Maple Balsamic Glazed Garbanzo Beans

One of my strategies when cooking for busy families is to make dishes that can be eaten as is or added to other dishes. My style is kind of mix and match. I often create components rather than cooking full meals. I find this gives families greater flexibility in meeting the needs of a wide range of eaters.

These glazed garbanzo beans are a perfect example of my style.They can be part of a snack, thrown into a school lunch, tossed in a grain bowl, added to sauteed greens or sprinkled on top of a soup or salad.

Another thing I often do is make a big batch of beans and re-purpose it into several different dishes. Garbanzo beans, or pretty much any legume, can become hummus, grain and bean burgers, bean soup or my sauteed garbanzo beans. This recipe can be made with either 2 cups of home cooked beans or one 15 oz can of beans. Keep a few cans of Eden brand beans in your pantry and this can be one of your last minute go-to recipes. If you have never cooked your own garbanzo beans, the flavor and texture are outstanding. They are quite different from the canned version. Here are my instructions for Home Cooked Beans.

I have adapted the original recipe which can be found in Dreena Burton’s cookbook Plant-Powered Families. The link is for her website. I have reduced the sodium and the sweetness a bit. These garbanzo beans are meant to be served soft. I know there are a lot of recipes for crunchy garbanzo beans out there, but I think hard, dry foods are hard on the digestive system and contribute to cravings for sweet foods. So, I try to limit them.

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Maple Balsamic Glazed Garbanzo Beans
(adapted from Roasted Balsamic Chickpeas in Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton)

2 cups of garbanzo beans, drained (or 15 oz can Eden brand)
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (I love Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve)
1 1/2 tsp shoyu or tamari (alcohol-free, unpasteurized if you can find it)
1 tsp maple syrup or to taste

1. Oven to 400°.

2. If the garbanzo beans were made from scratch and refrigerated in their liquid, you will need to re-heat them before draining. The liquid tends to congeal and won’t drain easily while cold.

2. Measure all the ingredients into a medium size bowl and mix well. Place in a single layer on a large, parchment or silicone lined baking sheet. There will be extra marinade in the bottom of the bowl. Just pour that onto the garbanzo beans and they will soak up the sauce while baking.

3. Bake the garbanzo beans just until they soak up the marinade and turn glossy. Stir once or twice during this process to prevent burning. The garbanzo beans should still be fairly soft when they are done. This process takes about 20-25 minutes depending on the oven.

4. Remove and serve immediately or let cool and store for later use.

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Orange-y Carrot Jewels

Often, just changing the way you cut a vegetable can add variety and interest to a simple dish. One cutting technique, which I learned as the jewel cut, is actually my favorite way to cut root vegetables. I think it’s kind of fun.IMG_20140929_124631

Lay the root vegetable on its side, horizontal, with the top to your left if you are right-handed. Start at the root end and cut your first vegetable piece at a diagonal with the knife tip angled toward the left. Then turn the root toward you about a quarter turn and cut at a diagonal again. Keep turning and cutting until you have cut all the way to the top.

I am bringing this dish to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck this week.

Orange-y Carrot Jewels

3 cups cut carrot chunks (about 3-4 carrots)
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed or unsweetened already juiced)
1 tsp brown rice syrup
pinch of sea salt

1.  Place carrots, water, orange juice, brown rice syrup and sea salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until carrots are barely tender.

2.  With a slotted spoon, remove carrots from liquid and place in a serving dish.

3.  Continue to simmer the liquid, uncovered, until it reduces in volume and becomes a little thicker. Pour over the cooked carrots. Serve.

Root Vegetable Fritters

I have been making simplified versions of Carrot and Coriander Fritters for over a year.

By now, you probably know that I simplify almost every recipe I come across. Personally, I have found that if I use a really good sea salt and organic, fresh vegetables, I don’t need a whole lot of other seasonings. With simplified cooking, I don’t need to look at a recipe and I save a lot of time in the kitchen. And by saving time I can cook more dishes and put a healthy meal on the table almost every time we sit down to eat.IMG_20140911_164720

So, on with the simplified version. A little warning: these can be a bit finicky. Make them a few times and you will get the hang of it. Lately, I have been making these fritters with a mix of carrots, parsnips and sweet potato. You can use whatever combination of root vegetable you feel like. I added a bit of sweet potato to add some sweetness and familiarity for little taste buds, but it’s completely unnecessary. Or really give your taste buds a treat and do 100% sweet potato. Yum!

IMG_20140913_170741I have tried these with a microplane coarse grater, with a regular grater and with a food processor grater attachment.

The microplane makes the vegetables kind of mushy, but it’s much easier to get the patties to form and this size might work better for a toddler who is still working on chewing skills.

Grating the vegetables coarsely makes for a tastier finished product, but it is also harder to get the mixture to form patties. This is where some patience and faith are helpful. I am going to give you my ratios of ingredients, but you may need to add a little more garbanzo bean flour and/or oil to find the right ratio that will cause the grated vegetables to stick together, without adding too much garbanzo bean flour. Now, the great part is that they only need to stick together enough to form a patty and get to the pan. Once they start cooking, the ingredients will bond together and form a delicious fritter. It’s almost magic!

Root Vegetable Fritters
adapted from Carrot and Coriander Fritters over at Frugal Feeding

2 cups grated parsnip
2 cups grated carrot
1 cup grated sweet potato
5 T garbanzo bean flour
2 1/2 T olive oil
2 pinches sea salt
fresh ground pepper
grapeseed or other high-heat oil for frying

IMG_20140904_133126IMG_20140904_1340361.  Mix all ingredients except for the frying oil in a large bowl.

2.  Pick up a small handful of the mixture and try to form a patty. It will have a hard time staying together, but it should be sticky enough to come together a bit and stay together long enough to start cooking. If it won’t stick together at all, add a little more olive oil and/or garbanzo bean flour. Keep mixing it and testing until you get a consistency that seems like it might work. Make as many 2-3″ fritters as will fit in the pan. I usually heat the oil and add fritters as I make them.

3.  Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet on medium heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Start adding fritters as soon as the oil is hot enough that a little piece of vegetable starts to sizzle when added. Add as many fritters as will fit in the pan without overcrowding. Cook until they are light to medium brown on the bottom, then turn them over to brown the other side. It should take about 4 minutes per side. If it seems a lot faster than that, the heat may be too high. You want them to cook for long enough that the vegetables cook, so if they are getting brown too fast, this might not happen. Add more oil if necessary for the next batch. Keep making and cooking the fritters until they are all done.

3.  As each one is done, remove them to a plate with a paper bag on it to soak up excess oil. These are best when they are served hot.

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Crispy Cornmeal Seitan

I met Bryant Terry while on a vegan health cruise last spring. I attended one of his cooking classes. I love his cooking style and his dedication to food justice. This is a take on one of his recipes. You can learn more about him and his projects on his website. Here is a Mother Jones article.

IMG_20140908_142500I cook for several families and I am always looking for new school lunch additions. With many schools going nut-free these days, the range of good options has narrowed a bit. But, these crispy seitan bites are gems. This is the type of food that is very satisfying and nourishing to high energy bodies, like children.

IMG_20140908_151916The only caution I would make is that if you are using store-bought seitan, which I did, it has a high salt content. So, that means moderation for your little ones. Their bodies just can’t handle much salt. I used Upton’s Naturals plain seitan.

You can find a recipe for these in Bryant Terry’s cookbook, Vegan Soul Kitchen. It’s called Cornmeal-Crusted Seitan. It’s so simple that I am giving you my “recipe-free” version.

Crispy Cornmeal Seitan

whole grain mustard (I like Eden brand)
ground cornmeal
white or black pepper
8 oz seitan (or more if you have a lot of mouths to feed!) (I used Upton’s Naturals)
grape seed oil or other high-heat oil

1.  Put a few spoonfuls of mustard in a small bowl. Put a few large tablespoons of cornmeal in another bowl and stir in some fresh ground white or black pepper.

2.  Slice the seitan about 1/2 inch thick. Seitan comes in funny shapes, though, so just do the best you can. Having random bite-size chunks is okay, too.

3.  Using your finger, spread a thin layer of mustard on a piece of seitan, then dip it in the cornmeal to coat. Set aside on a plate. Finish coating all the seitan. Set aside.

3.  In a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet, heat about 3-4 Tbsp high-heat oil to a low frying temperature. If it smokes, stop and start over with fresh oil. You know the oil is hot enough when it sizzles slightly when you add the seitan bits. Add seitan bits so they aren’t touching, but still fill the skillet. Fry on each side until light brown and remove to a plate covered with a paper bag or napkin to soak up the excess oil. Keep frying until all the seitan is done.

4.  Yum! Try them with a tahini sauce or in a tortilla with lettuce and other taco fixings.

Note:
If you use Westsoy seitan note that the package says 16 oz, but the amount of actual seitan is 8 oz. It’s hard to compare the salt content between Westsoy and Upton’s Naturals seitan because Westsoy is packaged with the liquid, but I think Upton’s is better quality.

You might also enjoy this post on Satisfying Cravings for Richness.

Lena’s Lunchbox 7: Noodle Rolls

It can be hard to provide variety in children’s packed  lunches. A lot of items that are loved at home, especially those of the saucy variety don’t pack well for school. Plus, some foods just aren’t as delicious at room temperature and it can be a little too fussy to send a thermos. Hooray for those of you sending hot food!!

Another factor is that many children in school aren’t given enough time to eat. Continue reading