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.


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


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.


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


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


1 Japanese Sweet Potato
Sprinkling of Ginger Root


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.


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


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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

USA: BBQ Soy Curls, Baked Beans, Mac 'n No Cheese and Cherry Nice Dream

I was going to wait until July 4th to do a USA-based recipe for The Art of Plant-Based Meal Creation. But last night, I went to a surprise birthday party for a friend, and they were having barbecued chicken catered in from one of the local BBQ restaurants. There were only a couple of us whole foods, plant-based vegans there. So, I decided to make a complete barbecue meal that we could eat too.

It turned out to be so incredibly good; I decided that I needed to make it my USA recipe selection, and I needed to post it now. This is a meal well worth making. The barbecue Soy Curls are from a recipe from a club member and friend, Carol Korbutt. I modified her recipe only slightly. The baked beans are inspired by a recipe posted online by Paula Deen. She's a very popular chef in Savannah, which is close to my home. Tourists line up down the block just to get a taste of her food. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, it is heavy in creams, butter, salt, sugar and so on. But these baked beans lack all of that. I left out the sugar, and used a little extra maple syrup instead, and I added Liquid Smoke to the recipe as well. The mac 'n no cheese is straight from The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kimberly Campbell.

The one recipe I didn't make for the dinner last night, but I've made several times now, is the Cherry Nice Dream, which I think is a lot like Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream. Except my nice dream, as opposed to ice cream, has no dairy products in it. It pairs well with the rest of this meal, so I'm including the recipe here. This recipe is very similar to one made by Dr. Karen Holland at the local 7th Day Adventist Supper Club and also very close to one that I've found online at Forks Over Knives.

The ultimate test to me is when my non-vegan grandchildren and my son-in-law say something is good and they ask for it again. The Cherry Nice Dream is one of those things with my grandchildren. And the Soy Curls are that with my son-in-law. So, I believe that this is an all-American meal that everyone will enjoy. And I'm even betting that you could serve the Soy Curls to your friends and tell them it's chicken, and they will never by the wiser. This is a meal that works on all cylinders.

Start by making the Soy Curls the day before and soaking the pinto beans overnight as well. Also, if you don't have cut up frozen bananas for the nice dream, that will need to be done a day in advance too.

Quantities for all of the recipes below are based on making 4 servings of each.

Barbecued Soy Curls


1 8-oz bag of Butler Soy Curls
2 cups of low-sodium, fat-free vegetable broth
2 cups of very warm water (almost boiling)
1/2 large diced vidalia onion
2 t black pepper
1 package taco seasoning
1 16-oz jar of Bone Suckin Sauce


Place the Soy Curls in a very large bowl and cover with the vegetable broth and very warm water. Be sure the soy curls are completely covered. Add more water or broth as needed. Soak for a minimum of ten minutes.

Place the diced onion in a large frying pan with a small amount of water and saute the onion until it glistens. Squeeze out the moisture from the Soy Curls and place them into the frying pan one handful at a time. Sprinkle with the black pepper and the taco seasoning. Add the Bone Suckin Sauce and stir.

Heat on medium heat while continuing to stir until everything is hot.

Then let the everything cool and place into the refrigerator for 24 hours in order to let the flavors fully develop.

Serving Suggestion

When ready to serve, simply heat the BBQ Soy Curls either on the stove or in the microwave until they are at the desired temperature.

This can be served on an open toasted whole wheat bun or an Ezekial bun with 1/3 cup of slaw mix (shredded carrots, red cabbage and green cabbage) if desired.  However, it is good on a plate all by itself too.

Baked Beans


1 cup dried pinto beans
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
3 Tbsps dijon mustard
1/3 cup maple syrup
4 Tbsps ketchup
Juice of 1 lemon


Soak the pinto beans overnight and then cook either in a large pot or in an InstantPot. If cooking in a large pot, cover with water (3 to 1) ratio, bring to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 1-1/2 hours. If using an InstantPot, use the same water ratio and cook at pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally.

Put the cooked pinto beans in a Dutch oven pot and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well. Bake covered in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes.

Can then be served immediately.

Macaroni 'n No-Cheese

I am going to refer my readers to my friend, Kim Campbell's cookbook, PlantPure Nation Cookbook for this recipe. I made it exactly as contained on page 206 using frozen butternut squash.

The only comment I would add is that if you have leftovers, or if you make it the day before, you may find it hardens a little in the refrigerator. This is easily remedied by pouring in a little nondairy milk before reheating.

Cherry Nice Dream


6 large ripe bananas, cut up into bite-sized pieces and frozen
2 cups frozen cherries
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp plant-based nondairy milk
4 Tbsp. vegan chocolate chips


a handful more of frozen cherries and
a handful more of vegan chocolate chips


Place all ingredients into a high-powered food processor. Pulse to break up the fruit. Stop the food processor as needed to break up the frozen fruit chunks with a spoon. Then process continuously until smooth throughout.

Open top of food processor and add additional frozen cherries and chocolate chips. Pulse one or two times so as to give chunks of cherry and whole chocolate chips throughout the creamy mixture.

Serve immediately. And of course this freezes well.

J Lanning Smith
February 26, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

France: Chocolate Mousse

For Valentine's Day, coming up next week, I'm moving on to France, famous for many decadent dishes, one of which is chocolate mousse. This version, however, is not only decadent, but it's also healthy. And I've never met a woman who didn't like (should I say love?) chocolate. So, guys, if you want to impress your plant-based wife or girlfriend, this is the recipe for you. And the best part is, it's super easy and quick to make. So, it's a win-win for the guys. Easy to make, and she will love you for it.

I can't claim credit for developing this recipe, however. I learned about it from the Food for Life classes taught by our local Food for Life instructor, Leslie Haas and sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). If you can find a local class in your area, I think you could find them well worth taking. Although anyone who tastes this recipe for chocolate mousse won't need any convincing about the value of taking a Food for Life class. The recipes are all good.

So, try this one out. The recipe as written theoretically makes 12 servings. But if you're like me and my friends, you might find it doesn't go quite that far. It's just too good. In fact, writing about it has gotten me thinking about it, so I just pulled some out of the refrigerator to eat while I write this. Not that I always keep a supply of  it in my refrigerator, but I'm just saying....


  • 3 packages Mori Nu Shelf-Stable firm silken tofu (I have found this tofu works the best for the right consistency. The refrigerated tofus and the extra firm tofus don't seem to work as well, although I have done it with both in the past)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips (I find Enjoy Life mini-chips in the yellow bag work the best. I've used other chips as well in the past, but the Enjoy Life chips seem to make the optimal mousse)
  • 2 cups almond milk (I think the original recipe might have called for soy milk, but I prefer to use almond milk since the base of this recipe is tofu)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Raspberries and mint leaves as desired to stage the dessert

Place the tofu (I crumble the tofu first), vanilla and almond milk into the Vitamix (or a high-powered blender).

Melt the chocolate chips in a small, covered pan on low heat, stirring often. Do not walk away from this. Chocolate chips burn easily and quickly (I've learned that from experience). This needs continual monitoring and stirring.

Pour the melted chocolate chips into the Vitamix on top of the other ingredients and blend until smooth.

Pour the blend into a serving bowl or into dishes you plan to serve it in and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours. I usually refrigerate overnight, although I get easily tempted to give it a try before that.

Top with the raspberries and mint leaves before serving.

And that's all there is to it. Enjoy! And Happy Valentine's Day.

J Lanning Smith
February 10, 2017

Vietnam: Pickled Mustard Greens and Carrots with Soy Curls

This recipe was originally published on by the WFPB Guy:

It seems natural that I would go to Vietnam for my next culinary delight. For one thing, one of my favorite restaurants in the local area is a Vietnamese restaurant, and I often seek them out when out of town. But Vietnam also has an outsized meaning to me because the Vietnam War loomed large during my teenage years and into my early twenties. I served in the combat zone during that time in the U.S. Navy and made two tours of duty there for a total of close to twenty months. And I was there for months after the war ended to help maintain the peace. Sadly, I also lost several of my high school friends in Vietnam.

But those are not the only reasons I'm focusing on Vietnam for this blog posting. There's also the fact that I recently went to a vegetarian pot luck and the theme for that pot luck was Vietnamese food. I created this dish originally for that pot luck and everybody in attendance loved it. So, after a little tweaking, I decided it was ready for the Art of Plant-Based Meal Creation.

Most calories in Vietnam are consumed through rice. In fact, rice makes up 65% of a Vietnamese person's daily calorie intake. But another food that gets eaten a lot in Vietnam is Dua Cai Chua. In English, it would be known as pickled mustard greens. And from the research I've seen, the Vietnamese people love it. As do I, but then again, I'm a sucker for anything pickled and for anything involving mustard greens. I love it when mustard greens are in season because adding a little bit to a salad or a soup really spices it up.

Here, you can see me pickling a 2-gallon jar of mustard greens. That is what the recipe below will make. And then for the second recipe below, I've taken the pickled mustard greens and combined them with marinated soy curls to create an entirely new dish which I'm hoping you will love.


  • 2 lbs mustard greens
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 medium ginger root, thinly sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Brine (see below)

Cut the mustard greens into bite-size pieces and place into large covered jar (2 gallons) with onions, ginger and garlic mixed in throughout.

Pour in warm brine (see below for making the brine) and ensure that it covers the contents of the jar. Cover the jar and place it in a warm place (window sill works well) and let it sit in order to pickle.

After 24 hours, taste it and continue to taste every 24 hours until the desired taste is achieved. Once the desired taste is achieved, move the jar into the refrigerator.

This should last in the refrigerator for several months.

Brine Ingredients

  • 16 cups water
  • 4 tbsp salt
  • 7 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
Brine Directions

Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for approximately 15 minutes. You want to be able to touch the brine without burning yourself but also for it to stay hot. When it reaches that degree of warmth, then it's ready to pour into the jar with the other ingredients.

And that's all there is to it. I have to admit that I haven't found these on the menu at any of the Vietnamese restaurants I've gone to, but they are a staple in Vietnam. And it can be eaten by itself or as part of an overall meal or in a salad or in a soup.


Now to add the pickled mustard greens to the soy curls to create Pickled Mustard Greens and Carrots with Marinated Soy Curls in Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodles or on Black Rice. I've tried this recipe both ways, with the Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodles and with just Black Rice, and I like both equally well. So you can take your choice on what you would want to do.

Other variances include the cinnamon. As I wrote it here, I have used Vietnamese cinnamon. But you

can use Ceylon cinnamon if you prefer. But I think the Vietnamese cinnamon has a stronger flavor. Ceylon cinnamon is more subtle. I would not use regular cinnamon commonly found in grocery stores. Ceylon cinnamon is the healthiest cinnamon that I'm aware of and Vietnamese cinnamon is the most flavorful.

The recipe stated below is based on having it with Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodles.

This recipe makes 4 servings.


  • 1/2 bag of Soy Curls marinated in low sodium soy sauce, garlic, minced ginger and mustard seed
  • 8 oz. Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodles
  • 1/2 lb. Pickled Mustard Greens (see recipe above) -- liquid pressed out and chopped in a food processor
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 4 Spring Onions, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp Anise, ground
  • 1/4 tsp Vietnamese Cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp Ginger, ground
  • 1/4 tsp Cardamom, ground
  • Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth to moisten
  • Crushed Peanuts to cover (optional)

24 hours prior -- Soak soy curls per the package directions for at least 10 minutes and then saute, stirring often, with soy sauce, garlic, minced ginger and mustard seeds.

Make noodles per the package directions.

To the soy curls, add pickled mustard greens, carrots and spring onions and heat until warm.

Place noodles in a large serving bowl. Add the soy curl mixture and then add spices and just enough broth to moisten. Toss thoroughly to mix all ingredients. 

And that's all there is to it.


J Lanning Smith
January 29, 2017

Ethiopia: Injera (Ethiopian Bread) and Missir Wot (Spicy Red Lentil Stew)

This recipe was originally published on by the WFPB Guy:

One of my all-time favorite restaurants is Meskerem in the Adams-Morgan District of Washington, DC. That's where I first learned to sit around the table, in the restaurant's upstairs dining area, and share a common vessel of food with family and friends by tearing off pieces of injera, an Ethiopian bread made from Teff flour, to which I'm providing the recipe for in this blog post, and using that injera to pick up the food and eat it. To Ethiopians, sharing a common vessel of food, which is usually placed on the injera itself, signifies loyalty and friendship. Going even further, the Ethiopians have a term "gursha," which means to use your own hand to pick up the food with injera and feed another person by placing the food in that person's mouth. This is perhaps the ultimate in loyalty and friendship to that person. As you try the recipes here, consider eating that way with your loved ones and friends in your own home.

While I have always loved eating at Meskerem, I never tried making Ethiopian food myself until I went to the Global Roots Cooking Summit put on by Dr. LeAnne Campbell's (Dr. T Colin Campbell's daughter) Global Roots organization at Lake Lure, North Carolina this past October. There, while Hurricane Matthew was beating on my home in the Hilton Head area of South Carolina, I learned to among other things, cook Ethiopian food. Side note -- I was fortunate and found my home undamaged upon return. But having the cooking summit to go to was timely given that I needed to evacuate the area around my home.

Danielle Boussone, who is a graduate of the eCornell T Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, runs the website, with her husband Rich, called Time for Change Kitchen. She also maintains an older website called Veggin Out and About. I first met her and Rich in October at the Global Roots Cooking Summit where she was teaching two separate classes, one on plant-based Italian cooking and one on plant-based Ethiopian cooking. I was very excited by the prospects she offered in learning to cook Ethiopian food, since that was a definite favorite of mine. And she did not disappoint. I learned to make injera, and I will share that recipe here. I will also share one other recipe from her that I learned.

In some ways, these two recipes are teasers. She is working on a second book, her first excellent book being Time for Change: Whole Foods for Whole Health, which will be a cookbook for cooking Ethiopian foods. I get excited just thinking about that. But keep in mind that Ethiopian food is meant to be shared. These recipes are best made for dinner parties and large family gatherings. It can be quite elaborate for one or two people to do. That's my opinion anyway.

Let's start with injera because that is so basic to Ethiopian cooking. You really can't eat Ethiopian without eating injera.

And I'll start with a couple pictures from the Global Roots Cooking Summit and then provide the recipe for the injera. These pictures are of another one of the Global Roots instructors, Leslie Haas who is also a PCRM-certified Food for Life instructor. Making injera is a delicate process that takes patience and practice. Here, Ms. Haas demonstrates skillfully how it's done.

This injera takes 5 minutes to make the batter, 15 minutes to let the batter sit and 1 to 2 minutes for cooking each injera. This makes 8 to 10 injeras, each 12" to 16" in diameter.

Ingredients for Danielle's "Fool-Proof Injera"

  • 4 cups water (945 grams)
  • 1 cup teff flour (160 grams)
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour (230 grams)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (250 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder (12 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp organic corn starch (12 grams)
According to Rich who helped instruct us at the summit, it's best to measure out quantities in grams if possible. It provides for more accurate measurements and this recipe can be tricky if the ingredients are off any.

Directions for Danielle's "Fool-Proof Injera"

Add the water and teff to a blender and blend on slow initially, just to get the ingredients combined. Use a rubber spatula, as necessary, to scrape the dough from the sides of the blender. Test the teff by rubbing a bit of it between your fingers. It should feel grainy, like fine, wet sand. Then turn up the blender gradually until at high speed and blend for one to two minutes. The teff is ready when it is no longer grainy. It won't be perfectly smooth, however, so don't expect that.

Add the all-purpose flour and blend on low to combine. Turn off the blender and scrape the sides. Resume blending on high just long enough to remove the lumps. That will be about 15 to 30 seconds. Do not over-blend.

Add sourdough starter and blend to combine. While the blender is running, add baking powder and cornstarch. Gradually increase the speed to high and blend for 30 seconds.

Allow the mixture to rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet with a lid on high. It will be ready when on the surface of the skillet beads up and rolls around on the pan.

Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of batter into the hot pan and tilt the pan on all sides until the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan. The amount of batter you use will depend on the size of the pan you use. The pan should be 12" to 16" in diameter with a flat bottom and straight sides.

Cook on medium high to high (this varies depending on your appliance, so you may need to experiment) for 15 seconds or until holes form on the top of the pancake and the batter begins to firm. Cover and continue cooking until the edges of the pancake begin to lift from the sides of the pan and start to curl. This whole process will take 1-1/2 to 3 minutes. During the process, moisture will accumulate on the inside of the lid. When that occurs, it is vital that you wipe it off so that the water does not drop back down on the injera and cause gummy spots.

When the pancake is filled with little holes, referred to as "eyes" by the Ethiopians, and easily slides in the pan, then slide it onto a clean cloth on the counter or a tabletop. While that injera is cooling, you can begin another and as you finish each injera, they can be stacked on the tabletop (see photo above). However, the injera must be cool to the touch before stacking. Otherwise, they will stick together and become unusable.

Let me note that it will take practice to make a perfect injera. There's the possibility that you may cause it to fold over on itself at some point. When that happens, let it cool before trying to fold back. Otherwise, you will create a gummy spot in the injera.

Missir Wot (Spicy Red Lentil Stew)

One more Ethiopian recipe that I will offer, since you need at least one dish to pair with the injera, is Missir Wot. It's a spicy red lentil stew. And as I said, it should be served on top of one round of injera and then the injera should be used to pick up the stew with your hands and eat it.

One reason I've selected this recipe is it is the spiciest of the vegan Ethiopian recipes, and I like spicy. It just seems like spicy and ethnic foods like this go together. But when eating with the injera, the spiciness is tempered. Of course, you can adjust the spiciness of this recipe as you see fit.

This recipe makes 6 servings.


  • 1-1/2 cups dried red lentils (washed until water is clear)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 medium red onion, diced small
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3-5 Tbsp Berbere spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 3-5 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Cook lentils in broth as you would normally cook lentils.

While lentils are simmering or cooking, transfer onions to a saute pan with a lid. Saute on medium-high, stirring occasionally, until translucent and beginning to brown. Stir constantly at this point and add a tablespoon of broth or water to prevent burning.

Add garlic and ginger. Stir constantly for two minutes, adding broth or water as needed to prevent scorching.

Add the onion mixture to the lentils. Stir in Berbere spice and paprika (start with 3 tablespoons of each). Cover and cook at a fast simmer for 5 minutes.

Taste and add more spice as desired. If using tomato paste, add it in at this time and stir. Cook at a fast simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, adding broth or water as necessary to keep the lentils from becoming too dry.

Stir in cardamom and salt, if desired.


With those two recipes, you can get started on Ethiopian foods. This is definitely one of my favorite food groups. That is a food group, right? LOL!

J Lanning Smith