Saturday, June 6, 2020

#WFPB and The Apartment-size Fridge

From the #PBOB Dept - Plant-Based On a Budget - 

In a way, I am fortunate to live in an odder building, with one of the better kitchens I have had in my now 22 years of living in apartments in NYC. 

Meet My Fridge

My point here is going to be about efficient planning of your fridge in a plant-based kitchen. First, let me introduce you to my fridge:

Frigidaire Model # FFET1222UB
Vital Stats:
60" H x 24" W x 28.75" D, 11.6 CuFt, being 8.4 cu. ft. fresh food capacity and 3.1 cu. ft. freezer capacity, with one shelf in the freezer. 

I am not mentioning the fridge because I am promoting it, but simply as an example of how to use the space/capacity efficiently. To round off the numbers a bit, we have here 

Using the freezer Long Term vs Short Term

Evidently, the freezer is roughly a quarter of the capacity. But, used wisely, you can use every corner.

For the Long Term 

At the max, 50-70% of my freezer is used for frozen dishes. 
  • Often times it is simply easier to cook a larger amount rather than a small amount. I am always cooking ahead, and in my case when I make a large pot of soup or some kind of dal, I just freeze whatever I cannot eat within a few days for the long run, in quart bags. And when the freezer fills up, I shift to living on the stock pile and do less cooking, and I eat all these dishes, and often times all I have to do is make some salad and cook up some fresh veggies, etc. and some rice or noodles or potatoes to make a meal.
  • Also in the long term storage might be some products like whole wheat and besan flour, which last me a long time, and I don't want to get any bugs in them. I only use them 1 table spoon at a time.

For the Short Term

The 30-50% that is short term storage is mostly for price arbitrage. 
  • For example, during this COVID-19 episode, I saw blueberries for as much as $9 for an 18 Oz box, or $3/6 Oz. But I bought 18 Oz boxes just prior at $2 for 18 Oz, or $0.67/6 Oz and I had frozen them. Needless to say, I never bought them for the high price. 
  • I always also have a bit of mixed veggies or some frozen spinach, more for convenience, just so I have something to fall back on when I run out of time to shop fresh. 
  • I also tend to have one frozen bread. (Dave's Killer Bread of course). I don't eat a lot of bread, so I just toast a slice or two when I am in the mood.
  • Another thing for the shorter term is a bag to save up left over cut-up beggies, that come in handy to cook my own home made veggie broth. Lots of pieces that are not usable otherwise work fine in broth or stew. Some celerty that would otherwise go to waste, can be cut up and put to use this way. The trick is just not to let any veggies go bad,
  • Another thing is, when I make broth, I usually preserve some as icecubes in an icecube tray. Often, when stir-frying beggies, instead of adding liquid broth, I can use use a couple of broth cubes.

In short, with a little bit of planning that fridge is a powerful tool and the freezer compartment is absolutely maxed out.

The Refrigerator Compartment

Obviously, the refrigerator compartment is more short term by nature. If you are going to use a frozen zoup or a dal, you can take it out 24 hours anhead of time and defrost it.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Chickpea Omelet from Scratch

The Recipe

Chickpea Omelet #WFPB


Ingredients

1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 - 1 cup of vegetables of choice (onions, garlic, turmeric, chilis, parsley, spinach, peppers, mushrooms... etc etc)
1 cup of water (optional with Yondu, or BLA, or use veggie broth)

Preparation



Mix chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt and whisk to eliminate clumps, add the water and whisk until smooth, let it stand while you prepare the rest.



Cut up onions, garlic, peppers, chilis and dry roast for a few mins at medium high for 5 mins, no stirring.
Mix in desired spices, and/or green veggies e.g. garlic, turmeric, parsley, panchpuran, spinach, peppers, mushroom, and stir-fry at medium high for another 5 mins, slowly adding in water.












Continue to cook at medium, for another 5 mins while adding in the mixed flour with the nutritional yeast and black salt, and cook some more while slowly adding the other 1/2 cup of water or veggie broth.

You can make this as an omelet or scrambled, with toast, or, at your option serve with a grain like Farro.




Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Simple Indian Cooking Class with Chef Raj

On Saturday 2/15 we had our usual #WPFB Cooking lesson, which was basically a cooking demonstration by Chef Raj, to show how easy it can be to make a simple dal, while others prepared the salad and we had farmed out making the rice to Neerob restaurant. Khokon's wife Muni was in the class, but Khokon came over at 3:30 to bring the rice.


Chef Raj of PlantPoweredChefs

Simple Dal

Ingredients

  • Yellow pigeon peas aka toor dal (3-4 cups)
  • Ginger (5-10 grams~ thumbsized piece)
  • Mustard seeds(1tsp)
  • Asafoetida (1 tsp)
  • Garam masala (1/2tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Whole cumin seeds (1 tsp)
  • Black pepper powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Tomato (2 units large or 3 units medium)
  • Jalapeno chili, serrano, thai chili (1 unit //optional)
  • Fresh coriander (1 bunch ~8 oz)
  • Salt + to taste (1tsp)
The preparation is utterly simple.
You wash and soak the amount of Dal you are going to use. In this case we used Toor Dal, which is split pigeon peas.

You cut up the tomatoes and the peppers, and ginger

You heat up the pan with the spices (all except the garam masala which is roasted already). The dry roasting of the spices will release the fragrance. Make sure you stop before you burn them. 
Next you add the tomatoes and peppers and let that cook for a while, stirring regularly. When the tomatoes are soft, add the dal and enough water to cover. Let it cook till the dal is soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 mins.

Brown basmati rice (4-5 cups)

Salad

Cucumber (2 units) 
Lettuce, Cabbage or dark leafy greens mix (2 lb ~32 oz)
1/2/3 dressing
1 part Maple syrup, 2 parts Dijon Mustard, and 3 parts balsamic vinegar, with the juice of 1-2 lemons or a lemon and a lime.

In short, we had an easy dinner, and even with replenishing some supplies, we spent just $8 a head, so that St. Helena's got a nice donation from this group.

Happy Diners
With a rush visit from Fr. David   















Notes: The Asafoetida is a primarily Indian spice, and it really adds a flavor as if you had used onions and garlic. Very interesting.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mexican #WFPB Cooking Class

This Saturday, January 18th, 2020 was our second ever Mexican cooking class, and we had Leobarda, the cook for the rectory at St. Helena's as our guest of honor.
Note that Mexican cuisine is an ideal starting point for your whole foods, plant-based lifestyle.

Here is what we made:

Cactus Salad

Ingredients

Cactus
Red Onions
Tomato
Optional: avocado
Cilantro
(Mexican) Oregano
Radish or daikon
Serrano peppers and/or fresh jalapeño, or Jalapeño in vinegar
3/2/1 dressing with lemon and lime
Pepper to taste
Variations: with cubes of firm tofu, or with cevici-style marinated mushrooms

Preparation

Cut the nopales paddles in 1/2" strips and cut those to 1" lengths.

Boil the nopales paddles in ample water for 15-20 mins with a small onion and some garlic in the water.

Place the nopales in a large bowl; add the chopped tomato, onion, serrano peppers, radish and cilantro.

Mix the ingredients.

In a separate bowl mix the dressing with oregano, salt, and pepper.
Add this to the nopales mixture and stir.

Top the salad with crumbled fresh firm tofu and possibly some nutritional yeast and avocado slices.
(Radishes go well with this salad also).

Eat with corn tortillas or tostadas, or rice cakes.

 

Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients

1 lb bag of black beans, or 1 25Oz can, rinsed and drained
Optional: one 15 Oz can of Corn
A bunch of fresh Cilantro
2-3 celery stalks, sliced thin
Juice of 2-3 limes (depending on how juicy the lime)
16 Oz jar of medium green salsa
whatever peppers you choose - cut up fine - jalapenos, chilis, serrano, poblano - it all depends on your taste for more hot or aromatic
optionally add in some pickled jalapenos.

Preparation

Soak and Cook the beans with a kombu strip (Abt. 45 mins.), or simply drain the can and rinse the beans.
Wash and chop up the cilantro
Add lime juice, mix in the black beans and the salsa.
Mix well.

Serve on rice cakes or tortillas.

 

Mexican Chili Bean Stuffed Peppers

Mexcian Stuffed Peppers from Nutrition Studies
NB. Here is the original recipe on Nutritionstudies in English and in Spanish.

Ingredients

1¼ cups red kidney beans, raw (or 4 cups cooked)
6 medium bell peppers, any color
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 medium jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Preparation

 1) Preheat oven to 425. Cut tops off peppers, keeping stems in tact. Scoop out the ribs and seeds. Place peppers and tops cut-side-down on a sheet pan and roast in a 425 F degree oven until slightly brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350 F.
2 Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add peppers and onions. Cook until well-browned, about 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes. If peppers start to burn, add water and reduce the heat slightly.
3 Once peppers and onions are soft, add spices, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook another minute or two, just to toast the spices and darken the tomato paste.
4 Add 2-4 tbsp. water to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits. Reduce heat to low, and cook until aromatic, about 5 more minutes (but you can keep this low saute for up to 20 minutes).
5 Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro, salt, and pepper.
6 Stuff each pepper with about 1 cup of the stuffing mixture. Place the peppers into a 350 F oven and heat until warm, about 10 minutes.

At the end of all that, we were able to contribute $4 to St.Helena's from the grocery money, and Fr. David had 1 stuffed pepper and some of the two salads with tortilla. There was 1 stuffed pepper for the seminarians, plus enough of the black bean salsa and cactus salad for 2-3 people. And I used the rest of the stuffing the next day for 4 more stuffed peppers. Net, net we spent about $14 per person, and that included stocking up on some staples.



Sunday, January 5, 2020

January in Mexico, or Mexico in January

Since not everyone can afford a vacation in Mexico, we will bring Mexico here, and make our January cooking class about some Mexican or Mexican inspired disches.


Breakfast


I started out trying some purple corn flour for breakfast, as an alternative to my usual steel cut oats:
Mama Tere Purple Corn Flour

There is a simple breakfast recipe on the back. You soak 1/2 cup of it in water overnight, bring it to a boil, constantly stirring and then start adding fruit, and maybe some sweetener (I used 1 tpsp of date sugar). I had apple, cinnamon, blueberries, some strawberries and a piece of Jackfruit.
Simple and it works. I think oats remains my favorite, but it is an interesting alternative. Sometimes I am just in the mood to deviate from the routine.

Tortillas

Next on the list is tortillas. Who knew there was more to it than the Guerrero, or Old El Paso and others at the supermarket... Some people still make these fresh at home... and the difference is that the supermarket brands are full of preservatives, but if you make them fresh, that's quite a different story!

Masa

The story begins with Masa, which is the corn flour that is made from corn kernels soaked overnight in typically calcium hydroxide, which softens and makes it more nutritious. From that you can make the dough for tortillas - you merely need to rinse it and grind it up and then mane the masa dough. You can roll it into balls and flatten them with a frying pan or a tortilla press and then all you need to do is to cook them in a frying pan or on a griddle.

Here is a good article on the whole process, from a website called Mexican Please. It is worth reading, also regarding his experience with store bought tortilla flower (masa harina).

This month, our cooking class will be Mexican inspired dishes. We will not be making our own Tortillas, but hopefully we will manage to have home cooked tortillas thanks to two fresh tortilla makers in the area, La Milpa in Yonkers, or
Tortilleria Nixtamal in Queens.

For our cooking class, we will prepare some Mexican style dishes, to be enjoyed with real tortillas!

Oh, and look what comes up on Nutrition studies if you look for some Mexican dishes:
https://nutritionstudies.org/mexican-plant-based-cooking-101-chefs-guide-for-delicious-authentic-flavor/




Friday, December 20, 2019

Community Board #9 in the Bronx and #WFPB

The other day, we had our "last meeting of the year" for Community Board #9 at the ShopRite on Bruckner Commons and I did my usual 2 minute upate on our activities in this district.

It is some five years ago, when I was an active board member of CB#9, that I began to try and change the tone of our "health fairs" to emphasize prevention over treatment, and eventually it all led to my becoming more active in the Plant-Based community and eventually resigning from the Community Board completely.

First, I hooked up with PlantPure Communities, and then later that evolved into an association with PlantPowered Metro NY, which has emerged as sort of the "on the ground" presence underneath PPC.

NY State Sen Luis Sepulveda
One of the high points of the evening was Senator Luis Sepulveda speaking for the season, and praising my activities related to the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet, and emphasizing that he himself had lost 43 Lbs (about 20% reduction in weight) and his cholesterol was normal again and his pre-diabetic condition was completely reversed. Hearing those kinds of results is really very powerful. He strongly endorses the diet.
He and his family had already switched to a plant-based diet before they learned about the things I am doing, but the point is, word is getting around.
Bronx Assemblyman Francesco Cabrera is another prominent Bronx Politician who is on the diet, and his experience has been very nearly as dramatic as that of Eric Adams.


I am grateful to know that many people are learning more about the diet and that there are a number of politicians actively involved, first and foremost the Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, but several others in the Bronx and around town. These are the first signs of what will become a true healthcare revolution. 





Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Lifestyle Medicine Dinner at Neerob

The other day, we had our Lifestyle Medicine dinner at Neerob. Varun Ponmudi, the CEO of Aayas Table gave us a presentation about the six person pilot program they offered in October - a month of WFPB instruction in your own home. Some basic biometrics were reported before and after. The mix of dietary habits was interesting, but on the whole the group averaged out on the healthy side of what is unfortunately normal, nevertheless, the results were significant, including a 4.5 lb weight loss during the period.

Results were good, but there were a few lapses.
Varun Ponmudi presenting results of AayasTable pilot program


  • Total Cholesterol went down for all six participants, with four out of six reporting ending numbers of below 150, Dr. Esselstyn's definition of "heart-attack-proof."
  • Triglycerides were more mixed. Two were up and four were down.
  • LDL at 30 days was down across the board.
A few people lapsed with some oil and processed vegan.





Unfortunately, none of the participants could be attend the dinner at this time, but from personal feedback I know that this program made a critical difference for some people. It is an enormous support to have someone help you out in your own home.
 
The high point of the evening in many ways was when Md. "Khokon" Rahman, the owner of Neerob, shared his own experiences. In August when he had a heart-attack, he was hospitalized with TC above 180, and his last bloodwork on 10/12/2019 showed TC at 92, prompting his physician to ask him how he did it.

The result is that Khokon is now a leader in his community in this area, along with the Bangladeshi nurse at Elmhurst, Md. Shariful Islam, who spoke at one of our dinners previously. Mr. Islam is always a shining example to me, because he came all the way from Elmhurst to become the patient of Dr. Ostfeld in the Bronx, purely because Dr. Ostfeld is a plant-based cardiologist. Here is a spectacular report on one of Dr. Ostfeld's patients, who googled his way out of bypass surgery to go and use lifestyle medicine instead, becoming a patient in Dr. Ostfeld's Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.

The whole point of the exercise in a way is that at a point when it is critical, an intervention may be unavoidable, e.g. a stent, or whatever, but as long as it is elective, things can be turned around very quickly on a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet.

The Food at Neerob

As per usual, Neerob did an outstanding job on the food. A great fresh green salad, a vegetable spaghetti salad, bean soup, a nice dal, brown rice, chinese style veggies, steamed broccoli.
Neerob will become a destination for #WFPB food in the Bronx. They achieved a Plant Pure Communities Restaurant certification in February 2019 and it is getting better all the time.