A thorough inquiry

Tag: vegan

Simple slow-cooker refried beans

This is an absolutely dead-simple recipe for refried beans that I’ve used a few times for burritos and spicy rice bowls:

  • 1-2c dried pinto beans (1c will yield 2 generous servings)
  • water
  • spices

Add the dried pinto beans (you can first rinse them or otherwise clean off any debris) and enough water to cover by at least 2″ to the slow cooker. Cook on the high setting for 8 hours. When they’re done, drain the beans, reserving the very murky brown cooking liquid. Mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth, then switch to a spatula or wooden spoon and mix while slowly adding a tablespoon at a time of the reserved liquid until you reach the desired texture. Season to taste! Last time I chose cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.

Black bean burgers

These ultra-simple burgers are tasty and hearty, and accommodate a lot of seasoning possibilities. We went with a traditional American-style burger this time, but we’ll be sure to mix it up in the future (a la Boon Burger Cafe).

Here’s the deal with the patties (makes 4):

  • 1c dry black turtle beans (soak overnight)
  • 1c dry rolled oats
  • 1-3tbsp liquid of your choice (we went with BBQ sauce)
  • seasoning to taste

After soaking overnight, boil the beans for 1 hour in 3c fresh water. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl, mash with a masher, add oats. Let the beans and oats sit for ~15mins to give the oats a chance to absorb some of the liquid from the beans and start to adhere. If necessary, add small amounts of liquid while mixing until the mixture just stops being crumbly and turns into a very thick paste. Season with salt, pepper, and whatever spices you feel like! Next time I might try cayenne, cumin, coriander, or italian seasoning, or garlic and onion powder, or chili flakes, etc. Almost anything would be good here!

At this point, form into patties using wet hands and bake on parchment or grill. There’s no more cooking needed, we just want to dry out the outside somewhat to give the burger patty a bit of a crust. We served these on Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Buns (no flour or oil).

Sushi: a first attempt

We decided to try our hand at maki sushi this weekend, and given our current plant-based experiment, we would at least get to leave the fish out of the picture. All-in-all it was a delicious success, despite the overabundance of poorly-cooked rice and misshapen rolls. Not bad for a first try!

Mise en place

Carrot and tofu maki

Final result

Bean burritos and more

It’s been almost two weeks since we’ve embarked on our experimental plant-based journey. I’ve had more ingredients to be inspired by, but also quite a few tricks and techniques to learn. Still, the quality and flavour of the food has been amazing, and we’re excited to continue on in the experiment.

Last night we made some bean burritos using nice organic dried black and pinto beans from Community Natural Foods, as well as homemade pico de gallo. The pinto beans in our slow-cooker on high for 8 hours made for some great refried beans!

Over the weekend we made a couple of delicious “fast-food” meals: baked falafel pitas and sprouted legume burgers:

I have much to learn when it comes to vegan burgers, but luckily Boon Burger Cafe was recently featured on You Gotta Eat Here, so I will be attempting to rip off as much as I can from them in the future.

Whole-Wheat Pizzas

Yesterday we made a pair of 100% whole-wheat pizzas. It turned out to be tricky to find such a recipe, so I did what you should never do in baking (but what I do all the time in regular cooking) and winged it.

Dough for 2 12″ cast-iron pizzas:

  • 2 1/2c whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2c warm water
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4tsp)
  • 1tsp salt
  • (optional) 2tbsp chia seeds

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until just combined, then leave covered for 10-15 minutes to give the dough a head start. Knead for a good long time (turns out gluten is trickier to develop in whole-wheat dough) on a floured board, then return to the covered bowl to rise for about 1-1.5h or so, until doubled. I used a tightly-fitting plastic cover that came with my mixing bowl, but a damp tea-towel is the tradition here. Halve the dough and roll out to form your pizza crust. There’s no way you would get away with tossing this 100% whole-wheat dough, sadly.

I pre-heated our oven and 12″ cast-iron pan to 500f, then placed the dough followed by toppings directly into the pan. One pizza was a simple tomato sauce, onion, and mushroom (always cook veggies before using as a pizza topping), and the other was basil puree with fresh tomatoes.

Basil and macadamia nut puree:

  • 50g of fresh basil
  • 1/2c raw macadamia nuts
  • ~1/2c non-dairy milk or water (just enough to get the mixture to blend)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

Bake for 10mins or until the crust reaches your desired level of crispiness. Season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

Vegucated Mini-Review

A few weeks ago we sat down and watched the documentary Vegucated. After seeing Forks Over Knives and reading The China Study, my curiosity about plant-based nutrition has been piqued, so I was interested to see what this film might have to add.

The film follows three omnivorous New Yorkers who have volunteered to spend 6 weeks eating a 100% plant-based vegan diet. It attempts to address both the ethical and health aspects of veganism,  and reveals that three goals shared by the volunteers at the outset were to lose weight, feel good, and look better. In fact, they did both bodyweight and blood-work measurements before and after to highlight the health effects of the diet.

Unfortunately, much of the shopping guidance given to the volunteers centered around vegan analogues to animal foods, junk food, Oreos, Earth Balance, etc. rather than what basically all plant-based nutritionists advise: a whole-food diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables (green, starchy), fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds. I understand that the project was trying to use comfort foods to generate buy-in on the part of the volunteers, but I would argue that a switch to a healthy diet (especially from the SAD that they were eating before) would’ve resulted in much more progress towards their original three goals and thus a higher likelihood of long-term adoption.

After 6 weeks, the participants’ blood lipids did improve, but weight loss was almost negligible. The results were absolutely nothing like those reported by The Engine 2 Diet or Forks Over Knives. It was actually disheartening to watch these volunteers be disappointed by a lack of results when they obviously desired them as part of signing on to the project.

If you’re going to give the film a watch, don’t have your hopes up to see things like disease reversal and other significant health effects, rather, focus on the ethical message of the film, which did seem to very well received by the participants.