Thursday, June 28, 2018

Spinach Dal in the Instant Pot or Not

palak dal at

Spinach Dal which is known in India as Palak Dal is a hearty soup made with yellow split peas, tomatoes, spices, and spinach . Dal  ( also written as daal or dahl)  is a Hindi word for dried split lentils, dried peas, or dried beans. Dal may refer to the actual legume or the finished recipe.

toor dal

I made this vegan soup in a 6 qt. Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt ,  It cooked for 15 minutes, I let the pressure release naturally, and it was delicious.

I'm familiar with the word, Dal,  from frequenting Indian restaurants, but until now I had never actually tried to make a dal in my own kitchen!

Dal is thick and heavy and is traditionally eaten over Basmati rice, with a dosa, or an Indian bread. According to @AnupySingla, author of the blog #IndianasApplePie,  authentic dal recipes are never prepared using stock.  Anupy says, "We simply boil our lentils in water and then spice them"

yellow split pea soup

I added vegetable stock/broth to my recipe and ate it as a soup. One recipe makes a lot of dal so there is enough to eat it as soup for dinner and then eat it over rice for lunch the next day. Either way dal is delicious, satisfying, full of essential fiber and valuable nutrients.

Fast and Easy

I simply sauteed onions, tomatoes, garlic and spices for 5 minutes right in the IP ( Instant Pot)  and then added my yellow split peas. I switched to manual setting and set the cook setting for 15 minutes!
( which of course means it will take about 10 minutes to heat up before it begins cooking)

Yellow split pea soup is high in protein
The cooked Dal Before adding the spinach -

You can do the same on the stove top- just add more liquid and allow to cook for about an hour  ( or more) until lentils are soft.

I add the freshly chopped spinach after the soup was cooked and watched the greens melt right into the pot! So Good!

Split peas contribute protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals

Split peas offer significant protein - 16 grams per uncooked cup. 

In addition, yellow split peas are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

The added spinach greens makes this plant based oil free soup a powerhouse of good nutrition!

baby spinach

Weight Watchers- This is a zero point filling delicious soup

If you want to know more about Dal, here is a NY Times article 
The Why and How of Dal 

My Spinach Dal Recipe ( suited to my American taste) 


2 cups of diced onion 
2 cups of diced tomatoes ( I used cherry tomato)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped ( I used frozen chopped garlic ) 
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of vegetable broth to sautee ( or if you use oil, olive oil spray) 
1/4 teaspoon or less of garam masala to taste ( buy in an Indian market or most supermarkets)
4 cups vegetable broth ( I used 365 #WholeFoods Brand) 
4 cups water
1 16 ounce package of yellow split peas or Toot dal
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
Himalayan salt to taste
Optional: Add Chile powder if you like ( I don't)


1. Place 2 cups of diced onion, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric, cumin , black pepper, and garam masala in the Instant Pot. 
2. Turn on the sautee function and saute for 5 minutes in 1/2 cup of vegetable broth ( stir frequently)
3, Turn off the sautee function and turn on the manual function an add the split peas,4 cups of  broth and 4 cups of water . Cover, seal, and set to cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
4. When soup is done, allow the steam to release naturally. ( It may take 20 minutes) 
5. When all steam is released according to the manufacturers instructions, remove lid and stir in the spinach, salt,  and garam masala to taste. Taste and add additional seasoning if necessary. 

My notes and advice

1. Get an Instant Pot !!!- just kidding- you can cook this on the stove top -However,  It will just take much longer to cook.

2. . Split peas foam and expand, so make sure your pot is large enough.

3.. I use the 6qt Instant Pot-Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, 

4. Split Pea soup tends to thicken as it sits especially by the next day- so if you find that it has become like a thick paste or even gel like, just add water or vegetable broth and mix well to desired consistency before reheating.

5. I enjoy trying spices from different cuisines- garam masala that is traditionally used in this recipe is a spice that is a mixture of spices lie coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg that have been roasted and ground together.

6. I am not an expert on Indian cooking.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click on a link on my blog and make a purchase, I will receive a very small compensation but at no cost to you. This helps me defray the cost of running a blog and allows me to continue to offer free content. Thank you for your support!

Linking up with  Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday

Monday, June 25, 2018

Instant Pot Aloo Gobi ( cauliflower recipe)

Bowl of Aloo Gobi Cauliflower

Aloo Gobi is a simple cauliflower and potato recipe that is exotically spiced and an absolutely delicious side. It is a Punjabi Indian dish that is a cinch to make in the Instant Pot! #vegan

It sautés ( oil free) for 5 minutes and cooks under pressure for only 1 minute  making this a one pot no mess recipe.( If you don't have an Instant Pot, use my original recipe for Aloo Gobi that is made on the stove top)

Indian cooking calls for interesting spices and herbs that are very high in antioxidants and nutrients. It is no surprise that spices have been used medicinally throughout history. 

bowls of Indian spices

Turmeric- has been very popular in Indian, Middle Eastern, Thai, and Moroccan cooking. It has been used both medicinally and for cooking for centuries. Turmeric contains curcumin which is lauded for its anti-inflammatory properties and now some sources indicate that it may have anti- cancer properties as well. ( black pepper increases the absorbability of turmeric significantly) You most likely will always see black pepper in a recipe with turmeric.

Cumin- anti flatulant, rich in many minerals including iron, rich in B vitamins and other vitamins, rich in flavonoids like carotenes, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Ginger- in addition to being rich in minerals, ginger has been known to provide anti-bacterial, anti- inflammatory, and anti-microbial benefits. Ginger helps with digestion as well.

Cilantro - a powerhouse herb with many antioxidants, vitamins including Vit C,  the fat soluble vitamin A and zeaxanthin and lutein which is important for vision- In addition, it is a rich source of Vitamin K.

Parsley- provides many antioxidants, minerals, flavonoids including zeaxanthins, and vitamin K

Garam masala- a mixture of healthy spices  which is usually a combination of cumin, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
a bunch of fresh cilantro

Turn this vegan side into a meal
The recipe is gluten free and vegan which works for a plant based diet.
If you want to eat it as a meal instead of a side dish, just add 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas to each serving.

Weight Watchers: This recipe is 2 points

Everything in this recipe is zero points except the 2 cups of potato which is 8 points for the entire recipe

( 8 points/4 servings= 2 points per serving)-

If you choose to add chick peas , they are zero points.

Want to reduce it to 1 point per serving? 

I you only add 1 cup of potato instead of 2 cups, then each serving is 1 point

Total Points for the recipe as it is per serving: 2 points

Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Sautee Time: 5  minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute ( allow 10 minutes to heat up )
Serves: 4 generous sides


1 medium cauliflower, cut into chunk size flower-ettes
2 cups of peeled and cubed white potato ( Use 1 cup for less carbs)
3 Roma Type Tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped ( I used 2 frozen garlic cubes from Trader Joe's)
knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped ( I used 1 frozen ginger cube)
1/2 cup of vegetable broth or olive oil spray for sautéing if you use oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric ( careful- it stains)
2 twists of fresh cracked Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon or less of garam masala ( go easy on this if you are not used to it)
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro or parsley
salt and pepper to taste


1. Hit the sautee button on your Instant Pot.
2. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth, onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, and garam masala.
3. Mix and then add the diced potatoes. Sautee for 5 minutes. ( stirring occasionally)
4. Add cauliflower and an additional 1/2 cup vegetable broth and mix well.
5. Turn off sautee and switch to manual, seal pot with cover, and cook for 1 minute! ( be sure your jigger is facing forward) .
6. As soon as done, release steam manually according to your Instant Pot directions and remove immediately and serve.

Are you following me on Twitter 
Check out what I pinned this week on Pinterest and follow me.
To receive my newest recipes in your email, subscribe ( go to the right side and fill in your email) 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Instant Pot Mushroom Soup in 8 minutes

Asian soup

I love mushroom soup, but I prefer mine broth-like and not creamy. This wonderful Asian style recipe can be cooked in 8 minutes in the Instant Pot and will not disappoint. (Of course experienced Instant Pot users know that it requires a little time to heat up and release steam as well as cook).
If you don't have an Instant Pot it can cook on the stove top covered for about an hour.

instant pot
You can make this soup on the stove top too- It will just take longer than an Instant Pot -

Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer

It is the perfect light comfort soup and is full of healthy good for you ingredients. Use it as a starter for a meal or add some cooked rice noodles or brown rice to make it a little more filling.

Our local farmer's market has had a nice variety of mushrooms this week. I bought a pint of shitake and a few large really firm white mushrooms. For the remainder of the soup, I used the vegetables I had in the kitchen .

chopped soup vegetables
I used purple cabbage only because it is what I had- green cabbage would work great!

Mushrooms are good for you- they are low in calories, high in fiber, and provide Vitamin D and many other valualbe nutrients. 

Naturally gluten free and vegan, this soup is a good choice for company or for any night of the week. Actually, I sometimes eat it for breakfast which is a custom in many Asian countries.

Asian mushroom soup
I used red cabbage so there is a reddish color; you could use green cabbage

Are you familiar with Ponzu sauce? It is a light citrus flavored Japanese sauce which is like a soy sauce. The one I get is gluten free and vegan. Wanajshan Ponzu Citrus Soy Sauce-

Weight Watchers: I label this soup 1 point because of the 1 drop of toasted sesame oil that is added to each bowl for serving- It gives it a great flavor- otherwise it is all vegetables! Healthy, filling, and delicious!


1/2 cup of vegetable broth to sautee ( or use olive oil spray)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced thinly in half moons
4 cloves of fresh garlic, diced or 2 frozen cubes
6 shitake mushrooms, de -stemmed and then cleaned with a damp cloth and then sliced
2 very large or 4 medium firm white mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth and then sliced
2 cups of chopped red or green cabbage
2 medium carrots cleaned and sliced
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of chopped parsley
2 sprigs of fresh sage
small handful of fresh thyme
1/2 ( of your )  finger sized of fresh ginger , cleaned, peeled and chopped ( see below how to peel fresh ginger the easiest way) 
4 cups of good tasting vegetable broth
6 cups of water
freshly ground black pepper 
Add a drop or two of ponzu sauce to taste and a tiny drop of toasted sesame oil to each bowl before serving- or season the soup -this is part of the recipe not an optional

Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth to the instant pot ( or spray with olive oil) and turn on sautee function. Sautee garlic, onions, and mushrooms in the Instant Pot with the lid off for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Switch to cook mode, cover and seal pot- and set for 8 minutes. When done, allow pressure to self release for at least 5-10 minutes and then release pressure according to your Instant Pot's directions.

Why I love my Instant Pot?
If you are still wondering whether or not to invest in an Instant Pot I understand. I really didn't want another appliance to sit on my counter that I might never use. I can share that it is the appliance I now use the most. I LOVE MY INSTANT POT!! Everything seems to taste great made in the Instant Pot and the ease of one pot ( the insert comes out for quick easy cleaning) and the fast and easy cooking times makes my life easier.  I often think of the Disneyland Carousel of Progress that was originally at the New York Worlds Fair in the 1960's - I think they should add a new frame with the mother and father using the Instant Pot for progress!!

The Instant Pot comes in different sizes- 
I use the 6 qt size and it seems to be perfect!

It comes with a small recipe book but I also find wonderful easy recipes on the Pinterest, blogs, and the Internet

What else do I make? Soup, beans, lentils, vegetables, rice, quinoa, -pasta, casseroles - 
It also can be used as a slow cooker and it even comes in a 3 qt. size-  

Great Tip to Peel Fresh Ginger Easily                      

Just take the back of a spoon and lightly scrape the ginger.. The skin will come off easily and the ginger will ready to use. Once peeled , it grates easily for any recipe.

Great Tip; Freeze Leftover Ginger for another recipe
I often buy ginger but only need a small piece and the rest eventually goes bad. If you don't use all of your ginger right away, place the peeled leftover ginger in a ziplock baggie and freeze it. It will stay fresh for about 6 weeks (or more)  and will be available for your next recipe. Also, frozen ginger is easier to cut and grate.

 Linking up with  Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday. Just joined I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is From the Farm.  

Wanajshan Ponzu Citrus Soy Sauce

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Amazon and if you click on a link from my blog and make a purchase I receive a small compensation at no cost to you. I appreciate any purchases you make as it helps defray the costs of running a blog.. I appreciate your purchases and Thank you

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Broccoli Parmesan- one skillet dish

broccoli and Parmesan cheese in a skillet

One skillet broccoli parmesan is one of those recipes that follow the rule that necessity is the mother of invention. 

I went out with my family one night to a local Italian restaurant. Although they had gluten free pizza and gluten free pasta on the menu, I just didn't want to eat a high carbohydrate meal. Being a vegetarian, there was little else I could eat. I asked the chef if he could make me a dish with broccoli, marinara sauce, and cheese. He did and it was delicious!

Eat it as the main course or a side
I liked it so much, I decided to replicate it for myself at home. I simply used one skillet and some basic ingredients. I wasn't that hungry so I ate my broccoli Parmesan as my meal; my husband ate it as a side with a grilled cheese sandwich ( gluten free bread).

broccoli and tomato sautee
I started out with  a sautee of fresh broccoli, garlic, and some chopped tomatoes- added marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese ( vegans- omit cheese or add nutritional yeast)

It is a simple recipe but very tasty- a recipe that the entire family will enjoy and a great way to get family members to eat their broccoli! 

broccoli parmesan


1 head of broccoli cut into flowerettes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tomato chopped
1/4 cup of vegetable broth
2 cups of marinara sauce ( gluten free) 
1 cup of parmesan cheese or ** Vegan Cheese
olive oil spray
optional: I cut some fresh basil and fresh cilantro from the garden and added in the last minute of cooking to allow it to just wilt- you could also add some pine nuts

Spray a 12 inch skillet with olive oil spray . Add garlic and broccoli and sautee for about 2 minutes then add tomatoes for another 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth and marinara sauce and allow to cook down on med-high until the liquid begins to cook off. Add Parmesan cheese and cover for about 2 minutes to finish cooking. While still in skillet, top with fresh chopped basil and allow to wilt.  Serve plain or over rice or quinoa.

My Notes: 
1. For a more substantial dish , serve it over rice, quinoa , or pasta
2. Vegans- leave off the cheese and its still delicious or substitute nutritional yeast for the cheese!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oatmeal

Looking for a healthy breakfast ? 
Overnight oatmeal can be highly nutritious, absolutely delicious and extremely convenient, and it doesn't even need to be cooked. You eat the oatmeal cold and creamy right out of the refrigerator- a plus during the summer when the weather is so hot!

Convenience and taste are not the only reasons overnight oatmeal is so popular.

Oats are healthy and may provide many desired health benefits: 

1. They may help lower cholesterol
2. They are high in antioxidants
3. They are high in fiber
4. They may help stabilize blood sugar
5. Assist with blood pressure
6. They contain a good amount of vitamins and minerals

Doctors often recommend including oatmeal as part of a healthy diet.

You can turn ordinary oatmeal into a power bowl by choosing add ins that boost the nutritional benefits.

Choose seeds of your choice

For example try hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, blueberries, kiwi,  black strap molasses, honey, almond milk, dates, fruit, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric,  etc. Just about anything you like can be added to your overnight oatmeal. 

I once heard someone say you can choose health or choose convenience.
With overnight oatmeal bowls , you can have both!

It couldn't be simpler. Just put some oats into a bowl or wide mouth jar, add almond milk, fruit, raisins, nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, add some mashed banana or chopped dates and soak overnight. In the morning you will have the best surprise.

One of the things I hate about cooking oatmeal is having to wash the sticky pan. With overnight oats, you get all the taste and all the nourishment without the mess.

So if you have been wanting to add oatmeal to your diet , but hate to cook it- this may work for you!
It's easy and you can make it so many ways. In the past I've made Overnight Apple Pie Oatmeal and blackberry refrigerator oatmeal.

If you are gluten free, it is imperative that you buy gluten free certified oats. Read this article:
Are oats gluten free?

Recipe for Peanut butter banana overnight oatmeal

1/2 cup of gluten free oats ( I get mine at Trader Joe's)
1/2 mashed ripe banana
1 Tablespoon peanut butter or peanut butter powder
3/4  cup of almond milk, coconut milk, or Ripple ( derived from peas and high in protein and a little creamier than almond milk )
1/2 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp hemp seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional: If you are not vegan add 1/4 cup of Greek Yogurt- or if vegan try coconut yogurt

Place the oats in a small cereal bowl or small wide mouth Mason Jar. Mix in mashed banana, peanut butter, nut milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cinnamon- refrigerate overnight. Enjoy in the morning.

My Notes: 

Be careful when purchasing gluten free oats-

***Shirley of Gluten Free Easily left this important comment regarding gluten free oats: ***
"Beautiful recipe! Actually it is imperative that those who eat gluten free for medical reasons eat certified gluten-free purity protocol oats. "Certified gluten free" does not necessarily equal purity protocol oats and accurate testing of gluten in oats is extremely challenging. There are many that have gotten glutened by "certified gluten-free oats." They must be certified gluten-free purity protocol oats. There are not that many oat providers that fit this criteria. Gluten-Free Watchdog has a listing here:

1. I like to add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and a shake of black pepper to my overnight oats for the added health benefits and although it changes the color, it doesn't change the taste much.

2. Why black pepper? As high as turmeric is in antioxidants that do wonders for the body, turmeric is actually very low in bioavailability ( the amount a nutrient can be absorbed by the body) black pepper can help increase the bioavailability of turmeric by 2000 percent- so it is always advisable to add some black pepper when eating turmeric.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Wordless Wednesday- Sunsets and Rain Clouds

Photos for Wordless Wednesday

 Sunset from our balcony North Miami

Another day storm coming in with the ocean beneath -  watching from our balcony in Miami 
Talk about an ominous sky!! What a storm!! This was 4:00 PM

The dark rain clouds completely engulfed the sky

The still before the storm

Friday, June 8, 2018

Loaded Vegetarian Black Bean Nachos Are A Meal

Loaded vegetarian nachos makes a quick and easy meal or appetizer any night of the week!
It is easy to assemble and is both nutritious and delicious!

It calls for simple vegan ingredients like black beans, chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, salsa, fresh herbs, and seasonings piled on top of one another on a bed of crunchy nacho chips! Sprinkle generously with grated cheese or vegan cheese and bake for just 10 minutes.

black beans , chopped red onion, cucumber,

These nachos are festive enough for a party or satisfying enough for a simple family dinner ( perhaps with a salad or a bowl of soup).

If you leave off the cheese or (use vegan cheese) and add some avocado, this gluten free meal becomes vegan.

It is one of those recipes that goes a long way and everyone seems to love it! It's a quick go-to meal in the summer while tomatoes , corn, and most veggies are so prolific.

Mix all your toppings ( except cheese, avocado and cucumber  if using) before layering

When I do not want to use canned beans, how do I make my black beans from scratch? 

I use my Instant Pot of course!! 45 minutes from start to finish with no need to pre soak the beans!
And the beans come out very creamy and tasty! Black Bean recipe in the Instant Pot

instant pot

Why I don't like to  use canned beans

I prefer not to use canned goods if I can help it. Although very convenient, canned goods often are lined with a chemical called BPA which is banned in many countries ( not USA) because of it's strong link to cancer. In addition, cans are made of aluminum and that too gets into our food. Some studies have linked aluminum to alzheimers disease

So the Instant Pot is my perfect solution .  I throw dried black beans in and get creamy soft black beans out. Better than canned. It's well worth the investment and I LOVE IT!!
I use my instant pot for soups like my  16 minute easy lentil soupa dozen hard boiled eggs in 5 minutes and then the peel slides right off- or my low carb creamy mashed cauliflower 

This loaded vegetarian nacho dish is the perfect summer meal or party appetizer when so many of these vegetables are in season!

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes

2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained well ( or 4 cups of cooked black beans- drained well)
How to cook Black Beans in the Instant Pot ( 45 minutes no pre-soaking)
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 yellow or red peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup of sliced black olives
2 Persian cucumbers, chopped
1 8 ounce container of pico de gallo ( or any chunky salsa) ( I used Sabra brand) mild or spicy
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese or vegan cheese  ( pizza blend works well)
1 16 ounce bag of non GMO gluten free corn chips ( I use organic white or the organic blue corn chips)
optional toppings: diced avocado, corn, diced red onion, cilantro, Greek yogurt

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Use a 3 qt  rectangular pyrex baking dish
Layer baking dish with half of the chips. Add 1/2 of the black beans, olives, tomatoes, peppers, pico de gallo ( or chunky salsa) and spread around. Top with 1/2 of the cheese and then repeat the layers. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese is nice and melted. Add chopped cucumber and optional avocado to the top.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.  Please leave a comment so I know you stopped by. Scroll down to the end of the post and click on comments.

Disclaimer:I am an affiliate for Amazon . If you click on a link from this blog and make a purchase on Amazon, I will receive a small compensation at no additional cost to you. This helps me defray the cost of running a blog. I appreciate any purchases you make.