Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back to healthy eating: Black beans, rice and corn salsa (with chocolate cake?)

01/07/09 Cook’s Corner After weeks of eating rich holiday foods, it’s time to take a deep breath and return to healthier eating: less fat, meat and sugar — and more vegetables. To start with a clean slate, open the refrigerator door and begin. Discard the last of the rich spinach dip, pumpkin pie and other leftovers. Wipe down the empty shelves and head for the cupboards. Pull out the junk food — candy, chips, cookies, etc. — and throw them into the trash. If you can keep them out of the house then they won’t go into your mouth! I use our vegetarian-vegan son as an example. Jeff was home for the holidays and his visits are always an enlightening culinary experience. His vegetarian diet keeps him slim, trim and healthy. He eats lots of rice, beans, tofu, tempeh and of course — vegetables. His carbohydrate intake is mind-boggling and his salads are so huge they would put a rabbit to shame! He is not food deprived. My husband and I are not vegetarians but I do make an effort to incorporate a couple of meatless meals into our menus every week. Eating vegetarian does not have to be an all or nothing at all choice. I have some great recipes ranging from soups to casseroles that help cut down the amount of saturated fat in our diet. Sometimes I sneak healthy food into our diets. Try these ideas: Roast a pan full of vegetables. They’ll taste richer and sweeter. Or, if you’re not a salad person, add extra lettuce to your sandwiches. If you can’t give up cheese (me!) put ½ slice on your sandwich instead of two. Can’t give up bacon? Eat two slices instead of six! The old “less is more theory” works every time. Today’s traditional main dish vegetarian recipe is adapted from the wonderful Williams-Sonoma Vegetarian cookbook. I guarantee that everyone in the family will enjoy it. The last recipe is a light as air cake that I made for Jeff’s Dec. 26 birthday. It’s very similar to the well-known Wacky Cake recipe and it’s Vegan! Enjoy!
Black Beans and Rice with Corn Salsa Serves 4-6
Beans 2 cups dried black beans 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced 1 large yellow onion, chopped Garlic Mixture ¼ cup olive oil 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley ¾ cup fresh cilantro, chopped 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground cumin (more if desired) 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano Salt and freshly ground pepper ¾ cup dry white wine (or combination water & red-wine vinegar) Rice 1 cup basmati rice 2 cups water Salsa 2 cups frozen corn OR kernels from 3 ears fresh corn 2 fresh jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced OR 1 can diced green chilies (milder than jalapenos) 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice ½ cup finely chopped red onion 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro Prepare beans Pick over the beans, rinse and drain. Place in a large pan and cover with plenty of water. Let soak 3 hours. Drain well. Add onion, bell pepper and water to cover by 2-inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and reserve the beans in cooking liquid. Prepare salsa While the beans are cooking, make the salsa: Cook corn kernels 30 seconds in boiling water. Drain, place in a bowl and let cool. Add the chilies, lime juice, red onion and cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside. Prepare garlic mixture In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, parsley, cilantro, brown sugar, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden, about 10 minutes. Prepare rice Rinse and drain rice. In a heavy saucepan, combine water and ½ teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Add the rice, stir once and cover pan with lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Check to see if rice is tender and water absorbed. If not, cover and cook a few minutes longer. Meanwhile, add wine to the garlic mixture and simmer over high heat about 5 min. or until reduced by one-fourth. Reduce heat to medium, add beans and cooking liquid; simmer, uncovered until the liquid has evaporated about 15 minutes. To Serve Spoon the rice into individual bowls. Top with beans and salsa.
Vegan Chocolate Cake
1-1/2 cups sifted unbleached flour 1 cup unrefined sugar 3 tablespoons cocoa 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons canola oil 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup cold water Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare 8” square baking pan. Sift dry ingredients into large bowl. Make 3 holes in sifted ingredients. Pour oil into one, vinegar into second and vanilla into third. Pour cold water over all and stir until well blended. Pour into pan and bake 24-30 minutes. Do not overbake or it will burn.
¼ cup margarine 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar 2 tablespoons soy milk 1 teaspoon vanilla Mix together margarine and 1 cup of powdered sugar in mixer. Alternate adding remaining sugar with milk. Mix until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

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