New Ingredient: Young Garbanzo Beans (Young Chickpeas)

We’re well on our way to summer!

 

Temperatures are reaching nearly a hundred degrees this week. Seriously? What IS nice is that the mornings are now like, 70 degrees (instead of a chilly 50 earlier this year, ugh), so I can comfortably wear the same outfit all day. No shedding sweaters for me anymore! That being said, I’m only a student, so that prime time between when the sun rises and hits the very top of the sky, at the perfect temperature: I’m stuck in class. 

 

Yes, boo hoo for me. At least there’s only a month left until we’re out of those cold, air-conditioned classrooms. Temperatures aside, let’s enjoy the season while we have it! There are so many new vegetables coming in; spring is prime for young ones, too, and I stumbled upon some of these beauties when I was at Whole Foods. 

What are they? Young garbanzo beans! (Or chickpeas as you may know them). They were sold in their shells, and inside each shell is a little green bean. How cute! I bought a small handful, knowing how time consuming it would be to peel them. That being said – I have no experience with these little guys. The only time I’d ever seen them was on the tv show Chopped; I vaguely remembered they were sautéed, but this wasn’t enough to quell my curiosity. So my research began! 

 

Turns out you should never boil them, but they’re good prepared steamed, roasted, sautéed, or even raw! When they’re boiled, they’re akin to nasty over-cooked lima beans, ew. Dorothy over at shockinglydelicious gave a ton of suggestions at her site, too, one that I found particularly interesting being to roast them in a pan with a bit of oil and blend of salt, cumin, chili powder, and other spices for 5 minutes. That’s a pretty amazing sounding recipe over there!

What I did was simply steam them for about 6 minutes, and snack on them plain. They’re something like fresh peas or edamame, I can’t put my finger on what, but mighty tasty to just mindlessly munch on if you find yourself sitting by the pool sometime. 

So if you run into these, buy them! They’re fun, healthy snacks that are just so adorable. 

Power Mocha Smoothie

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I used to be a banana hater.

I distinctly remember trips to Jamba Juice gone wrong because there was a banana in my smoothie. Even the slightest detection of the fruit would set me off; it was so stringy and sticky, and smelly, ick.

However, my banana aversion gradually withered away with time, thanks to quite a few loaves of banana bread and my introduction to banana chips. To this day, I’m pretty tolerable. It’s a great fruit, after all, loaded with potassium, super portable, good for muscle cramps, and versatile, too!

Speaking of how useful it is, it’s a truly amazing component in smoothies. It really binds the whole thing together, acts as a natural sweetener and thickener. It pairs well with a myriad of fruits and flavors, and I’ve learned one of my favorite combos with bananas is chocolate!

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So why not put them together in a smoothie? Bananas are great quick sources of energy because they are easily digestible, and paired with a few spoonfuls of cocoa powder, and maybe some coffee beans to really accent that dark, rich flavor, they are truly stars. Smooth and creamy, streaked with little flecks of beautiful coffee beans, this makes a great afternoon snack or morning pick-me-up. And hey, this smoothie is easily vegan, gluten, and refined sugar free! Yay bananas!

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Power Mocha Smoothie

  • 1 medium banana, peeled
  • 1/2 cup soymilk, almond milk, flax milk, or regular milk
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans (if blender is not powerful, use ground coffee or sub 1 tsp instant coffee)
  • 1 tsp dutch cocoa powder (regular is ok, too)

Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix, gradually increasing speed, until coffee beans are ground into small specks. Pour into a tall glass and serve. You might need a spoon because of how creamy this is!

Quick-but-healthy popcorn

Hey guys! I’ve been busy lately so I haven’t been able to keep track of all the recipes I’ve been using this week, so I apologize for that! I promise I’ll get my butt back on here ASAP. By the way, check me out on instagram! (Thumbnail on the right-hand sidebar, or @G1_N4)

In the meantime, I wanted to share the perfect quick snack (that’s healthy) that is one of my fallbacks when I don’t have much time. It’s microwave popcorn! I know, some people still think that microwave popcorn is unhealthy, but that’s only if you’re still buying it in the bag. Recent food trends have uncovered a way to make your own preservative-free popcorn – no air popper necessary.
Popcorn is loaded with fiber (it’s the only grain that we eat entirely; no removing husks or anything) and is a great unrefined carb. 1 cup popped = 30 calories. This recipe makes about 3 cups.

IMG_0101Microwave Popcorn

 

  • 2 tablespoons popcorn
  • pinch salt
  • oil, coconut oil, butter of choice

Just put the kernels in a brown paper lunch bag, drizzle some olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, sprinkle on some salt and seasoning, fold the bag over, and microwave for 2-3 minutes, depending on your microwave’s strength. Stop when the popcorn pops greater than every 2 seconds.

Some of my favorite variations:

  • shake on some Furikake (Japanese rice flakes after popping)

  • sweet cinnamon sugar (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tablespoon white sugar before popping)
  • kettle corn style, salty & sweet (1-2 tablespoons white sugar before popping)
  • chocolatey goodness (add 1 teaspoon cocoa powder before popping)
  • spicy snacking (pinch cayenne or replace salt with chili powder before popping)

Get creative, enjoy!

Clear the fridge & freezer with a veggie sauté

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Sometimes it’s best to go back to what’s basic.

I know there are so many things you can add to make things taste better. Fish sauce. Bacon. Cheese. Miso Paste. Balsamic Vinegar. The list goes on.

But sometimes, when your mouth’s on fire from the crazy thai food you had earlier, or your tongue is crying for mercy after a big bag of salty popcorn, it’s nice to give yourself a break from all those flavor enhancers. I’m not saying they’re bad, no, I love adding little things to take a dish all the way. However, sometimes it’s best to remember what the vegetable taste like in itself.

So for today, I have a lightly sauteed vegetable medley. Wilted just until tender, seasoned with only salt and freshly ground black pepper, this sauté is great to enjoy the vegetable’s sweetness, earthiness, grassiness. Andbest of all, it’s endlessly customizable! I pretty much emptied out my old vegetables, the leftover can of olives from last night’s Tagine, and the little bags of frozen peas/corn sitting at the bottom of my freezer, so feel free to add whatever you’d like. Have some broccoli florets? Throw ’em in! Roasted red bell peppers? Go for it! Leftover garbanzo beans? Yes!

This sauté is also entirely vegetarian AND vegan! It turns out that peas actually contain a decent amount (8g/cup) amount of protein in them, so you’ll get a bit of a protein kick, but to make this a more substantial meal feel free to add in any beans. Image

Vegetable Sauté

  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup black olives, pitted and chopped into quarters
  • 1 sliced bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
  • pinch salt & pepper, to taste

Add olive oil or any vegetable oil to a skillet on medium heat. Add the thinly sliced bell pepper for about 1 minute (until slightly sweated), then add the frozen corn and peas for another minute. Next, add the sliced olives, spinach, and a pinch each salt and pepper. Stir for about 1 minute until spinach is wilted, taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve as a side dish, like a salad, or add beans, meat, or a grain to make it a meal. Enjoy!

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Warm Tex-Mex Salad!

Hope you’re all enjoying the chilly weather this winter, wherever you may be. Even when there’s frost covering the rooftops and there’s an icy glaze over the sidewalk, I still sometimes just feel like a salad.

Yes, a nice summer salad, full of crisp lettuce, refreshing and light. I don’t know –  it pulls you out of the season for a bit, and reminds you of sprinklers, and late sunsets, and cubes of fresh watermelon, and crickets.

So today, I have a quick and easy recipe to share with you that extremely versatile: is vegetarian (!) , easily vegan (!) , as well as gluten free (!). The dish comes together quickly, and could serve as a quick and healthy lunch or dinner for one. Enjoy!

Warm Tex-Mex Salad

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Warm Tex-Mex Salad

Feel free to omit/add any ingredients you’d like! This salad is made for one, but you can easily up the amount of ingredients to serve more.

First, cook the tofu. You can also omit the tofu or substitute another protein (chicken, shrimp,  steak, etc.)

  • 1/5th block extra-firm or pressed tofu (about 4 oz.), cubed 1/2 x 1/2 in
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium. Once the skillet is hot, add the tofu cubes; do NOT oil the pan. The tofu should sizzle and jiggle about once they hit the heat – do not turn or stir them. Let the tofu cook for 5 minutes, or until the pieces have a golden brown layer on each side and do not stick to the pan. Add oil to coat the tofu, then the salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and coriander to the pan. Toss the pan to coat the tofu evenly. Set the tofu aside, and keep the skillet on.

Now, assemble the warm vegetables to top the salad.

  • 1/2 medium red onion, cubed
  • 1 small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored & sliced into strips
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into rings the same thickness as the bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup frozen corn
  • 1/3 cup black beans, drained
  • finely shredded romaine/iceberg lettuce
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla (or tortilla of choice)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mexican cheese

Keep a skillet on medium heat; drizzle some olive oil on once it is hot. Add the onions, green onions, and cilantro to the pan. Immediately, add the spices and stir to coat the onions. Let the onions brown for about 2 minutes, stirring infrequently, then add the peppers and zucchini. Allow the zucchini and peppers to caramelize on each side by not stirring excessively – leave them alone! Once the zucchini and bell peppers and zucchini are softened, add the frozen corn. Allow the corn to thaw on the pan for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the drained beans and tofu, toss gently for about a minute, careful not to break the beans or tofu, then take off the heat.

With the stove still on medium, carefully warm the tortilla over the flame or heat, for about 20 seconds each side. Place the warmed tortilla on a plate, and make a bed of the shredded lettuce. Add the warm ingredients on top of the lettuce. Top with cheese and extra cilantro or green onions if desired. Enjoy!

Note that there is a lot of room for variation in this recipe: the tortilla can be omitted or replaced with a gluten free one; the tofu can be replaced with a meat or another alternative; the cilantro can be removed if you are one of those “cilantro haters” (I respect you, though); you can add hot sauce, jalepenos, avocado, brown rice, etc. Have fun with it, and use whatever you have lying in the fridge!

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Sweet potaters

Sweet potatoes? Yams? So much confusion! I feel like no grocery store will ever have a straight answer to the “is it sweet potato vs is it yam” debate. It turns out sweet potatoes are indeed what you are buying as a yam. That is, unless you think sweet potatoes are starchy tuberous things. Yeah, didn’t think so.

So what do I mean? According to About.com, sweet potatoes are yellow, orange, red, or even purple skinned and fleshed. They are sort of potato shaped, and taste sweet. Yellow ones are creamier, orange ones are softer, purple ones are very sweet – you get the idea, they all very. The important thing, though, is that they look like this: 

(via farm fresh produce)

On the other hand, yams are starchy and tuberous. They’re not really popular in the USA, but rather in the carribean, africa, and central america. Here’s a yam, for drastic comparison:

Yeah, never seen that before.

So,  now that we’ve got that clear, onto a quick and easy method to cook SWEET POTATOES without worrying! This is an extremely simple method that leaves the sweet potatoes by themselves, so you can enjoy their creaminess in nature form! No sugar, no salt, no pepper, nope. Just delicious sweet potatoes. All you need is your oven or grill on above 300 degrees, some foil, and sweet potatoes, of course.

Here’s the process in pictures, first.

washed & clean wrapped up! looks a bit like a flying saucer, haha on the grill under some zucchini fully roasted! look at the wrinkly, caramelized skin and creamy, sweet interior. Yum! The perfect workout snack/breakfast/side dish/dessert/whatever!

Simple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes (any kind you want, keep in mind this will determine the cooking time)

 

Directions:

1. Wash the sweet potatoes really good, because you’re going to leave the skin on. YES, you can eat the skin, it’s very nutritious, full of fiber and vitamin A! I love the skin, actually, it’s fun to peel off and eat 🙂 You don’t need to cut them either, unless you want them to cook faster.

2. Wrap the sweet potatoes tightly in Aluminum foil. No tears or gaps!

3. Place the sweet potatoes in the oven/on your grill. You can throw these in any time you have the oven on, regardless of what else is in there!

4. Check the potatoes every 20 minutes for done-ness. If they are soft enough to be pierced easily with a fork, they’re typically done! I like to leave mine in a bit extra so they get caramelized on one side on the skin 🙂

5. Take the packet out of the grill/oven, careful to avoid steam burns.

6. Cut it open and fill it with chili, coconut flakes, peanuts, peanut butter, I don’t know, people have weird sweet potato pairings. Or, just enjoy it plain! Bon Appetit!

 

 

Quick Choy Sum

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A quick stir-fry to use up those old vegetables. Every weekend there’s a farmer’s market in my area. My favorite stall, by far, is run by this Chinese lady who carries so many different types of vegetables. She has okra, sweet potato, tons of herbs, pumpkins, chilis, fresh peanuts, you name it! I always try and grab a bunch of chinese greens because they’re full of fiber and vitamin C, and so simple to prepare! But, what are all these vegetables called? I found a handy chart if you ever want to refer to it:

Keep in mind, however, that these are only one of the variations of the name! There are different spellings, different languages, etc, so nothing is definitive.

So, here’s  a recipe for a quick take on what you can do with asian greens. I don’t use as much oil as the chinese restaurants do nor does my wok get as hot, but it’s delicious none the less. And   healthier, too! Who needs all that extra oil, anyway.

Pretty much any will stand in place for choy sum, and feel free to replace soy sauce with fish sauce, hoisin sauce, kung pao sauce, or whatever you’d like.
Ingredients: 

  • 1 Bunch of Choy Sum (About 4 cups), cut into 1 inch long pieces
  • 1 Stalk of Celery, thinly sliced on a bias
  • 2 green onions, sliced in rings, divided
  • 1 thinly sliced zucchini squash
  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch

Heat your wok on medium-high while preparing the vegetables. Drizzle the oil around your wok. Add half the green onions and the celery. Let brown for about 2 minutes. Add zucchini, stir, and let cook for 2 minutes. Then add the stems of the choy sum. Stir, cover the wok for 1 minute. Add the tops of the choy sum, cover for 1 minute.

In a seperate bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Add to the wok and mix, heat the wok to high and stir fry for 1 minute with the sauce. Garnish with the rest of the green onions and chili flakes (optional). Serve hot with rice and meat.