Beans and greens

I am reading How Not to Die right now. I am in the second section. What I have read so far has me eating a lot of beans and greens! But the question that I am facing is how to eat them in a way that tastes good.

I bought several 1 lb bags of mixed greens at Whole Foods the other day. I also bought a ton (like, two full bags worth) of dried garbanzo beans. That is one of my favorite beans. I like how it stays firm, even after cooking, but not in an undercooked kind of way. I soaked a couple cups worth of beans and cooked them plain. I probably overcooked them a little, the liquid was like a gel! But they are perfect for me. I threw about half a bag’s worth of greens in a pot and seasoned them then added some beans for an easy dinner.

beans n greens
Garbanzo beans with mixed greens

I also tried to make nacho cheese style roasted chickpeas. I should have rinsed the thick liquid off first! They didn’t quite turn into what I had hoped for, but they were tasty. Yesterday for lunch I ate some with arugula and salsa. Then for dinner I added the rest of the bag of greens, some salsa, and the rest of the not-cho beans to a pot and heated through. M roasted some sweet potatoes and carrots. The combo was delightful! I even had some fresh corn tortillas to eat with dinner. Yummy!

I have been really focusing on getting those extra servings of greens and beans in for all of the amazing phytonutrients, anticancer effects, and weight loss benefits. The past two days alone I have lost 1/2 lb per day! So I would say that greens and beans are a winning combination.

What are your special tricks for weight loss? Do you have any foods that you try to eat everyday for a health benefit? What is your favorite bean or greens recipe? Share in the comments!

Advertisements

Looking good?

I know this is a recurring theme with me, but M told me that I look smaller today. I understand that I have lost a significant amount of weight. I also understand that I am going to lose more weight. But what does looking smaller mean? I asked if I look good. He said yes. I said than say that! So he told me that smaller looks good. Good grief!

I want to be smaller. I want to lose the excess weight that I have carried for far too long. But I don’t think that that affects my beauty in any way. However beautiful I ever am I always am.

So what should we say to people who lose a large amount of weight? Maybe we can ask if they have lost any and how they are feeling. Maybe we can notice things like their improved energy level or self-confidence. Maybe we can simply realize that someone else’s weight is not really any of our business and leave their health concerns between them and their medical professional.

I just wish people would see me as a person instead of a fat person. I’m sure that will happen soon enough, but will I have to go out and meet all new people?

In other news, we went to the gym today. I had planned on going swimming at a local pool, but with the current storm and chill in the air (leave me alone about being in the 50s, okay? I know I’m a baby!) neither of us really wanted to go swimming. So we took the dog for a walk in a downpour then came home, changed and hit the gym. I did a little more than 3 miles on a stationary bike and almost a mile on a treadmill then thoroughly stretched. It felt great. I was very tired when I finished. And hungry!!!

When we got home I ate a burrito bowl: rice, “refried” beans, cucumber, shredded carrots, and lettuce. I put some sweet chili sauce on it and 20151201_203753.jpgchowed down! Delicious!!! If you have never had sweet chili sauce, I highly recommend it. We are about halfway through a large bottle I bought on Monday! And it tastes great on just about everything. Seriously, try it. AMAZING!!!

Tonight’s dinner is not quite figured out, but I have a head of cabbage, 3 leeks, and some mushrooms in the fridge. I started some rice and split peas soaking. Have you ever added split peas to your brown rice? The texture is fantastic! I did 2 cups rice with 1 cup of mixed green and yellow split peas. I’ll cook it in the rice cooker tonight and probably sauté the vegetables or maybe make a soup. In any case, I’m sure it will be a warm and tasty dinner. 🙂

How is December going for you? Are you ready for 2016? Any challenges in the coming weeks? How do you plan to deal with them?

Kitchen clean out plus stuffing/dressing debate

Yesterday we had to go to the store for some groceries. We both had the day off work so I was planning a special dinner – stuffed acorn squash with mashed potatoes. More on that later. One thing we tend to do is just wander the aisles of the store aimlessly looking at what sounds good in the moment, often forgetting key ingredients or purchasing duplicates of what we have at home. So M decided to make a list. More than that, he cleaned out the fridge. He started looking at all of the weird things we have been saving – carefully collected bacon drippings, tofu that was so old it was turning red, vegetables that were reaching liquefaction. It was pretty nasty. 🙂 Good thing he took that task on! Haha!

Next he turned to the cupboards. He actually went through all the odds and ends that I have been shoving in for the past two years that we’ve lived here and looking at what actually is okay following the dietary guidelines with which we are currently living. He even started a care bag for his parents of tuna for their cat (ours won’t touch seafood) and other new boxes of mixes that do not support our health and no longer part of what we consider food.

It was liberating and daunting all at once!

I took to two shelves where I have been stashing baking tools to make elegant cakes and other goodies, but never have. I finally let it all go. We ended up with a huge black trash bag full of stuff! Normally we carefully sort our recycling and compostable scraps out but yesterday was a trash day! I wish I had taken a picture.

Our next mission as part of Project Kitchen Clean up was to get a metal shelving rack. We have been talking about getting one for over a year and yesterday we finally had enough “extra” after paying all the bills to find it a worthy purchase. We got it home, set it up*, and filled it. We moved the microwave from the corned of the counter to the rack and moved all the spices over to the corner. It opened up a ton of space and feels so much better than the pile of stuff that had been there before. The pile included our Crock Pot, rice cooker, old water bottles, a large basket we store sweet potatoes and onions in, and more. Plus the chest freezer was totally covered in more stuff like the dog’s food and treats, the fruit bowl, and the salad spinner. Now we have a place for everything and everything is finally in its place!

*We have never successfully assembled anything together before. Usually our DIY projects start with one of us having a bright idea (more often than not me) and the other trying to help but in actuality taking the project over (M does this). There is a fight involved as the originator realizes s/he is no longer a part of the project. Mean things are said, feelings are hurt, projects are finished but don’t always resemble the initial idea, and both of us sulk. Yesterday, though, we were able to work together to assemble the shelving unit with no harsh words, no bickering, no nothing! There were a few tense moments in the beginning as we figured out how to do it without it falling apart, but we got it. By the last shelf it was smooth as silk. A major first for us! 🙂 Love that guy!!!

After we finished the kitchen, I needed a nap! M went to visit a friend down from Washington State. When I was rested I started on dinner.

Months ago I bought an acorn squash with the noble idea of baking it with cinnamon and salt, and even a little butter. This was before I went to a starch based diet. I never made it, though. Eventually it went from green with an orange spot to all orange. By the time I fished it out of the fruit bowl yesterday it was starting to look a little deflated. Oops. I love acorn squash, but firmly recommend eating them when they are still firm!

My plan was to make stuffed acorn squash with mashed potatoes and parsnips. Even with our good intentioned list I still forgot to buy the parsnips. Oh well. I cubed about 1/3 a

croutons
Vegan, oil-free, homemade croutons. YUM!!!

loaf of bread into 1/2″ cubes. I spread them on a rimmed baking sheet then sprayed lightly with Bragg’s and seasoned with a bit of poultry seasoning and garlic powder. I baked at 300 degrees (F) for 30 minutes stirring about halfway through. They turned into the best homemade croutons I have ever had! Granted, I have never had homemade croutons before, but they were delicious anyway!

 

While those were cooling, I got started on the rest. No matter what I am cooking, I love to start with an onion. I understand no everyone likes onions as much as I do. Feel free to use less! The nice thing is that I cook them enough to sweeten them and cook out all of the sharpness. They add such a wonderful flavor to the food and the house smells amazing as

vegetable goodness
Can’t you just smell it?

they sizzle on the stove. I heated a large, heavy, non-stick pan with a bit of water and thinly sliced an onion. I threw the slices in and let them work their magic while I chopped three celery ribs into small pieces. That went in on top of the onions. I then took the stems off of three large white mushrooms (the caps were about 3″ across!), cut off the dirty end, and chopped them finely. The stems are pretty woody when the caps get that big so I added them next so they would soften. Next I chopped the caps and added those. Periodically I added more water and stirred every so often to let everything cook evenly. When all the vegetables were nice and soft I added Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and a bit of salt. Then I chopped an apple into it and threw in a handful of currants, just for good measure.

 

I put the croutons in a mixing bowl and poured the vegetables over them. I stirred it all together adding vegetable broth until everything was moist. I let that sit while I prepared the squash:
– Chop the squash in half using the stem as the midpoint.
– Scoop out all the seeds and strings.
– Question the safety of eating this very old squash.
– Rinse if needed.

I put the squash on my cutting board to hopefully keep things tidy as I stuffed. Then I just heaped spoonfuls of stuffing in and pressed them in tightly with my hands and the spoon. When they were both as full as I could get them I put them into a glass loaf pan. There was still quite a bit of stuffing left over so that went into a baking dish!

Recently we had a conversation at work about stuffing vs. dressing. Which is which? We could not determine to our satisfaction the correct answer so asked Google. It turns out there is not really a difference, it’s mostly just where you’re

before baking
Stuffing or dressing? Why not both?!

from and which tradition you follow. I personally like the idea that stuffing goes into something and dressing is cooked in a pan, but it’s just semantics at that point.

 

They were covered with foil and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes then uncovered and baked another 30 minutes. Two things that would have improved it at this point:
1. Adding some water to the squash pan would have prevented the scorching that affected the bottom of the squash. It probably would have made the squash more tender, as well.
2. Lining the baking dish with parchment paper or a very light coating of grease would have helped it release more easily. I had a few croutons that were pretty stuck to the bottom!

I also realized that I had no desire to wash the big pot to boil potatoes. Luckily for me, M had baked some sweet potatoes a few days ago and there was one left. I skinned it and heated it with some plain, unsweetened oat milk, mashing with a spoon as it cooked. I added a splash of maple syrup, a nice sprinkle of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. It turned into the most amazing sweet potato mash ever!

Dinner turned out pretty good. I was quite pleased with myself, obviously. And I am so happy that I figured out how

plate of stuffed squash dressing and sweet potatoes
I ate some of the squash before I remembered to take a picture. 🙂 It was that good of a dinner!

to make amazing croutons! Here is the finished dinner. If you feel so inclined, give one of these ideas a try for Thanksgiving!

 

Whatever you make, however you celebrate, I hope this is a time of happiness and love for everyone!

Spicy (or not) Three Bean Chili

Not too long ago my dearest M started a new job. His hours are now completely different from what they have20150916_202651_resized been. This month he has to be at work at 630 am Friday – Monday. It has totally thrown me for a loop. Sundays have been our day to go for long hikes, run errands, watch a movie, and generally reconnect for the past few years. We have also been able to stay up late on Saturdays together and he was able to have dinner made when I got home from work Fridays and Saturdays. Now he’s working on those days and it’s been a little adjustment that I’m still working through.

So what do you do for dinner when you and your partner are both hungry but no one has the time for an intensive prep session?

Almost instant chili!

20150916_202547_resized

It’s actually a super simple meal to throw together and can be made to suit your individual tastes very easily. Is there a particular flavor I used that you LOVE or HATE? Use as much or as little as you like. In the end, you’re the one eating it so make it amazing! 🙂

For this dinner I was able to have M wash and chop a few sweet potatoes. When I got home I started them steaming while I made the chili.

I used three cans of chili beans – pinto, black and white. I also used two cans of Mexican style stewed tomatoes, a 20150916_202617_resizedlarge can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onions, and a can of fire roasted green chilies. All of those went into a large pot along with some garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. M chopped several garlic cloves with an onion chopper (he likes to help) and those went in, too. I let it simmer for a bit then tasted and adjusted. We took the dog for a walk while the flavors melded. When we got back we tasted again. It was amazing!

I did add a little salt to the pot, but not enough to encourage eating beyond satiety. The sweet potatoes gave the perfect balance to the spices. And I loved the big chunks of tomatoes. It was a very hearty dinner!

This week we were lucky enough to have a day off together. Thursday we went for a hike in Joaquin Miller Park on a favorite trail of ours. We started walking this trail last summer and every time we have been able to go a little further. This time we made it all the way to the end!

It was a gorgeous day and a fantastic walk together. We also made it to the store and got a few chores around the house done. Doesn’t sound romantic, but it was a perfect day together. Which is good because I don’t know when we’ll have another day off together.

20150917_121830_resized  Recipe for Spicy Three Bean Chili:

  • 3 cans chili beans – pinto, black, white
  • 2 cans Mexican style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 large can or two regular cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onions
  • 1 can fire roasted green chilies
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • garlic
  • garlic powder, 2 tsp
  • onion powder, 1 tsp
  • ground cumin, 1 1/2 tsp
  • chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp
  • cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp
  • salt to taste

Open all the cans and pour into a large pot set over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and stir well. Add seasonings, starting with a small amount of each and building up after tasting. Use any other spices that sound good. I also like smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and cloves in chili. They all add another layer to the complexity of the flavors. Try them and see what you think.

When the chili is warmed through it is ready to serve but the longer it sits the better it tastes.

The garlic will still be pungent since it is not precooked. If you are sensitive to raw garlic heat it in a small amount of water in the pot BEFORE adding any of the canned items. It will soften the flavor.

Serve the chili with your favorite starch.

Ideas for starch pairings include: steamed or baked sweet or regular potatoes, corn bread, polenta, steamed corn, rice, millet, whole wheat bread.

ENJOY!!!

This is a perfect recipe to help with weight loss. There is very little fat and it is incredibly filling. The flavors are intense and the overall meal is comforting. 🙂

Split pea pizza

I have a confession. Sometimes I make really weird things to eat. This is one of those times. I have been in a pizza mood lately. I don’t know what it is I like so much about eating with my hands, but I love it! I also have been on a split pea soup kick lately. So I decided to combine the two!

I have been buying frozen cornmeal pizza crusts at a local natural grocery. They do have a little oil in the ingredient list so I reserve them for more of a treat than a staple. They come in a two pack so I tend to eat them quickly once I open them.

When getting this idea together in my head I made the soup on the thicker side so it would hold up to topping a pizza crust. I also made a fresh batch of brown rice. My first night I spread the rice on first without seasoning it. Then I covered that with the soup and baked it. It turned out alright, but I already saw room for improvement.

image

image

image

You can see that it held up well and the crust and soup were both plenty flavorful. But I knew it could be better. The second night I put the soup down first. It was chilled so it was very spreadable. I then topped the soup with rice. Next, I seasoned it! A little garlic powder, a touch of salt, and a sprinkle of homemade vegan parmesan. I baked that up and knew as soon as I pulled it out of the oven that I was in for a wonderful meal.

image

I didn’t even take any pictures after I cut into this one! That was partly because I was very hungry, but mostly because it was so good! Who knew pea soup and brown rice would be so tasty as a pizza?

Split Pea Soup methodology

Last time I mentioned making split pea soup for dinner. I did, it was amazing, I forgot to take a nice looking picture. 🙂 I also am someone who usually uses recipes for cooking (not baking) as merely a suggestion for how to possibly prepare a dish. So in this post I will share how I made the soup, and how I could have made it better. There will be very few specifics but lots of ideas for how to make a delicious bowl of pea-soupy-goodness including serving ideas.

So let’s get into it! First I chopped an onion. I have seen lots of people who know how to get the perfect dice by leaving the root end on and no matter what I do I can’t seem to get it. But I did recently see a tip for a no-tear way to chop onions and that was to keep your mouth shut the entire time you cut it. Don’t even talk! I gave it a try and it worked! But it was only one onion and I always cut along the latitude orientation first anyway, so I don’t usually have too much issue. It’s good to have more tips to not crying while chopping onions though!

Put the chopped onion in a medium pot with a small amount of water. Heat on medium to medium-high heat until fragrant and translucent. While that’s cooking, chop some garlic. When the onions are cooked enough for you, throw the garlic right in there. Add more water if it dries up and starts sticking. I like to season the veggies as they cook as well. This time I used poultry seasoning (the sage is so earthy!) but feel free to use whatever herbs and spices you fancy. I also used smoked paprika. Something about the smokiness and the split peas is so good to me!

When everything starts to smell really good, add some dried split peas. I used two cups of mixed green and yellow. In retrospect, I wish I’d soaked them. It took a lot longer to cook them than I wanted. But if you have extra cooking time it doesn’t matter as much. Now add enough water to fill the pot as full as the amount of soup you want to make. I also added a bay leaf here and a few drops of liquid smoke. Put a lid on to speed up cooking time or simply simmer until the peas are soft. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. This is my favorite thing to do because every time I stir I get to smell and taste the progress and adjust the seasoning as I go. When the peas were soft enough to eat I used an immersion (stick) blender to puree most of the peas. Then I put in a squirt of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. I ended up with a gorgeous, thick, hearty, chunky pea soup that was absolutely amazing!

Pea Soup 2I served the soup over rice. I asked my husband to cook brown rice but he made white rice by mistake. Not the end of the world. We both put rice into our bowls then ladled some pea soup over it and salted to taste. It was great as a topping for the rice and mixed up so the rice was more part of the soup. Play around and see how you like it. I also think this soup would be great over baked or mashed potatoes or with any other whole grain. Feel free to season or garnish with fresh herbs or lemon zest. Both are delish!

Next time I make this I will soak my peas! Soaked legumes and whole grains cook much faster. I also will make this on an afternoon that I am not at work and can actually take my time. The night I made this I started cooking around 8:30 pm and didn’t eat until around 9:30 which is very late, even for me! I also will take a pretty picture when I first serve myself. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was pretty darned hungry by the time the soup was ready. This picture is of my second bowl and you can see that I stirred the rice into the soup. It was great, though!

Do you like split pea soup? How do you make it? What is your favorite way to serve it? Share in the comments!