Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the category “Beans”

Chicken soup’s vegetarian equivalent: Chickpea and wild rice stew

Chickpea soup 1

As I write this post, I’m home from work trying to nurse a cold that’s been lingering for the past few days. I almost felt guilty staying home today to try to feel better, but then I thought “Why do I feel this intense pressure to be at work, even when I’m not healthy or up to being there?” I think a lot of it has to do with the societal pressure of feeling like work should always come first. I shouldn’t have to be on my death bed to justify taking a sick day when I clearly can’t function as I normally could if I was there.

After reading a few of Anne’s posts on her blog, Balanced Living, I’m reminded by how important it is to manage stress within one’s life. The post, Mind over Medicine has a link to an interesting TED talk about stress and how to deal with it. Stress is probably what caused me to be sick in the first place.

Now, its’ time to heal with some healthy food and much needed rest. The chickpea and wild rice soup recipe posted below, is filling, nourishing, and delicious. It is just what my body ordered on a day like today.

Chickpea soup 2

Chickpea and wild rice soup:

*Serves 3-4

Ingredients: 

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic diced,

optional: 1 yellow onion, diced

1 medium sized potato, peeled and diced

3 stalks of celery, washed and sliced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 quarts of culinary vegetable broth

1/2 cup of a wild and brown rice mix

1/4 tsp each of salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

1 tsp each of oregano and dried basil

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. When it’s hot, add the onion. After letting the onion soften for 3-5 minutes, add the garlic. After a minute or so, add the potato, carrots, and celery. Let those ingredients cook for about 5 minutes before adding the chickpeas, vegetable broth, rice, and spices. Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Then let it cook for 20-25 minutes or until the rice and potatoes are tender. Enjoy!

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Cucumber & Chickpea Salad, as Well as a Thousand Beautiful Things

chickpea salad

My life has been moving at a quicker pace lately. It almost seems as if time is actually slipping through my fingers as summer comes to an end. In the past few weeks I’ve been savoring every moment of the end of this season. From visiting Maine and spending time on a white sandy beach, to making ginger flavored peach pie (and eating most of it for breakfast!), to finally tasting the first tomato from my garden, every day and experience has really been a joy and I feel happier than I have in a very long time.

After returning home midafternoon from a wonderful family vacation in Maine, my stomach started grumbling and I knew I had to create something out of the (lack of) items I had in the pantry. That is how this cool and spicy cucumber and chickpea salad came about. For a simple salad, it was very flavorful. Find the recipe below.

Peach pie

Ginger peach pie.

Peach pie 2

A slice of the pie with blueberry compote.

tomato

My very first home grown tomato.

OOB maine 1

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Cucumber and Chickpea Salad: 

*Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

1 medium sized cucumber, peeled and diced

1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced

1/2 cup of sungold tomatoes, rinsed and quartered

1 tbsp of minced fresh cilantro or 1 tsp of dried cilantro

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Optional: add diced avocado (If I’ had some I would have)

Method:

After prepping the ingredients, combine all of the them in a bowl. Refrigerate the salad for 20 to 30 minutes if you’d like the flavors to combine more. Serve atop a bed of kale, or another leafy green, add it to a wrap, or enjoy this salad on its own.

Green Beans with a Ginger Sauce

Asian Green Beans

These ginger-flavored green beans were served on a bed of kale and white jasmine rice.

When I look at this blue plate full of ginger-spiced green beans, soft white jasmine rice, and crisp green kale, I think to myself “I got a little gypped in the bean department.” Now don’t get me wrong everything on that plate tasted amazing, but those green beans weren’t green when I bought them.

The darker beans were actually a deep eggplant purple color. As soon as I saw them at the farmer’s market, I snatched them up thinking how beautiful they would look in any dish I added them to. Sadly after cooking, the beans all just turned green. Were they still pretty? Yes, just not eggplant purple pretty. I guess at the end of the day, all green beans just want to be green.

Upon tasting the crisp beans, the flavor of ginger stood out the most. The soy sauce added a bit of salt and cut the sweetness of the agave. There isn’t one reason I won’t make this again and since the charade is up, next time I may even just buy normal colored green beans.

*Recipe for the rice and kale is not included here, but I seasoned the rice with with a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I also added a bit of Earth Balance buttery spread to it. The kale was made the same way, but I also added some fresh minced garlic when I steamed the kale.

Asian Green Beans 2

Green Beans with Ginger Sauce:

*Serves two as a side or main dish (if you make the rice and kale to go alongside the beans)

Ingredients: 

1 tsp of sesame oil (plus a little more for drizzling)

3-4 cups of fresh green beans, ends trimmed off

1 tbsp of water

1 – 2 tsp of freshly grated ginger

1 1/2 tsp of soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp of agave nectar

1/4 tsp of freshly grated pepper and garlic powder

Method: 

Add the sesame oil to a frying pan or pot on medium heat. When the oil is heated add the beans. Stir them around and coat them in the oil, then put a lid on the pot and let the beans cook for about 5 minutes. After five minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well (at this time you can drizzle a bit more oil on if you would like – about a teaspoon of sesame oil). Add the lid back onto the pot and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes or until the beans are still crisp, but slightly more tender. Serve immediately and top with sesame seeds if you like. Enjoy!

“Grilled” Corn & Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Snow Pea Salad 2

This “grilled” corn and snap pea salad did not come to fruition without obstacles, but I persevered because I had an idea of how great the end result could be (and it was). It all started when I read Shannon’s post about how to grill corn without a grill (find the link to her post here: “No Grill? No Problem! Roasted Yellow Pepper Relish” and her blog link here:  Move Eat Create – her recipe looks delicious by the way!). She had the idea to “grill” corn under the broiler. Genius, right? The corn comes out of the oven “grilled to perfection,” perfectly cooked, with char marks and all.

The end result was so grand, I nearly forgot about the fires I was putting out along the way. I mean really, after the incidents I had, I’m seriously considering getting a fire extinguisher.

So, back to my story. I saw Shannon’s lovely post for her corn relish and grilled corn how-to and I knew I had to make that corn. I just had to add it to a salad. Several foods immediately came in my mind: snow peas (after just buying some from the local farmer’s market), black beans, lime, chili powder, and creamy avocadoes (because really, what salad is complete without avocado?). That was this salad’s inception.

Though, in the making it all nearly came crashing down. I prepped my corn by removing the husks, gently rinsing the cobs, and then patting them dry. I added a bit of olive oil, dried cilantro, and chili powder to the corn (just a tad different than Shannon’s recipe). They looked gorgeous already. As I turned the broiler on, I admired my tasty looking corn.

When the oven was heated, I put the baking sheet about five inches from the top of the oven. The corn cobs were close enough to brown after turning them every five minutes. At about the second turn, I went in to grab the baking pan and accidentally touched (and torched) the side of my arm to the oven rack. I pulled back hopping to and fro on one foot while blowing on my singed arm. After running it under some cool water, I went back to my post, turned my corn, and put them back into the oven.

I thought my bad luck was over, but not soon enough did I pull the corn out to turn it a third time, when I touched the tip of the oven mitt to the hot coils at the top of the oven. Immediately I saw a flame. I thought “Oh my gosh I’m going to light this house on fire before I even get a chance to taste my corn salad.” I also thought “Oh dear, what do I do?” Then almost immediately the flame put itself out. The oven mitt now had a small black badge of honor, similar to the size of the one now on my arm. After these first few unfortunate events, it was smooth sailing, mostly because the other ingredients were raw and there weren’t as many opportunities for me to be careless (as I can sometimes be while in the kitchen – something I need to work on).

 If you don’t have a grill and you try the broiler method, I’m 99.9% confident you will not encounter the problems I did. This is mainly because I have faith in all of you as home cooks and also because you’ve been forewarned. Read on for a completely delicious recipe (a little sweet, spicy, creamy, and somewhat tart).

Snow Pea Salad

Grilled Corn and Sugar Snap Pea Salad:

*Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cob of corn, grilled (either in the oven or on a grill – I drizzled a bit of olive oil on mine, then added some dried cilantro, and chili powder)

2/3 cup of black beans, rinsed

1 cup of sugar snap peas, rinsed and ends removed

1/2 of an avocado, skin removed and diced

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1 large clove of garlic, diced fine

the juice of 1/2 of a lime (or more to taste)

2 tsp of olive oil

1/4 tsp of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder

1/2 – 1 tsp of chili powder (or more to taste)

Method:

Cut the corn off the cob by holding the cob upright as you carefully slice as close as you can to the cob, removing the kernels. Add the kernels to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix them well. It is that simple, which may even make this summer salad more delicious. Enjoy!

Southwestern Stuffed Mushrooms and Confessions of a Dog Mom

Southwestern Stuffed Mushroom 1

I feel slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I sleep with two tiny cockapoos. They’ve stolen my heart and now it seems that I can’t kick them out of my bed. Now you should know I never intended it to be this way. Oh no, since the day I adopted these two poodles (in my mind) I had them sleeping in their comfy dog beds, which were in their crate.

But then, (you know there’s a but coming on) they started whining, which made me feel like a terrible dog mom (sadly it’s what I think of myself as now). So I let them out of their crate and into the bedroom. In my head I made an agreement with myself that they could sleep on the floor by the bed. Of course what I didn’t think about was the fact that these two little creatures had a bit of terrier in them and they are good jumpers. They kept jumping up on the bed even after I told them to get down. It was like a three ring circus in the bedroom that night.

Finally, Max understood he was not to come on the bed, but then he gave me this terrible look and it was as if he said “Mom, don’t you love me?” So yet again, the dogs won. They started sleeping on the bed. Since December, which was when I first adopted them, they have gotten very comfortable on that bed. They even have their own “spots” now. Oh what is a girl to do? Do your four-legged friends have a place on your bed too? Is it something to be ashamed of? Most of my non-dog-owning friends don’t seem to understand that these two little poodles sleep on my bed (sometimes Layla even creeps up onto the spare pillow).

(Wo)Man's best friend times two.

(Wo)Man’s best friend times two. Getting very comfortable on what they’d like to think of as their bed. 

Aside from sleeping with two adorable creatures, this post is also about the Southwestern stuffed mushrooms I recently cooked and then promptly devoured. Anything with guacamole is delicious in my book. I’m also a sucker for portobello mushrooms and chili-spiced corn salad. So for me, this recipe was a winner. I hope you enjoy it too!

Southwestern Stuffed Mushroom 2

Southwestern Stuffed Mushrooms:

*Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the rice layer:

1 cup of short grain brown rice, or the rice of your choice

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt, garlic powder, and pepper

*1/4 tsp of dried cilantro, or 1 tsp of fresh cilantro, diced (optional)

For the mushroom layer:

2 tsp of olive oil

4 (or more-since the filling should fill more than 4) large portobello mushroom caps

1/4 tsp of sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin

For the corn salad layer:

2 tsp of olive oil

2/3 cup of corn

2/3 cup of black beans

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder (or more to taste)

a tiny dash of cayenne pepper

a dash of smoked paprika

For the guacamole layer (four layers is pushing it, I know):

1 avocado, halved and then diced

1 clove of garlic, diced

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder

1 lime, juiced

1/2 tsp of dried cilantro or two teaspoons of fresh cilantro, diced

*optional: add diced tomato, red onion, etc. (I was low on the extras so I just kept it simple)

Method:

1- Make the rice according to the package or box. The type of short grain brown rice I use calls for about 2 cups of water per cup of brown rice. I set the heat to medium-high and waited until the water was boiling before turning the heat down to medium-low and letting the rice simmer for about 45 minutes until it was done (or when the water was absorbed).

2- Add all of the rest of the ingredients to the rice when it is finished. Stir it and let it sit to let the flavors combine.

3- While you are waiting for the rice to finish and after it has been cooking for about 30 minutes, then add olive oil to a frying pan and let it heat over medium heat. Add the mushrooms when the pan is hot. Sprinkle the spices on as the mushrooms begin to cook. Turn them when they start to brown on one side (about 5-7 minutes). Let them cook for another 5-7 minutes on the other side. Take them off the heat when they’re tender.

4- When you are starting the mushrooms, heat a pot over medium heat. Add all of the ingredients for the corn salad to the pot. Stir and let them heat up for about 5 minutes or so. Once all of the ingredients are warmed, take the pot off the heat.

5- Add all of the guacamole ingredients to a bowl and mash together with a fork or potato masher. It’s really that simple!

6- When all layers are finished and prepped, start by placing all of your mushrooms with the tops facing down. Fill each with rice, then the corn salad, and finally top with the guacamole. If you have an extra lime you can drizzle some lime juice over the top of each. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Loaded Southwestern Bruschetta

Loaded Southwestern Brushetta

Just by looking at that picture, you know this is a messy recipe. If you mind getting your hands dirty,then your’e better off looking, rather than enjoying this loaded southwestern bruschetta. I am not afraid of getting my hands or face a little dirty and so I dug in. Like so many other foods, the messiness of the dish was entirely worth it. Think about it, would you avoid an ice cream cone or popsicle in the summer just to keep clean? I think not. Therefore, loaded southwestern bruschetta is a deliciously messy idea. What are some of your favorite finger-licking-good foods?

Thinking about messy summer foods reminds me of my favorite cold treat. Growing up, I was  nearly addicted to toasted almond ice cream (the kind that comes neatly wrapped, on a stick, and sprinkled with toasted almond flavored pieces). Anytime there was an ice cream truck that came by, it was guaranteed I would order a toasted almond frozen treat. I would sit at the beach eating my half melted ice cream pop, not even caring that half of it was on my hands and that the seagulls above were eyeing me. When I was finished, I only longed for more. Maybe that is why I’m also crazy for the Almond Joy.

*Find my Almond Joy Bar post here (recipe from Rawmazing) and my Almond Joy Popcorn recipe here. For an Almond Joy-inspired breakfast treat, try my Almond Joy Overnight Oats recipe (click here for the recipe).

Loaded Southwestern Bruschetta:

*Makes enough topping for about 1/2 a loaf of bread, sliced (I used a wheat loaf from Whole Foods, as I have yet to tackle making my own bread)

Ingredients:

1 avocado

1/2 tsp of garlic or more to taste (1/4 tsp for the bean/corn mixture and 1/4 tsp for the avocado spread)

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper (for the avocado spread)

1/2 of a lime, juiced

2 tsps of olive oil

1 portobello mushroom cap, diced fairly small (1/4 inch pieces)

1/2 cup of black beans

1/2 cup of corn

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper (for the bean/mushroom mixture)

1/4 tsp of chili powder

a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 a loaf of whole wheat bread, sliced into thick pieces

Method:

1- First, make the avocado spread by halving the avocado. Then scoop out the green fruit’s ripe flesh into a bowl. Add the spices and the juice of  the lime. Mix well. Then set aside in the fridge to let the flavors combine.

2- Over medium heat, add olive oil to a pan. When the pan is hot, add the diced mushroom pieces. After a couple of minutes add the corn, tomato pieces, black beans, and spices. Stir and heat until the corn is warmed through (if using frozen corn) or until the mushrooms are fully cooked. Put a lid on for the last minute of cooking to moisten up the mushrooms.

3- Spread the avocado mash on the half loaf of bread. Then, slice the bread into thick slices. Top each slice with a generous helping of the corn salad. Enjoy!

A Burrito Unwrapped &Topped with Chili-lime Corn Salad

Burrito Unwrapped

Earlier this week I became a proud mamma. Now, I didn’t go off and have a baby or anything crazy like that. Let’s not get carried away here (kidding to all the mothers out there). However, I did just finish planting my garden. While gardening does not require quite as much responsibility as having a child (kidding again – I know, I’m pushing my luck), but at times it does feel like I’m mothering my garden: I care about its outcome, I cherish seeing it grow, and enjoy every minute I put into it (except the weeding, that really is my least favorite part about gardening).

This may be weird, but I absolutely love the getting dirty part of having a garden. I love putting my hands in the dirt to dig or pull weeds. I don’t mind that my nails get caked with soil. For me, it’s like a badge of honor. Then slowly, but surely those plants begin to inch their way up until they’re full grown. This time of year is such an exciting time for the New England gardener. It’s a time of new growth and possibilities. Sure, there is a lack of knowing what the end result of planting a garden will be, but it’s more than worth the chance. This year, I hope to harvest more than a handful of tomatoes. Here’s to hoping anyway!

Aside from finishing my garden earlier in the week, I also made a flavorful corn salad, which was seasoned with both lime and chili powder. It was the perfect balance between both sweet and spicy. I topped my unwrapped burrito with this salad, but underneath it I tucked in some other goodies like Thom’s recipe for Vegan Mexican Roasted Potatoes, which can be found on his blog Don’t Switch Off the Light (just can’t get enough of this recipe Thom!). Lastly, I topped my wrap with a garlic-flavored black bean mash. Vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike would enjoy this burrito, unless of course you don’t like corn. Then it probably wouldn’t be your favorite. It is definitely a dinner recipe I will make again and again. Any repeat recipe is a winner in my book.

Burrito Unwrapped 2

Chili-lime corn salad: 

*Serves 2

Ingredients: 

2 ears of corn, boiled

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, diced

1 clove of garlic, diced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

the juice of 1/2 of a lime (or more to taste)

1/4 tsp of chili powder (or more to taste)

1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

*Cilantro would also be a great addition

Method: 

1- Slice the corn off the cob by holding the cob upright and slicing down as close to the cob as possible. Roughly chop the long corn strips into pieces. Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Serve alone or as part of a burrito.

Garlic-flavored black bean mash: 

*Serves 2+

Ingredients: 

1 tsp of olive oil

14 ounces of black beans (or 1 can), rinsed well

1/4 tsp of sea salt, garlic powder, and freshly ground pepper

1 clove of garlic, minced

Method: 

1- Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the black beans when the pot gets hot. After the beans are warmed, mash them with a potato masher and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and serve with the rest of the burrito ingredients.

What do you add to your burritos that makes you keep coming back for more?

A Recipe for a Slightly Deceiving Taco Salad & Recipes for Chili Spiced Sweet Potato Fries and Cilantro Lime Dressing

Tortilla salad

I know. There are no tacos in this salad. It’s not much more than a recipe for a wannabe taco salad. However, the flavors found in this salad are reminiscent of flavors in a taco. Flavors such as: cilantro, lime, crispy corn chips/taco shells, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes. Those were always some of the repeat ingredients that appeared on taco night at my family’s house. Growing up, I had so much fun loading up my tortilla shells with as many toppings that would fit. This time, I was able to load up a salad instead. I also made chili spiced sweet potato home fries to serve alongside the salad. Each small piece of potato packed some heat and added a spicy flavor compared to the more mild taste of the taco salad.

Taco Salad & Cilantro Lime Dressing:

*Serves 4

Ingredients: 

1 lime, juiced (for dressing)

1 tbsp of finely chopped cilantro (for dressing)

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder (for dressing)

1 clove of garlic, diced (for dressing)

1/4 cup of olive oil (for dressing)

1-2 heads of washed lettuce

*Top salad with cilantro-lime chickpea salad found in the recipe for chickpea wraps

Tortilla chips (to top the salad with)

Method:

1- In a bowl, combine the lime juice, cilantro, seasonings, and garlic. Whisk it all together. Then slowly begin adding the olive oil as you whisk the dressing. Toss the salad in the dressing once the dressing is combined. Then top the salad with the cilantro-lime chickpea salad and tortilla chips.

Sweet potato fries

Chili Spiced Sweet Potato Fries:

*Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 large garlic clove, sliced

1/8 tsp of chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then peel the and dice the sweet potato. Coat it in olive oil and add the spices. Mix with your hands to ensure each piece has spices on it. Then stick the pan in the oven for about 30 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Southwestern Cilantro-Lime Corn Salad Served with Quinoa

southwestern corn salad

Life is like being on a seesaw: constantly moving, changing, striving for balance, and hopefully smiling the whole time it’s happening. There is that moment where the person on the other side of the seesaw is on the same level with you, but usually it’s just for an instant and it can be hard to maintain it.

At times, I feel like I have trouble balancing all of the different parts of my life. There are so many things I’m interested in, that at times I feel like I’m pulled in so many directions. Not to mention, being preoccupied with work and feeling the stresses of everyday life. It almost feels like a wave is crashing down on me, during those times where I’m going full speed, trying to do it all, but not doing much successfully. As Publius Syrus once said, “He who chases two hares will catch neither.” I find this quote very applicable to my life.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I need to make time for the things that are the most important: spending time with loved ones, exercising, and enjoying some of my other passions (especially cooking, eating, and reading). There isn’t enough time in life (or each day) to waste and you won’t have to waste any if you choose to make this salad dish for dinner as it’s a 15 minute meal.

Southwestern Cilantro-Lime Corn Salad with Cumin Quinoa: 

*Serves 3-4

Ingredients for the cilantro-lime corn salad:

1 can of black beans, rinsed thoroughly

1 cup of organic sweet corn, (I used frozen corn)

1 tomato, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1/2 an avocado, halved and diced

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, sliced finely

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lime, juiced

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder

Ingredients for the cumin-spiced quinoa: 

1 cup of quinoa, rinsed

1-2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp of cumin

1/4 tsp of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder

Method:

1- After rinsing the beans add them to a small pot with the corn and heat over low heat until the mixture is warm (and the corn is thawed). Remove from the heat and add to the serving bowl of your choice. Also add in the rest of the ingredients at this time. Stir well and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

2- To make the quinoa, add the rinsed quinoa to a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low once it begins to boil. After about 12 minutes of simmering, the quinoa should be soft and all of the water should be absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and serve the corn salad on top of the quinoa or mix the two together. Either way will be a delicious meal.

Feel free to post any quick-cooking recipes below. I’m always looking for tasty weeknight-friendly meals.

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