Category Archives: beans

Healthy Food for Lazy Days

Ugh. I hate winter. I hate winter so very much that I looked at the giant, teacup sized flakes marking DC’s second snowfall with disgust rather than amazement. It’s always been that way– even when I was a little girl, I “hibernated” during the winter, having to be pushed and scolded into leaving the house. I’m self-motivated now, but it’s frequently difficult for me to get out and go shopping for fresh foods and then stand around and chop up all those veggies.

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This (yet to be named) meal is the perfect solution for winter slumps; you can make a million variations of it to fit whatever you have in the house, it’s relatively healthy (the picture shows the boy’s version, which gets double-cheese) , and you can get it on the table in less than half an hour, with barely any chopping. Bonus points, too, for how easy it is to make it in individual serving sizes, which cuts down on dishes and steps and makes it an entertaining-friendly vegetarian meal.

Main Dish (per person)

1/2 c cooked quinoa (could substitute brown rice, bulgar, etc.)
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved (could substitute chunky tomato sauce or tomatoes)
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
3T fresh parsley if available
drizzle of olive oil
1 oz shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese (I’m sure others would be good, too)
salt, pepper to taste

Coat a small saute pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Toss in garlic and saute over medium-low heat until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Add tomatoes and 2T parsley and cook another minute or so, until tomatoes are warm and slightly squishy. Add salt and pepper (plus any other spices you’re in the mood for, it’s very versatile) to taste.

In a mini-loaf pan (or any other small oven-safe container), smooth cooked quinoa to form one even layer. Spread tomato mixture on top, then top with cheese. Sprinkle with remaining parsley for garnish.

Bake “loaf” at 375 for approximately 8 minutes, until cheese is thoroughly melted and preferable starting to brown a bit on the edges.

Serve with whatever veggies are at hand– to my mind, this pairs well with boiled pre-frozen veggies and a dash of butter; the squishier texture of pre-frozen just makes the meal more comforting.

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Filed under beans, cheese, vegetarian, veggies

Ethical Eating (3)- Organics and Mishigash*

*Randomness. Sometimes Yiddish is fun.

This is part 3 of of a three-part series on my views on eating ethically. The first one focuses on why I try to eat locally (and the resources I use to do so). The second one will focus on why I’m not a vegetarian (even though I love veggies), and this third one will be (yep, modified) organics– plus! a bonus, easily vegan-izable winter meal idea; I would have discussed the comments, especially on the second post, but they really discussed themselves. Go check it out.

You may have noticed that this post has taken a little longer to come than the other two. Part of it is that it’s less specific, and thus less inspiring, by nature– but it’s also that my thoughts are more conflicted on organics than on anything else related. You see, at one point I was *very, very* careful about buying everything organic. Then, I met the farmers market… where the milk and dairy products were not organic, for the most part. Hmmmph. I asked the farmers why they weren’t, and, amazingly, they didn’t  beat me up for being so rude! Instead, they patiently explained to me their methods of farming. To be honest, the methods varied.

Some of our local dairy farms were, for all intents and purposes, organic but the certification process was too unwieldy and expensive. Some couldn’t afford to buy supplemental organic feed when their farms didn’t produce enough, and some just felt that non-organic chemicals did the best job and made it possible for them to spray much less, ultimately lowering the toxicity (note: not all organic-approved chemicals are happy and fuzzy.) I thought about that and accepted that they really knew what they were doing, choosing to buy dairy from them rather than organic dairy from the supermarket.

Next came the fruits. When I found the farmers market it was summer. and most of the fruits (though not all) were organic. I was still buying primarily organic fruits and vegetables, but that– that’s easy in summer. When it came to fall, though, I was stumped. Why? Because nobody grows organic tree fruits near DC. They’re nearly, if not totally, impossible to track down from a commercial source (I have to assume that some people have fruit trees in their yards, but that doesn’t help me much, as I don’t know them.) And so, again, a choice– organic tree fruits shipped in from far away, or local in-season fruits from small farms. Again, I asked the farmers. Turns out it’s just not profitable in this region to grow them, and so they can’t afford to– but all of them spray minimally and responsibly, and are happy to discuss their methods. One  farmer even gives paper handouts out so you can go home and learn more about his methods– really cool! Again, thought about it, bought the fruit, haven’t looked back.

There are, however, some things I make a special effort to buy organic, especially when I’m not at the farmer’s market. Corn and wheat products, wherever possible, because I’m concerned about the amount of genetic modification that goes on (besides which I’m willing to bet that topical pesticides are ground into the flour without adequate cleaning at some places) . The standard list of “most risky” foods. Eggs, meats, and dairies when I don’t personally know the producer (if you’ve taken high school biology, you might remember how toxins concentrate as they go up the food chain.)  Berries, tomatoes, and strawberries. Root vegetables that have been marinating in toxins. The list goes on.

Tricksy, huh? So now that you’ve got your stash of organic, locally grown vegetables, what do you do with them in winter? Well, if you’re me, you boil a few potatoes until very soft, then mash them with skim milk, a little butter, a little cream if you’ve got it around, and some sharp or stinky cheese (vegan equivalents are fine, I prefer rice milk, and you can leave out the cheese– it will still taste fabulous so long as you add a little salt).  While the potatoes are boiling, you sautee a lot of garlic and some crushed red pepper in some olive oil, add some greens, and cook until they’re tender, finishing off with some mustard and lemon juice if you’ve got them around. Make a “nest” of the mashed potatoes, and throw the greens in the middle. This is great on its’ own, but if you’ve got some beans lying around, make a bean salad for extra protein.

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Filed under beans, cheese, ethics, greens, Other Interests, vegetarian, veggies

Bean Soup- Girl Style

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The pictures are ugly (and so is the soup), but this soup is too easy, cheap, and weather appropriate to let sit unblogged. In fact, I like it so much that I submitted it to Cate for ARF-5 a Day #99. Given that three out of the top 5 antioxidant-rich foods are beans, it certainly fits, and ARF-5 always inspires me to be more creative with whatever I have lying around.  This recipe makes a big pot of soup (I think I got 10 main-course servings out of it, and there’s more in the freezer)

Of course, I feel obligated to tell you that I could *not* convince the boy to try it. Not even a spoonful. Too healthy, I guess, he seems to only eat beans in “Mexican” food. The beans are pretty obvious, so there’s no hiding them in my version. However, I suspect that it would be equally good blended if you have a blender.

2 strips bacon or 2 T olive oil
1-2 onions, any kind
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
12 cups of vegetable stock (or, if pressed for time, 12 cups water, an extra half-onion, a few sliced carrots, and a few celery slices. they’ll blend right in in the end)
1 bag dried mixed beans (I like the Goya soup mix with the “ham flavor” tossed out), pre-soaked
2 cups potato, cubed (optional)
2 tomatoes, diced (or 1 cup canned tomato product of some sort0
salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (I like rosemary) when available

Place olive oil or bacon on the bottom of a large, thick bottomed pot. Cook (if bacon) until crispy, then break up the pieces with a fork. If olive oil, wait until the oil is hot. Then add onion (and carrot and celery, if needed) on medium-low heat until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add stock, beans, potato, and tomato and simmer until beans are fully cooked. Season to taste (add another few minutes of simmering if adding fresh herbs at the end). Serve with a fresh salad, corn chips, or hearty bread if you’d like. All go, but none are really necessary.

Stay tuned, if you will, for black bean soup, boy style– probably coming next month. Weird not to need to meal plan anymore. It was a good challenge, but actually cost more money in the end. Anyone else have that experience?

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Filed under beans, soup, veggies