Thursday, March 24, 2011

Millet is My New Rice - Fried Millet

The other day, I was in the mood for fried rice but didn’t have the type of rice I wanted to use, so I “settled” for millet. Wow, I’m so glad I did. The flavors and texture were equally as good with millet and the nutritional value may even be better with this ancient grain.

Millet was actually the principle grain in China before rice became popular and is still relied on in Africa, Asia, and Russia. It’s gluten-free, high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium and potassium and is a source of silica, which is important for maintaining bone health.

I find the creamy texture also great for making breakfast porridge and it makes a hardy addition to soups. The recipe below is colorful and oh so tasty!

Fried Millet

3 cups of cooked millet (cooked in vegetable broth)

grapeseed oil for sautéing and frying

2 c green cabbage, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, shredded

2 eggs, scrambled

2 – 3 T tamari or soy sauce

black pepper to taste

¼ c parsley, chopped

sesame oil for drizzling

1. Heat 1 – 2 T oil in dutch oven and add the cabbage and onion. Stir well and sauté until tender.

2. Add the carrot and continue to cook for a few minutes.

3. Move the vegetables to the side of the pan and add 2 – 3 T more of oil. Add the millet and mix to coat it lightly in oil.

4. Mix the vegetables and millet together and “fry” the mixture, allowing the millet to brown slightly.

5. Fold in the egg and parsley, then turn off the heat and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve hot/warm.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shredded Beet and Jicama Salad

Beets – I love them. I love them roasted, juiced, and in salads, especially shredded. The other day felt balmy compared to the winter we’ve had and I’m already craving crunchy, refreshing salads. Not so surprising since I lived on warm bowls of something for the last few months.

So over the weekend, out of nowhere, I decided to combine shredded beets and jicama, a wonderfully, mild, slightly sweet, and crunchy root vegetable. The texture almost reminds me of a crisp pear. The combination was begging for something citrusy, so I added the last of my champagne-citrus vinegar, some freshly-squeezed orange juice, and sea salt. That was it (almost).

The result was so delicious that I already know what I’ll be eating a lot of this Spring and Summer. Not to mention that I’ll be getting a good arm workout from shredding the vegetables : ) Kidding aside, you can shred them in the food processor if you’d like, but in the time it takes to take it out, set it up, shred, empty, and wash, you could have done it by hand.

I still love my food processor, though. In fact, I used it to make dinner tonight which was a gluten-free pizza with a mustard greens and kale sauce that I love.

But here’s the recipe for the salad:

Shredded Beet and Jicama Salad

1 medium beet, shredded

1 medium jicama, shredded

1 T citrus vinegar

2-3 T freshly-squeezed orange juice

1 T olive or grapeseed oil

sea salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients, chill for 30 minutes or more, then serve. That’s it. Simple and delicious! I had to stop myself from eating the entire bowl.

It went well with a millet cauliflower “potato” dish and sautéed beet greens. I’ll be posting the potato recipe soon!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Tempting Soy Dish

Soy is one of those foods that has confused me over the last several years. While I was a graduate student, I was drinking soy milk everyday, eating tofu as a protein source and would even use it to make chocolate mousse. I was also eating other forms of soy as well. It was regarded as a miracle food with a high quality plant protein and whose phytoestrogens were thought to be beneficial.

Then, I read that unfermented soy, such as that found in soy milk, textured soy protein, soy burgers, etc., was difficult to digest and high in toxins that prevented the absorption of minerals. In addition, if it wasn’t organic, it was likely genetically modified and heavily sprayed with herbicides/pesticides. As heartbroken as I was, I stopped eating all forms of soy. Gradually, I added back in fermented soy in the form of miso and tempeh and the occasional meal with tofu, which I was still unclear about.

Today, there seem to be two camps of people that either love soy or avoid it like the plague and I generally sided with the latter group, at least with regard to unfermented soy. Then last week, I read a post from Mark Hyman about his thoughts on soy that you can read here. In a nutshell, he believes that both the good characteristics and the bad qualities of soy have been blown out of proportion and most studies concluding that soy is dangerous were poorly designed and didn’t reflect normal consumption habits.

He also made a good point that I’ll paraphrase here: If you had the choice to eat a stir fry with tofu or a meal from a fast food restaurant, choose the stir fry for sure! It made so much sense to me. And his bottom line was to eat whole soy foods, such as edamame, versus processed soy that’s turned into burgers, cheeses, and ice cream, which in the end, are like any other processed food that contain unhealthy fats (and likely sugars and chemicals that don’t belong in our bodies).

So with that, I’ve posted a simple recipe below for tempeh, which can be found in most markets with the tofu. It’s a fermented soy product that I’ve combined with sautéed cabbage. It’s quick and delicious and a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, vitamin K, and folate from the cabbage (as well as lots of disease-fighting phytonutrients), and healthy fat.

Tempeh with Cabbage

1 T grapeseed oil

1 package of tempeh, sliced cross-wise

2 c each red and green cabbage, thinly chopped

1 – 2 T tamari or soy sauce

1 t sesame seeds

sesame oil

Heat the grapeseed oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the cabbages and sauté for several minutes until tender. Push the cabbage to the sides of the pan and add the tempeh. Saute until lightly browned on all sides and heated through. Add the tamari or soy sauce and pepper if desired, then mix the cabbage and tempeh together. Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

OK, I confess, I never really liked shepherd’s pie growing up. It was one of my least-favorite meals. If you’re unfamiliar with this dish, in it’s basic form, it begins with a layer of ground, cooked meat, followed by a layer of vegetables; which, for us, was creamed corn, then covered in a thick layer of mashed potatoes. The casserole is baked in the oven until the potatoes get a little crispy and in my family’s case, would be eaten with ketchup.

I have to admit, though, that I do like the concept of a layered casserole and so after talking with a yoga instructor of mine who told me about a delicious dish she had out one evening, I decided to make my version of this. There is no meat. The bottom layer is lentils and the middle, vegetable layer is mixed into this, although it could be layered.

And rather than white potatoes for the topping, I’ve used a combination of roasted cauliflower and a bit of grated cheese, or if you’d like to make this completely vegan, you can replace the cheese with sunflower seeds that have been soaked for several hours then rinsed and drained. I tried both versions of the topping and I liked them both.

The recipe got the thumbs up, although, I was told that the top layer should be much thicker next time. This would mean either doubling or even tripling the ingredients for cauliflower topping below. Just as an aside, cauliflower roasted with a bit of oil, sea salt and pepper is addictive! This dish almost didn’t happen because I came very close to eating all the cauliflower, so you might want to make extra!! I hope you enjoy it. : )

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

1 c green lentils, picked through, soaked, then cooked in vegetable broth

1 T grapeseed oil

½ c chopped yellow onion

½ c celery, chopped

½ c fennel, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 – 3 large kale leaves, thick stems removed and leaves chopped

1 t dried basil or 1T fresh, chopped basil

2 c cauliflower florets

¼ c hard cheese, grated, such as parmesan or manchego, or ¼ c sunflower seeds, soaked for several hours then drained

sea salt and pepper to taste

Place cauliflower into a large bowl, then drizzle ~ 1T grapeseed or olive oil on top and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss the florets with your hands and place into a baking dish. Roast at 350°F, mixing occasionally, until it starts to lightly brown, ~35 – 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan on medium heat, add the oil and cook the onions for a few minutes. Add the celery and fennel and sauté a few minutes more, then add the carrots and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the kale leaves, mix well and cook the mixture just until the kale wilts.

Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a food processor and process until it resembles a fine mixture. Add the lentils and the basil and mix well. Add sea salt to taste. Transfer to an oiled pie plate.

Add the cauliflower to the food processor and process until it begins to resemble mashed potatoes. Add the cheese and mix well. As an alternative to the cheese, add the soaked and drained sunflower seeds to the cauliflower and process together.

Evenly spread the cauliflower and cheese (or seed) mixture over the lentils and vegetables. Sprinkle with pepper.

Place the casserole, uncovered into a 350°F oven and bake until the top lightly browns, ~25-30 minutes.