Category Archives: Middle Eastern food

Coconut and Curried Lentil Dahl

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I modified this recipe VERY little from that of “The Happy Pear” recipe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1G3J-nvAUI).  It is so easy to make, and very filling. You could use any number of greens in place of the bok choy (i.e., baby spinach, arugula, chard).  Also, if you wanted to speed up the cooking process, you could use yellow lentils as they cook much faster than green lentils.

I started off with a few tablespoons of EVOO in a stockpot, and added one whole chopped purple onion, two medium-sized chopped zucchinis, a grated carrot, and about 2 tsp. sea salt.  I stirred that over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, while I chopped up the sweet potato.  It was organic, so I washed it well, but I did not peel it.  A lot of the nutrients from root vegetables are found in the skin (only use if organic, though).  Then, I added about 2 heaping tbsp. of a high-quality yellow curry, 1 heaping tbsp. each ground cumin, coriander, sweet paprika.  I continued to stir constantly over medium-high heat for another 5 minutes before adding the chopped sweet potato.  I stirred and mixed all ingredients very well so all vegetables were well coated with the spices.  At that point, I added one carton of Pomi strained tomatoes (26 oz.), and one 13 oz. Thai Kitchen unsweetened coconut milk.  Stirred all very well, then added one 16-oz package of dried green lentils that I had washed and drained thoroughly.  I mixed all this together, then added about 1.5 liters of water (enough to make it soup-like because the lentils and the sweet potato need a lot of water to absorb).  I also added a heaping tsp. of organic dried vegetable bouillon for extra flavor since I was going to add a very large bok choy later on after the vegetables and lentils had cooked for about 40 minutes.

After 40 to 45 minutes on simmer, stirring regularly and keeping an eye on the liquid level to be sure it was adequate, I added about a tbsp. of soy sauce, and one whole fresh-squeezed lime.  Then, I added the roughly chopped bok choy.  Stirred and simmer for another 10 minutes, or so before serving with some garnish of fresh cilantro.  On the side, I served couscous, but the dahl was plenty enough on its own.  It made a huge pot of dahl, so I’ll be freezing a lot of it today.

Thanks to “The Happy Pear” for their usual inspiration.  They’re on Instagram and other social media sites (I follow them on Instagram, and then watch their great YouTube videos.).

Curried Cauliflower Soup

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The absolutely most savory and tasty soup ever! It was so simple to make, that I am just going to describe how I made it because I didn’t use a recipe, and it was a taste-as-you-go kind of effort.

I had a whole cauliflower that I washed and broke into small florets. Meanwhile, I sautéed over medium heat in a heavy soup pot about 3 tbsp. EVOO, one large yellow chopped onion, three chopped celery stalks, three finely chopped carrots, a fresh and finely chopped large tomato, about 5 finely chopped garlic cloves. After a few minutes, I added a generous amount of high quality yellow curry (about 3 tbsp), about 1 tbsp each of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and ground cumin. Stirred, and then grated about 3 tbsp each of fresh turmeric and ginger, and added that to the mix, along with the cauliflower florets. I stirred all ingredients well, and let sauté for a few more minutes before adding about 6 cups of fresh filtered water. Brought it all to a boil, then simmered until the cauliflower was tender (about 25 minutes). Before serving, I added some baby bok choy, chopped, and some chopped cilantro. I garnished each dish with a little whole baby bok choy, and some fresh parsley and cilantro, as well as some freshly-squeezed lime and a little Tamari.

All of this can (and should) be modified to your own taste. The main thing is to use the different ingredients, all organic, and maybe modify the measurements according to what you really like. It’s all about experimentation. This one turned out very well, and I just loved it (and still have leftovers).

Curried Millet Salad with Baked Sockeye Salmon

Protein-rich millet is not as popular in the U.S. as quinoa, but it ought to be. The millet plant is drought-tolerant, and nutritionally it competes with quinoa. It is gluten-free and non-allergenic, with lots of fiber and other beneficial qualities. To learn more about millet, see: “12 Health Benefits of Millet” at http://www.care2.com/greenliving/12-health-benefits-of-millet.html.

I cooked the millet per package directions, then set it aside to cool. Meanwhile, I sautéed some garlic and onion in some EVOO. I added the millet and stirred it well as I sprinkled a generous amount of both turmeric and curry powder to the mixture. I served it with some fresh parsley and basil alongside my baked sockeye salmon. Not one of my vegan dishes, but high in protein and very nutritious. I had leftover millet the next day. It is the perfect main dish for a vegan meal, served with some fresh veggies or fruit on the side (which is what I did with the leftovers).

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Quinoa Tabbouleh with Mango, Strawberries, Avocado and Kale

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Mango, Strawberries, Avocado and Kale

INGREDIENTS

2 c water
1 c quinoa
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp Flavor God Everything Seasoning
1 tsp coarse-grind pepper
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
12 cherry tomatoes, deseeded and chopped very finely
1 English cucumber, finely diced
3 bunches green onions, finely diced
3 carrots, grated
1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 mango, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
handful of fresh whole strawberries
Handful of chopped fresh kale
Some whole cherry tomatoes for the platter

METHOD

In a saucepan bring water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to sit for a few minutes before fluffing with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate while you are making the vegetable mix.

In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, Flavor God seasoning, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, carrots and parsley. Mix together well. If the quinoa is cooled enough by the time you’ve labored over all the fine chopping of your veggies, then stir it into the mixture. If it isn’t quite cool, let the vegetables marinate in the refrigerator until the quinoa is cool enough to add. Then mix it in, and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at 30 minutes to let all the flavors blend.

Meanwhile, add the sliced mango and avocado onto a platter, along with whole strawberries. Place a handful of massaged and torn kale onto the platter. When the quinoa mixture is ready, serve on top of the kale. (I prefer to serve from a measuring cup so that it has a nice shape, and I know how large the serving sizes will be, but you can just spoon it into a pile over the kale.) Place some whole cherry tomatoes around the platter.

Vegan Pulao

Vegan Pulao

I’ve made pulao with chicken before, and it was great. I followed an Indian recipe to a tee. I was looking for a vegan version with a variation of spices, not necessarily Indian spices (though I love them). I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos lately about how to make it, and this is what I came up with. It’s a variation of all the recipes I saw, but two important things about making any pulao are a) you must rinse the rice until the water is absolutely clear, and b) soak it before cooking. If you omit these steps, your rice will likely be too starchy, sticky, and it will break.

I just made this last night, so I have to hurry and write down the ingredients before I forget! Next time, I would add peas and cabbage (two ingredients I didn’t have on hand). I think cooking a little broken vermicelli and adding that to the mixture at the end would add to this recipe as well.

INGREDIENTS

2 c long-grain basmati rice, rinsed until water comes out clear, and soaked for 20 minutes before cooking
1 large onion, thin-sliced lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, diced very finely
2 carrots, grated
About 24 fresh organic green beans, chopped very finely
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp garam masala (an aromatic blend of spices often used in Indian cooking)
2 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped green onion for garnish (could also use cilantro as well, or instead)

METHOD

The usual ratio of 1 to 2 (rice to water) should be 1 to 2.5 when making pulao. Also, do not cook the rice until it is completely done; reduce cooking time by about 5 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, have all your vegetables chopped and ready to add to the hot non-stick wok or large non-stick frying pan because you will cook everything on high heat, and it will not take long. Plus, you will need to be stirring the mixture constantly. Heat the oil in the wok/frying pan over high heat and add the onions and garam masala. Stir constantly until the onions begin to darken and the mixture becomes very fragrant. Add the garlic, beans, bell pepper, carrots, and continue stirring until all the vegetables are mixed well. Add the salt and pepper to taste (go light on the salt if you’re going to use soy sauce after you add the rice to the mixture, or you may want to omit the soy sauce altogether). Turn the heat down to low, and let the flavors blend for a few minutes before adding the rice.

Your rice is cooked and set aside. When you are ready to add it to your cooked vegetables, fluff it up very gently to separate the rice grains, trying not to break them. Add 4 cups of the cooked, fluffed rice to your mixture and very carefully fold it in. Add soy sauce (if you choose to use it) and blend in evenly using a soft spatula. Slightly cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for a few minutes for all the flavors to meld together.

Serve on a platter and garnish with chopped green onion.

Weekly Meal Prep for my son

Weekly Meal Prep for my son

Once a week I prepare the week’s meals for my son. I take it over to his place on Monday mornings and assemble it all in his meal prep containers. He works out and doesn’t want to negate his hard work at the gym by eating improperly, so he retained my services to prepare his meals each week. He prefers meals higher in protein and (good) fat, and lower in carbs.

Here we have Greek meatballs using low-fat, organic grass-fed ground beef; tabbouleh; guacamole; Greek non-fat plain yogurt with cucumber and garlic; and a small rosemary roasted red potato. For breakfast, I always make steel-cut oatmeal. I also made a green smoothie (not pictured) that consisted of: spinach, grapes, cucumber, carrot, apple, celery, lime, tangelo orange, frozen banana, mint, almonds and water.

Meatballs:

2 lbs. organic grass-fed low-fat ground beef
3 slices whole-wheat gluten-free bread, dipped in a cup of milk and squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 yellow onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 c finely chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 eggs, beaten
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg (I used powdered)
Himalayan pink salt, and pepper

Heat oven to 375 F. Mix all ingredients and form meatballs. Place on parchment paper on a roasting pan or cookie sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes, turning after about 15 minutes and increase the heat to 400 for the last 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.

Guacamole:

6 ripe Haas avocados
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 c finely diced sweet onion
6 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
4 Roma tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Mash the avocados and then mix in the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so, or overnight.

Yogurt Dip:

2 c plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 c deseeded and finely diced cucumber
3 cloves minced garlic (or less)
Himalayan pink salt to taste

Mix all together, cover, refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes:

Heat oven to 450 F. Wash and cut red potatoes in half. Toss with olive oil, fresh finely chopped rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place in single layer on sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for about 35-40 minutes.

(Tabbouleh recipe was posted yesterday when I used it in a wrap.)

Tabbouleh and Guacamole Wrap

Tabbouleh and Guacamole Wrap

After soaking the bulgur in boiling water (ratio of 1 part bulgur/two parts water), I chopped sweet onion, carrots, mint, parsley, and mixed it all into the cooled bulgur. I squeezed the juice of one large lemon over the mixture, and added Himalayan pink salt and coarse-grind pepper to taste. I refrigerated overnight to let all the flavors meld.

For the guacamole, I mashed two ripe avocados and then added some finely chopped sweet onion, cilantro, Himalayan pink salt (to taste), and fresh lemon juice.

I heated the whole-wheat lavash flatbread for 20 seconds in the microwave so it would be pliable for rolling. Then, I spread a layer of guacamole along the nearest long side, and then topped it evenly with a generous amount of tabbouleh. I rolled it as tightly as possible, squeezing along the length of it as I rolled it up.