How many of you have New Year’s Day traditions? Christmas, sure. Thanksgiving, yup. Easter, ok. But New Year’s Day? New Year’s Eve gets most of the love and January 1 usually is a day to relax and unwind.
In the Southern US, one New Year’s tradition is to eat black-eyed peas for luck. Apparently, it represents fertility. Eating greens symbolizes wealth and pig represents a link to slavery. All three components are typically eaten together in a dish called Hoppin’ John for a lucky new year.
Personally, any time one eats beans and greens it is a reason to celebrate. I’ll pass on the pig, please.
As the year of the bean concludes (or is just beginning), it is nice to revisit some new finds. My mom introduced me to black-eyed peas when she made them as Mango BBQ Beans. They were much nicer than the kidney beans. Small, yet meaty, they paired well with the sweet and smoky baked beans.
Since then, I have been hankering to cook with them some more. This recipe for garlicky and lemony black-eyed peas and kale was so good Tess included it in both Radiant Health, Inner Wealth and The Two Week Wellness Solution (and on her blog here) and my slightly adapted recipe follows.
If you use canned beans (or peas?), this is a wickedly fast recipe to make. However, I made my own BEPs from scratch. Adding the vegetable broth, bay leaves and onion really boosts the beans since it all gets absorbed by the beans. Combined with the garlic, lemon, and kale, this is a tasty pot of beans that is low in fat but full of flavour. Yes, there are 6 cloves of garlic, but they are cooked and more subdued. You can eat it hot from the pan, but I preferred the chilled leftovers – perfect for lunch on New Year’s Day or your next potluck.
Here’s to a new year filled with beans and greens! :D
Here are some other recipes with black eyed peas that I’ve had my eye on:
Hoppin’ John from Simply Recipes
Black-Eyed Pea Masala from Fat Free Vegan (
we’ve Rob made this [and I ate it] already and it was a gorgeous, subtly spiced dish)
Black-Eyed Pea and Caramelized Onion Salad from Chow
Bulgur and Black-Eyed Pea Salad with tomatoes, Onions and a Pomegranate Dressing from Bon Appetit (looks very similar to my Turkish Bulgur Pomegranate and Almond Salad)
Middle Eastern Black-Eyed Pea Stew from Adaba Foods
Baked BBQ Black-Eyed Peas from Vegan Soul Kitchen
Southwestern Bean Salad with Black Beans, Black-Eyed Peas, Peppers, and Cilantro from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Hottie Black-Eyed Peas and Greens from Appetite for Reduction
Spicy-Smoky Black-Eyed Peas from Plant Powered
Spicy Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens from Branny Boils Over
Caribbean Curried Black-Eyed Peas with Plantains from the Post Punk Kitchen
Trinidadian Black-Eyed Pea Soup from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian
Creole Black-Eyed Peas from Fat Free Vegan
Pineapple and Red Pepper Salad with Black-Eyed Peas from Fresh365
Cinnamon-Flavoured Black-Eyed Peas from 660 Curries
Black-Eyed Peas and Leeks with Marjoram and Tarragon from 101 Cookbooks
Black-Eyed Pea and Tempeh Beanballs from Appetite for Reduction
Black-Eyed Pea and Barley Stew from What Would Cathy Eat?
When we asked my kitchen-challenged friend if we could pick up anything from the grocery store for her, she asked for Brussels sprouts.
Of all things, she wanted Brussels sprouts.
Nothing in her fridge and freezer other than drinks and some frozen dinners, and she asks for Brussels sprouts?!
She explained that she loves to microwave them and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Delicious, she assured us.
My curiosity was piqued. I will confess, I have never had Brussels sprouts. My mom doesn’t like them so she never served them. Thus, I have never eaten them.
Some people may be tempted by elaborate cakes and cookies, whereas I am in a tizzy by new vegetables. There are so many (cruciferous) vegetables I have yet to try. Today is the the day to try something new.
I noticed a trend: people like their sprouts caramelized either through roasting or pan-frying. They like to be off-set with something sweet – caramelized onions or shallots, or even dried fruit, then finished with nuts for crunch. Usually served as a side, I wanted to beef them up as a main-course salad. Enter the lentils.
I based this dish off of my Mujaddara, which is a Middle Eastern dish lentil and rice dish with caramelized onions. I replaced the rice with caramelized roasted Brussels sprouts, omitted the cinnamon from the simmering lentils and added some toasted pecans. A simple warm salad that is more than the sum of its parts. The earthy lentils lend a base of the sweet yet earthy sprouts, contrasted by the sweet caramelized onions with a crunch from toasted pecans. And the Brussels sprouts? They taste like little dense cabbage. Sweet, after the roasting. I think I’ve found a new veggie friend. :)
There is no television in my house.
Thus, I do not watch the food channel or other cooking shows.
It is not that I don’t need help in the kitchen, though. I am mainly a self-taught, learn by experience (and sometimes from my family/friends) kind of cook. I love cookbooks that explain and educate so that I can figure out how and when I can modify the recipe to my own tastes.
Truthfully, I still firmly believe that I don’t make anything too complicated and anyone can make the recipes on my blog. Because if I can do it, so can YOU! :)
Rob bought me the Cadillac, I mean Excalibur, of dehydrators for Christmas. While I quickly made some snacks and treats (apple chips, zucchini chips and kale chips, galore!), what I really wanted to make were crackers, flatbreads and wraps. After giving up refined flours, I have only enjoyed these at raw restaurants so I was itching to make them at home.
However, dehydrating is not as simple as it may seem. I made these zucchini wraps after only consulting Gena’s recipe at Choosing Raw, but it took 12 hours for them to dry and by that time, they were more chip than wrap. Tasty, but very hard to roll. So I consulted the lovely youtube and found this great tutorial. I needed some visual guidance.
It was here that I picked up some great tips. First, I was worried that my wraps were too thick, but thinner wraps would actually be more likely to break. To help dehydrate them better, I could flip the wraps over mid-way (and there is an easy way to do that with an extra tray). Lastly, the best tip I found out in this video, is that if you over-dehydrate something, you can always rehydrate it with some water!!
I thought I had zucchini flatbread, but with a brush of water, I could roll them into zucchini wraps. Therefore, I made the recipe again, this time flipping the wrap over after 3 hours. I let it dehydrate one more hour and it was finished. A little sprinkle of water is all that it needed to become pliable to roll. However, they are still delicate and there is no fancy tucking of the rolls, though. Just rolling.. At least for now, until someone teaches me otherwise. ;)
My only new tip is that these wraps don’t keep very well once assembled. The fillings will fall out unless you wrap them in plastic/wax paper. Just as they will absorb water, they will absorb the moisture from your filling, too. Therefore, they are best eaten freshly wrapped.
These wraps have good flavour as-is: nutty from the flax with a hint of zucchini. Season it with your favourite seasonings if you want something more pronounced. I wanted my filling to shine, so I kept the wrap without extra flavours.
Currently, I am testing recipes for Terry Hope Romano’s new vegan cookbook, Vegan Eats World, and I stuffed my wraps with her filling for Rice Paper Rolls with Kale and Asian Pear with a Peanut Coconut Sauce. I can’t share the recipe, but it is delicious. Truly. One of my favourite recipes from the book so far.
Each aspect makes this wrap shine. I loved the juxtaposition of a lime-coconut-kale salad with Asian pear, packed next to some noodles, next to a spicy and creamy peanut-coconut sauce. Terry uses her peanut sauce as a dipping sauce, but I preferred it to be right inside the wrap, making it a lot less messy with my zucchini wrap. With the rice paper roll, the dipping sauce worked well, though. It really was the perfect merriment of flavours- sweet, sour, spicy, creamy. Feel free to add in some baked tofu for a complete meal.
This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.
I may be half-Ukrainian but darned if I know how to speak it. My vocabulary is limited to Я тебе люблю (Ja tebe liubliu). Some kids learn swear words, but I was only told how to love (it means ‘I love you’).
Rob is slowly introducing me to Polish words. As they pop up, obviously. The key to my heart lies in the kitchen, right? ;) First, I learned how to say borscht. While borscht originates from Ukraine, many other countries have their own variations. In Poland, the soup is called barszcz. Notice the ah sound… and the lack of the t at the end. ;)
Polish barszcz has numerous variations, but the vegetarian version is commonly reserved for Christmas Eve. With the
bloody blazing red beets you have a very festive soup with the dilly green accent. This version, tinkered from Rebar, makes a huge pot of soup filled with vegetables – beets, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes – and white beans for good measure. Lemon juice and balsamic vinegar add that necessary tang, a key feature in Polish barszcz. Traditionally, the soup was aged to get that acidic tang. Sounds like a project to tackle in the new year. ;)
Due to its association with Christmas, I decided to make it for the pre-Christmas dinner. Rob told me it was very similar to his family’s barszcz. I really enjoyed this soup. So did everyone else (well, except for those who shun beets and cabbage and didn’t even try it!). I found the vegetables complemented each other nicely and the Polish dried mushrooms added a deeper, complex flavour. Perfect for Christmas Eve, or any time of the year. I’ll be enjoying it a few weeks from now because I packed the leftovers in the freezer to enjoy later. This makes a ton of soup!
Happy holidays, everyone!
Last weekend, Rob and I had pre-Christmas dinner with his family. Our families are located a bit too far from each other to want to drive between both cities on Christmas Day so we went to Woodstock a week earlier. Rob’s mom was a sweetie and gave me full reign over the kitchen to whip up a few dishes. She took care of the traditional Polish dishes while I had more of a hybrid/fusion contribution with braised cabbage, borscht (recipe to come) and this kale salad. In the aftermath of the gathering, Rob let me know that his parents couldn’t stop raving over this kale salad. People raving over kale salad, doesn’t that make your heart skip a beat? ;) First of all, let me apologize for the less-than-stellar photos. That’s the sacrifice for making a new recipe for guests away from home. Trust me, though, that the salad is stellar. Wilted kale. Garlic roasted butternut squash. Pomegranate arils. Smothered with a lemony vinaigrette. Oh so festive with a green base and sparkly red jewels. This is my version of Sarah’s Poppy Seed-Crusted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pomegranate Salad. As you can tell, I nixed the poppy seeds altogether. And the shallots. I also increased the amount of garlic, added a lot more kale and used more fresh lemon juice and salt. It is hard to muck up a salad with such delicious ingredients, so add what you like. :) This made a ton of food, and the beauty of kale salads is that the leftovers are just as good… which is what I brought home to photograph for you. ;) This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Ingredient Challenge Monday for squash and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend. (more…)
I thought my friend with a kitchen with 4 spices was minimalistic.
Not so. It can get much more barren. At least there were pots and pans. And a Magic bullet!
I recently stayed with my friend in her tiny bachelor apartment in New York City. Before heading out to buy some fixins for some meals, I scoured her kitchen… It was pretty bare. Some olive oil and salt. Some pepper. Some knives and a cutting board. A microwave but she didn’t have any pots or pans for her stovetop. My plan for a dinner stir-fry was thwarted. I knew I had to become a bit more creative.
Off I went to Trader Joe’s, a haven for those who don’t cook. Or chop. They take that fun away from you, but it is great for travellers. :)
Armed with chopped kale, lemon, roasted beets and baked tofu, I had the ingredients to make a tasty salad for a few days. I actually wanted to make a wrap, but they don’t sell Swiss chard or even large (uncut) kale leaves. I used the simple dressing from this kale salad with cranberries as a rough guide. I tried to make a dressing with some hummus, too, but it didn’t work out too well since it was rather dry. Next time, I might try adding more lemon juice, like Kalyn does here.
For breakfast, I picked up some apples and splurged when I spotted all things pumpkin on sale: pumpkin butter and pumpkin pie spice. The golden roasted flax seeds were also a nice touch to add some healthy fats. I had resigned myself to making either overnight oats (sans chia) or buying some instant oats since I couldn’t use the stovetop. Peering through the oatmeal shelf, though, I learned that I could actually microwave the traditional rolled oats for a quick breakfast. Two minutes in the microwave. Why would you even think of using the instant oats when this is nearly just an instant? (OK, maybe I would use the instant kind when I was stuck somewhere without a microwave… like a shoddy hotel room!)
Thankfully, I learn something new every day. Even the real basic stuff I seemed to have skipped over… I usually cook my oats on the stovetop, but this microwave method surely beats my 45-minute brew of steel cut oats. And cuts down on dirty dishes, too. :)
While in NYC, I ventured to the Greenmarket Farmer’s Market at Union Square. As I drooled over the fresh produce (there were the most beautiful bundles of kale), I had to find my dinner. I ended up buying a farinata to go. The farmer told me it was one of his most popular items. Unlike my socca, which was a thin chickpea pancake with toppings, this was a thick slab of a crustless chickpea tart (almost an inch or more thick) with the toppings integrated right into the farinata itself. It wasn’t my best meal. In fact, it was my meal low-light since it was rather dry and crumbly. However, it inspired me to make something even better upon my return back home.
I bookmarked Ricki’s quizza (a chickpea flour-based quiche-pizza hybrid) this summer and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for: a thick slab of pie, creamy instead of dry, filled with my favourite veggies. Rob continues to experiment with the Besan Chilla, the Indian Chickpea Pancakes, and throws all sorts of vegetables into the batter (baby bok choy, red pepper, carrot, etc) and even kimchi. Quiche is equally adaptable to a multitude of fillings.
I went with Mediterranean flavours when I adapted Ricki’s recipe: zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach spiced with garlic, rosemary, basil and oregano. Plus, with a nod to the Besan Chilla, I added black salt for an egg-like taste. Next time, I may add some olives or caramelized onions, too.
I love how versatile chickpea flour can be be. In the Besan Chilla, you have a pancake texture, with the socca it is more firm and here, you definitely have a creamy consistency. Definitely better than the farinata from the market. Plus, I can easily make this at home while cleaning out the vegetable odds and ends. Definitely a win-win situation. :)
Next up on my chickpea flour to-try list: Candle 79′s Chickpea Crepes.
This is being submitted to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Kiran, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring eggy breakfasts and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipe.
Rob and I were recently in New York City and bought a few raw treats while visiting Whole Foods. Namely some chai spice and mint chip raw macaroons from Emmy’s Organics. They weren’t as decadent as the macaroons from Rawlicious; they were a bit more crumbly, too, but I definitely enjoyed the flavours. One package managed to sneak its way back to Toronto.
Rob was out one night, and I decided to open the last packet: 3 mint chip macaroons. I ate one, then quickly followed it up with #2. I definitely had to leave the last one for Rob, right?
I emailed Rob to let him know I was struggling with leaving him the last one…. and then told him I was leaving.
To go to the bulk food store (aka our other pantry) to buy coconut and cocoa to make my own macaroons.
(Now that I have a dehydrator, I have no excuses!)
I used Happy Foody’s recipe as my main guide- I halved the recipe, used agave instead of maple syrup and melted my coconut oil. I stuck one macaroon in the freezer for more immediate gratification, but placed the remainder in my dehydrator.
Over twenty four hours later, I had my macaroons. This was no instant gratification. But darn, they were great. The freezer version was too firm and sweet for my liking, but the dehydrated treats were perfection. Not as cloyingly sweet with a chewy middle but a crispy exterior.
In retrospect, making 16 more macaroons was probably not the best antidote to not eating the last macaroon. :P
Although, I definitely spread the macaroon lovin’. My brother and sister-in-law had us over for dinner, and I surprised them with a handful of macaroons for dessert (they are, thankfully, not afraid of raw foods). They were as equally surprised as my mom that I was making sweets. Anyhow, Rob and I are happily munching through the rest.. :)
When you start baking desserts with non-traditional ingredients, you may start to doubt yourself. If you thought black bean cookies were weird, how about hemp seeds and stevia?! Coconut sugar? What the heck? How will they taste?
Ricki is the baker extraordinaire who creates all sorts of vegan treats with wholesome ingredients. However, I am usually daunted by her long ingredient lists… that usually have uncommon ingredients. I was immediately smitten by her two-bite hemp brownies, and after a trip to Ambrosia, I finally had hemp seeds, coconut sugar and stevia. These ingredients allow you to create a low-glycemic fudgy brownie with healthy fats from the almonds and hemp seeds. Yes, I said fudgy!
This was my first time using stevia, a plant-based zero calorie sweetener. It has a distinct aftertaste. That’s the only clue that these brownies are on the healthier side. A walk on the wild side.
This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.
(Sorry, let me sneak in one fabulous main dish this week before we get the cookie bonanza)
On the love-like scale, I gave this a love. Rob gave it a low like. A 5/10 is definitely a fail in my regards. While testing recipes for Terry’s new book, more and more recipes fell in the “Rob loves this more than Janet” category. Not Rob loves the food more than me, but he loved the food more than I loved the food… kapiche? ;)
Testing recipes has been a nice adventure for us to learn more about our cooking and eating preferences. Rob loved the Curry Laksa with Oyster Mushrooms, whereas I wasn’t as smitten. The spicy fastlane cabbage kimchi was way too spicy for me (1/2 cup of Korean pepper flakes!), but Rob loved it in small amounts. I adored the mild ginger kimchi option, though. Likewise, the jigae (kimchi, tofu and eggplant stew) was too spicy for me again, but Rob enjoyed it. In Rob’s quest to make an authentic Massaman curry, he found a winner here, but I wasn’t as sold. Meanwhile, I found my mojo with the Middle Eastern dishes in the book like the Sweet Autumn Toasted Pita and Kale Salad (a Fattoush knock-off), the Moroccan Vegetable Couscous, the Ethiopian Yellow Split Peas with Chard and Tomatoes and the delicious French-inspired White Bean and Celery Root Puree. We both loved the Venezuelan-style Tofu Sofrito Scramble, though. :)
This Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal came from Appetite for Reduction (recipe here) and I thought Rob would like it- a red lentil curry, complete with ginger, curry powder, coriander, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon, complemented with a host of root vegetables: carrot, parsnip and turnip (did you spot the cruciferous vegetable?). A quick and healthy recipe, it was also up my alley. Turns out the word curry threw Rob off – he found it to be blander than anticipated. Meanwhile, I adored it! This time, I snatched the leftovers! The vegetables make this a sweet curry and I thought this complemented the savoury spices well. For the curry novices out there, there was no hint of curry powder taste… unless you decide to add more! I found this perfecto as written.
There are tons of gift guides floating around, but having just written about my awesome Nutrition Action Health Letter gift, I figured it wasn’t too late to share some other possible gift ideas for those who love to cook.
Those who know me well, know I am an incredibly practical person. I love practical gifts – things I will actually use. There are standard things every kitchen should have (high quality knives [I am partial to my Henckels Santoku knife], sturdy pots, an immersion blender, mixing bowls, food processor, etc). I am usually pretty crafty and could have lived my life without these extras. However, now that I have them, I couldn’t imagine life without them. Hence, why they were perfect as gifts. Perhaps you will find some inspiration for your loved ones.
While I link to specific products, I am not endorsing specific products or brands (unless it is obvious). I actually own the items pictured below, or something that is incredibly similar if I have no clue what the actual brand is. Amazon happens to have easy pictures to steal, which is why I used their links. ;) (FYI, there are no referral links) (more…)
Rob can be bad at keeping secrets. He leaked that he wanted to buy me a dehydrator for Christmas in September.. or maybe October. I rationalized that it was in both our interests to get it while we were still brimming with autumn harvests (mainly our herbs and peppers). Hehehe… Rob had tried drying his chili peppers in the oven on the “keep warm” setting and it took many days to dry completely. Not that energy or time efficient. So…. the dehydrator arrived early and we dehydrated our summer bounty of chili peppers. Then moved on to apple chips, dehydrated pineapple and kale chips.
But it wasn’t much of a surprise when the dehydrator arrived. Rob didn’t even hide when it was available to be picked up from the store. :P
What was a surprise was when my first issue of the Nutrition Action Health Letter arrived in my mailbox this week. I’ve written about this fabulous publication three times before, which I describe as the Consumer’s Reports of healthy food. I usually read my Mom’s leftover issues, but this time she bought me my own subscription. Yahoo! However, someone goofed (not my Mom) and I received the December 2011 issue. Not really a problem because I love this issue, but it arrived before Christmas.. totally spoiling the Christmas Day surprise. :(
The December 2011 issue, itself, was a great issue. The feature article is all about which foods actually improve your health based on scientific research. Want to lower your cholesterol? Your best bet in to focus on foods high in unsaturated fats like oils, nuts and fatty fish. The second best option is to consume foods high in soluble fibre like beans, oats and psyllium. As they explain, it is important to replace foods with trans- and saturated fats (meat, butter, cheese, cream, etc). It can be too easy to add additional calories through nuts, which are caloric-dense, but if you increase your refined carbs as a result of decreasing your fats, your triglycerides could increase, too (not good). They also talk about the best foods to protect your eyes, prevent colon cancer, staying regular and lowering your blood pressure (yes, the DASH diet is better than any single medication on the market).
Previously, my favourite article has been their ratings of vegetables where kale tops their list. I know all veggies are good for you, but I am such a numbers girl. However, with my new subscription they sent me a small pamphlet with ratings of other staples: fruit, beans (!!!), grains, lean meats and spreads. Of course, I was drawn to the best of the beans ratings.
While I know each bean is different, I always thought they were nearly similar nutritionally – full of fibre, folate and other vitamins. Only Nutrition Action would rate them! They based their ratings on the percentage of daily value of that each cup of cooked bean possessed for fibre, protein, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, vitamin B6 and potassium.
Interestingly enough, at the top of their list was edamame and at the bottom of the list was tofu, both soy products. Compared to other beans, edamame (soybeans) are unique because they contain more iron and protein (also fat!) with decreased levels of folate and fibre. This explains why they are so creamy. :)
In honour of winning the title of “best bean”, I thought I’d share a fabulous avocado-edamame dip: guacamole with edamame… guacamame? Or, as Tess called it in Radiance 4 Life: Green Velvet Guacamole. I modified the recipe slightly by increasing the lime juice and garlic for some added zip. If you like bits in your guac, feel free to add chopped tomatoes and onions.. or whatever floats your boat. The edamame adds creaminess and body to your dip but more importantly, additional fibre and protein than you would get from an extra avocado.
I love frozen edamame (ok only the pre-shelled kind, otherwise I start to curse), because they are easy to throw into all sorts of dishes- stir fries, soups and salads. Need only a cup? Not a problem!
Here are some of my favourite recipes with edamame:
This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.