Tag Archives: Beans/Legumes

Diets Don’t Have to Be Torture (but they usually are) & Mexican Spiced Shrimp

Mexican Spiced Shrimp with Black Beans topped with a dollop of Greek Yogurt

Mexican Spiced Shrimp with Black Beans topped with a dollop of Greek Yogurt

I’ve mentioned once or twice a million times that I’ve been on a diet.  How exciting?!  Actually, I’m trying to think of it more as a lifestyle change.  I’m not depriving myself, I’m just not over-doing it, either.

My new way of eating really focuses on portion sizes and eating more frequently.  Truthfully, it sucks.  That being said, it works.

Most of the food I’ve been cooking lately has been incredibly unexciting.  Because I’ve been busier than usual the past couple months, Continue reading

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Besan Chillas: Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Veggies & Shrimp (can be made vegan!)

**This recipe can easily be made Vegetarian or Vegan**

I mentioned, a few days ago, about using leftover Indian Spiced Shrimp (recipe HERE) to make my husband a special, savory Indian-inspired breakfast.  Now, if you don’t eat shrimp, are looking for a vegan option, or are hoping to find a gluten-free alternative to pancakes, this recipe is very flexible and will definitely suit your needs–and your taste-buds!

This recipe came about because I was craving carbs.  That’s the simple truth.  I wanted carbs, and I wanted them now.  More specifically, I wanted pancakes.  Big, fluffy pancakes.  But, because I’m trying to eat healthy and watch my waistline (a never ending battle!), I thought I’d replace regular flour with besan flour (flour made from ground chickpeas).

Chickpeas are healthy, right?  I am always so amazed by how many different things you can make with the humble chickpea!  I’ve made everything from Indian spiced hummus, to curries, to pies!  Yes, a pie made out of chickpeas!  A chai-flavored chickpea pie, to be exact.

bean pie

recipe not yet posted…sorry! It will be eventually. 🙂

I wanted to increase the protein and fiber in my pancake, so I added chopped left-over shrimp and vegetables.  It was settled, I knew what was for breakfast.  Even better, I had left-over garlic and coriander raita to slather on top!

Indian chickpea pancake, chickpea pancake, besan pancake, besan flour pancake, savory pancake, Indian pancake with raita

Besan Chilla…smothered in garlic and cilantro raita and sprinkled with chopped coriander

Continue reading

Indian Spiced Hummus

I’ve never really been a huge fan of hummus.  In fact, I’ve bought it multiple times throughout the years, tried a tiny bit, and tossed the whole container in the garbage.  I wanted to like it, but I didn’t.   It just wasn’t my thing.

But, now it is!  

Once I made the commitment to myself to eat less meat (I still indulge once in awhile), I discovered just how good hummus could be.  It all started when I ordered a vegetarian pita wrap at our local Greek restaurant.

It looked like it was just a Greek salad stuffed in a pita; but once I bit into it, I tasted something smooth, nutty, and spectacular!

There was a giant glob of homemade hummus under that salad, and it tasted nothing like any hummus I’ve ever bought at the grocery store!  I was hooked.

I figured the only way I was going to get hummus that tasted like that was to make it myself.

I dug through all of my cookbooks, and finally found inspiration in “The Best Ever Vegetarian Cookbook” by Linda Fraser.  She had a recipe for Pan Fried Zucchini and Hummus.  It looked like such a weird combination, but it sounded amazing!

My version of zucchini with hummus

I didn’t follow her recipes at all.  I knew I wanted to make an Indian spiced hummus and zucchini with ghee, turmeric and cumin.  I read which ingredients she used to make hummus, and I got to work experimenting.

Hummus, in it’s most basic form, is simply made with garbanzo beans (chickpeas), tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice and olive oil.    Simple!

Because I wanted mine to be a little more than basic, I dry roasted a bunch of Indian spices in a pan and added in a little garlic towards the end of the roasting process (I think it makes the garlic taste a little more complex than just tossing in raw garlic).

I tossed the spices, along with the chickpeas, into the bowl of my food processor and blended everything until it was a smooth consistency.

I added the tahini, lemon juice and a little water to the mixture, and let it process again.  I tasted it; and added salt, black pepper and a little more lemon juice.  I tossed in some chopped coriander (cilantro).

I started the food processor back up (on low) and drizzled a little olive oil into the hummus–until it reached a perfectly smooth consistency.

Easy Spiced Hummus

For those that are interested, hummus has around 100 calories for a 2 tbsp. serving.

I garnished my hummus with some chopped cilantro, sliced red chilies (for Piyush) and a little bit of feta cheese.

I served it along with wedges of pita bread and zucchini.

Zucchini cooked in ghee, turmeric and cumin

The zucchini was really simple to prepare.  I put a little ghee (if you’re vegan, skip the ghee and increase the olive oil) mixed with a small amount of olive oil into a heavy-bottomed pan. I turned the flame to medium and tossed in a good teaspoon of cumin seeds.

Once the cumin began to pop and sizzle I added 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric and 1 tsp. ground cumin.  I also added a few curry leaves (these can be omitted).

Once the spices no longer smelled raw (this is especially important for turmeric, in my personal opinion), I added about 3 (maybe 4) cups of diced zucchini to the pot, along with a little water (maybe a couple tablespoons).

I let this cook, uncovered, on medium heat for about 15 minutes.  I then seasoned with a little salt and pepper.

Cooking zucchini this way is so easy, and so flavorful!  Because it’s now zucchini season here, in Minnesota, Piyush and I eat this quite a lot!  In fact, Piyush loves it mixed with a little potato and served over some basmati rice.

Sometimes, I’ll even cook some dal (lentils) with the rice, and serve a sort of “dried” khichadi (the ULTIMATE Indian comfort food).

My delicious dinner. Doesn’t look like a lot, but it was incredibly filling!

Meatless Monday: Indian Chole Masala (Chickpea Curry)

Happy “Meatless Monday!”

Indian Chole Masala

Chickpeas are one of my favorite ingredients.  There are so many things you can do with this humble (and cheap!) ingredient, that I always have a stash on hand.

As I’m still not feeling all that well, I’m going to keep this post short. Continue reading

Bengali-Inspired Raw Vegetable Salad

My days have been quite busy, and my nights have been so short; I feel like time just flies!  For this reason, I’ve not been blogging quite so much; and instead I’ve been relying on quick, easy and nutritious dinners.  Mostly vegetarian.

The other night I made this incredible salad:

It is very similar to something I had tasted–and fell madly in love with–all over West Bengal, India.  It’s so simple and healthy, but it’s also incredibly addictive.  Even more-so than chocolate.  Yes.  I said it.  This vegetable salad is more addictive than chocolate.

I swear, Bengalis sure can cook!

I raided my fridge and grabbed some cucumber, jalapenos, ginger, tomatoes (which apparently are not supposed to be kept in the fridge, but I do anyway…) and cilantro.  I opened a couple cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans, also called chana), diced up an onion and juiced/zested a lime.  The salad was done.  It was that simple!

When I was served this salad in India, it usually contained boiled potatoes.  Sometimes there would be other vegetables too.  No matter the ingredients, it was always delicious! …and I always wanted more!

Because I wanted a really light dinner, I didn’t make anything else to accompany the vegetable salad.  Usually I’ll serve it alongside a spicy curry or roasted chicken.  Instead, I tossed a few blue corn chips (these are Food Should Taste Good brand chips, and they are amazing!) on the plate…and called it dinner.

This might just end up on my weekly menu rotation this summer.  It’s absolutely perfect when the weather is hot and the there’s not enough time to fuss over anything fancy.  …And it’s so healthy and colorful, how could you not want to eat it?

Printer Friendly Recipe




Food has been on my mind constantly, but not in the obvious “I’m hungry and I want to eat” sort of way.  Instead I’ve been busy picking fruits, making jam and desperately trying to keep my tomato plants alive (so far, so good!).

freshly picked strawberries: Annapolis variety

I’ve got a very awesome strawberry jam to share!  Hopefully I’ll get it all finished soon so I can get it posted!

 

Vegetarian Bean Taco Salad

I must be in a Mexican kinda mood, because it seems that’s all I feel like cooking lately!  I’ve also felt like eating beans.  Lots of beans.

source (you can also click this link to learn about the health benefit of beans)

When I was planning dinner the other day, I decided I’d make a vegetarian taco salad for three reasons:

1. Tacos are delicious.

2. Salads are good for you.

3. I can eat the bowl I serve my salad in.  Now, that’s exciting!

I decided to get a little head start on my taco filling.  Not that it takes a long time or anything- in fact, it takes hardly any time!- but mostly because I didn’t want to do it later.  My theory when it comes to dinner preparation is the sooner the better.  The longer I put it off, the lazier I become.

Before I started turning regular cans of black and pinto beans into delicious, taco-flavored delicacies, I chopped up some veggies and had myself a little snack.

I made a simple Indian inspired salad (I’ve blogged about it here), and added a tablespoon or so of aloo bhujia—fried, spiced potato noodles—for a little crunch.  I think the weather outside has me craving Summer.  It seems like spring and was even 50 degrees today!  This salad screams Summer, but sadly the tomatoes and cucumber screamed “out of season”! …Back to reality.  I still have over 5 months before Summer arrives!

After eating my snack, I decided to get started on my tortilla bowls.  When I lived with my grandparents, after moving home from college, this was a meal I often made for dinner.  It all started when I was at the supermarket and had a mad craving for a taco salad.  I picked up some ground turkey, grabbed the lettuce and veggies and I found the pre-made taco shell bowls.  I flipped over the package, and realized that one bowl was nearly 500 calories!  Whoa!  Then I got to thinking (I know, right!?!)…A taco shell bowl is really just a tortilla!  So I went home and draped torillas over glass pyrex bowls and baked them at 400 degrees, until they were crisp.  Genius!  I used whole wheat, low calorie tortillas and was able to knock the calories of my taco shell bowl down to a measly 80 cals.  Awesome!  Now, I have a couple fancy taco shell bowl molds.  They make awesome bowls, but they’re really completely unnecessary.

After my bowls were baked, I started on the bean mixture.  I used a combination of pinto and black beans because I really love the creaminess of smashed pinto beans.  Weird?  Probably. Delicious? Oh.My.God.YES! I heated them through, had a fun time smashing them, and then set them aside.

Then all I had to do was chop the romaine and assemble.  Easy!

It's a taco! It's a salad! It's a taco salad!

Bean Taco Filling

  • 2 tsp. olive oil (you don’t need much)
  • 2 cans of beans (any kind), rinsed (alternatively you could use dried beans.  3 cups total.
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 fat garlic cloves
  • 1/2 c. green bell pepper
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 1 package low-sodium taco seasoning (or make your own!)
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • lime juice, to your taste
  • salt, to your taste (you probably don’t need any with the canned beans and taco seasoning, though)

Directions:

  • Heat your pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Once the pan is hot, saute the onion, chile and green pepper until they’re all soft and cooked through.
  • Add garlic and saute about a minute, then add the taco seasoning (or spices, if you make your own) Cook for about a minute until the spices are no longer raw.
  • Add the beans and the water.  Once it starts to boil, smash as many of the beans as you’d like.
  • Cook until water disappears and the mixture thickens.  Squeeze in a little lime juice, and give it a good stir.

I topped my salad with about 1/2 c. bean mixture, some of my Indian salad, a tiny bit of cheese, and a dollop of greek yogurt.

All healthy meals should be this good!

Black Beans and Rice…Fancy Style!

Happy 2012!

Everybody make some stellar resolutions for the new year?  I did!  …I resolve to see Paris in the spring (or summer)!  …That’s a resolution, right?  I haven’t thought all that much about it yet, but I’m going to figure out how to make it happen!

My holiday weekend was spent working the early shift, which to be honest, does not agree with me!  I’m a complete night owl!  When I wake up at 4am (give or take a couple hours…), I’m worthless by the time I get home from work.  I don’t want to clean.  I don’t want to exercise.  I don’t want to cook.  All I want to do is sit on the couch and watch Lifetime movies.  Lame (and incredibly embarassing!), but true.  Sometimes I force myself to get things done, but I’ve got to say…it ain’t easy!

After work yesterday I had good intentions.  I stopped at the grocery store, Bon Appetit in hand, and filled my cart with veggies, organic chicken breasts, and beans.  I even bought a bottle of sparkling pink grape juice (Piyush doesn’t drink…and I had to be up early for work).  I planned on making an easy…but awesome New Years Eve dinner since neither Piyush nor I wanted to go out.  Well, that didn’t happen! Sometimes good intentions aren’t enough.  I needed motivation, but must have hit my yearly limit…because I found none!  …We ordered sushi instead, and I promised myself I’d definitely cook the next day. Piyush and I enjoyed our sushi dinner (kind of.  It wasn’t the best…) and then I went to bed at 8:30pm!  That never happens!  He woke me up at midnight to give me my New Years kiss, then he went back downstairs to watch golf, or something.  I had a full 8 hours of sleep, and it was wonderful!

Once work was over, I came home and started preparing for dinner.  This way I couldn’t decide to be lazy.  I poached the chicken breasts and made the apple salsa.  I was trying a new recipe I saw in January’s issue of Bon Appetit: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa.

As I was paging through the magazine, the recipe jumped out at me…and I knew I wanted to make it.  Well, I mostly wanted to eat it…but it had to be made to be eaten.  This recipe was super easy and really flavorful!  Like, really flavorful!  I think the apple salsa was my favorite part!

I made a few changes to the recipe, but they were pretty minor.  First, I don’t like rotisserie chicken.  Sure, it’s incredibly easy…and cheaper than organic chicken breasts, but there’s something about the flavor that doesn’t sit right with me.  I think they’re too salty.  Instead, I poached two chicken breasts in a pan with enough water to cover them.  I threw in a bay leaf and a few spices…and wham!  In addition to my super tender chicken, I also had homemade broth.  It didn’t have as much flavor as stock that simmers all day long with bones and herbs, but I’ll tell you one thing.  It was way better than canned or boxed broth that has ingredients listed that I don’t even know if they’re safe to consume.  Bought chicken broth usually has that “off” flavor, anyway…and if you get the organic unsalted stuff, it’s expensive!

A quick note on the organic thing, we don’t buy everything organic.  We’d be broke if we did.  Meat is one item I really try hard to purchase as either organic or straight from the farmer who raised it, though.  It doesn’t always happen, but I get sorta creeped out by a lot of the things I’ve read about hormones and slaughterhouses…and to be honest, I want to eat the meat for what it is…not for what chemicals it was injected with. 

Back to the recipe, I also cooked the rice (white rice, because it’s what we had on hand) in our rice cooker in some of that homemade chicken broth.  The recipe didn’t specify to rinse the beans, but I definitely did.  That bean goo creeps me out…and they’re doused in so much unnecessary sodium.  A quick rinse cured both those problems.

I’m so glad we have a lot of left overs and I can’t wait to gobble up that apple salsa again tomorrow! Wooo! Wooo!

The Recipe:

Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

Adapted from Bon Appetit (link to recipe here)

  • 1 cup chopped peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 2–3-pound rotisserie chicken, skin discarded and meat shredded
  • 4–6 lime wedges

Directions:

  • Combine apple, 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons onion, and 1 teaspoon lime juice in a small bowl; toss to coat. Set apple salsa aside.
  • Combine remaining onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, 6–7 minutes. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.
  • Divide rice and beans among plates. Top with some chicken and apple salsa. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and lime wedges.