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New at cooking...Need ideas

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I am new at this cooking thing. My job allows me to work from home and my wife has a two hour commute, so I am doing the 'cooking'. That's in quotes because it is technically the correct term, but.....

Anyway, I could really use some help wioth a couple of issues. I should let you know that my wife and I eat vegitarian and we are on low cholesteral low fat diets. (NOT vegan). First is I am trying to come up with something interesting out of what I have in the house right now.

I have White and Brown rice, a cupboard full of spices, A small variety of green vegitables including some fresh broccholi, some mixed frozen veggies, fresh carrots, a Tomato or two, garlic, onions, lentals and both Kidney and Garbonzo beans. I am probably forgetting a bunch of stuff, but does anyone have any idea what I can make out of all of that (or some of that) that would be edible?

We want to be sure that the meal contains enough protein as this is what is missing from most Vegitarian dishes.

I am also open to any good vegitarian recepes that fit my criteria stated above (not the ingredients list, just the low fat low cholesteral and protein stuff) All ideas are welcome!

Thank you!!
post #2 of 15
If you have some soy sauce or teriyaki you can combine the rice with the veggies and garlic to make a stir-fry meal.

Or the tomatoes and brown rice with some cayenne, chipotle and/or chili powder and make some taco rice. If you do the taco rice, you can crush up the beans and make a crunchy bean dip with some tortilla chips.

... OR you can make chili.... rice tomato.... stuff.
post #3 of 15
1. Especially easy if you have a good rice cooker, mix brown rice with appropriate amount of water, add a dash of salt, add in chopped veggies (your choice: celery, brocoli, carrots, mushrooms, green onions, red onions, leeks, etc.) and cook until done. Makes a nice side dish, or you could add a bit of soy sauce on it and eat it that way too.

2. Get some sesame seeds (or easier, get some Tahini) and you could make hummous from the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, S&P, some EVOO and some water to get the right consistency. If you don't add the Tahini, then it is hummous. If you add the tahini it is called Hummus bi Tahini. I prefer the latter, but have had it both ways.

3. You could make a nice vegetable soup with pretty much everything including the rice you mentioned. Using some nice stock rather than water will add no fat but a lot more flavor.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the fast replys. I think I will go with the stir fry tonight.

You give me too much credit, however. Do I add the soy sauce while cooking or is that added afterwards when you eat it. If I do add it in while cooking, how much if I am cooking a cup of rice?
post #5 of 15
If it were me, I would use about a quarter to a half cup of soy sauce to simmer in some chopped onions and garlic, and once that has cooked for a few minutes, then add it to the veggies with some oil in the stir-fry.

But you can always add it afterwards, I'm no culinary genius, either. Just play around and see what works best, or check out some recipes online :)
post #6 of 15
First off, let me correct a misconception.

A vegetarian diet does not lack protein, per se. The problem is that, with the exception of soy, nothing in the diet, by itself, provides complete protein---that is, all the amino acids required, and which animal protein does supply.

However, there is an easy cop-out. Any combination of a grain and a legume will provide complete protein. So, you could, for instance, serve the rice and lentils at the same meal, and meet your protein requirements. Or rice and any of the beans.

I would also suggest you pick up a couple of good vegetarian cookbooks. Any of the Moosewood volumes will do you fine.

Once you start getting the hang of it, it's no big deal to convert a carnivourous recipe into a vegetarian one. For instance, I often make a dish: Scallops with Braised Lentils. You could easily make a few substitutions (i.e., olive oil for the bacon), and serve the braised lentils topped with small rice timbales.

Here is both the original recipe, and how I would modify it:

Scallops with Braised Lentils

6 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf

2 tbls butter
1 lb scallops
3 tbls white wine vinegar
chopped fresh parsley

Cook bacon until browned. Drain and reserve. Pour off all but 2 tbls oil, reserving balance. Add onion and carrot to drippings in pan and saute until onion is almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Omit bacon. Saute onion and carrot in 2 tbls olive oil

Add lentils, stock, and bay leaf. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until lentils are tender (this will depend on the color lentils you have, and their age). Set aside and keep warm

Melt butter in heavy skillet over high heat. Season scallops with salt & pepper. Add to skillet and stir until just cooked, about 3 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Cook white rice until very soft. Mix with chopped parsley, salt, pepper, a spinkle of soy sauce and, if desired, a lightly beaten egg. Pack into buttered molds. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned. Let cool 5 minutes, and unmold.

Add vinegar to skillet, bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in enough reserved bacon drippings to make a dressing.

Add vinegar to skillet. Whisk in enough olive oil to make a dressing.

Make a bed in lentils. Spoon scallops over lentils. Spoon dressing over scallops and sprinklw with reserved bacon.

Make a bed in lentils. Arrange rice timbales on the lentils. Spoon dressing over timbales. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #7 of 15
There are a lot of different grains that you can try -- aramanth, quinoa, spelt, farro, just to name a few. They have interesting flavors and textures, and lots of nutrients -- they make a good change from rice (which itself has a lot of varieties beyond plain white and brown).

I'm big on using good books to learn, so for you: Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass has excellent information on a wide variety of grains, and some great recipes. Not all the recipes are vegetarian, and not all are low fat, but there are many you can try. And Lorna also has a lot of other books that are specifically for vegetarians (they're listed below this one in the Amazon link).

And as KYHeirloomer said, a combination of grains plus legumes gives you all the protein you need. My friend Rancho Gordo sells a large variety of heirloom beans and grains. (And the best popcorn in the world. :lips: ) His stuff costs more than supermarket dried beans, yes, but the range of flavor is worth it. And I find that I can get 3 or 4 meals for the two of us out of each pound, so it works out pretty economically. Beans are easy, and perfect for your particular diet interests.

Disclaimers: I worked on Lorna's book. And Rancho Gordo is, as I said, a friend. But I would recommend these even if I didn't know them. :)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #8 of 15
This link might be of interest to you too.. There's lots of Vegetarian books on here to check out, plus reviews from people who've purchased them..

Geometry.Net - Religion Books: Vegetarianism
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the links and suggestions.

My diet is very restricted as I had a heart attack a year ago and have high blood pressure.

My wife and I are semi-vegitarians, We will eat fish, but no other meat. Just because we wouldn't feel comfortable killing the animals ourselves, so we don't let others do it for us. Our excuse for eating fish is that we eat mostly salmon. If the salmon are not caught by the fisherman, they face a much harsher daeth at their oun hands swimming upstream until their bodies run out of energy and they die of exhaustion and starvation.

Sounds good and it's a great excuse for eating fish.

Anyway, I can not eat much dairy.

No cheese, only skim milk, egg whites are OK, but no yolk, things like that.

Because of my high blood pressure, I have to be very careful about salt.

(I had no idea how salty soy sauce was until I made my stir-fry!)

I do love eating good food, but have to watch my calories. I had to lose 35 pounds since my heart attack to get to the correct BMI for my height.

So, with all that in mind, please post any recepies for anything tasty, with complete proteins that follows all the rules I need to follow!

Thanks again for the help so far, I am trying to build a collection of good recepies so I have variety.

I will look over some of the cookbooks in the links you sent me , but I am in such a narrow window of what I can eat, I find many recepies in vegitaian cookbooks are for side dishes, or are high fat or have lots of sugar, etc., etc.
post #10 of 15
I like to eat with low salt and low fat, and even watch my carb intake. I make a lot of soup, using home made stock. A couple of days ago this recipe presented itself, which I sent to a friend who now has to watch his diet. In the message below I mention a specific tomato sauce, but you can use any you choose, just read the label and find one that is low or absent salt. Be sure to rinse the beans. You can cut back on the oil if you'd like, even make it without the oil.

I'll post a few other recipes and ideas later - this one just happened to be handy. This is what I sent my friend:

================================================== =

This one's low in fat - can even be adapted to be almost zero fat - can be very low in salt, and takes but moments to prepare and just a few minutes cooking time. I fiddled with it a bit for my taste. You can see it can lend itself to numerous additions or variations.

Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons EV olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce (recommended: Don Pomodoro)
2 (14-ounce) cans low-fat, low salt chicken broth (home made is better)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

My notes: Dice carrots fine - I used the little "baby" carrots in the resealable plastic bags. Great for snacking and for making a fine dice or chop very easy. Likewise, dice the onion fine. You can use leeks or onion and leek (which I like). Less oil worked for me, sweated the veggies on med-low heat for about five to seven minutes.

Zarri’s has Don Pomodoro marinara sauce. I like it because it’s low salt, uses San Marzano tomatoes, and isn’t loaded with a lot of overcooked herbs and spices. It’s a "cleaner" tasting sauce. You can then more easily add your own seasoning, like thyme or rosemary or whatever.

Depending on the pasta used, you might want to add the pasta first then add the beans after the pasta has had a chance to cook a bit - depends on the size of the pasta and what texture you like it and the beans.

After everything was done, and just before removing the soup from the heat, I added about 1 ½ - 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil. Added a nice flavor kick.

post #11 of 15
Try using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt:

Why Season with Kosher Salt? |

post #12 of 15
if you use the japanese soy sauce, this in my opinion is the best soy sauce around because it is naturally brewed, also have you tried frigola it's a sort of pasta that taste really good
post #13 of 15
ditto on Molly Katzman's early Moosewood cookbooks.
Funny, that was the first thing that came to mind when reading this thread and then KY beat me to it.

Think about taking some cooking classes as well as going to the library and checking out cookbooks to see which make sense for you prior to buying them. There are even people that would consider teaching you to cook in your own home, so that you become proficient. It may be some of the best money spent. If you're insurence is any good at all you could probably get dietary counseling from a nutritionist or dietician.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #14 of 15
>If you're insurence is any good at all you could probably get dietary counseling from a nutritionist or [COLOR=#006666! important][FONT=verdana, geneva, lucida, 'lucida grande', arial, helvetica, sans-serif][COLOR=#006666! important][FONT=verdana, geneva, lucida, 'lucida grande', arial, helvetica, sans-serif]dietician[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR].<

And even if your insurance isn't all that good, a consult with a dietician is well worth the money. At most it would cost you a couple of hundred bucks, but, among other things, he/she will design a menu planner that meets your specific health needs.

You might also want to check the composition of foods databases, to learn exactly what goes into your mouth. There are several of them on the web, including the official USDA one and a few privately managed sites as well. If you need the URLs let me know and I'll post them.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #15 of 15
Salt - good substitute for flavouring - lemon juice

Soy Sauce - try the low salt version

Seeing as you eat fish, you could try a kedgeree (rice, onions, smoked fish, eggs, curry spices) You can't have the yolks so utilise whites only. Lots of recipes available on the net, just tailor it to suit your needs.

Eggs - try an egg white only omlette recipe.

Protein - tofu can be delicious if spiced right (again go the net for recipes)

Low fat - do you like pepper? Many find that when cutting fat in their diet they need something to replace the flavour fat gives, and lots of pepper seems to help.

Also instead of using oils for sauteeing, try using a few spoons of well flavoured stock. With a bit of practice you can get good results.

Cream & dairy - if you want to add a creamy taste to a dish, try adding a little low fat Greek style yoghurt at the end of cooking, if that's allowable for you.

Fats/Oils - try using Olive oil spray on pans and baking dishes when cooking - cuts the calories by a huge amount - can still do nice roast vegies using this and some pepper & rosemary or paprika or dried oregano, to suit what you're cooking

Steaming - try your fish steamed - no fat needed there, just add some finely sliced ginger and onion tips, sliced chillies, squeeze of lemon. Yumm!

Best of luck
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

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