Thursday, January 30, 2014


Best Blog Tips

I have been miserably unproductive lately-- January blahs, I guess. But one thing I've been working on intermittently is cooking with bean flours.  A few months ago I got a new WonderMill Electric Grain & Bean  Mill, so I can now mill fresh bean flour in my new machine. It has a new Bean Adapter and also a Small Grain Adapter-- see photo below. (PS: The Bean Adapter is very new, so enquire about it via the WonderMill website. Here's what this mill will grind.) You can also line the canister that the flour goes into directly from this grinder with a bag, which makes it so easy to clean up.  And you just twist-tie the bag and place it in the freezer (I keep bean flour in the freezer so it doesn't go rancid).

I've really been enjoying cooking with fresh chickpea flour and fresh white bean flour, as well as my own whole wheat flour.  Here are some posts I've done so far on: wheat flour one, two, three, four ; chickpea flour one, two ; and white bean flour one.  That was a white bean flour-based vegan Southern-style white biscuit gravy and it was delicious.

Freshly-milled white bean flour-- you can use navy beans or Great Northern beans.  This batch was made with navy beans.

I've since been experimenting with using white bean flour measure-for-measure instead of white flour as a thickener for sauces, other types of fat-fee gravy and creamy soups, with good results (more recipes will follow). It feels good to serve a gravy or sauce that actually adds some nutrition to a meal. The measure-for-measure thing works well-- you have to cook it a little longer than a sauce with white wheat flour, but there's no beany taste, as there would be if one used pureed cooked beans instead of the bean flour.  (Pureed cooked beans work well in strongly-flavored salad dressings, spreads and dips, though.)

Today I was trying to figure out what to make for a quick lunch.  I had rapini that needed using-up (rapini doesn't keep very long), so I decided a simple creamy pasta dish with rapini, onions and a few chickpeas would be a a good idea.  I've been wanting to make a fat-free vegan white bean flour-basted bechamel sauce for a while, so this seemed like a good time to try it.

It turned out to be so easy and so good-- I don't know why I haven't tried it before this! This will be my go-to Bechamel from now on!

Printable Recipe

Can be gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free and/or fat-free if you wish.
4 servings  
This is a simple whole-meal recipe, but it's very satisfying and nutritious with a little kick, if you use the chile flakes).  Serve with some vegan parmesan sub to sprinkle on top (we like Go Veggie! soy parmesan).

Note: You can use more or less bean flour for other versions of this basic sauce, depending on the thickness you are going for.

Fat-Free, Creamy Vegan White Bean Flour-Based Béchamel: 
2 cups    non-dairy milk of choice (use Original type)  
1 teaspoon    vegan chicken-style broth powder or paste (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth Base)  
1/4 cup    white bean flour (or white urad dal flour) 
1/4 teaspoon    salt  
1 pinch    grated nutmeg  
   freshly-ground pepper to taste  
Other Ingredients:
8 oz    dry egg-free tagliatelle pasta (NOTE: Tagliatelle is a dry flat pasta, often sold rolled up in "nests"-- check labels, as it is often made with eggs.) OR use linguine or fettucine, or any GF flat pasta
1 tablespoon    olive oil (see fat-free tip below)  
1 medium    onion, chopped  
1 cup    canned or cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained  
3 cloves    garlic  
1/2 teaspoon    red chili flakes (optional, but recommended)  
2 cups    chopped lightly-cooked rapini (or you could substitute mustard or turnip greens, or kale)  

To make the Béchamel sauce, place all of the Béchamel ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. I cook the sauce in the microwave, in a large ceramic or Pyrex batter bowl. I cook it on 100% power for three minutes, then whisk it then repeat for 3 minutes more. If you prefer, you can cook it in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce boils and thickens. Note: If you make it ahead of time, reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave.

Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to come to a boil. When it boils, add the pasta and boil until just al dente-- 9 to 10 minutes. When it's ready, drain in a colander and leave it there.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large heavy skillet (seasoned carbon steel,  seasoned cast iron, or hard-anodized) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until they start to wilt and maybe brown a bit. Add the chickpeas, garlic and chile flakes, and saute a bit more. Lower the heat and stir in the chopped rapini and sprinkle on a bit of salt. Stir the mixture until heated through.

Fat-Free Tip: If you prefer not to use any fat in this dish you can either steam-fry the onions in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, adding a squirt of water every now and then to keep it from sticking, and keeping it moving, until the onion starts to wilt-- then proceed as directed. OR you can place the onion in a covered microwave-safe casserole and cook on 100% power for about 4 minutes. OR you could broil them quickly on a baking sheet about 4" under your oven's broiler (watch carefully!) until they start to brown and get limp.
Then add the chickpeas, garlic and chile flakes, cover and cook for 1 more minute.

Rinse the cooked pasta with hot water, shake to drain well, and add the pasta to the skillet, along with the Béchamel. Using a large spoon and a pasta rake, mix the ingredients until well-distributed. Serve in heat pasta bowls along with the vegan parmesan.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 397.4 calories; 14% calories from fat; 6.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 658.4mg sodium; 592.3mg potassium; 69.1g carbohydrates; 7.0g fiber; 6.9g sugar; 62.1g net carbs; 17.1g protein.

With no olive oil, the Nutrition Stats are as follows: 367.6 calories; 7% calories from fat; 3.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 658.3mg sodium; 592.3mg potassium; 69.1g carbohydrates; 7.0g fiber; 6.9g sugar; 62.1g net carbs; 17.1g protein.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Best Blog Tips

So sorry to have been AWOL from blogging for a while!  On top of trying to get back to normal after the Holidays, I've had a deadline to meet and LOTS of computer trouble (which I hope is over now).  I hope to be reinvigorated in the kitchen very soon!  In the meantime, here is a recipe for one of our favorite bread recipes-- so good with a bean or vegetable soup!

Makes one 11 x 15-inch focaccia

This is a delicious and nutritious version of  focaccia, perfect for winter meals.  

1 cup canned pumpkin puree  (or use mashed cooked pumpkin or other orange winter squash, drained in a cheesecloth bag for several hours-- the draining is important!)
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast OR 1 tsp instant yeast
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. warm water (105-115°F)
4 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 cup ground golden flax seed
1/4 cup wheat bran
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

IF YOU ARE MAKING THIS BY HAND, OR WITH A HEAVY-DUTY MIXER, stir the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer.   Let stand 5 minutes.  Add the oil and pumpkin.  Add the bran, flax, and salt, and then the flour in two additions.  Mix until the dough comes together. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, either by hand on a lightly floured surface, or with the dough hook of your heavy-duty mixer, until the dough is velvety, firm and slightly sticky.

IF YOU USE A FOOD PROCESSOR, mix the flour, salt, bran and flax seed in the processor bowl.  While the machine is running, add the mixture of water, dissolved yeast, oil and pumpkin until the dough forms a ball on top of the blade.  If it's too dry to come to a ball, add water a few DROPS at a time until it does.  Process for 30 seconds.

IF YOU USE AN AUTOMATIC BREAD MACHINE, choose the Dough Cycle, which will mix and rise the dough, but not bake it. 

FIRST RISE: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and leave to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

SHAPING AND SECOND RISE: Punch down the dough and roll it and pat it into a rectangle to fit a well-oiled 11 by 15" cookie sheet, and stretch the dough toward the edges. Cover with a damp towel, let sit for ten minutes, and then stretch a bit farther to the edges. Cover again and leave until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F

Just before you are ready to bake, dimple to dough with your fingertips. Brush with the olive oil, and  sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and salt over the dough.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove from pans immediately and cut into 12 squares.  Serve while warm and crispy, if possible.

Nutrition Facts:
Nutrition (per 1/12th ): 236.9 calories; 26% calories from fat; 7.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 474.8mg sodium; 176.4mg potassium; 36.4g carbohydrates; 3.6g fiber; 0.9g sugar; 7.3g protein; 4.6 points.


Thursday, January 2, 2014


Best Blog Tips

An easy, healthful recipe to start the New Year! (I will start blogging in earnest soon, I promise!) Happy New Year, everyone!

Serves 6
This new version is super-easy and a bit chunkier, spicier and creamier than the older one that is in my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook"-- very yummy!

1 tablespoon olive oil
                                                          1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery (with leaves), chopped
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon golden or red curry paste or powder
about 1/2 tsp. chile flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp. ground cumin
5 cups of "chickeny" vegan broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth Base))
1 green bell pepper, cleaned and chopped
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and chopped
1 cup tomato juice + 2 tablespoons tomato paste
(I just used the thick juice from the canned Italian tomatoes we buy)
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned (15 oz. can) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegan "chicken-y" strips, OR reconstituted Soy Curls (see this page for info) 
One 14 oz. can lite coconut milk OR 1 1/2 cups any plain nondairy milk+ 1/4 cup coconut flour
1 apple, chopped fine
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
To Serve:
about 3 cups of steamed brown Basmati rice

In your soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic.  Saute for several minutes, until the onions have softened, adding a squirt of water as necessary to keep from sticking. Alternatively, microwave the mixture in a covered microwave-safe casserole for about 7 minutes.

Either way you cooked it, mix the onion mixture in the soup pot with the grated ginger, curry paste or powder, chile flakes and cumin.  Stir over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Stir in the broth and add the peppers, tomato juice, chickpeas and vegan "chicken-y" strips.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk (or alternate) and the apple and simmer for about 5 more minutes.  taste for salt and pepper.  To serve, add about 1/2 cup of steamed brown rice into the middle of the soup in each bowl.