The bird feeder in our backyard.

The bird feeder in our backyard.

Dear Bean Bakers,

In the past two weeks, we’ve gotten about three feet of snow: heavy “heart-attack-while-shovelling” snow; light, airy snow; blowing hard snow; flurries snow; you-name-it-Canadian-snow.

I am NOT a snow person. My idea of heaven? No hats, no mitts, no boots, no shovelling, no slipping and sliding, no scraping ice off windshields, etc.

This is why the spouse and I are returning to Tucson, Arizona, for January and February. Tucson isn’t particularly hot at this time of year, but (blessed be) it has no snow.

Plus, we’ll be able to hike in the mountains.

To be honest, I’ve never much liked hiking around Ottawa. The land is generally flat, and I don’t find it thrilling to tramp through yet another green forest with all the usual suspects: fir and maple trees, mosquitoes and black flies, squirrels and sparrows.

Clearly, I’m a desert girl. Give me a hill, a trail, and some cacti, and I’m off and running. The spouse (see photo below) willingly comes along for the ride.

The spouse on a Tucson hike last year.

All of which is to say—I don’t know how much posting I’ll be able to do in the next two months. I have my iPad app for this blog but I’ve never used it to create posts. And the kitchen in our rental is not likely to be as amenities-rich as my own.

So we’ll see and, in the meantime, my best for the New Year to you all.

Claire

 

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I’ve been mixing chocolate with other ingredients in my bean bakes, but last week I decided to aim for pure chocolate decadence—within dietary and nutritional limits, of course.

I had two pieces for breakfast this morning. The result was that my Chocolate Monster was purring contentedly and, hence, I was very happy. As some of you may know, there’s nothing more aggravating than having a Chocolate Monster nipping away at you.

This bake, which has the taste and texture of a brownie made with flour, extends well beyond breakfast and makes a terrific snack and dessert. In fact, it’s so good, so healthy, and so good for dieters, I posted it on my Food Refashionista site as well.

Note: I used carob chips in this bake because I’m lactose-intolerant, but feel free to substitute regular chocolate chips, if you can.

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Sprinkled with paprika.

 

It’s been a long time since the last post on this blog, but that doesn’t mean bean bakes are out of my life. Uh-uh.

I almost always have a bean bake in the fridge. Why? Because these are my go-to, low-calorie, healthy, fill-em-up breakfast, lunch, or snack. I don’t know about you but when a dish contains protein, it helps keep the horrible Nibble Monster at bay.

This particular recipe began as Spiced Sweet Potato Rounds on The Food Refashionista blog. I loved the sweet-spicy combo of these Rounds and began to wonder if the recipe couldn’t be adapted into a bean bake—equally delicious but much easier to make.

The answer is “YES!” I’ve now made it twice—once without green onions (as in the photo)—and it was terrific both times.

About the spices—the beans tend to “bland” out a flavour so you may have to use more of a food or spice to get the effect you want. My strategy for this bean bake was to double the spice mixture from the Spiced Sweet Potato Rounds recipe so I could add more spice if I wanted to.

So, the moral of this story is: Let your taste buds be your guide! And the leftover spice mixture? Put it in a jar and add it to mashed sweet potatoes or make another set of Potato Rounds or just have another bean bake.

Oh, and one more thing. Although this recipe includes sweetener, I found it falls within the savoury category. The sweetness is only there to balance the spices.

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Apples + cinnamon + a dash of nutmeg and cloves. Can’t you just smell that delicious aroma right now?

Actually, an apple “pie” bean bake was inevitable, but what held me back were such weighty questions as

  • Do I just add applesauce (easy-peasy) or throw in cut-up, peeled apples (more work)?
  • If I do use applesauce, will that make the texture too soft?

An aging banana and pure laziness solved the problem for me. (Hmmm…laziness is turning into a major theme here. Of course, bean bakes—just throw everything in the blender—lend themselves to anyone avoiding hard work, namely me!)

Okay, back to that blackening banana: I knew that bananas help with bean-bake texture so why not add one along with the applesauce? Then throw in some spices and voilà!

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Guess what? Sweet potatoes and bean bakes play well together! This bake has a great taste—a lot like sweet pumpkin pie with the tang of ginger—and great texture—dry enough to be a finger food, but smooth and moist so that it doesn’t crumble.

I have only one regret: I was lazy. Rather than take the sweet potato-bean mix out of the blender and put it in a bowl to then mix in the currants, I just threw those little guys straight into the blender.

They then became even littler guys and disappeared into the “beanwork,” if you know what I mean. The result was that the taste of currants merged with the bake, and I missed those satisfying sweet “notes.”

It wasn’t until I was writing this that I figured out another way to add the currants and still be lazy (see recipe). Anyway, to give you the idea, I sprinkled currants on top and around the bake for its photo op. But next time they’ll be inside, holus-bolus!

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This one tastes like candy. Seriously, it is very sweet and has a hint of caramel, although I’m not sure why. Still…who’s arguing with success? Not me and my sweet tooth.

As with the Mango Bean Bake, I’ve used ataulfo mangos which I let ripen as much as possible. And again, this bake appeared to be as light as a feather when it emerged from the oven. But after an overnight in the fridge, it had settled nicely. The texture is dense and somewhere between bread-like and pumpkin pie.

You might be asking why bother to have two recipes: one for just mangos and one with coconut added. Well, two reasons: 1) the ingredient list is slightly different; and 2) this bake is higher in calories than the first.

I like to keep bakes with different calorie counts separate so that dieters, like myself, can easily figure out which one they’d want to make. For example, the word coconut in this title would immediately alert me to a high-calorie ingredient, and I might decide I couldn’t afford that on a particular day.

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My version of spicy is another person’s version of bland, but the great thing about this bean bake is that you can “heat” it up all you want. Just increase the spices or add more hot sauce.

Like the other savoury bean bakes, the texture of this bake is dry-ish and bread-like. Have a piece with a hearty vegetable soup, and you have a delicious, low-calorie lunch. Or you can serve it as a side at dinner.

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Note: This post has been rewritten to make it more accurate. Go to You, Protein, and Amino Acids on The Food Refashionista blog.

Bean protein is considered an “incomplete” protein.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really understood the term: incomplete protein. I know we have to “complete” the protein with other food, but what does that mean, and how are we supposed to do it?

Clearly, it was time to do some research, and here is what I learned.

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Want to feel decadent?

Have some of this bake for breakfast. I just did—two delicious pieces. It tastes like cake—sweet. It feels like cake—slightly dry and slightly crumbly. It even looks like cake.

But, as we know, it isn’t. Bean bakes are primarily protein and vegetable. You can’t get anything better for breakfast than that.

After I mixed it and added spices to bring out the sweetness of the squash, I realized it needed something to give it that extra je ne sais quoi. Coconut, I decided, but then I’m a coconut nut. I have the feeling raisins or currents would also work.

Anyway, this bean bake is so good that I’ve submitted it, along with “Cauliflower-Salsa Bean Bake and Dip” for the “My Legume Love Affair” event, hosted by The Well-Seasoned Cook and girlichef. Wish me luck!

Enjoy!

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Yum. Yum. Yum. If you like mango that is. My favourite mangos, the yellow ataulfos (see note below), have made their springtime appearance in the stores and, of course, I had to try a bean bake with them.

My first effort included two mangos and one ripe banana. Nope, not quite right. Between the beans and the banana, the mango flavour was overwhelmed. It was still tasty (we ate it all) but not quite the flavour that I had lurking in my taste buds.

The second try—just with mangos—hit the jackpot. Deliciously sweet and as tangy as I had hoped with with a texture somewhere between cake and pumpkin pie. Perfect. (Sigh.)

Interestingly, after it came out of the oven, the bake appeared to be….well, almost airy. When I put in a knife to see if it was done, it felt like there was nothing beneath the surface. The spouse, who was watching, informed me that, although it was brown around the edges, it had clearly not finished cooking. However, in all things bean-bake, I follow my instincts. The knife had come out clean; thus it was done.

I let the bake cool and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. Next morning, it was just as substantial as all the other bakes I’ve made. (Sigh again.)

Update: I just made this bake again but with two surprisingly tart mangos. I decided to drop the lemon and add ¼ cup additional sweetener. Still tart but the additional sugar took the edge off. Very tasty. Oh, and just as airy when I took it out of the oven.

Note: “Sometimes referred to as Champagne®, Honey Mangos or Manila Mangos, ataulfo mangos are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Generally smaller than other mango varieties, they are a good source of Vitamins A and C, dietary fiber and Vitamin B6. Look for ripe Ataulfos to be bright yellow to orange, giving slightly to gentle pressure. Do not refrigerate. Harvested in Southern Mexico and Ecuador, Ataulfo Mangos are available twice a year, in the spring and fall.” (Adapted from “Ataulfo Mango” at John Vena Inc.)

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