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Basic Stovetop Cooked Beans

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  • This is an ingredient, not a meal.
  • Use any amount of dried beans, and plenty of water.
  • Along with brown rice, cooked beans are an indispensable staple that you should try to have in the freezer at all times (or in cans). 
  • Dried beans that you soak and cook yourself are much cheaper, taste better, and are healthier than canned.  (They're fresh, no salt, and no exposure to BPA or other plastics; virtually all cans have plastic liners.  
  • FYI, one can of beans drained = about 1.5 cups of cooked beans = 10 oz. by weight of cooked beans.  When you freeze them in the 2-cup Pyrex containers, 1.5 cups in each container is ready for use in recipes that call for one can.  
  • Soak beans for 4 – 8 hours or overnight.   If in a rush, boil them, then soak for an hour or two. 
  • Discard the soak water;  this helps to prevent gas.   (If you experience gas from beans, it means that you’re not eating enough beans). 
  • Then boil (simmer) for about 40 – 60 minutes or until soft.   (A timer is important).  No need to add salt.  Cooking in a pressure cooker is faster but not necessarily easier if you happen to be around the kitchen anyway.
  • Beans freeze very well;  Easiest to freeze them in 2-cup pyrex containers with lids.


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Basic Stovetop Brown Rice

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  • Like cooked beans, this is a staple that should always be in your freezer.
  • Freezes great, but does not last long in the fridge, where quality can deteriorate after a few days. 
  • If needed, steam left-over rice to revive it, or stir-fry with some liquid (not oil) in a non-stick pan.
  • Double or triple the recipe and freeze in 2-cup Pyrex containers. 
  • A pressure cooker may be faster;  rice cookers are easy but can be slow.   I believe the stove-top method is the easiest IF you’re around the kitchen anyway, cook extra, and save some in the freezer. 
  • Avoid white rice which is an unhealthy processed food.  
  • Short-grain tends to be stickier than long-grain.
  • It's easy to learn to love rice without butter or oil. It tastes best when eaten together with other foods (beans, veggies, etc.)
  • It may be harder to learn to love it without salt; you can always minimize the amount of salt, and eventually you may not need it as your tastes change.
  • Take notes of cooking times and amounts, in case future adjustment is needed.
  • May add spices in the water before cooking.  


1 cup brown or black rice
¾ cup water
Optional:  Salt:  none, 1/8th to ½ teaspoon per cup of rice. 


Bring water to a boil in a pan with a lid
Add the rice, bring to a boil again, reduce heat and cook at a low simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. 

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes

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approximately 2 pounds of brussels sprouts = about 4 cups
approximately 3/4 pound (sweet) seedless grapes = about 1.5 cups
     (NOTE:  Aim for an approximate ratio of about 3 parts brussels to 1 part grapes, either by weight or volume).
1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar  (regular balsamic vinegar tastes just as good, but doesn't look good in this dish)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 whole bunch of fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons of dried thyme).
     (NOTE: if using fresh thyme, the small leaves are easier to remove if you freeze the bunch first)


Pre-heat oven to 375

Two large baking sheets.
Use non-stick baking sheets brushed with oil (to minimize the chances of burning the pan, possibly damaging it).  
     (If you don't have non-stick baking pans, line the pan with aluminum foil brushed with olive oil).  
     (OR, line any pan with parchment paper so no oil is needed).   
Wash the brussels and grapes (unless organic)
Cut each brussels sprout in half or (preferably) thirds
Cut each grape in half or (preferably) thirds
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheets in a single layer.
Bake for approximately 30 - 35 minutes without turning.  The bottom surface should be browned and possibly a little crunchy.  


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Portobello Fajitas

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Adapted by Sharon McRae (www.eatwell-staywell.com) from the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Neal Barnard;  Recipe by Jason Wyrick



1/2 onion thinly slice

2 large portobello caps, thickly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teas ground cumin

1/4 teas chili powder

1 large roasted red bell pepper, fresh or jarred, sliced

3 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped

Tortillas (corn or whole-wheat)

1/4 cup low-sodium salsa

(optional: Lime wedges) 

optional:  salt, to taste



Over medium-high heat, water sauté the onion until browned. Add a splash of water and quickly stir.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add the portobellos and garlic and sauté until the mushrooms soften and lose their raw, whitish look.  Add the cumin and chili powder and sauté for 15 - 30 more seconds.  Remove the pan from heat.   If roasting fresh red bell peppers, wash and place it on a whole baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the skin begins to blacken.  Warm tortillas in a sauté pan.  Add the mushroom mixture to the tortillas.  serve with lime wedges if desired. 

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Best Tofu You Ever Had *

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Let's face it: tofu doesn't taste very good . . . unless it's prepared correctly!   Then it can be great! We've tried broiling, frying, grilling, in all kinds of marinades, to no avail.  It still tasted like tofu.  Until we learned a way to improve the texture: fry before marinating (in that order).   

Shown above with brown rice, minimally-sauted cabbage, topped with Asian Ginger Sauce,  (e.g. an "Asian bowl").

This dish is quick if you press the tofu in advance (which you should always do, see end).    

(1) A block of extra-firm tofu  
(2) marinade  (below)
(3) Sauce such as Lemon- Tahini,  Thai Peanut Sauce, or  Asian Ginger Sauce (pictured above). 
(4) Something to serve with, like brown rice, barely sautéed shredded cabbage, or cooked vegetables with the same sauce. 

Of course, cooked tofu is great in stir-fries.  If your stir-fry has liquid ingredients, you might skip the marinade.


PRESS:  This is a necessary step. See the bottom of the page for tofu-pressing options.  By far the easiest way to press tofu is in a 'Tofu XPress.'  Place the tofu in the device, in the fridge, as soon as you bring it home from the store, so you can skip the pressing step. .

SLICE:   After pressing, slice into 3 or 4 slices (as shown on the right), or cut into small cubes.   

  (pictured below)  

Most recipes call for a marinade right after pressing, but you actually want to fry the tofu FIRST, to improve the texture.

Cut slices into triangles and dry-fry (without oil) on medium-high heat in a non-stick pan, until golden brown.   THEN marinate. 

(To verify that your pressing step was successful, press down with a spatula on the tofu in the pan.  If you see and hear water droplets escaping, it wasn't adequately pressed, though it's probably fine).

Some authors tell you to freeze, then thaw the tofu first to improve the texture.  This made no difference in my experiments. 


Actually, the word "marinate" is not accurate.  Just toss with some tasty liquid ingredients.  These are quickly absorbed, so it is not necessary to spend more than a few minutes.  As an example, mirin is a slightly sweet asian rice wine.  You could sprinkle this on the cooked hot tofu, and that may be enough.      

Some people marinate in a sandwich-sized zip-lock bag, but I think it's fine just to toss the tofu with whatever liquid "marinade" you are using.    Marinades, like the ones below, can be thickened to become a sauce.  You don't need to submerge the tofu in the liquid; tossing tofu with the liquid works well, and is quicker.   Cutting the tofu into cubes (before frying) helps it to absorb more. 

4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons of Hoi Sin sauce for sweetness (or agave nectar, or BBQ sauce)
1 TBSP rice wine or Mirin (Mirin is sold in some health food stores including Mom's Organic Market)

Optional:  One teaspoon each of chopped or pressed garlic, chopped fresh ginger. 
Optional:  some water to help it cover more of the tofu.

(Totally optional and probably not worth the trouble, but Chili Bean Paste or Bean Sauce can be added to a marinated.  The Lee Kum Kee brand is available online;  Avoid brands with corn syrup or sugar as the first ingredient).  


This allows the tofu to absorb the marinade even more.  Use bite-sized pieces, or whatever size pieces you'll  be serving.   Add the tofu to a non-stick pan without oil (again) with as much marinade as desired.  The marinade will thicken and coat the tofu.   The sweet and salty ingredients make the flavor intense as the health quality worsens, so consider limiting the amount of marinade you use in this step, or just use partial marinade ingredients here.  

Important:  Stop cooking when the marinade is almost absorbed, before it starts to burn.   

An optional extra step is to mix a teaspoon of cornstarch into the hot liquid to make it shiny.  

Here's what it looks like now: 

SERVE:Tofu like this goes great tossed with veggies, a stir fry, with rice, or served on the side with any of these things, or have it as a sandwich in bread, or in a wrap of lettuce, collard greens, etc.  


Since you probably don't yet own the Tofu X-Press or the EZ Tofu Press you'll probably use the primitive manual method first. As soon as you discover that tofu can be great, buy one or both of these devices.  Scroll down for more on these.   

A dishtowel is optional;  it helps pull the water out, and also keep the water off of your counter-top.  Placing everything inside a pan, such as a baking pan, will also catch the water.

Place a heavy object on the towel for 30-60 minutes. 

We like to press before slicing, which probably allows you to get thinner slices.   


The Tofu X-Press is our favorite.  As soon as you get the tofu home from the store, place it in the Tofu X-Press  and keep it there, refrigerated, until you're ready to use it,  several hours or days later.  This won't work if you buy the tofu immediately before cooking time, because it takes a minimum of a few hours to press.  But if you've planned ahead, your tofu will be extremely well pressed with no waiting.  And, the device catches all the liquid.    

The EZ Tofu Press
 works fast, if you need to press tofu right now.  You periodically tighten the screws several times.

            The Tofu X-Press ($40 plus postage)                                    The EZ Tofu Press ($24)
              requires several hours or overnight                                    works in 15 - 20 minutes.









Tofu is partially processed, has a lot of fat, and is not a health food.  But it's a WHOLE LOT better than chicken or other meat, and can help make your food more delicious.  TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is made from soy but is in a whole different category.  TVP is highly processed and should probably be avoided by people interested in healthy food.   Although soy products have "complete protein," we now know that this is a non-issue.  (It's almost impossible to get inadequate protein on a vegan diet, providing you're eating at least some of each of the new four food groups during the week: fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.   (It's not necessary to eat them all in the same day).  Soy may boost estrogen levels, but studies have shown that breast cancer risk is not adversely affected by soy products.

Tofu pictured with lemon tahini dressing:  


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Potato Bean Burgers

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Modified from Wendy Solganik:  Healthy Girl's Kitchen

After trying possibly a dozen veggie/bean burger recipes, including the Jeff Novick and Rip Esselstyn versions, these are my favorite (probably because of the potatoes).  I like to eat them without a bun, cut into pieces, with a dash of hot sauce or hot-pepper relish, alongside brown rice or corn, or especially cut up in a stir fry.  These are a staple that I rely on almost every week; I get a little nervous if some of these are not in my freezer.  They microwave fast if you forget to defrost them.   They're hearty and satisfying.  I usually make three batches at a time, and freeze them in 2-cup Pyrex glass containers, which holds them perfectly.  

The following spice mixture is the result of some taste tests, different from the original curry powder version.  (If you find a spice combo that you like better, please let me know).      

SINGLE RECIPE   Makes 12 burgers  (3 1/2 to 4" diameter, which fit in 2-cup Pyrex containers)


1 15-oz can no salt added kidney beans, drained = 10 oz (drained) = 1.5 cups (drained)
1 15-oz can no salt added garbanzo beans, drained  = 10 oz (drained) = 1.5 cups (drained)
1 cup rolled oats,  (i.e. "old fashioned oats" or "Quaker Oats;"  -This is the binding ingredient, so don't skimp)
1 cup cooked mashed potatoes
2 teaspoons cumin powder (or seeds)   (If you have the seeds you can toast them briefly in a dry frying pan to to develop the flavor: optional)
1 teaspoon coriander powder (or seeds)
1.5 teaspoons garam masala
1/8th - 1/4 teaspoons ground red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (most people prefer 1/8th teaspoon). 
OPTIONAL:   2 teaspoons of Benson's Table Tasty (a salt-free seasoning similar to "Mrs. Dash" only better, available online). 
1/2 cup canned or fresh diced tomatoes.

(parchment paper for broiling)


•    With a potato masher, partially mash the kidney beans, transfer to a larger bowl, then partially mash the garbanzo beans, then combine all the mashed beans.    (Don't use a food processor which gives the wrong consistency).        

•    Add all remaining ingredients and stir.  

Cut parchment paper to fit a baking pan (or the edges might burn).   Form into patties and broil at a High setting for approximately 7 minutes on the first side (or until done), turn them over and broil approximately 4 minutes on the second side (or until done). Watch them like a hawk.  They will start to blacken a little, which gives a good texture if not too much.   Once you learn how long it takes in your oven, you can use a stopwatch.


VARIATION ONE on 12-19-14  
ALSO:   Omit garam marsala,  add 1 TBSP chili powder, 1/2 teasp black pepper, and decrease kidney beans from 2 cans to 1 can in this double-recipe.  (2 seemed like too many).   ADD 1 cup chopped fresh parsley (could use more),  5 large pressed garlic cloves (could use more)  1 can = 1.5 cup of diced tomatoes.    

Salt, salt substitute, or neither, as desired.
I realize most readers have never used 'Table Tasty,' my favorite salt substitute, available online.  In this recipe I used 4 teaspoons;  Comparison taste test shows the Table Tasty is a definite improvement vs. no Table Tasty. 
Or use a small amount of salt to taste instead of Table Tasty, or you can omit both.  
It's better with parsley, could use more.  1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder for this Double recipe seems about right to me, maybe could use more (but I like it hot). 

VARIATION TWO on 12-25-14
FOR DOUBLE recipe -  DOUBLE THE QUANTITIES IN THE SINGLE RECIPE.  ALSO, omit garam marsala, add 1 teaspoon curry (in addition to the cumin and coriander).   Use 2 cups chopped fresh parsley, 3/4 teasp black pepper.  Decrease mashed potatoes to 1.5 cups (from 2 cups in this double recipe).  
Comparison test:  I divided this double-recipe in half:  
To one half, I added 2 teasp garlic powder, 2 TBSP onion flakes,  1 TBSP  'Table Tasty'
To the other half, I added no garlic powder, 4 TBSP onion flakes, 1 TBSP 'Table Tasty'
The second half was a little better, but both are great.  

(Note:  you can substitute salt for Table Tasty, or use neither, still delicious).  


FYI, on a recommendation I tried Southwest Veggie Burgers
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/southwest-veggie-burgers which use sweet potatoes.  To me, the sweet-potato taste and sweetness was too much, and not burger-like.  Also, they did not hold together.   Like I said, I've tried at least a dozen and I keep coming back to this entry.    -    Dr. Joe

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Potato, Chick Pea (and Eggplant) Curry

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Modified from The Cancer Project  (of PCRM: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
(Makes 10 one-cup servings)

"The eggplant is optional.  The original recipe said to cut the eggplant in half, unpeeled, and roast for 30 - 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven until soft but not sagging.  Allow to cool, then cut into bite-size pieces with the skin.   Add only the quantity of eggplant you want.  Since that takes advanced planning, the recipe below says simply to add it at the end of cooking.   

"Optional time saver:  just use curry powder instead of the other Indian spices."  


23 oz. canned tomatoes coarsely chopped.  
1.5 lbs potatoes (about 3 medium), scrubbed, and cut into ½ inch cubes, unpeeled.
1 can 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained & rinsed.  
2 large onions, chopped
Optional:  1 medium - large eggplant, cut up, unpeeled. 
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 & ¼  teaspoon turmeric
1 & ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt


You'll need a large saucepan to accommodate this quantity.  
First combine the juice from the tomatoes (reserving the tomatoes themselves), potatoes, and spices and cook on medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are almost done, adding additional liquid as needed.  

Then add the chick peas & chopped onions and tomatoes;  cook several minutes longer until onions are done.    

 At the very end, add the cut up eggplant, if using, and cook briefly, so that the eggplant is soft but not falling apart.

(The above sequence is used because the onions and tomatoes would completely fall apart if cooked before the potatoes, which take longer).  

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Red Lentils and Pasta

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Modified from the cookbook:  Vegan Planet   ("Fettuccini with Red Lentil Sauce”)

Whole wheat pasta of your choice
One 6 oz can tomato paste
1/3 cup of cooked red lentils
1 cup of water
2 minced garlic cloves
1 medium chopped raw onion
(optional: other chopped vegetables such as carrot, red pepper, etc.)
salt & pepper to taste, added at end.
(optional - a small handful of chopped nuts added at end)

Boil the lentils until firm and quite done, drain, set aside.  (Save the hot water to cook the pasta).
Saute garlic for a few seconds in a non-stick frying pan, then combine all other ingredients. 
(If the lentils are soft and don't need more cooking, add them near the end)
Cook until the liquid is absorbed.  Add additional water if needed.

Optional:   Add fresh chopped parsley or basil before serving.  Serve over pasta.

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