Tag Archives: lunch

Sunlight Cafe

You are looking for a  relaxing, light-filled setting to have a delicious meal. You want a server who immediately understands your dietary lifestyle and offers suggestions from the menu with an expression of “no worries” and a smile that says “you belong here”.  The Sunlight Cafe is my home-away-from-home for food in north Seattle.

The existence of this food oasis is probably not news to anyone in living in Seattle, since they’ve served the vegan/vegetarian community here for many years.  Maybe this will just be a happy reminder if you haven’t been there in a while.  For those of us who are looking for no-fat vegan eats, these guys are already there with us.  They actually have items on the regular menu that fit beautifully.  Try the Brown Rice Salad and make your own honey-balsamic dressing at the table or ask them to mix it in the kitchen.  The Steamed Vegetables with Tofu is also good, and the nice garlic-ginger sauce is fat-free.

The Sunlight is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. everyday.  Love it!

No-fat Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

No-fat Vegan Shepherds Pie – adapted from Simply Recipes

My sister has embraced some serious no-fat vegan cooking. She is a creative gal who has a long history of cooking for a house full of hungry boys, so she will often adapt a meat-oriented recipe. Her new version Shepherd’s Pie -adapted from the website Simply Recipes, really works to satisfy that craving for ground round beef!  She is using a vegetarian ground beef product called Smart Ground, which I buy at Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, or Central Market.

The original recipe states that “Shepherds Pie is an English dish, traditionally made with lamb or mutton. Americans typically make Shepherd’s Pie with beef. The English (and Australians and New Zealanders) call the beef dish a “cottage pie”. Naming conventions aside, Shepherd’s Pie is essentially a casserole, lined with cooked meat and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked.”

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes…It takes more time than that!
Cook time: 50 minutes

2 pkg. SMART GROUND
2 onions chopped
3-4 cups vegetables – chopped carrots, fresh or frozen corn, peas
3 – 4 lbs potatoes (6 big ones)
Nondairy milk for mashing potatoes or water
1 to  2 cups vegetable or mushroom broth- double strength (depending on how “saucy” you like this)
Flour or WONDRA for thickening the sauce
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper, (other seasonings of choice)

Instructions

1. Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

2. “Sauté” onions and carrots over medium heat in vegetable broth  in a non-stick pan until tender. Mix in corn and peas.

3. Add SMART GROUND in chunks  and sauté until browning a bit. Add salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and a cup of vegetable broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more broth as necessary to keep moist. Whisk in a tablespoon or so of flour or WONDRA to thicken the gravy.

4. Mash potatoes in bowl with a bit of broth, salt, pepper and your favorite non dairy milk until they are the consistency you like. Season to taste.

5. Put the SMART GROUND veggie mixture into 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.

6. Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown. ( Or just heat in microwave)

Yield: Serves eight.

No-Fat Beet and Black Bean Burgers

Adaptation of Northstar Beet and Black Bean Burger

Barbecue season is upon us! Somehow, I ended up with 4 grills on my deck for the summer, so I’m hunting down no-fat ideas for grilling and smoking my grains and veggies to succulence. Today, I’ll share my adaptation on a famous vegan dish- the Northstar Beet and Black Bean Burger.This recipe is widely circulated online, but for a no-fat vegan, it required a few modifications.

I love the sweetness of the recipe, so my changes are mostly directed toward building a burger that holds together properly for cooking with no oil.  I do recommend using whole spices and grinding them fresh- it makes SUCH a difference in the flavor, but you can substitute pre-ground spices, of course!

This is kind of a messy project (do you like red fingers?) but when you are finished, you will have a large freezer bag full of handy burgers to cook at your convenience! You will need a food processor and an oven safe non-stick pan for this project. Check out my favorite:  the Woll Nowo pan.

Beet & Black Bean Burger

1 1/2 C cooked brown rice
1 large onion
2 large beets
1 can black beans, well drained
5 cloves garlic
1/2 C raisins
1 jalapeno or 1/tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp whole cumin
1/2 tsp whole coriander
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
A dash of liquid smoke
1 Cup whole wheat flour

Instructions

1. Cook your brown rice using your favorite method and add it to a large mixing bowl.

2. Peel and quarter your onion and beets. You want a some texture in the veggies here, so you’re going to process in your food processor until the chop is fairly fine, but not mushy (see picture).  Do the beets first and add them to a large fry pan. Repeat the process with your onions.

3. Add 1/2 C of water to the beets & onions and “saute” on medium with a lid until tender – about 10 minutes. Stir every couple of minutes to avoid sticking, and add a little more water as needed. The idea here is to get a nice cooked beet that still has some texture.

4. While your beets are simmering, go back to your food processor and add the garlic, raisins, jalapeno (or red pepper flakes), cumin and coriander. Process for about 2 minutes- until the raisins are well ground. Add this mixture to the brown rice. Add the soy sauce, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, hot sauce, and liquid smoke. Mix together well.

5. Add your drained black beans and sauteed beets & onions to the rice mixture and stir until completely mixed. Add your flour and mix thoroughly.

6.To form your burgers, cut wax paper into 5 ” squares. Using an ice-cream scoop, form 18 burgers, one per square.

7. Flatten with a spoon and freeze on a cookie sheet for at least 45 minutes.  Store in the freezer in a ziplock bag.

8. Using an oven proof non-stick pan, you can cook these on low heat on your stove top, or use the non-stick frypan on top of your grill over indirect heat to “grill” or smoke the burgers. Barbecue University has excellent tutorial on the indirect method of grilling.

Skylark’s Hidden Cafe

Strolling with my family through Bellingham’s old Fairhaven district on a warm Sunday morning landed us in an Orleans-esque alley filled with charm and a secret destination: Skylark’s Hidden Cafe.  Being noon, we readily grabbed the first table and I quickly realized that there was not much on the menu that fit the no-fat vegan formula.  Plan B: talk to the server!  She was a gluten-free gal, so completely on board with my “special needs” and had the kitchen whip up a large and delicious spinach salad – fresh baby spinach and chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, a sprinkle of pine nuts (not normally on the Esselstyn diet, but I requested) and balsamic vinegar on the side.  

Skylark's spinach salad

Skylark’s Vegan No-Fat Spinach Salad

 We got very nice service, a charming in and outdoor setting, with a fair amount of garden and alley seating.  There is also a pretty main dining area upstairs and street level access.   The menu for a no-fat vegan was very limited, but the spirit in the place was good, and they will do their best to make you something if you direct.

Yellow Curry Noodle Soup with Braised Radish and Eggplant

Thai Globe Eggplants

Thai eggplants

After my long spring bike ride today, I found myself craving noodles.  Delicious, spicy warm Asian rice noodles with fragrant basil and lemon zest.  I stopped at Star Market, a local ethnic food store with an amazing selection of Asian vegetables, curries and noodles.   I wandered the aisles pondering the piles of fresh cucumbers, lettuces and root vegetables, passing up ethnic pastries and grocery sacks of baguettes for 1.79 (the entire bag, that is).  A nice choice of eggplant included the common purples, large and small, but also shiny green Thai eggplants with glowing golden stars on their faces.  PERFECT!  I have that nice bag of fresh radishes to roast at home, so I’m set!

Yellow Curry Noodle Soup with Braised Radish and Eggplant

Simmer on medium for 15 minutes:

2 quarts strong vegetable  broth (or 2 quarts water with 2 heaping tbsp vegetable Better than Bullion)
3 slices medium onion
6 Thai eggplants, trimmed and quartered
½ tbsp yellow curry paste (no oil)

Meanwhile, prepare braised radishes:

10 radishes, trimmed and quartered

Pour a ½ cup of broth into your non-stick pan and simmer the radishes for 10 minutes (covered).  Remove lid and let liquid boil off and allow radishes to brown just a bit.

Back to the soup pot!  To the broth, add:

¼ pkg rice stick noodles (4 oz.)  I use Bun Gao brand Rice Sticks, but any thin asian noodle will do nicely!

Simmer for 6-8 minutes.   Correct seasoning.  Fill your bowl with noodles and some broth.  Arrange the eggplant and radishes on top.

Garnish with:

Thinly sliced green onions
Lemon zest of 1 lemon
Chopped fresh basil

Vegan Smoked Stuffed Poblano Chiles



Sunshine and warmth have arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and I can hardly wait to fire up the grill.  In fact, I did!  I wanted to veganize my old recipe for stuffed Poblanos, which I smoke outside on my charcoal chiminea.  This is a new no-fat stuffing and I honestly prefer it to the old one, which was full of oil and cheese.  Black beans smoked with maple, garlic and onions, accompanied by a fresh salad of sweet corn, red pepper and cilantro and topped with a great vegan queso – fabulous summery flavors, even in April.

Vegan Smoked Stuffed Chiles with Corn Salad and Queso

Set up your outdoor grill or smoker for indirect grilling and preheat to medium.  Soak your wood chips for 30 minutes.  If using a gas grill, place the chips in a smoker box and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce heat to medium.  If using a charcoal grill, preheat to medium, stack the coals around the edges, leaving the center free of heat (where you will set your pan of peppers), and toss the chips onto the coals.  Have your stuffed peppers ready!  If you aren’t up for the outdoor project, you can also simply put them in your oven, covered, on 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.

Black Bean Stuffing
2 cans black beans, 1 can drained
2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium chopped onion
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 c. to 1/2 c good quality pure maple syrup
1/4 c. cooking sherry

Simmer all ingredients together, uncovered, until liquid has boiled off and beans are thick.  Slice 4 Poblano peppers in half lengthwise and remove stems and seeds. Fill each 1/2 pepper with beans and smoke outdoors on a medium grill (I place them in a heavy-duty foil pan) until tender (about 30 minutes) or bake in a 350 degree oven, covered, for 30 minutes.   Serve dressed with Corn salad and Nacho Mom’s Ultimate Vegan Queso.  It’s gonna be good!

Corn Salad
About 3 c. frozen or fresh sweet corn
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup  cilantro or Italian parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
a few splashes of seasoned rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

White Bean Chili

I love to cook up a giant pot of soup.  As a no-fat vegan, I eat a TON of food, and I have to be sure there is always legal food in my frig to avoid a momentary lapse and grab those tortilla chips my husband keeps on his side of the pantry!   Big-quantity cooking helps me stay on the straight and narrow.

This is a soup inspired by color!  I wanted warm, sweet ruby-orange yams and deep strong green kale to balance the foundation of plump snowy great northern beans.  I threw in some green chili and mahogany kidney beans and garnished with orange zest.  Beautiful.

Vegan White Bean Chili

6-8 C vegetable broth or water
1 ½ C dry great northern beans
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, undrained
1 5 oz can chopped green chili
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 sticks of celery, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp oregano or ½ tsp powdered oregano
½ tsp cloves
Salt/pepper to taste
2-3 large leaves kale, chopped
1 large yam, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
Zest of 1 orange

In a saucepan, cover white beans with water and boil for 2 minutes; cover with a lid and remove from heat.  Let sit for 1 hour, then rinse.  In large soup pot, add broth, white beans onion.  Bring to boil and reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.   Add celery, garlic, chilies, and spices, simmer for 30 minutes.  Correct seasoning for the broth to your taste.  Add kale and yam, simmer for another 30 minutes.   Just before serving, stir in zest.

Moussaka

No-Fat Vegan Moussaka

A fellow no-fat Vegan recently mentioned that it is a challenge to keep coming up with new flavor combinations when cooking without meat.  It is true!  When cooking with animal protein, chicken or fish or pork always take care of that challenge with their unique flavors and textures.  I like to handle this challenge by building my dishes with ethnic spice combos- for example, Moroccan, Spanish, Lebanese, or Greek.  I recently adapted this favorite old Moussaka recipe, previously full of lamb, cheese and eggs and now, thoroughly healthy with no fat and no animal, just rich, delicious eggplant, cinnamon, oregano, basil, and garlic!  The sauce is a unique one in texture and flavor; a refreshing change!

Moussaka

You will build a layered casserole with the following elements: Eggplant, onions, tomato sauce, cream sauce.

Eggplant
Slice 2 large eggplants into 1/2 thick slices.  Season well with salt/pepper and broil until browned.

Onion
Chop one large onion and saute in non-stick pan (add water if necessary) until translucent and brown, about 5 minutes on low heat.

Tomato Sauce
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 Tbsp. oregano or mixed Italian herbs
1 tsp. cinnamon
dash of pepper to taste

Bread Crumbs
In food processor, tear 3 slices of your favorite bread (I like Dave’s Good Seed) and 3 cloves of garlic.  Process one minute.

Cream Sauce
3 Tbsp. Wondra flour
2 C. favorite non-dairy milk (I like almond milk for this)
salt/pepper

Cook flour in non-stick pan on medium high for a minute or so. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk.  Return to heat and cook until thickened.  Season to your taste.

Assemble Casserole in a 9 x 12″ baking dish.  Place 1/2 the eggplant slices in the dish.  Set aside 1 C of crumbs for topping. Stir remaining crumbs into tomato sauce.  Spoon tomato sauce onto eggplant.  Now spoon on all the sauteed onions.  Add another layer of eggplant.  Pour the cream sauce over all.  Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until cream sauce has set and the casserole is bubbling well.  Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top and bake for 5 more minutes until they are brown. This is really special when accompanied by a glass of Italian limoncello or Greek retsina – a traditional Greek wine infused with a piney scent.

Farro Risotto with Garlic, Orange, and Sage

Farro Risotto adapted from “The Italian Country Table” by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

When I made the switch to no-fat vegan eating, I grieved for my long-favorite cookbooks  filled with the foods that had given me and my family such tasty memories over the years. After just a few weeks, I began to adapt those recipe treasures, and I am happy to say that with the right tools and a little creativity, many if not most things are possible!   Here is an adapted version of a delicious recipe from Lynne Rossetto Kasper out of my all-time favorite Italian cookbook “The Italian Country Table”.  Farro is one of many super satisfying, nutty whole grains I’ve come to love.  Cook this for a full hour and the flavors of orange, sage, garlic and fennel and wine will carmelize into heavenly sweetness.

Farro Risotto with Garlic, Orange, and Sage

1 1/2 C farro
1 C hot water
2 large onions, chopped
10 large or 20 small fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 4-inch branches fresh rosemary
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 undrained can garbanzo beans
8-10 C hot vegetable broth (or same volume H2O with 2 heaping TBSP Better Than Bullion Vegatable)
Zest of 1 orange
4 cloves garlic, pressed or microplaned
1/2 C favorite white wine
Pepper & Salt or salt substitute
Fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Put dry farro in a 3 cup bowl and cover with very hot water for 15 minutes.  “Saute” onion, sage, rosemary and fennel by placing in a large pot or deep saucepan, tossing with 1 or 2 cups broth, and covering with a lid.  Simmer until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Remove lid. Add the garbanzo beans w/liquid, garlic, farro, and 1/2 the orange zest.  Cook on medium until liquid evaporates and begin adding hot broth 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid evaporates and your hot broth is gone.  The cooking time will take about 50 minutes.  Don’t hurry, the carmelization process is so important to the result, and besides, you can drink a glass of wine while you cook!  Test to make sure the farro is cooked to your liking.  It will have a uniform, chewy texture similar to cooked barley.  When all the liquid is absorbed and the farro is done,  stir in the remaining orange zest and white wine.  Season to your taste with salt substitute or salt & freshly ground pepper.  Simmer another few minutes until creamy and rich.  Serve with chopped parsley.

Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup with Croutons

No Fat/Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup with Croutons

It is a snowy Seattle day in March and spring seems to be lost on its way to the Pacific Northwest.  I’m yearning for the flavors of summer, but I’m savoring the fireplace and enjoying the winter white.  Compromise!  How about a warm bowl of creamy soup built on a favorite flavor of summer: tomatoes. Simmer with herbs and blend with sweet oven-roasted onions, garlic, and carrots.

Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup with Croutons

In a large stewpot, simmer for 1 hour:

1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt substitute (such as Braggs Liquid Aminos)

Meanwhile, put the following in a baking dish, cover tightly with foil and bake in oven for 1.5 hour at 350 degrees:

1 carrot- cut into 4 or 5 pieces
2 sliced onions
8 cloves garlic
1 C. vegetable broth (or 1 C. water and 1 Tbsp. Better than Buillion- Vegetable)

Remove bay leaves from soup. Process the vegetables in food processor or with hand processor and add to tomato mixture.  If you like it smooth, use your hand processor to process everything in the pot.  Add 2 cups of non-dairy milk of your choice (I use almond, but soy works.  Just use your favorite non-sweetened milk)

For croutons, cut up several slices of good non-oil based bread (Dave’s Goodseed is my favorite).  Toss with 1 tsp. oregano or your favorite Italian spice mix and toast on foil at 325 oven, checking and turning until they are croutons.

Serve soup warm with croutons and chopped parsley.