Legume experiment #2: beans on a pizza?

May 13, 2009

My mom is a really solid cookbook and recipe spotter, and a few weeks ago, she sent me a recipe for white bean and spinach pizza.

Do I love pizza? Yes. Are beans my only source of protein? Pretty much. And so, I made it tonight, when I was looking for an easy meal to cook because I’ve done something to make my back spasm out of control. Like I don’t have enough problems.

I didn’t have any pre-baked crust, and I wasn’t about to make any from scratch, so I went the easiest way I know: the way of the pita.

Here’s how it happened.

1 can of cannellini beans + 3 cloves of garlic
1 can of cannellini beans + 3 cloves of garlic
became this, which takes the place of tomato sauce
became this, which takes the place of tomato sauce
three pitas, sliced in half so that one pita looks like two (the pitas I buy are too thick to make a decent pizza crust)
three pitas, sliced in half so that one pita looks like two (the pitas I buy are too thick to make a decent pizza crust)
all dressed up with the bean paste, spinach, rehydrated dried tomatoes, and mozzarella, baked for 9 minutes at
all dressed up with the bean paste, spinach, rehydrated dried tomatoes, and mozzarella, baked for 9 minutes at 350

Suffering succotash

April 19, 2009

This week was a little too heavy on the pain and fatigue for my taste, but I’m pretty proud of myself for actually managing to cook some easy meals that were healthy, too. It’s easy for me to lose focus when I’m fatigued, to go out to eat (usually not something balanced or even healthy) or to just eat peanut butter and ice cream for dinner because it’s so easy (and, let’s face it, delicious). But I try to remind myself that eating real meals with actual vegetables and proteins and  grains is almost guaranteed to make me feel better, even if it takes effort.

orzo succotash

orzo succotash salad

The “succotash” is kind of controversial because I used black beans instead of limas, but, what can I say? I like to think outside the box. And we didn’t have limas. And I wanted it to be kind of Mexican themed. I made this Wednesday night, which was probably the peak of my fatigue, when I came home and sat down and didn’t think I’d be able to get up again, ever. There may have been some tears of frustration. But I’m strong-willed, so I pushed myself up and made this dinner in about 7 minutes. All I did was cook 1/2 cup of orzo and then add it to a can of black beans, a can of corn (both drained and rinsed), and a half a pint of grape tomatoes, which I quartered. I wanted to make a nice lime dressing for it, but the bottled lime juice I had is past its date. So I tried to just spice it up with some cumin and cayenne, but it was still bland  and emotionally unfulfilling. I had to follow it up with a bowl of cereal.

stir fry salad

stir fry salad

This one was inspired by a wakame rice salad recipe from Clean Eating. But that one takes two hours, and requires wakame. This one took about 20 minutes and required whatever I had on hand. Basically just brown rice mixed with stir fried tofu and veggies (peppers, onions, carrots, mushrooms) and dressed with a tasty soy sauce/rice vinegar/oil/ginger combo, the only part of the recipe I actually followed.

Last night we got ice cream at the campus dairy bar at 5:30 and when I was finally hungry again, all I wanted were sweet potatoes, so dinner ended up being peppermint ice cream, roasted sweet potatoes, and some random roasted tomatoes. Very fancy.

Tonight, I made something else from the Tropical Vegan Kitchen.

spicy bolivian-style lentils over quinoa

spicy bolivian-style lentils over quinoa

It was supposed to be over rice, but, as you know, we just had rice. And I like to shake things up.

This meal took a little longer, but I had some energy from the gym so I went for it. Totally worth it. What makes the lentils “Bolivian-style”? Chipotle puree! This was so easy. All you do is take a 7 oz can of chipotles in adobo and puree them in the food processor until smooth. I only used a teaspoon of puree here, but it was enough to add a ton of awesome flavor and smokiness to the whole dish. And I have a ziploc bag full of it in the refrigerator, so I need to brainstorm other uses. Any ideas?

We hit up the Tulip Festival in Wamego today, so I think I’m going to go enjoy some of the cookies and wine we brought back. Dessert of champions.

We’re keen on quinoa

March 8, 2009

I bet I’ve used this title before, but I’m too lazy to check.

I got an email from my ten year old niece the other day, expressing concern about my eating habits. Specifically, she wanted to let me know that I eat too much quinoa and couscous. She’s had quinoa and isn’t much of a fan, but I keep telling her she just hasn’t had it in the right dish yet. Maybe if I made her these quinoa-stuffed peppers, she’d be a convert.

who could resist that?

who could resist that?

Hahahaha. NO. She’d hate them. They include no fewer than six foods she doesn’t like, but maybe someday. After all, I only liked vegetables in the form of canned Green Giant Kitchen-Sliced Green Beans for about, oh, I don’t know, twenty years?

And look at me now! I like all kinds of food, including (but not limited to): peppers, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, black beans, onions, cheese, and quinoa, all of which are in this dish. These were from the February issue of Vegetarian Times, and while they turned out stellar, I had some beef with the recipe (get it? BEEF! With a vegetarian recipe!). For one thing, I didn’t read it carefully and somehow missed the fact that the cooking time for the whole thing adds up to almost two hours. I guess that one is technically my fault. For another, they tell you to use a saucepan to make the filling without mentioning that you need the world’s largest “saucepan” because somehow you will need to fit a diced onion, two cans of diced tomatoes, a can of black beans, a ten ounce bag of frozen spinach, some other vegetables, 3/4 cup of quinoa, and two cups of water in it. Seriously. I didn’t even use the celery and carrots they called for and the pot came dangerously close to overflowing. So, if you make it, please do yourself a favor and use a dutch oven.

all's well that ends well

all's well that ends well

Also not a good idea? Accidentally making an incredibly time-intensive meal like this one on a Friday night when you are exhausted and your RA is flaring up and you’ve been up since 4:50am.

I learned that lesson for you, okay?

Late winter is a bad time for me, fatigue-wise, as my body doesn’t do the best job adjusting to weather changes, especially now that I live in a place with really drastic swings from cold to warm and back again. So, what better time to… spring forward!

I tried to make up for some of that lost hour by subbing in a regular old pasta dinner for the baked pasta I promised Matt I’d make.

lemony pasta and asparagus

lemony pasta with asparagus

I used up some random handfuls of pasta (macaroni and some penne) in this. I just cooked ~3 cups of pasta, adding asparagus near the end (woody stems removed, chopped into 1 inch pieces), draining, and making an impromptu lemony sauce with 1/2 T unsalted butter, a big handful of parm, 2 T lemon juice, and a few generous shakes of pepper. The pasta was still hot, so I added the butter, parm, lemon juice, and pepper, and stirred and stirred and stirred until it was all coated with cheesy, lemony goodness. This is probably about 4 servings, give or take.

And now, unfairly, it’s almost 9:30. Even though it’s only been dark for two hours.

I’m leaving for a conference on Wednesday, and Matt’s coming with me, so the next couple of nights should be really exciting, food-wise, as I try to figure out what we have to use so it doesn’t go bad while we’re gone.

Stay tuned!

Scroll down for the food

January 28, 2009

I never delivered on my promise to tell you about my fascinating knee treatment. For a few weeks, I’ve been having iontophoresis treatments on my left knee. It was weird and painful at first, and a little frightening when, before my physical therapist hooked me up to the little jumper cables (technical term) the first time, he had to ask another therapist which one was positive and which was negative. Which, if you’re wondering, did very little to inspire confidence. But anyway, the point is that I don’t know if it really worked, but I got discharged from physical therapy today anyway.

Throughout this whole ordeal, I’ve been on and off with my exercising, which means I’ve been up and down with my moods. I only started exercising in summer 2005, but I’m pretty sure I’m a lifer now, because when I can’t sweat out my stress I walk around like a cranky two year old that you woke up early from a nap. So it’s a challenge when I really just can’t do it. Last week was my most normal one in over a month, activity-wise, with four days of cardio at about 40 minutes a pop. But, in the end, I paid for it. IN BLOOD.

Not really blood. Just pain. COURSING THROUGH MY BLOOD. So I took a few days off, read some books during my exercise time, moped around, the usual. And then I decided I needed to make some changes. So, for the next few weeks, I’m cutting down my cardio and ramping up my other stuff, like yoga. I did a good class last night, which was 90 minutes of deep stretching, more or less, and while it probably didn’t burn off the six cookies I ate through the course of the evening, it did make me feel better, and it was good to remember that that’s really why I exercise in the first place. Tonight, in the spirit of Getting Out There And Doing Things, I tried tai chi for the first time. I hated it, but that’s okay. At least I tried. Basically, it was all about centering your mind, but all I could focus on was that I was in a room full of mirrors and I didn’t have a clue how to do what the teacher was doing. And the moves are called things like “stroking the horses mane” and I just couldn’t get into it. So instead of a centered mind, I had more of an “okay, I look like an ass and there’s college basketball on that I’m missing and I really just want to go home and make dinner” mind. Plus, my knee started hurting after the class, so I think I did it wrong.

See, I made you read through all of that just to get to the food.

Dinner made the whole failed tai chi experience seem like a distant memory:

baked quinoa

baked quinoa

This is pretty much the dish to which all of my previous quinoa experience has been leading. We loved it.

I did, however, spend the entire time I was preparing it thinking about how I could never get my immediate family to eat this, even if I paid them all. But hey, it’s their loss.

And now I’m off to enjoy some treats. Matt, in the mood for cookies and looking for a project, baked some chocolate chip cookies for us yesterday, and they’re delicious. To top that off, I had a visit from the chocolate fairy today, and came home to a box filled with these:



There was no note that we could find, so I spent some time this afternoon trying to figure out if it was possible that TCHO could have discovered my address in some secret way after reading about how much I love their products. For what it’s worth, Matt thinks I sent it to myself.

I plan to enjoy it, whomever it’s from, so thank you, silent benefactor!


They’re the only thing that will get me off the couch at this point.

I have a situation on my hands.

November 10, 2008


I have Raynaud’s, which has been particularly active lately, leaving me with white, purple, and even sometimes gray fingers and hands. Not good. So I’m doing a new treatment now. Which involves a topical medication that is apparently so sensitive it would be a Bad Idea to expose anyone else to it. And so, I’m typing this with medicated and immediately plastic-wrapped hands. It’s really pretty ridiculous.

dedication. And metablogging.

Let's call this what it is: Dedication. Or, metablogging.

We are a household of medical issues today, as Matt had a root canal this morning (his second in six months! some people are so lucky). He’s not interested in eating a lot in the way of solid food, and that worked out well because I had soup on the menu. I was going to make regular black bean soup, but I switched things up a little and pureed it so that it would be easier to eat.


I think I like it better this way. This was really easy and tasty. Here’s how it goes-

  1. Saute a small chopped onion in a little olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add two cloves of garlic, a bunch of cumin, some chili powder, and cayenne. Sautee for another minute.
  3. Add one can of black beans (drained and rinsed), 2 cups of broth, and a can of diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about ten minutes.
  4. Blend in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth and thick.
  5. Top with whatever you have on hand, like cheese, or salsa, or sour cream, or chips, or more cheese. Whatever.

That makes 4ish 1 cup servings. I actually doubled it so that Matt could have chew-free lunches for a few days.

I also threw some brown rice in mine to bulk it up and make it more meal-like. Just on it’s own, it’s probably way too light for a dinner. But add some cheese and some rice, and you’re in business. It would also be good with some quesadillas. But really, what wouldn’t?

Okay, I unwrapped my hands because it was freaking me out. I think I’m going to go lie down now.

Don’t be alarmed if I don’t post tomorrow – it doesn’t (necessarily) mean that something happened related to my plastic hands. I just have plans.

This is a long one.

October 26, 2008

The conference went pretty well, and, of course, since it was in Lawrence, I got to eat all kinds of awesome things: Falafel salad and baklava at Mad Greek, Phad Sea Eaw at Zen Zero, and ice cream at a real Ben and Jerry’s!

Yesterday I had a weird fatigue flare-up, which hit me on my walk home from the mall, where I did such strenuous things as: returning pants and avoiding all shopping opportunities because I just spent an insane amount of money on a pair of boots. At some point on my 3-block walk home, though, I was just totally exhausted and had to find a place to sit down. Weird, right? I spent the rest of the day in bed, getting up only to help with dinner. Matt made double-cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, and I decided to throw together some soup on the side, because it just felt right.

Swiss and Sharp Cheddar Grillie Cheesie

Swiss and Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Let's call this half-grain soup

Let's call this "half-grain soup"

The grilled cheese was delicious, of course, and the soup was good, too. Here’s what I did:

  1. Brought 4 cups of broth to a boil (I used chicken, but whatever would work)
  2. Added about 1/3 cup quick cooking barley (the whole grain) and cooked for two minutes
  3. Added about 1/3 cup Farfalline (orzo or any other small, quick cooking pasta would work – this was the non-whole grain, hence the “half-grain soup.” GET IT??)
  4. Simmered over medium for about two minutes
  5. Added 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach to the mixture and brought back to a boil
  6. Simmered over medium for about seven or eight minutes
  7. Added salt and pepper and some crushed red pepper
  8. Ate it (it makes 4 servings as a side, probably 2 as a whole meal)

See? Simple. And good. It would be more of a meal with more stuff in it. Like a protein, maybe an egg? And a little cheese on top would have been great, but I decided to cut myself off with the double cheese sandwich. Restraint: apparently it’s a virtue.

Tonight I tried something new: stuffed acorn squash.

This was a big hit – we both really liked it. Here’s what I did for the squash:

  1. Preheated oven to 375 degrees
  2. Sliced (read: had Matt slice, because I am clumsy with large cutting tools) a medium acorn squash in half and scooped out the seeds
  3. Put squash halves, skin side down, in a baking dish with a little water, and baked for about 40 minutes, until the skin was soft enough to pierce

For the filling, I just cooked some bulgur, added a can of pinto beans (drained and rinsed), grilled a turkey sausage and added chunks of that, threw in some chili power, garlic, and cayenne, and called it done. When the squash was cooked through, I stuffed the halves with filling and sprinkled on some cheese, then broiled for about 4 minutes, until the cheese was melted.

On the side, we had some multi-grain french bread and amazingly good fresh brussels sprouts from the last farmer’s market of the season, roasted at 375 for about 30 minutes.

Since I was out of commission yesterday, today was super busy and I seem to have totally worn myself out. I’m going to see my rheumatologist in a month, and I’m hoping he’ll have some kind of miraculous answer for why I am So. Exhausted. All. The. Time. I know that, at least lately, I haven’t been making the healthiest choices, and that does play a role, but this time the tired came first. A big thing for me in the next month is basically going to be motivating myself to exercise through the fatigue. Last week, I only managed one day of cardio (unless you count a 3 mile round trip walk to and from dinner, which I probably would have if I hadn’t eaten 486 tater tots at said dinner), and this week I’m aiming to get back to my usual 4-5, though my week is packed full of work things and my run at the gym today was incredibly hard. It was really easy to slack off when the only consequence was that my pants didn’t really fit right. But yesterday’s flare-up was really alarming to me, and it forced me to refocus on the fact that, while I can’t control whether my body is healthy, I can control whether the way I treat it is. And so, my goals this week are: more exercise (even if it’s light), less sugar, more sleep, and more water (I read recently that dehydration is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue, and we all know that I believe anything I read).

And I’ll be getting on that just as soon as I eat a giant frosted Halloween cookie. I may even have some water on the side.


October 20, 2008

At the penultimate farmer’s market of the year on Saturday morning, I got the biggest bunch of bok choy I’ve ever seen. I mean, it wouldn’t fit in a bag, my arm hurt from carrying it, and, half gone now, is still taking up an entire shelf in our refrigerator.

And it was only $2!

So, bok choy has been the featured ingredient in our last two dinners.

Last night, which got a little hectic because I had another event with my class, we made soba with tofu and vegetables, in a delightful almond sauce, using this recipe.

My RA started flaring up last night, and eventually woke me up at 4:00 this morning. I love that. Luckily, I have an awesome husband who didn’t mind getting up at 5:00 to get me some medicine. Anyway, I took the morning off work, and I learned several important things:

  1. The construction workers do not care that I did not sleep well and that I am in pain; they continue to yell and dig holes and drive their truckies around regardless.
  2. People who live in my building do not seem to work during the day.
  3. Which seems to lead them to rampant abuse of hot water, as I had none when I eventually rallied and got out of bed to get ready for the day.

Because not working when I have a million things to do and I feel like I’m supposed to be working makes me twitchy, I drove over to work, got my laptop, and came back home to work for the afternoon. I think I’m going to make “Work on self-care” one of my 2009 resolutions, because I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’ve been kind of a failure at it recently. And I’m pretty sure that getting depressed and eating half a bag of candy corn doesn’t really count.

Anyway, after I finished working, Matt and I went on a really short walk so that I could try to loosen up my knee. Then, we made chicken fried rice, using an adaptation of this recipe.

We still have so much bok choy left. I have no idea what to do with it.

Since dinner, I’ve been grading papers, which pretty much sucked every bit of energy I had left. So now I’m going to go to bed and try to force myself to have a positive attitude about tomorrow. GO TUESDAY.