Sprouts taco dinner

I was in the mood for something quick after fighting 108º F weather and commuter traffic today in the blast furnace summertime of Dallas, so I went for something that looks great, tastes great, and is sure to boost my spirits to face another day just like this one tomorrow.

I harvested my lentil sprouts this morning, so they had been in the fridge all day, just chillin’.  Summertime is a great time for good-tasting tomatoes, when the taste hasn’t been compromised by refrigeration, and I can never turn away from a just-ripe avocado!

sprout tacosThere it was, simple, tasty, and inspiring with its color and fresh taste!

I had some organic corn tortillas that were very low in sodium and no oils, and I had some spicy tomato sauce left over from last week that was just enough to mix in with my sprouts.  I pulled three tortillas out of the storage bag, heated them for 20 seconds, covered with a paper plate, in the microwave oven.

To get my quota of cruciferous veggies for the day, I steamed some brussels sprouts and diced butternut squash I had prepared for steaming over the weekend.  This couldn’t have been any easier!  Faster than waiting in a drive-thru line at a greasy hamburger joint where I used to spend my money.

The result was a full stomach, nutritious perfection, and I was done with it all by 7 p.m.  Time to kick up my feet and watch some baseball!

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Black beans and brown rice bake

This week, I’m enjoying a baked black bean dish that I made on Sunday afternoon, enough to last the entire week for evening meal times.  It’s very similar to this one (blackeyed peas and barley recipe), but it uses brown rice instead of barley, and I threw in some fresh collard greens to green it up a little more.

I also learned a little from the last one, so there are some slight changes! Hey, if you read my “About” page, you’ll know that this blog is about my trials and errors.  I’m not a pro, just a guy who wants to eat healthy food and live a long time, and who can’t find food like this anywhere else, that is, without salt and oils, but at home in my own kitchen.

As the picture shows, the brown rice is very prominent, so perhaps, I’ll cut back on that next time.  The taste, however, is great!

Here is what I did, but you, being your own chef and all, should do it how you want to:

Black Beans and Rice BakeIngredients:

3 cups dried black beans, cleaned and soaked overnight
3 cups brown rice, (should have only used 2 cups…next time!)
4 large collard green leaves, torn in bite size pieces
24 oz of my Fresh Tomato Sauce (or your own version, if you wish)

Directions:

In a large pan, bring soaked beans to a rolling boil for 5-10 minutes, then remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, place the rice, collard greens, and tomato sauce, then stir to mix well.  Rinse the beans, then pour them into the mixing bowl with the other ingredients.  Add 2 cups of water, and stir all ingredients to mix in the beans and water.  In a large covered baking dish, or two if you need them both (I did!), pour in beans and rice, and cover.  Place covered dishes in hot oven (about 385 worked well.).  Bake for 60-75 minutes or until beans are tender.  After 45 minutes, you’ll need to check to make sure the ingredients have not become too dry.  If they appear to be getting dry, and the beans still need more cooking time, add a little more water, and bake another 20-30 minutes.  Let it cool for awhile and serve.  The remaining beans and rice can be stored in a tight container in the fridge and used for several days.

Serves 10-15, which is a guess, but that’s how many meals I’ll get out of it this week.

Note: if you’re asking, “where are all the spices?” be sure to take a look at the Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe.  This is where the spice is.  So, if you’re using your own tomato sauce, or something from a can, keep in mind that you will need to add your favorite spices to keep the dish from being too bland.  My Fresh Tomato Sauce is not bland at all!  It’s very spicy, but with this dish, it comes across as very mild.

Black Beans and Rice Bake

Hot out of the oven

Other resources of interest:
Black bean nutritional value
Black bean nutrition data
Collards nutritional data
Collards benefits
Brown rice nutritional data and health benefits

Spicy black-eyed peas and barley bake

black-eyed peasThe black-eyed pea has been a favorite of my family for generations.  I remember the distinctive fragrance of the steam emanating from the boiling water as a child, and it brings back great memories of my mom’s home cooking.  With a piece of homemade cornbread, sliced tomatoes, and black-eyed peas, nothing else mattered much.

Incorporating this favorite legume into Eat To Live is naturally a part of the plan (See G-BOMBS.).

This recipe combines a healthful grain, barley, with my Fresh Tomato Sauce and the black-eyed pea.  The quantities below are for a large dish of multiple servings throughout the week as an entree, and you may want to adjust to fit your needs.

bepbarleySPICY BLACK-EYED PEAS AND BARLEY BAKE

Ingredients:

4 cups dried black-eyed peas
2 cups whole grain dry barley
24 oz Fresh Tomato Sauce (Very Spicy.  If you want something less so, you can use “no salt added” variety off the grocery shelf, adding your own favorite spices)

Instructions:

Unlike most dry bean preparations, for black-eyed peas, it is not necessary to soak them for several hours ahead of time.  In fact, by doing so, the peas are less suited for this recipe because they can lose their “whole” appearance and get too mushy.  Instead, wash the peas thoroughly and boil them for about ten minutes, or until the peas are chewable but still retain good firmness.

While peas are boiling, rinse the dry barley thoroughly with tap water, drain and pour into large mixing bowl.

Add Fresh Tomato Sauce to barley.

Remove peas from heat and dump them into a colander.  Run cool tap water over them to rinse off any remaining residue. When drained, add the peas to the other ingredients and combine by stirring lightly.  Empty into oven-safe dish, and just enough water, if necessary, to cover the peas (This step may not be necessary, though you want to make sure all the peas have access to direct moisture.).  Check every 30 minutes to make sure the peas are moist.  Add small amounts of water, if needed.

Heat in covered dish at 380 degrees for about 90 minutes.

Servings: 8-12

An extreme tangy tomato treat

For an extreme taste of tangy tomatoes, I found a couple of items that will forever remain in my pantry or refrigerator.

tom pasteThe Sadaf tomato paste, made in Turkey, features a “no salt added” variety that is rich in flavor and has no added ingredients.  It is great for a tomato-based salad dressing, and I use it in everything that calls for tomato flavoring when I don’t have any of my homemade Fresh Tomato Sauce on hand.Durra dates vinegar

With two big tablespoons of tomato paste, I add this very special vinegar from Durra, a Syrian company.  It is made from 100% raw organic dates and is diluted to 5% acidity.  I use as much as I need to get the tanginess I’m looking for, about 1/4 cup with the two tablespoons of paste.

This morning, when I was looking for a quick snack, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to stop and eat until late in the afternoon, I combined these two ingredients with some raw ground sunflower seeds, and ate them on some raw collard greens.

FYI, the tomato paste can be purchased at the link I provided.  The vinegar is a little harder to find.  I found both these products at the Halal Import Foods market in Arlington, Texas.  I would think most Middle Eastern food markets would have them, if you can’t find them online.  The cost compares well to domestic products, if not cheaper than many.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

I’ve been back on the Eat To Live life plan for the past month, and I am reminded again of the wonders of excellent nutrition and the enjoyment of eating on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan.

One of the staples in my diet is tomatoes, and the more creative, the better, staying strictly in plan.  Because I use so much tomato sauce and raw tomatoes, while not being able to rely on finding no-salt/no-oil added tomato products on the grocery shelves, I decided I needed my own recipe for creating a sauce that I can pour into my bean soups and as vegetable toppings during the week.

This is the recipe for the tomato sauce I made yesterday, and it is scrumptious.Fresh Tomato Sauce

10 Roma tomatoes
2 Green Tomatilloes
1 cup of fresh Italian Parsley
1 large yellow onion
6 cloves of garlic
1 juiced lemon
2 celery stalks sliced
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 large dried black ancho pepper (seeds in)
1/4 cup grape vinegar
2 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp ground flax seed

Chop and slice all ingredients and toss them into a blender. Blend for several minutes into a puree sauce. Pour contents into a large pot, and bring to a boil and stir. Bring heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook for 90 minutes, stirring as needed to avoid sticking.

This recipe made a little over a quart.  It’s hard to tell exactly, because I tasted a half-dozen spoonfuls while I was making it…okay, maybe it was more than that.