CreativEating

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Archive for the tag “vegan”

Black Eyed Pea & Corn Salad (New Years!)

In the South, New Years Day has food traditions as strong as Thanksgiving or Christmas. For good fortune in the new year, you have to eat corn bread and greens (both symbolizing the literal fortune we hope to earn/win/be anonymously gifted through paypal) and black eyed peas (just for the good luck part, so they say). Generally you make black eyed peas with some kick, some sugar and a good portion of ham hock (or bacon if you can’t find the ever cheap but off the beaten path ham hock). However, this probably isn’t the beacon of health and purification many of us are aiming for in the new year……… enter this salad.

Alright, so I’ve made a bet with a friend to keep us both on our weight loss/health goals this year. This means traditional southern dinners, complete with honey butter and pork bits, are probably not going to be on the menu for awhile. This is, I assure you, very sad. BUT, with challenges come innovation and this salad seriously was an amazing creation, so enjoy it!

What you need:

  • baby spinach
  • 1 can black eyed peas (any kind will do, try to buy some w/o seasoning, but if you can’t find them, that’s ok)
  • 1/2 green pepper (diced)
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tomato (diced, optional)
  • cilantro (just a little bit, but makes a difference)
  • chili powder, adobo, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic salt, black pepper (adobo is optional, it’s pretty much salt, garlic powder, onion powder etc… but it is nice to just add a dash)
  • maple syrup (just a little bit)
  • white vinegar & olive oil (dressing)

Step 1: Drain black eyed peas

Yup, that’s it. Drain them, put them in a bowl.

Step 2: Roast the corn

Toss the frozen corn in your cast iron skillet on high. This will both defrost, but also char the corn a bit which tastes delicious. When the corn starts to brown, toss it into the bowl on the black eyed peas.

Step 3: Lightly cook peppers/onions (optional)

I dislike raw bell pepper and raw onions… I don’t know why. But when they’re cooked a little? Nom. Who knows. So while you may want to throw these into the salad mix raw, I prefer to toss them into the hot pan once the corn is done, with a spray of pam if sticking is a problem, and cook for 3-4 minutes to soften them up a little. Toss the onions & peppers, along with the raw diced celery, into the bowl when you’re done.

Step 4: Cilantro & Spices & Syrup

Dice up a few springs of cilantro into small bits and toss them into the bowl. Then dash in the spices. Of course, I didn’t measure, but I’ll say you can go heavy on the garlic powder and chili powder, medium on the adobo, and light on cayenne, salt and black pepper. Then drizzle on a teaspoon maple syrup.

Step 5: Pile it all on the spinach

Yup, just stir and scoop. Pile a large amount of this concoction on a big old plate of spinach (and the tomatoes if you went with those… which I’d suggest because they add some bite to the whole deal). When you have it set up, pour a mix of about 2 teaspoons white vinegar to 1 teaspoon olive oil. I didnt’ really even mix the two, just drizzled across the outside with both. It just adds a little bit of extra bite to the greens, and gives a little liquid to get the juices from the bean mix throughout.

While it may not be jalapeño corn bread and honey butter — this was one of the most yummy salads I’ve ever made. And even with about 3/4 of a cup of the black eyed pea stuff on top, this salad is still around 200 calories all totaled. So, needless to say, I was damn proud, and I hope you like it too! Best of luck in 2013! Enjoy!

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Chia Seeds: Sesame Seeds or Bubble Tea Tapioca Balls? Both?

I was cruising facebook a few weeks ago, seeing what my ‘friends’ were up to (we really need a special word  for facebook friends… frienooks? faciends?). Anyway, one friend had posted a fruit parfait thing she’d made. But where I expected there to be yogurt there were weird gray blobs in it. See?

It reminded me a lot of bubble tea by appearance (which never was my cup of tea… pun intended), but it wasn’t tapioca. I was intrigued. She’d described it as a ‘chia seed parfait.’ So I looked into chia seeds some more. And ya know what? They’re definitely the new hip superfood we should all be eating that Myans and Aztecs ate all the time and we’ve ignored for a few thousand years. Now, while the Mayans and Aztecs didn’t fair so well, from all out accounts it’s not because of Chia.

According to health food experts, we should be eating this. Flax seeds? Meh – has to be shucked to get to the Omega-3 fatty acids. Not so with Chia seeds. Additionally, Chia has a plethora of anti-oxidants, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper (who knew my body could use this?), iron, B3, and zinc. As a bonus Chia can be stored dry for a long time without losing it’s oomph. All pretty excellent news, so I decided to give this stuff a try.  But two questions remained — where can I get it and how do I eat it?

I searched the local health food section at the generic grocery store – no luck. I could have driven out to a whole foods or something I’m sure, but instead I decided Amazon was my friend. So I ordered a pound of chia seeds. They arrived a few days later in a small box, and inside was a zippered bag like I was buying health food drugs (or at least what I imagine that might be like from watching The Wire, I’m too squeaky clean to know personally). Though I bought a different ‘brand’ of seeds, they all look about the same I think.

Ok, now onto eating!!! How do I eat these things? Two ways:

1)   Sprinkle them a tablespoon at a time onto anything right before eating. It adds a little crunch like sesame or poppy seeds. This is great with stir fry (even tofu stir fry if you go with the CreativEating blog thing). Also good on sauteed veggies if you throw them on as you serve, or tossed in with the granola you top yogurt with. See how chiaseedme.com shows these cute things on stir fry.

But be aware, when these little buggers soak in ANY liquid for about 20 or 30 minutes they morph like transformers from crunchy bits to gelatinous monsters.

2) Ok, not monsters. But they would be weird in stir fry or sauteed veggies. I did try this gelled method though and it was kind of fun (I bet kids would love this weird gooey transformation)!

I soaked about 6 tbsp of seeds in some orange/peach juice in cup overnight in the fridge. Then in the morning I scooped this weird seed-laden jello on top of some cut up bananas and strawberries. My friend’s parfait up top used almond milk (I believe) in place of the juice. A few other places out on the interwebs use soy milk or almond milk, fruit, AND greek yogurt for a breakfast cup. All in all, I bet they’re all good. My juice/chia seed goo was scrumptious though visually unappealing. See?

I will say that if you can, stir it a few times over the first 20 minutes so it doesn’t get set in clumps. But if not, it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened – you can pick them out if you want. You don’t notice them too much if you have a good balance of fruit.

I’m not sure how much I’ll use chia seeds as a normal part of the diet – as flavorless texture transformers they seem a bit risky. But I do have a pound to go through so I may be won over. I’ve heard chia pudding and chia muffins are pretty yummy and their gel can be a good egg substitute. Stay tuned for my explorations.

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