Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Black Bean Cakes

This month's Recipe Redux Challenge was to use a legume (i.e. beans, peas, lentils) in a festive recipe or party dish. Excellent! Beans are a major staple in my diet and I love experimenting with new ways to use this versatile legume.  After some serious brainstorming I decided to showcase bite sized black bean cakes with a yogurt and kale pesto topping.  As you can see from the photos, they turned out to be 3-bite bean cakes. Oops! 

Makes 10 bean cakes (to get more bang for your buck reduce the size and serve as an appetizer) 

Bean cakes: 
Black Beans - 1 can or 2 cups 
Garlic - 1 clove 
Lime Juice - 1/2 lime 
Greek yogurt, plain - 1 Tbsp (15 mL)
Cilantro leaves, fresh - 1/8th cup 
Bread crumbs - 1/2 cup 
Cumin - 1/2 tsp (2mL) 
Chili Powder - 1/4 tsp 
Cayenne - 1/4 tsp
Crushed red pepper - 1/4 tsp 
Salt - pinch 
Black pepper - to taste 

1. In a food processor blend beans, garlic, lime juice, and yogurt until smooth(ish). 

2. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. 
3. With clean hands roll the mixture into small balls (I used a heaping tablespoon but really should have  used a heaping teaspoon). 
4. Place balls on a plate a refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. In the mean time make the dips below. 
5. When bean balls are cold, remove from the fridge and pan fry with about 1 Tbsp of oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side. After a minute or two of cooking flatten the ball with your spatula so that it looks like a disc. 

Yogurt Cilantro Dipping Sauce:
Greek Yogurt, plain - approx 1/2 cup
Juice from 1/2 lime
Pinch of dill 
Cilantro, fresh  - approx 1/4 cup 

Combine ingredients.  Voila! 

Kale Pesto Recipe 
2 handfuls of kale 
1 handful of almonds
1 - 1.5 tbsp oil 
2 tsp of lime juice

Throw ingredients into a food processor and blend (we have enough cleaning to do, don't bother cleaning the bean mixture out of the processor). 

If you prefer a thin, liquid pesto you can: 
- blend longer
- add some more oil
- add a small amount of water. 

Top bean cakes with yogurt dip and then kale pesto. If you like just serve one dip (it's your kitchen, you make the decisions!). 

Wishing you calm in the kitchen this holiday season, 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The not so smooth-ie.

Let's talk smoothies. Up until three days ago I was anti-smoothie. So cold, so sweet, so boring.  "So what's with the blog post?" you wonder. Well a coworker has been raving for months about a new twist on the classic smoothie: oatmeal. 
My initial reaction: Huh? Oatmeal? In a drink? Umm,  no thanks. 
Clearly I couldn't leave it at that; curiosity got the best of me so I went for it. 

How to do it: 
Throw your favourite smoothie ingredients into a blender and then top it off with 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal. 

Version 1: 
Cooked steel cut oats 
Frozen blueberries
Unsalted nuts
Almond milk 
Maple syrup 

Version 2: 
Cooked steel cut oats 
Plain greek yogurt 
Frozen mixed berries
1/4 of an avocado
Almond milk 

The verdict: 
Oatmeal smoothies have a super interesting, delightful texture.  It was so delicious that I enjoyed it three mornings in a row and will likely finish the work week off with another tomorrow!

Not so fast, before getting started here are some helpful (and very important) tips:  

  • Cook a large batch of oatmeal on the weekend and store in the fridge for quick use during the week. 
  • Check yourself out before leaving the house. While my blueberry oatmeal smoothie was delicious it left a lot of seeds in my teeth and stained my lips a bright shade of blue (perhaps a straw would be helpful). 
  • Don't forget to add protein to your smoothie - try a handful of nuts, 2 tablespoons of nut butter, greek yogurt, or soft tofu. 
  • Mornings are complicated enough, remember to secure the top of the blender before hitting "blend"  
  • Click here for a a video showing you a quick and easy way to clean your blender 

Wishing you a pleasant surprise and a breakfast that makes you squeal with delight, 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spring in my step

These yummy vegan spring rolls were well worth the effort. It was a multi-step process and the dipping sauce involved me pulling out the food processor, but after tasting these little bundles of joy I would certainly do it again! Check out the colours in the photo, wouldn't this be a darling holiday party plate? Guests would be even more impressed by it's stellar nutrition profile. If you're really wild you could even engage your guests with a 'make your own spring rolls' activity (ooooooh). 

I made my spring rolls by slicing carrots, cucumber, red bell pepper, avocado, and tofu into long thin strips and rolling in rice paper but the choices are endless.

Some more filling ideas include:
lettuce, sprouts, vermicelli, green onion, shrimp, bean paste, chicken, beef, fish or whatever your heart desires (or whatever you have lingering in the fridge).

Dipping sauce plays a key role in the enjoyment of this dish. Peanut sauce and sweet and sour sauce are both popular go-to options but this carrot-ginger dipping sauce wins the grand prize of deliciousness! I do however have one piece of advice: when it says "one clove of garlic" it means one regular/normal/medium clove of garlic, not the monstrous clove of garlic that I decided to use. Oopsies, I'll have garlic breath for days (but well worth it!).

Carrot Ginger Dipping Sauce:
1 clove of garlic
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 Tbsp coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
Ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp water

Blend garlic, carrots, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and peppers in a food processor until smooth. While the processor is running, add olive oil and water. Chill and serve with spring rolls.

Wishing you a little piece of spring roll heaven, 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beauty Resolutions

I love this post from The Beauty Department.  For three years running my New Year resolution has been to moisturize after getting out of the shower. It's something that I know is great for my body and skin but I just. don't. like. doing.  Despite my dread of this tedious task I normally do well with my resolution and have baby soft skin until May! (change of season, change of habits?)
It turns out there is a name for this type of resolution - a Beauty Resolution. I shamelessly hopped on the bandwagon and created my own list of beauty resolutions (borrowing a few from wonderful ladies at The Beauty Department)

I vow to:
Exfoliate my face and body at least once a week.
Wear SPF 40 every single day.
Moisturize my face before bed (even if the moisturizer is really really far away)
Find the perfect red lipstick to give me an extra dose of sassiness.
Throw out all expired makeup. If I can't remember when I bought it, it's too old.
Clean my makeup brushes every week.
Experiment with styles (in the privacy of my own bedroom) that I never thought I could pull off.
Take the time to put on tights and a dress, even if pants are the quick and easy option.
Sleep on a satin pillowcase to protect my hair.
Sleep 6-8 hours a night.
Moisturize after getting out of the shower.
Treat my body to nutritious, wholesome, natural food every day.
Look at the ingredient list and reflect on if I really want to consume that strange sounding additive.
Make my lunch.
Drinks lots of water.
Go outside, even in the cold. I'm not a bear; I will not hibernate.
Move my body.
Find the silver lining.

What are your beauty resolutions? Remember, beauty is on the inside and out - mind, body, and soul.

Wishing you a beautiful new year, 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fit for a tea party

There are plenty of opportunities for indulgence over the holiday season and once in a while I crave a break from all the sweet treats and salty snacks. While searching for a small bowl for my greek yogurt tonight I came up with this cute idea for a holiday tea party! 
Put some Greek yogurt in a small tea cup and serve with a Scottish oat biscuit. It's a perfectly satisfying snack and is high in protein and low in fat and added sugars. Top with some fresh berries for a festive look! 

Tips: 1)  Look for oat biscuits or oat cakes with no added sugar; the yogurt will provide all the sweet flavour you need 2) If available, choose Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has a creamy texture, is low in fat and high in protein.  

Wishing you a tasty holiday season,