Hi! My name is Claire Harrison, and I have a number of identities. I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother. I’m a retired professional writer/editor and also college professor. I want to head into old age gracefully and in the best health possible. So I’m also a treadmill walker, weightlifter, aqua fit participant, and swimmer. And now I’m also an amateur, but fascinated home cook.  Here’s why.

My world turned upside down 1½ years ago.

I had, at that point, been lactose-intolerant for many years, but had learned to live without ice cream and cheesecake. I was in the midst of a weight-loss program in order to ward off Type 2 diabetes. My diet was restricted, true, but it still had plenty of variety.

Then I learned that I was gluten-sensitive, and the door to many of my favourite foods closed with a slam. For three months, I struggled and moped. I couldn’t use a lot of store-bought, gluten-free products as they usually had a high calorie count. I couldn’t rely on gluten-free cookbooks and bloggers because their delicious-looking creations often involved milk products or calorie-expensive coconut milk.

When my life began to revolve around rice cakes, I knew I had to do something. I decided that I was going to have to venture into the world of gluten-free cooking big-time and, to keep me going, I would write a blog about my experiments. I would have to write about something, right?

Thus The Food Refashionista was born on February 4, 2011. I would re-fashion dishes for gluten-sensitive, lactose-intolerant people who had to diet for their health.

That blog has been wonderful for me. In the ensuing year, it turned me from a non-adventurous cook into a culinary experimenter. I delved into non-gluten flours; I bought vegetables that I’d never dared use before; I learned new cooking techniques and methods. And I “blog-met” people from around the world who were passionate about good, healthful, nutritious food.

Discovering Bean Bakes

Than, six months ago, as I was digging through my two messy shelves of cookbooks, I found an old brochure from Ontario White Bean Producers, called The Supreme Bean. In it, I found a recipe: “Lemon Bean Cake with Fresh Fruit Sauce.” Worth a try, I thought. And then it came out of the oven. Wow! It kind of tasted like cheesecake!

So, every once in a while, I’d make a Lemon Bean Cake. Then, during one of those brain-idling times, I had a “lightbulb” moment.

What would happen, I asked myself, if I altered the recipe into a savoury instead of a sweet? And what should I add to give it nutrition and flavour? I chose what I had in the kitchen: some cooked cauliflower, grated Pecorino romano cheese (made from sheep’s milk), fresh dill, and olives. The result? A delicious and completely new eating experience! With only 126.25 calories per 1/8 serving! Wow x 10!

With another wow-moment under my belt, I tried a Banana-Coconut Bean Cake, then a Pumpkin “Pie” Bean Bake, then a…in short, I was beginning to build an inventory of bean bakes—both sweet and savoury.

I knew bean bakes would be good for my gluten-sensitive, lactose-intolerant, and dieting readers. But then I began to think how good they’d be for everyone and the planet. (No one ever said that I think small.) They’re nutritious, incredibly versatile, cheap and easy to make, can be eaten at any meal, and don’t take have the ecological “footprint” of meat-producing animal.

In short, I knew the bean bakes were ready for their own blog.

Which brings me to now

So I’m into experimenting big time with bean bakes and different ingredients. As of this writing, I’m on my 5th attempt at a kiwi bean bake. (If the taste is right, the texture isn’t great; if the texture is the right, the taste isn’t as good.) Mind you, the spouse and I have eaten all of them.

I have some ideas where this experimenting could go:

  • Using other beans besides white navy beans. This will be challenging because other beans have stronger flavours.
  • Creating an alternative to eggs for those folks who don’t eat them. I’ve tried liquid egg substitute, but it didn’t work at all. Now I’m wondering about gels made from flax or chia seeds.
  • Trying to understand why certain ingredients affect texture more than others.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting the bean bakes here rather than on The Food Refashionista.

Yours in beans, Claire

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