Pressure Cooking Wheat Berries

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I’ve recently added wheat berries to my diet! Pretty exciting stuff. You can find them relatively easily in Whole Foods or another health market, and even though you can easily spend $200 in a health food store, wheat berries are pretty affordable. Here’s some stuff to know if you want to add them to your life:

Hard wheat berries, also labeled hard red wheat, are the most nutritious. They are chewier than the soft variety, but not too chewy (if you ask me). They also take the longest to cook, and often call for soaking, but it’s no big deal in a pressure cooker.

Soft wheat berries, sometimes labeled soft or pearled white wheat, are lightly processed for easier cooking and eating. They are more tender and take less time to cook.

To cook wheat berries: Add 1 cup of rinsed and drained wheat berries, 4 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and a glug of oil to an electric pressure. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes (for soft berries) or 40 minutes (for hard berries) and use a natural release. Drain.

Serve as a grain in soups, salads, or other savory dishes. Make a breakfast bowl with yogurt and fruit. It’s all goooood.

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Pressure Cooking Wheat Berries

Pressure Cooker Oatmeal in a Mug

mug-oatmeal

You guys! Did you know you can make steel-cut oatmeal in your electric pressure cooker in a mug? This means you can 1) make oatmeal for just one or two people, 2) flavor each individually however you like, and 3) it’s so easy and there’s basically no clean-up. Magical.

Just do this:

  1. Pour 1-2 cups of water into your pressure cooker pot and add the trivet.
  2. Add 1/4 cup steel-cut oats, 3/4 cup water (or part water and part milk), 1 pinch salt, 1 teaspoon butter or oil, and any flavorings to a mug (you can also add flavorings after you cook it). Stir.
  3. Set your mug (or mugs—most pressure cookers will hold two) on the trivet. Secure the top and cook at high pressure for about 20 minutes.
  4. Use a natural release! Trust me.
  5. Carefully remove the mug(s) and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Stir and add any mix-ins. EAT IT.

Note: Make sure your mug is heat-proof and ceramic. Glass will work too, but it must be tempered.

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Pressure Cooker Oatmeal in a Mug

Vegan Roasted Broccolini, Tomato, and White Bean Spaghetti

pasta

Here’s a quick, one-dish dinner that’s pretty easy, pretty quick, and pretty healthy. Also, it tastes good. I mean, what else do you want from me?

Vegan Roasted Broccolini, Tomato, and White Bean Spaghetti
Serves 2

1/3 package whole wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
1/2 small onion, large diced
1 small bunch or package broccolini, cut into 1″ pieces
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled, plus 1 clove, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/3-1/2 cup almond or soy milk
1/2 small lemon, juiced
1/2 cup white beans, rinsed and drained

1. Put a large pot on the boil per the spaghetti’s instructions. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Prepare the broccolini and onion. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil on a large baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Toss the 3 garlic cloves in a small amount of olive oil and seal up into a little package in a piece of aluminum foil.
3. Place the foil satchel next to the broccolini on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. This is a reminder to add the pasta whenever the water starts to boil and set a timer per the package instructions.
5. In a small skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute. Add the flour and nutritional yeast, whisk, and cook for two minutes more.
6. Meanwhile, after the broccolini has baked for 10 minutes, add the tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon more oil and seasoning. Give it all a toss and slide it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
7. To the skillet, add the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Add the almond or soy milk and whisk until well combined. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add more milk if needed. Remove from the heat.
8. Carefully remove the garlic from its foil packet. Use a knife to mash and dice it and add it to the sauce. Add the lemon juice and whisk together.
9. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot. Add the white beans, sauce and roasted veggies. Toss together and serve.

Vegan Roasted Broccolini, Tomato, and White Bean Spaghetti

Almond, Cashew & Cherry Energy Bars

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As with every new year, my husband and I are trying to eat healthier after the cookie massacre that was the holidays. One struggle is always snacks–eating enough but still eating healthy. When I have time (and really, you don’t need that much time) I make homemade energy bars. That way I can control the ingredients, sugar content, flavors, etc. If you like Larabars, you’ll like these. They’re even better, totally customizable, and cheaper. They also freeze perfectly. Note that you’ll need a food processor for these, I can’t figure out a good/reasonable way to make them without one.

Almond, Cashew & Cherry Energy Bars
makes 16 small bars

½ C raw, unsalted almonds
¼ C raw or roasted cashews
1 C pitted dates
½ C dried cherries, plus a few extra for the top
3 T freshly ground flax (optional)
½ tsp almond extract
1 pinch salt

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds and cashews until the largest chunks are the size of peppercorns.
  2. Scrape down the sides and add the dates, dried cherries, flax, almond extract, and salt. Process until very well combined and the mixture sticks together when pressed. Stop and scrape down the sides once or twice while processing.
  3. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Carefully dump out the mixture onto the paper and press and form into an even square, pressing a few whole cherries into the top.
  4. Refrigerate for an hour and then cut into bars with a sharp knife.
  5. Store individually wrapped or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Almond, Cashew & Cherry Energy Bars

Chickpea and Edamame Quinoa Salad

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While continuing my lifelong struggle to prep easy lunches ahead of time, I returned to a recipe I’ve been making version of for close to 10 years now. I’ve since lost the original, but it combined couscous, tomato, edamame, chickpeas, and feta. In the past I’ve mixed it up by using other, healthier grains, adding other veggies, and leaving out the cheese. The iteration I made today is pretty similar to the original (from what I can remember) and is full of protein. It will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, and tastes equally great hot, cold or room temperature.

Chickpea and Edamame Quinoa Salad
Serves 5-6

1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, no or low salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas
1 cup frozen edamame, defrosted and shelled
salt and pepper
1/2 cup feta or queso fresco cheese, crumbled

  1. Combine the quinoa and the water in a medium pot and cook according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the edamame and cook for a few more minutes, stirring.
  3. Add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir. Season to taste. Add the crumbled cheese and stir. Serve hot or chill and serve cold. Keeps for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Chickpea and Edamame Quinoa Salad

Easy Vegetarian Bibimbap

 

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I love bibimbap. Or, at least, the versions I’ve tried in NYC and LA. It’s comforting and flavorful and fun—I love stirring a raw egg into the crackling hot rice and veggies. If you’ve never had the Korean dish, it consists of rice, sliced meat like beef bulgogi, and quick-cooked veggies like spinach, carrots, mushrooms, and bean sprouts. The ingredients are lovingly arranged on top of the rice in separate piles with a raw egg cracked in the middle. Quick, stir up the hot mixture (that’s often served in a hot stone bowl) and watch as the egg cooks and the rice gets crispy. Eat!

I make a simplified, healthier, and bastardized version in my kitchen at home. This is not an authentic bibimbap, but rather a new dish that is highly inspired by the Korean dish. While brown rice finishes cooking and my eggs come to room temperature, I cook each vegetable separately, adding garlic, sesame oil and seeds, or soy sauce to flavor to each. I also cook up some tofu in lieu of beef. Then, instead of serving the dish individually, I arrange lovingly in a single (heated) pot. I crack the eggs on top, have everyone take a look at my masterpiece, and quickly stir the mixture up, cooking the egg. If your pot is hot enough, you’ll get some crispy rice around the edge, too. Serve it quick! A little gochujang or sriracha add a bit of welcome heat.

Note: You can swap out the veggies as you please. Just don’t over-cook them.

Easy Vegetarian “Bibimbap”
serves 4

1 1/2 cups brown rice
grapeseed or canola oil
2 large carrots, julienned
1/2 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3/4 cup chopped snow peas
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds (plus more for garnish)
2 cups loosely packed spinach
1 large garlic cloved, minced
1/2 brick firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 eggs at room temperature
Gochujang or Sriracha, optional

Cook the rice according to the package directions. In the last 10-15 minutes, begin to cook your vegetables.

In a large skillet, add a glug of grapeseed oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the carrots and stir, cooking 1 minute. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender-crisp (about 3 minutes). Season with 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce and freshly-ground pepper. Deposit the carrots and onions in a bowl or on a plate.

Return the pan to the heat. Add the sesame oil followed by the snow peas. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Season with sesame seeds and empty onto a plate or in a bowl. Wipe out or rinse the pan if needed.

Meanwhile, put the rice pot back on the heat on medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and stir well.

Return the pan to the heat. Add a small amount of grapeseed oil and then the spinach. Stir until it begins to wilt and add the garlic. Cool until wilted and the garlic is cooked (about 3 minutes). Put on a plate or bowl.

Return the pan to the heat one last time. Add a glug of grapeseed oil and add the tofu. Season with salt and pepper and toss until lightly browned on all sides (3-5 minutes).

Turn the rice pot heat up the medium-high. Add each ingredient in a circular pattern (as seen in the photo above) on top of the rice. Crack two eggs in the middle and allow everyone a moment to ooh and ahh. Quickly stir up until the egg is mostly cooked and serve in bowls with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and chili sauce.

Easy Vegetarian Bibimbap

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

 

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I totally forgot to take a photo, so I drew this picture.

A craving for Italian food + watching The Godfather = this recipe for eggplant parm.

After a trip to my homeland of Tennessee, my husband and I were anxious to get back to a healthy diet after a week of splurging. There’s nothing like nonstop buttery and fried food to make you yearn for a salad. Cut to a few nights into our “cleanse” and I was jonesing for Italian food, but didn’t want to indulge in heavy bread or pasta. I picked up a big eggplant, some canned tomatoes, and found frozen riced cauliflower in my freezer and breadcrumbs in my pantry. Done and done.

This recipe seems a little complicated but it really isn’t. You can easily be doing two things at once throughout the prep, and it all comes together and bakes for less than 30 minutes. The eggplant is roasted for optimum texture and flavor, and the cauliflower bechamel makes it luxurious. It’s soul-warming total comfort food with lots of veggie power and without all the fat (it barely has any cheese at all, but you won’t miss it).

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
serves 3

1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1″ steaks (see this article)
kosher salt
1 can crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 cup riced cauliflower
1 cup (plus extra) milk or non-dairy milk
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese
fresh basil (optional)

  1. Place the eggplant slices on a wire rack or a couple of layers of paper towels. Salt well on both sides, rubbing it in with your hands. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Combine the tomatoes, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and season with salt and pepper. I blended mine with a stick blender to make it easy to distribute. No need to cook.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the 30 minutes is up, use paper towels to dab all excess moisture from both sides of the eggplant slices, and then to wipe off any extra salt.
  4. Give both sides of each slice a coating of olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare a large (9×13 or larger) baking pan/casserole dish by greasing with olive oil.
  5. Also meanwhile, place the riced cauliflower and milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, bubbling but not boiling too much, until the cauliflower is tender, or about 5 minutes. Add the garlic in the last 30 seconds, add a glug of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Use a stick blender to blend until smooth, adding milk as needed. It should have the consistency of a hearty alfredo sauce.
  7. When the eggplant is done, remove the pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375. Add a little bit of each sauce to the bottom of the pan and coat. Add the eggplant slices, toasted side up. Add the rest of both sauces, covering the slices.
  8. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, a pinch of salt and pepper, and enough olive oil to coat the crumbs but not leave them dripping. Sprinkle over the top of the eggplant.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for 10-12 more, or until the eggplant is tender and the sauce is a little bubbly. Serve with salad.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan