Tag Archives: brown rice

Eggplant Musubi

3 Sep

I can’t believe I had forgotten to share this recipe with you…

Hawaii is the number 1 consumer of SPAM in the United States…  Apparently, Hawaiians love their potted meat.  I have to admit, back in the days when I was growing up I looooved when my grandma made for us Spam sandwiches with mayo on criollo bread.  That was a treat we only ate while on vacations.

Now…  my tastes have changed.  And while I wanted to bring a traditional and authentic take of a Hawaiian Luau to my Yogi friends, I also wanted to make it accessible to everyone.  Some of us have access to good vegetarian “hams”, but I figured that eggplant is something most of you will be able to get and will not cringe when you read it on a recipe.  The teriyaki marinade is what will bring it all together in true Hawaiian musubi fashion.

This recipe is a tad long…  but there are just 3 main steps – 1. cook the rice, 2. cook the eggplant, 3. assemble the musubi.  So don’t be overwhelmed by it all.    I used two small plastic containers of the same size that can fit one inside the other to form my musubi.  There are musubi contraptions, but I could not find one for the life of me in Puerto Rico.   Once you get the hang of it… it will be a breeze.

Recipe from KarmaFree Cooking


2 cups short grain brown rice

3 cups water

1/3 cup plain unseasoned rice vinegar

3 tbs brown sugar

½ tsp salt

2 small eggplants, peeled and sliced thinly

1  cup soy sauce

1 cup brown sugar

4 cloves garlic, grated

1-inch piece of ginger, grated

About ¼ cup of Black Sesame Gomasio as seasoning

2 nori sheets, cut into thin strips

Olive Oil

  1. First, cook the rice…  I use a rice cooker, but you can do it on the stove top if you prefer.  The idea is to cook the rice thoroughly but that it’s a tad sticky.  Not fluffy for sure.  Although by using short grain rice you get that consistency inherently.
  2. Cook the rice without oil, just a light sprinkling of salt.  In a measuring cup mix together the rice vinegar, the 3 tbs of brown sugar and salt.  Set aside.  After the rice is cooked, transfer to a plastic or wooden bowl to cool completely.  While rice is still hot, drizzle the vinegar/brown sugar mixture over the rice to season.   Set aside for the rice to cool completely.
  3. Secondly, we season the eggplant…  Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice eggplant in thin, ¼ inch slices.  In a large flat container mix together the marinade for the eggplant – soy sauce, brown sugar, grated garlic and ginger.  Mix together well to make sure the sugar dissolves well in the soy sauce.  Add the eggplant slices to the marinade, making sure all sides of eggplant are coated with the marinade.  Marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet or griddle and pan-fry the marinated eggplant slices until caramelized, about 2 minutes on each side.  As you cook the eggplant slices, set aside on a baking sheet.
  5. So now…  we assemble the musubi.  Moisten your hands with water.  It will help with the rice not sticking as much to your fingers while you’re assembling.  Take about 2 tbs or rice into the bottom of the plastic container.  Sprinkle lightly some black sesame gomasio as seasoning over the rice.  Place a piece of eggplant over the rice.  Fold the eggplant slice if it’s necessary to fit into the small plastic container.  With the secong plastic container press the eggplant/rice tower to form a compact package.  Using a sharp knife separate the rice/eggplant for the edges and flip over and tap on a cutting board for the rice/eggplant to release from the container.
  6. Wrap with a thin strip of nori.  The nori sheets come scored in strips, we cut each of those strips in half, to make them yiled more strips for sheet.

Musubi tastes best the same day it is made.  Never refrigerate because the cold makes the rice hardens and it’s not very nice to eat.

As you can see, the recipe has a few steps, but it’s not very difficult to make.  And when you get the hang of making the musubi, it becomes kinda like an assembly line.   I want to thank Jesús Omar for being my musubi assistant the day we had to make 50+ musubis for the Hawaiian Vegetarian Festival.  The crowd was surprised they were eating “vegetarian sushi”  for the first time.

Next time, I will definitely try to make this with what they call “sham spam”…  my version, of course.  Stay tuned.

KarmaFree Cooking 1st Cooking Class Recap

28 Jan

You asked for it… and we heard you.

Last December we held our first KarmaFree Cooking class at the Centro Cultural Yoga Devanand kitchens.  A delicious vegetarian Puerto Rican Xmas menu designed to help the students discover and taste for themselves that traditional Xmas fare can be made vegetarian without losing any authenticity.


The menu included:

Rosemary Almonds

Can be enjoyed as an Appetizer or Salad Topper or even as a homemade gift.  It’s a true KarmaFree Cooking favorite.


Raw Yuca Pastelón – all the flavors of a traditional pastel in an easier to make format


Brown Rice and Pigeon Peas – a classic of Puerto Rican cuisine

Arroz con Gandules

Yautía Fritters – the flavors of  alcapurrias, but without the filling

Frituras Yautia 3

A not so typical Salad – including some non-traditional salad ingredients and a delicious Parsley Garlic Dressing

A New Salad

My version of Tembleque – the quick, easy and vegan dessert we all love

Tembleque My Way

We had a lovely time during our cooking class.  To be honest, this is the first time I have taught an official class.  I have shared my recipes with my friends many, many times, but never in a class setting.  I hope the students who participated enjoyed it as much as I did.



I would like to thank everyone who attended.  Some were personal friends, some are friends I have gotten to know thru the blog, others have been KarmaFree Cooking fans for a while…  I kinda felt like a celebrity when they told me that.  Your support and interest gets me going.  And it was real nice to have Adriana from Great Food 360 with us and specially to have her take the most awesome pics ever.  I need to ask Santa for a new camera STAT.

But I also want to send a special shout-out to my friend Angie… she was my co-instructor in this class and she ROCKED!!!  She’s my friend, but she was also one of my first vegetarian cooking teachers.  She was the “owner” of the Brown Rice and Pigeon Peas and Raw Yuca Pastelón Recipes.  We always talk recipes and it was a delight to have her on the team.


Also, a special thanks to my mom… she was the official picker-upper and was in charge of doing the dishes, helping us keep the space clean for the students to cook.  Goes to show you the value of having someone helping you keeping things tidy in the kitchen.

Please visit the links of the recipes in the class above… and stay tuned for our next class coming up on February 1st 

But where will I get my protein?

30 Sep


Don’t be fooled by people who discourage your vegetarian lifestyle claiming you’ll be protein-deficient…

Check out all the sources of protein available from non-animal sources.  Learn them…  for your own benefit and to answer those skeptics you’ll find along the way.

Other sources of protein are:

  • Nuts and Seedsalmonds, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, chia, etc.
  • The milks of such nuts and seeds – like almond milk and sesame seed horchata
  • Other beans besides lentils and black beans – red kidney beans, pinto beans, pink beans, white beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, fava beans,  green beans, etc.
  • Brown rice – and when combined with beans, it is a complete form of protein.
  • Whole grain pastas – I am guessing the spaghetti in the chart above means whole wheat, but let’s make that note here then.  Regular semolina pasta is not rich in protein, but the whole wheat or whole grain kind is.
  • Spirulina – Spirulina is an algae found in certain lakes.  And in dry form it’s 60% protein…  I have taken it in tablets.

And… excess protein is harmful to our health regardless if it’s animal or vegetable protein.  So be mindful not to exceed the necessary daily requirement.  If we sin, it’s usually because we exceed the necessary protein intake.  By knowing which foods provide which amounts of protein we can plan accordingly and try to avoid the excess.

So, don’t worry about your protein intake…  there’s plenty of protein going around and in the vegetable world there’s way more variety than what people really think.

Brown Rice with Corn – Quickie Version

1 Jun

Arroz con Maíz, or Rice with Corn, is a very typical Puerto Rican dish. My granddad loved it very much… it was something my grandma would fix for the family quite often.

The traditional way to make it is to cook the rice with tomato sauce, sofrito and the corn, all together. It’s traditionally made in a “caldero” or large pot, but as you know me, I can make it in a rice cooker. My grad school roommate, Michelle, was a big fan of my Arroz con Maíz. I used to make it for her and leave it in the rice cooker for her to eat when she was back from classes in the afternoon.

And even though making rice in a rice cooker is fairly simple… sometimes I don’t plan too much ahead to make food. I tend to go with what I am craving at the moment. For that same reason, I have developed a method to get almost the same flavors of the traditional Arroz con Maíz but in a quick easy way using left-over rice.

Brown Rice, as easy as it is to make in a rice cooker, it just takes time. It’s not something that you just pull together as easy as boiling some pasta or making a sandwich. To me, it’s very easy to just make a cup or two of plain brown rice in the morning, right after I am done with breakfast, and then by lunch time figure out what I can have with it. Sometimes I have made a quick stir-fry, sometimes I stuff some peppers… sometimes I make this quick Brown Rice with Corn recipe.


2 cups of cooked brown rice
½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 tsp sofrito
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garlic Salt – optional
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and add the sofrito and diced onions. Cook the onions for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the frozen corn kernels… no need to thaw then first. Just add them straight from the bag. Mix well with the onions so the corn cooks and the flavors mix. Season with salt and pepper, or the garlic salt if using. If you have a lid, cover the skillet and let the corn cook for a few minutes.

3.  Add the cooked rice to the skillet. Mix well and cover again. The steam in the skillet will soften the rice again if it’s hardened from being in the fridge. Allow cooking for a couple of minutes and turn the stove off and leave it there for the residual heat to finish heating the rice, making it fluffy again.

You’re done… now this is the perfect accompaniment to your favorite main course. I personally like to have it AS THE main course with a drizzle of ketchup on top and a salad on the side. Some sweet plantains or even some tostones – plantain or breadfruit – would work well with this too.

Gorgonzola Stuffed Bell Peppers

9 Mar

Stuffed peppers are definitely one of my favorite clean-the-fridge meals. I tend to make these recipes a little bit different each time because I work with all the little bits and pieces I have in my fridge. I use mostly left-over rice as a filling, but orzo pasta, quinoa or even couscous work deliciously here. I have even used left-over butternut squash risotto from a large party, added a few extra veggies and made stuffed bell peppers for a crowd after my sister’s baby shower once.


However, the other day I purposely made a conscious effort to think of what I would put in. I am in a blue-cheese kick lately ,so I wondered how would my beloved stuffed bell peppers would taste using gorgonzola as the main cheese. I know I already loved them filled with goat cheese… so this would be a nice twist if successful. And successful it was.



1 large bell pepper – I prefer yellow, orange or red for this… but a green one will do also
1 cup cooked brown rice
½ medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped small
1 small tomato, chopped
3-4 white button mushrooms, chopped
3 large handfuls of baby spinach or any other hearty green lettuce
2 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup gorgonzola crumbles
½ cup walnut pieces or almond slivers
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded for topping
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, garlic and carrots. Season with salt and pepper lightly and sauté for a few minutes for the onions and carrots to soften.
  2. While this cooks, cut the bell pepper in half and clean the insides of all ribs and seeds. Set aside.
  3. Add the mushroom pieces and cook for a few minutes. Add tomato pieces and cook for them to release their juices.
  4. Add the spinach and mix together so it wilts. Season with salt and pepper to help the spinach release its juices.
  5. Remove from heat. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Add the cream cheese and gorgonzola. If you feel the mixture is a bit stiff, add a drizzle of olive oil to soften it.
  6. Add the walnuts or other nut you might have handy.
  7. Fill generously each bell pepper half with rice/cheese mixture. Top with some shredded cheese to make a nice cheesy crust on top.
  8. Place the pepper halves in a baking dish and cook in a 425F oven for about 25-30 minutes. The filling is already cooked but this will cook and soften the pepper outside.

Serve alongside a crisp green salad and dinner is served!!!

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