from the archives: quick mungbean dal

This is a flavorful and filling meal for chilly autumn nights. This dal features cute green mung beans, which are great to have around: they’re very wholesome, featuring high fiber, protein, and iron like most beans, and they cook relatively quickly. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, mung beans have a cooling, draining effect on the body, which can help with skin issues and clear toxins from the body. All that and they taste delicious, too! This recipe was originally posted three years ago today, and it’s just as good today as it was back then. Best served alongside some basmati rice and cucumber yogurt for an Indian-style meal. You can also thin with more coconut milk or broth and make it into a soup.

Quick Mung Bean Dal

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups cooked mung beans
¾ cup coconut milk
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

  1. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook for five minutes. Add in garlic and ginger, and cook until garlic browns. Add spices and stir to combine.
  2. Reduce heat to low and add beans, coconut milk and soy sauce. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary to keep mixture soupy.
  3. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: about three cups dal, or 4-6 servings

Notes: This recipe calls for cooked beans, but if all you have is dry, here is how to cook them: Rinse beans in cool water. Add to a large stockpot and cover with water. Add a stamp-sized piece of kombu seaweed (optional) and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. If overcooked they will become a bit mushy, but that’s perfect for this recipe. Drain off any excess water, and season with a few generous pinches of salt. Cooked beans will keep for about a week, and they can also be frozen for up to six months.


quick meals: carrot quinoa fritters

Sad but true: I’ve been significantly less inspired to cook creatively now that I am living alone. This doesn’t mean that I am eating poorly- I am actually eating quite well- but I eat the same things all the time now! Tight scheduling and an even tighter budget means that I am making the most of all my foods, recycling staple grains and veggies into two or three similar meals throughout the week (sometimes even twice in the same day- kale is so very versatile!). This makes food blogging nearly impossible– I’ve already written multiple times about my favorite single girl meals like cozy comfort foods and just-for-one noodle dishes. But inspiration does strike, and this past weekend it came in the form of Carrot-Quinoa Fritters.

The inspiration for these hearty little treats came from a few places: last week my coworker made some deliciously whole-grain (vegan) Vegetable & Quinoa Patties for her cooking class (recipe will be posted soon!), which reminded me about Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Fritters that I had made a few months ago. Both patties/fritters were so easy and amazingly addictive! I’ve also been totally addicted to different versions of this crazy good yogurt-tahini sauce after making it last week to impress a handsome dinner guest.

For my cozy (solo) Saturday night dinner I cooked up some brown rice, steamed some kale, mixed in some black beans, and served them alongside these yummy fritters and an adapted version of the tahini-yogurt dip. I really want to do a vegan version of these fritters, so do stay tuned, my egg-free friends!


I love the combination of soft quinoa and slightly crunchy carrots!

Carrot-Quinoa Fritters

1 organic egg
a few generous pinches of salt and pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds
1½- 2 cups shredded carrots
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)

  1. Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Toss in salt, pepper, caraway, and whisk again to combine. Add carrots and quinoa and stir to coat. Sprinkle in flour (you may need less than 1/2 cup) until mixture will stick together in 2-inch patties, though there may be a few loose carrot shreds. Make all patties before proceeding.
  2. Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a cast iron pan (my favorite oil is Rice Bran Oil, which can stand the high heat of cast iron on gas stoves). Add a few patties to the pan, and flatten slightly with the spatula. Do not crowd pan. Cook until both sides are nicely browned, then layer on a plate with paper towel to absorb some of the oil.
  3. Serve alongside the dipping sauce, or just eat them straight off the plate. These will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Yield: about 10-12 fritters, or 2-3 servings

Zesty Yogurt & Tahini Sauce

(inspired by 101 Cookbooks; her version with cumin and coriander is fabulous too!)

a few tablespoons plain yogurt
a few tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon lemon zest
2 tsp fresh or dried dill
a few drops of honey
pinch each salt and pepper
water to taste

  1. Whisk all ingredients together until sauce is smooth and creamy, adding water to achieve the perfect texture. Taste for sweet/sour/salty flavors, adding more of any ingredient until it’s perfect!
  2. I’ve also used this sauce on kale salad, noodles, and on rice! Make a quadruple batch and love it all week long.


    yogurt sauce with zucchini fritters

quick meals: three-grain polenta

If you have not tried the teeny-tiny super-grain Teff yet, now might be the time. Teff is the smallest grain in the world, but a serious little powerhouse of nutrition. This brown grain has a grassy flavor similar to millet and amaranth, and it’s full of iron, fiber, protein, and calcium. It also falls  into the category of ancient grains, which generally means that the grains available now are essentially the same food that folks ate thousands of years ago- in contrast to over-hybridized corn and wheat strains. Teff grains, which range in color from ivory to brown, can also be ground into a flour and used for muffins and breads. It is most commonly used in Ethopian foods, specifically injera bread, which I have yet to sample. Teff is also gluten-free, and so is this recipe.

served with roasted Kabocha pumpkin!

This is a great recipe to begin cooking with Teff, which has a seedy, grassy flavor that might require some time to appreciate. I find that mixing new grains into more-common foods (in this case, brown rice and corn) makes it more palatable. And whether or not you graduate onto eating Teff plain is besides the point: teff adds nutrition and flavor to this dish or others, even in small amounts. Try cooking up this Three-Grain Polenta, which is an extra whole-grainy version of my Brown Rice Polenta; you could even go crazy and add quinoa for a four-grain version! The vegan version of this recipe is also delicious, but do add some Earth Balance or olive oil to replace the creaminess of the cheese. Serve alongside greens, roasted veggies, or smothered with a hearty black bean stew for a seriously quick, warm, and filling winter meal.

whole grain goodness

Three-Grain Polenta

1/4 cup teff
1/2 cup polenta (course-ground cornmeal)
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cubed sharp cheddar or Paremesan cheese
1/2 cup soymilk (more to taste)
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Lower heat to lowest setting, and add teff and polenta. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
  2. Remove cover, add brown rice, soymilk, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and add extra liquid (water or soymilk) if necessary- the polenta should be very creamy and a bit runny. Taste to ensure that polenta is soft and not at all crunchy. Add cheese (or olive oil) and stir until melted. Serve warm; but know that this also makes great leftovers!

For more Teff inspiration, check out 101 cookbooks; Heidi’s recipe for Polenta-style Teff Squares was the inspiration for my Teff purchases. She has many recipes for Teff in her books, and one online for a corn quiche with teff crust (with eggs) that looks gorgeous. Also, the Gluten-Free Girl wrote a great post about Teff, and included a recipe for chocolate banana bread with Teff flour (with eggs). Check out Bob’s Red Mill if you cannot find teff locally.

Enjoy the whole grain goodness!

ready to go!

alisa at one frugal foodie is getting radical!

after reading her local grocery advertisements and getting totally miffed at what the market was promoting as back-to-school foods (all processed junk!), she is fighting the system and making an e-book for anyone looking to feed their kids (or themselves) healthier lunches and avoid all that processed junk.  she sent out a call to her readers (like, a million of them: she’s totally famous!) to suggest healthy, easy, clean foods to feed to the little ones.

i was one of the bloggers who answered, and was totally stoked that she picked three of my recipes to be included in the book.  two recipes i have posted before, trail mix cookies and banana coconut muffins, but this is a new recipe that i am submitting.  i eat these little wraps whenever i am too starving too cook, or when just in a hurry (running to work, appointments, or surfing), or when i need to use up some leftovers from the fridge.  this method has worked for leftover everything, even sometimes soba noodles or other random foods.  if some of the combinations made from leftovers might seem a bit wacky, just trust me, everything tastes great with this dressing- even if there is an existing sauce on the leftovers!  just mix it up!  one of my favorite combinations is tofurky and quinoa, tossed with other veggies and steamed kale.

quick & easy tofurky wraps

(makes one wrap; adjust for number of total wraps)

1 tortilla (wheat, sprouted, etc; not a corn tortilla)
1/2 cup cooked grains (quinoa, brown rice)
1/4 cup cooked veggies
1/2 cup cooked leafy greens
3-4 slices of tofurky, or leftover tofu or tempeh
3 slices avocado
salt & pepper to taste

lay the tortilla on the plate, cover the middle with tofurky slices (or leftover tofu).  then add the grains, then avocado, cooked veggies, and the leafy greens on top.  cover the filings with the dressing and dust with salt & pepper if you would like.  wrap it up in aluminum foil, making one end very tight so that it can be eaten while being unwrapped while keeping all the fillings inside.

homemade goddess dressing

2 tbsp sesame tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce
dash of honey or agave
pinch black pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil

mix all ingredients in a bowl until it reaches a nice smooth texture; there should be a good creamy consistency and a good balance of flavors; adjust salty/sour/sweet to taste by adding more of braggs/lemon/honey to balance the dressing. If it starts to separate, add more water to make it smooth again.