Tag Archives: rice

Arroz con Gandules

arroz con gandules

It’s a good sign for me that I’m making the time and effort to take lunches to work again. October’s Vegan MoFo seems like a blur, in which I tried to eat in as many restaurants as I could during the month. This was not kind to my waistline. November was stressful, and when I get stressed I make all the wrong food choices. Again, ditto for the waistline. Now the holiday season and its inevitable splurges are coming, but my body just can’t take this abuse any longer. I feel like I’m walking around half asleep, in a carb-induced state of near-hibernation. I would actually hibernate, except I would miss knitting season and a whole lot of other fun things.

I’d like to be able to say that what I’ve been eating lately is mostly healthy, and it’s just the quantities that need adjustment – but it’s not the case. I’ve been loading up on sugary junk and carbs. It feels like I’m on a moody roller coaster, where the downward swings leave me feeling like no amount of sleep is enough, and the wiry sugared-up feeling doesn’t last nearly long enough. I feel so much better when I’m “high” on the phytochemicals. The solution is probably more kale. When I’m planning meals, I need to think vegetables vegetables vegetables! instead of grains grains grains! this winter.

I’m sure I can shift myself away from these carb cravings with better planning and more fresh vegetable choices ready to go in the refrigerator. It’s like a cycle… I eat carby junk, I get tired all the time, I lose interest in cooking and food preparation, I eat more carby junk that I can grab, lather, rinse, repeat. But I shall break out of this. I will make a date with myself. On this date, I will purchase, clean, and prepare 3 different healthy snacks to have on hand that have vegetables and/or fruit and protein. I will plan meals for the week and lunches to take to work that will fill me up all day.

And if this doesn’t work, you may find me in a nearby tree, sleeping it off until spring.

The picture above is rice with pigeon peas, or arroz con gandules. It’s a Puerto Rican dish I first tried at a Seventh Day Adventist food fair, and I liked it a lot. My version was thrown together on a weeknight after coming home from work AND a trip to the store for groceries, so it’s not as detailed with spices or as authentic as the real thing. Basically, I just used my own Mexican rice recipe, which is probably all sorts of wrong, and added a can of pigeon peas. The real thing calls for flavorful achiote oil, a Puerto Rican staple. It usually contains some green manzanilla olives, but not everyone in my family likes those. I will work on a version that’s closer to the real thing.

 

Sushi and pizza: the birthday weekend begins.

Round one of birthday weekend food started with Thursday night sushi.

sweet potato sushiSweet potato, grilled tofu, green onion, avocado, cucumber, sesame seeds. Served with sweet-hot pepper jelly. I love hot pepper jelly.

grilled tofu sushiGrilled tofu, sriracha, cucumber, daikon, avocado, sesame seeds, cilantro leaves.

On Friday night we made homemade pizza with a lot of improvisation. First, I ran out of semolina flour for my usual crust recipe, so I substituted garbanzo bean flour. It worked! Then I ran out of Daiya mozzarella, so I decided to make a Mexican pizza and use the cheddar I had.

Mexican pizzaIt’s topped with smoky oaxaca salsa, seitan chorizo, onions, portabella mushrooms, avocado, cilantro, and Daiya cheddar. It was delicious.


 

Random Eating: Aug. 28 – Sep. 3

seitan fajitas

Seitan Fajitas: Simple Seitan from Veganomicon (similar recipe on Post Punk Kitchen), sauteed with taco seasonings (chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion, garlic), water, and vinegar. I was going for a chorizo-type flavor. It was very tasty, but I’m not sure about the texture of simmered seitan. I like it more chewy, like what you get from the Julie Hasson steaming method.

peaches and greens smoothie

It was still hot this week (it’s September already!) so I had a few smoothies. This is a Peaches and Greens Smoothie: coconut milk, agave nectar, kale, frozen bananas, frozen peaches.

ukranian borscht and waldorf salad

Lunch at work: red peppers and basic homemade hummus, grapes, waldorf salad (granny smith apples, black raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, low-fat Vegenaise), with Ukranian Borscht from Common Ground Co-Op.

portabella steak dinner

Portabella steak dinner: steak sauce-marinated mushrooms, yellow basmati rice, sauteed zucchini.

zaatar

This week I finally tried Za’atar. I am SO addicted! I’ve seen this many times at World Harvest foods, always sold in what seemed like very large bags, and wondered… who would need that much of a spice? Now I know.

Za’atar is a mixture of thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, salt, and other spices that you can mix with olive oil and use as a spread, dip, or condiment. I like it mixed with olive oil on bread. I sprinkled it on some spring mix salad. It’s also good with hummus.  I should make some chapatis for dipping.

channa masala with zaatar

Here is more za’atar, with basmati rice and channa masala.

mobile crockpot unit

Despite the 90 degree heat this week, I made a big hot crock pot of vegan chili to share with colleagues. Everyone liked it. I’ve made chili twice in the last two weeks, and I’m a little tired of it, so I think I’ll freeze the leftovers for later.

Random Food: Aug. 20-27

vegan firm tofu banh miFirm Tofu Banh Mi from Xinh Xinh Cafe. Cucumber, daikon, onion, carrot, super-hot jalapeños, cilantro, and delicately fried slices of tofu. There are herbs embedded in the tofu. I don’t understand how this is done, and I can’t question the deliciousness.

veggie fried spring rolls with riceVeggie fried spring rolls with rice.

vegan "Big Mac"-style Gardein burgerVegan “Big Mac” Gardein burger. Special sauce, lettuce, homemade pickles, onions, tomato.

pretzel rollsPretzel rolls from Serious Eats, made without the egg white-brushing step.

Quick Polenta with Black Beans and Mole

polenta with black beans and mole

Today’s lunch is brought to you by the secret word: drool.

Here we have a few slices of prepared polenta and black beans, topped with Doña Maria Mole. This prepared mole comes as a sauce that you can use right out of a little square Tetra-Pak, about the size of a juice box. It’s convenient for our family, because I can serve the omni-people their chicken with mole, and save some sauce for topping my veg protein of choice. (I should try it with tempeh.) It all comes together in under 5 minutes, minus cooking the Mexican Rice on the side (which takes about 25 minutes).

I packed up two lunch portions in these Pyrex “frozen dinner”-sized containers. They’re about the same size as one of those overpriced meals you buy out of the freezer. I’ve eaten my share of Healthy Choice, and they never compared to my own leftovers. I’m trying to phase out plastic containers and use more glass for reheating. These containers come with plastic lids which do an adequate job of sealing, except for really juicy foods. When I’m concerned about leakage, I seal the container with plastic wrap under the lid.

Pyrex lunch containers

And… check out my new To-Go Ware utensil set! It’s made from bamboo, and includes chopsticks and a fabric carrying case (not pictured). It fits in my small purse, so it can go to restaurants, or wherever I eat my packed lunches. The sets retail for $12.95 each at the manufacturer’s web site, but Common Ground Food Co-Op has them for only $9.99.

 

A Batch of Breakfast Burritos, and Mexican Rice

breakfast burritos

I made ten breakfast burritos last weekend, which I froze or refrigerated for future grab-and-go breakfasts. Each burrito contains:

  • a flour tortilla
  • a smear of vegetarian refried beans
  • Mexican Rice (see recipe below)
  • basic scrambled tofu
  • breakfast potatoes
  • a little hot sauce (Cholula is good)
a batch of breakfast burritos in a bag
Why not use the tortilla bag to hold them together in the freezer?

The process took about an hour. All components except the refried beans were prepared from scratch. A lot of the time was not hands-on, such as when the rice was simmering. I could have used two separate skillets for potatoes and scrambled tofu and cooked them simultaneously, but I wanted to keep dirty pans to a minimum. I cooked the breakfast potatoes in the skillet, followed by the scrambled tofu.

The breakfast potatoes are simply diced potatoes sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.

These burritos are very filling. I prefer to let them thaw a little in the refrigerator overnight (or longer) before microwaving. I heat them on medium power to avoid hot ends and a cold middle.

I tossed one in my bag this morning and it was an excellent post-run breakfast.

Mexican Rice

This recipe makes more than double what you need for ten breakfast burritos, but reheats well. Use any type of rice you prefer, including long-grain or basmati. I used a medium-grain rice because that’s what I had on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups medium-grain rice
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce)
  • 2 tsp vegetable stock concentrate (Better Than Bouillon is what I use, or substitute 2 cups of broth)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
In a deep saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add rice and stir to coat. Toast rice for a few minutes while preparing liquid mixture, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a 4-cup measuring container, combine tomato sauce, spices, and vegetable stock concentrate or broth. Add enough water to make a total of 4 cups of liquid.

Stir liquid into rice. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes. (Be sure to follow cooking time guidelines for the rice you’re using.)

Uncover rice and remove from heat. Stir to separate grains and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: When reheating rice, it helps to sprinkle a little water on it before microwaving, in a covered dish. It keeps the rice moist.

Crock Pot Channa Masala

PCRM’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart begins tomorrow. I’m going to give it a try. I don’t feel like I’m “giving up” all the things I can’t have (or more accurately, that I choose not to have). I see it as an opportunity – for better health, to reduce my footprint on the world, and to discover new tastes. Many of the dishes I already love are vegan. Like this one, a family-favorite Indian dish. It’s easy to prepare in a slow cooker, and the chickpeas turn out perfectly.

If your slow cooker has a removable stoneware crock like mine does, you can even assemble it the night before and store the crock in the fridge, then pull it out in the morning and plug it in. Dinner will be waiting for you, and your house will smell amazing.

Crock Pot Channa Masala

1 29 oz (large) can chickpeas, undrained
1 28 oz (large) can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
5-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 black cardamom pods
2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 tbsp garam masala
few dashes cayenne (or more to taste)

Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours, with the lid off for the last hour so it can thicken. Serve with hot cooked basmati rice or naan, and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.