki Sooji ... essentially a creamy milky porridge made with Semolina (Cream of Wheat).

Breakfast Cream o' Wheat w nuts and raisins!
Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (Serves 1):
  1. 1/4 cup Medium-Grain Semolina (Sooji)
  2. 1 tbsp Slivered Almonds
  3. 1 tbsp Crumbled Cashews
  4. 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  5. 1 tbsp Raisins
  6. 1/4 tsp Cardamom Powder
  7. 2 tbsp Brown Sugar (to taste)
  8. 1-2 tsp Maple Syrup (to drizzle on top)
  9. 1 and 1/4 cup Almond (or any non-dairy) Milk
Heat a non-stick skillet or large sauce pan to medium high and add the semolina. Begin dry-roasting the semolina (with constant stirring using a rubber spatula) to aid in uniform roasting. As the semolina roasts, the color will deepen to a golden (about 10 min) and then go even deeper. As it begins to darken, add the nuts and raisins and dry roast those as well.

As the raisins plump up in the pan with heat, add the cardamom powder, give it all a nice toss and then add the milk, saving just a splash to drizzle on top. Allow everything to come to a boil, turn heat to low until it reaches the desired consistency, adding more milk if needed.

Add brown sugar, to taste, mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with milk and maple syrup and enjoy!! Mmm Hmm good!! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 486 (Fat Calories 134)
Total Fat 14.9 g; Carbohydrates 70.8 g; Fiber 9.7 g; Sugars 31.9 g; Protein 12.6 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

November 1, 2014

Chickpea Crepes (Besan ka Puda)

While my mom was visiting this summer, she made a lot of my childhood favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner :) !!! And yes, I gained several pounds during her 2 month stay which have been tough to shrug off ... oh but the food!! Awesome!! 

This recipe can be used as a vegetarian/vegan omelette if you stuff the crepes with the usual fixin's ... diced mushrooms, onions, spinach, green peppers and whatever else you fancy in an omelette. I preferred mine plain with a side of hummus ... it was truly a treat and made me miss mom all over again!! 

Prep Time: 15 min

Ingredients (makes 2-4 crepes):
  1. 1/2 cup Chick pea flour
  2. 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  3. 1 tsp Carom Seeds
  4. 1/4 cup Red Onion, finely diced 
  5. 2 tsp Cilantro Leaves, finely diced
  6. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  7. Cooking Oil spray
Mix all the ingredients together with water to make a thick slurry, just slightly thinner than pancake batter. Let sit for a couple of minutes to allow the flour to imbibe the water completely. 

Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high. Once heated, spray on a thin layer of cooking oil and spread about 1/3 cup of the batter on the skillet and spread it out in concentric circles using a large spoon. 

Allow to cook on one side, very similar to how one would cook a pancake (letting it bubble on one side before flipping). Flip once, cook thoroughly and serve warm with a side of hummus or green chutney. Enjoy! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 104 (Fat Calories 16)
Total Fat 1.8 g; Carbohydrates 15.4 g; Fiber 3.0 g; Sugars 3.1 g; Protein 5.6 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks! 

September 21, 2014

Indian Pantry Must-Haves

I recently started a group on Facebook called Indian Plant Based Whole Food Junkies and one of the questions asked almost within the first couple of days of the group's inception was "What are the most essential items in an Indian Pantry?" .. so by popular demand, here's a list. I've listed most of the ingredients I have in  my pantry and marked them as Essential, Useful and Occasional.


Ajwain (Carom seeds) (O)
Bay Leaves (U)
Black Pepper and Black peppercorns (U)
Cardamom, Black (U)
Chat Masala (U)
Chilli Powder (U)
Cinnamon (sticks or ground) (U)
Cloves (whole or ground) (U)
Coriander (Cilantro) Seeds (whole or ground) (E)
Cumin Seeds (whole or ground) (E)
Fennel Seeds (O)
Fenugreek Seed (O)
Garam Masala (U)
Mango Powder (Amchoor) (O)
Mustard Seeds (U)
Nigella or Onion Seeds (O)
Nutmeg (U)
Pomegranate Seeds (O)
Poppy Seeds (O)
Saffron (O)
Sesame Seeds (O)
Star Anise (O)
Turmeric (E)
Salt (E)

Dry Pantry:

Chickpea Flour (U)
Dried and/or Canned Beans, all varieties (E)
   Kidney Beans
   Pinto Beans
   Chick Peas
   Black Gram (Dark Chick Peas)
   Black Eyed Peas
Dried Lentils (Whole, Split and Skinned varieties) (E)
   Arhar (Toor) Dal
   Chana Dal
   Masoor Dal
   Mung Dal
   Urad Dal
Garlic (E)
Onions, preferably red (E)
Rice, Basmati, Brown or White (E)
Tamarind Pods or Paste (U)
Tomatoes, Canned (diced, paste, sauce) (U)
Whole Wheat Flour (for home-made bread) (U)

Refrigerator or Freezer:

Cilantro Leaves (U)
Coconut Flakes (U)
Coconut Milk (O)
Curry Leaves, fresh or frozen (O)
Ginger, fresh (E)
Ginger-Garlic Paste (U)
Mint Leaves (U)
Tomatoes (E)

September 17, 2014

Mushroom Vindaloo

The mere mention of Vindaloo, Xiacuti, Ambotik, Cafrael, Sorpotel will send many an Indian into a 'vacation state of mind' ... !! Summer vacations spent on the beaches of Goa allowed many of us to sample in its unique Portugese-Inspired cuisine. Suffice to say .. it always brings back good memories. 

Vindaloo is derived from the Portugese dish Carne de vinha d'alhos, a pork dish made with wine and garlic as the main elements. In Goa, the red wine was substituted with the cheap and locally available palm vinegar and Red Kashmiri chillies were added along with several other local spices to make Vindaloo. While meat-based preparations are marinated in the vindaloo spice paste overnight, this is not necessary for vegetables and this dish, like most of my other recipes, is made in less than 30 minutes.

Prep Time: 30 min 

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 2 x 12oz Packs of Sliced Mushrooms (about 3 cups)
  2. 1 cup frozen peas
  3. 1 Medium Red or Yellow Onion, diced. 
  4. 5-6 Dried Red Chillies
  5. 2 x 1" pcs of Cinnamon
  6. 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  7. 1 tbsp Coriander Powder (or Coriander Seed)
  8. 1 tsp Turmeric
  9. 6-8 Cloves
  10. 2 inch piece of fresh Ginger
  11. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic, or 4-5 fresh cloves
  12. 4 whole Green Cardamoms
  13. 1 tsp whole black pepper corns
  14. 1/4 cup Malt (or White) Vinegar
Directions for Vindaloo Paste: 
In a small blender or food processor, mix red chillies, cinnamon, cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, cloves, ginger and garlic and vinegar and blend to a smooth paste. This magic in a jar vindaloo paste can be used on any number of dishes and can be adapted to any taste. Use less red chilli peppers if you prefer a milder taste. Add more vinegar if the paste is too dry while grinding. A little extra won't hurt the flavors. You can also make up a big batch of paste, freeze in an ice cube tray and store the frozen cubes for future use.  

Line a skillet with water and saute onions until translucent. Add a splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Once the onions are done, add the whole green cardamoms and black pepper corns and saute until the cardamoms pop open with the heat and steam, adding a splash of water or vegetable broth, as needed. After a couple of minutes, add Vindaloo Paste, mix well and add vegetables. Turn heat to medium and toss everything together. Saute for a few minutes to allow flavors to blend and the spices to cook. Then add a cup of water or vegetable broth. If you want your dish soupier, add more water to obtain the desired consistency. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve over steamed rice, or with thick bread for sopping up the curry. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 110 (Fat Calories 12)
Total Fat 1.3 g; Carbohydrates 19.3 g; Fiber 6.1 g; Sugars 6.2 g; Protein 8.5 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

August 13, 2014

.. for the love of a Masaaldaani!

A Masaaldaani, or a Spice Box, is an essential part of Indian cooking and after many years of looking for the right (and reasonably priced) one, I finally am the proud owner of my very own Masaaldaani! My sister, bless her heart, will question my sanity at my excitement about a new spice box. Its just a silly old spice box she'll say ... what are you? Pregnant and tied to the stove? ... But the fact of the matter is that for both of us .. a Spice Box evokes memories of childhood days spent in the kitchen watching my mom fill the house with some delectable aromas. 

A traditional Masaaldaani is a round, stainless steel container that holds 7 or 9 small bowls for individual spices. Each one holds one's most commonly used and traditional Indian spices. The ultimate combination depends upon the region of India one might have grown up in. In Southern India, you might see split skinless urad dal (black lentils) and mustard seeds, while in the North, you might see Cardamom seeds and black peppercorns. They are usually small containers (mine is about 7 inches in diameter) and have a solid or glass-topped lid. Because most lids aren't completely air tight, spice boxes only hold enough spices to last a few days. Long term storage in a spice box is not advisable because they do lose aromatic essential oils when stored in open containers. The advantage however, of a Masaaldaani, is that it saves you from hunting for your favorite spices when you're ready to cook.

Traditional spice boxes can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 range at Indian Grocery stores. I've seen a few that cost that much and looked like they would break if I breathed on them wrong. I found mine for $10 at World Market and I knew I had to bring it home with me. It is sturdy, hammered steel, has a glass-window in the lid and is just the perfect size for me with its 7 compartments. I've started out mine with what I think are my favorite spices .. and I may switch some out as time goes on ... So what's in my Masaaldaani today?
  1. Salt .. because one needs to feel the salt as you dust it on your dishes. And no one can estimate salt with a spoon, or with a shaker. 
  2. Turmeric .. with its lusty ochre color is right next door. It is used to flavor and add color. It is a plant product (ginger family) and it is considered to have immense antioxidant powers. 
  3. Deggi Mirch .. has a bold red color and is right next to the turmeric. It adds color and flavor without much heat.
  4. Coriander Powder (Dhania) .. is the brownish powder on the other side of turmeric. It is the dried ground up seeds of the cilantro plant. This is a sweet, slightly tangy spice that adds depth and texture to Indian dishes.
  5. Black Peppercorns .. are used to add a ton of flavor and warmth to North Indian Dishes such as kormas and pulaos. They include all the essential oils offered by ground pepper, but often without the heat because the oils are trapped inside the peppercorns. 
  6. Cumin Seeds .. are an essential ingredient in Indian as well as Mexican cuisine. They add a distinctive and somewhat strong flavor with a warm perception on the taste buds due to the essential oils .. such as cuminaldehyde. Cumin seeds make a killer tortilla soup ;)
  7. Cloves and Cardamoms .. offer the same benefits as black peppercorns. Warmth on the tongue and their own distinctive flavors. These last 4 ingredients are the main ingredients of Garam Masala. 

Armed with this baby, I can cook up pretty much any Indian dish. Let the Hunger Games begin .. and may the odds .. be evahh in my fayvah!! :)

Be sure to check out my Recipe Index for Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes and my Herb & Spice Fact of the Day page for information about individual spices. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

August 5, 2014

BBQ Portabello Mushrooms (& Tofu)

You've heard it all before. I started a new job 6 months ago. It's 45 miles away in the city and requires me to commute between an hour to an hour and 15 minutes one-way to get to work. Also, I'm responsible for getting an entire new department up and running in the next 12 months. Suffice to say, it leaves very little time for my favorite pastime - food blogging! As I've mentioned over the last few months, I've resorted to the tried and true recipes I've devised over the last few years. Rice pilafs, beans, breads, pastas ... baked potatoes with toppings! That's the usual fare. But its summer and everyone is grilling. I love the smokey smell of foods off the grill. However, there are only so many Black Bean and Boca burgers one can eat before they start to get really old ... really soon. 

This post goes put to one of my husband's business acquaintances. Ms. Kelly Lazar is an avid follower of my blog and she recently mentioned to my husband that she missed my regular postings. So although I can't promise to be as consistent as I used to be .. I'll try to do more than just post pictures on Facebook. Here's a super-easy recipe - perfect for quick summer meals. 

Prep Time: 10-15 min (or more if you marinate)

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 2 Large (3-4") Portabello Mushrooms (~4 oz each)
  2. Half of a 14 oz Block of Extra-Firm Tofu*
  3. 4-6 tbsp of your favorite BBQ Sauce
  4. 1 tbsp Minced garlic
  5. Kosher Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Pre-heat grill to between Hot to Medium-Hot. The purpose here is to sear both the tofu and the mushrooms which will prevent sticking. Remove stems from mushrooms and brush with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. Place each mushroom on its belly and sprinkle Kosher salt, freshly crushed pepper and some minced garlic on the gills. Press tofu between 2 paper towels to remove excess water (use heavy cans to weigh down the top to squeeze out the excess). Slice into 2 thick steaks. When the grill is ready, place both items on the hottest part of the grate (place mushrooms gills-side-up). Sear tofu on one side, turn and place on a different hotter part of the grate to sear that side as well. Grill 8-10 min total until the edges of the tofu begin to get crispy and the mushroom shrinks in thickness and girth (its hard to overcook either of these items). Turn mushroom only once towards the end so that all the salt and garlic juices have a chance to seep into the mushroom as it cooks from the underside. Just before they're ready, brush your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides (I use Stubb's or Rudy's which are both available in grocery stores nationwide). Allow excess sauce to burn off (this adds to the smoky flavor). Serve immediately and watch 'em disappear! 

* If you're trying to maintain a no-soy or a low-fat diet, skip the tofu altogether. Almost all the fat in this dish is from tofu. But so also is most of the protein (see nutrition information below). I love both foods so I have no problem consuming the fat in tofu :) 

Note: Marinating both pressed tofu and mushrooms for 4-6 hours in a gallon ziploc bag will help bring out the flavors. I'd recommend splashing both with a good balsamic vinegar. Place in the fridge and turn occasionally. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving - Mushrooms Only): Calories 61 (Fat Calories 2)
Total Fat 0.2 g; Carbohydrates 13.1 g; Fiber 1.8 g; Sugars 7.1 g; Protein 3.1 g

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving - Mushrooms & Tofu): Calories 176 (Fat Calories 54)
Total Fat 6.0 g; Carbohydrates 21.1 g; Fiber 2.2 g; Sugars 12.6 g; Protein 12.9 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

May 25, 2014

Mushroom Keema Pulao

As most of my regular readers know, rice is a staple in the RRC household. Whether it is steamed brown rice with stir-fried veggies, or white basmati rice with red beans or lentils, or black rice in summer salads!! I'm a rice freak :) !!! Today's recipe was inspired by my need to use a package of mushrooms and my 5 year old son's lack of desire to eat anything that looks like a mushroom. 

Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 1 cup Basmati Rice
  2. 2 cups Water
  3. 1 Small Red Onion 
  4. 10 oz White or Cremini Mushrooms
  5. 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  6. Salt, to taste
Rinse the rice well in several changes of fresh tap water (until the water runs clean) and set aside. Using a food processor fitted with an S-blade, finely mince the red onion. Transfer to a heavy lidded pot such as a Le Creuset French Oven (I use a 5.5qt pot). Saute the onions on Medium high heat until beginning to golden brown. Add occasional splashes of water anytime the onions begin the stick to the bottom of the pot. Using the same food processor, finely mince the mushrooms (stems included) to the consistency of fine mince-meat (also called keema). Once the onion is golden brown, add mushrooms, mix well and saute for another few minutes with occasional splashes of water to prevent sticking. After about 5 minutes, add cumin seeds and saute until aromatic (about 2-3 min). Add rice, salt, water and mix well. Turn heat to high, allow the water to come to a boil and then reduce heat to Medium-Low, and cover the pot, with just a slit at one end to allow minimal escape of steam. Cook rice until tender (about 10-12 min) at this temperature. Once rice is bite-tender, cover the pot completely, turn off the stove and let sit for 10 min. These 10 minutes, called 'dum' are critical in making or breaking a pilaf!! The word, derived from Persian, means "steam cooked" ... where any residual water in the pot converts to steam under the heavy lid and allows any last remnants of rice to cook to their optimal tenderness. This method also allows for absorption of any excess water in the pot and makes for a fluffier rice pulao. Serve hot, with your favorite curry. 

Note: I called this dish 'Keema Pulao' because the minced mushrooms do take on the look and texture of a minced-meat pilaf. Overall, it was a hit with my 5 year old and a hit with my 45 year old as well :)

Nutrition Facts: Calories 197 (Fat Calories 8)
Total Fat 0.8 g; Carbohydrates 41.6 g; Fiber 1.8 g; Sugars 2.0 g; Protein 5.9 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

Cardamom Almond Semolina

Happy Sunday!!! I started out my day dreaming of a breakfast dish my mom used to make when we were growing up. "Sooji" or Breakfast Semolina, made as a sweet creamy pudding in milk, or as a savory dry concoction with vegetables and spices is a favorite whole-grain breakfast food across many households. I personally liked it much better when it was made as a thick sweet pudding. That is what I tried to mimic today, with my own #WFPBNO twist to it ... i.e. I didn't use any oil or fat and used plant-based almond milk instead of dairy. 

This dish uses coarse semolina. In the United States, coarser meal coming from softer types of wheat is known also as farina. Also, in the United States, this kind of semolina is sold under the trade name Cream of Wheat. I buy my semolina from the Indian market in town so it has a more authentic flavor. Also, semolina from India is often specked with golden and brown spots, versus Cream of Wheat which is almost a pure white in color.

Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 0.5 cup Coarse Whole Wheat Semolina
  2. 1 cup Unsweetened Almond milk 
  3. 2 tbsp Raisins
  4. 2 tbsp Slivered Almonds
  5. 2 tbsp Chia seeds
  6. 0.5 tsp Ground Cardamom
  7. 2-4 tsp Brown Sugar (optional)
Dry roast the semolina in a non-stick pan, on medium to medium-low heat until it is golden brown and aromatic (it will smoke a little as it gets almost done, so watch to make sure you don't char it). Traditionally this is done with ghee (clarified butter) but I've found that dry roasting works just as well and has no effect whatsoever on the overall taste of the dish. When the semolina is almost done, add the almonds, raisins and cardamom seed powder. Skip the nuts if you're allergic or looking for a low-fat dish. I personally consume nuts and seeds so add both to my diet occasionally. If you wish to use cinnamon, feel free to substitute it at this time. You can also sprinkle both at the end but I find that dry roasting the flavorings makes for a more even flavor in the dish.  In just a couple of minutes, the raisins will plump up.
In the dry roasting pan!
At this point, add the almond milk. As the semolina is pretty hot so the almond milk will immediately simmer and boil so be careful. Reduce heat to low and allow everything to simmer for a few minutes. The semolina will lose some of its golden brown color and plump up with the addition of liquid. Simmer for a couple of minutes, add chia seeds at the very end (if desired), mix and dish out into 2 bowls. Serve with a splash of almond milk and little dollops of brown sugar (if desired for additional sweetness). Enjoy!!

Note: As I noted above, you can flavor this dish with whatever your favorite flavors are, cinnamon and maple syrup will work just as well as cardamom and brown sugar. If you're skipping the nuts and seeds, feel free to add dried fruits instead, or even top off with fresh bananas or berries. Once the basic semolina is ready, it can be easily adapted to your tastes.

Note: Next time you have some free time, dry roast a large batch of semolina until golden brown. Allow to cool and transfer to a well-sealed tupperware container. This stays in the freezer for several months. When ready to prepare the dish, heat up the semolina and add raisins .. moving forward from that step and Voila!! .. your overall cooking time is down to around 5-8 minutes.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving, without added sugar): Calories 272 (Fat Calories 69)
Total Fat 7.7 g; Carbohydrates 43.7 g; Fiber 6.8 g; Sugars 5.6 g; Protein 9.7 g

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving, without nuts or seeds): Calories 193 (Fat Calories 12)
Total Fat 1.3 g; Carbohydrates 38.7 g; Fiber 2.3 g; Sugars 5.4 g; Protein 6.1 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

April 29, 2014

Tofu Paneer Pulao

Hello! Hello! It has been a while since I posted a new recipe. I have to tell you, starting a new job is hard. Its something I love to do .. and I really wanted (and needed) the change .. but the change has totally thrown me for a loop. I'm driving the same distance and time (about 40 miles one way) as my old job but I go in the direction of the city now and encounter a lot of traffic. By the time I get home .. I'm exhausted. For the last 3 months, I've relied on tried and true RRC and HH recipes. Various kinds of stir fries, and Red Beans and Rice and Dal and easy stuff like that. I'm sure you've seen my posts on my FB page. Last night I tried a new recipe and fired up my laptop, which by the way had been sitting on my desk for more than 2 months. I had so many updates to install, I never got around to posting my recipe before it was time for bed. 

This recipe came together really easy. It was born out of the desire to eat rice (Indians are rice eaters), but to eat a simple rice dish. Tofu is an excellent substitute for paneer (fresh cottage cheese) which is used in a lot of Indian dishes, as a source of protein. I used Mori-Nu Extra-Firm Silken tofu in this recipe because that is what I had on hand. Any firm or extra-firm tofu should work just as well. I did not press or drain the tofu. I used white rice in this recipe, but brown should work as well, so long as the cook time is adjusted accordingly. I used this dish as my entree. You can also serve this as a side dish. Enjoy!! 

Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 1 cup Basmati Rice
  2. 2 cups Water
  3. 1 x12oz Pack of Extra-Firm Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, diced
  4. 1 tbsp Dried Onion Flakes (or use 1/2 cup fresh finely diced onions)
  5. 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  6. 2 tsp Deggi Chilli Powder
  7. 2 tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  8. 4-6 Green Onions (green portions only), diced finely.
  9. Salt to taste.
Wash rice well in a lot of water (soak and drain multiple times to remove all dust). Add everything to a dutch oven (in my opinion, pilafs always come out better in heavy lidded pots; I used my Le Creuset but any lidded stock pot should really work). Bring to a boil, reduce  heat, cover until only a crack remains on the side and cook on Medium-low until rice is tender. Cover completely. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. These last 10 minutes are crucial for rice pilafs as this allows the rice to absorb any excess water and fluff up. Serve warm with crispy baked papadums, or even baked tortilla chips. Sprinkle some hot sauce and you're talking my talk :) !!! Enjoy!! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 189 (Fat Calories 5)
Total Fat 0.6 g; Carbohydrates 41.4 g; Fiber 1.7 g; Sugars 1.8 g; Protein 4.6 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

February 2, 2014

Kabocha Squash Soup

In an effort to try various varieties of squash, I picked up a grand old Kabocha Squash. It turns out that this is New Veggie #73. It sat on my kitchen counter for a few days as I wondered what I could possibly use it for. Ultimately, for fear that it would rot, I roasted it and scooped out the flesh one night (and it went in the fridge). Sooooo, what am I to make? Ultimately, I decided to make that tried and true recipe for Squash Soup from Happy Herbivore. This time, I didn't have any curry powder handy (OMG! ... an Indian chick doesn't have curry powder ;) .. sacrilege!!!) but I did have my mom's home-made Garam Masala and ended up using that instead!! Ummm! :)

Prep Time: 10-15 min (with pre-roasted squash)

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  1. 1 Medium Kabocha Squash (pre-roasted, scooped flesh, ~2 cups)
  2. 1-2 cups Home-made Vegetable Broth 
  3. 2-3 tsp Garam Masala, to taste
  4. Hot Sauce (preferably Cholula)
  5. Salt and Pepper, to taste

Roast the whole squash in the oven for about 90 min (see instructions here). Once the skin starts to bubble and pop and darken, the squash is ready. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature so that you can scoop out the flesh without scalding yourself. Once scooped, the flesh can be stored refrigerated until you're ready to make your soup. Bring 1 cup of vegetable broth to a boil in a large sauce pan, add squash and garam masala and some salt. Using an immersion (stick) blender, puree until the soup is thick and creamy, adding more broth as needed until you get the desired consistency. Taste test for salt and flavor. Garnish with cholula and enjoy!! 

My Assessment: This soup is so easy to make. I love it, with every kind of fall squash :)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 40 (Fat Calories 0)
Total Fat 0.0 g; Carbohydrates 9.3 g; Fiber 1.3 g; Sugars 4.0 g; Protein 1.4 g

* Nutrition facts are provided for the water option as vegetable broth calorie content can vary.

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

Spicy Stewed Okra

This recipe, a hot and spicy Okra stew is inspired by my friend Maria Hatcher. Not only does she style my hair to perfection, she's been tempting me with tales of this recipe for months now. After our visit to her salon yesterday, and another conversation about this dish, I decided to pick up some okra and onions at the store and try this recipe tonight. I'm not sure if she uses all the same spices or not, but this came out pretty darned good. I served it over 2 redskin steamed potatoes. She uses mashed cauliflower or masked potatoes. I think it will go really well with a batch of my Cauliflower Rice

Prep Time: 20 min 

Warning: Not for the weak of heart!! This recipe packs a lot of heat. 

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 1 x 12oz Pack of frozen/cut Okra
  2. 1 small white Onion, julienned
  3. 1 x 10oz can of Diced Tomatoes (or a medium fresh tomato, diced)
  4. 1 small Jalapeño, diced finely
  5. 1 tbsp Powdered Cumin
  6. 1 tsp Smoked Chipotle Pepper (or more, to taste)
  7. 1 tsp minced garlic
  8. Salt, to taste
Line a big saucepan with water and add onion and garlic. As the onion becomes translucent, add tomatoes, jalapeño, cumin and chipotle pepper. Mix well, add frozen okra and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer allow the okra to cook down for about 15 min. Serve over rice or potatoes. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 58 (Fat Calories 5)
Total Fat 0.5 g; Carbohydrates 12.0 g; Fiber 4.0 g; Sugars 3.9 g; Protein 2.1 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

Chef AJ's House Dressing

Photo Courtesy: The Shelton Challenge
I've been slacking off for about a month. Well not really, but I am terribly behind in my posts and the only reason I have, which some of you have already heard about, is that I started a new job this January. I'd been in the same position for the past 8 years and after a lot of moaning and groaning and stressing out over everything and anything, I made the change. I planned my exit strategy and when the opportunity presented itself, I made the change. It was difficult after being in the same place for 8 years but now I wonder why I was ever worried about change ... Change Equals Growth, after all. 

Anyhow, now I'm back and hopefully will stick with it with regularity :)

One of the cool things about my new job is that they have a full cafeteria with a full fresh salad bar. Awesome!!! Now while I've been really good about taking leftovers for lunches, the chance of eating a fresh spinach salad, loaded with beans and other fresh veggies, which I didn't have to put together is an awesome opportunity in my opinion. In the 3 weeks I've been there, I've had salad for lunch at least 4 days each week. I love it!! So that is the reason that this first post is about a home-made salad dressing. Chef AJ's House Dressing. I first came across this recipe when I attended a cooking demonstration by Chef AJ in Dublin, Ohio. I bought her book, Unprocessed, and this recipe was on a bookmark she gives out with each book. It's yummy!!

Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients (Serves 5):
  1. 1/2 cup filtered Water
  2. 4 tbsp Tahini (whatever brand you can find, bottled varieties tend to congeal less)
  3. 6 tbsp Lemon/Lime Juice (fresh or bottled, both work fine)
  4. 4 tbsp Low-Sodium Tamari (or Soy Sauce)
  5. 4 tbsp Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
  6. 8 tbsp Kal Nutritional Yeast
  7. 1 tbsp Date Syrup (or 3 whole pitted Medjool dates)
Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. If using dates instead of date syrup, you may need to pulse a few extra minutes to make sure that the dates are well incorporated. The longer the dressing sits, the dates will imbibe more of the moisture and add to the overall sweetness of the recipe. Transfer to a serving dish, or a storage bottle. I typically make a batch every Sunday and take it with me to work. I split the batch over 5 days in my salad, or if I have some remaining, I do bring it home as it is also great on a baked russet or redskin potato. Enjoy!! This dressing is very reminiscent of a Honey Mustard dressing. Its really yummy on salads as well as on steamed vegetables, including baked or steamed potatoes.

Chef AJ's House Dressing over Steamed Redskin Potatoes

-- more pictures to follow -- 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 156 (Fat Calories 69)
Total Fat 7.6 g; Carbohydrates 18.1 g; Fiber 4.8 g; Sugars 6.2 g; Protein 8.5 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!