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Sunday, April 14, 2019

White Beans with Farro, Mushrooms and Kale

Last week, my daughter made this delicious meal for me while at her house. It's simple to make, but it's both hearty and delicious. It's perfect for those of us eating whole food, plant-based because it contains beans, mushrooms and kale, three important foods that I try to eat every day. Here is the recipe for making 2 to 4 servings (depending on your portion sizes) --- note that I specify Eden beans because Eden beans, while costing a little more, have no added salt, they're organic and they come in BPA-free cans (however, I have no connection with Eden products, and you are certainly free to use whatever brand you prefer or better yet, cook your own beans as I normally do):

Ingredients

Farro

1 cup uncooked farro
2-1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf

Beans

15 ounce can Eden Cannellini beans

Mushrooms and Kale

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8 ounces white or baby bella mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 small diced red onion
3 garlic cloves minced
4 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian spice mix

Directions

In a Dutch oven or other large pot, cook the farro in the vegetable broth with the bay leaf. Generally, once you've brought the farro to a boil, you will want to reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. The farro should still be chewy at this point. If desired, you can also cook the farro in an Instant Pot on high for 7 minutes. Do not release the pressure after the 7 minutes; let the pressure come down naturally.

When the farro is close to done cooking, saute the mushrooms, garlic and onion in the balsamic vinegar until cooked. Add the kale and cook it until wilted. Season with the black pepper and Italian spice mix.

Add the beans to the farro and then add the mushroom and kale mix. Stir well and enjoy!

I like this recipe because it is real simple, easy to make and yet full of all the nutrition that we demand on a whole food, plant-based way of eating.

J Lanning Smith
Twice the Man, Half the Weight
April 14, 2019



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Easy to Make Plant-Based Chocolate Cake

I haven't made this recipe in several years, but I've been asked for it twice in the past few weeks. So, I've decided to post the recipe. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of it. But what I can say is, it's delicious. I guess that's why I keep getting asked about it.

I learned about this cake almost six years ago when I first started eating whole food, plant-based. I made it for a holiday event to take to my daughter's house, and it was a huge hit. In fact, my six year old (at the time) granddaughter declared that for her birthday, she wanted this same cake. I thought that was really saying something. And it said even more when I learned that she and her mother made it into cupcakes to take to school and share with all of her classmates. So, if the taste itself wasn't enough to encourage me about the cake, my granddaughter's acceptance of it was. After all, six year olds haven't learned yet to be phony about what they like and don't like.

So, here is the recipe. And the only reason I haven't eaten it in years is I'm not really a cake eater. Now give me a nice fruity nice cream or plant-based chocolate mousse, and I'll go crazy for that. But I've never really gotten into cake that much. And I try not to eat flour products, even when they're whole wheat. But once in a while for a celebration I think desserts made with flour, maple syrup and vegan chocolate chips can be okay. I just wouldn't make a habit of it.

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
6 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup cold water

Directions

Mix everything together and pour into cake pan (9" x 9"). If desired, nuts and/or vegan chocolate chips may be added to the mixture. If you want a two layered cake, then double the recipe and pour into two cake pans instead of one. The vinegar in combination with the baking powder are what causes this cake to rise, and it doesn't rise a lot (so you may want a two layered cake).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

For the icing, place some vegan chips on top of the cooked hot cake and put back in oven until chips melt (may take only seconds, but absolutely no longer than one minute). You could even turn the oven off for this stage and just allow the residual heat to melt the chocolate chips.

Spread the melted chips around on top of the cake.

And that's it! How simple and easy is that!

So, the next step is to enjoy. As I said, it's an occasional celebration food or maybe something to take to a potluck. I made this a couple times over a couple month period in the beginning and continued to lose weight. Of course, I only had one slice from each cake I made. I had plenty of help in eating it.

J Lanning Smith
Twice the Man, Half the Weight
March 6, 2019

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Chocolate Mousse

Who doesn't love chocolate and who doesn't love dessert? Even on a whole food, plant-based diet, we can get a craving for one or both.

Tomorrow night, our club is hosting Dr. Joel Fuhrman who will be speaking at our January 2019 meeting. Before the meeting, the Board will be having a pot luck dinner with Dr. Fuhrman. I decided to make chocolate mousse for that dinner.

I created my own recipe for that, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. So, I wanted to share it here. It's really simple to make.



For each 3-1/2 servings, blend the following ingredients and then chill overnight. It's that simple.

  • 1 box Nori-Mu Silken Tofu (firm)
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 2 Medjool dates
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • Splash of vanilla

Now, enjoy!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Most Nutritious Salad Dressing Ever

This morning I got to thinking about the pros and cons of green smoothies. The pros, as we all know, are that blending vegetables and fruits breaks up their cellular walls and releases more of the nutrients contained in the veggies and fruits. That's a good thing because presumably the more nutrients released, the more nutrients our bodies absorb. But the negative side of that is that some of the fiber is sacrificed in blending the veggies and smoothies, thus causing us to absorb too quickly. The solution up until now has been to drink your green smoothie slowly, thus slowing down the absorption of the food, particularly the sugars in it.

But today, I came up with a new solution. That is the green smoothie salad dressing.




It's real simple. As you make your salad, use the same ingredients to make the salad dressing. But first, start by putting a cup of water in the blender and then adding the greens (in this case, it's a combination of spinach and turnip greens). Then add your other ingredients. I used onion, carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, radishes and tomatoes. I also put pinto beans on the salad, but I did not include them in the salad dressing blend. Finally, I added about a cup of ice to the top of the blender and then blended everything until it was a nice smooth texture.

The final step is to then pour some of that mixture right on to the salad. Voila! You now have a salad with a salad dressing that is made up of the most nutritious ingredients you can find. But you're not sacrificing the fiber because you're getting the fiber through the salad. What could be better than that?

And there should be plenty left over for future salads. Just be sure to keep it refrigerated because it's not pasteurized.

J Lanning Smith
November 29, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mediterranean Basin: Jim's Comforting Lentils


You probably don't think of a lentil dish as being a comfort food, but that's only because you haven't tried this comforting, hearty, creamy dish. And did I say delicious too? Yes, it is delicious.

The dish is inspired by a recipe I read in Naked Food Magazine's Master Plants Cookbook. There are several recipes in that book that are excellent just as they are, but I chose their Plato's Lentil Risotto as one I wanted to add to, make in a pressure cooker instead of on the stove and just generally enhance. So, you will find a number of new ingredients and different ways of cooking the dish here.

Ingredients

1 cup red lentils (uncooked)
6 medium yellow potatoes, sliced (include skin for extra nutrition)
2 medium carrots
12 oz. sliced mushrooms (any variety you choose)
1 onion, cut into half moons
1 whole garlic, diced
2 whole Bay leaves
1 whole sage leaf, cut into strips
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 bunch of cilantro, cut up
8 cups low-salt vegetable broth (check ingredients to ensure no oil)

2 cups cooked millet 

2 cups cashews with
2 cups water blended in Vitamix or high-powered blender

1 bunch of kale, stripped from the stems and cut up

Directions

Cook the millet by placing 1 cup of uncooked millet in the pressure cooker with 1-3/4 cup of water. Cook on high for 10 minutes. Let pressure come down naturally.

After removing millet from the pressure cooker if using the same pressure cooker for the remainder of the recipe, add the lentils, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onion, garlic, herbs and spices and the vegetable broth to the empty pressure cooker and cook on high for 6 minutes.

Open the pressure cooker, remove most of the potatoes and mash them. Return the mashed potatoes to the pressure cooker and stir the mixture. Then add the millet and stir again.

Pour in the cashew and water mixture and stir well to get everything mixed in a homogenous manner.

Then add kale and stir it into the mixture.

Cook under pressure for an additional 1 minute and allow pressure to come down naturally. Stir and enjoy!


Monday, August 14, 2017

Resistant Starch Red Potato and Bean Salad



As most of my readers know, I have lost 150 pounds, going from 320 pounds to 170 pounds, by following a whole food, plant-based way of eating. I did that starting in October 2013 and continuing to lose weight up through December 2015. But then in 2016 and up until now in 2017, I have not continued to lose weight, even though I would like to lose another 15 pounds. I don't know if I will ever lose that final 15 pounds or not, many people say I'm too skinny now. But I can see that there is still some spare tire or belly flab that I could stand to shed. It became most noticeable to me over the last several weeks because I was in Alaska, I was tucking my shirts in more; whereas, here at home, I tend to wear my shirts untucked. As I tucked my shirts in, I felt that my stomach was showing itself off too much.

So, in trying to figure out what to do upon my return from Alaska, which was a thoroughly enjoyable vacation and one that I would recommend as a "don't miss" to everyone, I happened to run across the concept of resistant starch. I'm not sure how I happened to find this, even though it was only two days ago that I came to recognize resistant starch. But the concept is right in line with Dr. John McDougall's Starch Solution diet, and I believe it might be exactly why Dr. McDougall's program works so well. Anyway, I've decided to give it a try.

The idea of resistant starch is that there are some starchy foods that our bodies don't fully digest. Instead they pass right through us, providing all the benefits that lots of fiber in our diets can provide. And because they pass right through us, we only absorb 2 calories per gram. You might recall that carbohydrates in general contain 4 calories per gram, so a resistant starch cuts that in half and makes it both one of the most filling meals a person can eat and also the lowest in absorbed calories.

Two of the foods with the highest levels of resistant starch are my favorite, potatoes and also white kidney beans. But there are ways to eat them that increase the resistant starch value even further. By cooking and then refrigerating for 24 hours, resistant starch content is increased even further. Knowing that, I decided that I wanted to make a potato and white bean salad that I could make for my dinner main courses this week. I already had a 5# bag of red potatoes and plenty of white beans, along with some black beans.

I found a recipe for potato and white bean salad by Del Sroufe in his Forks Over Knives Cookbook, but not wanting to spend any more money on food this week, I decided to improvise, using Del's recipe as a starter and then creating my own using ingredients I already had on hand. Following is the recipe that I came up with, and it is delicious. Of course, if your tastes are different than mine, then maybe you would want to try Del's recipe instead. Or you might make both and see which one you like better. I think it's the Spicely Organic Rice Seasoning and the Salsa Verde that really make the difference in my recipe.

This recipe makes 10 hearty servings. And as I said, I was using ingredients I already had on hand. You may want to try different veggies or spices or you may want to use all white kidney beans or onion instead of onion powder or minced garlic gloves instead of granulated garlic.

Ingredients

5# Red Potatoes, cut into 1/16ths and cooked in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes
5 cups cooked White Kidney Beans and Black Beans
4 Bags (40 oz.) Canadian Farm Organic Frozen Garden Blend (carrots, corn, peas & green beans)
2/3 cup Organic Rice Vinegar
2/3 cup Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsps Organic Granulated Garlic
2 Tbsps Onion Powder
1 package Spicely Organic Rice Seasoning (cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, black pepper, coriander, cardamom and cloves)
1 16 oz container 100% Salsas Salsa Verde (tomatillos, avocado, cilantro, serrano peppers, garlic, cloves, onion and salt) -- optional for added spice

Directions

Cook the red potatoes, beans (unless using canned beans) and vegetables as you would normally cook them. Add the other ingredients and thoroughly mix them together. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Japan: Miso Soup and Japanese Sweet Potato


I'm a creature of habit, and what that means is, I pretty much eat the same lunch every day. Today's post is about that lunch. I've been eating this most days for the last 18 to 20 months.

It's Miso soup and a Japanese sweet potato topped with ginger root. These are foods that the Okinawan population ate on a regular basis. And according to Blue Zones author, Dan Buettner, the Okinawan population is the second longest living population in the world (the first longest living being the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California). Much of their health and long lifespan has been attributed to their diet, although there are other factors that played into it as well.

Before giving specific recipes, let me address Miso for a minute. Many people have concerns about Miso because of its sodium content. And if you're one of them and you still have that concern after reading what I'm about to say, you can leave the Miso out of this soup. The soup is chock full of nutrients and antioxidants even without the Miso. So, if you're concerned about that, just follow the recipe and at the end, don't add the Miso.

The concerns about Miso are the high sodium content, which can lead to stomach cancer or high blood pressure. Dr. Michael Greger has addressed the concerns about Miso in this video titled Is Miso Healthy? As Dr. Greger explains, a recent study found, with respect to blood pressure, that a person had five times the lower risk of high blood pressure if they ate two or more bowls of Miso soup each day. Dr. Greger explains that the soy in Miso soup (from the tofu) can be counteracting the high sodium's effect on blood pressure. And according to The Miso Book by John Belleme and other things I've read, Miso is also high in potassium and potassium actually acts to lower blood pressure. So, perhaps the soy and the potassium working together make hypertension an unlikely result from eating Miso soup. I know from my own personal experience that eating Miso soup on a daily basis has not adversely affected my blood pressure, which averages around 110/70 without any prescription medicines. That's considered remarkable for a 70 year old man.

Dr. Greger also cites studies showing that the salt in Miso soup, unlike the salt in processed foods, has had no effect on stomach cancer rates. Dr. Greger talks more about this on pages 280-281 of his most recent book, How Not to Die.

Regarding the Japanese sweet potato, if you've never had one, you are in for a treat. They are a little pricey when compared to a regular sweet potato or to a yam, but they are well worth it. I buy mine at Whole Foods Market as many regular grocery stores don't carry them. The Japanese sweet potato has a purple skin, but the inside pulp is white. So it should not be confused with a purple sweet potato, which is purple all the way through (and good too). Once cooked, the Japanese sweet potato has a wonderful creamy texture to it. I doubt that you'll be disappointed. So, don't settle for just an orange sweet potato all the time. Give a Japanese sweet potato a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Here are the recipes for my daily lunch.

Japanese Sweet Potato

Serves one

Ingredients

1 Japanese Sweet Potato
Sprinkling of Ginger Root

Instructions

Because of the lengthy cooking time for the Japanese sweet potato, you will want to start this approximately three hours before you plan to actually eat.

The only way to cook a Japanese sweet potato in my opinion is to do it in the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Place approximately 3/4" of water in the bottom of the liner pan and put in a steamer basket. Then place the Japanese sweet potato in the middle of the pot and cook under pressure for two hours. Note that two hours is considerably longer than you would cook a standard sweet potato for, but the longer you cook a Japanese sweet potato, the better it is (both taste-wise and consistency-wise).

Once cooked, let the pressure come down naturally and then cut the potato lengthwise and mash up the inside of the potato. Sprinkle with the ginger root and enjoy along with the Miso soup. 

As an alternative, I will oftentimes drizzle apple cider vinegar over the Japanese sweet potato before eating. Then I may or may not add the ginger root. Each way has its own unique taste, and they're all delicious.

Miso Soup

Making Miso soup is a little less exact. There are definite ingredients that should go in all Miso soups. And then there are optional ingredients that I will add at different times. So, every version of Miso soup that I make is different. Here are some ideas for making Miso soup. In general, I fill the pot and consider what I make to provide 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

1 large onion, quartered or 2 bunches spring onions, chopped
1 large garlic, minced
10 oz. Shitake mushrooms (I will sometimes mix in oyster, crimini and portobello mushrooms)
16 oz. Extra Firm Tofu, cut into 1/4" squares
4 to 6 carrots, sliced
1 bunch asparagus and/or 1 package frozen veggies of choice and/or fresh veggies of choice
5 ounces of Wakame or Kale (if kale is used, then also add a 6" square inch piece of Kombu)
8 cups (or more depending upon how thick you like your Miso soup) of vegetable or Miso broth
1 tablespoon / serving of Red Miso

Instructions

Place all ingredients except the Miso in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 30 minutes. Alternatively, the Instant Pot can be used. Just put all the ingredients except the Miso into the Instant Pot and cook under pressure for 0 (zero) minutes. Just be careful to do a natural pressure release. This recipe fills up the Instant Pot and you will spray liquid soup all over your kitchen counter and ceiling if you try to release the pressure too early (I know this from personal experience).

Remove the kombu before placing the soup in bowls.

When you're ready to serve the soup, place the soup in bowls and then add 1 tablespoon of Miso to each bowl. Stir well to mix the Miso into the soup.

Do not cook the Miso. The active cultures in Miso that makes it so healthy for our guts are destroyed when boiled. Therefore, in order to get the health benefits of this meal, it is best to add the Miso when ready to eat. Because of that, using Miso broth is not a substitute for using Miso. The reason for using Miso broth is simply for taste.

For the Miso soup in this picture, I also added a sprig of fennel (or anise) to the soup. I've also added mint leaves and Sriracha sauce in the past as well. And sometimes, I've topped my Miso soup with unsalted peanuts. The possibilities are endless and totally up to you. Like me, you don't have to do it the same every time. Variety can be the spice of life.

© J Lanning Smith
March 6, 2017