"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘Grains’ Category

Couscous stuffed bell peppers

IMG_2746Before the day and age of Pinterest, one would simply rip a recipe out of a magazine and go make it. My Mom still likes to do this. So there we were driving upstate and discussing the ingredients. It’s a good thing too because after the pumpkin picking, we headed into the Woodstock supermarket without, of course, the recipe and ingredient list. We lost it – for the record, this is why Pinterest is better lol. We winged it. I believe I had made them before except with wild rice. The couscous came out delicious. We stuffed them in the peppers and had a few light yet satisfying meals.

Vegetable stock
Grape tomatoes
Chick peas
Sea salt
Bell peppers
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


IMG_2764We cooked the couscous at about a 1.5 : 1 ratio of liquid to grain and then simply mixed in the spices, scallions, finely chopped cilantro and chick peas. It was already delicious right here. Then we stuffed it into the bell peppers and baked them. Afterwards online, I noticed that some people keep the tops to the bell peppers to put on after they are baked for a photo. I missed that photo opt. This is a great mini meal- healthy, tasty and fulfilling.


Yes I confess, that is cheese on the left side. My Mom and I cooked this dish together. She supports my vegan lifestyle and helps with ideas. I can only push my values so far. I’m not going to argue with the one who brought me into this world lol. I wouldn’t win anyway. Cheese it was (on her side) and when I make it again, I will be prepared to sneak in the vegan cheese. Shhh.

Forbidden Black Rice with Asparagus

Forbidden? Yes.. and impossible to find! Well.. not really once you learn what it is. I usually find that when I come across a new food that I didn’t even know exist, that I soon after begin to see it everywhere. This was so the case with black rice. I heard about it though a friend on Facebook. It looked intriguingly delicious to me and of course I wanted to try it immediately. Soon after, I ran right into it at the health food store. I actually can’t believe I haven’t blogged this before. I am certain that I have created a few recipes with black rice, experimented and even took pictures. Not a problem- here I am again cooking with black rice and also amazed that I am beginning to see it in restaurants which I will highlight later – “Beyond Sushi”!

Where do they get “forbidden” from? Once you read that on the label- you automatically want it! It comes from Chinese tradition where only royalty were given this type of rice to eat, hence it was forbidden. So what is black rice? It’s actually a strand of rice with a very dark purple quality. It gets this color from anthocyanins, which are flavonoid pigments found in red/ purple/ dark blue/ black fruits and vegetables. Do you remember when someone told you to eat the colors of the rainbow in your fruits and vegetables? This is part of that wonderful concept and truth.

Some of the current benefits of anthocyanins include: “protection against liver injuries; significant reduction of blood pressure; improvement of eyesight; strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities; inhibition of mutations caused by mutagens from cooked food; and suppression of proliferation of human cancer cells.”  (Konczak/ Wei)

Black rice is therefore high in antioxidants from these anthocyanins! In addition, black rice is also known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Many believe inflammation to be at the core of many health conditions, disorders and diseases.

White rice is refined and milled therefore stripped of it’s many nutrients. Brown rice and black rice are very similar with respect to nutrients, calories and fiber. The added bonus here, is that black rice has extra antioxidants. Personally, you might want to make your own decision when choosing. I mostly eat brown rice, however, when black rice is available to me- I will always say yes. I enjoy the texture and taste- and I feel that it is a bit healthier. Try it and see what you think and feel!


I made my black rice as I would brown; cooking it in a 2:1 ratio of water to rice with a drizzle of olive oil and touch of sea salt. I sautéed asparagus on the side, some sliced apple sausage (soy) and some leftover brown rice and mushroom from the night before. Yes I mix and match! This dish was incredible!

I have to mention that I am beginning to see black rice as an option in some sushi restaurants in New York CIty. This is very exciting especially this new sushi spot that I stumbled upon. It’s called BEYOND SUSHI– located on 14th Street, Manhattan between 3rd and 2nd Avenues. Honestly, this is the best sushi I have ever had. My taste buds are slowly changing and for the better. It takes time when eliminating certain foods and dependencies on salt and sugar. I have had this sushi twice so far- the best is having it in-house but GOOD LUCK as it is mostly a to-go place. Oh.. and did I mention- it’s VEGAN! Bonus!


Konczak, I., Wei, Z. 2004. Anthocyanins- More Than Nature’s Colours. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082903/

Meatless Meatloaf

Why do I call it a meatless meatloaf? Why not just a veggie loaf, mushroom loaf or quinoa loaf?
I think for two reasons really. One, I am challenged by and have seen many recreations of staple foods from when I was a kid. I can certainly throw down many vegan chicken and vegan Italian recipes! But meatloaf- it was intertwined with my growing up in such a way that it brings back memories that seem to only be delivered from none other then my Mom. Meatloaf is not that common of a food that you will see in the tiny vegan sections of a health food store nor on many vegan restaurant menus. When I saw it on a raw vegan menu in NYC, I went wild and ordered it. It was a nut loaf – love the name, and feel like one sometimes! The only difference here was that it wasn’t warm. To recreate the feeling, this loaf had to be warm. Instead of heating up nuts, which I simply cannot do as I would be destroying the nutritional value, enzymes and fat; instead I just stayed in search of a vegan meatless meatloaf. The universe finally delivered. Well, specifically, my friend Pam (thanks Pam) sent me this recipe from The Gluten Free Goddess (WebMD recipe from Foodily.com).


I couldn’t wait to try this recipe and when I finally did, it exceeded all of my expectations, dreams and desires for meatloaf. The other reason, I use “meatless” meatloaf is that I am grounded right now in the fact that I live in a non-vegan world. Some days I have different perspectives on it. In order to do the recreation, walk the walk and talk the talk- I choose to keep it “meatless” meatloaf- hopefully, someone can relate!

Next topic is ketchup! It’s interesting to me how I can give up so many foods and vices and then watch, with experimentation just how quickly these indulgences can return. Hence, my motto… Reinventing Indulgence.. is endless. I am a food addict, in case I haven’t come right out and mentioned that before. I can sometimes see these vices creep back in. It happened with hot sauce and now it’s happening with ketchup. After a few assaults, I was forced to throw it out! Ketchup was caught red handed! Get lost!

I want to say that the meatless meatloaf (ok now we can switch to veggie loaf) was flawless because honestly it was! It didnt need ketchup but you know… as a kid.. one has to have their ketchup. I never realized that this was even a trigger food for me as say..  gummy bears, pasta or the triangle cheese in the supermarket. But it so is! I remember now as I used to order french fries, then put the ketchup on the side- add salt and pepper to the ketchup and dip the fries in swirling around 10x the portion size on the label. Have you ever had just one tablespoon of ketchup? Ever?


Anyway, I made the veggie loaf, and squirted the ketchup in a small amount, maybe 2 tablespoons on the side. Later, I found that I needed another 4 tablespoons for a total of 6 at least! The veggie loaf was delcious without the ketchup, it was only after I tried it that I wanted more and more- hello HFCS!!! Let’s look at those numbers for fun:

6 tablespoons of ketchup is about 90-120 calories- ok I can handle that! It’s about 960 to 1140 mg of sodium and about 24 grams of sugar- well if it’s derived from HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) then we have to understand that this is metabolized in the body differently than regular sugar. The point is– that’s a lot of unnecessary addictive food.. well condiments. I am going back to my regular non addicting condiments. I don’t need ketchup in my life anymore really!


It’s like quitting smoking – It’s about the associations too! The veggie loaf was fine as it was -no ketchup was needed. They don’t have to go hand in hand! Also, the best way to know if a “meatloaf” is good is if it still tastes good cold- like yummy leftovers! This veggie loaf was incredible cold! The true taste test was complete.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Mushrooms 2 cups- portabella
Quinoa 1 cup cooked
Sweet potato – I used 1 1/2 cooked
Spinach 5 cups
Onion 1 cup
Garlic 2 cloves
Breadcrumbs 1 cup whole wheat or organic (or both)
Balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoonMolasses 2 tablespoons
Ketchup 2 tablespoons (this is what started the whole ketchup thing as I didn’t have any and had to go buy some for the blog)
Olive oil 1 tablespoon
Dried herbs 1 tablespoon
Scallions 4


I had to pre-make the quinoa and sweet potato! Then the rest was easy! I sautéd the olive oil, garlic, onion,scallions, vinegar- and then the mushrooms. When this was almost done- about 10 minutes or so, then I added the spinach until it was soft and blended. I turned this mixture off and then added it to my vitamix. I pulsed it a few times and added to a large mixing bowl. From there, I mixed together the warm mix, the quinoa, sweet potato, herbs, molasses and the ketchup.

I added this mix to a lightly oiled baking dish. The recipe suggests using parchment paper but I didn’t have any. The oven should be pre-heated to 350- cook for about 25-30 minutes. Before it goes in the oven, add the topping too: a glaze of balsamic vinegar (1 tbs), maple syrup (1 tbs), cinnamon and an apricot spread. I used dried apricots and cut them up fine!


Vegan day 326: Pineapple Quinoa

Being the quinoa fan that I am, this recipe jumped off the page of VEGANOMICON and practically onto my palate. 

Have I mentioned that I also have pineapple almost daily. Again, since we do not live in Hawaii, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, however, with respect to this amazing stir-fry.. it’s a necessity. This is a great dish to share with non-vegans because of the deep flavors. It’s actually going to be more of a challenge to sell the idea of quinoa. That.. in and of itself is a shame! Quinoa is an amazing grain (seed) with low fat, no cholesterol, higher levels of protein and dietary fiber. It’s a wonderful alternative to those wanting or needing to avoid gluten. I personally wish that all restaurants that serve pasta and rice would add this to their menus as a nice option for vegans and others wanting to avoid nutrient deprived refined grains such as white rice and yes.. white pasta! Two solid reasons why people over indulge right there! If we are going to eat more than we should to begin with, it might as well be food with greater nutrients. That’s the best part really, when our bodies get what they need, the urge to overeat subsides somewhat! 

PINEAPPLE QUINOA by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

First, one has to make the perfect quinoa as I have blogged many times before. I say this with experience as one who has messed up quinoa often. The key here is 1 1/2 ratio liquids to quinoa. The recipe here calls for 2:1; since the pineapple juice can be on the thicker side, I would still be careful not to oversaturate.

1 cup quinoa
1 cup pineapple juice (I used a bit less but later added more of the real pineapple)
1 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon tamari


  • 4 ounces or to your judgement of cashews; I used about 1 1/2 cups and also pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 red hot chile sliced thin
  • 1/2 inch ginger minced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup (or more) of frozen green peas or cooked edamame
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint
  • 2 cups or so of fresh pineapple
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth ( I later used more as I added in the quinoa)
  • 1 tablespoon of marin
  • Lime wedges for garnish

1st: Make the perfect quinoa– keep it on low flame and covered. 
2nd: Lightly roast the nuts in a dry nonstick skillet for about 5 minutes. Keep these to the side for now.
3rd: Begin the stir-fry with oil, garlic, chile, ginger and scallions. Add in the peas and peppers.. then later the basil and mint
4th: Mix in the quinoa with the tamari, vegetable broth and marin

This is a great party dish and festive for the holidays as well!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Wednesday, November 21st 2012 blog]

Vegan day 308: Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa-stuffed Acorn Squash
Sometimes meals just piece themselves together. I made a wonderful quinoa stew yesterday and then today I sit here wondering what to do with the last few squashes I have on the table. My acorn squash turned out amazing the last time I made it. 

I have to admit that social media does influence me- I saw an amazing picture on Instagram last week of stuffed squash. I thought it would be really amazing so I took the opportunity today to make it. 

Quinoa stew blog
Acorn squash blog

I simply made the acorn squash as outlined above and then stuffed it with the quinoa and re-baked it!

This is a great addition to any holiday or family style meal.

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Saturday, November 3rd 2012 blog]

Vegan day 307: Quinoa stew

It’s getting cold in New York – that means it’s time for soups and stews! If I had to time the preparation of this meal today… I would say.. 
3 1/2 minutes lol.
Even the busiest people can handle that! 
I’ll even keep this blog short today in it’s honor lol.
In a rice cooker: 
(I don’t really get fancy here)
Pour in the quinoa- about 2 cups or so
Pour in vegetable broth- a carton
Cut up vegetables pre-packaged for soup (yes shortcut today) 
Cut up any additional vegetables you have in the refrigerator
Open tofu package and cut into chunks
Add more water to also fill the pot
Add more spices
Turn it on and wait for the bell!
What’s that red stuff? I had to go and throw hot sauce in it.. “Reinventing Indulgences”.. it’s a process!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Friday, November 2nd 2012 blog]

Vegan day 299: Rice and beans

Rice and Beans

I am sure I have mentioned rice and beans before- who wouldn’t? It’s a staple dish across the world. 
I have to be honest though. I was trying to re-create a macro vegan brown rice tofu dish that I pay at least $6 for in the health food stores. Each and every time, I say: I CAN MAKE THIS MYSELF! lol However, I got carried away. I began making brown rice as usual doubling the water to rice ratio. Then I realized that I didn’t have any tofu in the house.. bad vegan I am lol. That’s when the bean idea came to mind and things began to get mushy. Mushy is ok, it’s just not what I intended.

I didn’t really mind much. I was getting my whole grains, some cooked veggies and my protein- beans!

Brown rice
Chopped veggies 
Red kidney beans

I was lazy today and I admit it. I used frozen veggies and canned beans. I also didn’t even wait for the rice to cook all the way when I added the beans. You can count this as a quick and easy meal if you like. 
The best part is that I had enough rice and beans for several days of meals and I barely even spent $6 for the whole thing. 

One meal was just the rice, beans and fresh avocado. Another day is was an incredible rice and bean burrito with chard and hummus. 

Honestly, this was a delicious mistake!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

[Thursday, October 25th 2012 blog]