Bangin Black Bean Chili

As the snow is falling hard (again) in Buffalo, I am sitting here wondering "and why do I continue to live here?" That's a joke of course. Buffalo really is a wonderful city, and the fact that we get to enjoy all 4 seasons is something that I definitely appreciate. I have had to shovel about 4 times within the past 24 hours though, which is not one of the highlights of the winter season. 

But along with the snow and cold comes those warm soups, stews, and chilis, that we have all grown to love. Except for my husband. He won't touch a bowl of soup. His reason is that when he was growing up, his Grandfather would throw all the leftovers that were going bad in a pot, heat it up, and make "soup" for everyone to eat. Kinda funny, but that was like 25 years ago, Mike. Get over it! Just kidding, love you hunny!

Anyways, I LOVE soups, stews, and chilis! What is easier than throwing a bunch of veggies and beans in a crockpot and letting it cook by itself for a few hours? Crockpots are by far one of the best inventions ever. Most of us associate crock pots with throwing in a beef roast or some pulled pork, but it works just the same for plant based recipes. I made my first black bean chili the other day, and just had to share, because it turned out magnificent! (I usually don't make chili because no one else in my house will eat it, but I figured screw it! I'm going to make what I want for a change!)

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Bangin Black Bean Chili

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped onion

1 2/3 cups chopped bell peppers (I used yellow and red)

6 medium garlic cloves, chopped

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (use more or less depending on how spicy you want the chili)

3 15-16oz cans of black beans with 1/2 cup liquid reserved (I used 5 1/4 cups dry black beans that I had pre-cooked, and saved 1/2 cup of the cooking water)

1 16oz can of tomato sauce

Put all ingredients in a crock pot and mix well to coat beans. Cover and simmer on low for 4-6 hours.

Serve plain, or over brown rice or quinoa, and top with cilantro, non-dairy cheese or sour cream, or chopped green onions

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Healthy Cookies

I can't believe it's the Holidays already! I know we all say it every year, but the months just seem to fly by. I have never been a cold weather person. I much prefer sweating over freezing. But with that said, it definitely is not the same this time of year without a little snow. I think I mentioned in my last post how my oldest son LOVES the snow. And I would be a horrible doggie mom if I didn't mention that my rottweiler loves the snow more than any animal I've ever met. The first thing he does when he goes outside is flops down and rolls around on his back for 5 minutes. Then he buries his ball, and tries to find it. It's pretty entertaining to watch.

The one thing I think we can all relate to this time of year is the abundance of food, especially Christmas cookies. Not sure if this makes me a bad mom, but I haven't yet gotten into the cookie making tradition. I was never one to keep many sweets in the house, and I know if I make cookies I will eat them, and probably most of them. Also, my kitchen is tiny.  I don't know where the heck I would prepare and then store all those cookies! Of course I would give some away, but I'm not putting in all that hard work to not enjoy any of them myself! My son and I did attempt to put a gingerbread house together, but it turned out to be a total disaster. I just ended up indulging on all the gingerbread, while he ate the candy.

It's no secret that there is so many temptations around this year, so it may be difficult to stay on track with healthy eating. While maintaining an overall healthy eating pattern is of course important, it is equally important to enjoy this time of year with family and friends. Food is the centerpiece of most activities, and it is possible to stay sensible and socialize with loved ones, while not being paranoid about over-indulging. And if you do tend to go a little over-board, its ok, we are all human. 

My main reason for writing this blog, is to share with you a recipe that I have had for a while now. One of the main things I've learned more about after becoming a plant based eater, is how to sweeten things without always adding regular old cane sugar. Other great sweeteners are: over-ripe bananas, applesauce, dates, coconut sugar, and pure maple syrup. Luckily this recipe I already had on hand fits the bill! So here it is; so simple and delicious. Enjoy!

Healthy Cookies

Ingredients: 

3 overripe mashed bananas
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups uncooked oats
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup raisins or dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Roll into cookie shape balls, and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let cool. It's that simple!

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Would love to hear your comments/thoughts about these cookies, so please share once you've tried!

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy Holiday season! 

Best. Hummus. Ever.

I just made pumpkin hummus for the first time and HAD to share! It was by far the best hummus I have ever had! I mean, maybe that it is home-made has something to do with it too haha. It amazes me how making stuff at home is SOOO much better than all that processed stuff you buy in the store is. Even a healthy food like hummus is so much more incredibly delicious when you make it in your own kitchen. And so easy! And if you don't know by now, easy is key for me with my 2 energizer bunny boys running around. 

You will see many flavors of hummus around, but traditional hummus usually consists of chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), tahini, and garlic. Chickpeas are legumes, and are loaded with fiber, iron and protein. If you don't like them on a salad, don't let that scare you away from hummus! Tahini is an ingredient you may be a little more unfamiliar with. Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. It can be a little bitter on its own, so mixing it in recipes is usually the way to go. And then there's garlic! One of my absolute favorite flavorings! Garlic not only tastes great, but has been shown to promote heart health, and protect us against certain cancers and even the common cold.

So here it is, the best hummus ever!

Pumpkin Hummus

Ingredients: 

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp tahini

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chopped garlic

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp pure maple syrup

Puree all ingredients in a large food processor. Serve with veggies, tortilla chips, or spread on a wrap!

Thankfully this recipe makes plenty to share! Enjoy!

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