Category Archives: Beans and Lentils

Middle Eastern feel

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Summer is almost here. As I signed up for long evening classes this year, I need to come up with practical food ideas for recess so that I don’t resort to buying next door junk. Here is a good idea for a cold salad with Middle Eastern feel. Garbanzo beans, carrots, tahini and cilantro fit well together and make a great curry salad. Soak and cook some more garbanzos to make hummus afterwards. Salad recipe here…

Tuscan soups

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Warming cold winter nights. Although the expected super snowstorm passed us by and went to Massachusetts, we got a lot of snow in the following days. So much that we don’t know where to put it anymore. The cold temperatures don’t let any of the accumulated snow melt. Warming up with a hot soup when the snow falls is the best way to prepare for shoveling duty. I found this soup recipe on Epicurious.com and veganized it. A wonderful whole soup in the cold weather. Here’s my recipe.

Cowboy cookoffs…

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If you don’t care how your food looks–Chili is for you!
I find it impossible to make chili look good in a picture, it has this ‘canned dog food’ appeal. But the  soul food is popular for games, tailgating, and is perfect for cold weather. Just the amount of spice should prevent several colds.
As one of our local fire departments is participating in a cook-off for the hot Tex-Mex American Cowboy dish, my own memory of tailgating with bean chillis was rather painful, so I kept avoiding them. Today, I am convinced that the beans were not soaked long enough, not cooked right, or maybe contained too much grease in combination with spices. The official Texas State dish, by the way, does not contain beans, even though chili beans are likely named after it… 

Yesterday, I found out that there are safer, fart-free chilis, very easy, pressure cooker fast that will not give you the blows for days to come, tastes are surprisingly real as a vegan version. Sorry Texas, no cows compromised for this one. Also environmentally friendly, it uses dry beans and fresh pumpkin mash, which saves at least 3-5 cans; You can make up that extra prep-time easily in using a pressure cooker. See recipe

Greetings from Guatemala

PlantainDSC_3195Plantains can be a dessert or vegetable. While green plantains are high in starch to be cooked and used like potatoes, the riper fruits with yellow or black peel have developed a nice sweetness, without becoming mushy like dessert bananas do. Often Latin American recipes deep fry plantains, such as the ‘Rellenitos de plantano’; Plantain rolls with a sweet bean filling. However when the plantains are cooked first, mashed and filled and then lightly cooked in a frying pan, they are not as greasy and taste great as dessert or snack. See recipe

Mardi Gras

There is nothing traditional except color. I must admit, this is a wacky and not very festive combination, but despite the looks it is really tasty. The real recipe of the bake is with white or savoy cabbage, white beans and potatoes. However if you like a stronger taste with more character, try red cabbage and juicy black beans which also won’t discolor. Serve with quinoa burgers and tartar sauce. Cabbage blend recipe
The quinoa burgers or croquettes are quite tasty with tartar sauce. The recipe is adjusted to be non crumbly as the original German recipe was more like granola. Quinoa burger recipe

Old Fashioned favorites

Simple, yet satisfying is split pea soup. Split peas are high in protein and low in fat. They contain some of the highest amounts of fiber, (26 grams of fiber per 100 gram portion,) which helps to make people feel full and satiated. Therefore split pea soup used to be the comfort food at big markets and events (with a serving of Wiener sausages). There are several recipes, of split pea soup, some sweet and pureed, some more country style. I wanted something that cooks in less than an hour and tasted as strong flavored as my mom’s soup, but with veg. bacon bits and sauteed onions instead. This recipe is for the pressure cooker. See recipe

Sell your birthright

Mujaddara or Mejadra, is an ancient Arab dish, known throughout the middle East, and most likely what Jacob served to Esau. Rather for the second look, this humble dish is the one that truly nourishes you and comforts you. Humble indeed, as the name Mujaddara means “Smallpox”.
It serves the poor and the rich as well, depending on how you dress it. While the simple form is proper for lent, you can also add yogurt and vegetables; the fanciest version (with meat) is served at celebrations. Continue reading

Winter soups

A good soup makes up for a rainy day. We are back in the rainy season. There is rain from all sides washing down the hills and merging into a powerful stream on the street. A short errand outside and I was soaking wet, despite my umbrella. It is good to have some warm comforting food. A choice of chickpeas, beans and veg. sausage in a spicey soup, another keeper. See recipe

Yellow season

It is clearly yellow season. The leaves are turning, the nights are getting colder and we are craving warm foods. Ahh spicy foods. I picked up this Indian style burger recipe but never had all the ingredients, to make it. So today again, did  some creative replacements. I notice, all my burgers seem to look the same, however the taste is every time different. This time the idea comes close to Samosas. See recipe

Something warm and quick

Sometimes I just want a quick and warm filling meal. Looking at recipes, they all seemed to ask for things I had not planned for… soaked beans or chickpeas and I did not plan ahead. So I altered a dish to fit what I have. Lentils can be cooked quickly, sweet potatoes can replace winter squash, quinoa for rice, parsley instead of cilantro. The result was a very filling sweet curry. I could have combined it with steamed kale. See recipe

Eat & Run

Many runners ‘study’ food these days. Especially ultra runners, finicky about what they eat, become knowledgeable of long lasting performance food. Scott Jurek, multiple ultra marathon champion writes not only about running, but also food, so I had to read ‘Eat & Run’, which was just published. Continue reading

The green cowboy

If you don’t have an ingredient, be creative… Sometimes replacing creatively brings us a nice new recipe. Here is the ‘Cowboy’ salad with a twist in ingredients. A smoother much more refined version in green. With the season the possibility of weekend salad combinations is endless. See recipe

How the cowboy got better

Cowboy foods are made of beans, lots of them… Food such as dried corn, rice and beans were easy to bring and prepare in the wild.
Each grown culture with food rich in beans, peas and lentils, has discovered methods that would help digestion and fight gas. Which refutes the old assumption that veg people necessarily fart. Our cowboys slurping their bean soup around the campfire, were most likely unaware, which wild weed could spice the dish and help with the after effects. But maybe the concert was part of the fun, so why bother?
It already helps to soak or sprout beans and grains several hours before cooking. Continue reading

Milking the soy cow

Try milk making at home. As I started this blog with my home made foamy almond milk, quick ‘milk making’ became an easy habit.
Despite storing a package of dried beans at home, I have never tried making soy milk. I never use much anyway. Soy milk easily flocks in hot drinks and sensitive people find the taste green and bitter. I am not a big fan of tofu either and the process sounded more involved. Besides, don’t you need special equipment for it? Continue reading

Beat the Heat

We are in the midst of dog days… Heat around the 90’s and high humidity. I catch myself thinking twice if I should use oven and stove. Not primarily to save energy, but to keep the carefully balanced inside temperature down. In that sense using a pressure cooker for grains and beans is a blessing as it really reduces cooking time.
Today’s CSA pickup had some surprise ingredients such as optional okra. What about an African Stew? At least the heat helps to make it feel very authentic…   See recipe

Wild Eats

Our first outside market had wild spring greens. I found claytonia and nettles. Also in season the first small zucchini squash (courgette). While nettles are widely used in Europe, (especially for a home made spray against aphids), Claytonia perfoliata is new to me. The Western American native plant, is also known as miner’s lettuce or winter purslane, and belongs with purslane to the portulacae. White flowers are surrounded by a round leaf collar. The plant is supposedly easy to grow on sandy and poor or wet soil and might be found on abandoned land. Eat in spring and colder months, as hot temperatures will turn the leaves bitter. See recipe

Maroccan sunset

Traveling is a great way to break old habits. Especially with food. Back from family in Argentina, I will try new ideas in the next weeks, pastries as trying to eat vegetarian there, is… a real challenge… The simple soup I made today is Maroccan Style – another place in the world I’d like to see. Continue reading

Yellow Food


Ethnic food is abundant in plant based recipes. Especially Indian cuisine with traditional tried and true recipes is worth adapting. Hot spices warm us in winter and the curry contents have the immunity boosting benefits we need. Garam Masala is a ‘hot’ curry blend, that has a variety across India. Turmeric, among other benefits is believed to reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Chili pepper boosts healing properties; other ingredients, among them cinnamon and cardamom will ease digestion, burn fat and improve skin and nails. See recipe

Soup of the day

You know a good recipe source, when it is quoted in several books. Candle Cafe and Candle 79 have great recipes and cookbooks, that are simply so good, that they are referenced by other authors. This particular recipe for a velvety smooth black bean soup is a variation from the Candle 79 restaurant. Continue reading

Human Beans

Our Alternative Gifts market at Grace Church here in Hastings NY, brings us fair traded crafts and foods from around the world and increasingly ‘local’ projects as well. Each item is a contribution to the creator’s community, you can also contribute directly to a list of charities. This year, I bought a small bag with dried beans from the Women’s Bean ProjectContinue reading