Monday, July 23, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers

Don't forget about the giveaway I have going on! Pereg Gourmet has generously donated some boxed food (with dehydrated real foods, no chemicals or preservatives!) and some of their amazing spices to one of five readers. It takes only a few seconds to enter!

Because I prefer not to eat meat from factory farms, it can be difficult to eat at cook-outs and some restaurants. Of course, most now offer veggie burgers, but have you tried them? Many of them taste terrible and they're certainly not healthy when made up of chemicals and additives.

I've noticed a few restaurants are now starting to make their veggie burgers out of actual vegetables, and they do taste amazing, but this is something totally different. This is a black bean and quinoa burger, so technically, there are no veggies at all. But because it's made up of black beans and quinoa, you get the same amount of protein as you would from a regular burger. Plus, you get all the benefits from black beans.

Did you notice the spread? It's avocado, tomato, and spices. So yes, this is completely delicious and should even satisfy your meat eating friends.

hamburger buns/rolls (about 6)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups black beans (or 1 15oz can - drained and rinsed)
1.5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 eggs
1 avocado
1 tomato
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
olive oil

Cook quinoa. I usually put the uncooked quinoa in boiling water at a ration of 2:1. It's finished when the quinoa has absorbed all the water.

While the quinoa is cooking, mix the black beans, water, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain the beans if necessary.

In a large bowl, combine the beans, garlic, egg, and a pinch of salt and pepper. When the ingredients are well mashed, add in the quinoa. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add another egg if the batch still isn't binding together.

Form the mixture into patties. I had about 6 very large patties. You can freeze or refrigerate until ready to use.

For the avocado spread, mash the avocado in a bowl until smooth. Add the tomato, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and crushed red pepper, as well as any salt and pepper.

In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the patties and cook about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until brown. Toast the buns in the oven or broiler for a few minutes to make it nice and crispy. Add the avocado spread and some goat cheese, and enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Tomato and Avocado Salad

Picnicking for dinner!
This recipe developed because I had too many avocados and tomatoes and I wanted to make something up with them. 

The boyfriend and I were doing a picnic-for-dinner type of meal and I wanted something a little heartier. Plus, I wanted to use up my tomatoes and avocados.

I know this doesn't look like much, but it's delicious as a stand-alone side, though I'm sure you could use it on a sandwich or in a salad or something.

2 avocados, in chunks
4-5 tomatoes, in chunks
2 tsp paprika
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Cut up the tomatoes and avocados. Combine in a large bowl.

In a smaller container, combine the spices, oil, vinegar, and mustard and stir to make a dressing.

Pour the dressing on top of the food mixture and combine well. Salt and pepper to taste.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Spicy Black Bean Enchiladas

Black beans are one of my favorite food items and it seems like the rest of the country is starting to agree with me. For years, health and diet books have advised you to substitute black beans for refried beans at Mexican places, and for the longest time, it was difficult to find restaurant that served them, except maybe as a garnish on a Southwestern salad.

But I can buy lots of black beans at the supermarket so it works out! If you're not yet a fan of black beans, let me give you a few reasons to consider trying them. (Sources here, here, and here)

1. Black beans are high in antioxidants. They get their color from anthocyanins, the same powerful flavanoids found in red cabbage, cranberries, blueberries, and red beets. In fact, they're about equal to cranberries.

2. Black beans are high in soluble fiber, which lowers LDL cholesterol and stabilized blood sugar levels. It also lowers your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

3. Black beans are rich in molybdenum, a trace mineral that breaks down the sulfites in food. Many people are sensitive to sulfites, which can cause rapid heartbeat, headaches, or disorientation.

4. Black beans can aid weight loss for several reasons. Black beans have high fiber, but low fat content. They're also high in protein so they're satisfying and you won't be hungry later.

5. Black beans are high in folate aka vitamin B6. A diet high in folate protects against heart disease, as well as aiding in fetal development for pregnant women.

6. Black beans are a great source of magnesium, which helps maintain a healthy blood pressure and iron levels for healthy red blood cells.

7. Black beans are really good for your digestive tract. The protein and fiber move the food through your stomach at a healthier pace so your digestive track doesn't have to work too hard and as a result, lowers your risk for colon cancer.

Okay, so you're convinced! Good news - I found an amazing spicy black bean enchilada recipe online yesterday, and it tasted delicious. Best of all, it can be modified for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike.

1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 large jalapeno pepper
2 15 ounces cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced tomatoes with juices
4 tortillas
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 avocado
plain yogurt
cheddar cheese (or soy cheese, if you're vegan)
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the bell pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add in the jalapenos (with seeds!) and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

When the peppers and onions are soft, add in the garlic, black beans, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and cumin. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat when the moisture has been removed.

Pour half of the mixture into a food processor. Add tomatoes and juice. Blend until smooth.

Stop here if you just want the sauce.
Take 1/2 cup of the pureed sauce onto the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Set aside the rest of the sauce.

Split up the remaining mixture that wasn't pureed into 4 section. Add each section to a tortilla. Here I added avocado, and if you want to add anything else (like meat), now is the time. 

Fold the tortillas closed and place them seam down into the 9x13 pan.

Once all 4 tortillas are filled and added, take the rest of the black bean sauce and pour it over them. Sprinkle with cheese.
Feel free to use more cheese, soy cheese, or no cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Garnish with a dab of plain yogurt, avocado, tomatoes, and green onions. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Adventures in the Frozen Food Aisle

Recently I was at a store and buying frozen food. I know what you're thinking, but no, it wasn't for me. It was for my job.

While I was browsing the aisle looking for a specific brand and type of food product, I noticed a disturbing trend among the brands, all of which were claiming to be healthy, aid in weight loss, and have real ingredients.

Exhibit A

Now, I'm all about real ingredients, and all I do is talk about how delicious they are. You want to put real cream in my dessert? I'm sure I'll go crazy for it. But you know what's not cool? Advertising that bit on the front, when in fact, the ingredients are far more complicated and certainly don't fall into the real food category.
Exhibit B

Now, I know you can read and understand a couple of those ingredients, but does that list look like it's composed of real ingredients? Does any ingredient except maybe sugar, cocoa, and butter sound really delicious? Do you even see the real cream that was advertised on the front? No, seriously. Do you? Because I can't find it, and I certainly don't count the cream listed in the breakdown of butter ingredients as real cream.

However, even more disturbing to me than the blatant false advertising, were the other people I encountered in the frozen food aisle.* 

As I was walking up and down the aisle looking for the proper brand I had to purchase, I noticed that I was the only person in the aisle that was not overweight. Not typically a big deal, and this is America, so it's not uncommon, but what I think was uncommon was the fact that the other shoppers started to follow me. Not in a creepy way, of course. They just wanted to know what frozen food brand that was advertising portion control and weight loss I was buying.

Unfortunately, I wasn't buying frozen food for me. Also unfortunately, none of them work. Frozen foods are terrible for you, and they're terrible for weight loss. Plus, the last time I had frozen food years ago, it tasted terrible. And I was still hungry after eating it! 

I'm sad to report that at least 2 people in the aisle switched out their brand to match the one I was purchasing. 

I really wanted to yell out, "No! Fruit and vegetables and meats without hormones or antibiotics are the only guaranteed way to weight loss! Avoid process foods at all costs!" But I didn't. I felt like that would be awkward. Plus, I'm pretty sure no one would listen to me.

So processed foods are terrible. I'm not telling you anything new. But what do you do if you want to be really lazy for dinner? Typically I would tell you to suck it up and make a quick dinner from vegetables. You can do it 20 minutes!

But I'm changing my tune slightly because I've found another option. Go to a health food store and look around. They might have boxed foods you can eat. This isn't a frozen food option since I have yet to find something acceptable (complicated by the fact that I don't buy frozen foods), but it's in a box and it can sit in your cabinet so it's pretty close.

Okay, maybe it's not exactly a full meal (unless you're my sister), but it's certainly a good side.
My sister found this at her local health food store. I don't normally endorse brands, especially because a lot of "healthy" foods claiming to be 100% natural aren't, but this one, at least this type/flavor, seems awesome.

Wow, I know what ALL of those things are!
Check out this ingredient list! I'm so impressed. We cooked it up and it tasted amazing. If you must do fast meals and you want minimal prep, this is the way to go.

*I do not normally shop in the frozen food aisle, so this could be a completely random occurrence, but it happened to me, so I'm reporting it.