Saturday, April 28, 2018


Best Blog Tips

Yesterday, I didn't get around to thinking about what to make for dinner until late afternoon. Rummaging through the fridge for ideas, I saw the black beans that I had cooked the day before, and decided to make a bean stew of some sort, to go with the cooked rice I had in the freezer, and the kale I had picked out of the garden.

Finding some red and green bell peppers, a sweet potato, and some unique new seitan that I made a few days before (see the note about where to find the recipe in the ingredient list of the recipe below) gave me the idea for a spicy black bean and roasted vegetable stew, which resulted in this recipe.

It was a hit-- my husband declared it his favorite bean stew to date! And what's not to like?  Spicy, hearty, full of vegetables and protein and good flavors.  I hope you'll give it a try.

Printable Copy

Serves 6 to 8

Roasted or Broiled Vegetable/Seitan Mixture:
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into approximately 3/4” chunks
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into approximately 3/4” chunks
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4” chunks
2-3 cups of seitan strips (Or, alternatively, you could use reconstituted Soy Curls™️, smoked tempeh or smoked tofu instead.)
(For the seitan, I used the “Pulled Phauxrk” [pronounced like “fork”] recipe from, which is amazing!)
about 2 tablespoons of dark sesame oil
smoked sweet or hot paprika
salt to taste
Rest of the Melange:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 cups cooked or canned black beans (use 2/ 19 oz. cans), rinsed and drained
2 cups vegan broth
14 oz. whole or diced canned tomatoes and juice (If tomatoes are whole, chop them roughly.)
2 tsp. EACH dried thyme and oregano
1 bay leaf
1 chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, with the a little of the sauce
(Idea: Freeze the rest of the chiles and sauce in the can in an ice cube tray, then pop the frozen chiles and sauce into a freezer container or bag to use in other dishes.) 
liquid smoke to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
Serve with:
steamed rice
braised greens with garlic

Making the Roasted or Broiled Vegetable/Seitan Mixture:
Place the pepper chunks, sweet potato chunks and seitan in a 9 x 13” baking pan and toss with the sesame oil, smoked paprika and salt to taste.  

Now, there are two ways to cook the veggie/seitan mixture (well, three ways actually-- you could grill it, but I'll leave that up to you!)-- roasting or broiling. If you want to roast, place the pan in a preheated 450°F oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes, tossing once or twice, or until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart, and a bit browned. If you want to broil (my choice), add a few squirts of water from a squeeze bottle to the pan and place the pan  about 4 inches under your broiler coils; turn broiler on to High.  Broil until the mixture until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart (adding a few more squirts of water if they are getting too dry), and a bit browned, and the seitan is a bit charred (but not too much!).  Remove from the oven and set aside.

To make the Rest of the Melange:
Saute the chopped onions and garlic in the olive oil in your wok or stew pot or large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until softened and perhaps a bit browned. Another option, which will allow you to proceed with the next part of the recipe, is to cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil in a covered microwave-safe pie pan or casserole with a lid. Cook on High for about 5 minutes, then scrape into your pot or pan.

Add the beans, broth, tomatoes, the Roasted or Broiled Vegetable/Seitan Mixture, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, chopped chipotle chile with its sauce, and the liquid smoke.  Mix thoroughly but gently with a large spoon. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.  (That's enough time to cook some rice, if you haven't done it already.) 

Taste for salt and serve with the rice and braised greens.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 319 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 468.2mg sodium, 847.1mg potassium, 45.1g carbohydrates, 13.2g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 20.5g protein, 9.2 points.


Monday, April 16, 2018


Best Blog Tips

Yikes! It's been almost a month since I last blogged!  I'm afraid that I've been a bit preoccupied with changing my diet, cooking and lifestyle somewhat after a diagnosis of pre-diabetes. (You can read a bit about this in this blog post.)

1.) I have stepped up my exercise, for one thing, and, 2.) learned the difference between Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load-- see for an explanation and food lists.  (For me, the Glycemic Index/Load type of diet makes more sense than the currently-popular Keto Diet, even the vegan version of it. )

From the above link: "The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers–the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. So a low GI food will cause a small rise, while a high GI food will trigger a dramatic spike. A list of carbohydrates with their glycemic values is shown below. A GI of 70 or more is high, a GI of 56 to 69 inclusive is medium, and a GI of 55 or less is low.

The glycemic load (GL) is a relatively new way to assess the impact of carbohydrate consumption that takes the glycemic index into account, but gives a fuller picture than does glycemic index alone. A GI value tells you only how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into sugar. It doesn't tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food. You need to know both things to understand a food's effect on blood sugar. That is where glycemic load comes in. The carbohydrate in watermelon, for example, has a high GI. But there isn't a lot of it, so watermelon's glycemic load is relatively low. A GL of 20 or more is high, a GL of 11 to 19 inclusive is medium, and a GL of 10 or less is low."

It's a slog finding scientifically accurate, up-to-date and readable material on this subject, but here are a few more helpful links, if you are interested (not necessarily oriented to vegans):

3.) I've also been educating myself about "resistant starch".  If you haven't heard of this, check it out-- it's a game-changer!

And finally...

4.) I rarely make desserts anymore, except for those special occasions, so I've also been studying how to lower the sugar content (even of "natural" sweeteners) in desserts (and that can affect the structure of baked goods, by the way), and which sweeteners might fit best with my needs, in terms of flavor, health, availability and cost, among other factors

I'll write more about this in another blog post, but one of the sweeteners I'm using (with caution, of course!) is dates.  For a simple explanation, see
"Unlike processed sugar (i.e. white sugar, brown rice syrup, cane syrup, and corn syrup), Medjool dates won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Because of their high fiber content—12 percent of your daily fiber per serving—your body breaks them down slowly, giving you a sustained release of energy without the dreaded sugar crash." 
(PS: I've been using Deglet Noor dates, but have even successfully used compressed dates meant for baking to make date paste.)

But, remember-- you want to keep that fiber, so use whole dates (as in my BBQ sauce recipe below), or a homemade date paste, rather than a date syrup. To make Date Paste: puree 1 cup pitted dates with 1/2 to 1 cup hot water (depending on how thick you want it) in a high-speed blender or food processor until a paste is made. Keep refrigerated.


Printable Recipe

Makes 10 buns
High-fiber and protein rich beans, whole wheat flour, high soluble-fiber-rich oat flour, and a bit of high-protein vital wheat gluten serve to lower the glycemic load of this recipe-- but it doesn't mean you should "pig out" on it.  Serving size matters!

NOTE: These could also be made into hotdog buns.
You can double the recipe, but no need to double the yeast if you do.

1 cup rinsed and drained canned or cooked white beans OR yellow split pea puree
(NOTE: If the split pea puree is very thick, add about 2 T. water to it.)
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
ADDITIONAL: (NOTE: If you are on a no-fat, no-oil regime, try using either unsweetened smooth applesauce or aquafaba [liquid from cooked or canned chickpeas] instead/)
2 Tbs oil
FLOUR MIXTURE-- mix together:
1 cup whole wheat flour, preferably stone-ground or whole-milled
(NOTE: You can use sprouted whole wheat flour if you have it.)
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup oat flour (I just grind oatmeal in a dry blender.)
2 Tbs vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
soy milk or Starch Glaze (see below)
raw sesame seeds, or poppy seeds

Puree the beans or split pea puree with the 1/4 cup water.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, or your food processor bowl, or your electric mixer bowl, mix together the 3/4 cup warm water, yeast and sugar. Let sit for a few minutes.  Add the pureed beans or yellow split peas and the oil.

If you are mixing by hand, stir in the Flour Mixture a bit at a time, until it is a knead-able dough.  Turn out on a piece of baking parchment or silicone mat and knead until you can form a smooth ball.

If you are using a food processor, dump in the Flour Mixture and process until it forms a ball on top of the blade.

If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, add the Flour Mixture, turn on the machine and knead until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a medium to large oiled bowl, cover and rise in a warm spot for about an hour, or rise, well covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, shape into balls and press down into flat shapes with the palm of your hand, making the center of the bun a bit concave.  Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, cover and let rise until nicely rounded on top, for about 1 hour. Do not over-rise. (If the dough is cold, you may have to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.)

When the buns are about half-risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Glaze the tops of the buns with soy milk or Starch Glaze, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and switch the buns from the baking sheets to cooling racks.  Cool thoroughly before using or storing.  (They can be frozen.)

(If you can't use corn or wheat starch, see this article or this one.)
In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 c. cold water with 1 tsp. corn or wheat starch.  Stir over high heat until thickened and clear.  This glaze can be used instead of an egg white glaze.


Printable Copy

Makes about 3 cups or 24/ 2 T. servings
High-fiber dates subtly sweeten this sauce, and the acidic tomato products, mustard and vinegar also lighten the glycemic load. (See info about dates as a sweetener in the text above.)
I've been using this delicious  sauce instead of ketchup!

Blend until smooth:
1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine (can be non-alcoholic)
6 oz. tomato paste
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I prefer Costco's Kirkland  Signature brand, which is affordable, yet aged for 3 years and contains no wine vinegar or caramel color, unlike the 60-day-aged supermarket IGP brands. See
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
8 large-ish soft dates, such as Medjool or Deglet Noor, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 T. (or more to taste) Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce (See Note and photos below)
1 T. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. EACH:
onion powder
garlic granules
smoked hot paprika
liquid smoke
black pepper to taste

Scrape into a microwave-proof 2 qt. batter bowl and microwave for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. OR, scrape into a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Cool and pour or scoop into a Mason jar.  Twist on the cap and refrigerate. This will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

This product is easily available in supermarkets and Asian grocery stores or online.  Here are two common brands-- Huy Fong foods, Inc. and Lee Kum Kee: