The first food that Derek ever cooked for me was a bowl of lentil soup. He very carefully opened up a can of Progresso lentil soup, and then worked long and hard to “cook” it (in the microwave of course). It was piping hot and delicious.
Both of us still love Progresso vegetable classics lentil soup, but we can’t get it here in Germany. It’s probably for the best though, as I try not to buy canned foods, plus the sodium levels are through the roof. Still, we miss it, and so I decided to try to make it myself. I looked online for a copycat recipe, but couldn’t find anything that seemed promising. So I just took a look at the ingredient list and nutritional label and gave it a crack. I haven’t had the real thing in years, so I could be off, but to both Derek and I my soup tasted just like the real thing. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek is not a millet fan. I remember him happily digging into a millet pilaf I made many years ago, and then almost doing a spit-take. “What did you do to the rice?” he asked with a look of intense disgust on his face. “This is the worst rice you’ve ever made!” So as you can imagine, I don’t cook a lot of millet. But Alma likes porridge, and I’m not the biggest oatmeal fan. I wanted to make some alternative-grain porridges, and I came across a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for creamy millet porridge. They say “slightly overcooking millet causes the seeds to burst and release starch, creating a creamy consistency that makes this grain ideal for breakfast porridge.” Sounds good! I think Derek’s main problem with millet is its somewhat dry, gritty texture, so I thought maybe he’d be willing to eat millet in a porridge. And he is! Alma likes it too, and for me it’s a nice change from oatmeal.
When I made this porridge for breakfast today, I served it with my Mom’s Ayurvedic baked, spiced pears. Alma isn’t normally a huge pear fan, but she likes these baked pears, which are seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. And unlike with baked apples, she doesn’t even complain about the skin. Read the rest of this entry »
I was looking for a green cabbage recipe that a toddler would like, and I came across this pretty simple (albeit quite Americanized) vegetarian Okonomiyaki recipe on the 101 cookbooks blog. Alma generally likes pancakes, so I decided to give it a try. Below is a doubled version of the original recipe, with a few modifications. Derek and I like them a lot, and it’s a relatively quick recipe, so suitable for a weeknight dinner or a Sunday lunch. Read the rest of this entry »
The frittata is called the lazy cook’s omelet. Sounds perfect, no? I like omelets but I’m definitely lazy. I’ve tried various frittata recipes before, but neither Derek nor I ever like them. They’re always a bit too dry and rubbery. Or over-browned. Or just meh. But I’ve always thought that maybe my technique was just wrong. So I decided to give it another go, when Cook’s Illustrated came out with a new frittata series this year. And I thought it came out pretty well! Definitely better than my previous attempts. Read the rest of this entry »
A friend served us this recipe from Peter Berley’s cookbook The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, and both Derek and I really liked it. Shredded carrots and parsnips add a bit of sweetness, turnips add a slightly funky note, while the beans add an earthy, hearty feel. Ginger and tomato paste add even more flavor. The original recipe also calls for burdock, but we can’t get it here, so we left it out. I’m sure it would make the dish truly stellar. Read the rest of this entry »
So far Alma does not like fennel. I was looking for a recipe for fennel that she might possibly like, and I found this Cook’s Illustrated recipe for a modern succotash with corn, white beans, and (a little) fennel. She loves corn and generally likes white beans, so I figured it was worth a shot. Read the rest of this entry »
When my mom was visiting she made me kasha with mushrooms, and I quite enjoyed it. I have quite a bit of the toasted groats leftover, and so when I was looking for something to do with parsnips last night, I was excited to come across this recipe in Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast. It came out a bit soupy, but I really liked it! Read the rest of this entry »
I am trying to make sure Alma’s diet includes a large variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as at least one serving of nuts/seeds, whole grains, and legumes per day. It’s surprisingly hard! I thought some kind of chart might help.
There are lots of charts on the internet, but they all seemed limited in some way. So I decided to make my own “Eat the Rainbow” chart. It includes a color-coded list of foods and a weekly checklist. I use the food lists to get ideas during our weekly meal-planning session, and I use the checklist to keep track of what we’re eating during the week.
I’ve seen a lot of sources online that suggest trying to get each color in every day. That seems impossible! Right now my goal is to offer each color at least a couple times a week, and offer at least a couple different colors each day.
My list has many more rows than most “Eat the Rainbow” charts that are available on the web. First of all, in my list each color is separated into two rows, one for fruit and one for vegetables. I separated them because getting Alma to eat a variety of vegetables is much more difficult than getting her to eat fruit, which she almost universally loves. Another oddity about my list is that there are several rows for green vegetables. In my original chart the green vegetable list was way too long, so I separated out leafy greens and brassicas. I figured those nutritional powerhouses deserved their own row, especially since they get their own category on my blog! I also separated out mushrooms, since technically they’re fungi not vegetables, and because they are tasty enough to get their own category.
I thought I’d post my chart here in case anyone else finds it helpful. Feedback and/or suggestions are welcome! I tried to make it pretty comprehensive but I’m sure there are things I left out. I considered having different versions of the list for each season, but deciding what went in which list was impossible, due to regional variability and the availability of frozen foods.
This is a relatively straightforward recipe from the cookbook “660 Curries”. Both Derek and I really enjoyed it. It tasted authentically Indian, without being overwhelmingly rich. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a standard Sicilian combination that I’ve seen in many cookbooks. Sometimes the recipe also includes pine nuts, anchovies, garlic, basil, tomatoes, pasta, and/or parmesan. I’ve tried many different variants, but I’m never that excited by the dish. It’s flavorful, but somehow just not my preferred flavors. But a student of mine from Iran gave me a ton of saffron as a gift and I was trying to figure out what to do with it. I came across this Ottolenghi recipe in Plenty, and was surprised to see that—unlike other recipes which usually call for only a pinch or 1/8 tsp. of saffron— his version calls for 1.5 teaspoons (!?!) of saffron. I decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m trying to get more “purple” in, and wanted to use red cabbage, but never know what to do with it. I tried this Tassajara warm red cabbage recipe by way of 101cookbooks. Heidi says her version is less cheesy, less fruity, and less rich, but it still tasted plenty cheesy, fruity, and rich to us. Both Derek and I enjoyed it. Now that Alma is two, she likes it too. It’s a pretty sweet -tasting (and hence toddler-friendly) dish, due to the use of the raisins and balsamic vinegar, plus all the natural sugars in the cabbage and onions.
Read the rest of this entry »
Apparently these two-ingredient pancakes have been floating around on the Internet for several years, but I first came across them on parenting blogs, where they are popular because they’re toddler friendly and not too unhealthy. Although they can be made with just two ingredients (banana and egg), I usually add a few other ingredients as well. Below is our most common version. For other variations, see this excellent writeup on thekitchen.com. Read the rest of this entry »
I finally got a chance to try an easier version of the crisp marinated and baked tofu. I skipped the pressing and the cornstarch dredging steps and simply poured the marinade directly onto the tofu and baked it. It was a hit, both with Derek and with Alma. And I didn’t miss the cornstarch or pressing steps at all. I think the texture turned out just fine. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently read the book French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen LeBillon. I quite enjoyed the book, and—when it comes to preparing food for Alma—it gave me lots of “food” for thought. (Sorry!)
There are a number of interesting observations LeBillon makes in the book, but I’ll save them for another post. Today, I wanted to focus on the idea of starting dinner with a simple pureed vegetable soup. LeBillon says that the French start their meal with a soup several times a week. This soup is almost always a vegetable soup, and often a simple pureed vegetable soup. These soups supposedly make great starters for babies and toddlers, as they’re an easy way to introduce them to a lot of different vegetables. Also, it gives them a vegetable at the start of the meal, when they are most hungry. Finally, they’re really fast to make. Just saute some aromatics, throw in your veggies and broth, simmer briefly, and puree. All in all, that’s pretty easy, which is definitely a plus when it comes to cooking with a busy toddler underfoot. Finally, they freeze really well. You can freeze the soups in small jars and then defrost them quickly when needed—no need to scramble to put something healthy on the table at the last minute.
I thought I’d give it a try. I started with LeBillon’s simple French carrot soup with dill recipe. Although most toddlers seem to like carrots, Alma usually does not, I’m not sure why—maybe a texture issue? I thought pureeing them was worth a try. The first time I served it, Alma ate one very tiny bowl of it (a mise en place bowl), without too much complaint. She didn’t love it, but it helped that she’s just learned how to use a spoon, and so anything that requires a spoon is therefore very exciting. I had made quite a bit of soup, so I decided to take half of the leftovers and add in some roasted red bell pepper and jarred tomatoes, and pureed the soup again. I refrigerated a little bit of each soup, and froze the rest in small glass jars. The version with red bell pepper and tomato was definitely a bigger hit (with both Derek and Alma) than the straight carrot soup, but over the last several weeks Alma has eaten the plain carrot dill version several times, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes less so.
My mom visited us in January and made us her favorite chana dal recipe for dinner one night. It was a hit, but we ate it all up immediately. So before she left she made us a second, doubled batch and froze it. We defrosted it a few weeks later and again it was a hit with everyone, including my 1-year-old. Since then I’ve been making a quadrupled batch of chana dal every two weeks. We eat it for dinner, freeze some of it, and eat the rest for breakfast a few days later. Then we defrost the frozen portion and have it for a dinner and a breakfast the following week. Sometimes we serve it with yogurt, but often we don’t. My now 14-month-old always eats it happily. When we have it for breakfast, I try to serve it with a piece of vitamin C rich fruit, often a grapefruit, an orange or clementine, or a kiwi. The only problem with the recipe is that it doesn’t have any vegetables in it. I’m curious to try adding some vegetables — maybe a bit of spinach or carrots? In the meantime, if I have leftover roasted or curried cauliflower, I will serve that as a side dish. Read the rest of this entry »
Last month I made broccoli cheddar quinoa bites, and liked them. So I decided to try this recipe for “Quinoa quiche muffins with spinach and cheese.” Although they are called muffins, the recipe is actually quite similar to the previous recipe, except that it calls for spinach instead of broccoli, has more eggs, and uses feta in addition to cheddar. Like before, I made them on a cookie sheet instead of in a muffin tin, to save on cleanup time. Although they are called “quiche muffins,” the way I made them they didn’t have the texture of a typical quiche or of a typical muffin. The texture is more grainy and crumbly, similar to the texture of these five-grain croquettes.
Alma really likes this recipe, and Derek and I enjoy it as well. The croquettes freeze well, and along with a piece of fruit they make an easy quick breakfast. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times since I originally posted it (often with a slight variation), and it’s always a hit. It also works well as a take-along snack—just bring the frozen croquette with you and it will probably be defrosted by the time you get there. It’s fine room temperature. Just don’t giveit to your toddler inside without a plate because it can be a bit crumbly. Read the rest of this entry »
This is another recipe featured on Food52’s Genius Recipes page. It’s from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Every Day. I chose it because I had some chickpeas and homemade vegetable broth to use up, and a student of mine from Iran got me a boatload of saffron as a gift. Also, it looked pretty easy, and I needed to make a quick lunch that was suitable for both Alma and me. Read the rest of this entry »
After the disappointment of November’s double broccoli quinoa recipe, I was surprised when Derek picked another broccoli quinoa recipe to try. This one for broccoli cheddar quinoa bites is easier though. Once you have the quinoa cooked you just chop some broccoli, grate the cheese, mince a few cloves of garlic, and mix it all together and bake it. Easy peasy broccolisy. Read the rest of this entry »
I already have an Alice Medrich cocoa-only brownie recipe I like a lot, but this one was featured on the Food52 Genius Recipes page, and has been getting rave reviews for its ultra gooey, ultra chocolatey qualities. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe has you press tofu, marinate it overnight in the fridge, drain it, dredge it in cornstarch, and bake it on an unoiled cookie sheet until the outside is crisp on the inside, but still soft on the inside. The recipe is originally from Joe Yonan, but I found it on David Lebovitz’s blog. He raves about it, and it’s a different technique than I’ve used before. Normally I either pan-fry tofu, bake it submerged in a marinade, or bread it then bake it in thin slices. This recipe is something a little bit different. Read the rest of this entry »
I made this 101cookbooks recipe right before I left for Israel last month, when I wanted to use up some steamed kale and some roasted squash. I only had one serving, but I quite enjoyed it. I thought the dish was extremely hearty and flavorful, and made a great one-pot dinner. Beans and greens and chocolate. How can you go wrong? I’ll definitely be trying it again. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe from Serious Eats is supposed to be a super easy way to make tasty black beans. Black beans? Yes please. Lazy cook? Double yes. Clearly I had to try it. It’s interesting in that they recommend simmering the aromatics rather than sautéeing them first. Not only is it easier and faster, but the author claims that sautéeing sweetens the aromatics too much, so that they overpower the beans. I was intrigued. Read the rest of this entry »
In the 70s and 80s many vegetarian restaurants offered some kind of brown rice bowl, which consisted of some combination of borwn rice, tofu, beans, veggies, and a sauce. In NYC in Angelica Kitchen they called it the Dragon Bowl. It’s simple, hearty, co-op food—nothing fancy, but tasty and filling. So when I asked Derek to pick a recipe for dinner last night, he picked this “brown rice supper” menu from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »
We are big broccoli fans here. Even Alma loves broccoli. And pesto? Yes. So a double broccoli quinoa recipe with broccoli and broccoli pesto from 101cookbooks — sounded great. But it ended up being a surprising amount of work, and had an awfully lot of fat for something that didn’t taste particularly decadent. We didn’t love it. And there were a few things about the recipe that we found odd. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek picked this recipe out of our new Indian cookbook: 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. He thought it would make an easy weeknight recipe. I liked the recipe, but it turns out it’s not so quick. Read the rest of this entry »
When we visited my Mom in June, she made a simple chia pudding with almond milk, which I really liked. It’s also vegan and raw. I liked it so much that when I got home I bought some chia seeds. But then of course I never got around to using them. When my mom came to visit in August, she discovered the unopened package, and made homemade almond milk and then used it to make me some more of her chia pudding. It was delicious. But making the almond milk was a pain, because my almonds didn’t peel easily. So for a second batch she tried making a version with hemp milk instead of almond milk. It was also good, but the hemp milk adds a pretty sharp grassy note. Alma ate both versions, but seemed to prefer the one with almond milk. Once my mom left I didn’t have the energy to make almond milk, so I bought some at the store and made another batch of chia almond milk pudding. Alma really liked it. So I tried to find some more recipes using chia seeds, and I came across this recipe for pumpkin pie chia pudding. Read the rest of this entry »
When my mom was here a few weeks ago she made an excellent parsley salad. It was made from parsley leaves (lots!), grated carrots, red onions, and a simple lemon dressing. Then she added roasted pepitas, which are optional. Delicious. I’ve never been a big fan of taboulleh, so I didn’t realize how tasty a simple parsley salad could be.
My mom had more parsley leftover after making two parsley salads, and so just threw it into a regular green salad. Sooo good. I really miss having a variety of green leafy vegetables available, and so adding parsley to salads is a great way to get more dark green vegetables into my diet. Plus it’s cheap and delicious. I highly recommend it.
Tonight was a “use what’s in the fridge and be quick about it” dinner. I threw together this stirfry and Derek liked it so much that he asked me to write up what I did. I didn’t measure or time anything, so below is just a best guess. Read the rest of this entry »
This is another recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. My mom picked it to make last week, as she had never tried celeriac before. I’ve mostly eaten celeriac pureed in soups or raw in salads, so I was also excited to try this recipe—the celery root is boiled but not pureed.
I got Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook from Derek’s father a few weeks ago, and Derek looked through it and chose a recipe for a swiss chard, chickpea and tamarind stew. The stew is seasoned with caraway seeds, cilantro, and yogurt among other things. But then when I went to make it I looked it up in the index and found a different recipe— also a chickpea and chard sauté, which is seasoned with caraway seeds, cilantro, and yogurt, among other things. We stuck with the tamarind stew, but then made the sauté a few days later.
I bought a large kohlrabi without having any specific plans for it, then found a recipe on thekitchn.com for a kohlrabi and carrot slaw. I used the recipe as a jumping off point, altered it based on what I had in the fridge, and ended up with a kohlrabi, carrot, fennel, and apple slaw with a cilantro jalapeño lime dressing. It was a little spicy and a little sweet, and both Derek and I liked it a lot! I didn’t measure anything, so below is my best guess at what I did. Read the rest of this entry »
My mom recently asked me if wild rice combines with beans to form a “complete protein,” as brown rice does. I thought I’d post my answer to her here, as the myth about complete proteins is pretty widespread.
The “incomplete protein” myth was first popularized by Frances Moore Lappé in her 1971 book, Diet for a Small Planet. The main concern is that, as a general rule, legumes are lower in the essential amino acid methionine while most other plants foods (including grains) are lower in the essential amino acid lysine. So to get a “complete protein” you have to eat grains and beans together.
An aside: I’m not sure how “most other plant foods” became “grains.” Maybe it’s because most people think beans and grains are the only plant foods that have much protein? They seem to not realize that nuts and vegetables can also provide non-negligible amounts of protein.
But going back to the complete protein myth. Today, most vegetarians (at least) know that your body can store the essential amino acids and so you don’t have to actually eat grains and beans together at every meal. But many vegetarians still seem to believe that you have to eat both grains and beans in order to get all the essential amino acids. But that is also a myth. Read the rest of this entry »
We went to Greece last week (Derek had a workshop there), but most of the time we just ate in our hotel in Kefalonia. The food there wasn’t so inspiring (I guess it’s about what you would expect from an all-inclusive resort hotel), but I did appreciate that there were always beans available. We were there for five nights and they served chickpeas several times, fava beans several times, black eyed peas once, and various white beans.
We spent one day in Athens, and ate at two places that I can recommend for vegetarians—Chemin and Mani-Mani. Read the rest of this entry »
I say what we’ve been cooking instead of what I’ve been cooking, because with the new baby, Derek has been doing about as much cooking as I have, if not more. In the first few months he was mostly just making old standbys, but in the last week or two we’ve finally started to branch out and try some new recipes. I don’t have time to write full blog posts about each one, so I’ll write a short blurb here for each. Read the rest of this entry »