Lentil & White Bean Salad

lentil saladIn my Armenian Orthodox tradition, the period of lent is one of simplification of life and introspection.  Our church fathers set the lenten guidelines to observe a vegan diet for the 40 days of lent.  There are so many Armenian vegan recipes because of this.  Growing up with this tradition and observing the peace and respect toward life was stepping stone to becoming a vegan.

This is a simple salad that is easy to throw together.  It’s filling and nourishing.  And really, who doesn’t love a good bean salad?

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Steamed Lentils (I buy these from Trader Joe’s.  They are in a box, vacuum sealed in the produce section (refrigerated).  You can certainly cook your own lentils.  I always have these on hand.  17.6 oz
  • 1 can white canellini beans (or white kidney, or northern beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint box of grape tomatoes, cut in quarters – or – 3 tomatoes chopped
  • A handful of shredded carrots (I realized I put these in everything now.  I like the color and crunch – but they’re optional)
  • 1 bunch parsley, choppped
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Juice from 2 fresh lemons
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • A splash of rice vinegar (optional)
  • a little cayenne pepper (optional — but it adds a nice heat)

Before opening the pouch of lentils, kind of massage them loose so it doesn’t all come out in a big ol’ brick.  This will save them from being mashed when you try to free the clump in your bowl.  Just loosen, cut open the pouch and put in the bowl.  You’ll still have clumps…but just gently de-clump with the back of a wooden spoon.

Add all your ingredients.  Except the white beans.  Mix together gently, and adjust your seasonings.  I found that adding a splash of rice vinegar gave it the right acid…but the lemon on it’s own is fine too.  At the end, add your white beans.  I add them last because they can be fragile and too much mixing around breaks them up sometimes.

Serving suggestion:  This bean salad looks nice and tastes great served on a bed of arugula.

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Tabouli-esque Salad with Quinoa and Chick Peas

tabouli

I love traditional tabouli salad made with bulghur and with the traditional ingredients, but as a vegan, I try to incorporate plant-based proteins in my diet, and quinoa is a good one for that.   I’m also following Bright Line eating and grains are only allowed in the morning BUT quinoa (albeit a grain) is counted as a protein which means I can make this tabouli salad for lunch or dinner and still stay on track!  YAY!  So it’s Tabouli-esque… or tabouli inspired.  I added a few other non-traditional ingredients too, and the result was great.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c. quinoa
  • 1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped (no stems)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3 large green onions, thinly sliced
  • a handful of shredded carrots (for color and crunch)
  • and a 1/2 can of chick peas, drained
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • Romaine lettuce leaves (optional)

In a saucepan, add 2/3 c quinoa with 1 1/3 c water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover with a lid, and lower the flame to low.  Allow the water to absorb into the quinoa.  When the water is almost all absorbed, turn off the flame, keep the lid on and allow the quinoa to finish cooking by steam.

Prep your veggies.  In a large bowl combine the finely chopped parsley, diced tomatoes, shredded carrots, green onions.

Using a strainer, add water to your cooked quinoa and pour it all into a metal strainer, rinsing with cold water (gently) to cool your quinoa for immediate use.  Add the quinoa to the veggies.  Add in the drained and rinsed chick peas. Mix it up.  Add the olive oil and the juice of one large lemon, salt and pepper to taste.  You line your serving bowl with romaine lettuce leaves (the middle leaves (not too large, not too small) and use the leaves to scoop and eat the tabouli salad.  That’s all there is to it.

I’d love to hear how you liked this recipe so feel free to leave me comments.  Enjoy!

Vegan Rice Pudding – It’s what’s for dessert!

Need to take dessert to a potluck and don’t know what to take?  I’ve made this rice pudding recipe time and time again, and even my non-vegan friends are surprised at it’s creamy yumminess!

This recipe will make a 9″ x 13″ cassserole size….so about 16 servings.rice pudding

  • 1 cup of short grain (Calrose) rice
  • 1/2 gallon of almond milk (plain or vanilla)
  • 1 cup water
  • Doterra Wild Orange or Tangerine oil (optional) or vanilla flavoring (optional)
  • Sugar to taste (optional)

I’ll start by saying that I modify this recipe depending on the crowd I’m serving.  The sugar makes it sweet…but if you’re using vanilla almond milk, it’s sweet enough (for me).  So that’s why we add the sugar after the pudding has reached it’s thickness.

Start off with a large soup pot.  Add your rice and water and bring it to a boil.  All you’re doing is allowing the rice to “open” and be partially cooked.  You want to be present and stir it as it boils to keep it from sticking to the bottom. You want the rice to just be partially cooked (still crunchy but definitely softened).  Next, add the full 1/2 gallon container to your rice and stir.  Given that your almond milk would be cold…you’ll want to heat this up until it gets hot not boiling, and then you have to be watchful.  Turn the heat down to low and let it cook.  Every 5 minutes or so, give it a stir.  It’s going to take a good 40 minutes for this to get thick and creamy…and as it thickens you’ll need to be more watchful stirring more often.  A skin will form on the top between stirrings.  Just stir it back in.  When it gets creamy thick (it’s going to thicken as it cools), turn off the heat.

Taste it.  Is it sweet enough?  If not, add a little sugar.  I also like to flavor mine with a little DoTerra wild orange or tangerine oils (these are certified pure therapeutic grade oils that are ingestible – not all are, so be careful).  3 drops per the 1/2 gallon of milk.  Mix it all up.

Pour the thickened pudding into your casserole dish.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  You can make it ahead of time, cover and refrigerate.  Or you can serve it room temperature or warm.

If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you thought.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Soy Milk Yogurt (Vegan)

I grew up in an Armenian household.  Although we are Armenian Americans, my parents raised us to keep our language and our culture alive.  Along with that were the music, arts, and cooking of our people.  One of the things I remember distinctly about my childhood was that my mother would make yogurt nearly every Saturday.  We always had yogurt in the house, plain, custardy.  I used to love eating mine for breakfast with piece of toast in it along with sugar and cinnamon.

There were no fancy yogurt makers back then.  Nor were there all the varieties and flavors of yogurt that there are today.  The Armenian way was to keep a little bit of the old batch of yogurt.  Heat a quart of milk in a corningware covered dish.  Scald the milk but don’t let it boil.  And when you could dip your pinky into it and have it feel like it was luke warm, you would add your starter, stir, cover, wrap in a towel and put the whole thing on my stove top, preferable over the pilot light for the good 8 hours and you had yogurt.

We also held the religious traditions of our Armenian Orthodoxy.  During the lenten season we give up all meat and animal products for 40 days.  This allows us to live simply and focus on the goodness life has to offer.  My past lenten experiences were what paved the way to my vegetarianism…and later veganism today.  I never found the 40 days to be all that difficult.  And as I grew up and started trying to live a more peaceful existence, I decided to go plant based.

Giving up meat was not a big deal.  But one thing that I truly missed was yogurt.  Creamy, tart, plain.  So I started experimenting.   I’ve tried using almond and coconut milks, but the most successful yogurt I have made to date is using Organic Soy Milk.  Whereas the other plant-based yogurt results were hit-or-miss, I continue to get successful results usng soy milk, so I thought I’d share the recipe.

Anush’s Essential Soy Milk Yogurt

What you’ll need:

  • 1 carton Organic Soy Milk – one quart.  I use Westsoy because the only ingredients are soybeans and water.  No fillers or additives.
  • A food or candy thermometer
  • Vegan Yogurt Culture.  I buy this online from Cultures For Health, a great site for learning how to make cultured and fermented foods.
  • Either a 1 quart mason/ball jar or 4 eight-ounce jam jars with lids
  • Just a small amount of sugar (like a 1/2 tsp to feed the culture)
  • A crock pot or something to keep the yogurt warm in.  Even a heating pad will do.

Start off by making sure that your jars are clean.  Wash in warm, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.  Turn on your crockpot on to high.   Pour your soy milk into a clean saucepan.  Put your thermometer on the side of the pan and heat the milk to 160 degrees.  Once it’s at the right temperature, turn off the flame and allow it to cool.

Once the temp reads 110 degrees it’s time to add your starter.  Do this by putting some of the warm milk in a small bowl (about a 1/2 cup) and then adding in the contents of one of the culture packets.  Stir it in, and then add that 1/2 cup plus the 1/2 tsp of sugar into your warm milk, and stir.

Fill your jar/jars with the soy milk mixture.  Your crock pot should be hot by now.  Turn it off.   Put a hot pad on the bottom of your crock and then line the inside of the pot with a dishtowel.  Put your jars into the crockput, cover with the towel, put the lid on and then leave it for 6-8 hours to incubate.  The longer you leave it, the more tart the taste.  I like it around 6 -7 hours.  Once the time is up, you carefully remove it from the crock and you’ll notice that it should be set…in other words, a small tip of the jar is going to show a thick, custardy yogurt that is no longer thin like milk.  Refrigerate andr use enjoy when cold.

Now let’s say you don’t have a crock pot.  You can put a heating pad into a shallow baking pan…turn it on, get it warm….turn it off.  Lay the jars on top of your heating pad and wrap the whole thing in a towel.  The reason to wrap is to keep it warm and insulated…keeping the warmth constant.  It’s important that your yogurt stays undisturbed during the incubation.

Serve with fruit and nuts/seeds or use as a milk substitute for cold cereal.  Makes 4 cups/1 quart.

Note:  I read that you cannot use plant-based yogurt starter from your previous batch as starter for your new batch.  I’ve tried it a couple times but was not successful…my yogurt just never set.  My results with the vegan yogurt starter have been consistent.  I’ve also read that some people have results using probiotic capsules (opened and the priobiotic sprinkled into the milk as culture too.)

As a 2x breast cancer survivor, I’m cautious on eating too much soy, so I’ll be experimenting with cashew milk next.  I’ll make sure to report my results.

I’d love to hear your your yogurt turned out and if you have any questions or comments just leave a comment below.

 

 

White Bean Soup (Vegan)

It’s been raining here in So. Cal, more than usual.  I think maybe even the drought is over, but they’d never tell us that.  In any case, one of the things that I love to make are soups.  And Sunday morning I woke up thinking a white bean soup would be the perfect fit for a Sunday afternoon.

I use the method where you hold the beans in a boil for 10-15 minutes, and then turn off the heat and let them sit for a couple hours.   So while getting ready for church, I put the beans on to boil, turned off the heat right before I left, and let them sit til I returned.

Here’s what to do after your beans are pre-soaked:

1 pound white navy beans

2 quarts vegetable broth

1 large 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 large onion, diced

3 tbsp. olive oil

5 large cloved garlic, minced or pressed

5 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (optional)

1 bunch organic lacinato kale, stems removed and chopped

In a pressure cooker, sauté the onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms, and carrots in olive oil until the onions are transparent.  Rinse your beans and add them to the mixture.  Add 2 quarts of vegetable broth (cartons) – or – you can add 2 quarts of water and use vegetable bouillon.  Add another 2 cups water and the can of tomatoes.  Mix together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Close the lid on your pressure cooker and watch for the valve to pop up.  Once pressure is established, cook for 40 minutes.  Turn off and let the steam subside on it’s own (this takes about another 30 minutes or so) or you can just release the steam.  When cooking beans, I’ve found that allowing the steam to subside itself makes for a creamier texture in the beans.  But if you’re hungry, release the steam!

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning adding salt and pepper.

Serve with fresh lemon squeezed on top!

This recipe makes enough for a family and easily serves a large portion to 8 people.