Monthly Archives

June 2011

dessert, recipes

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies with Beans – Low Fat, Whole Grain

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies with Beans

I’m a gal with the DIY mentality.

When we wander the grocery aisles on the weekend, pushing through hordes of people like we’re at a rock concert, it’s hard not to notice all the goodies. Those sandwich cookies in the health foods aisle, the mock meat in the tofu section, the chips and salsa. Oh, the chips and salsa, Logan’s one true weakness. Call it frugality if you will, but we hardly ever buy the stuff. Which is fine by me, but I often catch Logan gaze longingly at the snack foods we so often pass by.

“It’s too expensive,” I tell Logan. And if that doesn’t persuade him, “look at that abhorrent ingredient list. We’d be better off just making that at home!”

And then we walk away from temptation, with me hoping that Logan will just forget it ever happened.

Oh, Logan doesn’t forget.

“We never have any snacks around the house,” he says. I open the fridge and show him the abundance of fresh food. “There’s plenty to eat,” I say. “But there are no snacks,” is his reply. And by this he means there’s no chips, bread and peanut butter, no ramen, cookies or seasoned nuts and seeds. The fridge could be full but if there isn’t anything that can be whipped up in 2 minutes or less, there’s no food.

Well if I’m the one making tough calls in grocery stores, then I should be the one to amend the situation with homemade snacks. Homemade snacks that are maybe not the definition of perfect health food, but are significantly more wholesome than store-bought.
And the clincher for a couple like us, a piano teacher and school bus driver, about to be virtually unemployed for the next two months – homemade is cheaper.
These cookies are crunchy on the outside, and soft and slightly cakey on the inside. They contain only 2 tablespoons of oil, and no white flour. Each cookie contains approximately one teaspoon of sugar, a big step up from your average cookie.

But the best part about these cookies? There are beans hidden inside!

Pureed beans (white or pinto, or even lentils) replace the fat and add a nutrition boost, and I promise you won’t taste the beans in the finished product – only snacky cookie goodness.
Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies with Beans

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies with Beans

Makes 24 cookies

A generous 1/2 c. cooked pinto beans (or 1/2 c. cooked navy beans or lentils)
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp ground flax
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and lightly oil 2 baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. In a blender, blend the beans, water and ground flax until smooth.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil and vanilla with a fork until smooth. Add the bean puree and stir until everything is well-combined.
4. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips with a spoon, and then add the flour and baking soda. Mix well.
5. Drop tablespoon-sized cookie balls on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches of space between the cookies. Flatten them slightly and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.
6. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Enjoy! Logan and I have been happily gobbling these up, and he hasn’t uttered a word of snack food woe since. Though I have a feeling that will come once the cookies are gone…

Each cookie is 100 calories, has 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. That ain’t too bad at all for a cookie.

Now I’m off to do more packing. We’re out of our house by the end of this weekend, and everything’s all in disarray, with boxes strewn everywhere. But boxes are easy compared to hauling couches, tables and desks! Go muscles go!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Black Bean Chili

As I hustled and bustled in the kitchen in the minutes leading up to lunch, I forced politely asked Logan to snap some photos of the Black Bean Chili I had concocted. Somehow I had missed the green onion smiley face in all of my hurrying, which he had so carefully crafted. Once he pointed it out to me, I stopped rushing, took a deep breath, and smiled.

Black Bean Chili

Thanks for reminding me to slow down and appreciate the small stuff, Logan. You rock.

This is a really, really easy chili to make, takes no time at all and still has that full, slow-cooked chili flavor. Feel free to use another colorful bell pepper instead of the zucchini – just use whatever veggies you have access to.

Black Bean Chili

2 tbsp water
1 lg onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 c. chopped zucchini
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice, no salt added
3 and ½ c. cooked black beans OR 2 15-oz cans, drained
1 and ½ c. frozen corn
1 c. prepared salsa
½ tsp salt, or to taste
¼ c. cilantro, chopped (optional)
4 green onions, sliced, green and light green parts only (optional, for garnish)

In a large pot, heat the water over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the green bell pepper, zucchini, cumin and red chili flakes and cook a few minutes more. Chop the whole tomatoes and add to the pot along with the juice. Add the beans, corn and salsa and bring to a boil, and then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the salt to taste, and the cilantro if desired. Remove from heat. Garnish with green onions and serve with baked squash, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, corn bread or brown rice. Add a scoop of non-dairy sour cream or guacamole, if desired.

This chili is thick, hearty and totally comforting. I say that people who think veganism is all lettuce and smoothies should check foods like this out! It’s wholesome without tasting health-foody, and will leave you with a happy, satisfied belly.

Hope all’s well where you are! We’ve been having warm, wet and thundery weather as of late, which is supposed to continue tomorrow as well. So that means I’ll probably be hiding somewhere. Yeah, I admit to having a deep fear of thunderstorms – I kind of obsessively check the weather station during the summer months and avoid driving in them as much as humanly possible. I feel insecure if I’m not near a basement!

This fear is a little over the top, perhaps, since it’s not like I live in tornado alley. But the Canadian prairies do see their fair share of wild weather. Oh well; I admit it’s irrational. Logan loves storms, so hopefully some of that will rub off on me. I remain optimistic.

Later! 🙂


Why Be Vegan? – 3 Good Reasons That Aren’t About You

I could come up with 100 reasons to answer the question “why be vegan”, but instead, I’ll just list off 3 that have nothing to do with you. You will find nary an answer on the health benefits, nor the environmental impact. The reason? The heart of veganism is about them – the animals, and not about what’s in it for us humans.

So let’s hop right into it, then.

1. Because You Like Animals

This is a fairly self-explanatory point that tends to get lost in translation. You like animals – you pet cats and are against whale hunting and marvel at unique species of birds. You’re probably quite against kicking a dog or punching a cat. In fact, if you saw someone do that, you’d call the cops on them. But then someone lights up the barbeque and all reason goes out the window.

What’s the major difference between a cow and a dog? Sure, they’re a different species. They’re different shapes and sizes with different genes and a different sort of behavior. But is it logical that a dog is worth loving and a cow is worth killing? We’re all animals, after all.

Chances are you’re also not cool with how things go down on factory farms – most people aren’t. You know that behind those humongous walls there’s some seriously deranged sh*t going on. So if you like animals, why not put your money where your mouth is and stop paying people to kill and torture them for you?

2. Okay, You Don’t Like Animals, but You’re a Reasonable Person

So not everyone is an animal lover, I get that. I’m pretty far from being one myself. Aside from enjoying the company of low-maintenance cats, I’m not one of those people who just “gets” animals and loves playing with them.

With some fairly basic reasoning skills, however, you can probably deduce that other animals don’t want to suffer or die. People still like to argue about this with me and I’m like “for real?” I thought we were past all that Descartes nonsense. If you kick a dog and he squeals, it’s not because he’s a machine creaking, it’s because he’s a mammal with a central nervous system and it hurt.

The cow doesn’t want to die any more than your dog does. So why do you eat the cow and pet the dog? Does it make any sense to be sympathetic to one animal and not the other?

3. Because It’s Not All About You

Most of us were raised to share our toys, say please and thank you, and help others when they need it. Happily, most of us still practice these behaviors well into adulthood. So why is it, then, that when it comes to the suffering, torment and death of other animals, it’s all about us? It’s about our taste buds, our social conveniences, our personal interests, not theirs?

Let me give you an example. I punch you in the face. You’re rather cranky about this and say, “why the hell did you just punch me in the face?” I respond, “because I felt like it.” You then call up your friends and tell them that I’m wacko.

Here’s another example. If you ate your neighbour’s dog because you were “craving him”, people would basically consider you a psycho and you’d be put behind bars. Yet you can pay someone to rape, torture and kill a different animal and it’s not only acceptable, it’s the norm. Where’s the sense in this?

Okay, so you’re addicted to cheese and you savor flesh, I get it. But I want you to realize that you’re claiming that your taste buds override an animal’s will to live. And whether or not you’re someone who likes animals, or someone who claims to be reasonable, that just isn’t a very good reason.