Southern Style Pinto Beans

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I’m a little closer to the equator now and although I would’ve never expected it, I’ve been eating beans of every Tex-Mex variety like they’re going out of style.IMG_1224

So while peeking in my pantry for ideas the other day, I spied a bag of dried pinto beans I bought last fall in Iowa in an effort to reduce my sodium intake (sans canning preservatives). I tried the “slow-soak” method of softening the beans and it took too long and didn’t turn out that great. But I’m somewhere new now, so I figured why not give it another shot.

Slow soak did not work, again. I even soaked three times the recommended time. No softening to be had. I strained them, popped them in the fridge for a few days, and returned feeling challenged but determined.

Not another slow soak for me. This time I boiled them for just 8 minutes and the results were much better, allowing me to try my hand at Southern Style Pinto Beans, which are a lot like refried beans, but of course I’m not going to add any hydrogenated oils.IMG_1198

And really, all the recipes I drew preparation ideas from were pretty easy and healthy already. So here’s my version, done in a slow cooker. It’s not single-serving style, but cut anything by 1/4 and you’ll have it anyway or email me and I’ll help.

Ingredients

1 pound pinto beans, softened

1/5 cup diced onion

1/2 T cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and a dash of cayenneIMG_1196

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (or more water)

Directions

-Place onions and beans in a slow cooker on low. Stir in spices and liquids.

-Cook for about 4 hours, stirring every half hour or so. And pay attention to liquid levels, so if the bean mix appears to be drying out add another 1/4 cup of water or more if necessary.

-Place in food processor. Blend until smoother but still lumpy. Return to slow cooker if your meal isn’t prepared yet and keep on warm or serve. (But serve warm because this is the one time when cool beans aren’t so cool…)IMG_1223

Crispy Edamame Snack

 

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Chips are boring.SAM_5094

 

Fries are gross.

Nuts are boring.

Fries are still gross.

The only routine with my lunch routine is no routine at all. I’m constantly switching up what I eat, especially with sides. You probably would have guessed on your own that I detest anything fried or processed. Another lunchtime challenge is that by this point in the day I haven’t had any veggies yet. So if I don’t get 2 servings of vegetables at lunchtime, my health-nut side feels the need to overcompensate at dinnertime, effectively stuffing myself and inducing lethargy to follow. Not ideal, but you’ve got to have them…SAM_5083

Back to my point with this post, I eat a lot of vegetable sides, but I’m picky about their preparation.

When in doubt, I always broil a vegetable. You’ve read about how I’ve done this with sweet potato fries, chickpeas, greenbeans. There’s nothing this girl can’t turn crispy and delicious with a broiler, seasoning, and a few minutes of patience.SAM_5091

Remember that 8-week nutrition study I participated in, the one that required me to have an incredibly high-fiber diet? In addition to breads, tofu, and black beans, I was given a generous supply of edamame. Yum! I could eat those little beans raw all day long.

But on a wet, April-showers-kind-of morning, I wanted something warm and crispy. So I tried roasting.

And you know what, it never fails to please.

Ingredients

1/2 cup edamame beans (thawed if frozen)

cooking spray

seasonings of choice

Directions

-Preheat broiler to high.

-Prepare boiling pan by spritzing lightly with cooking spray. Too much spray will actually make it harder for the beans to crisp up, and if you leave them in too long waiting, they’ll burn.

-Place beans on pan. Coat lightly with seasonings. Use hands or utensils to toss them around a bit so they’re evenly coated and sop up just a tad of the oil.

Note: you can use just about any seasonings you like. I used a garlic-pepper blend, but a spicy Tex-Mex version might feature chili powder and cumin. Or you could go Asian-inspired with a sweet ginger rub or a curry powder.

-Roast beans until the outside shells begin to crisp and turn brown. About 5-6 minutes in my broiler.

Veggie-Bean Tacos

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Last Wednesday I wrote all about the high-fiber study I was participating in, and about how I was Tex-Mexing with tofu for lack of meat in my diet (as required by the study). Well, the study is over, but these little veggie-bean tacos aren’t, not for me.SAM_5050

Why do I love them? First of all, I almost never eat beans, which is a shame considering all their health benefits. More so than that, I love this recipe because anytime I want a protein-packed, filling meal, it doesn’t require thawing. Defrosting meat is something I hate. It’s disgusting. It’s uneven if you use the microwave, and because I usually prepare whatever I feel like eating when I feel like eating it, I rarely plan ahead.

But beans are ready when you are. Simple and wonderful.

This recipe is very similar to the Southwestern Tofu Scramble because I sautee my beans with my veggies and smash them up a little bit. You don’t have to, but I like them to be infused with similar flavor.

Ingredients

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1/4 cup black beans, rinsed

1 jalapeno

1/2 Roma tomato, chopped

garlic and minced onion, to taste

dash of cumin and chili powder

optional: tortillas, kale, cheese, twist of lime

Directions

-Warm a skillet to medium heat. Spray with cooking oil and begin adding in garlic, onion, tomato, and jalapeno. Sautee for a few minutes.

-Add in beans and then the seasonings into the veggies. Continue to cook until beans and veggies are heated through fully. Again, I smash my beans down a tad, but that’s personal preference. If you want to keep the texture of your mix diversified, don’t press down on them.

-Serve warm with warm tortillas, which I like to toast for a minute or so in the broiler (and it crisps the edges of the veggie-bean mix quite well).

I add kale and spritz a little lime juice over the top. Not too much though or else the tortillas become soggy. And my salsa rice makes an excellent side.

 

French-Fried Green Beans

French fries are fun to make at home. I feel like I’ve made them from every kind of potato and squash that exists. If you follow this blog, you might be nodding yes right now.

But french fires don’t have to have a soft, squishy inside. In fact, if you prefer a crispier fry, I think I just might have what you’re looking for.

Green beans!

These little stalks crisp up quite nicely in the broiler and make for a super easy & fast side.

The beans I used were actually the last handful I had left from my Papa Lou’s summer harvest. I was sad to see them go, but I loved helping them leave.

And yes, this ketchup fanatic did dip 🙂

Ingredients

1 cup fresh green beans, washed and ends cut off

cooking spray

seasonings of choice (rosemary tastes great or cajun seasoning if you like a spicy twist like I do

Directions

-Preheat broiler to high. Lightly grease a broiler-safe pan. Set aside.

-Lightly coat beans in cooking spray and sprinkle with seasonings of choice. Coat well.

-Transfer to broiling pan and let broil for about 4 minutes. Then roll the green beans so that the other side cooks, too. Season more if needed.

-Broil another 5-6 minutes or until very crispy. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.