Yellow-Eyed Pea Salad with Springtime Herbs

canada geese

I spotted this family of Canada geese one evening on my walk. It looked like they were going to play a pickup game of soccer!

I realized after I swapped out my winter wardrobe for my springtime clothes that Old Man Winter was not kind to me this year. Given the bitter cold we had, I found myself exercising less and eating (and drinking) more. So given this latest turn of events, I’ve really turned to looking at my diet. I’m even joining two friends in a cleanse in a few weeks; no caffeine, alcohol, sugar, meat, dairy, and only whole wheat products; a vegan diet for two weeks. Which has led me to look at past recipes (I found some here and here) and to start creating delicious meals in preparation!

I’ve been wanting to make a nice bean salad after seeing the cover of the most recent Eating Well magazine. I had some dried yellow-eyed peas I bought earlier in the winter to make baked beans, but decided these would work just as well for a salad. Add my usual vinaigrette and some spring herbs with radishes for crunch, this was light and tasty. Even the Eater of the House liked it! I served it along an argula salad with toasted almonds and olive oil and lemon, but it would be equally delicious as a side dish with a nice piece of fish or lean chicken.

I’ve never seen these peas in a can like their black-eyed relatives; if you want to forgo the soaking and cooking, you can substitute a can of Great Northern or cannellini beans. And a spritz of lemon juice on top before serving adds just a little more brightness to the dish!

bean saladYellow-Eyed Pea Salad with Springtime Herbs
I find this salad is best the day you make it; the radishes become a little soggy when left overnight.  

3 cups yellow-eyed peas
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1 chopped TBS each: chives, basil, Italian flat parsley-or a combination of other herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice (optional)

1. In a large bowl, add the beans and radishes.

2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl. Add to the beans and toss. Add the herbs and top with a spritz of lemon juice, if desired.

(Photo courtesy Burlington Farmer's Market)

(Photo courtesy Burlington Farmer’s Market)

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Visit your local farmer’s market!

It is finally the season for farmer’s markets! By the middle of May my favorite market moves from inside to outside, with early greens and vegetables available for purchase.

This great article from cookinglight.com offers the best farmer’s market from each state, plus a recipe to try with fresh produce! While my local farmer’s market didn’t make the top of Vermont’s list, the recipe looks divine!

You can check out all the farmer’s markets and to see if yours made the list by clicking here.

MVK’s Burrito Bowl

A couple of months ago, I went to a Chipotle for the first time. Am I the last person on earth? While I’d heard about the healthy fast food chain, I’d never been to one; Vermont just barely got its first a few years ago. But on a cold January day, I decided to treat myself to lunch. And while it was delicious, I knew I could make a healthier and less expensive version at home. And I have!

This dish is so easy and healthy that it’s become a staple for Wednesday night dinners. When it’s the middle of the week, I don’t feel like cooking or I get home late and don’t have the time, so this is something you can make with kitchen and fridge staples or with a quick stop at the supermarket on the way home from work.

Before you leave the house in the morning, put a cup or so of frozen corn in a bowl and let it thaw in the fridge. (If you forget this step, just put it in a bowl when you get home, as it thaws pretty quickly.) When you get home that evening, start boiling water in a saucepan to make a batch of rice, preferably brown. While that is cooking, take out a mixing bowl and add to it a can of black beans, the thawed corn, a few halved grape tomatoes, a tablespoon or so of scallions, and if you like heat, chopped jalapeno, and mix. Add a dash of salt, a couple of tablespoons of fresh cilantro, some lime juice to taste, and a little bit of cumin. In a deep dish bowl or plate, add about a half cup of rice, add some of the black bean salad, and top it with avocado, salsa, sour cream, more cilantro and/or scallions, lime juice, or your favorite topping.

You can really make this dish your own. I thought about adding black olives next time or perhaps some shaved cabbage or sliced radishes. Instead of black beans, you can use another kind of bean or shredded chicken, pork, beef, or even fish. If you don’t like rice, you can leave it out or substitute another grain. Instead of cumin, use coriander or another favorite spice.

It was interesting that as I was working on this recipe, this story was printed in the New York Times. So now I know my version has fewer calories and is definitely healthier! (Although I will add, the restaurant can be healthy if you make the right choices!)

mvk burrito bowl

 

MVK’s Burrito Bowl

1 can of black beans
About a cup of grape tomatoes, sliced in half vertically
A couple of tablespoons chopped scallions
1 cup of thawed frozen corn
A dash of salt
One jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
Lime juice, to taste
A couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
A dash or two of cumin powder
Cooked brown rice
Toppings: avocado, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, cilantro

1. In a bowl, add the black beans, tomatoes, corn, scallions, jalapeno pepper (if using), and to taste, salt, cilantro, cumin powder, lime juice, and mix. To a plate or bowl, add a half cup of rice, top with the salad and added condiments.


eggsMVK’s Endorsement of the Week: The Government’s Bad Diet Advice
Bravo, albeit a few decades late, to the U.S. government who finally realizes that low-fat food is not good for you! This article from the New York Times last week focuses on a new study, which is linked in the article. The government has said that cutting fat and cholesterol may have worsened Americans’ health, because by clearing our plates of meat, eggs, and cheese they were replaced with more grains, starchy vegetables, and pasta. The real takeaway is to eat real food, not processed or manufactured.

Homemade Hummus

 

Rain + lower temps + snow = this scene.

Rain + lower temps + snow = this scene.

For years I’ve been eating store-bought hummus because it’s healthier than cream dips, but not really liking the flavor of it. Although some brands are better than others, I think they all have an off taste which I don’t like. Last month at book club, my friend, Deb, brought some hummus made at one of the local natural foods stores. I had to restrain myself from eating the whole container. THIS is what hummus is supposed to taste like: chickpeas, a little garlic, lemon, and just a hint of tahini. But it’s expensive when you buy it at a deli, so I decided to recreate an equally delicious yet less expensive version in my kitchen!

So, I don’t have a food processor, only a blender. And the last time I attempted to make hummus, it was a total disaster. (Never make hummus in a blender, it just won’t work.) But. I do have a potato masher, which worked beautifully! Before you think I spent 30 minutes or more mashing the beans, au contraire! It took me about two minutes to really smoosh them and five minutes to make the whole recipe! Some recipes call for olive oil, but I find the tahini adds enough richness, plus the hot water makes it smoother. If you find that it’s a bit dry after it sits for a couple of days, just add a little bit of hot water and stir. (Note, when I say this is “smooth,” it won’t be silky smooth like the store-bought version, it has that rustic, homemade feel, but smooth enough to spread easily on a cracker. I’m obviously having a hard time describing the consistency!)

So I was able to create a batch of hummus for a little more than what you’d pay for a can of chickpeas, plus no preservatives! The greatest investment you’ll make is the tahini, which you can find in the Middle Eastern section of your supermarket or at the coop. But it lasts a long time in the cupboard and after making this once, you may find yourself making this a lot. You could show off your skills and make a big batch for a Super Bowl party next weekend! Go Patriots! (Apologies to my Seattle readers: Marta, Jana, and Julie!)

hummsHomemade Hummus
I like lots of zing to my hummus, so I use at least half a lemon, but ease into it with a quarter lemon and test the flavor for yourself. 

1 can of chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon tahini
2 Tablespoons hot water
Lemon juice to taste
A dash of salt
A couple of tablespoons of fresh cilantro, minced (if desired)

Add the chickpeas to the mixing bowl, smashing until paste-like. Add the garlic, tahini, and hot water, mix until smooth. Stir in lemon juice to taste, salt, and cilantro, if using. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or vegetables.

Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: 10 Things Not to Do When You Start a Diet
January is a perfect month to start your diet; the holidays are over and you have at least four months (more if you live in the northeast!) before you have to get into a bathing suit. Cooking Light has this great list of diet don’ts for those who are starting their journey this month. You can check them out here!

A Very Veggie Salad

New Year's Eve, 2014. Looking west to the Adirondack Mountains.

New Year’s Eve, 2014. Looking west to the Adirondack Mountains.

Am I the only one who feels the need to detox after the holidays? Despite my best efforts, four weeks of rich, sweet foods, alcohol, plus bad weather so I can’t get out and walk has given me tummy trauma. Since they are finally over, I’m looking to healthy and delicious meals at lunch and dinner which are comprised of mostly vegetables with light protein or legumes. This will help your waistline, ward off germs, and are nutritious, too!

This is the usual salad I make for my lunches. Lots of veggies with a little bit of protein and cheese, with a big glass of water, it’s perfect and keeps me full all afternoon. Add some heart healthy avocado or nuts and seeds if you like. I know not everyone loves radishes, so I added them as an option; they add a bit of heat and crunch plus they’re incredibly inexpensive!

One of the drawbacks of making a salad for lunch is finding the time to make it in the morning. So here are two tips:

  1. When you get home from the grocery store, or when you have time some evening when you’re making dinner, slice and chop all your veggies and put them into containers. I find if I pre-cut all my vegetables, making a salad is ten times easier and less time consuming. Plus, it keeps me from being lazy; if I have to slice up cucumber and peppers early in the morning before work, I might think twice about making a salad. This way, most of the work is done!
  2. Pack up the salad veggies the night before and just add the protein and cheese in the morning, so it’s basically made and it won’t be soggy.

This is my current salad these days. Of course, add whatever veggies you like in your salad, be it carrots, cabbage, leftover grains or veggies, whatever you have on hand. I’m on a cider vinegar kick lately, but of course, rice, sherry, balsamic, white or red wine, or other flavored vinegars will be just as tasty.

salad2Very Veggie Salad
Greens (baby spinach, romaine, or a lettuce mix)
Cucumbers, peeled, sliced in half vertically, seeded, and cut into half moons
Peppers-orange, red, or yellow
Grape tomatoes
Scallions or red onion
½ cup beans or other protein: chicken, fish (tuna or salmon), shrimp, hard-boiled egg
Optional: radishes, avocado, nuts, seeds
Sprinkle with feta cheese (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil and cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: More Healthy Lunch Tips

I introduced TheKitchn.com to you a while back and they always have lots of great tips and recipes. Although this article is from last fall for back to school suggestions, its tips are useful for those of us who pack our lunches year-round! Here is one that gives you 16 tips on packing a healthy lunch! Salad isn’t the only healthy option out there for lunch!

Goodbye 2014! Hello 2015!

newyear4I am one of those people who laps up year-end lists. Give me the best books, best movies (and worst), best TV shows, I love reading them and seeing if any of my favorites made it. So why should I be any different? I love that I can look at my stats on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, but what I find really interesting are the yearly stats. Who knew MVK was so popular in Brazil, Canada, and Italy? But what I found even more interesting, was the five most searched for recipes throughout the year.

2014 Reader Favorites

Dark and Moist Gingerbread

Baked Artichoke Dip

Chris’s Chi-Chi Beans

Floating Island

Mad Men Caesar Salad and Manhattan Cocktail

So I decided to go to the archives and select what I thought were the best recipes of the year, either those I liked creating—or eating!

2014 MVK Favorites

Mediterranean Kebabs

Mocktails

Nicoise Salad

Pasta with Shrimp, Garlic, and Asparagus

Honey-Glazed Pork Chops + Tomato Salad + Corn Cakes

I obviously like summertime cooking!

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Blackeye Peas for Good Luck on Thursday!

I’m not one for superstitions, but I always fix a batch of blackeye peas for New Year’s Day. I created this simple recipe a couple of years ago and it’s been my standby every New Year’s Day. When cooked, blackeye peas swell which symbolizes prosperity, the greens represent money, and because when pigs forage they go forward, the meat symbolizes positive motion!

So here is to good luck and good eating in 2015!

DSCN0064
Good Luck Peas
Just omit the meat for a vegetarian version and it will taste just as good! Spinach, Swiss chard, or kale can be substituted for the collard greens.

2 tsp olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ medium onion, finely diced
3 cups of greens, chopped
1 14 oz. can blackeye peas
1 ¼ cup chopped ham, sausage, or kielbasa (optional), cooked
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft.

2. Add the meat, if using, and saute until warm.

3. Add the greens and sauté until wilted.

Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine

While last week I extolled the virtues of extending summer a wee bit, I am now head over heels in love with autumn. The apple orchards are open, squashes are filling the produce departments, and for the first time this season, we turned the heat on to take the chill out of the living room. I’ve discovered something about myself recently; despite loving summer and summer cooking, I truly am a cold-weather cook. Even on a cooler than normal day in August, my thoughts went to roasted chicken, chili, homemade bread, anything to warm the house and soul. So I am thrilled that the season is finally upon us (although not too thrilled about the idea of snow, the dark days, and really cold weather), and that the weather is now perfect for making warm, comforting stews like this one.

I’ve made this recipe twice and both times it was a hit. The first time I substituted grape tomatoes for the Sun Golds and rice instead of quinoa, and it was just as good. The second time I followed it to the letter (served with red quinoa cooked in chicken broth–yum!) and it was delicious. It’s a perfect fall dish, served with a simple green salad, you can rest assured you won’t be adding to your waistline. And it’s quick! Chop everything ahead of time and you just stand and stir. Plus it makes fabulous leftovers!

tagine
Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine
This recipe originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Cooking Light.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup zucchini mixture)

1 cup water
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring 1 cup water, quinoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 13 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes or until tomatoes begin to release their liquid. Add chickpeas and zucchini. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve zucchini mixture with quinoa.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Eating Well on a Budget
Perhaps it is the same everywhere, but I’m finding food, that is, good for you food, more and more expensive in the past few years. This question of how to eat healthy on a tight budget recently was posed on www.thekitchn.com. I am always looking for helpful hints on how to lower my grocery bill. While I’m familiar with most of the suggestions I know, I still found a few new ones that I’ll try! What are your best hints? I like to buy dried beans instead of canned and cook them up, as well as buying spices in bulk so I get as much–or as little–as I want. Plus, they are fresher!

Eat well on a tight budget.

Mission: Possible

Note the deep yellow hues in the field. Autumn is coming.

Note the deep yellow hues in the field. Autumn is coming.

No Meat

No Seafood

No Gluten

No Dairy

I’ve found myself being invited to a lot of potlucks this summer. In these days of food sensitivities, cooking for a crowd has become a bit more challenging than it used to be; no longer can I make a quick pasta salad with pieces of meat and cheese. I put a lot of thought into what I make so I’m sure everyone can have a helping; now, whether people eat it is another story, but at least I’ve attempted to offer a dish that can be eaten by all. The Eater of the House has noted through the years that while I make a healthy dish to share, that sometimes they aren’t that appealing. Hence the bean salads I’ve brought home because no one wanted them. (Insert sad face.)

The above was the list for the latest dinner party I attended. I fretted for days over what to make; every time I thought of something, it had one of the ingredients not to include. Cucumbers and tomatoes are in season right now, so I thought of an easy caprese salad, but I couldn’t use mozzarella. Then I thought of my cucumber salad, but I couldn’t use the sour cream. But what if I combined the cucumbers and tomatoes with other ingredients? With some leftover beans I defrosted in the freezer, I was well on my way!

This a terrific base-line salad, in that you can take the original recipe and add what you’d like to it: leftover chicken, salmon, or shrimp; feta cheese; even pasta all would be good additions to this, making it an entrée. Also herbs! I wanted to add some fresh basil, but didn’t have any, but I know that would add great flavor, or chives, mint, or dill. Try different veggies–crunchy red peppers, celery, kohlrabi would be delicious. The reason for the corn was I had one ear left in the vegetable bin, but I wish I had more. (And that ingredient is totally optional!) For the dressing, I used red wine vinegar, but another flavored vinegar or even lemon would be great. I measured it by the capful until I got the right acidity that I liked.

But best of all, the salad fit the bill and is relatively low in calories! And this time, I brought home an empty bowl! (Insert happy face!)

salad2
Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Chickpeas

Both tomatoes and cucumbers are water-filled vegetables, so I seed them as much as possible to avoid a soppy salad. To seed the tomatoes, I cut them into fourths and just remove a bit of the seeds before dicing.

1 can of chickpeas, or about 2 cups
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 cups cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped into large chunks
The kernels from one ear of corn (optional)
4 radishes, sliced thinly
A couple of tablespoons of scallions
Olive oil and red wine vinegar, to taste (a few teaspoons each)
Salt and pepper

Add all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and vinegar and toss gently.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Nutritional Weight and Wellness, Minnesota

A few years ago I discovered the podcast, “Weight and Wellness,” produced by the nutritionists at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, http://www.weightandwellness.com/ which has locations surrounding the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Each week, they tackle a subject where nutrition can help you solve your physical ailments, from aching joints, menopause symptoms, anxiety and depression, and the list goes on. I always walk away with a list of tips and recipes.

Their website is a fountain of nutritional information and resources and they have four online classes you can take!  http://www.weightandwellness.com/services/online-classes/. I have yet to take one, but I plan to in the near future!

Summertime and the Cooking is Easy

morningWith all due respect to George Gershwin, Vermont this summer has seen waves of hot, hot, hot weather; so humid and sticky that all I want to do is sit in the river. On days like these, I find my appetite isn’t normal, so I try to make salads that are light, yet protein-filled enough so I don’t walk away hungry.

True Nicoise salad has tomatoes, olives, fava beans, and even anchovies. Mine is a bit different, adding some boiled potatoes, radishes that I had on hand, and a salmon salad I made which is just canned salmon, lemon juice, and some capers. I love salads that have a little bit of this and that, so you, too, can create your own riff on the salad, adding your own favorite vegetables and protein. If you’re a vegetarian, you can make a white bean salad in place of the salmon. The vinaigrette recipe will probably make more dressing than you need, but it will keep for at least a week if not longer in a cool spot in your kitchen or in the fridge.

misenplaceI created this salad to take on my annual trek to Lake George with friends a few weeks ago for a simple and delicious lunch. And it is one that is easy to tote if you’re going to the beach or for a picnic. See? >>>

Of course, soon after I wrote this recipe, the temperatures turned and I could finally turn on the oven again. So in the meantime, I’ll tuck this away for the next time we take a trip to the lake or the heat comes back–whichever comes first.

salad
MVK’s Nicoise Salad
2 red peppers, thinly sliced
1-2 cups green beans, steamed
4 small red potatoes, boiled and cubed
4 radishes, sliced into fourths
3 hard-boiled eggs

Salmon or tuna salad: tossed with fresh lemon juice and capers (optional)

Vegetarian option: One can of white beans, toss with a little bit of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and chopped herbs.

Vinaigrette: 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (or a vinegar of your choice), 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ½ shallot (a couple teaspoons), finely chopped (optional). Whisk together.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Speaking of Summertime. . . 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less

The title sounds like an infomercial, but seven years ago, when Mark Bittman was still working for the Dining section of the New York Times, he produced this masterpiece; 101 super simple recipes for summer. This has been a savior ever since for those nights I’m not sure what to make, it’s too hot, or I need some creativity.

The recipes run the gamut: meat, vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan. And they are all so simple, that the 10 minutes is true. Cook up some bratwurst with apples and serve with coleslaw (#59) or saute shredded zucchini in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. Serve over pasta. (#45) Or Bittman’s own version of Nicoise Salad (#34) Lightly steam haricot verts, green beans, or asparagus. Arrange on a plate with chickpeas, good canned tuna, hard-cooked eggs, a green salad, sliced cucumber and tomato. Dress with oil and vinegar.

You can find the article here, 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less.

Pork Tenderloin and Cannellini Beans

tues mornThe weather this spring has been fickle; some days are so gorgeous I swear there has never been a more perfect day. Others are a bit on the cool side with wind, rain, and darkness. Mother Nature is having a hard time making up her mind what she wants the weather to be for us. My hope is with the turning over of the month, she’s decided she will continue to give us gorgeous days after her cold shoulder this past winter!

On these cool evenings, I still turn on the oven for a warm meal. And when I saw this recipe, I could already smell the rosemary, sage, and garlic. We have pork just a couple of times a month, since the Eater of the House doesn’t really like it, but I noticed he went back for seconds when I made this dish. I had forgotten how much I loved long-simmered beans with garlic and herbs. They were so delicious and leftovers for lunch the next day were even better!

This recipe is fairly easy and inexpensive to make. Once you brown the meat, just toss the beans, tomatoes, and garlic together, and pop it in the oven. I forgot to buy fresh sage, so I used a dash or two of dried to substitute and didn’t worry about topping with parsley, although the fresh herbs would be fantastic. This meal was delicious and I know I’ll be making it again when it starts to get really cold!

This ain't your mama's pork and beans!

This ain’t your mama’s pork and beans!


Pork Tenderloin and Cannellini Beans
This recipe originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: about 3 ounces pork and 1/2 cup bean mixture)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped tomato
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Combine rosemary, fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture evenly over pork.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add pork; cook 9 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove pork from pan. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add tomato and sage; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, chicken stock, red pepper, and cannellini beans, and bring to a boil. Return pork to pan, and place pan in oven. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer registers 140°.
4. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Heat pan over medium heat; cook bean mixture 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Sprinkle with parsley. Thinly slice pork; serve with bean mixture.

mayaMVK’s Endorsement of the Week
I was saddened to hear about the death of Maya Angelou last week. I blazed through her six-book memoir right out of college; at a directionless period in my life, I found her books inspirational to say the least. I feel fortunate to have been able to see her speak about 20 years ago. While approaching the stage, she recited her poem, “Phenomenal Woman” as she made her way to the podium. For those who know that poem, you know what a powerful moment she created.

A couple of years ago, I was listening to NPR’s Food podcast (it was December, so she kept me company on a snowy drive to work) and I enjoyed an interview with her about her newest cookbook. (Who knew she also was a food writer? Certainly not me!) There was something she said during that interview that struck me and has stayed with me for those three years. A young woman was in her home and they were eating sandwiches for lunch. The young woman insisted on standing at the counter instead of sitting at the kitchen table to eat. “To not sit at the table is to lose something that’s essential to community,” she said.

I have remembered her words ever since hearing that interview, especially in the morning, when I am running around making my lunch and breakfast, trying to get ready for work at the same time, and standing at the counter munching my piece of toast in between washing plates. But I stop myself and sit down, by myself, with my breakfast for at least a few minutes. Until the rush of the day begins again.

Because of the wonders of the Internet, I was able to find the interview for you! Maya Angelou’s Cooking Advice: Ignore the Rules. I like how she said she likes pepper, not too spicy, but enough to say “hello” to your taste buds.

When I finished writing this piece yesterday morning, this article on Maya and cooking appeared in the New York Times. I thought I would share this as well.

Mid-Winter Chili: Vegan Style

It's amazing how things can change in just a couple of weeks. The birds have come out of hibernation and we've been graced with bright, sunny days! Spring is indeed coming!

It’s amazing how things can change in just a couple of weeks. The birds have come out of hibernation and we’ve been graced with bright, sunny days! Spring is indeed coming!

In an effort to wile way the long winter, signed up for a seven-week online class at Vanderbilt University through Coursera: “Nutrition, Health and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights,” taught by Jamie Pope, MS, RD LDN. Each week has a different focus, and I have been learning even more about nutrition, food labeling, supplements, and more to add to my cooking arsenal. Last week’s focus was on plant-based diets. And in a twist of serendipity, I had made this vegan chili a day or two earlier!

Chili is one of the easiest and quickest meals to make, basically you put everything in a pot and heat it until it is warm and the flavors have mingled. And this recipe is no different. After going to two stores, one of them the co-op, which has most everything vegetarian and vegan, I came up empty-handed on the sausage. So I substituted a bag of Boca meatless ground crumbles, which will change the flavor of the chili (and also adds gluten), but it was still delicious.

This dish is perfect if you have a group of ravenous teens, a potluck, or another large group of people to feed because it makes a mountain! My freezer is full of containers for later lunches and dinners. And for those watching pennies, I figured this cost roughly $10 to make, and at 10-15 servings, give or take, less than $1 per serving!

DSCN4261
Can’t-Believe-It’s-Vegan Chili

This recipe originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Instead of sour cream or cheese topping, go vegan all the way and top with some diced onions, creamy avocado, and/or sweet potato!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (12.95-ounce) package vegan sausage, chopped (such as Field Roast Mexican Chipotle)
2 cups chopped tomato
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried ground sage
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 cups Vedge-Style Vegetable Stock or unsalted vegetable stock
3 (15-ounce) cans unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
2 (15-ounce) cans unsalted kidney beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
2 cups chopped kale
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Preparation
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients (through sausage); sauté 4 minutes. Add tomato and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper). Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 1 minute). Stir in stock. Combine 2 cans cannellini beans and 1 can kidney beans in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher. Add bean mixture and remaining beans to pan. Bring to a simmer; cook 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and simmer 5 minutes. Sprinkle with oregano.

Yield: Serves 10 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

Total: 35 Minutes