Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Beans, Sweet Potato & Rice

I found a package of sweet potatoes cut into cubes in the produce section of my grocery store. That's what inspired this delicious dish. It's easy to make, beautiful to look at and a real taste treat!

Black Beans, Sweet Potato & Rice

Serves 4

1 C. brown rice

16oz. sweet potato cubes (1/2 - 1" dice)
olive oil
sea salt

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 C. onion, diced
1/3 C. celery, diced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 T. water
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. cumin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook the rice using the directions on the package. Lay the sweet potatoes out on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and cumin. Toss to coat and roast for 30 minutes stirring once when 15 minutes in. As the rice and sweet potatoes are finishing, saute the onion and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the water, beans, onion powder and cumin. Once everything is ready, put the rice on the plate first, the sweet potatoes next and finally the beans.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Acquired Tastes

Recently I spent a day with my in-laws doing a little early Christmas shopping. When dinnertime rolled around we needed to find a place to eat and there weren’t many choices. We ended up at a steak house (of all places), but the restaurant had an excellent selection of side dishes so I was happy. As I sat there looking at the plates surrounding me, mostly covered with enormous slabs of prime rib, I realized I had absolutely no interest in even the smallest bite of meat.

Thinking about it later, I reflected on the years it took for me to develop my preferences in food. Yet, here I am, a vegan for five months and the change in my tastes are significant. How this transformation was accomplished I don’t know, but with little effort I have learned to appreciate vegetables, beans and grains in an entirely new light.

Now, that’s not to say I don’t still crave foods that I shouldn’t be eating. In all honesty, I do (there’s something about fried chicken… can’t get it out of my head), but I’ve a newfound appreciation for the foods I eat and the tastes I taste. I enjoy dreaming up new ways to use a vegetable. I get excited about tasting the unfamiliar and I’ve learned to enjoy foods that before I may not have appreciated.

My conclusion? I think intentionally making changes in diet can be hard to accomplish. It certainly requires deliberate effort, sometimes with disappointing results. Still, it's not as hard as you might think, and the longer you demonstrate the willingness to keep at it, the healthier you will become.

I feel better already, and in addition to feeling better I’ve developed a sense of pride and accomplishment in how I’m living. I have a healthier perspective on my life and the lives of the people I love. So if you’re like me, new to this lifestyle, it is worth sticking with. Your tastes will change, the temptations won’t be as challenging, and you will feel better in SO MANY ways… trust me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Black Bean Chili

There are a lot of recipes out there for black bean chili. When I was eating meat, I used to make a version of this with chicken stock and oil. Since I've become a vegan this version has become my "go-to" recipe when I want something fast and delicious. Recently I took it to a party and got rave reviews! We all think this is a hit. I hope you do too!

Black Bean Chili

4 (15.5 oz.) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained (with one can set aside)
2 C. water
1 cube of bouillon, low sodium vegan (I use the Rapunzel brand)
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
½ red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 ½ t. cumin
1 ½ t. chili powder
1 t. dried oregano leaves
1/8 t. sea salt
Sliced scallions & chopped avocado for garnish

In the food processor, process, until smooth, one can of drained and rinsed beans with 2 cups of water. Lightly spray Pam in a non-stick stock pot and add the onion, celery, red pepper and garlic. Cook the vegetables over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until tender, stirring often. Add the processed beans, the remaining rinsed and drained beans, the can of tomatoes with its juices, the bouillon cube and spices. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish with scallions, avocado or both.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Low-Fat Hummus

Once again, my sister Susan...

I love hummus! But on the E2 diet, two traditional hummus ingredients (olive oil & tahini) are no-no’s. Lori, a friend of mine who created a successful food business here in Traverse City, Natural Northern Foods, shared her original hummus recipe with me! So thanks to Lori and some soft tofu, here’s a perfect way to have your hummus & eat low-fat too! Even Mr. Meat & Potatoes said, “This is tasty!”; and he HATES hummus!

Low-Fat Hummus

Quick & easy
10 minutes

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
2 - 3 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 C. soft tofu
1-2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1-2 T. water
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. sea salt

Optional garnishes:
2 T. thinly sliced scallions
2T. chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley or cilantro
A sprinkle of paprika

Put all ingredients in a food processor & blend until smooth. Taste & adjust the seasonings. Enjoy as a dip with fresh veggies, no-oil whole wheat pita bread & baked tortilla chips. My favorites to dip are sweet red peppers, baby carrots, cucumbers and Food for Life sprouted corn tortillas cut into wedges & warmed in the microwave. Also yummy as a spread on veggie sandwiches like cucumber, carrot, green onion, arugula & alfalfa sprouts in pita pockets or sprouted grain wraps.