Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Hummus

Happy Halloween! I had every intention of bringing you a special, cute halloweeny recipe today. But let's be real... I am not a full time blogger, I am a researcher at MIT working crazy hours. Honestly, I think you guys appreciate that about me: most of my recipes are reasonable for busy real people to carry out. This week has been flooded with deadlines so I didn't have time to pre-write and experiment in the kitchen this weekend, thus, there is no special recipe. Probably next week, I'll get around to trying and posting the healthy candied apple recipe I've been wanting to create. Or maybe not!

Anyways, today's recipe is sure to please. I made it up for the first time a few weeks ago when I had friends visiting for HOCR. I made three types of hummus: two rather standard and this experimental one. I anticipated that this would be the last to go, since pumpkin hummus is, well, different. Instead, when I arrived home from lab on the day I had presented the hummus, it was almost gone! I was informed that this is because it has an almost peanut buttery flavor. And let's be honest: everyone loves chickpeas!  Chickpeas are the foundation for favorites like hummus and falafel, are a complete protein, and are a great source of fiber, vitamin B9, and manganese. Pumpkin is also a nutritional powerhouse, which we already know!

Pumpkin Hummus

1 can chickpeas (or 1.5c cooked), washed and drained
1/2 can pumpkin puree (or 3/4c fresh pumpkin puree)
dash cinnamon
1t maple syrup

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Enjoy with vegetables or pita bread!

Boston (Red Sox) Baked Beans

In honor of the Red Sox World Series victory... I'll post a bonus recipe! Boston Baked Beans for the Red Sox Nation.

Boston Baked Beans

For the sauce:
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2c tomato paste 
3T smoke seasoning
1t chili pepper (or more, depending on potency and your taste)
1t garlic
1T apple cider vinegar
1/4c molasses
1/4c brown sugar

2c white beans
3 scallions, diced

In a food processor, combine the sauce ingredients. Food process until smooth. Add more spices as necessary. In a pan, sauté scallions. Add sauce and beans. Turn to low heat and let simmer for 30 minutes to let the flavor infuse into the beans. Serve warm and imagine you're at a baseball game on a warm summer evening!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Truth About Iron

Today I'm talking about a big nutrient for athletes, especially for female athletes: IRON. Iron comes in two forms, heme-based iron and non-heme iron. Because heme-based iron the form used in the human body, our bodies absorb iron much more readily from heme-based sources, which come from animal products, in comparison to plant based non-heme sources. This is because once it's consumed the body has to convert the non-heme iron into heme-iron. Because of this fact it can often be difficult for some people to keep their iron levels up based on vegetarian food alone. As you may have noticed, I love vegan food, but found that I have to eat fish in addition to taking an iron supplement to keep my iron levels in the healthy range.

So, why is iron so important? Well, without iron, the body can't make hemoglobin, which is the compound that allows the red blood cells to transport oxygen to your muscles. Iron deficiency anemia is characterized by a constant state of oxygen deprivation, fatigue, and and inability to repair injured muscle tissues. Even a mild iron deficiency can really hurt your athletic performance and ability to recover between workouts. Last March, after two years of chronic injury and fatigue, I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia and since starting to take iron supplements and learning how best to maximize my intake and absorption of iron I have started to feel like my old self. I had my best racing season in years and finally made it through a whole season with one single overuse injury! You'll notice that iron deficiency is more common in women and this is because blood loss in any form depletes your iron stores so under normal circumstances, women need about twice as much iron as men

Many people believe red meat to be the best source of heme-based iron, but this is just not true. Oysters, mussels, and clams have 5x as much heme-based iron as red meat. If you are committed to truly vegetarian sources of iron (i.e. you even omit sea creatures that don't have eyes), there are still ways to maximize your absorption of non-heme iron. Spinach, lentils, black beans, soy beans, whole wheat, and oats all have more than 10% of your recommended daily value of iron and absorption can be increased if you consume these foods with a source of vitamin C. Here, vitamin C acts as a reductant to help reduce the non-heme iron to a more bioavailable oxidation state. Additionally, coffee, tea, and dairy products strongly limit your absorption of iron so should be avoided when you are eating iron rich foods. This site is a decent non-medical source on the iron content in various foods.

Muscle Pasta (Get it?? It's a pun!)

1 package pre-cooked mussel meats
1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
olive oil
garlic and crushed red pepper
1/2 package whole wheat or brown rice pasta

Sautee your mussel meats and mushrooms in olive oil, adding garlic and crushed red pepper to taste. Meanwhile boil water to cook pasta according to the directions on the package. The mussels and mushrooms should be done around the same time as the pasta (9- 11 minutes plus 5 minutes to reach boiling). Serve the mussels and mushrooms over the pasta with additional olive oil and nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese, but remember that cheese does limit iron absorption). Add a spinach salad topped with a lemony dressing on the side for an extra iron boost!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chocolate Crock-Pot Oatmeal, Orchard Cross, and the Vegetarian Food Festival

Today’s a big post! Things have been crazy. Saturday I went for a ride, had a nice brunch (Belgian waffles with pie-style apples and pumpkin syrup), did some work in lab, and went to the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. Sunday, we woke up early and headed to Applecrest Farm in southern NH for my first cross race and some general fall fun! After racing, picking and flinging apples, and heckling some of our other friends who were racing, we headed back south, where I went back into lab to pack some things up so that we could head out to visit at collaborator at UConn medical, which just happens to be in my fiance’s home town. So Monday, he got to spend the day relaxing with his family while my collaborator and I collected some (interesting) data.  Right now, I’m on a train on my way back up to Boston, cells in tow.

Back to the beginning... the Vegetarian Food Festival. I loved the idea of this food festival and was very excited for it. Well, the number of vendors and free samples did not disappoint, but I really like talking to people and exchanging ideas and felt that the festival had outgrown its venue. The gym was too crowded to really allow stimulating discussion, which was very disappointing. Perhaps if we paid the $5 to come early, I would have been able to talk to the vendors more, which would have been nice. Our favorite booth was one that was selling these delicious flavored pumpkin seeds: they even had pickle-flavored pumpkin seeds! Unfortunately, they weren’t giving anything away to help us remember their brand, so I have no idea where I can find the delicious pickle flavored seeds.

Orchard Cross at Applecrest Farm.... my first cross race. It was wild! I made my roommate and fiancé wake up early to come with me for moral support. My borrowed steel cross bike may weigh twice as much as the feather-light carbon bike I use on the road and since my arms are not nearly as strong as when I was rowing, I decided that I would only carry it over barriers if I had to. Through the other barriers, I pushed the bike while I ran which apparently seemed to help my speed. I was passing people while running for the first time in my life (I am a very slow runner).  Apparently, I should use a walker for speed the next time I run a half marathon! Among all of this rolling in the dirt, braking when I should be accelerating, and using my bike as a walker, I did something right... I was shocked to learn that I had finished 12th out of a large field! After the race, we picked apples (I’m going to try to think of something amazing besides crisp to make.) Applecrest still had a huge variety, which was great for this time of the year! Perhaps the best part of the day was cheering for the Men’s 3/4 race, in which one of our friends who made the US rowing national team this year, was racing. We chose to only cheer in rowing terms, making a very confusing experience for all of his competitors, I’m sure.

The final fun of the weekend came in a trip out to Farmington. We had been busy all day at the apple orchard (followed by lab and cell transporting, which was boring), so had not had time for a real meal. I always look forward to my fiance’s mom’s cooking. She is a truly fantastic cook! Upon arrival at my future parents-in-law’s house, we were not disappointed. For dinner we had a wonderful hearty white bean soup. Perhaps my favorite thing that she makes though are chocolate steel cut oats in the crock pot. I tried these on my first visit and I hate to say that I think she keeps making them (perhaps only) when I come because she knows I like them so much! The best thing about this oatmeal is that it is so hearty, it can be reheated in the microwave. So without further adieu, here’s the recipe. No picture today, you’ll just have to trust me that they are amazing.

Chocolate Crock-Pot Oatmeal
(This one’s not my recipe! It’s borrowed from my fiance’s mother)

1c steel cut oats
3c water
1.5c vanilla almond milk
1/4c cocoa powder
3T maple syrup

Grease the sides of your crock pot. Add all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let cook on low overnight. Wake up to an amazing warm breakfast and serve with dried cherries, dried cranberries and walnut. Any leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated for another day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Three Bean Chili

With the cold front upon us... it's now chili season! Today I'm sharing a basic three bean chili recipe and highlighting red kidney beans as a Laudable Legume. In 1/4c dry, you can find 9g of protein, 9g of fiber, and 17% of your daily value of iron. The protein in kidney beans is even a complete source of all 9 essential amino acids! It's also a good source of folate and thiamin (two B vitamins), as well a plethora of other essential minerals. Legumes have also been shown to be effective for the long term stabilization of blood glucose levels. One thing to be careful about with kidney beans, is that there is a compound called phytohaemagglutinin that is in a higher concentration, which can be toxic. If you cook your own kidney beans, please be sure to boil them first to denature that toxin! Kidney beans are the one bean that I will use cans rather than dried.

As the weather turns colder, I love to make up a pot of chili to share with my friends. It's also a great recipe to double or triple and freeze up lunch-sized portions to take with you for lunch for the week or the future when you don't have time to cook. I'm never upset when I find that I have chili that I've forgotten about. My favorite part about chili though, is that it's a great crock pot recipe. You can throw all of the ingredients in the pot in the morning and when you get home from work, you have a warm, tasty dinner waiting for you. Plus your kitchen will smell amazing! There are many food to eat with chili, but my favorite accompaniment is cornbread. Yum!

Sweet and Spicy Three Bean Chili

5 cans diced tomatoes
1/2c dried black beans, cooked (or 1 can)
1 can kidney beans
1/2c dried beans of choice, cooked (I used leftover giant lima beans)
1c sweet yellow corn
1t maple syrup
sriracha sauce, chili powder, garlic, turmeric and cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for up to 8 hours. Enjoy the luxury of coming home to a warm dinner!


1c whole wheat flour
1c cornmeal
2T brown sugar
1T baking powder
1t cornstarch
1T ground flax seed (pre-soaked in 3T warm water)
1/4c olive oil
1c water

Mix dry ingredients, and then add wet. Bake at 425F for 25 minutes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mind-Blowing Black Bean Brownies

Happy Friday! As usual, I'm celebrating the end of the work week with a dessert recipe. This one is a real winner, brought to you from a few years of slaving over a hot stove trying to perfect it. This dense, fudgy brownie has subtle peanut butter and cinnamon flavors. It's so decadent that you wouldn't guess that it's gluten free, vegan, and has more protein and less fat than a Cliff bar!

By now most of us have heard of the elusive black bean brownie. Many of us have tried it, and have been sorely disappointed when it was found that they had created a baked lump of black beans with a hint of cocoa and a bunch of oil (or worse. the pungent flavor of apple sauce). There are a lot of bad black bean brownie recipes out there, and my first attempt was no different than most. However, having a best friend who's gluten sensitive and being rather obsessed with baked goods that have added protein, we suffered through a ton of sub-par recipes to finally bring you this fudgy perfection!

The big keys to getting it right were 1) adding massive quantities of cocoa powder. It should be added in cups, not spoonfuls and 2) adding peanut butter. Peanut butter has an amazing ability to overpower the flavor of beans and even a tiny bit can make a hummus taste like peanut butter. (What's that? A peanut butter hummus recipe may be coming soon?) If I had to add a #3, a good food processor and patience is also key. You really need to make sure that you process long enough that you've thoroughly blended everything and there are no bits of black bean left.

Black Bean Brownies

1 can black beans
1/4c brown sugar (or agave or maple)
heaping 1/4c cocoa powder
heaping 2T peanut butter
1/4t baking soda
1/4t vanilla
1T cornstarch (For those who know me in real life and tried my black bean brownies last year... this was the missing link! They are no longer crumbly, just fudgy)
splash almond milk
cinnamon and sea salt to taste (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients in food processor and food process until very smooth, adding almond milk sparingly to create the right texture. (Taste the batter to make sure everything is to your liking and if not, feel free to add more sugar/ cocoa powder/ peanut butter/ cinnamon. I'm a dark chocolate girl, so it's possible that you'd like more sugar than I do.) Food process to combine any flavor tweaks. Grease a 9x9 square pan and add the batter. Cook for 17 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into squares, and enjoy warm.

*You know I'm not one to count calories, but this recipe is just so nutritionally impressive I had to do it... If you cut your 9x9 square into 9 brownies, each brownie has 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, and a whopping 5 grams of protein! Pack these for your next ride instead of a Cliff bar!
**If you were wondering, if you use dried black beans, this is a <$1 recipe too!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

BBQ Tempeh with Smoky Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Even though on Monday, I had high hopes for a relaxed week, this week has been anything but. Cycling has started up again in full swing, with my first ever cyclocross race coming up on Sunday! And on the MIT front, Monday I got an email from my boss stating that my major source of funding needs a full progress report... by Friday. So naturally I am writing this post when I should be writing about stem cells and cartilage. To allow me to get everything done, I've been on the look-out for fast, easy, nutritious meals that won't keep me waiting when I get home from work (at 10pm.)

After yesterday's post on soy... I couldn't get my mind off of it! While I was in Washington DC a few weekends ago, I tried an amazing tempeh sandwich which made me wonder about this interesting version of the soybean. Tempeh is actually fermented soybean cake. Supposedly, the fermentation process can make it easier to digest for some people, which was why I wanted to give it a shot. Fermentation supposedly breaks down enzyme inhibitors, but I can not find an academic source to back this claim. Never the less, it was enough to convince me to give tempeh a try, and boy was it good!

BBQ Tempeh with Smoky Kale and Sweet Potatoes

BBQ Sauce (you could definitely use store bought... but I've been making my own lately!)

1 can diced tomatoes
3T smoke seasoning
1t chili pepper (or more, depending on potency and your taste)
1t garlic
1T apple cider vinegar
1/4c molasses
1/4c brown sugar

Add all ingredients to a food processor and food process until smooth. Taste and add more sweet/ spice/ smoke to taste.

Tempeh, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes

1 package tempeh (be careful if you are allergic to gluten! The tempeh sold at TJ's isn't gluten free)
1 giant sweet potato
1 package fresh kale
1 leek, diced
splash olive oil

1. Cut tempeh into strips and marinate in BBQ sauce in a plastic bag. Remove all access air to help BBQ sauce be absorbed by the vacuum effect. This step should be done in the morning or the night before for maximum infusion of flavor.
2. Peel sweet potato. Cube and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
3. In a large pot, add olive oil and sautee the leek. Add BBQ sauce and the kale. It should fill the whole pot top to bottom at first, but it will cook down.
4. Meanwhile, remove tempeh from marinade. Cook tempeh like bacon on a skillet!
5. Once both the kale and tempeh are done, remove from heat and serve warm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

(Healthy) Pumpkin Scones

Happy Mole Day! Today is October 23, which is mole day, since a mole is 6.022 x 10^23. (If you aren't a scientist, a mole is a unit of measurement.) It's also been exactly one month since I started this blog. In just one month, I've gotten over 2000 views! Thanks so much for reading!

To celebrate, today I'm sharing a new pumpkin scone recipe. My traditional scones were made with shortening, which is primarily made of soybean oil. Soy can sometimes be a controversial ingredient since there is some controversy over whether soy effects hormone levels. Personally, I avoid soy because it hurts my stomach. I'm not allergic and actually love it, but I think I may have eaten enough soy to use up the enzyme I need to digest it. In soy's favor, soy protein is a complete protein, and I think that like everything, soy is great in moderation. Soybean oil is actually a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, so for that reason, I thought I was going to make these scones with shortening anyways. Then I learned that the next two ingredients were fully hydrogenated palm and soybean oil and partially hydrogenated palm and soybean oil. Well, fully hydrogenated oils are saturated fat and partially hydrogenated oils can isomerize into trans fats in the body so I decided that it was time to modify the recipe. I replace the shortening with mostly pumpkin puree and a small amount of soybean oil and it worked like a charm!

(Healthy) Pumpkin Scones

2 1/2c whole wheat flour
2 1/2t baking powder
2T brown sugar
3T soybean or canola oil
5T pumpkin puree
1t vanilla
1/2c almond milk
1T ground flax seeds (soaked in 3T water)

Preheat oven to 425F. Combine flour, baking powder, and sugar. Cut in the pumpkin puree and oil using a knife. Flour mixture should be very dry and it should resemble course crumbs. Mix in vanilla, flax seed, and almond milk. Kneed dough 5 or 6 times, then break into 3 large lumps. Cut the lumps into quarters. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the edges just start to brown. Enjoy!

Bonus Maple Glaze
I like a dry, lightly sweetened scone. If you'd like something sweeter, give this maple glaze a try!

2c powdered sugar
1/4t vanilla
1T (vegan) butter
2T vanilla almond milk
3T maple syrup

Mix ingredients and pour over fresh from the oven scones. Wait 20 minutes to let harden or enjoy immediately.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Harvest Cheddar Apple Potato Soup

For me, fall weather means a few things: time to start base training for next summers racing, time to be cold for a few months, and time to start making soup! I love eating soup when there's a chill in the air because it helps me combat the second truth of cold season: that I will be cold. This morning was just gorgeous for a ride, with my fingers and toes bundled up, of course! With temperatures expected to be in the 60s today, today was pleasant. Tomorrow a cold front comes through, so I'm preparing by making this soup!

This soup combines a smoky cheddar flavor with apple and potato to make an unforgettable fall soup! Potato cheddar soup is a classic, but I decided to add in granny smith apples for the contrast of their lovely tart flavor. White potatoes have been getting a bad rep these days, but actually they have a ton of worthwhile nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, and potassium. Additionally, they make a wonderful creamy base for a soup without the cream. Hope you enjoy this soup!

Harvest Cheddar Apple Potato Soup

3 medium potatoes
4 medium apples (I like granny smith for their tart flavor)
3c water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1/2c nutritional yeast (or you can use real cheddar cheese)
black pepper
smoke seasoning

1. Skin and cube all 3 potatoes and two of the apples. Cut into small cubes and put in a pot of water. Bring to a boil and let cook until potatoes and apples are soft.
2. Cube the remaining two apples.
3. Drain potatoes & apples. Food process until smooth.
4. In a large pot, combine water, bouillon, pureed apples and potatoes, and nutritional yeast/ cheddar. Add uncooked apple chunks and garlic, black pepper, and smoke seasoning to taste. (This is also great done in a crock pot for a few hours, to really let the flavors come together.)
5. Serve warm, using extra apples as a garnish if you please!

Just passing by Mystic Lake on my ride this morning...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Classic Rice and Beans

Happy Monday! After an exciting weekend seeing old friends at the Head of the Charles, things are winding down and hopefully soon returning to a normal pace. Besides the Charles, lots of other exciting things happened, including my very first cyclocross ride and my first recipe featured on!

To help slow things down, today I'm sharing a vegetarian classic: rice and beans. Kidney beans are a complete source of protein, and rice is deficient in lysine but that deficiency is made up by the addition of corn. Rice and beans are a weekday go-to for me, but this is the version I make when someone's coming over or I just want something a little bit more flavorful. I hope you enjoy this classic as much as I do!

Remember the old saying, "variety is the spice of live"? Well, there was something to that! Unlike meat, most vegetarian proteins don't contain all of the essential amino acids (explained here) in one source, so several protein sources should be eaten together (or throughout the day or week) to make sure you're getting enough of all of the amino acids. Often, vegan sources of protein are low in lysine which is critical in building and repairing muscles.

Classic Rice and Beans

1/2 green pepper, diced
3 scallions, diced
1 vegetable bullion cube
pinch garlic (and chili pepper if you like it spicy!)
2T taco seasoning
1 cup brown rice
2 1/2c water (or whatever you particular package suggests)
1 can red kidney beans
1 cup corn

Sautee scallions, green peppers, and garlic in a little bit of vegetable broth. Add rice to the pan and toast it for one minute, then add the water and bullion. Cook the rice as usual, letting the spices and flavors be absorbed. Once the rice is cooked, turn down the heat and add the corn and beans. Stir until everything is is warm and it looks delicious. Enjoy! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Head of the Charles

It's Head of the Charles weekend, aka "Rower Christmas." It's the one weekend per year that rowers of all levels from all over the world flock to Boston for a race that spills onto the banks of the Charles in the form of a weekend-long party. The atmosphere is very festive, but in the past two years this regatta has triggered a wide array of emotions for me. I competed in the Head of the Charles every year since I started rowing in 2005 through the end of my rowing career in 2011. In 2010 and 2011 I raced even though I was horribly injured and it was still a blast to compete. These past two years, I've only been able to look on from shore as my friends row on, continuing to grow stronger and faster. Rowing was truly my passion and I miss it very much. Here's a picture from my last good race before I got injured in 2009, taking the infamous Eliot bridge turn. (Photos today courtesy of my friend Igor over at Sculling Fool. Check out his beautiful daily picture blog here.)

Rowing brings back wonderful memories: the thrill of pushing your body harder than you knew you could, victories beyond my wildest imagination, and relationships that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately my last two years of rowing had more to do with chronic pain and inflammation than with these magnificent memories. It was actually as a result of these chronic injuries that I decided to take an interest in nutrition, and started to (roughly) follow Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. While I don't believe in the supplements he sells (supplements are poorly absorbed by the body, whole foods are better sources), the basic idea of eating more vitamin-rich whole foods, less meat, and more "healthy" fats has really resonated with me. Within a few months of making these dietary changes, I really started to feel better and after a year, I was able to return to purposeful training-- this time on my bike! It's been a whole year since I spawned a new overuse injury, and all of my old ones are continuing to heal so I think I'm finally doing something right. Onwards and upwards!

One of my last sunrise rows before hanging up my oars. Love that dirty water!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gluten Free Oreos

Happy Friday! I'll admit... I've been holding out on you guys. I made these gluten free oreos two weeks ago, but am only sharing the recipe now! That's mostly because I have been wanting to talk about amino acids, micronutrients, and all of that other good stuff that powers your workout and day. This post contains none of that type of information and simply was created because I really wanted oreos (Trader Joe's GF Joe-joes to be precise), I wanted to share them with my gluten-intolerant roommate, I didn't want a ton of fake ingredients, and I did not want to shell out the $4 that the box would have cost for the good stuff at TJ's. Thus the recipe was born!! Consensus is that it's a keeper. The cookies are softer than traditional chocolate sandwich cookies, more like a delicious hybrid between oreos and whoopee pies. As usual for my gf treats, the recipe uses an oat flour base and is vegan. (Reminder: flax seeds > eggs. They also keep longer.)

Gluten Free Oreos

Chocolate Cookies

1c oat flour (I explain how I make it in this post.)
1T cornstarch
1/3c cocoa powder
1/4c brown sugar
1/2t baking powder
dash cinnamon
1/2c vanilla almond milk
1/4c canola oil
1/8t vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, mix oat flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Drop spoonfuls onto a grease baking sheet. Bake for 10- 12 minutes, until cookies are crispy around the edges.

Vanilla Icing

2T Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread
1/8t vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar, plus 1T
2T vanilla almond milk

Cream earth balance and vanilla. Add sugar in half cup increments. After last 1/2 cup is added, add the almond milk to thin it out. 

Put it Together: Don't be impatient... let the cookies cool! Then spread one cookie with a generous amount of icing and top with a second cookie. Enjoy immediately, or wait a few hours to let the icing set.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Spicy Cilantro Black Bean Hummus

Today I present the next installment of my Laudable Legumes series with a feature on black beans. In 1/4c dry, you can find 7g protein, 9g fiber, and 15% of your daily value of iron. As if this isn't enough, black beans are complete source of protein, meaning that they have sufficient amounts of all 9 essential amino acids. (If you're new to the blog, I explain what an essential amino acid is here.) Black beans are also a good source of folate (vitamin B6), thiamin (vitamin B1), magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper, and manganese. Additionally, beans are amazing at stabilizing blood glucose levels, which explains why I haven't had any hypoglycemic episodes since I became vegetarian!

Today's recipe is a favorite of mine and makes a great high protein snack when generously smeared on a tortilla chip. It's far superior to store bought black bean dip-- I add no salt or oil and if you use dried black beans, you can make a whole bowl for about $0.50! In fact, I like it so much that the picture is just of one chip... because I ate the rest of the batch before I had a chance to take a picture of in the bowl! This black bean hummus can also make a great base to a sandwich topped with avocado, tomato, and spinach. That recipe will be shared in due time...

Spicy Cilantro Black Bean Hummus

1c dried black beans (or one can)
3T sriracha chili sauce
1/2T garlic
1T dried cilantro (or fresh if you really want to make it potent!)
1t apple cider vinegar (this will help it keep in the fridge longer)

Wash black beans, then cook in crock pot for 8- 9 hours on low covered with ample water. Drain and thoroughly rinse beans. Transfer all ingredients to food processor and food process until a hummus consistency is achieved. If you black beans are a bit dry to begin with, you may need to add some water  to get the texture right.

PS. I remade it and restrained myself and some hungry friends from eating it until after I took a photo :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Curried Spinach and Barley

The next grain to be featured in my great grains series is Barley. Barley is not a gluten free grain (This is a correction to the original post! Barley is not gluten free, so beware. I'm very sorry for the misinformation. I'd try the recipe with buckwheat if you are avoiding gluten). Most people have heard of barley, but have no idea how to cook with, beyond grandma's barley stew which was good... but not too exciting. But barley is worth your time! For every 100 calories of barley, you get 3g of protein and 4g of fiber (compare that to quinoa and whole wheat). Barley protein is low in lysine, but that is addressed in the recipe below, which couples it with giant lima beans and spinach (both complete proteins). Additionally, barley is a good source of selenium, which plays an important role in regulating inflammation and immune response.

Today's recipe combines some interesting ingredients to give a new flavor to barley that you might not have expected would work. It also freezes super well (you can see in my picture... that's the recipe revived from 3 weeks in the freezer for a quick lunch at work). The barley is paired with spinach, tomatoes, and giant lima beans, which round out the amino acid profile of the protein and add potent anti-oxidants. The whole medley is flavored with a mild curry sauce centered around turmeric, which is known to be potently anti-inflammatory.

Curried Spinach and Barley

1 cup dried barley
1 cup dried giant lima beans (or 1 can white beans)
1 can light coconut milk
vegetable broth (or bullion and water) as desired
1 can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1/2 package frozen spinach
1T turmeric
1T cumin
1/2T garlic
1/2t ginger
dash red pepper flakes

1. Wash dried lima beans and place in crock pot with ample water. Let cook on high heat for ~6 hours. Once soft, drain and wash.
2. Rinse dried barley and place in a pot with ample water. Bring to a boil for 40 minutes, until barley is soft. (Alternatively, both the barley and beans can be made in the crock pot, but both take several hours, so you would have to think ahead and perhaps make one overnight the night before, and then the other while you are at work for the day.)
3. Once barley and beans are ready, making the curry sauce is pretty quick. In a large saucepan, combine coconut milk, spinach, tomatoes, and spices. Bring to a simmer. (If you feel like you need more liquid, add some vegetable broth to thin it out.) Once spinach has cooked through, add beans and simmer for an additional few minutes so that the beans can take on the flavor.
4. Serve over barley and enjoy immediately! Alternatively once it cools, you can package into ziplock bags and freeze to enjoy later.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Protein-Packed Pumpkin Granola

This post reminds me of a time when I was about 8 years old. I've always been very creative and felt very comfortable experimenting and making "substitutions" in recipes to suit myself. In fact, in high school each of my friends had a different type of cookie that I had designed for them and would occasionally whip up a batch and bring it into school for them. Anyways, I tried to make ice cream for the first time when I was 8. I found the recipe in a Highlights magazine, which said I could make it in a coffee can rather than an ice cream maker so I decided to give it a go. I basically had nothing that the recipe called for and had never made ice cream before so we ended up with skim milk in a cup with ice cubes, sugar, raisins, and salt. My infamous "raisin ice cream." Needless to say this still provides my family with a good laugh. Although I do think that maybe I will have to make a delicious raisin ice cream some day for retribution...

Just like the raisin ice cream, this was my first attempt at making my own granola. And I chose to throw the recipe out the window. I like granola, but I've always been leery of it since I found the fat to protein ratio skewed too far in the wrong direction. I finally worked up the courage to make my own when I realized that a cereal that I had been buying was sneaking high fructose corn syrup into the ingredients! To be clear, there's nothing wrong with high fructose corn syrup on occasion. It's just that I was eating this cereal every day and I feel strongly that less refined sugars (maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses, ect) are way better for you. (Also, note how artsy I am putting my granola by fall leaves! I make no claim to be a food photographer... I'm just trying to make my food look palatable while delivering some recipes and information.)

Unlike the raisin ice cream though, this recipe is a spicy, crispy, pumpkiny success! For a 200 calorie serving, this granola hits you up with 10g of protein and only 5g of fat, as opposed to the 5g of protein and 10g of fat in regular granola. Success in turning that ratio around! I think I could further improve the ratio, but this pumpkin granola tastes so good that I definitely had to share. Couple that in with the nutritional profile of pumpkin and whole oats, which deliver a ton of fiber, iron, and vitamins and you know why I couldn't wait to share.

Protein-Packed Pumpkin Granola

1/4c vanilla almond milk
1/4c pumpkin puree
1/4c vanilla protein powder
2T brown sugar
cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, ginger to taste (add more than you think you want!)
2 1/2c quick cook rolled oats
1/2c nuts (I used a combination of almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds)
~1/4c maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Combine pumpkin, protein powder, sugar, almond milk and spices in a bowl to make a paste.
3. Add in oats and nuts. Stir until coated.
4. Grease a baking sheet (or several if your large one is currently preoccupied like mine...) Spread granola mixture evenly. Drizzle with maple syrup.
5. Bake for a total of 30 minutes. Stir you granola at 15 minutes and at 25 minutes, adding an extra drizzle of maple at these time points if you desire.

Enjoy and feel good about the vitamins, protein, and omega-3s you're eating!

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's All About the Pumpkin

Ahhh, after a few weeks of writing, I know why I decided to start my blog when I did... Fall is the absolute best time of year to start eating more plant-based foods! Seriously! Who doesn't love squash, apples, potatoes, maple, cinnamon, and PUMPKIN... the flavors of fall are amazing! Even if you aren't a vegetarian, you probably aren't even missing the meat in my recipes. After a season of burgers and barbeque, the only meat that is really associated with fall is turkey. And let's be honest, on Thanksgiving everyone is far more excited about the pumpkin pie than the turkey.

Well, I noticed that I was starting to collect a backlog pumpkin recipes. After serious thought, I decided that rather than spreading them out, I'd just embrace it and give you a concentration of recipes and along the way explain why pumpkin is good for you. Most of us think of pumpkin as a junk food since it's most commonly associated with the sugar and fat in pumpkin pie but the nutritional value of pure pumpkin is actually really high. Pumpkin is a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. Pumpkin can potentially stabilize your blood sugar and reduce your blood pressure and the antioxidants in pumpkin show potent free radical scavenging activity.

Pumpkin Butter Sorbet

1c organic Turbinado sugar (in general, I prefer brown sugar to white, since it's less processed. But in sorbet, brown sugar will turn everything a sad brown color. Even darker than what I have)
1 can pumpkin puree
4c water
generous amounts of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Heat over high heat, constantly stirring until you reach a steady boil. Keep at a rolling boil for 1- 2 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and let the magic happen!

Easy Pumpkin Butter

1/2c pumpkin puree
1/4c apple sauce
3T brown sugar
cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to taste
maple syrup to taste (I used ~1/4c)
1/4t apple cider vinegar (this will help it keep longer)

Pumpkin butter is super-easy... who knew?! Just mix the ingredients and let the fall flavors combine overnight.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Adventures

My fiance and I finally went on a very legit fall foliage hike! I've been wanting to go on a foliage hike since last fall, but of course we only had time for one low key hike during foliage season since I was working on that pesky little thing called my doctoral thesis... it took some time, you know. For whatever reason,  the locals call it "leaf peeping" here in New England. Fall foliage hike sounds more legit. The only bad part about the hike were the throngs leaf peepers cluttering up the trails and views.

Anyways, we traveled north to Mt. Major on Lake Winnipesaukee in NH. From close up, it seemed that we had missed peak by a week, but from afar, the photos look pretty good!

Today's share is this amazing looking Vegan Pumpkin Scone recipe I've been eye-balling. I haven't had a chance to make them yet (so they may not taste as good as they look) but if you know me personally... you know that I LOVE scones. They are my absolute favorite treat. Probably because they go well with coffee and I love coffee too. It took me two full years in college to perfect my scone recipe: scones are pretty tricky. I really like a dry, flaky inside and most scones come out to moist for me. Unfortunately my "perfect" scone recipe includes shortening, which my fiance told me he would not eat. (Personally, I'm not that offended by it. It's mostly just soybean oil.) So I am on the hunt again. Probably in the near future I will do some more research on trans fatty acid-free shortening to see if it makes the cut and if it does, I'll make up a batch and share my favorite scone recipe.

Thanks for reading! More great recipes coming this week!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes

I've been on a quest for a few years now for the perfect pumpkin pancakes. It's silly that a pumpkin pancake could be so elusive, but usually my pancakes turn out mushy rather than fluffy, which to me is just devastating. This devastation is usually compounded by the fact that I'm eating brunch after a long ride (at 3pm) so I'm already exhausted and my disappointments seem to be magnified.

Finally, this weekend, I learned what I was doing wrong... I was trying to add gluten to the pancakes. Silly me! These oat-based pumpkin pancakes are just perfect, especially served with walnuts or maybe some spiced lentils to balance out the carbohydrate to protein ratio. The body recovers best when a 2.5:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein is consumed within an hour after your workout.

Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

2c oat flour (as usual, prepared by food processing gluten free oats)
2T cornstarch
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
3T brown sugar
pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon to taste
2T ground flaxseed(soaked in 6T water)
2c vanilla almond or soy milk
1/2 can pumpkin puree
1/2t vanilla extract

1. Grease (with spray or vegetable oil) and preheat griddle.
2. Pre-mix 2T flaxseed and 5T water and let sit (this is your egg replacer)
3. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, brown sugar, and spices.
4. Add remaining wet ingredients, including the flaxseed mixture.
5. When water droplets flung at the griddle sizzle, your griddle is hot enough. Drop 1/3c batter on the griddle. Flip when the top is covered in bubbles.
6. Cook the other side 2-3 minutes. Check that your first pancake is cooked through (by cutting it in half) to get a feel for the timing. Enjoy with real maple syrup!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Superfood Feast

If you've been following me for a few weeks, you know that I like to save Fridays for special recipes. You know, a reward for making it through the week inspiration for the weekend when you actually have time to cook. And if I may say so, this Friday you are going to hit the jackpot! Today I'm sharing the menu from last night's "roommate night." I am lucky enough to live with my best friend. This fall has been pretty intense for us so we started setting aside a night each week to hang out, cook dinner, and chill.

Today I'll be sharing recipes for... Kale-Sunflower Pesto with Spaghetti Squash and Apple Crisp.

Conception of this week's dinner started last week, when I was doing a little light reading on the omega-3 fatty acids in nuts. Most of us have heard that walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids, but did you know that sunflower seeds are just as potent a source? That in combination with the fact that sunflower seeds cost $1.99/ lb,* compared to the $6.99/ lb for walnuts inspired me to create a recipe where sunflower seeds took the center stage. Sunflower seeds are also rich in iron, selenium, and vitamin E which are good for healing and reducing inflammation, respectively.
(*For those who don't know, postdoctoral associates make about as much as a first year public school teacher. Couple that with my fiance's ever-growing medical school loans and that will explain why many of my recipes are fairly cost effective.)

The next ingredient was inspired by National Kale Day, which was 10/2. I'm a little late for the celebration, but it's never too late to serve up a recipe with this superfood. Kale is rich in fiber, calcium, and potassium, as well as vitamins A, C and K. Additionally, kale is a cruciferous vegetable, which means it will deliver potent anti-cancer agents.

Up next... spaghetti squash. It's just as delicious as it sounds. Many of my recipes rely heavily on grains: I personally feel like I need their caloric density because I ride my bike a lot. I make an exception for this squash though. Spaghetti squash has about 1/5 of the calories of the same amount of whole grain pasta and has more fiber and vitamin C. The taste is amazing! I look forward to this squash every fall. (Although this fall it is quite expensive, hopefully the cost will come down as the season progresses.)

The final fall favorite included in today's recipes are freshly picked apples. Apple season is well underway in New England and even though I haven't made it to an orchard yet, my brother and his girlfriend did me a favor and shared some of their recent bounty with me. I've healthied up my family's recipe by using Earth Balance buttery spread in place of butter. Earth Balance is made from vegetable oils and delivers a lot of omega-3 fatty acids instead of the saturated fat in butter. With this apple crisp, I'm sure that an apple a day will keep the doctor away!

Kale-Sunflower Pesto

5c fresh kale
1c sunflower seeds (I used roasted, salted seeds)
3T olive oil
1/2c nutritional yeast
1/4c balsamic vinegar
garlic, black pepper, ginger, and salt to taste
water to thin as necessary

Combine kale, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast in food processor. Add spices, olive oil, and balsamic. Continue to process until a pesto texture is achieved. Add water or additional olive oil to thin as necessary (I like to limit the amount of oil, since there's already plenty omega-3 fatty acids in the sunflower seeds which is why I use the water.)

Spaghetti Squash

This is even easier to cook than pasta. Simply poke some holes in the spaghetti squash with a fork and microwave on high for 8-10 minutes, rotating occasionally, until soft. Then cut in half and scoop out the "spaghetti" removing the seeds.
Please don't worry about the safety of microwaves. The radiation your food will experience is less than it would receive if you listened to the radio while you were eating dinner or if you received a cell phone call. Additionally, all the microwaves (ie the radiation waves) are doing is exciting the water molecules in the food, which cause them to heat up. They are gone by the time you eat your food.

Apple Crisp

8-10 fresh apples
1c rolled oat flour (created by food processing rolled oats)
1t cornstarch
1c quick cook oats
1c brown sugar
1/4c Earth Balance buttery spread, melted (or canola oil)
cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (or pumpkin pie spice) to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Cut apples into 1/2" chunks, leaving the skin on. (I used to skin the apples, but the first year I moved to Boston, I didn't own a peeler so we tried this recipe with the skins on. We liked it so much that we've never gone back!)
3. In a medium bowl, combine oat flour, oats, and brown sugar.
4. Melt the Earth Balance and add it to the flour mixture about 1T at a time. Add just enough to "wet" the dry ingredients. If you don't have earth balance, you can use canola oil but your crisp won't be quite as crispy. (It's still good though! We do it that way often.)
5. Spread the apples in a 9 by 13 baking pan.
6. Cover apples with the "crisp" mixture.
7. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until apples are soft and the crisp is crispy. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Butternut Alfredo Pasta

I'm so excited! Due to a tweak in my knee, I had to take a bus from MIT to Northeastern yesterday to visit a collaborator, as opposed to my usual bike trip. Well, the bus that I needed to be on never showed and of course the late bus got even later due to traffic so as usual my patience was stretched thin. But there was a huge silver lining! There was a sign on that bus advertising the 18th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. It's 10/26 and 27, just a short T ride away, and FREE. How great!

This has been a slow week in the kitchen since I'm still trying to catch up from being away all weekend. Well, not really. I've made veggie burgers, lentil soup, and some kick-@$$ gluten free cookies, I just haven't felt like blogging those recipes yet. I also tried to make my own almond butter! Almond butter is my favorite and is either super expensive (Whole Foods, regular grocery stores) or the supply is irregular (our Trader Joe's has been out for a month). I decided to try my hand at making it when I found a 10 oz bag of raw almonds for $2.99 earlier in the week. I managed to make jar of what I'll call almond paste... when I get it to turn into butter I will pass the recipe on to you!

Yesterday, this recipe caught my eye, but I found it to be lacking a little bit nutritionally. The cashews are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and iron, two nutrients I'm looking for to quiet inflammation and promote healing in my knee. Cashew protein is even a complete source of all of the essential amino acids. However, the full combination of ingredients resulted in something that was a bit too low in protein and high in fat to really fuel my day. Thus, my Butternut Alfredo Pasta was born!

Butternut Alfredo Pasta

1/2 package whole wheat or brown rice rotini
1/2 package frozen cubed butternut squash, cooked
1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (here's the extra protein!)
cinnamon, garlic, and crushed red pepper to taste

Make your pasta according to the directions. Cook butternut squash, either in the microwave, or by roasting for 30 minutes in the oven at 350F. Drain cashews and combine squash, cashews, nutritional yeast, and spices in a food processor. Blend until smooth (add water to thin as necessary). Serve warm over pasta.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa

Today's post will feature a truly Great Grain: Quinoa. Quinoa is gluten free and a great, complete source of protein. For every 100 calories of quinoa, you get 2g fiber and 4g of protein. It's also a good source of manganese and folate. However, it's the amino acid composition of that protein that makes this grain shine. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids. Of the 21 naturally occurring amino acids, 9 are essential, meaning that our body isn't able to make them and if we don't get them through dietary sources, our body isn't able to make the proteins that incorporate them. For example: lysine is an essential amino acid and without it, we wouldn't be able to synthesize collagen with crosslinks. Without those crosslinks, we wouldn't have muscle and connective tissue! So making sure that you eat enough of all 9 essential amino acids is a crucial part of health and performance.

This recipe is a surprising favorite which combines sweet and savory for a dish that's just as good as the main even or on the side. With quinoa's complete protein, no additional protein is really necessary, but I threw in the walnuts for an additional boost and for the omega-3 fatty acids. Cranberries and cinnamon round out the festive fall flavor.

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa

1c red quinoa
2c water
1/3c walnuts
1/3c dried cranberries
cinnamon and garlic to taste

Rinse the quinoa (some people, myself included, have a reaction to one of the proteins on the shell of the quinoa so it should be rinsed off). Add the water and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the water is absorbed, remove from heat. Add cranberries, walnuts, garlic, and cinnamon to taste. Enjoy!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sweet Corn Risotto

I really enjoyed the summer-like weather this weekend down in DC. August was cold up here in Boston, so I was happy to have had a chance to revive my sundresses and sandals for one last hurrah.  In that spirit, I decided to continue the summer revival by sharing one of my favorite summer recipes, a simple sweet corn risotto. This recipe is best when made with sweet corn fresh from the farm stand-- my last batch for the summer was made with a few ears of corn my parents purchased right before I left left town on my last visit and it was just a notch up from the organic frozen sweet corn I usually use from Trader Joe's. The flash frozen sweet corn from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods is very good though and will make this dish taste just as sweet as an Indian summer.

Corn is one of my favorite ingredients because it is one of a few vegan protein sources that is rich in the essential amino acid lysine. To completely nerd out, lysine is my favorite amino acid. It's responsible for the crosslinks in collagen, which give structure to almost all connective or muscle tissue.  To give you an idea, the molecules and crosslinking reactions are shown below (Remember, I'm an organic chemist, so this is the stuff I think is really cool!)

Sweet Corn Risotto

1 cup risotto/ arborio rice
2 ears of fresh sweet corn, cooked and de-cobbed or 1.5c frozen sweet corn
3 to 4 cups water
1/4c nutritional yeast (or 1/4c parmesan cheese)
red pepper flakes
2-3 scallions, diced (or a few slices of diced onion)
1 bullion cube (broken up)

1. Saute the scallions with a dash of garlic, basil, the broken up bullion cube and a splash of water to avoid greasing the pan.
2. Add in the risotto rice. Saute the rice for 1 minute.
3. Add 1 cup of water/ broth to the risotto. Stir until absorbed. (You don't need to stir quite constantly, but it's much more stirring than regular rice).
4. Repeat step 6 with the 2nd and 3rd cups of water.
5. After 3 cups, your risotto may be done, check the texture to see if it's to your taste. If it's still too firm, add the last 1/4 to 1 cup of water slowly in 1/4 cup increments. Stop when the risotto is firm enough for your liking.
6. Add the sweet corn and nutritional yeast. Garnish with basil and chili pepper.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekend Adventures

This weekend has been really amazing! Upon arrival, we were whisked to Point of Rocks MD where we spent a day and a half helping my fiancé's brother set up. The location was beautiful and  with some hard work and great vision from the bride the old church was turned into a wedding wonderland. The food was amazing, with many vegetarian and vegan options. In truth, the only meat dish was salmon, which we eat, so we were in heaven! I was inspired by a very tasty kale salad so I will probably be making some kale later his week. With some good family connections, the band Poor Old Shine was able to play and we enjoyed the heat in DC while sipping mint lemonade and playing lawn games. It was so nice! And made all the sweeter by he fact it was in the 50s and raining at home in Boston.

Sunday, once the festivities wound down, we were able to meet up with one of my good friends from college and have a relaxing afternoon touring the "closed" monuments. It was so good to catch up with her and her husband! Tomorrow I'll be back to recipes but for today I hope you enjoy this recipe I've made and enjoyed from Lemons and Anchovies for fennel, beets, and squash. That's all for now!

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Best Belgian Waffles

Happy Friday! For me, this is the start of a long weekend in which my fiancé and I will travel to Washington DC for his brother's wedding. At the moment I am sitting in Logan Airport, waiting for our 6am flight. I have been looking forward to this weekend for many reasons.... the weather is supposed to be gorgeous and warm (warmer than August in Boston!), my future extended family is a great group of people, I'll also get to catch up with one of my good friends from college, AND it's rare that my fiancé and I get to spend 4 full days together with our current job/ medical school situations. So I am very excited!

With my weekend starting early, I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite recipes: my very simple and amazing Belgian waffle recipe. I love brunch on the weekends and these grace our brunch table often. It all started last Christmas when I received a waffle maker from my fiancé. We wanted to make brunch so decided to try it out on new year's day. Not having a waffle recipe under my belt, since this was my first waffle maker, googled and found this recipe. We were so lucky to have found a good one on our first try! Since then I've made it my own with various iterations. The biggest change that I made was to add protein powder. I've always been an eggs-at-brunch person because having just pancakes or waffles will leave me sleepy with their high glycemic load. I use Nutribiotics Rice Protein Powder because its texture is very similar to that of flour. To be fair, with all of the talk about amino acids and complete proteins this week, rice protein is not complete. It's lacking in the amino acid lysine but just having the protein makes these such better fuel for your weekend adventures.

These crispy, fluffy waffles are most delicious hot off the iron and can be topped with berries, pears, apples, walnuts, anything you like! Always remember the real maple syrup. :)

The Best Belgian Waffles

1 1/2c whole wheat flour OR oat flour* + 1.5T cornstarch (you could also do a combination of the two)
1/2 c vanilla protein powder (if you don't have protein powder, just substitute more flour)
1 1/2t baking powder
2T brown sugar
1t cinnamon
2c almond milk (or soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, ect)
1T canola oil

*These waffles amazing in their gluten free version. I make my own oat flour by food professing rolled oats until I achieve a flour texture. The 1T cornstarch per cup of oat flour helps the flour better stick together.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk followed by oil and stir. (If you're new to waffles, the batter should be thicker than you'd like for pancakes.) Since the oil content is low, grease your waffle iron well to prevent sticking. Add ~3/4c batter to your waffle iron and let cook for the recommended time on a medium-high setting. Once done, carefully remove and top with fruit, nuts, and warm maple syrup. Now you're ready to seize the day!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cous-cous with Artichokes & Cannellini Beans

This is the first installment of my Great Grains series. As the name suggests, I'll be highlighting common and unusual grains and sharing what I believe to be their strengths and weaknesses. Grains to be covered include quinoa, rice, barley, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, faro, and more. (I'd also love suggestions!) While many of my posts avoid wheat for my gluten free friends, today we'll be starting the series with perhaps the most common and these days somewhat controversial grain: whole wheat. 

For every 100 calories, whole wheat has 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. It also is a good source of potassium, B vitamins, and iron. However, while nutritionally superior to white flour, it's not really a nutritional super-star. I finally found a good, thorough academic source on the amino acid profiles of various sources in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. This source reports that the quality of whole wheat protein isn't that great: it's lacking in the essential amino acids lysine and threonine. A non-academic source that gives very detailed nutritional information can be found here

That said, many of us who aren't allergic still eat a fair amount of whole wheat and I think that's just fine! As long as you're remembering to eat grains besides whole wheat, you will be able to balance the amino acid void throughout the day and the other minerals more than make up for this deficiency. With wheat, I think it's important though to remember what my Dad always told me growing up, "Everything in moderation." (Please of course do not eat it if you have an allergy or Celiacs... it is very bad for you then.)

Today's recipe something I often enjoy for a weekday lunch, meaning that you can make it in a tupperware container in less than 5 minutes. Whole wheat cous-cous is my favorite type of pasta because you can make it in no time at all: just boil the water, add it to the pasta, and go! I like to combine it with artichokes, white beans, and a touch of corn (which is a good source of lysine). I then top it off with some olive oil, garlic, and nutritional yeast. 

Cous-cous with Artichokes and Cannellini Beans

1/3c whole wheat cous-cous*
1/3c boiling water
1/2c white beans
2c artichoke hears
1/4c sweet corn
splash of olive oil
dashes of garlic, basil, and nutritional yeast 
(salt optional)

Before I'm done getting ready in the morning, I set our water boiler up to boil a cup of water. Once boiling, add cows-cous and water to a tupperware container. If time allows, you can go back to getting ready for 5 minutes. If not, just add in the other ingredients and go. As a time saver in the morning, the corn and artichokes can be added to your tupperware frozen, as they will thaw by lunch time when you will probably microwave it anyways. :)

*Note for my gluten free friends: This recipe is also good with quinoa, which takes a bit longer to prepare, but is well worth it! I'll profile quinoa next week, I already have my recipe ready :)