Catching the pulse of beans and lentils

LOGO_IYP-en-high-horizontal int year pulses 2016 horizontal

An opening haiku to celebrate this International event:

Ο
Pulsing energy,
rich nutrients of the earth,
Lentils and beans dance.
Ο

ABOUT THE CELEBRATION

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is celebrating  pulses this year. Pulses are dried beans and peas, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, split peas, fava beans, and black-eyed peas.

So what?  What’s the big deal about beans? 

Ο they are nutritious, high in protein, fiber, and minerals; low in fat and gluten free.

Ο they are friends of sustainable farming, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides–for example, with the aid of certain bacteria they restore soil by taking nitrogen from the air and adding it to the soil (called ‘nitrogen fixing’). 

Ο as cover crops they prevent water and wind erosion, and restore soil nutrients.

Ο climate resilient strains are potential food sources as global warming brings hotter growing conditions.

Ο bean crops offer solutions for hunger and poverty–they store well, can be processed locally, and yield more income than cereals alone (and rotating cereal and bean crops keeps the soil healthy).

The following bean quotes are excerpted from some of my favourite cookbooks:

There are basically five different kinds of meat and poultry, but 40-50 different kinds of commonly eaten vegetables, 24 different kinds of peas, beans, and lentils, 20 different fruits, 12 different nuts, and nine grains. The variety of flavor, of texture and of color lies obviously in the plant world…

Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet, 1975, Ballantine Books, New York, p.63

BEANS ARE A MEATLESS MENU STAPLE

Cooking vegetarian book

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.   Albert Einstein

As quoted by Carollyne Conlinn, Past President (1995) Canadian Dietetic Association in Foreword to Cooking Vegetarian, by Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest, 1996, Macmillan Canada, p. vii

COOKING TIPS

Does cooking beans from scratch sound time-consuming? Well, they pretty much cook themselves!  You just soak them overnight, change the water, and boil them until very soft, generally 1 to 3 hours, depending on the variety. You may also wish to keep some canned beans on hand, as they are convenient and ready anytime the mood strikes you.  Just be sure to rinse them—rinsing canned beans reduces sodium by one-third…

Neal Barnard, MD and Robyn Webb, The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook, 2010, Da Capo Press, PA, p. 44

Some more cooking tips:

  • You can cook beans overnight in a slow cooker—some chefs use a pressure cooker for faster results.
  •  Lentils cook fairly quickly.
  • Rinsing canned beans removes not only salt but also a foamy liquid that promotes flatulence.
  • When cooking beans, skim off any foam.
  •  For ultimate gas reduction, soak overnight, bring to a boil in cold water, rinse, then re-cover with fresh water and cook until tender.

MENUS and RECIPES

Beans can be appropriate to every course in the meal, as evidenced by their international popularity in soups, dips, stews, casseroles, fritters, salads, and even sweet bean pies for dessert.

Nikki and David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine, Over 1300 Meatless Wholesome Recipes From Short Order to Gourmet, 1983, New American Library, p.12.

My current bean and lentil recipe favourites include:

  • Hummus (chickpea dip: available at the grocery store with other dips, or make at home using a food processor);
  • Fiesta Bean Dip (baked bean and  melted cheese dip, a hit at family gatherings–as home cooks usually do, I  modify the recipe, using meat-free maple beans, marble cheddar for the grated cheeses, and home-blended taco seasoning);
  • Summer bean salads such as Black-eyed pea salad;
  • Baked beans or lentils for winter and summer (slow cooker or oven baked);
  • Rice or quinoa and beans such as Red Beans and Quinoa ; and
  • Veggie burgers such as Mushroom and Lentil Sliders.

Ο

Nourished blood pulses,
 with rich earth nutrient beat,
Lentil and bean dance.

Ο

Thank you to What the Ducks! and Palm Rae Urban Potager for hosting Blogger Action Day in celebration of  ‘Year of the Bean’, February 17, 2016.

As this is Wednesday, I am also linking this post to Writer’s Quote Wednesday at Silver Threading. If you enjoy reading quotes, I suggest a visit to  SilverThreading for Colleen Chesebro’s weekly quote post and links to posts by other participants.

 

©2016, All rights reserved by Ontheland.wordpress.com

Curried chickpea menu ideas

I became a vegetarian after having been  exposed to vegetarian East Indian cuisine.  After a meal, I always felt energized rather than weighed down by my food.  I’ve always attributed the sensation to the vegetables and  spices.  Indian cooking requires a few more ingredients than usual–such as garlic, onions, tumeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder, but the final blend of flavours is well worth the effort.

A recent blog by Veggie Grettie  offers a Channa Masala recipe which is a spicy (not necessarily hot) stew of chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes.  This recipe inspired me to cook chickpeas and complementary foods for this upcoming Meatless Monday.

Chickpeas, spices, and other ingredients, ready for cooking

Channa Masala and similar recipes can be eaten with traditional chapati, tortillas, pita breads, brown rice, or basmati rice–whatever grain product is available or preferred.

A related chickpea dish is West Indian roti filled with chickpeas, with or without white or sweet potatoes, spinach or squash.  Making rotis is an art best learned from a skilled roti maker, but if you like making  flat breads, give this recipe a try:  Rotis Stuffed with Curried Chickpeas Filling.  I’ll be making the filling and eating it in a tortilla or pita.  If you’ve never had a real vegetarian roti, visit a  West Indian roti shop for a taste of the “real thing”.

Complementary Dishes–What else might you eat with spicy chickpeas, besides bread or rice?  Hot sauce goes well.  A green lettuce or spinach salad,  or cucumber slices would be refreshing.  Other possibilities are  cooked spinach, asparagus, or green beans.  Here are some more recipe links I have dug up:

Indian Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Carrots, Green Peas, and Potatoes.

Enjoy!

Beans and grains for spring and summer menus

 

There has been a lot of chilly wet weather lately –I found myself cooking minestrone soup with beans and pasta the other day.  Today I decided to make Vegetarian Molasses Baked Beans in the slow cooker–it’s cooking as I write.  Baked beans can be served hot or cold as a main or side dish.  For Meatless Monday,  I’ll serve the beans with a spinach salad or hot greens, and perhaps some toast–I might also make some brown rice.

Another food that I’ve talked about in other posts is quinoa–it’s great in raw or grilled vegetable salads.  I’ve run out of quinoa so won’t be cooking with it next week, but I just want to mention again that it’s a great, satisfying food–high in protein, fibre, and minerals.  It’s also a gluten-free grain (technically not a grain, but it’s grain-like)–important for those who have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.  Quinoa recipes can be made using brown rice— brown rice and quinoa are interchangeable in many dishes.  Canadian Living Magazine offers a few quinoa recipes, such as:

Black and White Bean and Quinoa Salad,

Gluten-free Quinoa and Lentil Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing, and

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad–featuring quinoa, grilled vegetables and feta cheese.

Kasha Veggie Burgers for Meatless Monday

This week for Meatless Monday I’ll be making veggie burgers with Kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) as the key ingredient.  This grain is part of East European cuisines and has a distinct flavour.  I’ll be following a recipe called “Cajun Veggie Burgers” that comes with a demonstration video.  A unique feature of this burger recipe is that it provides instructions for  baking as well as frying the burgers.

For Inspiration

Changing eating patterns, even for one day takes effort.  If you are looking for inspiration, check out the Video of Dr. Rajendra Pachauri,  Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), uploaded onto YouTube. In this video, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri,  also Director General of the Energy and Resources Institute of India,talks about the impact of eating less meat.

Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman IPCC

Vegetarian potluck ideas

Fast  Mexican Lasagna

Eating lower on the food chain conserves land, water, and crops—one of the reasons why eating less meat has been added to lists of eco-friendly things to do, and one of the rationales behind Meatless Monday A holiday weekend often involves family potlucks, and other gatherings—so why not grace one of your occasions with a meatless offering?

Feature Recipe: Fast Mexican Lasagna

This week I tested Fast Mexican Lasagna.  I would call this dish “Mexican Tortilla Casserole” as it’s made of tortillas and other  ingredients you would use in quesadillas (the subject of my last food post).  The casserole has four layers of  soft 8¨ tortillas covered with refried beans, salsa, grated cheese, and roasted red peppers.

The recipe says that the yield is 6 servings.  For a family potluck, I’ll be cutting my dish into slivers as a side for other dishes on the table.  A few tips:

  • Making refried beans from scratch isn’t difficult if you have the time.  Once you prepare them a few times, no recipe will be needed.  Try this one:  refried beans.
  • Cooking beans from scratch allows you to reduce the gas factor. To reduce gas, soak the beans  overnight and/or bring them to a boil, skim off the foam, rinse, and cook in a fresh batch of water.
  • Red peppers can be “roasted” in a  microwave rather than using more electricity in an oven.

More Recipe Ideas for Weekend Celebrations

Vegetarian Nachos—I recently layered baked tortilla chips, with salsa, chopped green onion, chopped cooked asparagus, artichoke slices, and shredded cheese on a cookie sheet and baked it in the oven at 375 degrees F  for just over 10 minutes.  A heartier version could include refried beans.

Vegetarian Burritos or Quesadillas–offer as full servings, or cut into snack-sized pieces

Vegetable Lasagna

Enjoy!  Let me know if you have some vegetarian successes this weekend.

Veggy snacks, greens, quesadillas, and Meatless Monday fact

 I’ve been writing about vegetarian menus for Meatless Monday for about 3 months now. I’ve been realizing that this is one of my favourite blog projects.  Why?  I’ve been a vegetarian for many years— or almost vegetarian, because in recent years I started eating fish. However since I began this blog series, I’ve looked at the fish question more closely and decided that if I maintain a diverse vegetarian diet, including lots of essential fats (omega 3, 6, and GLA), I’ll be healthy and ‘sane” without fish.

Meatless Monday gives me an extra incentive to plan  home meals and cook on the weekend;  as an additional bonus, I usually have leftovers that last for at least part of the week.

Meatless Monday Fact—According to a 2006 UN study, global livestock operations generate 18% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Livestock farming involves five GHG emitting sectors: agriculture and forestry, land use, industry, energy and waste.  Deforestation for pastures and feed crops, manure, and “enteric fermentation”, aka digestive gas, are major sources of livestock emissions (Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow—Environmental Issues and Options, report by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006).

Snack Bars—Protein bars are convenient quick snacks that can be carried with you while you are out and about.  This week I tried a peanut butter granola bar recipe which I will make again.  Very easy to prepare and bake, the ingredients are peanut butter, honey,oil, rolled oats, wheat germ, raisins, and chopped dried apricots.  I excluded the dried fruit and used slivered almonds instead (that’s what I had on hand).  Recipe link:  Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

Cooking Greens—Eating green vegetables is important every day.  This recipe includes beans, adding extra protein.  Cooking fresh vegetables takes a little effort—washing and chopping is part of the bargain.  However I find, once I get into it, the process and results are rewarding. 

Collards are big leafy greens with sturdy stems (the picture shows asian kale, similar, but with softer, narrower leaves).  I prepare them by soaking in water and vinegar, rinsing, cutting out the stems, rolling up each leaf and slicing the roll in ¼ to ½ inch strips, resulting in long green ribbons.  Like any greens, collards can be steamed or sautéed in garlic, ginger or onion. 

Recipes that combine collards or kale with beans, with or without tomatoes, provide delicious and satisfying results—the starch of the added beans complements the vegetables.  Recipe link:  Collards with Lentils, Tomatoes, and Indian Spices.  Yesterday I cooked this using white kidney beans, instead of lentils, and leftover tomato paste, instead of chopped tomatoes.

Swiss chard is a sweeter, lighter green leafy vegetable.  For preparations tips and a swiss chard quesadilla filling, take a look at the video at the end of this blog.

Dinner/ Lunch Selection: Quesadillas

Last week the bean burritos were so successful I decided to continue on the Mexican theme with Quesadillas.  These foods are suitable for lunch or dinner, hot or cold.  Bite size pieces can be used as appetizers—something to keep in mind as we approach weekend celebrations for Easter and Earth Day (April 22).

What’s a quesadilla?  It’s a grilled tortilla sandwich—a tortilla is topped with a filling, such as cheese, vegetables, or refried beans, followed by another tortilla and then fried on both sides, like a grilled sandwich.

I’ll be trying two or three of these recipes on Monday: 

Guacamole and Refried Beans Quesadillas 

Corn Tortilla Quesadillas with Summer Veg (zucchini, red pepper, and cheese filling)

Swiss Chard Quesadilla—the video below shows swiss chard being harvested from the garden, and cooked for quesadillas, with full recipe details.   In this approach to quesadillas, the chef folds one tortilla in half for frying, rather than using two tortillas—it looks delicious.

View the video by clicking on this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BzuPPIFkRk

Bon Appetit!