20-Minute Black Bean Soup

20-Minute Black Bean SoupI got this recipe from a blog a while back, and have made it SEVERAL times!

What do I love about it?  It’s FAST, great flavor, and I love the addition of fresh herbs and feta.  Such a nice change.

Her recipe serves 4, with no room for seconds…so I recommend doubling it.

BUMP UP THE HEALTH FACTOR:

1.  Make your own vegetable broth (basic or more complex)!  This is so easy, and so much better for you.  Make a big batch ahead of time and freeze it in one or two-cup portions.  You’ll be so proud of yourself!

2.  Use Eden Organic brand black beans (BPA-free)–or make your own and freeze them for equal convenience.

3.  Try to get your hands on some BPA-free canned tomatoes.  I just found out from TheSoftLanding.com that all of Trader Joe’s tomato products (including soups) that are packaged in cartons are made by Tetra Pak and are BPA-free.  Eden Organics has some glass-bottled tomato products now.  Bionaturae has glass-bottled strained tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Bionaturae also reports that their canned tomato products have been tested at .005 ppm, which is very low (tomato sauce typically has about 18.2 ppm).

 

I double-dog dare you to do at least one of the above recommendations.  The tomato products and vegetable broth would be my personal top priorities (beans come in last place).  You can do it.  I haven’t used a single can of broth or a bouillon cube in over a year and half, so I feel a little bit credible in saying that IT REALLY ISN’T HARD.  You’ll feel so much better, and will probably notice you’re tummy’s not bloated for a change (MSG will do that).

I’ve yet to make a homemade meat stock (I always just substitute vegetable broth), but I will do it one day.  Oh yes, I will.

Gluten-free Cornbread

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Blackbird Bakery GF CornbreadIt was only a couple weeks ago–after wasting my time (& money) making disgusting gluten-free cupcakes–that I vowed I would only make food that was naturally gluten-free.  I have not had good luck in this department.

A friend back in Salt Lake gave me a beautiful GF baking book that I’ve thumbed through many times, but never gotten up the courage to buy all the ingredients.  It just seemed so risky.  Lots of money, with a very low chance of the end result tasting authentic.  My husband, Scott, convinced me that it was too soon to give up on GF baking.  He got out the above mentioned book and we chose a couple recipes to try before throwing in the towel.  I am pleased to announce that it was a success!  I made buttermilk panacakes that tasted like…well, buttermilk panacakes.  And cornbread that tasted like cornbread.

The book is called Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan and I’m telling you right now, this girl is good.  I’m will definitely try more of her recipes!  I look forward to it!

Watermelon-Lime Twist

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Watermelon-Lime TwistWatermelon, fresh lime and sea salt…a party in your mouth, to say the least.  You’ve got your sweet, your sour, and your savory.  It’s oh so perfect.

I learned this little trick from a mission companion who grew up in Tijuana, Mexico.  When she first told me about it I thought she was nuts!  Watermelon has always held a very special place in my heart (don’t laugh).  It is the perfect food.  Why would you tamper with perfection?  But now I see.  Now my eyes are opened.  This is the best example of synergy I can think of.  I love it when 1+1+1=10!

There’s really no recipe.  Just squeeze some fresh lime juice over some cold watermelon and lightly salt it.  I like Redmond’s Real Salt.  It’s a fine textured unrefined sea salt.

That’s it.  Eat up!

Seasoning Black Beans

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My family loves black beans.  We eat them alone, with rice, in soup, on nachos…you get the idea.  But they can be so very bland if not seasoned well.  My sister taught me how to give great flavor to plain old beans, and they are DELICIOUS!

I use “Eden Organic” beans.  They are cooked with kombu (a type of seaweed) which aids in digestion.  Plus, the lining on the inside of the cans does not contain BPA, which means it won’t leach into your precious beans.  This brand can be a bit pricy, around $2.50 at Whole Foods!  So considering making your own beans and freezing them in one or two-cup portion.

(1 cup of dried beans should yield about 2 1/4 cups of cooked.  Soak 1 cup dried beans overnight; drain, rinse and add to a pot with 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and skim off the foam.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Add a piece of kombu the size of a quarter, and a pinch of sea salt.  Cover and cook until beans are tender, about 50 minutes.)

SEASONED BLACK BEANS

1-2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil (use grapeseed oil for a more neutral flavor)

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) can black beans

cumin, to taste

sea salt, to taste

Warm the oil in a small skillet.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant (careful not to let it burn, as it will turn bitter).  Add beans and toss to coat.  Season to taste with cumin and salt.  Add about a quarter cup of water and let simmer on low until the liquid has reduced and became thick.  Remove from heat and serve any way you like.

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