What to Expect from Sister Vegetarian Recipes...

Sister Vegetarian knows the importance of nutrition without breaking the bank. In lieu of this, I keep the meals to a cost that anyone can create and still stick to a budget. I also include raw vegan meals. Sister has acquired a Raw Vegan Chef Certfication through The Raw Food Network-Ekaya Institute of Living Food Education. I love to cook meals from Africa, India, the Middle East, Greece, Italy, and the list goes on. When I cook, I call it traveling the world without leaving my home. I see cooking as a way to experiment and learn about other cultures, as I also learn more about my roots.

Enjoy the meals. Enjoy the travel. No Passport Required. Just an appetite for delicious and healthy meals.

Peace & Love, Sister Vegetarian.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day Recipes: Two Vegan Bread Recipes (includes today's dinner sandwich made from vegan bread)

It's a snow day my southern state. Snow arrived starting at 7:00 PM yesterday and did not end until early this afternoon. When it snows in the South, everything closes, we are in a state of emergency, and no one goes anywhere. What did I do today? I baked two vegan breads; created a new work lunch time meal that I will include in my lunchbox series soon; and, finished knitting one sock of my pair of socks knitting pattern. Call me "Susie Home-Maker", or just "Old-School" making use of a day of rest that I much needed...smile.

No-Knead Wheat-Oat-Flaxseed-Raisin Bread
(Sister Vegetarian's own creation)

Servings: 1 loaf baked in approximately 8-1/2 " x 4-1/2" in bread loaf pan
Preparation and Mixing of Ingredients: 5 mins. to 7 mins.
Baking time: 1 hour, or until done


1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup apple juice
1 very ripe banana, mashed
¼ cup raisins
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
2 TBSP ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tsps instant yeast (I did not have yeast and was jonesing for homemade vegan bread today, so I used a popular yeast substitute: 1 tsp baking soda + tsp lemon juice)
1/4 cup rice milk
½ tsp sea salt
3 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour)


1. Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan with a vegetable oil

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Beat the mixture vigorously for about 3 minutes, or use an electric mixer set on high speed for 3 minutes. You should have very sticky dough. It won't be pourable, but neither will it be kneadable. Scoop it into the prepared pan.

3. Cover the pan with lightly greased parchment paper, and let it rise for 90 minutes on your counter.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

5. Uncover the bread, and bake for first 15 minutes then use aluminum foil to place over it like a tent. Then bake for another 45 minutes. Insert a knife to make sure it comes out clean to determine if the bread is done.

6. Cool the bread completely before slicing it. I sliced the bread, and stored it in a freezer bag in my refrigerator. It can also be stored in the freezer, and reheated as it is used.

Vegan Corn Bread

(original recipe found at Post Punk Kitchen but I changed a few ingredients such as using wheat flour instead white flour and rice milk instead of soy milk; and, adding ground cinnamon and ginger)
Serving Suggestions: I made this to accompany my mexican, south american, and spanish soups and stews such as Black Bean Soup, Gazpacho, and Red Bean Stew.
Preparation and Mixing time: 5 to 7 minutes
Baking Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Serving Size: 12- 15 individual cornbreads


2 cups cornmeal
1 cup King Arthur Wheat Flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cups rice milk
2 teaspoons Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 tsp Sea Salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Grease an approximate 9x13 glass baking pan

3. In a bowl, wisk together the rice milk and the vinegar and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, wheat flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, and salt).

5. Add the oil and maple syrup to the rice milk mixture. Wisk with a wire wisk or a fork until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

6. Pour the wet ingredient into the dry and mix together.

7. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Slice into squares and serve warm. I stored in freezer bags in my refrigerator, or you can store in the freezer.

Sister's Grilled Eggplant on toasted
Vegan Wheat-Oat-Flaxseed-Raisin Bread

2 slices of above home-made Wheat-Oat-Flaxseed-Raisin Vegan Bread, toasted

2 slices of eggplant

1/2 cup of red and yellow bell peppers (for a quick meal, I used frozen already sliced bell peppers, defrosted)

1/2 cup of sliced onion

Mesquite Seasoning to taste

1 tsp of Colgin Liquid Smoke (a vegan product that contains no animal by-products and is gluten-free)

Olive oil to lightly oil cookie sheet, and to drizzle on eggplant, bell peppers, and onions

Sandwich stuffers:
Vegan Mayonnaise
Kale (leaves broken by hand, rather than chopped)
Additional Sliced Raw Onions
Optional side servings:
Tahini Dressing
Red wine


1. Toast home-made Bread: From the bread I baked today, I placed 2 slices in my toaster

2, Pre-heat oven broiler

3. Use olive oil to lightly coat cookie sheet

4. Place on a cookie sheet 2 eggplants, 1/2 cup of sliced red and yellow bell peppers, and 1/2 cup on sliced onions

5. To taste, sprinkle mesquite seasoning and Colgin Liquid Smoke on the eggplant, bell peppers, and onions.

6. Broil for 8 - 10 minutes

7. Take vegetables out of broiler

8. Place vegan mayonnaise on both sides of bread. Then add eggplant, and broiled bell peppers and onions.

9. Add on each side of sandwich: a sliced tomato, Kale leaves, and raw onions.

10. Close sandwich and slice in half.

* * 11. Optional: As a side dip, I used a Tahini Dressing to dip the sandwich in as I eat and served with a glass of red wine.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ethiopian Spicy Lentil W'et (Stew)

I love being a vegetarian. It gives me more opportunities than when I was an omnivore to explore the cultures and cuisines of various countries. As a vegetarian, there is no end to creativity or exploration of meals indigenous to other countries. The world is in your kitchen as a vegetarian. I have traveled to India, China, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Syria, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Polynesia, and more without even leaving my home. I bring to my kitchen the spices innate to these lands through whole foods and my local grocery stores. I bring home the vegetables through farmers markets, whole foods, and local grocery stores. I bring home the stories of these lands through Internet searches and books to find out more about the countries; the recipes; traditions; and, how these meals are traditionally eaten so that I may also experience the traditional way of eating these meals to pay homage to my sisters in these countries and to thank them for the loving recipes that I have been able to duplicate.

Today, we travel to Ethiopia. Some people know of Ethiopia through coffee chains such as Starbucks. For many, knowledge of Ethiopia stops at your coffee order of a Tall or Grande. Many know nothing about the vibrancy and history of this country. How much do we know of Ethiopia? Ethiopia is located in Eastern-Central Africa. It is bordered on the west by Sudan, the East by Somalia, the South by Kenya, and the North East by Eritrea. Since Americans tend to compare everything to our own country (an egotistical trait that I do not agree with, but will do for the sake of explaining Ethiopia's size), Ethiopia would be slightly less than 2 states of Texas put together. That's huge! According to a 2009 statistic, 17% of Ethiopians live in urban areas. The majority of Ethiopians practice either Christianity, Islam, or Judaism.

Vegetarianism in Ethiopia: Vegetarian dishes are indigenous to Ethiopia. You will see vegetarian meals as a "must" for the Ethiopian Muslim community, and also within the Ethiopian Christian community during the various fasting times.

Three main cuisine ingredients epitomizes Ethiopian Cuisine:
Wat, Berbere, and Injera.
Wat (also called wot or w'et): Ethiopian cuisine consists of spicy vegetable dishes (mixed with meat if not vegetarians) in the form of a thick stew called "wat." Wat is served atop a large sourdough flatbread called injera.

Injera: Injera is used in Ethiopian cooking similar to Chapati in other parts of Africa, and India whereas Injera and Chapati are use to pick up stew or stew is placed on the flatbread whereas no utensils are used. Ethiopians and other parts of Africa, and India that uses flatbread with stews eat with their right hands (no utensils used), using pieces of injera or chapati, to pick up bites of entrees and side dishes.

Berbere: made allspice, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt that is a mixture of ground and panroasted spices. Fenugreek and red pepper are vital to Berbere's recipe, and are known as "must-haves" if possible. I wanted this Ethiopian lentil Stew so bad on a Sunday and did not have fenugreek, so I left it out. The stew still turned out superb. When I do acquire some fenugreek to make another batch of berbere, I expect this stew to be "out of this world" next time because it already "knocked my socks off!"

I found my Ethiopian lentil Stew recipe out of the vegetarian cookbook Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant. I discovered this vegetarian cookbook in 1996 when I first entered into the world of vegetarianism. For many vegetarians, this is their first vegetarian cookbook. Although not a full vegetarian cookbook as the cookbook also includes pescetarian dishes; but, the cookbook is mostly vegetarian and vegan dishes. At the time 14 years ago when I discovered this book at my local library, I copied some pages of the book; but, I decided to purchase the book since many of my vegetarian dishes stemmed from this book with slight changes I made, or just cooking as is.
Here is the recipe from Sunday's at Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook to make Ethiopian Lentil W'et (Stew):

How I made the stew:
Picture: My w'et (stew) with flatbread and vegan sour cream on side.

I noted differences in my version from the Moosewood Recipe in parenthesis, or as noted. Also, I did not make injera, or my favorite chapati recipe. I cheated (okay not cheated, but just did a time saving addition) and used vegan tortilla wraps instead to serve as an injera to pick up the soup, and mop up the delicious stew sauce. Instead of using the suggested yogurt as a side with the flatbread, I used vegan sour cream on the side with the "tortillas serving as injera" and noted that in the recipe. The yogurt or sour cream as in Indian and many other African dishes is eaten on the side with spicy-hot stews as a nice cooling and tasty accompaniment with the flatbread. Here my picture of my stew. I hope you make this! It was awesomely delicious, and quick to make. The dried lentils only took 30 minutes to cook as you prepare the Berbere and Niter Kibbeh before I started the recipe. The entire meal took about 1 hour if using already made flatbread such as vegetarian and vegan tortillas, or chapati made ahead of time.
Yemiser W'et (spicy lentil stew)

Servings: 8 (4 if having alone as a meal with nothing else by accompanied by Injera, Chapati, or any flatbread such as a tortilla)

· 1 lb bag of Dried brown lentils
· 1 cup Onion; finely chopped
· 2 Cloves garlic; minced or pressed
· 1/4 cup Niter Kebbeh (see recipe below; I substituted ¼ cup of olive oil for those who are ovo, strict vegetarians, or vegans. You can spice up your olive oil if you like with similar ingredients. )
· 1 TBSP Berbere (recipe below)
· 1 tsp ground cumin
· 1 TBSP Sweet Hungarian Paprika (I used Smoked Paprika which gave it a beautiful taste)
· 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes (I measured into a glass measuring cup 2 15 -1/2 can of chopped tomatoes for 2 cups)
· ¼ cup Tomato paste
· 1 cup Vegetable Stock or Water
· 1 cup Green Peas; fresh or frozen
· Sea Salt to taste
· Black pepper; to taste
· 3 Batches Injera bread (recipe below; or use warmed tortilla or chapati bread)
· Vegan/Vegetarian Sour Cream or Plain yogurt

Rinse and cook the lentils according to package directions (cooks for approximately 30 minutes).

As the lentils are cooking, sauté the onions and garlic in the niter kebbeh (or olive oil), until the onions are just translucent. Add the berbere, cumin, and paprika and saute for a few minutes more, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock or water and continue simmering.

When the lentils are cooked, drain them and mix them into the saute. Add the green peas and cook for another 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
To serve Yemiser W'et, spread layers of injera (or, warmed tortilla or chapatti) on individual plates. Place some sour cream, or yogurt alongside a serving of w'et on the injera and pass more injera at the table. To eat, tear off pieces of injera, fold it around bits of stew, and eat it with your fingers as done traditionally in Ethiopia.
Recipe Source: Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant CookbookServings: 1
· 2 tsp Cumin seeds
· 4 Whole cloves (or, 2 tsp of ground clove or 2 tsp allspice)
· 3/4 tsp Cardamom Seeds ( or, 3/8 tsp of ground cardoman)
· 1/2 tsp Whole black peppercorns (or, ¼ tsp black pepper)
· 1/4 tsp Whole allspice (or, 1/8 tsp ground allspice)
· 1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
· 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds
· 8 To 10 small dried red chiles (I used 8 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce that I chopped)
· 1/2 tsp Grated fresh ginger root (or, 1 tsp ground ginger)
· 1/4 tsp ground Turmeric
· ½ tsp Sea Salt
· 2-1/2 TBSP Sweet Hungarian Paprika (I used Smoked Paprika)
· 1/8 tsp ground Cinnamon
· 1/8 tsp ground Cloves

In a small frying pan, on medium-low heat, toast the cumin, whole cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, allspice, fenugreek, and coriander for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Discard the stems from the chiles. In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, finely grind together the toasted spices and the chiles. Mix in the remaining ingredients.
Store Berbere refrigerated in a well-sealed glass jar (Eco Green Ways: I recycle glass jars, and used this as storage).

Niter Kebbeh
Recipe Source: Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook
Servings: 1
· 1 lb butter
· 1/4 cup onions; chopped
· 2 cloves garlic; minced or pressed
· 2 tsp Ginger; grated, peeled, fresh
· 1/2 tsp Turmeric
· 4 Cardamom seeds; crushed
· 1 Cinnamon stick
· 2 Cloves; whole
· 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
· 1/4 tsp Ground fenugreek seeds
· 1 TBSP Basil; fresh (or, 1 tsp dried)

In a small saucepan, gradually melt the butter and bring it to bubbling. When the top is covered with foam, add the other ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer. Gently simmer, uncovered, on low heat. After about 45 to 60 minutes, when the surface becomes transparent and the milk solids are on the bottom, pour the liquid through cheesecloth into a heat-resistant container. Discard the spices and solids.

Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, Niter Kebbeh will keep for up to 2 months.

Note: Remember, ovo, strict vegetarians, and vegans, olive oil can be substituted. You can spice up your olive oil if you like with similar ingredients.

Traditional Injera-Ethiopian Flat Bread (if not using warmed tortilla or chapati as I did to save time)

Servings: 1
· 1 3/4 c Flour; unbleached white
· 1/2 c Self-rising flour
· 1/4 c Whole wheat bread flour
· 1 package Dry yeast
· 2-1/2 cup Water; warm
· 1/2 tsp Baking soda
· 1/2 tsp Salt

Combine the flours and yeast in a ceramic or glass bowl. Add the warm water and mix into a fairly thin, smooth batter. Let the mixture sit for three full days at room temperature. Stir the mixture once a day. It will bubble and rise.

When you are ready to make the injera, add the baking soda and salt and let the batter sit for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a small, nonstick 9-inch skillet. When a drop of water bounces on the pan's surface, take about 1/3 cup of the batter and pour it in the skillet quickly, all at once. Swirl the pan so that the entire bottom is evenly coated, then return to heat.

The injera is cooked only on one side and the bottom should not brown. When the moisture has evaporated and lots of "eyes" appear on the surface, remove the injera. Let each injera cool and then stack them as you go along.

If the first injera is undercooked, try using less of the mixture, perhaps 1/4 cup, and maybe cook it a bit longer. Be sure not to overcook it. Injera should be soft and pliable so that it can be rolled or folded, like a crepe.

INJERA (Flat bread) –alternative quick recipe

Servings: 8
· 4 cups Self-rising flour
· 1 cup Whole wheat flour
· 1 tsp Baking powder
· 2 cup Club soda

Combine flours and baking powder in a bowl. Add club soda plus about 4 cups water. Mix into a smooth, fairly thin batter. Heat a large, non-stick skillet. When a drop of water bounces on the pan's surface, dip enough batter from the bowl to cover the bottom of the skillet, and pour it in quickly, all at once. Swirl the pan so that the entire bottom is evenly coated, then set it back on the heat.

When the moisture has evaporated and small holes appear on the surface, remove the injera. It should be cooked only on one side, and not too browned. If your first one is a little pasty and undercooked, you may need to cook a little longer or to make the next one thinner. But, as with French crepes, be careful not to cook them too long, or you'll have crisp bread that may be tasty but won't fold around bits of stew. Stack the injera one on top of the other as you cook, covering with a clean cloth to prevent their drying out.
~ Remember, enjoy the traditioanl way with no utensils. Use the flatbread to scoop up the stew, and enjoy the flavors of Ethiopia! ~ Sister Vegetarian

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let's Visit India: Coconut Curried Chickpeas, Cauliflower, and Spinach served with a Cilantro/Jalapeno Wrap or Chapati

Let's visit India today without leaving our homes. Take in the beautiful spices of this exotic, beautiful country. What's on the menu? Coconut Curried Chickpeas, Caulifower, and Spinach (access recipe through this Vegetarian Times Link)

Okay, This is not my recipe, but I made it my own. I found it at Vegetarian Times, and it is awesome! It is so awesomely good, that I did not change anything in the recipe. The only suggestion is if you LOVE curry as I do, add more curry than what is stated. I added about double the curry. I also served it with vegan cilantro/jalapeno wrap rather than chapati bread, that served well in scooping up the meal and sauce as is traditionally done with Indian stews. The pictures are my pictures from duplicating the recipe.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Caribbean Banana Soup with Corn, Chipotle, and "Your Choice of Additional Vegetables"

Every once in a while you come across your own creation that originated because you just did not have the ingredients you wanted for a recipe, but craved that recipe so bad you were "jonesing" to make it. That's How I came across this "Caribbean Banana Soup with Corn, Chipotle, and "Your Choice of Additional Vegetables". I had a recipe for Caribbean Plantain Soup with Corn and Chili from a Caribbean Cookbook that I purchased years ago for a bargain of $3.99 at Borders Books. I did not have plantains, but always had bananas in my weekly kitchen stock. Corn-Yes I did have that. Green Chili? Well...as substitute was needed. Voila! Although bananas are sweeter than plantains, they are pretty similar; and, I have heard of people using bananas as a substitute for plantains although this changes the taste to a bit sweeter and the bananas are not as firm plantains. I used chipotle peppers in adoba sauce in place of the green chilis. What resulted was a beautiful sweet and hot/spicy Caribbean soup that "knocked my socks off hands down!" I impressed myself. I am not bragging, but just saying...I amazed myself that in this pot was a creation of sweet and hot, hot and spicy, sweet and spicy in each bite. I had to share this creation that resulted just because I was jonesing for a Caribbean plantain soup, and came out with a Caribbean bananas soup that was filling alone by itself.

Reheating soup for variety each night:

When I reheated for my dinner on different nights (I usually freeze individual soup servings for myself for quick after work meals), I added different vegetables when reheating each time.
- One night I added chopped collard greens to the soup that I rolled and chopped, and placed in the soup after it heated up completely. I just let the soup heat up with the collard greens for 2-3 minutes.
- Another night, I added to the soup chopped beet greens, kale, and collards.
- Another night, I added okra, sweet potatoes, and kale.

All individual servings were filling as a soup by itself, and my mouth was feeling as though it had an awesome party going on inside.

Caribbean Banana Soup with Corn, Chipotle, and "Your Choice of Additional Vegetables"

Serving Size: 4 servings

Bananas Nutritional Value: (excerpt from Whole Foods. org) Source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. A banana a day may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis. Bananas also help to improve eyesight and build bigger bones.

1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
10 oz banana sliced in 1/2" to 1" slices (about 2 medium to large size bananas sliced the short way)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of corn kernels
1 tsp dried parsley
3-3/4 cup of vegetable stock; or 3 -3/4 cup of water heated with a vegan bouillon cube
1 medium chipotle in adoba sauce, chopped (larger or 2 chipotles chopped if you want an even hotter and spicier soup)
1/8 tsp clove
ideas of additional vegetables added: chopped collard greens, chopped kale, chopped spinach, chopped beet greens, okra, carrots, sweet potatoes, or whatever you prefer

How to cook:
1. Heat up olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft.
3. Add the banana, tomato, and corn. Cook for 5 minutes
4. Add the parsley, vegetable stock, chipotle pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes
5. Stir in the clove, and serve immediately.
6. If you add additional vegetables, add when soup is almost done for the last 5 minutes. If adding sweet potatoes, add the sweet potatoes about 10 minutes before soup is done for not too soft sweet potatoes, but almost like an "al dente" bite. Serve.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hard day at the office? Relax your dogs and let this beauty do the cooking!

“The man who sees, on New Year's Day, Mount Fuji, a hawk, and an eggplant is forever blessed”. —Old Japanese proverb

Beautiful Eggplant: You are deep purple almost black. Mysterious beauty and gorgeous smooth soft skin. I run my hands across your body, and I love your curves. Your curves remind me of my own African beauty: vivacious, delicious, curvaceous, and beautiful through and through. You are beautiful. I call you black beauty. ~ Sister Vegetarian

Eggplant. Beautiful. Succulent. Nutritious. Quick after work meals in 20 meals or less. Eggplants provide a quick after work meal for busy schedules.

Serving Size: 1 Large Eggplant can make 4 -6 sandwiches
Eggplant Cost: approximately $1.79 per lb.
Nutitional Value: High in Dietary Fiber; Folate; Potassium; Vitamins C, K, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper; Brain Food; Antioxidant; Cardiovascular health benefits.

Vegan Mayonnaise
Flat bread (chapati, flat-out, or lavash bread)
Shredded collard leaves, spinach, or kale

How to Cook:
1. Slice Eggplant for ½ inch to 1 inch rounds.
2. Use extra virgin oil olive to lightly coat a pan (I use a cookie sheet)
3. Brush olive oil on sliced eggplant, add mesquite seasoning, and a few drops of liquid smoke.
Place on pan
4. Cook 8 -10 minutes on each side in broiler for an outdoor grilled taste.
5. Voila! Eggplant that takes as though grilled outside!

How to Serve:
1. Serve as a sandwich on flat-out, lavash, or chapatti bread. I toast my flat bread of choice in the broiler until crisp. I place vegan mayonnaise on each side of the flat bread.
2. Place grilled eggplant on top of vegan mayonnaise
3. Add tomatoes, onions, shreds of collards leaves (or, spinach or kale broken up)
4. Top with other half of flat bread and vegan mayonnaise
5. Slice flat bread in half and serve.

6. Optional: I love to serve with slice sweet potatoes oven fried in broiler with a little olive oil and seasoning of choice such as mesquite seasoning. Sweet potatoes can be grilled with eggplant in one pan at 8 -10 minute son each side just like the eggplant. Quick and easy after a long work day!

picture of sweet potatoes oven fried in a little
olive oil with a sandwich being stuffed with
eggplants, onions,spinach, tomatoes,
and vegan mayonnaise
Other serving option: Serve grilled eggplant on top of a Live Collard Salad:

Live Collard Salad and Grilled Eggplant with a side bowl of Tahini Dressing

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bring your lunch series: Hummus! Make Hummus in 10 minutes or less for the week!

Lunch Bag found at Natural Nirvana .
Natural Nirvana sells only animal-friendly products, geared toward vegetarians.

Brown Bagging. A lunchtime green tip that I have been practicing since elementary school. My mother embedded this "Green" action in me from an early age, and it just carried over into my life after college. I just like having control of what I eat for lunch at work since this will replenish me to handle my afternoon activities productively, and not sluggishly with processed foods. As a vegetarian, brown bagging is one way to make sure that you have a energy, replenishing lunch where you can choose what you eat rather than settle for a selection of small vegetarian choices at restaurants, your work cafeteria, or processed frozen foods.

This is one of a series of lunch time brown bagging meal ideas that will be featured in Sister's Recipes.

Visit Sister's Green Tips  for brown bagging ideas as to the many choices of lunch bags and containers available to carry your quick and easy homemade meals.

Hummus is as ubiquitous to Middle Eastern Cooking as it is to vegetarians. From ovo-lacto vegetarians to vegans, hummus is the queen of quick meals, snacks, and appetizers.

What is hummus? Hummus is a spread that is made from chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Hummus recipes are not set in stone, so one recipe varies from the other in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
Hummus originated in Egypt, and is one of the oldest ubiquitous foods known dating back as far as 7000 years as a popular dish.

With hummus recipes, you can basicially make the recipe your own by adding things such as roasted bell peppers, chipotle pepper, more garlic or less garlic, more Tahini or less Tahini, natural peanut instead of Tahini, spinach, archtichokes, and more. You can also blend hummus via your food pressor or blender to your liking by making it smooth, creamy, or chunky. I prefer my hummus between smooth and chunky for lunches. For me, smooth-chunky hummus on my collard leaves or flatbread wraps makes a nice wrap that holds. I also provide below wrap and wrap stuffers ideas for an even more healthier and filling lunch.

Hummus brings out your creativity which means good-bye to humdrum lunches; and, "HELLO!" to fun, jazzed up lunches!

Without further ado, I present to you: Hummus

Serving Size: 5 lunches
Cost: approximately $5.00 *cost based on stuffers and wraps selected to make it a hearty meal
Cost per serving: $1.00 a day, or per lunch meal (based on 5 lunches). Now that's cheap and nutritious!!!

Nutritional Facts:
Chickpeas (aka: Garbanzo Beans): a good source of protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. Lowers cholesterol. “Garbanzo beans high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia (whfoods.cm)"

Tahini: Tahini is crushed sesame seeds. Think peanut butter, but made from sesame seeds. If you are allergic to peanuts, then Tahini may be a good alternative; but, check with your Allergist first! Tahini is an excellent source of calcium, Vitamins B and E (vitamin E is known to help reduce the rate of body cells ageing), and essential fatty acids that helps to maintain healthy skin. Tahini fats are unsaturated which means good for you.

Kale: High in Vitamin, C, Calcium, and Fiber. “Kale, is known to reduce the risk of a number of cancers, especially lung, colon, breast, ovarian and bladder cancer…provide significant cardiovascular benefits as well (whfoods.com).”

Collard Greens: an excellent source of the vitamins C, E,  A (all three are essential antioxidants). Collards are also an excellent source of folate and vitamin B6 to help protect against deformities and cancer.
 Organic Collards  purchased in the organic aisle of my local grocery store.

Spinach: an excellent source of Vitamin K, C, A, Calcium, and Iron. Other benefits: promotes cardiovascular protection and gastrointestinal health; the flavonoid's in spinach helps to combat ovarian cancer; and, vitamin K and calcium in Spinach contributes to stronger bones.

Hummus Recipe:
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained
1 TBSP dried parsley or 2 TBSP Fresh parsley
3 TBSP chopped onions
1 TBSP Tamari Sauce *(Soy Sauce can be used in its place)
1/4 cup Tahini * (besides whole foods stores, many grocery stores are now stacking up on Tahini in the health food section; but, if Tahini is still hard to find, use natural organic peanut butter in its place)
2 cloves of garlic (less if you are not a garlic fanatic as I am)
1/3 cup of lemon juice
1 1/2 tsps ground cumin (* instead of cumin, try ground curry and it adds an even stronger spiciness)
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper * adds a nice smoky pepper flavor
2 to 3 drops of liquid smoke * for additional smokiness
Additional Ingredients to make it as a lunch:
Wrap ideas: Collard leaves; Sister's Homemade Chapati; Flatbreads sunch as Lavash Bread.
Wrap Stuffers ideas: Kale, Spinach, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Raisins, peanuts, or your spark of creativity.

Organic Spinach Epinards and Organic Cucumbers from my local grocery store.

Process all the above ingredients in a food processor, or blender until it is smooth, or reaches the consistency you prefer.

Remember, hummus is a spread that you can change and adapt to your tastes; or, event you may be planning (i.e. appetizer for parties). Take away some of the ingredients above, or add more. Making your own hummus is cheaper and healthier than purchasing it in your local store.

Wrapping Hummus:
  1. Starting with the wrap: I love to use collard leaves to form my wrap. After cutting off the large end of the stem after cleaning, I slice down the collard leaf in the center of the large vein. Sometimes I just keep the leaf whole and wrap the hummus the long way. Whatever you prefer, it's all delicious! Other ideas are homemade Chapati bread which is excellent for vegans too because I make mine with extra virgin olive oil instead of ghee. Checkout Sister's Chapati Recipe in Sister's Recipes           
  2. Stuffers: You can make your hummus sandwich different everyday depending on your stuffers. Before I roll the collard leaf wrap (or, whatever wrap you choose), I stuff my sandwich with spinach or kale leaves, sliced cucumbers, and occassionally raisins and/or nuts. Just be creative, and enjoy the process of putting your love into this quickly made meal!