Nutrition

Plant-based Nutrition Information

The Incredible, Edible, Bean: Smoky Black Beans in an Instant Pot

Black Bean Spread

Black Bean Spread

The American Egg Board has been using their slogan, “the incredible, edible egg”  since 1977. They wanted us to think that eggs were a healthy food choice that could be used in a variety of ways. Like so many unsuspecting Americans, I bought into that concept for many years. What’s so incredible about raising chickens in crowded conditions so that we could eat a food that’s high in cholesterol? Too bad that incredible slogan is already taken because I think beans are pretty incredible on so many levels. They’re high in fiber, protein, vitamins and they’re versatile. I just finished making a pot of black beans, you know, just because . . . just because I made a batch of recaito yesterday and decided to use it to make black beans. After quick-soaking the beans, I sauteed the recaito right in my instant pot, added the beans, water, liquid smoke and Sazon seasoning; pressure cooked on high for 6 minutes and was done. And while I was waiting for the pressure to come down, I thought about how this pot of beans fits in with my “one mess, many meals” habit. So, here I go. A bowl of black beans with brown, white or Spanish rice. Soft corn tacos stuffed with black beans, rice, avocado and salsa. Black bean spread with tortilla chips. Black beans smashed onto a tortilla, layered with avocado, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Strangely, I even made a sandwich of black beans, sauerkraut and mustard on rye that reminded me of corned beef. Wow! That’s a stretch, but something in those beans did that for me. It’s easy to see that you can make several different, healthy meals with just one pot of beans. Now that’s incredible!

I happened to have two cups of dried beans on hand which made a little over a quart of cooked beans. If you want to make more, here’s how it breaks down: for every cup of dried beans, use 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of recaito, 1/2 teaspoon of Sazon and 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke. The great thing about making recaito and freezing it in small portions is that all of the flavor is in there — peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, culantro. You can find my recaito recipe here. (You can purchase recaito in the Spanish food aisle or freezer section, but home-made is much more flavorful.) The beans came out on the dry side, but that’s what I was after. You can adjust the amount of liquid and cooking time depending on your preference and experience with pressure cooking beans. Make a pot of black beans and make something incredible. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Black Bean Tacos

Black Bean Tacos

Black Bean Wrap

Black Bean Wrap

Black Bean & Sauerkraut Sandwich

Black Bean & Sauerkraut Sandwich

 

Smoky Black Beans in an Instant Pot

  • 2 cups black beans, soaked overnight or quick-soaked
  • ½ cup recaito
  • 1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
  • Salt (optional)

Set instant pot to saute setting. When hot, add recaito and cook until it starts to brown and its liquid evaporates. Add beans, recaito, Sazon and water. Secure lid and cook from 4 to 6 minutes, depending on your pressure cooker. Release when pressure has come down naturally.

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, you can use canned beans and simmer on the stove top for about 30 minutes, adding water as needed, until the flavors mingle and the beans thicken.

 

28 Mar 2016

T.G.I.F. Cherry Bomb Martini

Cherry Bomb Martini

Cherry Bomb Martini

I used to believe that if I followed a wholesome diet and included certain supplements and super foods that I would ward off disease. If I wanted to reduce my risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes or memory loss all I had to do was have more almonds, salmon, yogurt, berries, soy beans, fiber, red wine, etc. If I didn’t like or have time for these foods, I could get them in pill form — fish oil, probiotics, multi-vitamins, fiber supplements, co-enzyme Q-10, glucosamine-condroitin, and so on. I refer to this as the magic bullet approach. If I had steak for dinner, the cholesterol would be negated by a glass of red wine. What was I thinking? I made a major lifestyle change over three years ago by adopting a plant-based diet and so I don’t focus on supplements or super foods too much. After all, everything I eat now is a super food. I have, however, been looking into the health benefits of cherries, specifically tart cherries and their affect on inflammation and joint pain. I have osteoarthritis in my back and pain in my knees that has been creeping up on my body for decades. According to Drugs.com, sour cherries, because they contain high levels of the active ingredient cyanidin, might be 10 times stronger than aspirin in fighting inflammation without the risk of side effects. If it can’t hurt me and could potentially help me, why not incorporate tart cherries into my diet on a regular basis? I opted to order tart cherry juice as fresh sour cherries are hard to come by even when they’re in season and dried cherries lose some of their health-promoting qualities in the drying process. Not only are cherries good for inflammation, but they are supposed to help with fighting cancer, gout, heart disease, stroke, alzheimers and diabetes. I’ve been drinking a small glass every day. I’ll report back on my progress.

As it happens so often, I get inspiration from trying new food products and this cherry juice is no exception. As soon as I took my first sip I wanted to come up with a cocktail for it. The Cherry Bomb Martini as an occasional kick-back cocktail made with vodka, cherry brandy, tart cherry juice and a splash of orgeat syrup. (Orgeat is a syrup made from almonds that’s also used to make a Mai Tai. It’s tricky to find it in stores, so I made my own a few years ago and it’s still good. Click here for an orgeat recipe.) The cocktail is named after the Cherry Bomb explosive which ranges in size from three-quarters of an inch to one and a half inches in diameter. How can something so small pack such a wallop? I thought about all the healing potential of those tiny tart cherries and thought it fitting to name this cocktail after the explosive cherry bomb. Whether you drink your cherry juice straight up or dressed up, you’re bound to enjoy the healing benefits of this tangy tonic. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

P.S. In the middle of enjoying my Cherry Bomb, I rummaged through the pantry for something to pair it with. I pulled out a bag of Fig-Strawberry cookies that I recently picked up at Costco. Wow! These turned out to be the perfect complement to this sweet-tart of a cocktail.

Cherry Bomb and Fig Drops

Cherry Bomb Martini

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1 part cherry brandy
  • 1 part tart cherry juice
  • Splash of orgeat or simple syrup (optional)

Pour all ingredients over cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice. Shake and strain into glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry if desired.

27 Feb 2016

Pumpkins are for Porches and More: Pumpkin Doughnuts

Pumpkin Doughnuts

I love this time of year when summer starts to fade into fall. The leaves are already falling in our yard and our squash and melon vines are starting to brown up. Pretty soon, you’ll see mountains of pumpkins in every size, color and shape in local farm stands. I always buy a great pumpkin for my porch. But pumpkins aren’t just for porches. I like to buy as many small pumpkins (about 8″ in diameter) as I can to make homemade pumpkin puree. It’s so simple and the taste of freshly baked pumpkin is so worth it. Just cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down on a shallow baking sheet. Bake in a 350F oven until soft. Let cool, scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor. You can use the puree now or freeze it in plastic containers or freezer bags. I use pumpkin in a lot of baked goods, much the same way you would use applesauce. It’s a good way to reduce the amount of fat in a recipe while giving a nice, moist texture to baked goods. I’ve used it in smoothies, pumpkin pie and custard, loaf cakes, cupcakes, brownies, doughnuts and pumpkin pancakes. The pumpkin also contains fiber and antioxidants, so there’s no need for a guilt trip this morning. These Pumpkin Doughnuts get an extra pumpkin punch with the addition of pumpkin butter. If you don’t have it on hand, you can substitute applesauce or apple butter. I dipped the cooled doughnuts in Alton Brown’s doughnut glaze substituting cashew milk for whole milk. (If you want more of an icing to drizzle, simple reduce the quantity of milk.) Delicious with a glass of almond milk or a cup of coffee or tea. So pick up a pumpkin for your porch and a few more for your pantry. Then bake up a batch of Pumpkin Doughnuts and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Veg-icurious Pumpkin Doughnuts

Makes 11 to 12 large doughnuts

Special equipment: doughnut baking pan

  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk, warmed in microwave
  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin butter
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two mini doughnut pans or two regular sized doughnut pans with coconut oil.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, milk, pumpkin, pumpkin butter, brown sugar and melted coconut oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift the dry ingredients together. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Using a pastry bag, fill the doughnut tins about ¾ the way full.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F or until they gently spring back when touched. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully using a butter knife to remove. Place on cooling rack for another 10-15 minutes.

 

 

 

07 Sep 2015

Stir it up: Swiss Chard with Garlic-Roasted Chickpeas

Swiss Chard Garlic Roasted Chickpeas

I wish I could say I was an” old sage” when it comes to gardening, but I like to refer to myself as “the accidental gardener”. My experience with gardening has been kind of hit or miss. This year I’ve had a few hits, one of them being Swiss Chard. Swiss Chard is typically a cooler weather crop, but I planted a row of a non-bolting variety in partial shade. It’s taken a long time but I finally have a nice harvest for a substantial meal. Greens all by themselves don’t make a hearty meal, but when you add some legumes you have a meal with some staying power.  Any type of leafy greens are loaded with fiber and antioxidants, so try to include them in your diet on a daily basis. This recipe adds a layer of flavor by roasting the chickpeas with garlic and shallots and then tossing them with the sauteed greens. Other greens like spinach, kale, collard or mustard greens can stand in for the chard. I like to serve this dish with a rustic bread, but perhaps some roasted potatoes would round out the meal just as well. If you’re inclined to try your hand at gardening, now’s the time to plant some cool-weather greens. The next best thing is to pick up some fresh greens at a local farmers market. Stir up some greens and make it Vegi-curious day.

Swiss Chard Saute with Garlic-Roasted Chickpeas

Beans:

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained (about 3 cups)

10 garlic cloves, peeled

2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped

3 small bay leaves, preferably fresh

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine ingredients in 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Cover dish with foil. Roast until garlic is tender, about 45 minutes.

Chard:

2 cups water (or vegetable broth)

1 tsp. Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base (if not using vegetable broth)

½ tsp. liquid smoke

extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

3 small bay leaves

2 shallots, sliced

1 lb. Swiss chard, roughly chopped

Mix together water, bouillon and liquid smoke; set aside.

Lightly coat large non-stick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. (Or use 2 tablespoons of water or broth.) Add garlic, bay leaves and shallots. Cover; cook until shallots are tender, about 2 minutes. Add chard in batches and toss until chard wilts and volume is reduced by half. Add broth. Cover and cook until chard is tender and broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season chard with salt and pepper.

Add chickpeas to chard in large skillet. Continue to cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Note: You can use more Swiss chard or substitute other greens for the chard.

26 Aug 2015

T.G.I.F. Coconut Mango Chiller

Coconut Mango Twister T.G.I.F.Thank Goodness It’s Flowing. I wanted to make a tropical cocktail to enjoy on the patio tonight. Luckily, I had a few mangos and coconut water on hand. Coconut water is a good source of B vitamins and potassium. Mangos are full of antioxidants, fiber and flavor. Put the two together and you have one healthy mixer. The choice of liquor was easy . . . Jamaican rum.  I made my mixer by pureeing the mango and coconut water in a blender, then letting  it chill out for a bit. I didn’t want to water down the creaminess of the mixer, so I opted to stir (rather than shake with ice) the drink. My biggest decision was the choice of glassware. Martini glasses are so misused and easily knocked over, so I went with an old fashioned glass. Just pour the mixer in the glass, add a shot of dark rum and a sprinkle of nutmeg and you’re done. You can even serve these with ice or without the rum and still serve up some fun. Have a great and Vegi-curious weekend.

Coconut Mango Chiller

  • 1 whole mango
  • 11 oz. container coconut water
  • Dark rum
  • nutmeg

Coconut Mango Mixer:

Remove pit and peel from mango. Place mango and coconut water in blender container. Process until smooth. Refrigerate thoroughly.

 To make cocktails:

Pour 3 parts of Coconut Mango mixer and 1 part dark rum into old fashioned glass. Sprinkle nutmeg over surface.

 

25 Jul 2015

TGIF: Melon Margarita Slushie

Melon Margarita SlushieT.G.I.F. Thank Goodness, It’s Flowing! I’m launching a new column that will appear on most Fridays in which I’ll be showcasing another one of my epicurean interests . . . Mixology. Like most of my posts, there’s a story behind it and this one actually has two.

For years, I’ve been concocting and consuming copious cocktails with the help of my trusty (and precise) Lab Assistant. For those of you who know my husband, Bruce, you know that he is a pretty precise person. Many cocktails ago, he made a Cosmopolitan for me that was not up to par. In his engineering fashion and pursuit of perfection he suggested that we get a few graduated cylinders for the bar (in our case, the kitchen counter). If you’re memory is a little cloudy, a graduated cylinders is a piece of glass measuring equipment from high school chemistry. So, I ordered a few from a company called, of course, The Science Fair. I haven’t been disappointed since!

The other story has to do with the carousel glasses. These glasses were a gift to my Mom for her bridal shower. I’ve had them for years and take them out for special times. Well, the launch of a new column and the creation of a new cocktail is a special occasion worthy of these special glasses. Is it me or have you noticed that food and drinks taste better in nice dishes and glasses?

Which leads me to why T.G.I.F will be part of Vegi-curious.com. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to create. I love to have a good time. Kicking back and enjoying a nice wine or a fun cocktail is definitely part of that, so why not try to incorporate some healthy aspects to it? This Melon Margarita Slushie has frozen watermelon for fiber and fresh lime juice for vitamin C and other phytonutrients and flavonoids with antioxidant properties. I’ll be sipping mine while swaying on our porch swing tonight. So do something good for your body and soul; make yourself a Melon Margarita Slushie, have a great weekend and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Melon Margarita Slushie

Makes four servings

4 cups frozen watermelon cubes

3 oz. tequila

3 oz. Triple Sec

2 oz. simple syrup

Juice of 2 limes

Chill 4 old fashion glasses. Place all ingredients in blender and process on low until slushy. Pour into glasses an garnish with lime wedge, mint leaf or whatever tickles your fancy.

 

 

10 Jul 2015

Never Underestimate the Power of Greens: Swiss Chard & Beans

Swiss Chard and Beans I was wakened by a wicked thunderstorm early this morning. Since I couldn’t get back to sleep I figured I’d enjoy some quiet time and do some blogging. Well, I’ve always been a morning person, so this is really not that much of a stretch for me.

I don’t know why, but I usually walk past Swiss chard in the produce aisle. I’m sure it would be pretty tasty swimming in a sea of garlic and olive oil, but we plant eaters need something more than what would otherwise be just a side dish. Greens are not very filling even though they are chock full of nutrients. According to WebMD, leafy vegetables are a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances that may help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and perhaps even cancer. Well, those are enough reasons to include more greens in my life. I got a little over a pound of Swiss chard as part of our CSA share and decided to make a suped-up saute. The addition of beans, carrots and celery added substance to the dish without making it too heavy for a summer supper. Of course, feel free to serve it with some crusty bread or baked potatoes. The bread does a nice job of sopping up all that goodness you can’t pick up with a fork. The next time you see Swiss chard at the market, grab an armful and cook up a storm. Thanks and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Swiss Chard Saute with Beans

Servings: 2 to 3

Olive oil (optional)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, ¼” dice
1 celery stalk, ¼” dice
1 lb. Swiss chard, stems ¼” dice and leaves left whole
1 can of beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water or vegetable broth

Heat oil or a few tablespoons of broth in a deep saute pan. Add garlic, onion, carrots, celery and Swish chard stalks; saute until lightly browned. Add chard leaves and broth; cover pan and cook on medium heat until chard wilts and vegetables are almost tender (about 5 minutes). Add beans and continue cooking, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated.

01 Jul 2015

Vegicurious Home-Grown Weed(s) and Arugula

Noodle Salad, Pesto, Garden 015 Garden Purslane I’ve always tried my hand at gardening. When I had my town home in New Jersey, I had a container garden for herbs. I still prefer to grow herbs in containers because I can move them in and out of the shade and can use organic potting soil and plant food. A few years ago, I planted Garden Purslane in containers. You may have seen purslane growing in your lawn or garden and thought it was a pesky weed. Yes, it’s a weed; but it’s a healthy weed that is the only plant source of Omega 3 fatty acids. I don’t recommend that you eat the weeds from your lawn, especially since it might have been chemically treated over the years. What I am suggesting is that you buy some seeds and sow them in containers of organic soil. You can order the seeds from Territorial Seed Company. Like most weeds, purslane is extremely heat tolerant and it grows like a weed. In fact, it keeps coming up in my basil and oregano containers. So what can you do with purslane? The easiest thing is to add some into a salad.

Lambs QuartersSpeaking of weeds, I was introduced to Lambs Quarters by the Kranz Hill CSA. This a weed that is similar to spinach. You’ve probably seen this in your garden as well. It can grown pretty tall, so it’s easy to spot. I’ve made it sauteed, but you can probably add it to your salads if you like it uncooked.

 

 

ArugulaAnd speaking of salad, why not try growing some arugula? I’ve had a lot of success growing arugula. It is typically grown in the spring and fall but if you have a partially shaded area, you can grow it throughout the summer. The seeds germinate in a few days and when the plants are picked over, you can plant some more. I gave a bunch to my cousin and she mentioned that it’s good for the liver. I’m not surprised about that. Home-grown arugula is really spicy, so you might want to mix it with some other greens and toss it with a honey-balsamic dressing. (I wasn’t working on a recipe today, but I’ll give you a quick dressing anyway.) I encourage you to start your own garden. Start small, even if it’s just a few containers of herbs or weeds. Get your family involved. Hopefully your garden will grow into something really big. Plant some weeds, grow some arugula and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Honey Mustard Balsamic Vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey or agave

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients together and toss with your choice of greens.

 

09 Jun 2015

Salad With An Attitude

Kranz Hill GreensPower SaladBruce and I joined a new CSA this year and made our first pick up today. What I like about being a shareholder in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is that I get to try vegetables I typically wouldn’t buy. Today, we came home with arugula, mustard greens, arugula flowers (who would have thought?) and radishes. While I know that greens are loaded with antioxidants, I’ve always felt that they’re not too full of flavor . . . until today. I used them in a salad and tried to cut down on the “heat” of the arugula and mustard greens by adding some candied pecans, dried cherries and a honey-citrus dressing. Well, let me tell you this salad’s talkin’ back. You might want to temper the spiciness by mixing in some leafy lettuces. While at the farm, I ran into a former co-worker who commented that she’d like to find a way to enjoy eating radishes. Never a big radish fan myself, I’ve resorted to using a vegetable peeler to shave radishes into thin slices. Below are two of my favorite “sweet” dressings. Feel free to add a little more sweetness to offset spicy salad greens. This is another one of those recipes that’s not a recipe at all. You can mix it up by using different juices, vinegars, mustards and, of course, different greens. Just mix it up and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Garlic-Lemon-Pepper Dressing

2 teaspoons lemon zest (or orange)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or orange)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey or agave
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients in small bowl.

Dijon Dressing

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey, agave or maple syrup
Combine all ingredients in glass jar and whisk or shake to emulsify.

22 May 2015

Gigante Bean Salad – Big on Taste, Big on Health

Gigante Bean SaladGigante Beans are BIG; not only in size, but in taste and nutrients. They are a delicious source of protein, fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, antioxidants, and are low in fat.  Since Gigante Beans are found in many Greek dishes, I decided to make a Mediterranean-style salad with oven roasted tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olives and basil. The salad can be served hot or at room temperature. Enjoy it as a side dish or entree for a summer dinner on the patio. You can also toss in some orecchiette (little ears) pasta or toasted pignoli nuts to switch it up.  I think a nice glass of Prosecco or Pinot Grigio is in order tonight! Any leftovers will make a great lunch for later in the week. Make it a Vegi-curious day.

Gigante Bean Salad

1 pound dried Gigante beans (large lima beans)
2 cloves of garlic, left whole

8 plum tomatoes, sliced in half
Fresh thyme sprigs
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
Salt, pepper

¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup Kalamata olives
4 basil leaves, chopped

Soak beans overnight by placing beans in a large pot and cover with plenty of cold water. Drain and rinse beans, then cover with more water. Add whole garlic cloves to pot. Bring to boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes until beans are soft, but not mushy. When done, drain well and place in large, shallow bowl.

Preheat oven to 325F. Coat a glass baking dish very lightly with olive oil (you can opt to omit the oil). Place the tomatoes in the baking dish cut side down, add garlic, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until tomatoes are soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. Remove tomatoes from oven and let cool enough to chop. Add tomatoes, vinegar, olives and basil and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 4 to 6 servings.

 

21 May 2015

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