Black Beans and Quinoa (4)

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Just as I substitute rice noodles for pasta, I do the same thing with quinoa for rice. It is like a blank canvas and soaks up flavors whilst at the same time providing protein. Tomatoes, black beans, garlic and some spices (depending on how spicy you like your dishes you can use less than I do) round out this recipe.

2 cups of boiling water

1 cup quinoa

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion – finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic – grated

2 cups of canned chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp. harissa paste (or less)

1 tsp. cumin (or less)

1 x 15oz. can of black beans

1 1/2 cups chicken or veg. broth

Pour the boiling water into a saucepan, add the quinoa, bring to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff through with a fork and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Place oil in a frying pan and when sizzling add the onion and let soften and brown slightly, then add the garlic and cook for another few minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes, mix in the harissa paste and cumin , add the beans and broth and bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cooked quinoa and serve immediately

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Crock Pot Chicken Chili (4)

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Finally, the perfect blend of spices – not so mild that you don’t know you are eating chili and not too spicy that your mouth feels on fire. Exchanging the traditional beef for chicken makes the dish lighter. To get the best flavor I softened and browned the onions and garlic and also seared the chicken pieces on all sides before putting them in the crock pot. If you can find a good quality chicken broth that makes a difference too.

 

1 tbsp. oil seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

2  chicken breasts – cut into bite-size pieces

1 x 15 oz. can of cannellini beans – drained and rinsed

1 x 15 oz. can of black beans – drained and rinsed

1 scant tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. turmeric

3.5 oz. canned mild green chiles (they come roasted, peeled and diced and the brand was ‘La Preferida’)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Heat the seasoned oil in a skillet and when sizzling add the onion and let cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Continue cooking until nicely browned, stirring frequently. Then tip into the crock pot.

Place chicken pieces in the same skillet and sear until browned on all sides. Then place in the crock pot.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the crock pot and place on ‘high’ for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

A Great Little Salad (4)

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I chose a salad like this for lunch the other day and it was so healthy (I immediately felt fitter after the first mouthful!) and tasty that I had to try it at home. Omit chicken and you have a great vegetarian/vegan salad.

Take some crispy lettuce and line a serving bowl with it.

Top it with the following, arranged however you like:

Poach a chicken breast, let cool, and cut into bite-size pieces

Take a red pepper, de-seed and chop into little pieces.

Hard boil a couple of eggs and, when cool, cut into 1/8ths.

1 x can of black beans, rinsed and drained

Handful of dried cranberries

Handful of cashew nuts – roughly chopped

Drizzle over some balsamic vinaigrette made by combining 1/3rd cup of extra virgin olive oil and 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar whisked together.

 

Chicken, Beans and Chipotle Peppers (serves 4)

Chicken, Beans and Chipotle Peppers (serves 4)

Beans/pulses are so good for you and can be put with all sorts of flavors as by themselves they are fairly bland and cooked with chicken by themselves would be one rather tasteless dish. Add onions, garlic and chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce and you have a nice, somewhat spicy flavor. I had half a chicken in my freezer but it led to uneven portions so I would use 4 chicken legs or 8 chicken thighs or a mixture of the two. In a quest to reduce the fat content, I removed the skin.

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper

1 large onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – finely chopped

Chicken – whether, leg, thigh or even bite-size pieces of chicken breast

1 x 15 oz. can of cannellini/navy beans

1 x 15 oz. can of black beans

2 x chipotle peppers – chopped (from can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)

1 tbsp. adobo sauce

3 cups veg. broth/stock

Place oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add onion.

When onion is slightly softened and beginning to brown add garlic and cook for a moment (don’t let garlic brown).

Remove onion and garlic from casserole dish.

Add chicken and sear on all sides until a little browned.

Add rest of ingredients, bring to boil and simmer for an hour.

Black Bean Mash with Lime Avocado (serves 4)

Black Bean Mash with Lime Avocado (serves 4)

Not sure whether this is a dip (would be good as one) or a side dish. As I can’t use chips for me it will be a side dish, but otherwise tuck in. I found a brand of black beans from Fig Food Co. that come in a pouch (no PBA) and hardly any sodium nestling on the shelves at Publix. Drained and rinsed beans and added some veg. broth/stock and some Creole seasoning (or whatever you use to blacken fish/chicken, etc). Cooked 15 oz. black beans in 3/4 cup of veg. broth/stock (bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes). Mashed ’em and when cooled put chopped avocado tossed in lime juice on top – oh, yum!

Mexican Black Beans (serves 4)

Mexican Black Beans (serves 4)

The other day I picked up a food magazine special just focusing on Mexican food, which I love but am confused about how to use and in what quantities the different kinds of peppers and spices. This magazine is so helpful and is encouraging me to experiment. Black beans crop up a lot in Mexican food and I spiced mine up with chipotles in adobo sauce and some ground chipotle spice (I used the Frontier brand http://www.frontiercoop.com as their spices appear to be non-irradiated i.e. they still have all the goodness). Serving my beans with poached chicken tenders and Mexican Sweet Potatoes (I mashed one sweet potato with a pinch of ground chipotle spice).

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 x onion – chopped

2 x garlic cloves – finely chopped

1/4 tsp. ground chipotle

1 can black beans – drained

1 x chipotle pepper in adobo sauce – chopped + 1 tbsp. of the sauce

1/2 cup passata (tomato sauce) or use Pomi crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup veg. broth/stock

Soften onion and garlic in olive oil seasoned.

Then add ground chipotle, stir and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add beans, chopped chipotle in sauce, passata and veg. broth/stock.

Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes (add more broth if you think it is too dry)

Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Stew (serves 4)

Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Stew (serves 4)

This stew is one where you pop all the ingredients straight into a cast iron casserole dish – no cooking onions first, then browning the meat, etc., etc. The spiciness comes from a blend of ingredients – canned tomatoes and green chilies, harissa paste and Creole spices. Other than chicken the stew contains sweet potatoes, tomatoes and black beans.

1 pound of chicken tenders – cut into bite size pieces
2 x large cloves of garlic – finely chopped
2 x 15 oz cans of black beans – rinsed and drained
1 x sweet potato – peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 x red pepper – deseeded and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
3 cups of veg. broth/stock
1 tbsp. harissa paste
1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning

Place all ingredients in a cast-iron casserole dish, bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.