For The Love of Food
I’ve become a recent organic legume evangelist. In my quest to find the best diet for my body, I’ve tried a lot of different eating plans. I’d been eating a low-glycemic raw food diet for a few months and was pleased with how easy it was for me to stay away from sweets once they were out of my diet completely. The downside was that to feel satisfied and full, I was eating a lot of nuts, seeds and oils and I had some negative side effects from that. It was a great conversation with a customer about eating vegan that led me to the embrace organic legumes. She recommended to me the book ‘Eat To Live’ by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating at least one cup of organic legumes per day, along with 1 pound of raw vegetables, 1 pound of cooked vegetables and a few pieces of fruit. I picked up a copy and decided to give it a shot.
I hadn’t been using beans or legumes at all in my diet so it was important to introduce them slowly. You know that song, ‘beans, beans, good for you heart, the more you eat them…’ you know the rest. Adding organic legumes a little bit at a time allows the body to adjust so that you don’t have to suffer the gassy fate of that song. It is true though, that beans really are good for your heart – and they have a multitude of health benefits that everyone, not just vegans, can enjoy.
Organic legumes are a staple food in many regions of the world. Organic legumes and beans are rich in copper, iron, magnesium and folic acid, nutrients that many of us are deficient in. Peas as well as dried beans are also a good source of absorbable iron, great for anyone, but especially beneficial for vegans. They are low in fat, high in quality protein and are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. That fiber is what makes beans and legumes heart healthy, by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Eating organic legumes and beans is especially beneficial for people with diabetes as the soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugars, keeping blood glucose levels stable.
How To Cook With Organic Legumes
It takes a bit of advanced planning to use dried organic legumes. You’ll want to sort through the dried beans looking for discolored beans and pebbles. Once they’re sorted through, rinse them in cold water then soak them for 6-8 hours or longer if it works better for your schedule. I often soak them in the morning before work and cook them when I come home from work so they’re soaking a good 9 hours. Soaking is the best way to offset their gas-producing effects; it also shortens your cooking time. When your soak time is up, skim off any beans that are floating on top, then drain the water and rinse. Place the beans in a pot and add fresh water. My quick tip is to use enough water to cover the beans plus two knuckles worth of water. If you put a finger in the water so that the tip of your finger touches the top of the beans, you should fill the water to your second knuckle. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender. Depending on the variety it should be about one to three hours. At this point you can season them however you like. A bit like tofu, beans take on whatever flavor you add so you can be as creative or as simple as you’d like. You can use organic legumes as a hot stew or soup, add them cold to salads, or blend them to make a spread for wraps.
Since adding organic legumes to my diet, I am able to fill up easily without adding a lot of fat to my diet. The versatility of legumes has been a real treat, I can eat them every day and not get bored at all. My favorite of all of the organic legumes would have to be lentils; here are a few recipes using them in different ways so you can see the versatility:
Red Lentil Dip
1 cup red lentils
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Place lentils and bay leaf in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes until tender. Drain and discard the bay leaf. Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until onions are translucent. Add the remaining ingredients in the list (aside from the lemon juice) and cook for about 5 minutes. Combine lentils with the onion mixture in a food processor and add the lemon juice; process until smooth. Enjoy on crackers, pita, with fresh veggies or as a wrap filling.
Cold Lentil Veggie Salad
1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 tablesoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup red cabbage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Place lentils in a deep pot and cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil them cook, covered, over medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes or until tender. They should retain their shape. Drain and rinse with cold water.
In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar. In a medium bowl, combine cooked lentils, green onion, parsley, red onion, carrot and red cabbage. Add olive oil and lemon mixture to lentils and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.
Spicy Lentil Tacos
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup dried green lentils
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup jarred salsa
12 corn tortillas (I like Ezekiel brand)
Sauté the garlic and onion in the oil in a medium pot for 4-6 minutes, or until they become soft and fragrant. Add the lentils and the chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir to combine. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more to allow the mixture to thicken. Mash the lentils with a fork and stir in the salsa. Spoon the mixture into the tortillas and top with your favorite taco toppings like shredded lettuce and fresh tomato.
How do you like to use organic legumes? Please share your favorite recipes in the comments!
As a vegan who’s picky about the ingredients in the foods I eat, finding a milk alternative wasn’t easy. Most commercial nut beverages contain added ingredients to stabilize the liquid. I also found that I’d open up a carton of nut milk and it would go bad in my fridge before I used it all. I decided to explore making my own so that I could control the ingredients and make just what I’d need without wasting anything. The easiest way I found is to make nut milk out of organic nut butter. It’s so simple you’ll never buy packaged nut milks again.
How To Make Nut Milk From Organic Nut Butter
The basic recipe is 1 tablespoon of organic nut butter to 1 cup of water. You’ll need a blender, but it doesn’t have to be a high powered one, a regular blender will do. Just whizz the nut butter and water together until it is milky and smooth. Use more water if you like a thinner consistency, less water if you want a thicker consistency. A thicker nut milk makes a great creamer substitute.
Making your own nut milk out of organic nut butter allows you to make only what you need so that you’re not wasting any. The most common nut butter used to do this would be almond butter but experiment with other nut butters like cashew butter, walnut butter, peanut butter and pecan butter.
Keeping organic nut butter on hand is a great way to make sure you’ll always have nut milk available for recipes. Cashew butter, when made into milk, is the best cream substitute I’ve found. One of my favorite recipes to make is a creamed spinach recipe using cashew milk instead of cream. It is so rich and delicious, my 11 year old step-son was even asking for more.
How to make vegan creamed spinach using nut milk:
- 1 lb fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 c cashew milk
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- pinch of salt
Steam sauté the spinach until wilted and drain to remove the water. Add cashew milk and spices to the pan and stir constantly until the mixture thickens, 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.
At shopOrganic, I’m the one who’s the baker in the group so when the team asked if I would write about my top ten organic baking ingredients, I naturally jumped at the chance. I’ve been baking since I was a kid, but it was only in the last decade I started using organic baking ingredients – and I’ve noticed a difference. The flavors are deeper and the end results are delectable. So, let’s take a look at organic baking ingredients and why they matter.
Organic products contain no artificial colors, no additives, no chemicals and most important, no pesticides or Genetically Modified Organisms (organic is, by definition, GMO-free). So, you’re packing in flavor and nutrition without all that other nonsense. Baked goods made from organic baking ingredients have great flavor and texture.
Top Ten Organic Baking Ingredients
1. Organic pastry flour – if you want a great pastry or any other baked good that requires flour with a bit less protein content. Protein gives flour structure when used in baked goods, so a pastry flour needs to be softer, more delicate. Organic pastry flour is top on my list of organic baking ingredients.
2. Organic coconut oil – organic coconut oil can be substituted for just about any kind of oil, but you need to be aware that organic coconut oil is so flavorful that you need to be OK with the flavor of coconut subtly infused in your baked goods.
3. Organic raw honey – honey is a great sweetener for baked goods, but you need to adjust your liquids down to accommodate for the liquid provided by the honey. The sweetness of honey is warm and mellow, not as sweet as cane sugar, so it can be a great choice for soft, subtle flavors.
4. Organic cane sugar – sometimes you need sugar for a recipe and nothing else will do quite as well. For example, I’ve found that when I need to cream organic butter and sugar, organic cane sugar is the best choice. The process of creaming these two ingredients adds air to the butter, so using cane sugar is a good choice.
5. Organic coconut flour – this is a unique ingredient that adds fiber and great flavor to your baked ingredients. Coconut flour absorbs liquids more than wheat flour, so mix ¼ coconut flour and ¾ wheat flour for best results – you may need to adjust your liquids a bit as well.
6. Organic quinoa flour – this is a delicate, flavorful flour you can use for in just about any recipe. Full of protein and fiber, you can use in place of regular flour or mix ½ and ½.
7. Sea salt – though not technically “organic”, sea salt adds a depth of flavor you won’t find in standard commercial salt. There are many different types of sea salt and you can experiment with which you like best – Portuguese, French, Himalayan, Hawaiian and more. Each has a unique flavor profile and you can try different salts for different recipes.
8. Active dry yeast – another product that’s natural (vs. organic), but still worth a shout out is active dry yeast. Here’s a tip – use fresh yeast that’s within its “best by” date so it has the most leavening power. Old, out of date yeast will disappoint you in the rise you get on your yeast baked goods.
9. Organic pecans – honestly, of all the nuts to bake with, organic pecans are my hands-down favorite. Their naturally sweet flavor becomes sweeter and nuttier with the heat of the over. Use whole or pieces, I put them in just about everything.
10. Organic Medjool dates – dates are a great way to sweeten baked goods, but they also add a wonderful flavor, texture and fiber. You can mash them, dice them or slice them into you baked goods.
No matter what you like to bake, organic baking ingredients make your baked goods tastier and certainly healthier. Give a few of these ingredients a try and let us know YOUR favorites or add to the list!
Looking for a fast, easy, delicious soup for a cold winter night?
Try this delicious, organic (vegan) spinach soup recipe – ready in minutes!
This is one of my all time favorite organic soup recipes – spinach potato. It cooks up in minutes, it’s a vibrant green and the potato gives it a great mouth feel without adding any fat. It’s satisfying, filling and packed with healthy nutrients. If you’ve ever had the urge to ‘eat something green’ on a cold winter day, this recipe is for you.
Yield: Four 8 oz servings, you can double this recipe for larger servings
Immersion blender or food processor
1 large container (16 oz.) fresh, organic spinach (you can substitute frozen, but it won’t be as fabulous).
1 large organic russet potato
1/8 tsp nutmeg or to taste
white pepper (black pepper is ok too) – to taste
salt – to taste
2. Wash and slice the potato into thin slices (1/4 inch)
You can serve this with a nice chunk of fresh bread, a bit of grated cheese or my favorite – a grilled cheese sandwich made with organic sharp cheddar cheese on dark rye or pumpernickel bread. Yum. Warm up, fill up and enjoy this delicious soup today!
Looking for ingredients?
This time of year can be tempting with all the delicious food folks cook up and bring to work. This holiday season, I’m trying out new recipes to see if I can put a healthier twist on some of my favorites. This is the first one, though admittedly, it’s not that much healthier than traditional pumpkin pie – but it IS guaranteed to impress for about the same amount of effort as homemade pumpkin pie. Without the crust, it’s certainly fewer calories and next time I make this, I’ll try a vegan version using organic oat milk instead of the luscious half and half.
Here’s how it started – I got a box of Pacific Foods organic pumpkin puree as a trial and thought I’d do something different. With a quiet afternoon (a rare gift in my world) and a recipe in hand, I looked through my pantry to see if I had all the ingredients. Miraculously, I did. Pumpkin souffle ensued.
Tips for making a great soufflé
- Ensure your eggs are at room temperature. Take the out at least 20 minutes in advance.
- When you separate your egg yolks from egg whites, ensure there is NO yolk in the whites.
- Put the whites in a stainless steel bowl that is clean and has no grease or oil at all.
- When you fold in the egg whites, be slow and gentle, it’s worth the extra 10 minutes of effort.
- When you put the ramekins in the oven, do not open the oven at all. Trust your oven and your timer.
4 organic, free range (local, if available) eggs
1 ½ cups Pacific Foods organic pumpkin puree (1 box).
½ cup organic sugar + ¼ cup sugar for egg whites
½ cup organic half & half
½ teaspoon organic vanilla (I use Singing Dog because it has the added bonus of a vanilla bean inside)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
First Things First
Preheat your oven to 375. Make sure one of the racks is in the center of the oven.
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Ensure no yolk leaks into the whites. (Hint: I separate the egg, then pour the white into another bowl and repeat. That way, if one egg yolk breaks, you haven’t ruined all the egg whites). Set egg whites and egg yolks aside.
Make Your Pumpkin Puree Mixture
In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, ½ cup sugar (use ¼ cup here if you like less sweet, more pumpkin flavor), your spices, vanilla and salt. Set aside. If you’re going to use an alternative to organic granulated cane sugar, you might want to experiment with the recipe once or twice. Who needs the stress of wondering if your ‘new’ recipe will turn out properly on a big holiday?
Prepare 8 ramekins on a baking sheet. I usually melt a bit of organic butter (or soften to room temperature) – about a pat of butter size – and grease the inside of the ramekins. Set on the baking dish and set aside.
Preparing Your Egg Whites
Beat your egg whites with the ¼ tsp of cream of tartar. If using an electric mixer (recommended), start off slowly. As the whites firm up, gradually increase speed. When they are still soft but starting to form peaks, slowly (1-2 TBS at a time is slowly) mix in your remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Continue to beat with all the sugar added until the egg whites are shiny and stiff.
Take about ½ of your pumpkin puree out of the bowl (yes, it makes another dirty bowl, but worth it) and set aside. Slowly fold in the egg whites about a ½ cup at a time into ½ the pumpkin mixture. Once you’ve gently folded in about ½ the egg whites, add the remaining pumpkin puree back into the large bowl and continue folding the egg whites in. The more slowly and the more of a folding motion you use, the more air that will remain in the egg whites and the fluffier your soufflé will turn out.
Fill Your Ramekins
Once all folded in, use a ladle to fill your ramekins to just below the rim.
Bake, Don’t Peek
Place in the middle of your oven at 375 for 17 minutes. Do not open the oven, don’t even turn on the light to peek. At 17 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool. As you can see (below), my souffle caved in a bit – I think my oven is just a shade cooler than 375, so next time, I’ll either use an oven thermometer to verify the temperature or leave them in about three minutes longer. Still, I ate one of the smaller ones and it was perfect – so don’t distress if yours cave a bit upon cooling – it happens and it will still taste amazing and even the best will settle a bit.
You can serve immediately – place each ramekin on a small plate, dust with organic powdered sugar (if desired) or an organic cinnamon/organic sugar mix (you can free form this) or organic whipped cream, some mint sprigs for color – your choice! I serve them just as they are and they’re scrumptious!
Happy Thanksgiving – enjoy these tasty little treats instead of pumpkin pie this holiday season!