Beans!

I have posted my recipe for Spicy Black Bean Soup recently, and I mentioned in that post that I wanted to make the switch to dried beans rather than canned. Today I made my first batch of no-soak beans in the slow cooker.

I picked over the beans, put them in the slow cooker, added 3/4 of a box of no-fat, low sodium beef broth. I added about 4 cups of water. Then I added a bunch of cumin (I didn’t measure, just sprinkled a fair amount over the top of the liquid), some dried red chipotle pepper, and a couple of tbsps of diced garlic. I turned the slow cooker on high. The beans were done after about 5hrs, though I let them cook for a couple more, to really seal in the flavors. I added a few more cups of water after the first 3hrs of cooking (the liquid level was low when I checked on them).

The beans came out great! They are flavorful and I can really sense the difference in texture as compared with the canned variety. Best of all, I know they are not loaded with unnecessary sodium.

Tomorrow I will make black bean soup and black bean dip out of the beans I made today.

Here is the recipe for the black bean dip, which is great with fresh veggies, crackers or as a topper on salad. this is based on a Weight Watchers recipe, and is about 1 PointPlus per 1/4 cup of dip.

Ingredients
2 cups black beans
1 cup fresh chopped Cilantro (or 1/3 cup of cilantro paste)
3/4 cup Salsa
1 tsp cumin

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Granola!

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It’s been a while since I blogged a recipe, but this is too good not to share. A friend passed on an article to me about how to make your own granola bars. I have been monkeying with the recipe for the past few weeks and have landed on what I think is the right recipe for me.

These granola bars are super-yummy and fill you up when you are hungry. They are full of ingredients that are good and good for you. And with the way I make them, they are only 4 pointsplus per serving.

2c puffed wheat cereal (look in the organic section at your grocery store)
1/2 c almonds (or other nut)
1/2c semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4c dried papaya (or other fruit)
1/4c honey
1/3c egg whites
1/2tbsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Grind almonds to powder (or use chopped variety if you prefer noticeable chunks of nuts). Combine with puffed wheat. Snip papaya (or other dried fruit) into small chunks and add to almond and wheat mixture. In separate bowl, combine egg whites, honey, salt and vanilla. Once well mixed, pour into dry ingredients mixture and toss well. Coat 12 serving muffin tin with non-stick spray. Scoop equal amounts of mixture into muffin tin. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top. Bake for 25-30 min at 300F.

I like using the muffin tin because it makes it easy to do equal servings. I usually take one of these to work for a mid-morning snack and I have another at lunchtime with fruit or veggies.

For the longest time I was eating Kashi bars like they were coming out of my ears. But what I like about these granola bars is that they are less expensive and I control the ingredients that go into them. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!