What’s in My Pantry? Video!

Hi friends! Hope all you East coast Americans survived the blizzard with enough beans and rice to keep you going. Check out what’s in our pantry in the video below, and look forward to weekly videos this year from me. Put in the comments things you’d like me to video about — I love me some new ideas! Happy nonperishable fooding!

High & Mighty Brownie Cookies

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Ever thought to put veggies and beans into brownie mix and then turn them into cookies? Wait, that’s not what you think about as you lie in bed at night? Oh. Well, I’ve taken on the age-old question and attempted an answer: How do we make brownies a complete meal? Announcing the High & Mighty Brownie Cookie. High in nutrients, mighty in taste and energy. And while I still serve them for dessert, they can certainly pass for a side dish or maybe even a main squeeze…

High & Mighty Brownie Cookies
Makes 48

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
Large handful kale, about 2 cups chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (the canned type)
1 box brownie mix
1/2 cup coconut flour, almond meal, or cashew meal

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Blend or food process beans, kale, and pumpkin into a smooth, olive green glop (probably not wise to taste-test this…).

Stir glop together with brownie mix and coconut flour (or almond or cashew meal).

With slightly wet hands, form into 1 1/2-inch round balls (slightly smaller than golf balls) and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.

Press down gently with a fork in a criss-cross fashion.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and chow down!

Nutrition Information Per Cookie: 74 calories, 1 g fat, 36 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 1 g protein, 21% vitamin A, 3% iron.

Now you (or at least I) can rest soundly. Cheers to chocolate! xo

Farinata: Italian Chickpea Flatbread That’ll Knock Your Glutens Off

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Farinata Batch #2: Less Salt, More Crisp

A close friend and closet gourmet chef—we’ll call him “Joe”—served this bread at his last food fest. He had eaten it in Italy, and then miraculously saw a recipe for it in the New York Times (the next best thing to Italian cuisine itself).

I wanted to recreate Joe’s recreation, and thought I found that very recipe in a 2005 NYTimes post. My first attempt was nothing like Joe’s. Super salty, floppy not crispy, and looked like cracked, dehydrated dessert groundcover. Disgustoso!

Thankfully, Joe then disclosed his gourmet chef fine-tunings: 1. let the batter sit for a few hours rather than a few minutes, 2. bake it longer (like, double the time), 3. sprinkle salt and pepper over the top instead of mixing it into the batter. Uffa.

Version due was tested on some friends who went to Italy one time a few years ago (so obviously had the credentials). Here is the result, a Bitchin’-Joe-Times collaboration.

Farinata (Gluten-Free)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Batter Sitting Time: 2 hours (or overnight)
Baking Time: 25 minutes

Makes 6 appetizer-size portions

1 cup chickpea flour (or garbanzo bean flour; same thing)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, or in my variety: 1 tsp dried basil + 1 tsp. dried oregano

1. Sift chickpea flour into a bowl; add salt and pepper (or reserve to sprinkle on final product); then slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps.

2. Stir in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cover, and let sit for at least 2 hours, or up to 12 hours. Go organize your workshop or take a nap. Batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.

3. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a 12-inch pizza pan or cast-iron skillet. Place it in the heated oven for 15 min. 

3. Stir herb(s) into batter. Take pan out of the oven and pour batter into it. Bake 25 minutes, or until “pancake” is firm and edges set. 

4. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot, or at least warm.

Nutrition Info Per Wedge (1/6th of recipe): 159 calories, 12.3 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 8.8 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber, 3.5 g protein, 206 mg sodium, 4.4% iron. 

While this bread doesn’t get you out of eating beans for the day, it does give you a gold star with your dietitian and gluten-free enthusiasts. Enjoy it as is, or as a bean dip vehicle. Figo. Fantastico. Delicioso! 

Accidental Lentil Stew

Lentils in a flash!

Step aside, split peas! This experimental, transcontinental lentil stew is now on the go-to dinner list. It’s quick (2 main ingredients, no chopping needed), cheap ($2.50 for the whole pot), and such a totally delicious way to warm your heart and soul. And, it’ll please your bean-pushing, fiber-focused dietitian. With 9 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein per serving, you won’t be hungry for days!

Accidental Lentil Stew
Makes 8 hearty servings (about 1 cup each)

4 cups filtered water
1 16-ounce (1 lb.) bag dried red split lentils
(newly available at Trader Joe’s for $1.69)
1/2 of a 16-oz bag organic frozen chopped spinach (or other dark leafy green)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 Dorot frozen garlic cubes)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)

Place all ingredients in a medium-size soup pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with bread, multigrain crackers, or nothing at all.

Nutrition Info Per Serving: 222 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 340 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 17 g protein, 19% vitamin A, 3% calcium, 18% iron.

Top with hot sauce for a more fiery experience. Happy stew season!

Fiber Sans Veggies

Is it possible? The following combo comes up all too often: The desire to get healthy challenged by an extreme dislike for veggies. It’s possible that the right veggie experience just hasn’t happened yet. But until then–and also handy to know when your favorite veggies are out of season–here are a handful of ways to get closer to your 40-gram daily fiber goal without veggies in the picture:

Breaking Down the 40-Gram Goal:
10 grams of fiber per meal (3 of those) + 5 grams of fiber per snack (2 of those)

  • 1 slice high-fiber bread: 6 grams fiber
    So? A whole PB sandwich meets your meal-time fiber goal
  • ½ cup cooked beans or lentils (legumes): 7 grams fiber
    How to Eat? Add to pasta sauce, soups, and stir-fries, and blend into dips
  • ½ cup bran cereal such as All-Bran: 10 grams fiber
    How to Eat? Add to non-dairy yogurt & trail mix
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal (like Bob’s): 4 grams fiber
    How to Eat? Add to anything, such as soy yogurt, fruit salad, dips, cereal, smoothies…
  • high-fiber snack bars: 9-12 grams fiber each; Gnu Foods are the best and have 12 grams fiber each
  • 1 cup berries: 8 grams fiber (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, chopped strawberries)
  • ½ cup oat bran (similar to Cream of Wheat, my fave TJ’s seen here): 7 grams fiber
    How to eat? Microwave it with cinnamon, Truvia, dried fruit, nuts, and a dash of unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • And if you can resort to veggies (encouraged), try the highest fiber ones such as sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, broccoli, eggplant, and parsnips which have 7-8 grams fiber per serving

Happy fibering!

Lower Your Bad “LDL” Cholesterol in 5 Easy Steps

SKINNY DISH's "Stick With You Oatmeal"

1. Replace your eggs, bacon, or cold cereal with Stick With You Oatmeal, Baked Oatmeal, or warm oat bran (like cream of wheat, only better at lowering your cholesterol). Add fruit for extra fun. Make this a permanent change.

2. Mound half your plate at lunch and dinner with veggies. Cooked, raw, both, low-fat, and the same one every meal if that’s how you like it. Just get half your plate to be naturally colorful twice a day. The bigger plate, the better.

3. Start taking 1000 milligrams of essential Omega-3 fatty acids daily. I prefer the algae-derived kind (like this one) since that’s where the fish get it, but any will work. The Omega-3’s are extra good at improving your blood lipid levels and lowering your heart disease risk, and they make your skin as soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom!

4. Replace eggs in baking with ground flaxseed meal (like the one made by Bob’s Red Mill, found at most grocery stores). Flaxseeds are not only rich in Omega-3’s, but–like oats–they’re high in soluble fiber which does quite a doozy at lowering bad cholesterol. For each egg in a recipe, use 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal soaked in 3 tablespoons warm water for 5-10 minutes until a gel forms. Toss that gooey goodness into your recipe as you would an egg. You can also just ADD flaxseed meal to just about anything… smoothies, pancakes, oatmeal, oat bran, and soy yogurt.

5. Enjoy beans or lentils as your “meaty” entrée as often as possible. They’re exploding with soluble fiber, but they also have zero cholesterol and saturated fat–you won’t be adding any bad guys to your system, and you’re stocking up on good guys. A double win! Make it a goal of getting 1 CUP of cooked beans or lentils daily. Tips here, including ways to make them less farty.

Give these changes a solid try for 3 months, and then get your cholesterol levels tested again. I expect to hear glowing reports!

Harvard Revises USDA’s “MyPlate”

Yay for Harvard! Noting that the USDA’s “MyPlate” is based on a mix of science and US agricultural interests (rather than just on science), the Harvard School of Public Health created a much easier to understand “Healthy Eating Plate“, which replaces dairy milk with water saying there’s little evidence that dairy protects bones, and even more evidence that dairy may be harmful to health, and also emphasizing healthier proteins and whole grains, and encouraging some healthy oils and exercise. Read more about both here.

Looks like the country is getting even closer to the plant-powered “Power Plate” created by PCRM! Go plants!

Meat-Eaters May Be Short on Fiber and Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants

Veggie Burger by: SweetOnVeg

With all the news on Clinton’s year-long vegan diet, and basically whenever someone decides to give up meat, there’s a flurry of concern the diet will be short on protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc. But actually, Bill’s current tour de force not only has sufficient protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc from beans, nuts, meatless burgers, fortified non-dairy milks, and fortified cereals, but it’s also skyrocketing the charts on heart-healthy and cancer-busting fiber and antioxidants. So, until Bill goes totally RAW and starts sprouting grains, avoiding all processed foods, and making almond milk from scratch (which is actually a pretty righteous nutrition situation, but does require a daily multivitamin), there is no need for panic.

But why don’t we see this headline in the news?
Meat-Eaters May Be Short on Fiber and Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants

Ironically, meat and processed-food enthusiasts should be extra careful because by skipping out on plant proteins (beans, tempeh, nuts, broccoli, quinoa) and instead downing meats and other processed foods, they’re missing out on key life force nutrients that work to prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. This is why in nutrition counseling, I recommend multivitamins to meat-eaters, and not to plant food junkies.

Did you get your 9 servings of veggies and fruits today?

The Cheapest Healthiest Food on the Planet

Photo by: llsimon53

When times are tight, the quality of our food is often what suffers most, and then our cellulite follows right behind (on our behinds). UnWelcome back, fat pants and blood pressure machine! As a health conscious, frugal google, but realist when it comes to the sacredness of time and quality of life, I’ve always purchased canned beans and felt like they were cheap enough, tasty, and a great item under the circumstances. $0.69 for a 15-oz can is nothing (sale price), right?

Well, you might say I’ve had a change of ‘beans’ recently. When you take into account the dirt cheapness of dried beans, the fact that you can do a ‘Quick Soak’ (see below) rather than starting the process 8 years before the meal, and cook a mass quantity and freeze them in 1-cup portions, the cost of dried beans is astronomically cheaper than canned.

Canned beans (on sale) cost about 20 cents per 1/2-cup serving (which provides 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber).

Dried beans (not on sale) cost about 6 cents per 1/2-cup serving (also providing 7 grams protein and 7 grams fiber).

So if you eat beans once a year, no biggie. But wait, if you only eat beans once a year, you’re spending too much on unhealthy food and need to get your grocery list’s act together! Beans will save you!! Even Dr. “God” Oz touted beans this week on his show saying they’re a healthier source of protein than meat, and they contain soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. More here and here. And if you want to make them less farty, check here.

The challenge is on. This week, fire up some dried beans. They’re probably already in your pantry. I generally cook 3 cups dried at a time (makes about 6 cups cooked). Refridge what you’ll use over the next week, and freeze the rest in 1 or 2-cup portions. Incorporate them into any of these 30 concoctions. Or see if one of the 60 recipes here jump out at you. Nothing? How about the “I Don’t Do Beans” Beans or the Gooey Louie Bean Brownies? Just start somewhere!

For further cost-saving, healthy-eating tips, check out Healthy Eating on the Cheap, and this hot-off-the-press hotcake book by Ellen Jaffe Jones called Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day.

What are some other cheap, life-extending foods?

*Quick Soak Instructions: Cover beans with water and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for an hour. Drain water. Add new water. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 1 more hour. Two hours is a whole lot better than 2 days, especially when you can pretty much do anything you want during that 2-hour period. 

One Hot Dog per Day Increases Diabetes Risk by 50%

Soy Dog Mice, photo by: gamene

For real. Looking at 20 years of data among 200,000 health professionals and nurse participants, Harvard researchers determined that a small serving of processed or red meat not only increases diabetes risk by up to 51%, but that substituting healthier protein sources–such as soy dogs, whole grains, nuts, beans, or lentils–actually decreases Diabetes risk by 20-25%. Read the abstract of the meta-analysis (a super study with statistically strong results) in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Unless you don’t mind Diabetes, it’s time to consider some meatless main dishes, STAT!

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