Archive for the ‘Oil’ Category

This fasty friendly banana bread recipe comes to you in honor of my dear, sweet toothed friend, JMT.

Honestly, I can’t make any grand claims about the nutritional benefits of this bread.  It does have a whole banana or two so that’s good.  You could easily add a scoop of nutritional yeast to this bread. Any sweet you make at home is safer than anything made by Little Debbie.  That  little, red- haired, Bakeress of Babylon makes some pretty dangerous stuff.  Of course, if you read the ingredients a lot of her treats are fast friendly – but so is plastic.

A wholesome banana bread for Lent.

Adapted from American Wholefoods Cuisine

Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 c wheat germ (or 1/4 c more flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)
1/4 c oil
1/2 c honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c mashed banana (or one cup banana 1/4 c applesauce)

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Combine dry ingredients, including nuts.  Combine wet ingredients and stir into dry mixture until thoroughly combined.  This makes a thick batter, like cookie batter.

Step 3. Spread batter in an oiled and floured loaf pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, transfer to a rack to cool completely before cutting.
**If the batter seems impossibly thick you could safely add 1/4 c more oil


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Soup made with green bell pepper isn't as beautiful as soup made with a red bell pepper

According to The Complete Mexican, South American, and Caribbean Cookbook, “Peanut soup is a firm favorite throughout Central and South America, and is particularly popular in Bolivia and Ecuador.  As in many Latin American recipes, the peanuts are used as a thickening agent, with unexpectedly delicious results.”  After dinner tonight I can say that I agree.

I like this cookbook but the directions are poorly translated and overlap too much for pleasant cooking.  I have changed the directions below for ease.

This soup should either be chunky or completely smooth.  The middle way is difficult to swallow.

With the peanuts and potatoes a serving of soup has about 8.1 grams of protein.

Peanut and Potato Soup with (or without for JKM) Cilantro

4 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 large potato

2 chiles (optional)

7 ounces canned chopped tomatoes (if you used half a can for Mexican Rice use the other half here)

1 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts

6 cups vegetable stock or Better than Buillon

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp cilantro for garnish

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2.  Toast the peanuts: You can either buy plain roasted peanuts or toast raw peanuts yourself.  If you toast the peanuts yourself, first, eat a raw peanut so you can compare flavor to determine when the peanuts are done.  When they are done the peanuts will taste like peanut butter.  You can toast them one of two ways:

  1. Spread peanuts on a tray and toast gently in the toaster oven.  Do not take your eyes off of the peanuts.  Toast the peanuts to an even gold color
  2. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, stir the peanuts around until they are evenly toasted.  This method makes for easy taste testing.  You’ve got to be very careful as the peanuts scorch easily.


Step 3. Heat oil in a large, heavy pan over low heat.  Stir in onion and cook for 5 minutes until it begins to soften.  Add the garlic, pepper, potatoes, chilies, and tomatoes.  Stir well to coat the vegetables in oil, cover, cook for 5 minutes until softened.

Step 4. Decision point!

For smooth soup: While the vegetables are cooking process peanuts in food processor or blender until finely ground.  Add the vegetables and one cup of the water to the blender or food processor and process until very, very smooth. Return mixture to the pot and stir in vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

For a chunky soup:  Add peanuts to the vegetables and stir in vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.   Chunky soup might be better with an extra potato or some noodles.

Step 5. Garnish with cilantro to serve.

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Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice with a side of Thumb

I spent two very hot summers working in the kitchen of a Mexican restaurant.  In spite of all the dangers of being a “line cook” (singed eyebrows, forearm burns so numerous they resembled Chinese characters, and soggy feet thanks to a stubborn floor drain), I loved the job.  The restaurant served good Spanish rice, and good Spanish rice is gently cooked in oil before adding the liquid.  A distracted cook can turn that gently cooking rice into a stinky, burning, pot-ruining mess so fast it could make demons jealous.   Unfortunately for my boss, I was a distracted cook.  Penitently, I am warning you not to take your eyes off of your rice.

Follow the recipe as written for white rice but be aware that rinsing white rice means you wash off all of the vitamin fortification.  Brown rice will maintain it’s nutritional value after rinsing. If you use brown rice follow the recipe as written but do not add the frozen peas until ten minutes before the rice has finished cooking.  Otherwise they will overcook and lose their beautiful color.  (See picture).

I think this rice would go great with South American Red Bean Soup

Brown rice has twice the protein of white rice.  I’m just sayin’…

Mexican Rice

1 cup long grain rice

7 ounce can chopped tomatoes in juice

1/2 onion, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Scant 2 cups vegetable stock

1/2 tsp salt

3 fresh green chilies, trimmed (optional)

1 cup frozen peas

pepper to taste

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Put the rice in a heatproof bowl, pour in boiling water to cover, and let stand for 10 minutes.  Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.  Set aside to dry slightly.

Step 3. Meanwhile, pour the tomatoes and juice into a food processor or blender, add the onion and garlic and process until smooth.

Step 4. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan, add the rice and cook over medium heat until it becomes a delicate golden brown.  Stir occasionally to ensure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Seriously, do not take your eyes off of that pot.

Step 5. Add the tomato mixture and stir over a moderate heat until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Stir in the stock, salt, whole chilies, and peas.  Continue to cook the mixture until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just tender.

Step 6. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it with a tight-fitting lid, and let it stand in a warm place for 5-10 minutes.  Remove the chilies, fluff up the rice, and serve.

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Fasting Orange Cake

This year our family has 3 Lenten birthdays.  That is why I am glad to have this delicious cake.

You will need 1 tablespoon of orange zest.  The zest is the orange part of the skin containing the orange oil.  You don’t want to gouge the skin all the way to the white part, the pith.  The pith is bitter.  To zest an orange you can use an orange zester to make neat little curls or a grater to shave the skin.  Your other option is to use a paring knife to make big giant pieces of zest that you mindlessly plop into the batter instead of at least chopping them into attractive bits.  Oh, Martha Stewart, why aren’t I more like you?  I recommend making little bits of zest to improve the flavor and appearance of your cake.

A few years ago, when I copied this recipe, I did not mark what kind of pan to use.  I think a little cake pan would work, a 9×9.  I’ll tell you what not to use:  a bundt, a 10.5 inch springform, or an angelfood pan.  Fortunately, the cake tastes good no matter how it looks.

If you are really cool you can frost this cake using 1/2 cup thawed orange juice concentrate and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  Drizzle the cake and make it look beautiful.  You can do it.  Heaven knows I can’t.

Orange You Glad It’s Fasting Cake

1 1/2 c flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup orange juice

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp orange zest

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

Step 3. In a small bowl stir wet ingredients together.

Step 4. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until combined.  Pour into pan.  Work quickly as the baking soda and vinegar give the cake heighth.

Step 5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Let cake cool completely before frosting. 

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Shrimp Curry

This is a family favorite.  My husband prefers it without the apples (I like them).  In their stead I use green bell pepper and snow peas.  If you use snow peas add them with the shrimp as they need only cook 2-3 minutes.  If you prefer not to use shrimp, consider tofu, or bean sprouts for protein.  If you use bean sprouts add them with the shrimp so they don’t overcook.

If you read labels you might freak out about the saturated fat in a can of coconut milk.  Yea, well, read the side of a cow or a pig sometime.  There is a lot of debate about the safety of saturated fats.  I am not qualified to discuss that.  I do know that during a long fast some saturated fat from a plant source is appropriate for our family.  I think this is especially true with a couple of little ones running around.  There is half fat coconut milk on the market too and you may be more comfortable with that.

Speaking of little ones- my chopping looks a little crazy in the pictures.  That is thanks to my precious helper who will be 3 years old this week.  🙂

Spicy Shrimp Curry with Coconut Milk and Apple (Real Simple 2004)  about 6 generous servings

1 large unpeeled Granny Smith apple

Garlic, ginger, onion for flava.

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tsp curry powder

1 tsp ground coriander (optional)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cayenne (optional)

4 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup frozen peas

1 13 1/2 ounce can coconut milk, unsweetened

1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled, veined (If your budget is like ours (small), use less shrimp and more veggies)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Quarter, core, and slice the apple into 1/4 inch thick pieces; set aside.

Step 3. Heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet, or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the ginger, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and golden.

Step 4. Add the curry, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne  and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.  That’s how you get the flava.

Step 5. Add the tomatoes, apple, and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes.

Step 6. Add the peas and coconut milk and cook for 5-8 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes or just until the shrimp are cooked.  Stir in cilantro.  Serve over rice.

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Black Bean Chili Delicioso

This black bean chili is filling and satisfying.  I love black beans for their flavor and color.  I think they make a more interesting chili than the pinto bean.  If, however, you are a pinto bean fan just substitute pintos for black beans.

Black beans are an excellent source of protein on their own, or you can “complement” by adding some corn chips or a can of hominy.  Yum!


Black Bean Chili

1 1/2 c dry black beans, prepared (soaked over night or quick soaked), or 2 cans black beans

1 large onion chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cans diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 bag frozen sweet corn

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. In a large pot saute onions and garlic until fragrant, either using oil or water.  Add cumin, chili powder stirring until fragrant.

Step 3. If using dried beans, add beans to the pot now, along with enough water to cover them.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat.

Step 4. Add the rest of ingredients, stirring to combine.  Simmer for an hour or until beans are tender.

Chili improves on standing so consider making the day before or in the crock pot.

If you want to crock pot this chili (oil free) simply soak beans over night and drain.  In the morning rinse beans, place in crock pot with all ingredients stirring to combine.  Add enough water to cover by 2-3 inches cook on “low” for 8 hours.

Cooking for two?  Consider cutting recipe in half or freezing half of cooked chili.

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Marinara with More

A few times I have mentioned “complementary proteins” but I haven’t explained the concept in detail.  If you really want the whole story please read Diet for a Small Planet. Here, I can only offer a brief version.

There are 22 essential amino acids.  Of the 22 there are 8 that cannot be produced by the body and must be eaten.  All 8 of these amino acids, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalinine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine are available in foods.  However, if you ate something that satisfied your body’s need for lysine and phenylaline but supplied only 25% (or a portion) of valine, then your body would use only 25% of all available amino acids.  At 25% valine is the so called “limiting amino acid”- it sets the bar under which all the others will pass.

For example, if your unicorn steak supplies 100% of 7 amino acids but only 25% of the valine then only 25% of the total protein will be available to the body as protein.  The rest of that unicorn steak will be burned off like bread, rice, or other carbohydrates.  In essence, without the complete balance of amino acids the body will burn the protein you eat as cheap fuel instead of using it to build brains, muscle, hair, etc.  Meats and eggs supply a nearly perfect balance of the 8 amino acids.  We can approximate eggs perfect availability by combining foods like beans and rice in the same meal to make more of the protein available to the body.  If rice supplies the missing amino acid of the beans then more protein from each of the foods is used.

So, if you have not payed much attention to these things in past fasts you may have experienced weight loss or slowed hair growth, even softer skin that might tear easily if scraped when wet.  Unfortunately, the weight loss with fasting is often in the form of muscle loss.  During my first lenten fast I was a college student.  Our cafeteria had little to offer in vegan or vegetarian options.  (Think: A tray of steamed broccoli for the vegetarian option).  Unfortunately, I didn’t consider what would happen to my body eating marinara day in and out for weeks.  I should have payed attention because on my wedding day, two weeks after Pascha, I had an ill fitting wedding dress.

In light of that I offer this recipe for marina with more.  The recipe comes straight out of Diet for a Small Planet.  The complementary proteins are peanuts, sesame or sunflower seeds, and soy grits.  Together this sauce makes 4 servings with 11 grams of usable protein each.  I don’t have soy grits so I used more peanuts.  I also used sesame seeds but I think that sunflower seeds would taste better.  The final texture is satisfying and the sauce looks like it might have meat in it.  For my husband, the illusion is welcome.


Spaghetti with Quick Protein-Rich Sauce

1 large onion, chopped

1/4 lb mushrooms, chopped (optional)

1/8 c soy grits

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 c peanuts (raw, spanish style, blanched -not roasted)

1 tsp oregano (optional)

2 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

1 jar of marinara spaghetti sauce (or other fast appropriate sauce)

Oil as needed

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Grind nuts, seeds until desired size and consistency (not into butter).  Set aside.

Step 3. Saute onions and mushrooms in oil in a skillet until lightly golden. Add soy grits and ground nuts and seeds, stirring constantly until they are thoroughly toasted.  This takes about 5 minutes.

Step 4. Add optional herbs and jar of marinara sauce .  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Step 5. Serve over whole wheat pasta.

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