Fresh Chickpeas

As I've said before, I like to try new foods. So when I came across fresh chickpeas, I couldn't pass them up. I never even knew that the chick peas I know and love and eat all the time, originally look like this: 

fresh chick peas

A quick google search turned up a bunch of ideas that sounded delicious, like this one from Bon Appetit and this one from Epicurious and this one on Yum Sugar. For my first foray into fresh chickpea land, I decided to try them sautéed and eaten from the shell like edamame, as I found on Bon Appetit. I tossed 1/2 pound of them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then added them to a pan on medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes, when little brown crispy spots appeared on the pods. 

Meanwhile, I added 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds to a hot frying pan and toasted them until they became fragrant. When those cooled, I added them to the rest of my spice mix, which included 2 teaspoons of each: salt, cayenne pepper and granulated garlic. 

Once the chickpeas were done, I tossed them with the spice mix and served immediately. 

My husband and I agreed that these would be easier to eat if the pods were sturdier, like edamame. But they were tasty nonetheless. I probably wouldn't make them this way again but I'm certainly eager to keep experimenting with fresh chickpeas.  


Best Post-Run Quick Salad

I'm back from vacation. It's seriously amazing what a few days away can do to the mind and body. I took two naps! TWO!

This morning, my lovely husband took the lion's share of kid-care responsibilities so that I could get in a run at the gym. This is good news for him, of course, because I'm not a good companion if I go too long without a workout. It was a quick run, but a satisfying one. And all kidding aside, it went well because I was properly caffeinated. 

Upon my return home, I threw together what my tastebuds called out for and to my surprise, it was delicious. This post-workout salad has just four ingredients: wheat berries, avocado, fresh sage and lemon. Last night I cooked a big old batch of wheat berries to use in a variety of salads all week. And as I've mentioned before, I'm pretty much obsessed with avocados these days. I have fresh sage in the house to use on tonight's roasted chicken thighs and lemons are a kitchen staple I cannot live without. Check it out: 

Incredibly satisfying after a run!

Incredibly satisfying after a run!

I find the chewiness of wheat berries to be incredibly satisfying. They are versatile and can be a great addition to sweet ensembles (think: cinnamon and fruit) as well as savory salads. How perfect does that avocado look?! It tasted great too; earthy with a slight give. The fresh sage was the wild card. I had my doubts about it and made just a small batch of this salad but it came together so pleasantly. The sage gave this salad a wonderful fruitiness. Fresh lemon juice and a bit of salt completed the dish.

After my run this morning, this salad had everything I needed; richness from the avocado, fiber from the wheat berries and a lightness from the sage and lemon. And it was ready in minutes. Perfect. 
Here's the exact recipe as I made it: 
1 cup cooked wheat berries
1/4 avocado, cubed
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and enjoy immediately! 


Roasted Black Beans and the Healthy Lunch Challenge

You know that phase when kids start counting and then they delight in counting all the time? My son is there now and it's incredibly entertaining. He's super excited to count to 20 these days and, while he skips 17 every single time, it is amazing to hear him sing out his numbers. Though he doesn't truly understand quantity, addition or subtraction in the formal sense, he can see that ten grapes are more than 5 grapes, and if his big sister reaches over and takes one of his four strawberries he can count that he now only has three. Math and food are a thrilling combination. 

Our Healthy Lunch Challenge plan

Our Healthy Lunch Challenge plan

Enter Crunch a Color, the Healthy Eating Game. It's an award winning card game that families can play together to encourage nutritious eating. The cards have colors, food lists, cute drawings and point values and the person with the most points wins. But there's deeper learning here; avocado and green grapes are both green foods but avocado gets 10 points and green grapes get 5. That makes for interesting conversation. My kids love to compare and it's pretty neat to see my daughter helping out her little brother with the tally (after the whole "haha, I win" bit is done, of course).

When Jennifer Tyler Lee, Crunch a Color's creator, asked me to be part of the Healthy Lunch Challenge, I was thrilled. My daughter chose the lunch below that features three colors, a protein, a healthy grain and no processed foods. We planned it using LaLa Lunchbox so I was sure to have everything I needed on hand. 

This lunch features a delicious and healthy new food that we are crazy about chez moi: roasted black beans! YUM. My daughter calls it black bean popcorn thanks to its satisfying yet light crunch and practically begs for it on a daily basis. We packed this lunch together and snacked along the way. Aside from the roasting time for the beans, this took less than 10 minutes to prepare.

Check out this deliciously colorful and balanced lunch!

crunch a color.JPG

3 colors: Green celery, Orange carrots and Red raspberries
Protein: Black beans (two ways: roasted and pureed into an easy dip)
Healthy Grain: toast crust from whole wheat bread
We always pack lunch with water (5 points extra) bringing the total points to 55!

I used half of one can of black beans for roasting and the other half to make a black bean dip that was finished in three minutes. I cut carrots and celery for dipping and added the toast crust (affectionately called Toast Crust Dippers in my house) that I cut from the bread of my anti-crust son. My daughter grabbed and washed a handful of raspberries and voila! Lunch is complete! 

Here's how we made the roasted black beans:

black beans, ready for roasting! 

black beans, ready for roasting! 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Open one can of black beans. Rinse and dry them with a paper towel. Spread half of the can onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil and a scant sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until crispy. 

Here's how we made the black bean dip:

Ingredients for black bean dip

Ingredients for black bean dip

We poured the other half of the beans into a bowl and then added: 
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* note: I initially intended to add fresh garlic but changed my mind at the last minute.  This dip can be made with either, depending on your penchant for garlic flavor. 

Using a stick blender, blend all of the ingredients until smooth.

Enjoy and happy lunching!