Conquering the Kitchen: Best Bean Cooking Techniques

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Nutritious Plant-Based Protein at a Fraction of the Cost

Looking for an inexpensive, healthy way to get more protein your diet? Beans are the key!

Beans (and lentils) are the star players when it comes to plant-based protein. And if you learn to cook dried beans instead of relying on canned, you can save a ton of money. For example, a can of organic, no-salt added beans at my local co-op is $2.49 and yields about 1 3/4 cups of beans. I can get at least a pound of the same beans dry in the bulk department for the same price (or less), and they’ll triple in size to yield 6 or more cups once cooked. That’s almost 3 1/2 times as many beans!

Do I even have to ask if you want to spend 3 1/2 times less on a daily staple? Check out the two most common methods for cooking, and get ready to embrace beans at every meal no matter what your budget.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)Cooking Beans: Stovetop

Simmering beans on the stovetop is a method that may seem old-fashioned, but it’s time-tested and results in tender, flavorful beans if you’re up for being patient. Since this method can take several hours, it’s best to try it on a quiet afternoon when you’re hanging out at home with the family or working in the kitchen preparing another long-cooking dish.

For tasty stovetop beans:

  • Soak beans overnight in a large bowl with enough water to cover
  • Rinse and drain the beans
  • Add beans to a large saucepan or stock pot with 3 cups of water for every cup of beans
  • Cover the pan, and bring the water to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer
  • Cook for 1 hour before starting to test for doneness

If you like, you can add some flavor to your beans by tossing in garlic, onions and/or herbs when you turn down the heat to start the simmering process.

I’ve never tried this method, but I’ve read stovetop beans have a way of going from inedible to perfectly tender in a matter of minutes, so it’s important to keep testing them starting around the hour mark. Most beans take at least two hours to get to the right texture. You’ll know they’re done when you can squish one between your fingers and there’s no sign of toughness or hard spots in the core.

Lentils cook much more quickly and don’t require soaking. They’re perfect if you don’t have any cooked beans on hand and need something to add to salads or toss in a dinner dish in a hurry. Start by rinsing lentils and removing any small stones or sticks. Place them in a saucepan with twice as much water as lentils, and cook as for stovetop beans for 25 to 30 minutes. Red lentils take a little less time, around 15 minutes. Drain any excess liquid before serving.

beans and lentilsCooking Beans: Pressure Cooker

My preferred method for cooking beans is to use a pressure cooker, specifically an electric model like an Instant Pot, but stovetop cookers are just as speedy. If you have a hectic schedule and are still trying to get the hang of preparing whole plant foods without spending a lot of time in the kitchen, this is the method for you.

Pressure cooking beans goes faster if you soak the beans first, but it’s okay if you forget. You can still rinse dried beans, dump them in the cooker and get good results. Follow your cooker’s instructions for liquid amounts and cooking times, or check out the handy charts on Hip Pressure Cooking. Cooking instructions also vary between different pressure cookers, so familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual for the model you have.

Plant-based pressure cooking cookbooks like The New Fast Food by Jill Nussinow or Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna J. Sass are handy to have around to answer questions and help troubleshoot if you have difficulty with your pressure cooker. There’s a bit of a learning curve with some electric models, but it’s worth getting the hang of them since you can cook most beans in under 15 minutes if they’ve been soaked first!

Here are a few tips from my own bean cooking adventures:

  • Water ratios don’t seem to be universal, so I put in enough to cover the beans by at least one inch and drain the excess when they’re done
  • Toss in a 1-inch piece of kombu seaweed (dried kelp), available at Asian markets, to tenderize the beans and add trace minerals
  • If you’re cooking chickpeas, save the water to experiment with aquafaba recipes!

Storing Your Beans

Since you’re likely to cook way more beans than you’ll use in one sitting, plan to store the leftovers. Use airtight containers to separate out single servings or meal-sized portions. It’s up to you whether to store the beans in the cooking water or drain them first. I drain it off, but if you use the stovetop method and flavor the water, you may prefer to save it.

Beans will stay tasting fresh for about four days in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer. (If you pull out a container and the beans have a slimy coating or funny smell, don’t use them!)

vegan black bean sweet potato kale quesadilla closeupBenefits of Beans

Okay, so now you’re a bean cooking boss. You have a fridge or freezer full of beans. Why make them a staple of your diet? Is eating beans every day good for you?

It’s more than good — it’s an essential part of a plant-based diet! Beans contain a powerful combination of nutrients and fiber, making them good for:

  • Improving digestion and minimizing constipation
  • Reducing the risk of colorectal cancer
  • Lowering cholesterol and improving heart health
  • Keeping blood sugar in check
  • Managing or losing weight

Beans are lower in calories than animal proteins and contain none of the potentially harmful fats and pro-inflammatory compounds. They’re also nutrient-dense, boasting high levels of iron along with a range of B vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and potassium.

Get inspired to add more beans to your meals with two of my favorite combinations:

There you go! You’re all set to rule the kitchen with your newfound bean cooking prowess.

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Coconut Spinach Rice with Kidney Beans — A Recipe to Feed Your Gut Flora

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Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Ladies and gentlemen, I love spinach.

Really love spinach.

To the point where I’ll happily buy the 2.5-pound “spinach pillow” sold at the local co-op and blow my way through it in a few days. It goes in everything — breakfast scrambles, oatmeal, salads and, like this recipe, beans and rice.

Of course, there are plenty of other leafy greens to love, which I also enjoy in abundance — kale, chard, bok choy, mustard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, collards…the list goes on. But one thing these other greens lack is the special ability of spinach to almost literally melt into a dish when cooked, an ability I’ve found is crucial to the taste and texture of certain Indian dishes.

coconut-spinach-kidney-bean-rice-curry-recipeI first discovered this when making the chana saag from the Forks Over Knives cookbook. It calls for two pounds, yes pounds, of spinach, which may sound like a lot until you consider just how much spinach cooks down. In this particular recipe, it simmers lightly in some nondairy milk along with the usual spices you find in vegan curry, some tomatoes and a good helping of chickpeas. The end result is something that can only be described as velvety. Other greens just don’t seem to do the same thing.

Hence why spinach was the green of choice for this recipe, although I’ll admit it was also somewhat inspired by the Coco Spinach Rice in The 30-Minute Vegan. Combined with brown rice and kidney beans, spiced with fresh ginger and hot curry powder and cooked in coconut milk until it’s just the right texture, spinach brings an infusion of green and a whole lot of nutrition to this bean and rice dish — including, it turns out, fuel for a healthier gut!

World’s Healthiest Foods gives a detailed breakdown of spinach nutrition, including:

  • 987% daily value of vitamin K in one cup of cooked leaves
  • High in the carotene precursors of vitamin A
  • Good source of folate (as is most foliage!)
  • Good source of minerals such as manganese, magnesium and iron

Research also suggests compounds called glycoglycerolipids, abundant in spinach, may protect against free radical damage in the lining of the gut. Why is this important? Damage can lead to inflammation, and an inflamed gut is an unhappy gut. Eating spinach may help keep inflammation at bay and promote healthy digestion, reducing the risk of diseases associated with a damaged gut lining.

Then, of course, you have the added bonus of beans, which, among other things, provide fiber to feed gut bacteria. I chose kidney beans here for two reasons: one, I’m a sucker for well-balanced colors and the dish needed something red, and two, they have a deeper and more earthy flavor than other bean varieties. This complements the light sweetness of the coconut milk and the heat from the curry spices.

(Just as a side note, you can go as mild or as hot as you like with the curry powder. I like the hot kind from Penzey’s, which delivers a lot of heat. If you’re using a milder mix, you might have to add a little more to get the same depth of flavor.)

Coconut Spinach Rice with Kidney Beans
 
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This easy dish combines flavorful spices, creamy coconut milk and silky spinach with hearty kidney beans to form a complete plant-based meal. Fiber and other plant starches feed your microbiome, supporting gut health while you enjoy a delicious meal.
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder (I use Penzey's)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 3 cups cooked or 2 (15.5oz) cans low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed if canned
  • 12 to 16 ounces spinach, chopped
  • 1½ cups dry long grain brown rice (basmati is particularly nice)
Instructions
  1. Place the onions in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add a splash of water to the pan if the onions start to stick.
  2. Add the garlic and the white parts of the scallions (save the green parts for garnish). Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the rice, coconut milk and curry powder along with 2 cups of water. Cover, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
  4. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir in the spinach and beans.
  5. When the rice is done, taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve immediately, garnished with the green parts of the scallions.
What’s your favorite leafy green? Can you even decide? Tell me about your favorite dish in the comments!

Looking for more help with gut health? Book a starter package with GreenGut Wellness today and get 10% off with the code GGJS2016 from now until 11/15!

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Recipe: Super Southwestern Collard Rolls — Spicy Vegan Stovetop Dinner

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(This post contains affiliate links.)

What do you do when you really, really want a burrito, and you have no tortillas? And you’re not sure if your favorite wheat tortilla recipe is going to set off a crazy allergic reaction?

vegan collard rolls cooking

I’ve had quite the journey recently, trying to figure out what exactly is causing my body to have apparently random symptoms of food allergy. I’ve tried going grain-free, gluten free, eating non-wheat gluten grains and eating wheat, eating lots of fruit, eating lots of greens…and yet the saga continues. So far, the most consistent culprit seems to be wheat, and I’ve been trying to steer clear of it.

But–I love burritos. Warm, seasoned filling wrapped in a soft tortilla, topped with spicy salsa and maybe some vegan cheese sauce…oh man. Clearly the solution is to wrap said filling in something wheat-free. For these Southwestern Collard Rolls, I took a cue from the common raw foodie practice of using greens as wraps and coupled that with some elements from my favorite cabbage roll recipe out of Robin Robertson’s 1,000 Vegan Recipes.

vegan collard rolls closeup

I was going for a sort of black bean sweet potato chili inside a wrap, and I think I managed to accomplish that! The filling is a fairly typical combination of onions, peppers, beans, sweet potatoes, corn and chili seasonings. Instead of simmering the ingredients in a pot of liquid like you would for regular chili, the filling gets sauteed before being rolled up inside the collard leaves. Then everything gets simmered in a saucy combination of crushed tomatoes and salsa. I happened to have some pumpkin chipotle salsa on hand, and that was pretty darn delicious. Use whatever salsa is your favorite to impart a unique flavor! Or make it so spicy that you need a dozen tissues to get through dinner, if that’s your thing.

vegan collard roll filling

It drives me crazy when recipes that use greens say to remove the “tough stems” but never do anything with them. Unless you have a compost heap, the next stop for those stems is the garbage. However, nothing goes to waste in this recipe! The collard stems get chopped and cooked right along with the filling so you have green inside and out! And as those of you who are familiar with my Instagram feed are probably aware, I’m a huge fan of adding greens to just about everything.

vegan collard rolls open

The one thing I wanted to include in the filling but just couldn’t fit was rice. I suppose if you had really big collard leaves and were feeling enterprising, you could stuff that in there, as well, but I wound up serving the rolls on top of a bed of cooked rice instead. Quinoa or millet would also be quite delicious. Depending on which grain you choose, it’s possible to put the rolls together during the cooking time and have everything ready all at once.

vega collard rolls pan

Be sure to choose tender collard leaves for this recipe so that they roll up easily. If you have trouble getting them to roll without tearing, you can blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds to soften them. I grabbed mine at the farmer’s market from a local farm called Berry Patch, and they were amazingly soft. They only got softer as they cooked! Even so, I recommend using both a knife and fork to devour these suckers.

vegan collard rolls with pumpkin seeds

Normally my garnish of choice for anything chili-themed is nutritional yeast, but in a sad twist of co-op order fate, I ran out. Fortunately, as many vegan Parmesan recipes can attest to, nuts and seeds make a reasonably cheese-like substitute, at least when you just want to sprinkle something on top of your dinner for extra flavor. Here I used pumpkin seeds, ground up in the single-serve cup of my Ninja. If you prefer something else, give sunflower seeds or cashews a try. Or just use nutritional yeast, since you’re probably a level 10 vegan and always have it around.

Whatever you do, I’d love to hear if you make this recipe! Post your photos to Instagram and include @quantumvegan in the caption. Enjoy!

Super Southwestern Collard Rolls
 
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Stuffed with a sweet, spicy, earthy combination of black beans and sweet potatoes, these collard rolls are a great change of pace from traditional Mexican fare.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8-12 rolls
Ingredients
For the filling:
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup red bell peppers, diced
  • ½ cup green bell peppers, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1Tbsp chili powder
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • ½tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½lb. sweet potatoes, cut into very small dice
  • 1 15oz. can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup salsa, any variety
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed if canned
For the rolls:
  • 8-12 large collard leaves
  • 1oz. pumpkin seeds, ground in a blender or food processor
Instructions
  1. Prep the collard leaves by cutting out the tough stems. Chop these finely and set them aside.
  2. Meanwhile, place the onion and peppers in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and collard stems and stir to coat. Replace the cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Mix the crushed tomatoes and salsa together in a small bowl. Set aside while you add the beans and corn to the pan, then pour half of the mixture on top. Stir to incorporate. Cover and cook 5 minutes more, until the sweet potatoes are completely done.
  5. Place the collard leaves on a flat surface. Evenly divide the mixture among the lower third of each leaf. Roll the leaves up, tucking the ends in as you go, and place them seam-side down in the same pan you cooked the filling in.
  6. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top of the rolls. Cover and bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until the collards are deep green and tender.
  7. Serve on a bed of rice or your favorite grain, topped with ground pumpkin seeds.
 

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Recipe: Sweet Potato Chorizo Chili — Hearty Vegan Fare for Cool Weather

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Chili. It’s one of those foods that you can make again and again without repeating yourself.

chorizo chili bowl closeup
Case in point: I’ve made chorizo chili before, but never with sweet potatoes. I rather enjoy playing around with chili recipes in general, since it is so versatile, and this one stands out to me as one of the more uniquely flavored concoctions that has developed from my playing around with whatever was available in the fridge.

chorizo chili pot sweet potatoes
You can’t really tell that those are sweet potatoes in the pot unless you’re familiar with the white flesh kind, which I wasn’t until recently. I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up random food to try while I’m on my shift in the produce department at the local co-op, and white sweet potatoes were a new creature that I crossed paths with a couple of months ago. Apparently the particular variety I picked up is known as a Japanese sweet potato, and despite the fact that the flesh is a creamy off-white color, they taste pretty much like the orange variety, if not a tad sweeter.

When searching for information on how the Japanese variety differs from the more familiar types of sweet potato, I stumbled across a post on a Paleo website that had the most detail of anything else I could find. Aside from the obvious lack of beta-carotene, Japanese sweet potatoes seem to be fairly high in minerals and B vitamins, which is nothing to sneeze at given the high turnover rate of water-soluble nutrients and the general lack of healthy levels of trace minerals in standard diets.

chorizo chili pot done
Putting sweet potatoes in chili provides a nice contrast to the spiciness of the rest of the dish, enhanced in this case by my favorite vegan chorizo from Upton’s Naturals. I’m fond of its flavor combination of guajillo chili and cumin, the chewy texture, its oil-free recipe and the fact that I can pronounce and recognize every single ingredient. (And that none of those ingredients are “hydrolyzed” or “autolyzed” or “extract”s of anything!) It adds a “meaty” texture to chili that rounds it out when you want something more than just beans.

This chili starts with all the basics like onions and peppers with some diced tomatoes to form the sauce. Then come the sweet potatoes, chorizo and yes, kidney beans. Not only is it a healthy combination, it also tastes pretty darn amazing, if I do say so myself.

chorizo chili bowl top down
But half the enjoyment of chili is what you can dump on it or dip in it, right? There’s a lot of “wiggle room” here for garnishing with just about anything that goes well with the hot/sweet combination. Some ideas:

  • Sliced scallions
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Vegan sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro leaves

If you’re more of the dipping type, some organic corn tortillas or a nice whole grain bread wouldn’t go amiss here. Or even something like Mary’s Gone Crackers. This is a pretty versatile chili despite–or perhaps because of–its interesting flavor, so feel free to experiment. And tell me all about it when you do! I’m always ready to make a brand-new chili from whatever ideas come my way.

Sweet Potato Chorizo Chili
 
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Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup green pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato (about ¾lb.), diced
  • 3 cups no-salt-added diced tomatoes with their juices
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked kidney beans or 2 15.5-oz cans (drained and rinsed if canned)
  • 1 package Upton's Naturals chorizo style seitan
Optional garnishes:
  • sliced scallions
  • nutritional yeast
  • avocado
  • salsa
  • vegan sour cream
  • chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Place the onions and peppers in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add a little water to the pan if necessary to prevent sticking.
  2. Add the garlic and cook, covered, for 2 minutes more, until fragrant.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and spices and stir to coat. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices along with the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and chorizo and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the chili thickens and all the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes more.
  5. Serve topped with your choice of tasty vegan garnishes!
You might have noticed I’ve been experimenting with different post layouts and approaches to delivering recipes. I’d love to hear feedback! Do you like the open, rambling style of this post, or do you prefer blogs that give clear instructions with pictures before providing the full recipe? Let me know in the comments!

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Celebrating Spring with Beet Green Pizza! (Recipe)

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Is there a better way to christen a new apartment than with pizza?

beet green white bean pizza

(If there is, I haven’t a clue what it might be.)

Before I wax poetic about spring greens all over again, let me tell you a little secret. I’ve never moved before! That’s right, I lived in one place for my entire life until just a couple of weeks ago when I moved into a lovely little apartment. Or really, not so little, at least not for me! I have more kitchen space than when I lived at home, and I was able to set up a room just for lifting weights, which is pretty exciting.

I’m still in the same general area, but the apartment is much closer to things like the co-op and the farmers market. Speaking of, I was kind of desperate to squeeze in a farmers market visit on moving day despite the insanity of hauling furniture back and forth and trying to unpack boxes. I managed to get there about half an hour before it closed, marking another first for me–I’ve never hit this particular market in the afternoon!

There were greens to be gotten, so I popped over to one of my favorite vendors where I promptly faced a dilemma. Should I buy the last bunch of dino kale or some of the beautiful beet greens with tiny little beets sprouting off the ends?

“It’s buy one kale, get one beet green free day,” declared the girl manning the table. She wasn’t kidding. Apparently being a good customer and arriving when most people are getting ready to leave has its perks.

So what do you do when it’s made-up discount day and you get free beet greens? Praise the Lord for His provision and make White Bean & Beet Green Pizza, of course!

That’s what I did, anyway.

beet green white bean pizza cooked
This pizza taught me that living in an apartment means making substitutions until you can get all your grocery shopping done. I wanted to make a wheat/oat crust, but lacking yeast, I had to fall back on an old standby that my mom used to call “quick dough.” Instead of yeast and a bunch of rising time, it calls for baking powder. I adapted it a bit further by using some nondairy milk instead of water and heating it up before adding it to the flour–a trick I picked up from making oil-free tortillas that seems to help make the dough more elastic.

Mixing wheat flour and oat flour makes for a stiffer dough, though, so be prepared to do a little work to get it to spread out.

beet green white bean pizza crust with sauce
For the sauce, I used Quick Italian Tomato Sauce from Heart Healthy Pizza. I like to pre-bake my pizza crusts to ensure crispiness before adding sauce and toppings, so that’s what I did here. Then it was time to cook up the greens!

beet green and white bean pizza toppingThese got a hearty kick with six sliced garlic cloves and some sliced onions. I chopped up the beet green stems and threw those in to saute a bit as well before adding the leaves. I took another cue from a greens-filled pizza in Heart Healthy Pizza and added some balsamic vinegar to the mix. It only takes a few minutes for everything to cook down, and then when you toss in the beans, they get a lovely purple color from the beet greens.

beet green white bean pizza closeupA little sprinkle of nutritional yeast and back in the oven the whole thing went for the final round of baking. I didn’t bother with any cheese-like sauce–the greens and beans seemed like enough. The crust on this is very thin and crispy, too, and it might not support anything more than that bit of nootch on the top. I know I had a hard time picking up the slices without showering myself in greeny, beany goodness!

You get eight pretty good-sized slices out of this recipe, which means there’s some left over to enjoy again. And again. And perhaps again.

You could always share it, but where’s the fun in that?

White Bean & Beet Green Pizza
 
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It's a beet green bonanza with this hearty pizza that requires no rising time and tastes just as good the next day!
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Serves: 8 slices
Ingredients
For the Crust:
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup oat flour (or 1¼ cup rolled oats, ground in a blender)
  • 2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ cup nondairy milk, heated until just boiling
For the Pizza:
  • 1 cup pizza sauce, tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups thinly sliced white onions
  • 8 ounces beet greens, leaves chopped, stems sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups cooked navy beans or 1 15.5oz. can, drained and rinsed
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • nutritional yeast or garlic powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
To make the crust:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, oat flour and baking powder. Add the hot nondairy milk and stir until a dough forms. Test to make sure that it's cool enough to handle, then knead for a few minutes until the texture becomes smooth and elastic.
  2. Lightly grease a pizza pan or large cookie sheet. Spread the dough out until it reaches the edges. (It will be a thin crust.) Once the oven is hot, pop the crust in and cook for 10 minutes while you prep the toppings.
To make the beans and greens:
  1. Place the garlic and onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute until fragrant and golden, about 5 minutes, adding splashes of water to the pan if things start to stick. Toss in the beet green stems and cook for 1-2 minutes more, until they start to soften.
  2. Add the beet green leaves and balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the greens begin to wilt. Add the beans and black pepper and cook until just heated through.
To finish the pizza:
  1. Remove the crust from the oven and pour your chosen tomato sauce on top. Spread it to within ¼" of the edge of the dough. Add the bean and green mixture and spread it evenly over the top. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast or garlic powder, if desired. Return to the oven and cook for 10 minutes more, until the crust is crispy and the toppings are hot.
  2. Let the pizza rest for a few minutes before cutting into 8 pieces.
Do you remember your first apartment? How about the first few meals you cooked there? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Yet Another Chili Recipe — White Beans with Quinoa!

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Yep, it’s yet another chili recipe! This one takes the “one pot” convenience a step further by cooking a grain–in this case, quinoa–right into the mix so you don’t have to make anything separately. It’s a nod to the recipe that first turned me on to quinoa chili, with just about every common chili ingredient thrown in for good measure.

vegan white bean quinoa chili pan

It’s a pot full of awesome!

I like putting white beans in chili because of their light flavor. Black beans are quite earthy while kidney beans have a heartiness that’s chili-friendly but tends to stand out against other flavors. White beans take up whatever spices you cook them with, so in this case you get a big burst of chili powder and a hint of cumin with nothing to get in the way.

I’ve also grown quite fond of adding mushrooms to chili. They have a “meaty” feel to them and add a nice depth to the texture. Corn lends a firm bite to the whole mix, and the quinoa has a sort of soft crunch that brings the dish together. Plus you only have to wash one pan. Who can argue with that?

vegan white bean quinoa chili with salad
Serve this on its own or with hot sauce, cornbread, tortillas, avocado, nutritional yeast–whatever strikes your fancy!

Random White Bean Quinoa Chili
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups onion, chopped
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 14.5oz. can diced tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 4 cups or 2 15.5oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed if canned
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • hot sauce, for serving, optional
Instructions
  1. Place the onions and bell pepper in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, adding splashes of water to the pan to keep the veggies from sticking if necessary. Stir in the mushrooms and cook, covered, for 5 minutes more, until they start to release their juices.
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano and black pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables. Add the diced tomatoes, corn, beans, quinoa and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, until the quinoa is tender.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.
 

vegan white bean quiinoa chili closeup

Pass the nootch!

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5 Great Reason to Boost Your Bean Intake

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Beans, beans, they’re good for–just about everything! Whether you toss them on your salad, simmer them in chili, use them to bulk up soup or mix them in with pasta, you’re enjoying one of the most delicious, nutritious foods you can have on a plant-based diet. Here are five of the many amazing things that beans can do:

Improve Digestion

Unless you’re already consuming a plant-based diet, chances are you’re not getting enough fiber. According to WebMD, the average American adult only takes in 15g per day, far below the recommended 25g for women and 38g for men (Zelman, 2014). Beans have one of the highest fiber contents of any food, with navy beans serving up a whopping 10.5g per 100g serving (5 reasons to eat more beans, n.d.). This shouldn’t be surprising considering that pretty much the entire bean is made up of soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which play important roles in digestive health (Swalin, 2015).

  • Soluble fiber digests slowly, keeping you full and satisfied for longer (Swalin, 2015). It also feeds the beneficial bacteria in your GI tract, which in turn produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that nourish the colon walls. You wind up with stronger digestion and a better balance of intestinal bacteria, a combination that works to reduce common GI complaints such as constipation.
  • Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and promotes regular bowel movements.

Lower Cholesterol

Another benefit of fiber-rich foods, including beans, is their ability to lower cholesterol. The cholesterol your body doesn’t need is meant to pass out of the body, not wind up in your bloodstream. Too much cholesterol in the blood, especially dense LDL cholesterol, increases the chances of plaque formation and therefore the risk of heart disease. Fiber helps reduce that risk by binding with cholesterol in the digestive tract to ensure proper elimination.red lentils by lazysheep1

Interestingly enough, a study published in the Canadian Medical Journal showed that eating one serving of beans per day can actually reduce LDL cholesterol concentrations by 5% (Swalin, 2015). Whether this was just because of the fiber or because study participants replaced high-cholesterol foods such as meat with beans is unclear, but it’s a big benefit all the same.

Stop the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

Carbohydrates have earned a bad reputation no thanks to the refining process used in most commercial flour-based products. The carbohydrates in beans, however, digest much slower than those in refined grains due both to the fiber and the protein content. Slower digestion means steadier absorption of carbs and a slower climb in blood sugar. Refined carbohydrates send blood sugar spiking and crashing, leading to swings in energy and mood. These swings also result in high levels of insulin flooding the blood stream in an attempt to keep blood sugar stable. Eating beans induces a much more moderate insulin response, helping to protect against the insulin resistance that can be a precursor to Type II diabetes (Swalin, 2015).

Pack a Nutritional Punch

Beans may well be the original “superfood.” They offer a wide range of nutrients including iron, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and potassium, which not only makes them good for general nutrition but also protective against some of the major causes of death such as heart disease and cancer (Murray, 2005). Beans help to combat iron deficiency, the most common mineral deficiency in the US, though for best absorption it’s a good idea to eat them with foods that contain vitamin C such as bell peppers, kale, collards or broccoli (Murray, 2005).hummus by aweeks

Soybeans have added benefits due to their essential fatty acid content. EFAs are necessary for maintaining the health of your brain, circulatory system and cell membranes (Murray, 2005). They’re also anti-inflammatory, an important characteristic given that chronic, low-grade inflammation is now thought to be the root of many common diseases.

Provide an Inexpensive (and Healthy!) Protein Source

While its true that meat, dairy and eggs all contain high amounts of protein, they’re also high in saturated fat, contain naturally occurring trans fats and are full of the hormones, chemicals and antibiotics that are used in modern factory farming processes. Beans, on the other hand, have all of the previously mentioned benefits plus a wide range of health-promoting phytonutrients (Taraday, n.d.). Soy in particular is a great protein source that contains all nine essential amino acids. Choose soybeans and whole soy products such as tofu and tempeh from non-GMO sources to enjoy a healthy protein boost.

In terms of economy and affordability, beans have meat beat, hands-down. One pound of meat contains about five servings; one pound of dried beans provides as many as 12 servings. With a pressure cooker, it’s easy to load up on bulk dried beans and cook them in minutes whenever you need them. Doing this also eliminates the added salt found in canned beans, yet another benefit for overall health.

Looking to get more beans in your diet? Try these tasty recipes:

What’s your favorite bean recipe?


References

5 reasons to eat more beans. (December 18, 2013). In Rodale News. Retrieved March 5, 2015, from http://www.rodalenews.com/are-beans-healthy.

Murray, M.,  Pizzorno, J., Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Simon and Schuster

Swalin, R. (January 12, 2015). Reasons you should eat more beans. In ABC News. Retrieved March 5, 2015, from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/reasons-eat-beans/story?id=28124148.

Taraday, J. (n.d.). 5 reasons you shouldn’t avoid eating beans. In Breaking Muscle. Retrieved March 5, 2015, from http://breakingmuscle.com/nutrition/5-reasons-you-shouldn-t-avoid-eating-beans.

Zelman, K. M. (August 20, 2014). Fiber: How much do you need?. In WebMD. Retrieved March 5, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/fiber-how-much-do-you-need.

 

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