Tag Archive for Stew

Who Has the Energy to Cook, Dammit?

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Welcome back to your regularly scheduled life! The holidays can be pretty draining. Even when they are the most fun and exciting and delightful. Plus there’s the possibility that the holiday season is extra awful for a person. So, a human can really grind the gears moving from extended holiday back to work. And what if on top of that, you had to do all the laundry and answer 11,846 emails and mop the floors and get groceries and follow the old dog around the yard in 19 degree weather because everything is covered in ice and he slips and falls and can’t get up. What if all that is happening and now it’s time for dinner and you just don’t have it in you to call up your inner domestic goddess.

IT’S COOL. You don’t have to resort to mac and cheese from a box. (But, of course if you want to, I get it, and I won’t stand in your way. I will say, however, that I find a little Cholula really helps it along.)

But it’s a brand new year! You want to keep your healthy intentions intact. You also want to eat pretty quick and you want something warm.

Here’s an easy dish that tastes delicious and is ready in about the same time as the dang mac and cheese. You need to have a few supplies on hand but I bet you do. This is the exact reason I always have a few cans of organic vittles around.

The Best Lazy Chickpea Stew

1 onion
1 clove mashed garlic
1/2 t sea salt
2T olive oil
1t dried oregano
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne
1/2 c vegetable broth
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 can organic chickpeas

Throw that olive oil into a skillet and heat it up. Slice your onion into moons and cook it until it’s translucent. Then add your garlic and spices. When you see the oregano start to plump add the can of chickpeas and and cover with all the spices and oil. Stir for about 2 minutes. Then add in your veggie broth and bring to a boil. Once you’ve got your broth going add in your can of tomato goodness and stir. You can add salt to your liking.

BOO-YAH!!!

20 minutes later you have a healthy meal PLUS leftovers for lunch this week. So delish. When you’re not in a rush, you can make this from scratch in the summer with soaked chickpeas and fresh tomatoes from the garden. It’s just killer.

 

What’s so great about a bean, anyhow? Plus, a recipe.

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Just because the little bite sized superheroes might leave a bit of a scented side-effect doesn’t mean a person should throw these babies out with the bathwater. Of course, to throw out the COOKING water will cut down vastly on the old gas. You lose a bit of minerals that way, but it will help you out at the beginning stages of romance. Another trick to cutting down on the farts is to cut off a 2 square inch hunk of kombu seaweed and cook it with the beans. Now, if I’m making beans as the main course and not cooking them off as an ingredient in a stew, I really like to save the pot liquor, so I go with the kombu. I think the liquid has a ton of flavor and I often cook my beans with a bunch of goods in the broth itself. Some people also swear by the herb Epazote as a cooking enzyme aid.

But let’s get past the farting, shall we?

In general, the darker the bean, the more antioxidants the suckers have to guard your cells against attack. Black beans, adzuki, Anasazi, kidney beans, and red beans all do a great job as warriors of this order. Beans are also a great source of fiber, which keeps everything moving in our digestive systems. Keeping up with digestive health impacts the entire body from mood to energy level. Beans prevent constipation, keep the path clear for a steady production of Serotonin in the gut, and improve the steadiness of blood sugar levels (especially important for those suffering from diabetes). A diet rich in fiber also lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the system (LDL). This keeps our hearts safer as we age, cutting down on the fat gathering in our vessels and making it easier for us to maintain a health blood pressure for delivering nutrients throughout our bodies.

And that’s not all: Beans contain chemicals called isoflavones that have been rumored to reduce the risk of heart disease, ease the myriad symptoms of menopause and improve the strength of your bones.

PLUS, beans are a powerhouse source of vegetarian protein. Sometimes you’ll hear someone scoff at a bean, bad mouthing it for being an incomplete protein, but that’s where ancient food wisdom comes in. Beans have been served with rice in so many cultures FOREVER: bowls of rice with adzuki beans all over Asia, basmati and mung beans, red beans and rice in South America and on and on. We humans have done a pretty good job historically of being able to hear what our bodies have wanted. Then industrial chemicals came along and kind blew static into the conversation. When we made choices to combine different beans and rices over the years, what we did scientifically was to join two different proteins to create a perfect one. The essential amino acids that either dish lacks alone, come together as a perfect team.

From Flickr user monkeycat62

I do my best to always use dried beans. I am somewhat obsessed with Rancho Gordo beans in particular. Not so much because I’m an irritating foodie, although I certainly have my moments, but more out of urges stemming from my Libra rising. Easily swayed and emotionally moved by physical beauty, this ends up working out way better for me in the kitchen than it ever did in the world of dating. The Heirloom beans from this outfit are such a gorgeous array of colors and shapes, it’s easy to see how artists were drawn make portraits from them. Anyhow, I either soak them overnight rendering a quicker cooking time, or if I have all day I actually love to do a long slow cook to infuse them with flavor. Canned beans tend to fall apart and also they, well, come in cans generally lined with toxic BPA. Eden brand organics DO NOT use that lining so I do keep a couple cans of that on hand for quick situations.

So, how about a nice recipe? You can mess with it until the Super Bowl and perfect your own version to do a healthy dazzle for your guests.

Spicy 3 Bean Stew

1c kidney beans                                                    1 large yellow onion
1c pinto beans                                                      1 sweet potato
1c giant lima beans                                               1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced                                         ½ t cinnamon
2T olive oil                                                          4 cloves garlic
2 carrots, diced                                                    1t ground chipotle
1T ground cumin                                                   1T dried oregano
2 in hunk of kombu                                               handful fresh cilantro
5c vegetable broth                                                salt to taste
1t chile powder (New Mexico if you can find it)          1 splash cider vinegar
2 lbs self-canned tomatoes from this summer OR 20 oz + 14oz Eden brand cans stewed tomatoes (BPA free cans)

Rinse and soak all your beans the night before. Start your beans cooking in water with the kombu about an hour before everything else in the pot happens. Skim any foam from the top.

Meanwhile, get a heavy bottomed pot, and sauté your chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add your bell pepper, carrots and all your spices and let everything cook for about ten or fifteen minutes. Add your cider vinegar to soften and stew it all. Add in your tomatoes, your cubed sweet potato. Strain your beans and dump in to the veggies with your vegetable stock. Cook everything in the pot, covered for about another hour and taste as you go. Salt to taste as you go. If the stew is too spicy or too thick, go ahead and add in more vegetable broth.

Top with diced fresh cilantro and enjoy. Other toppings: shredded cheese, a dollop of crème fraiche, apple chutney, sour cream, diced scallions, arugula pesto.

 

Soup Library: Adventures in Time Saving!

Here’s the goal for busy people, which I tend to think is almost everyone. Cook once, eat twice. Or three times. And since here we are in Winter, soups and stews are about your best friend for this.

Here’s the thing. Cooking has an enormous host of benefits. Let’s list some:

1. You have control over what goes in every dish. You will be able to pronounce every ingredient, modify to hold the gluten, add raw milk, take out the eggplant you don’t like and instead add in fillets of Japanese yam, and so forth. You’ll know exactly what you get.

2. Per serving, you will save a bucket of money in the long run, especially if you are refurbishing your kitchen to organics. The more you cook, the more you save.

3. You can call better shots on where your hard earned dollars go. Where do you shop? Farmer’s markets? Co-ops? Small groceries? Get to know the store owners. Build community. Ask for ingredients you like. Get all neighborly about it. Occupy your own kitchen. Today.

But how does it save TIME? Here try this on a weekend day. (Or whatever your day off is). Make two big pots of supplies. In one pot, make a batch of whole grains. Try new ones. Bhutanese rice is beautiful. A toothsome farro explodes on your tongue. Millet is an earthy delight and gluten free. Try buckwheat. Toast your brown rice before you cook it. See how that goes. What the hell. Take one serving for your meal and pack up the rest in freezer bags, one serving each. These can go straight from the freezer to skillet after work. Long day? No problem, you already took care of yourself. All week you have servings of whole grains to prepare for yourself.

In the other pot, get witchy and concoct a cauldron of stews or soups. Follow the same directions in freezing. You can use bags or mason jars. You can thaw for the morning or go straight to heat. As this habit fortifies, so will your freezer supplies, and eventually you’ll have a variety of grains, soups and stews all homemade, economical, and hearty to feed yourself in like ten minutes. Rip into some greens and cut veggies for a salad and your plate is ready.

One of my friends in Washington adopted this idea just a few short weeks ago. In the pressure and rush of teaching a new semester, she’s been able to have healthy, clean, delicious meals at her fingertips each evening supporting her presence for her students all day, eliminating the insanity of hunger and no options after work.

Creative food, creative woman, impressively clean freezer.

Cook once, then build an epic soup library.