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the puerto rican vegan – dinner @ mom’s

The Puerto Rican Vegan - Dinner @ Mom's

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of my mom preparing some amazing feast while I was also in the kitchen doing my homework or getting into mischief or when — oh joy! — I was old enough to help her conjure up that gustatory magic. She was the first one who showed me the beauty of delicious cooking, how different foods work together, and especially how we all come together during dinner to spend time together as a family with no interruptions. Phones and the TV were a hard NO. This was our time to catch up, listen, help, share.

Flash forward a few decades and my favorite times with her still center around food. After Joe and I switched to to a whole food plant based lifestyle, she stressed about what to cook for us, because feeding us deliciously enjoyable meals is one of her core expressions of love and devotion. And man, I felt homesick for getting absolutely stuffed with her food. Stealing a taste here and nibble there, it has been an ongoing challenge to satisfy myself with just a taste instead of a meal, especially when she cooked our native Puerto Rican foods.

Yesterday she decided to try to veganize some of our Puerto Rican favorites. She made sancocho – typically a beef stew with yuca and plantain dumplings. She simply substituted the beef stock with veggies and swapped out the beef with extra veggies plus calabaza. She also made mofongo (mashed fried plantains), and to accommodate our preference for little to no oil, she used just a dash of Goya olive oil when lightly pan-frying the plantains. I tell you … Goya olive oil has such a lovely flavor that other brands of oil simply do not have. She also made rice and beans (no pork or oil) and a simple but lovely salad, the greens for which came from my garden. It was a spectacularly tasty meal. Chowing down on those rich and familiar flavors brought back so many happy memories and my taste buds are finally satisfied.

I’m SO HAPPY she sent us home with TONS of leftovers (a habit which I’ve picked up from her over the decades … a habit which my guests LOVE lol).

My sweet mom is such an inspirational woman, an exceptional friend, and the bestest and most caring and loving mom I could have ever have wished for.

Not to mention … she’s a damn fine chef !

P.S. Stay tuned! Yesterday’s dinner was such a success that I convinced her to join me in my upcoming videos to veganize several Puerto Rican dishes!

  • Me and Joe (that’s my hungry look)
  • Mom knows how to lay out a table!
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Salsinara! Versatile Marinara Salsa with Chickpeas

  • 2 medium onions (chopped)
  • 3 tsp garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 4 28-oz cans petite diced tomatoes (Tip: reduce sodium by getting “No Salt Added”)
  • 1 28-oz can chickpeas (Tip: reduce sodium by getting “No Salt Added”)
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
  1. Chop onions. If using a chopper, remove the ends and outer skin of the onion. Cut the onion in half, and cut each half into quarters. Push through chopper. No chopper? Grab a good knife and start chopping!
  2. Heat large skillet and dry-fry the onions with medium-high heat until translucent, stirring regularly to prevent sticking and burning. About 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and mix well. Cook for another minute.
  4. Add wine to skillet and scrape down the sides and bottom of the skillet. Cook the wine down until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients to skillet. Mix well and adjust salt and pepper.
  6. BTB/RTS: Bring to boil/reduce to simmer, and cover for about 10 minutes.
  7. Correct seasoning and remove from heat.
  8. Serve with zucchini spirals, use as a dip or salsa, use it however you want!
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adventures in aquafaba

Today’s goal was to make aquafaba (and wound up doing mealprep along the way!).

What’s aquafaba, you might ask?

Aquafaba (literally, “bean water”), it is the liquid left over from cooking beans.  Garbanzos (aka chickpeas) is a great choice because of its neutral flavor and color.  This cooking liquid is extra, extra special because it emulates the functional properties of egg whites when whipped or cooked, and is used for things like emulsifying, binding, gelatinization, foaming, or thickening.

Think meringues and mayonnaise and quiches and macaroons and marshmallows and light, fluffy muffins and you’ll start to get the idea of the egg-replacement magic we all (used to) pour down the drain without a second thought.To prepare for today’s aquafaba adventure, I soaked 2 cups of dry garbanzos overnight in 6 cups of water and rinsed them in the morning.  Because I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to test my new stackable pressure cooker inserts to see if the tiers would cook evenly, I evenly divided the soaked garbanzos between them and stirred in 3 cups of filtered water to each insert.

Then, I stacked and snapped the inserts together and carried that bad boy effortlessly to the pressure cooker using the the handy carrier the inserts came with.

15 minutes later (plus time for the natural pressure release), the garbanzos were perfectly cooked in both tiers. I strained the aquafaba into a large bowl, reserving the garbanzos.  (Saying it in that order feels oddly reversed.

Stackable Pressure Cooker Inserts

Aquafaba is so magical that it works as well fresh as it does thawed, so because there’s no way I’ll use  almost 3 cups of it within the next week, I poured it into silicone ice cube trays, 2 tbsp per cube; each cube equates to one egg white.

For the “reserved” garbanzos, I measured out 1 quart for the week and submerged with the last of the aquafaba, and IQF’d (individually quick froze) the rest to use on future lazy days.