Saturday, December 12, 2009

Beans, Beans, They're Good For Your Heart...

Diet & lifestyle books are a dime a dozen, and sometimes you have to take what they say with a grain of salt. (I'm on a cliche roll here, any more I can throw in?). This past January my mom got into South Beach, and when she came to visit me over the winter she bragged that she hadn't had a piece of fruit since the New Year. I mean....okay, but is that even healthy? Meanwhile she was eating eggs, peanuts, and more red meat in a sitting than I eat in a week. I guess I shouldn't knock South Beach since I have never read the book. But no fruit? I live for fruit! So instead I will talk about a food guru that I have read and respect: Mark Bittman. Bittman's book Food Matters, which I mentioned briefly in my sweet potato soup entry, basically posits that both the planet and our bodies could be much healthier if we ate less meat and more fruits and veggies. He wasn't the first person to make either of these claims, but his was the first book that I read and took to heart, and it has changed the way I eat (plus it has about 75 recipes!). For example, I've only bought soda once or twice since January! (Apparently soda takes a lot of energy to produce). More to Bittman's point, however, I've gone from eating meat at nearly every lunch and dinner to eating meat only about half the days of the week (because meat industry = polution & high energy consumption). Sometimes it takes me a few more minutes to think of a balanced vegetarian meal instead of using the meat-vegetable-starch formula that I was raised on. (Or, when carbs went out of fashion, meat-vegetable-vegetable model). However, after nearly a year of less-meat cooking I have collected a few go-to veg recipes. In particular, I've really gotten into making my own bean burgers, which I think are tastier than many brands from the freezer section. The one I am going to share with you tonight is Black Eyed Pea Cakes, courtesy of Cooking Light (September 2008). This is also a recipe that uses chilis in adobo, and tonight will be using the same chilis in adobo that have been kicking around since I blogged about Radloff Salad With A Twist in September. I'm telling you people, I need more ideas for how to use that stuff up! But without further ado, the recipe:

Black Eyed Pea Cakes with Adobo Cream (Cooking Light, September 2008)

* 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
* 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
* 1 15 ounce can no-salt-added black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
* 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

* 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 1 large egg white, lightly beaten (if things are dry--I usually skip it)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

* 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Combine sour cream and adobo sauce in a small bowl, set aside.
2. Place beans in a medium bowl; partially mash beans with a fork. Stir in the breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and egg. With clean hands, divide pea mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden and thoroughly heated. Remove from pan; top each cake with 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve with sour cream mixture.

Check out that healthy pile of veg

Cooking Light suggests serving this with rice and tomato wedges dressed with vinaigrette. I like to make a more jazzed up salad based on a relish from In The Kennedy Kitchen, which incorporates finely diced red onion, avocado, tomato, and cucumber dressed with a simple balsamic, EVOO, chives and basil, salt & pepper. For a bigger meal cornbread (with or without jalapenos) can round things out nicely.


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