Saturday, January 20, 2018

Slow Cooker VEGAN Butternut Squash Leek and Lentil Stew

I spent a week in Vegas this past week for the CES show, Consumer Electronics Show.  The biggest Consumer tech show.  While the gadgets and the trends were amazing.  The Vegan choices are very lacking.  I was even willing to just go Vegan during that week and forego all the other things like sugar, oil and salt free.  I only found a few.  But a huge tip, all Wynn restaurants in all Wynn hotels offer both a VEGETARIAN and VEGAN menu.  That's right, I didn't say option.  I said MENU.  We went to the Costa di Mare and I had basically conceded that there are only so many salads and Starbucks Cold pressed Celery and Kale juices I can take.  I will eat what I want because I'm in one of the nicest seafood restaurants in town.  But I had heard of the rumour of Steve Wynn's dedication to offering something for all his clients, and after I had already chosen in my head the Scallop and the Spider Crab Ravioli I thought I'd check and asked our waiter, do you have a Vegan option?  He brought over a whole menu.  I had the Warm Chickpea cake and the Vegan Ravioli with Chanterelle.  Quite possibly the best Ravioli I've had in ages.  I was worried. Vegan Rav can taste like play dough.

But now, back on track.  I made a stew with the Leeks I bought like 2 weeks ago.  I had premixed a Ras Al Hanout, so please look at the Spice Mix from my Moroccan Stew and multiply it by using Tablespoons instead of Teaspoons and keep in a container and shake vigourously.  I cut back on the Cinnamon though.  I found that if I had added a Butternut Squash or Carrot, the natural Sugars made the Cinnamon stand out too much.  I'll post a recipe for my Ras Al Hanout soon.  Sorry.

Slow Cooker Vegan Butternut Squash Leek and Lentil Stew

1 large Butternut Squash, diced, approximatley 4 cups
1 medium Onion, Sliced
2 large Leeks, sliced until the light green part, soaked in water and rinsed 2 or 3 times to wash away grit and sand
4 cloves Garlic
2 inches of Fresh Ginger, minced, (I wouldn't mind julienne, matchsticks, but hubbo doesn't like chunks of it)
1 lb or 2 1/4 c Red Lentils, rinsed and drained
2 T pulverized Wild Mushrooms or Porcini Powder (you can use just 1 but I like the early flavour)
2 T Ras Al Hangout mix (Recipe to come.  OR check out the Spice mix in my previous Moroccan stew and double it)
1 T Curry Powder
2 l Vegetable Broth
Fresh Ground Pepper
1/2 t Salt (optional) actually, if you were doing a non cleanse diet you should probably put like 1 1/2 t salt.
1/2 t Red Chili Flakes (optional)

2 cups Kale leaves (no stems) washed and chopped into bitesized pieces. (optional)

Layer in ingredients as you chop.  I like to try to intersperse the aromatics.  And pour in the Broth until just at level.  You might need less.  Don't use more than the level of the Slow Cooker allows.

Cook in Slow Cooker on HIGH for 6 hours.  If you're around when the cooker is about done, put in the Kale if it fits, for the last 15 minutes.  If there is no room wilt it in the Microwave and serve in bowl.... or  leave it out.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Kid Friendly EASY HEALTHY Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

My kids are not easy eaters.  They are not terribly picky but getting them to try new things is a battle. We have only a couple of dinner rules and we don't deviate.  1.  Dinner is what is served.  I will not run back and try to find 'something else'.  2. You have to try one decent biteful of something new before you say that you don't like it.

My sister in the bay area has a VERY PICKY EATER.  Sorry V, it's true.  She knows it.  But apparently, according to her hubbo, he'll eat this.  He vaguely gave me the ingredients and I tried this out and it smelled AWESOME and the kids, including a visiting cousin just drank it down.  I dipped my finger on the spoon but since we are still on our cleanse, I didn't eat it.

Kid Friendly EASY HEALTHY Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

1 head of Broccoli.  I know that's vague.  Don't you hate that?  So I cut about 2 inches below the florets because the stalk is very sweet and underrated.  I would have cut more but I wanted to put it in my juicer :D.  I chopped the stalk into 1cm pieces.  Then I cut the Florets into thumb sized pieces.  All of it was about 3-4 cups.

1 medium Onion, tennis ball sized, diced
2 medium Yellow Potatoes, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tetra pack of no Sodium/low Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth (1 l or so)
4 leaves of Sage or 1 t dried sage
1 t dried Thyme
1 t dried Oregano
2 T Olive Oil
2 C Cheddar shredded but 1/2 cup set aside for self serve by the kids

I cook as I go.  Put a large pot on medium heat with the Olive Oil.  Chop the Onion and throw in.  Stir occasionally.  Chop the Potato, and throw in.  Don't worry about the brown tasty goodness on the bottom.  That will add a lot of umami and come right off after you add the broth.  Try to scrape it but if it gets dark, turn down the heat.  Add the Broccoli.  Fry for 5 minutes while stiring.  Add the Herbs and the Broth.  Add the Salt.  Bring to a boil then turn down and let simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft and mutable with a fork.  Turn off the heat and blitz with an immersion blender.  Until all the Broccoli and Potatoes are broken down but not too smooth.  You want some texture.  Bring back to a boil for a couple minutes.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.  Turn the heat down to minimum and sprinkle in the 1 1/2 c of the cheese in until it disappears.

Serve with the extra cheese on the side.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Red Lentil and Cauliflower Coconut Stew

Day 2 and we went skiing in very cold Canadian conditions.  The thermometer was reading minus 15 but with the windchill and the blowing wind it was at least 10 degrees colder.  Oh that's Celsius baby!  So comfort food is in order for Forks Over Knives month.  No Fats/Oils, No Sugars, No Salt added.

We make something similar to this but it has things like canned Chipotle in adobe sauce.  Weird right?  It came from my sister in law from a magazine.  It's ok but I really think it would be ok without the Chipotle but my hubbo religiously follows recipes.  But I'm cooking tonight.  This time, since we got home sorta late, I made it in a Creuset on the stove top.  No fussing with the slow cooker today.  Maybe when I go back to work next week.  The reason I use the Creuset is because of the ceramic lining.  Stuff doesn't stick when you don't use oil.  But also it helps that I'm using Red Lentils.  They soak up water just from rinsing.  They will fall apart.  Don't feel bad.  They also do not stay red, don't feel bad. :D

Vegan Red Lentil and Cauliflower Coconut Stew

Red Lentil and Cauliflower Coconut Stew

Rince and drain 1lb of Dried Red Lentils, about 2 1/2 cups, set aside
Put a 7 quart Creuset on medium heat on the stove with the lid off. As you chop, throw stuff in and stir occasionally.  This is the order I chopped thinking about cooking time and browning where possible.  Your onions will not brown without oil unless you have them on high heat but since I wanted to get lentils going, I didn't want to bother.

2 medium onions, (tennis ball sized or smaller), diced
1 large head of Cauliflower, chopped up randomly because you just ran in the house
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 inch Fresh Ginger, minced
(optional 2 yellow waxy Potatoes, diced; but I had leftover Potatoes so I didn't put them in)
2 1/2 T of your favour Curry Powder
1/2 T Ground Cumin
1/2 T Ground Coriander
1/4 t Ground Cinnamon
1 t White Pepper
2 T Red Chili Flakes
1 t Turmeric
1 t Garam Masala (optional if you have it and we have a really nice one a friend brought back from India)

The spices go in with the veg in the dry pan to wake up and cook a bit.  After a few minutes continue.

1/2 - 1 T ground dried wild Mushrooms or Porcini Powder
2 l of no Sodium or low Sodium Vegetable Broth.
1 large tin of Tomatoes, squish them gently each in your hand before putting in the pan.  If you squish too fast or too hard, you will have a face full of Tomato guts.
1 can of Coconut Milk and another just before serving.

Stew until Cauliflower is tender.  Longer if you have added the Potatoes.  About 40 minutes but you can keep on low heat for longer.  I left it on like 1 until I was done with the kids.  Serve as is or over Brown Rice with Fresh Cilantro.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Lentil and Butternut Squash Stew Vegan - Forks Over Knives Inspired

Every January for a few years now, hubbo and I go Vegan but I've pushed it to follow the Forks Over Knives lifestyle of cutting out added Salt, Oils/Fats and Sugar.  The movie has changed the lives of everyone I can convince, gently, to watch.  If it weren't for hubbo, the reluctant but willing participant, I'd take it further and cut out all processed foods but I've left Whole Grain Pastas and Sugarfree breads on the table.  As it is, we are a little unprepared today because we had out of town family.  Luckily we have a salad mix and some avocados kicking around.

I bought a Crockpot just for this month and a milder version of the cleanse for September, thinking it would help me get meals on the table faster.  Well, I should have thought ahead and not used it on days I'm actually home.  I keep watching the darn thing.  I think I'll keep it ready for days I won't be home and set it in the morning.

The following is a play on a recipe I saw on the Forks Over Knives recipe website last year when the site was a bit easier to navigate.  I love the movie.  It's not preachy.... well for all but 9 minutes of the morality of meat eating.  It appeals heavily to two geeky engineers.  The science is obvious.  I just wish we could find the will to do it all year.  Too bad Daiya cheese, the only vegan cheese widely available is HORRIBLE.  Not just, not good or not good enough.  Its taste and texture is offensive.  Blech.  And I'm also not a fan of food that tries to be other food.  When I do vegan, I eat vegetables and grains.

You can substitute the Butternut Squash with Cauliflower.  That was delicious.  But I had half a very large Butternut Squash from Christmas dinner in the fridge.   The spice mix might seem daunting but you can play with it.  It has a Moroccan theme (ras el hanout) to it and like curries, there are thousands of renditions.  I keep a larger batch handy for this month :D

Lentil and Butternut Squash Stew - Vegan

2 c Lentils (your favourite, when I use Cauliflower, Red Lentils taste best), checked for rocks and rinsed (in a fine seive, they'll run through bigger ones. Might sound like stupid advice but they ran throw my rice washer at the lip end)
2 Medium Onions (tennis ball sized), diced
2 Medium Carrots, halved and sliced,
1/2 large Butternut Squash peeled, chopped into small bite sized pieces,
1 inch fresh Ginger, minced fine
3 large cloves of Garlic, minced
1 tetra pack Organic, ZERO sodium, Vegetable Stock
1 cube ZERO sodium/salt Organic Veggie cube
(this is to make a total of 6 cups or 1.5 litres of Veggie stock)
1 large can of diced Tomatoes, or large that you squish with your hands.
3 Birds Eye Chilis, (optional if you want to give to the kids).

2 t ground Cumin
3/4 t ground Cinnamon
1 t ground Paprika
1.5 t ground Coriander
1/2 t ground Cayenne
1 t ground Tumeric
1/2 t Black Mustard seed (not traditional but I had some I wanted to use)
1/4 t Fennel Seed
1/4 t ground Sage (add some fresh if you have leftover from Christmas dinner)

1/2 T Porcini powder (optional but adds umami) (buy ground or just pulse some dried Porcini in a food mill until the size of course coffee)

Black Pepper
Chopped fresh Cilantro or Parsley

Bring to Boil and simmer until the Lentils are tender and the Squash cooked.  Or cook on high in a Crockpot for 5 hours.

Take a Potato Masher and mash slightly, like 10 times.  Hubbo found a vegetarian chile recipe that requires this and it gives a nice round body to it.

Serve as is or over Brown Rice.