Sunday, December 17, 2017

Inspiration from Ecuador

Courtesy of Fatima, the cook for the school at St. Helena's, we experienced some Ecuadorian foods, while Audelle created an interesting green salad to go along with it, so we all get our regular requirement for leafy greens.

In this post I will report on the recipes, and I will elaborate on the preparation only after re-creating them and making some changes based on some things we tried.

Meanwhile, some notes on the ingredients:
In general, we use herbs & spices rather than salt, or if need be we add some Braggs Liquid Aminos which has 1/3rd the sodium of even low sodium soy sauce.
We included the green salad because a healthy #WFPB diet should see us eating 4-6 "fistsized" portions of leafy greens per day, because the leafy greens help the body produce nitric oxide that is good for endothelial health. And keeps your blood vessels flexible.
Added oils are always avoided, because they practically paralyze the endothelium for 3-6 hours after a meal. Small amounts of oily fruits (avocado, coconut, nuts) are allowable, but you definitely don't want to overdo it either.

Evidently, the cassava, lentils, potatoes, and veggies provide plenty of carbohydrates, so that this meal is probably close to the ideal balance of 80% (complex) carbohydrates, 10% fats, and 10% protein.


Locro de Lentejas (Lentils locro) - a thick soup 

red onions
Bragg's Liquid Amino's (instead of Salt)

We initially made it as above, with just water. Some people were adding a green habanero sauce at the table, or more Liquid Aminos. So next time I prepared this soup, here's what I did, to make about 1.5 gallon of it:

  • 1 lb whole lentils
  • 1 lb young potatoes (the kind with the thin skin, either yukon gold or redskin), quartered or smaller, depending on the size and personal preference
  • one small green cabbage, quartered and sliced in 1/4"stips
  • a large red onion and two white onions (just because I was out of red onions),sliced thin
  • 4 green chilis, sliced thin, with seeds
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, sliced thin (without seeds)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped fine.
  • a teaspoon of savory
  • a teaspoon of tarragon
  • 5 bay leaves
  • two pints of low sodium vegetable stock
  • three pints of water
  • a tablespoon of "Better than bouillon" vegetable bouillon
  • a half a cup of cilantro, chopped (leaves only)
  • Some Braggs Liquid Aminos to taste
Initially, I fried the onions (dry) with the chilis and jalapenos, over a low flame for about 5 minutes until they got soft, then I added the vegetable stock and the herbs, the lentils and the potatoes (with about a 15-20 minute delay).  Finally I added the shredded cabbage and let it cook for another 15-20 minutes.
(Note: some people would peel the potatoes, but if you buy thin-skinned potatoes, you can easily cook them in the skin, even cut-up: you lose less nutrition that way.)

My personal practice is always to cook a large pan of soup, and to have enough to freeze about 3, 4, or 5 quart-size freezer bags, which is about one large bowl of soup each. This way, you can have some the day you make it, and maybe keep some for the next few days, and have the rest in reserve for days when you don't have time to cook.

Mixed Beans and Vegetable Salad 

2 lb beets, boiled, cut in small chunks
2 lb carrots, boiled, quartered and cut in 1.5" chunks
2 bunches of scallions, sliced thin
4 lb fresh beans from Ecuador (Mama Tere, Frihol Mixto, Frozen)
1 bunch cilantro leaves only, chopped fine
Braggs Liquid Aminos to taste

This is the kind of recipe that is delicious as is, and people can individually choose to spice it up more with Tabasco, or Sriracha Sauce, sambal, or as I tried this morning a splash of Habañero infused balsamic vinegar.

Cassava Side Dish

Cassava (yuca) with a onion sauce (parboiled red onions, lemon, cilantro, liquid aminos)
  • Cut off the top of the cassava and peel it
  • Cut into 1.5" slices
  • Boil for about 30 mins until soft
  • peel some red onions, and slice thin
  • parboil the onion slices in boiling water for a few moments, so they are limp.
  • pluck the cilantro leaves and cut them up.
  • use the juice of one or more lemons to make the dressing
  • add in liquid aminos to taste.

Creamy Avocado Dressing

2 avocados, peeled and pitted

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp. lime zest

1 cucumber

~1/2 c. water

1/4 c. chopped cilantro

1/2 to 1 tsp. chili powder

Dash of sea salt or Braggs Liquid Aminos
Blend all ingredients together until smooth, adjusting water to get desired consistency. Refrigerate unused portions.
Makes 3+ cups

This dressing is brilliant. When I made it a second time, at home after our event, I made a complete kitchen sink salad, with red leaf lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, thinly sliced red onion, capers, olives, milled flax seed, chia seed and quinoa, and it was out of this world. Obviously, you can adjust the heat to your liking, but the cucumber makes it milder.

In any case, since I prepared all these things at home in the week before Christmas, I had some chance to share them with a neighbor, and I got very positive response to all of them. Notably, this was from someone who has no idea about the plant-based diet. And that to me is the real test, if you simply make good food, except that it just happens to be very healthy.


  1. These recipes sound delicious - and so easy, too! For those trying to avoid the possible inflammation effects of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, just quickly remove the seeds with a spoon. An interesting side effect of eating vegan is that I no longer feel the need for an afternoon nap, and I sleep deeply throughout the night. My mom used to say that we were only as strong as our weakest link. Thanks for reminding me how simple, mindful changes all link together to strengthen the chain.

    1. We are reaching more and more people. It is so inspiring to hear the individual success stories, and also to hear doctor after doctor state that NO MEDICINE ever produces the kind of pronounced improvements in people's health as this dietary change does.