Bean Can Man to the Rescue!

Another exciting installment in the life of Bean Can Man

I came home from the gym…starving. BUT I wanted exactly what I wanted, which was a taco salad. I wanted crunchy, creamy, chewy. Anyway. I started with Vertical Paradise baby greens.

taco salad 001

Talk about Paradise! It’s February in Michigan and I can get my hands on this stuff. We’re working on YOU getting your hands on this stuff. Come to next week’s supper club and lobby Tim Sharer, owner of Vertical Paradise Farms. Here’s Tim (holding his stash).

farmlink chowder tuna salad 002

Back to the salad. I chopped up peppers and onions, heated a little water in a non-stick pan and sauteed them. After a couple of minutes, I sprinkled on some chili pepper and cumin. Another minute went by and I tossed in two small zucchini (diced), some frozen corn and a half a cup of salsa. I gave it all a stir, turned the pan to low and my attention to the dressing. Into my blender went a half a box of tofu (silken lite firm tofu), 1/2 of a big–ripe, people!–avocado, juice of one half lime, 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk (you could use water) and whir away until it is perfectly smooth. I wanted to add just a little salt, but when I tipped my jar of himalayan sea salt, a big chunk fell out into the blender. Drat! I tasted it. Like the rim of a margarita. What to do?

As I was sitting there, fretting, apron over my head, a can of Eden Organic No Salt Black Beans fell into my lap.

Bean Can Man with his faithful sidekick, Lime Boy

Bean Can Man with his faithful sidekick, Lime Boy

“Trouble, young lady?”
“Oh Bean Can Man, I am so SO sad. I just put too much salt in my creamy dressing.”
“Don’t worry your pretty little head. Why not offset too much salt with my salt-free black beans? I assume I was destined to make it into your salad anyway.”

Yes, he was. So I mixed the dressing with the beans, which I had rinsed and drained. I chopped the lettuce and put on a layer of creamy beans, topped that with some sauteed veggies, another dollop of creamy beans and salsa. Looked like this:

taco salad 003

How do you say Yum! in Spanish? Add some super-thin and crispy Xochitli chips and you are fueled to save the world–one can at a time! Thank you Bean Can Man.

xo chips


Cran-apple-grape Mocktail

I love my new cranberry juice concoction. It’s so easy (you have to have a juicer, though). Use all organic fruit. 1 12 oz. bag cranberries, two apples (sweet not tart) and 2 cups seedless globe grapes. Pour over ice. Tart and sweet and lovely at cocktail time. If you’re looking for alcoholic cocktails using a juice extractor, check out ‘Fogged in Lounge for the juice-extracted northern sea breeze, below.

North Sea Breeze

Beat the Heat–Make a Spread

Spreads Make Life Easier!

Having some good low-fat, healthy spreads is a great way to keep out of the kitchen most weeknights. Just do the prep work once every three or four days and the cooking in the late evening or morning–away from the heat of the late afternoon. You’ll be glad you did! Use the following spreads, which we taste-tested at Gilda’s Club, to make wraps, dollop on greens or as a dip for veggies. Each of these has protein and plant-based fat so you will love how filling they are. Give ‘em a try!

Sue’s Chickpea-of-the-Sea
As a confirmed lover of the ease and fishy-ness of tuna salad, I am happy to present this wonderful companion to the genre. Garbanzos give you a nice chewy texture and the capers and a little seaweed (not strictly necessary) gives you that beloved ‘tuna breath’ (well, not really, but a briny taste). My cooking partner at Gilda’s, Suzie MacKeigan, says the dulse reminds her of growing up in Nova Scotia and eating this seaweed off the rocks. Suzie said her wrap was indistinguishable from tuna salad! If you can’t get this close to the real deal without adding sweet relish, I won’t tell. It’s your salad.

1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
1T Dijon mustard
3T Vegenaise vegan mayo*
1T capers
1T dulse flakes, or chopped toasted nori, or other seaweed, optional

1 salad cucumber, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
2 T red onion, minced (or, to taste)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)

Combine 1st five ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined, but still a bit chunky. Fold in rest of ingredients. Let sit a bit at room temperature to let the flavors meld.

Artichoke Spinach Dip (adapted from Alicia Simpson)
May I just say this is such a healthy and quite similar version to the parmesan-mayo double punch. You have to try it. Even if you’re a confirmed tofu hater.

1 lb. spinach
1 12 oz. box box soft tofu*
2 T olive oil
Two garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup nutritional yeast*
¾ tsp. fine sea salt
½ tsp. onion powder

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts

Steam spinach until wilted and tender. Set aside to cool. When cool, squeeze it dry and chop.
Place remaining ingredients except artichokes in blender and puree.
Drain artichoke hearts and squeeze dry. Chop.
Fold artichokes and spinach into liquid mixture and pour into an oiled baking dish. Bake at 375 for twenty minutes or until bubbly. Serve with crackers or raw vegetables.

Sue’s Artichoke Spinach Dip
here’s an un-cook version, and one that can be soy-free if you use soy-free vegan mayo.

1 can artichoke hearts
2 cloves garlic
6 cups spinach
2 T nutritional yeast*
1 tsp dried mustard
2 T vegan mayo
½ tsp salt
¾ cup great northern beans
1 ½ T lemon juice
Smoked paprika

Drain and rinse the artichoke hearts, then squeeze dry. Chop roughly
Put fresh spinach in food processor and pulse to mince
Add next seven ingredients, through lemon juice process until smooth
Fold in artichoke hearts. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and serve

Lentil-walnut Pate (adapted from Terry Walters)
My friend, Tamara, who has spent a great deal of time in France, says this is better than liver pate. Um, I wouldn’t know. But it’s a huge hit at parties, though it’s not pretty to look at so sprinkle with chopped parsley and tomatoes to make it less… brown. Or get creative, as with the picture above and put lots of spreads together to make it look more festive. Lentil walnut pate is pictured here with chickpea of the sea, carrot hummus and regular hummus.

2 cups water
1 cup French lentils*
1 thumb-sized piece kombu*
1 T olive oil
2 medium onions
1 cup walnuts
Ume plum vinegar to taste*

Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Put lentils in saucepan with water. Tuck kombu beneath lentils and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes until lentils are done and water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, chop onions roughly and sauté until translucent
Roughly chop walnuts and put on piece of parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.
Drain lentils if necessary and place in food processor along with rest of ingredients except ume plum vinegar. Puree, adding dashes of plum vinegar to taste.
Plum vinegar is salty, so you may not need any other salt, but you can stop the processor and taste and adjust with more vinegar or salt to your liking

*I have found all these ingredients at Harvest Health. Nourish Organic Market will also have many of them.

Smoothie Operator!

Here is the smoothie primer I will be teaching at Gilda’s Club this Tuesday, June 19, 2012. I love smoothies. They are a great way to deliver fruits and veggies in a fast, delicious and nutritious form. You can drink them on your way to work—and make them in the time it takes to go through the drive-thru at McDonald’s. Smoothies are great fast food. Worried they won’t stick with you? Add a little protein and fat and/or complex carbs and you won’t have this problem.

Throughout I will be presuming you are working with an average blender. If you have a VitaMix or other high-powered blender, you can expand your repertoire. It will grind up apples and liquefy whole oranges (pith and seeds removed, please). The thing to remember with your smoothie is that you’re trying to balance taste and texture. If you want a really cold frosty smoothie, use as much frozen food as your blender will let you get away with. If you want creamy, choose bananas, peanut butter, avocados, yogurt. Over time, you will find your favorites. My son, Max, has recently become a smoothie devotee. I’ll share some of his tips as well as my own and another smoothie aficionado, Kathy Van Dellen Harwood, throughout.

Note: Since you are grinding up the whole plant, it goes without saying that you should try to use organic produce in your smoothies whenever possible. Wash all produce well. You might also look into buying a blender tamper (pictured here) to help move things around in the blender.

Fruit Smoothies
Start with a nice combination of fruit, fresh or frozen. Most smoothies include more than one fruit, though strawberries can hold their own (Max does not recommend a banana-only smoothie.) My favorite combos are strawberry-blueberry and kiwi-pineapple-peach, but try everything, including pineapples, bananas, pears, peaches, strawberries, kiwis, raspberries, blueberries, mangoes, and papayas.

Add some liquid ingredients: water or ice cubes, frozen or liquid non-dairy milks (I love coconut and almond milk), frozen or liquid juices, such as pomegranate, orange, cherry, apple juice

Add sweetener: If you’ve got sweet fruit, you won’t need it. But a squirt of agave nectar or maple syrup might make the perfect smoothie for you. With my Vitamix, I use pitted dates to sweeten my smoothies—think whole food! Kathy was kind enough to try soaked dates and cashews in her regular blender. She loved it! A little grainy, she said, but fine for her.

Flavor notes: How about chai tea ice cubes? Cinnamon, vanilla, brown rice syrup, cocoa powder

For extra protein, fat or complex carbs: Tofu, soy or coconut milk yogurt, soaked almonds or cashews, avocados, cooked mayocoba or great northern beans.

Add a powerhouse: A few leaves of spinach or a big leafy piece of kale or a few beans or a couple drops of acai juice will not overpower the predominant flavors.

Green Smoothies
These aren’t always 100% green. Sometimes they turn out brown (don’t look at them, just drink them). The main question here is do you want your smoothie sweet or savory? Or a combination of both. To form the base, try: romaine or other lettuce, chopped celery or cucumber, green apples, grapes, avocado

Add some liquid ingredients: water or ice cubes, frozen or liquid non-dairy milk, frozen or liquid veggies like cucumber and tomatoes and lettuce, green salsa, v-8 juice

Add sweetener: grapes and apples help to sweeten green smoothies.

Flavor notes: Lemon juice, lime juice, grated ginger, salsa verde, hot sauce

For extra protein, fat or complex carbs: Tofu, soy or coconut milk yogurt, soaked almonds or cashews, avocados, cooked mayocoba or great northern beans.

Add a powerhouse: In addition to those mentioned above, add chia seeds, ground flax seeds, hemp oil, wheatgrass or wheatgrass powder.

Below find some recipes to get you started:

Sue’s go-to breakfast smoothie recipe:
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
4 coconut milk ice cubes
4 pitted medjool dates
½ cup soaked blanched almonds
(often soak the dates and almonds in enough coconut milk to cover them in a bowl overnight in the fridge)

A basic green smoothie recipe:
Flesh of one large avocado
3 kale leaves, stems removed
6 romaine leaves, torn
2 salad cucumbers, chopped in big pieces
2 cups green grapes
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp grated ginger
½ cup water or handful of ice cubes
¼ tsp. salt

Here’s a beginner smoothie recipe from Kathy Van Dellen Harwood:
1 cup blueberries
2 frozen bananas
2-3 carrot sticks
¼ – ½ head red cabbage
almond milk to liquify
A good-sized spoonful of natural peanut butter
A couple tablespoons ground flax seed and/or chia seed.

This refreshing smoothie from Max would make a great, naturally-sweetened dessert.
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup ripe mango
1 cup fresh pineapple
4 ice cubes
¼ cup fresh orange juice (or more as needed)

Soft Pumpkin Waffle Cones with Fruit Compote and Cashew Mascarpone

Equally at home on your breakfast table or as dessert, this is truly a healthy indulgence. Hard to believe, but I was trying for a jelly and cream-filled doughnut. And damn it, I succeeded! Well, you can try it, too, and let me know. The key elements here are 1) very pliable pumpkin waffles, 2) homemade fruit compote or fruit preserves, and 3) a lusciously delicious blend of cashews and tofu—don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles
(inspired by Jennifer Raymond—a culinary queen)

2 cups rolled oats
2 ½ cups water
1 cup cooked canned pumpkin pie (or pumpkin with 1 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice)
1 ripe banana
2 T maple syrup
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

If you don’t have a high speed blender, try to soak your oats overnight. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Preheat a waffle iron and spritz with cooking spray. Bake waffles 8-10 minutes. Set your timer and don’t peak! once you figure out the right time. You should be able to pour from your blender right into you. The waffles come out rather soft and flexible. You can crisp them by baking the moisture out in a low-heat oven or toasting them. But for this recipe we want to roll them. And you will love their flexibility. Think healthy crepe. Think roly-waffle-ice-cream-cone.

Fruit Compote
4-6 cups unsweetened frozen mixed berries (try to use organic), thawed overnight in a saucepan
2 T agave nectar or maple syrup
2 T arrowroot powder

In the morning, tilt the pan and pour our ¼ cup juice into a small container. Add the arrowroot powder and whisk until smooth. Set aside. Heat the fruit, uncovered, on simmer until it cooks down a bit, mashing the larger berries. After about 30 minutes, add the arrowroot mixture and bring to a low boil. After two minutes, turn off heat.

Cashew Mascarpone
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 4-6 hours or overnight in fridge
6-8 oz. firm tofu (about half a cake), pressed. See this link for a demo. 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 4-6 hours or overnight in fridge
6-8 oz. firm tofu (about half a cake), pressed
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
4 T agave nectar

Whirl in a high speed blender* until smooth. Refrigerate until cold
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 4-6 hours or overnight in fridge
6-8 oz. firm tofu (about half a cake), pressed. For a demo, see this link.
½ lemon, squeezed
2 tsp vanilla
4 T agave nectar

*I have not tried this without a Vitamix blender. Please do and let me know the results. I use my Vitamix every day and I believe it is worth the price tag, but I’m committed to finding ways to do this without.

Oindrila’s Veg Patties

These were such a hit that Roger would not let Oindrila return to India for the summer unless she gave him the recipe. Here it is and if it’s daunting for you to do without exact measurements, try the one linked to this lovely photo from the very cool blog by “Pham Fatale.” I will definitely be spending more time there.

Here are Oindrila’s instructions–thank you, Oindrila! And bring us back lots of wonderful cooking ideas from your mom and grandma.

Veg Patties


Green Beans
Cumin powder
Paprika or red chilli powder
Garam Masala
Little pieces of coconut are great (though i didn’t put any because I can’t cut coconut!)
Bread crumb
Flour and water solution

Boil the vegetables (not too soft so there’s some texture).
Mash them with some lumps.
Add the spices, coconut and peanuts.
Mix well and fry in a little oil until it’s really dry. Let it cool.
When cool, make patties (or balls), dip in a flour and water solution, and roll in bread crumb.
Deep fry (or shallow fry like I did and then bake in preheated 350 degree over).

The End!

Be Still My Heart Farinata

Behold my new love! A chickpea frittata-like concoction that makes my heart go pitter-patter. I’ve been trying to do more gluten-free things for my friends—with limited success. This is naturally gluten-free and easy! And adaptable! The inspiration for this is from the luscious blog Lucullian Delights. I’ve removed most of the oil. It’s not really necessary.

Chickpea Farinata

1 1/2 cup garbanzo flour
1 ½ cup filtered water
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp olive oil

½ can diced tomatoes (squeezed until dry and chopped even further)
10-15 pitted kalamata olives (squeezed until dry and chopped further)
1/3 cup onion, diced fine
1-2 T fresh herbs, minced (I used oregano and basil) Feel free to use 2 tsp. dried

Whisk together the flour, water and salt and set aside for twenty minutes to thicken.

After the batter has been sitting for ten minutes, place an iron pan in the middle rack of the oven and set the temperature at 425.

Prepare the vegetables.

Here they are just before chopping further. When I say dry, I mean dry!

As soon as the oven’s ready timer goes off, remove hot pan from oven, pour in olive oil and swirl to coat. Follow with the batter. It will sizzle a bit.

Sprinkle veggies and herbs on top and place back in oven. Set timer for 25 minutes. Pull the pan out of the oven and let it cool. Run a spatula beneath the farinata to loosen and slip it onto a serving plate. Ta da! Serve warm or cold, topped with marinara or to accompany soup or salad. You can make a Mexican version with diced green chiles, salsa and black olives or an Indian version with bell peppers, chili peppers and cumin seeds, chili powder and turmeric. Really, it’s genius!