Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spicy Black Beans

Last night after dinner Dan was channel surfing and landed on Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats” which airs on the The Food Network. They were airing the episodes: Oats and Oats II. If you haven’t seen those shows Alton does a really nice job explaining the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber and how oats reduces cholesterol. I think those episodes are worth watching if you are interested in the subject.

Brrrr it was cold this morning. We woke up to a 45 degree morning with a light rain. I was very happy to not have to leave the house this morning. It had only reached 50 by the time Dan left for work. According to the weather people there is a cold front that is expected to hang over us most of this week. I would certainly prefer to have our average temperatures this time of year in the upper 60’s/low 70’s. Looks like I need to break out my slippers for the season. I really dislike having cold feet.

With the cold rainy weather today was definitely an exercise inside sort of day. I had picked up a few exercise DVDs from the library which is what I did today. After I have used them a few more times I will let you know what I think of them.


Dan wanted his green smoothie with kale, banana and walnut this morning. I added a ½ cup of oats since they were on my mind after watching the oats show last night before bed. I also added cinnamon and powdered ginger for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. No spice aversion in this house, actually we are quite the opposite we add spices where ever possible to increase the nutrition.

While Dan was getting ready for work I made a huge batch of fresh veggie and fruit juice. There was a little over two cups left over when after I filled his 1 liter bottle to take to work. I will be sipping that juice throughout the day with a few nuts to assist in the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins.

My breakfast this morning was a huge bowl of salad. This salad contained: 1 head of shredded romaine, about a cup of caponata and a sprinkle of sliced almonds. I have been remiss in consuming leafy greens lately which is why I thought it was a good idea to have a salad for breakfast so that I knew I would get my greens in today. My personal goal is to eat at least one head of romaine a day but it doesn’t seem to always happen when it is cold outside. Hopefully since I wrote this down I will get back to eating my raw greens every day.


Since I had my big salad for lunch I allowed myself to have my new favorite addiction for lunch. Yes of course I am referring to savory oatmeal. Dan keeps telling me I need an intervention and he may be on to something, LOL.

Today’s savory oats contained: ½ cup oats, 1 cup water, 1 collard leaf thinly julienned, 3 diced Roma tomatoes, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 pinch cumin, 1 pinch paprika, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds, 2 tablespoons salsa and a few dehydrated leeks. I have yet to try a variation of savory oats that I have not loved. If you haven’t tried it yet I hope you do.

Cooking without oil:

I get so many questions by email about how do I sauté without oil. I used to wonder the same thing but honestly a little water works just as well and doesn’t add any unnecessary processed food to your diet. Eliminating extra virgin olive oil from our diet was extremely difficult for me. Being part Italian I was absolutely convinced that olive oil was good for. Everything you read in the mainstream press tells you that olive oil is a healthy fat. How could it possibly be bad for me? Well that is what I used to think.

However the more research I did the more I was forced to acknowledge that for many reasons oil was best eliminated. *sigh* The book that finally explained to me why I needed to give up oil was “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Caldwell Esselstyn, MD. He does a wonderful job of explaining the problems with consuming oil. While heart disease isn’t something that Dan or I have had any problems with but given all the years we consumed meat and dairy our arteries can’t be as clean as we would like them to be.

The odd thing about cooking without oil is that as hard as it was to make the change neither of us actually miss the oil now that it is gone. In fact when we go out to eat one of the first things we both notice is that food is greasy in an unpleasant way. Seriously neither of us thought that would ever happen, but it did.

Additionally one of the side benefits of cooking without oil is no greasy film to clean off the cabinets and kitchen walls. This is something I didn’t expect but it is a wonderful benefit of cooking without oil. I suppose I should think of the exterior of my cabinets like the interior of our arteries. Without oil there is no fat to clean up either in my kitchen or my arteries.


Since Dan was working late on another project with a short deadline I made myself a small bowl of the Hungarian spiced eggplant and mushrooms over quinoa. You may notice that the cashew crème is thicker on this serving. When the cashew crème has had a chance to get completely cold it is nice and thick like sour cream.

Black beans:

While I love black beans I don’t cook with them often since I seem to gravitate to Italian or Indian food over Mexican. I like Mexican food but it isn’t my go to cuisine. I am using black beans today because I am trying to add them into our diet more often.

Why use more black beans? Black beans are higher in antioxidants than other beans which is a good enough reason for me to want to eat them more often. Science has found that darker beans have higher the levels of antioxidants according to Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. I was first tipped off to this watching the nutrition DVD’s from Dr. Greger. If you haven’t seen those videos I found them enlightening but in an entertaining way. The bottom line is that if you like black beans use them often.

I needed to make a big pot of soup/braised beans today for both our house and to share with my father. Dad is having a medical procedure tomorrow so I wanted to send him something that he can warm up in case he doesn’t feel like cooking or eating what my mom made for herself. Since we all like beans and this dish can be used as soup or as braised beans that seemed like the logical choice. Here is what I made today:

Spicy Black Beans
Serves 8


3 cups dried black beans, picked through, rinsed, and soaked
water to cover by an inch or so (add more during cooking to keep the beans covered by no more than an inch more and you will have too much liquid at the end of cooking)
2 bay leaves
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups pureed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 chipotles in adobo, minced (or to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dehydrated onions


Cook the beans in water with the bay leaves until the beans are tender. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to be absorbed into the beans. Before you are ready to serve taste and adjust the seasoning as you desire.

When you are cooking beans don’t add salt until the beans are tender. Salt seems to toughen the outer skin of the bean in an unpleasant way.

To serve you can eat them as is over cooked brown rice, over cooked sweet potatoes, drained on top of salad or tortilla chips. These beans have a lot of uses. I have been known to drain the beans add them to rice and stuff them into peppers and bake with a little cashew queso. It is also good with a little fresh salsa (tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, lime juice) on top which adds both textural and temperature variation. There are many options for the leftovers. You can even puree them in your blender or food processor and turn them into a black bean dip. Think of it as black bean hummus.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 258.51
Calories From Fat (3%) - 7.5

Total Fat - 0.9g
Saturated Fat - 0.2g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 50.29mg
Potassium - 1235.39mg
Total Carbohydrates - 49.01g
Fiber - 18.46g
Sugar - 3.55g
Protein - 15.71g


This is a simple and easy black bean dish but the flavor is anything but boring. We like the herbs and spices and the light spiciness from the chipotles in this.   Both Dan and I think this might be my best black beans yet. Tonight I drained the beans lightly and served them on top of quinoa and topped with a bit of salsa. Nothing fancy just tasty food. 

Signing out:

I need to log out since my day starts early tomorrow. I will be back with another post once the medical stuff is finished and I have had a chance to catch my breath. Talk to you again soon.


  1. The spicy black beans look great! I will definitely have to make them!

  2. I love to start my day with a green smoothie because sometimes I don't eat as many green veggies as I should and it's an easy way to get a couple of servings in.

    I checked out "The Kind Diet" as well, but haven't read it yet. Oh well - they can't all be great!

  3. I am a huge black bean fan. I probably use black beans the most, then cannellini and chickpeas. But who am I kidding, I really like all beans ;-) Hope it's warmer for you today, and maybe some sunshine too.

  4. I used to love to watch Good Eats back when I had cable--I am such a geek, lol. Even the shows that were based on meat/dairy were interesting because he does such a good job of explaining the techniques etc. I always learned something, which I liked.

    Cold feet are the worst. If my feet are cold, my whole body is cold--get those slippers on!


  5. i really liked the tip about not adding salt to early to beans. thanks for that.

  6. (forgot to add all this) i love black beans, i think they are my fav:)so thanks for also adding what kind of health benifits they have.
    hope all medical stuff goes well today with your family.
    i water sauteed yesterday and my food came out so well:) before i read this blog i would still water saute but thought i was the only one and that i was doing something "really weird" lol. you have helped me be more confidant in what i do.

  7. I've been on an oatmeal thing lately too. Never had it savory, might need to try that.

  8. Your veggie blood (juice) always makes me thirsty for some! I have been so poor and broke lately that we have been so low on veggies. All we had for a few days was carrots!

  9. JL,

    Thanks they turned out much better than I expected. I think the hint of cinnamon was what took it over the top. I hope you like them as much as we did.


  10. Neca,

    When it is hot or warm outside I like to have a green smoothie too. I don't seem to enjoy them as much when it is cold, I wish I did.

    Thanks for letting me know it isn't just me that struggles to get in the green leafies. That is always a bit of struggle here.

    "The Kind Diet" is definitely macrobiotic and promotes those views. The recipes include a high proportion of grains. Can't wait to hear what you think when you read it.


  11. Heather,

    I do notice a large amount of black beans on your blog. I am going to try making them more often. Like you I like all beans but different beans seem to work better with certain cuisines, but that might be all in my head. I need to try to do things outside the box.

    I was still cool/cold yesterday and it threatened to rain all day. Today is starting grey again. I hope the sun comes out soon. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  12. Courtney,

    Good Eats is a good show. We like the science behind cooking too. You aren't the only geek around here.

    I seriously dislike cold feet and hands and mine can be cold in August, LOL. I did break out the slippers and my feet are quasi warm at the moment. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  13. Michelle,

    Glad you liked the don't salt your beans early tip.

    I don't make much Mexican food and in my head that is the best use for black beans. I really need to try to use them in other cuisines since they are higher in antioxidants.

    I have water sauteed off and on for 30 years depending on how much I was watching my weight. It is odd how well it works yet most people don't do it.

    I am happy to hear you are feeling more confident in the kitchen. Cooking is like everything else, it just takes practice. We all make mistakes the only difference is mine were years ago since I am so much older than you are. ;-)


  14. Bitt,

    I had never had savory oats until I posted them a few weeks ago and now I am addicted. ;-) They are so good!

    I was a bit skeptical before I tried them and now I am sorry I waited so long. I hope you like you as much as I do.


  15. Carissa,

    The fresh juice with beet is definitely our favorite. I try to make it everyday for Dan and have been making extra for myself recently. I love the color and nutrition that beets add to the juice.

    Sorry to hear you have been low on veggies recently. I really miss my veggies as we get toward the end of the week.



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