White Bean Hummus

White Bean Hummus

We need to talk about beans. If I’ve never mentioned it before, allow me to say right now, standing tall with my hand over my heart, that I believe beans may be the perfect food. I say this not only because it will earn me points with other nutrition professionals (though they are pretty unanimously also in love with beans, as far as I’ve seen), but because beans are…

– High in fiber

– Low in fat

– Plant-based protein

– High in iron

– Super versatile

And, if you ask me, they taste pretty darn good, too. So I generally try to include them in my diet on a frequent basis. Casseroles, soups, tacos, salads, and even certain pasta dishes are great food items to drop some beans into. And I do mean that literally, not euphemistically.

White Bean Hummus

Lately I’ve been on a homemade hummus kick, but since I balk at buying any actual tahini (have you ever bought tahini? You have to buy like gallon at a time and it’s hella expensive!) I’ve been experimenting with recipes that don’t call for it, like this garlicky version with plenty of my dear wonderfood, beans! With two full cans of cannellini or Great Northern beans, this recipe makes a big batch, perfect for sneaking off into a closet with the bowl clutched to your bosom so no one else can eat it. I mean, for parties. PARTIES is what I meant to say.

White Bean Hummus

Seriously, though, this white bean hummus is my new favorite snack/appetizer/side. Even though I’ve scoffed in the past about how hummus and pita chips is everyone’s go-to, last-minute, classier-than-chips potluck contribution, the deliciousness of this version kicks it up into “bring this any time” territory. Mild white beans mixed with punchy garlic, lemon juice, cumin, pepper, and parsley creates the perfect edible yin and yang.

And finally, because beans didn’t have their own theme song, here is Brak from the ’90s Cartoon Network show Space Ghost to sing you a very special tune about them:

 

 

Print Recipe
White Bean Hummus
Mild white beans mixed with punchy garlic, lemon juice, cumin, pepper, and parsley make for a uniquely delicious hummus!
Course Appetizer, snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
Course Appetizer, snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, cook garlic in olive oil over medium heat until garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat. With a slotted spoon, scoop garlic into the bowl of a food processor.
  2. To the food processor bowl, add drained beans, lemon juice, cumin, parsley, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Process until smooth.
  3. Carefully pour in reserved olive oil while the machine is running and process until well incorporated.
  4. Serve immediately or store refrigerated in an airtight container. Enjoy with pita chips or fresh veggies!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Bush's Beans.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Milk

dairy products

The definition of milk is a “pale liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals,” which, on paper, doesn’t exactly capture the essence of the creamy substance that plays such a major role in the American diet. Then again, that may be because most Americans are drinking not just any mammals’ milk, but specifically the kind that comes from cows.

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I mentioned in my recent Almond Milk Nutella Pudding post that I attended a fascinating conference presentation on dairy from Harvard nutrition expert Walter Willett, and between that and another talk I heard from the dietitian who represents the Dairy Council of Arizona, milk seems like a topic hot on my radar. So join me as we dig a little deeper–or squeeze a little harder?–to learn some intriguing and novel facts about everyone’s favorite “pale liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals.” Without further ado, here are…

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Milk

1. You don’t have to moo to make milk

While most Americans equate milk with cows–and possibly goats and sheep if we’re trendy or selectively lactose intolerant–there are numerous other animals that produce milk suitable for human consumption. Worldwide, cows are responsible for 83% of milk production, but coming in at a strong second are buffaloes, with 13%! (Anyone for a buffalo milkshake?) Various cultures across the globe consume milk from camels, yaks, horses, reindeer, and even donkeys.

2. Local milk within reach

If you live in Arizona like I do and you want to buy local milk, you don’t have to look for anything fancy or expensive. Because Arizona has its own Dairy Council, milk produced in the state stays in the state. In general, all grocery store milk in Arizona is “local.” Inquire of your state’s dairy council to see if the same applies where you live.

3. Lactose intolerance vs milk allergy

Lactose intolerance is not the same thing as milk allergy. Lactose intolerant people lack a digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose (the sugar in milk), while people who are allergic to dairy have an actual allergic reaction to the protein in milk.

4. The good thing about lactose intolerance…

Many lactose intolerant people can actually eat yogurt and cheese because the process of turning milk into either of these products has done some of the work of breaking down the lactose, leaving less for the body to do.

5. Carbs in milk?

Milk (and therefore all dairy) contains carbohydrates. Lactose is a disaccharide, meaning it is composed of two simple sugars joined together, and sugar, as you probably know, is a carbohydrate. So if you were thinking that diary products are carb-free, think again. While we’re on the subject, milk is in a sense a “complete” food, since it contains all three macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates, and protein). One cup of 2% milk is made up of 12 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, and 5 g fat.

6. Milking it in Scandinavia

Finland consumes the most milk per capita of any country in the world, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands. The United States is 17th on the list.

7. No mo’ moo…

Milk consumption in the U.S. has decreased 37% since 1970. Experts believe that this is due to the introduction of a plethora of new beverages onto the market, as well as concern over the obesity epidemic. (If only it had helped…)

8. Skim, 1%, 2%, and 4%?

The percentage given to milk is an indicator of its cream content. “Whole milk” is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s nowhere close to being wholly made of cream. If we called it by its rightful name, percentage-wise, we would call it 4% milk, as it contains 4% cream.

9. Acid + protein = clumps

If you’ve ever found yourself without buttermilk when making a recipe that calls for it, you may have made your own substitute by adding vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk to curdle it. But why does this work? When acid comes into contact with the proteins in milk, it unwinds them in a process called denaturing. Once freed from their original form, proteins can bind with each other to form clumps. The result is what is sometimes called “a dairy version of scrambled eggs.” But let’s not call it that, because that sounds gross.

Oh, and fun fact: the skin that forms on top of heated milk has a name–lactoderm! Its appearance also has to do with proteins becoming denatured.

10. Milky white vites

How much calcium does milk have, really? Are dairy products the highest dietary source of calcium? In short…yes! Or at least one of the highest. Collard greens, spinach, and sardines are other options that come close. Additionally, milk has been the only food routinely fortified with Vitamin D in the U.S. since the 1920s as a prevention measure of the vitamin D deficiency disease called rickets.

And finally…ever notice how many Calvin and Hobbes cartoons have to do with milk?

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Spiced Applesauce Bread

Spiced Applesauce Bread

It’s spring break in our household, and in true spring break tradition of lazy days at home (not true spring break tradition of topless in Mexico, if that’s what you were expecting), my kids and I have mostly been hanging out with friends in the neighborhood, lounging around, and enjoying leisurely time on blankets at parks.

resting at the park

And today, as a last hurrah since it’s Friday of our break, we went out to lunch at a ’50s diner, where my kids were FASCINATED by the concept of a jukebox at the table.

kids jukebox

“What IS this ancient artifact?”

With the extra time on our hands, we’ve been able to enjoy some special breakfasts as well, from baked goods to scrambled eggs. (Yes, scrambled eggs is a special breakfast in our house because of how much I can’t stand cleaning the sticky web of egg remnants off my nonstick pan.) As for baked goods, this spiced applesauce bread is a perennial favorite.

Spiced Applesauce Bread

It’s a no-frills breakfast or brunch item that uses a whopping 1 and 1/4 cups of applesauce, an entire grated apple, and half whole wheat flour to make it healthy, and vegetable oil and plenty of aromatic spices to make it tasty. I’ve been making it for years, and it’s a great stand-by recipe for your bread arsenal. Give it a try for your next weekend breakfast or brunch!

Spiced Applesauce Bread

And now, in true lazy spring break fashion, I’m going to stop writing and go watch a movie. 🙂

Spiced Applesauce Bread

Print Recipe
Spiced Applesauce Bread
A better-for-you spiced quick bread that's chock full of applesauce!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix applesauce, brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and milk.
  2. In a separate bowl (or the same bowl, if you want to be lazy like me), mix all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Stir with wet ingredients until just combined.
  3. Using a cheese grater, grate peeled apple directly into bowl, then stir briefly to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 60-65 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Allrecipes.com.

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Almond Milk Nutella Pudding

Nutella pudding

Are you a milk drinker? If you are, how much milk do you drink a day? If you’re not, how much dairy do eat in a day?

At last year’s Nutrition and Health Conference in Denver, I heard a fascinating talk from Walter Willett, Department Chair of Harvard’s School of Public Health, about how much dairy we all actually need on a daily basis. The marketing messages we grew up with that milk “does a body good” and to get “3 A Day” servings of cheese, milk, or yogurt may have been simply that: marketing. Willett’s conclusion, based on numerous studies, was that one serving of dairy a day is probably plenty for most adults. We do of course need to be mindful of consuming enough calcium and vitamin D overall, but as an animal product, dairy has a pretty high calorie and fat price tag for the delivery of these vital nutrients.

While there’s still more research to be done on the merits (or pitfalls) of eating lots of dairy, and what fat percentage to choose when we do, since hearing Willett’s talk I’ve tried to simply become more conscious of how much dairy I consume daily. It’s led to the discovery that I’m a bit of a dairy-oholic. While drinking straight milk frankly grosses me out, my daily cheese/yogurt/ice cream consumption can overstep its bounds even before lunchtime.

Yesterday, for example… I was craving something sweet. The jar of Nutella in my pantry was seductively calling my name, but, wanting to at least maintain my illusion of refinement, I thought, what if I make something with the Nutella instead of just eating it straight from the jar like a desperate PMS-ing college student? Something like a pudding, perhaps! As I thought about my day of eating up until that point, however, I realized it had already been pretty dairy-heavy. So, while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with dairy, would it be heretical to make a pudding without something other than regular milk, thereby cutting some fat and calories? Could it turn out creamy and delicious if you made it with, say, almond milk instead of cow’s milk?

Why yes, it could!

I didn’t miss a thing in this Nutella pudding using almond milk in place of regular dairy. When I asked my husband for his thoughts, he said it was very tasty, too, and didn’t realize it didn’t contain regular milk. (Though it should be noted that there is a small amount of dairy in Nutella itself. If you absolutely need to be 100% dairy-free, you would need to find a different chocolate hazelnut spread than Nutella–which is possible!)

So whether you need to limit dairy in your diet for some reason, or just don’t mind shaving off a few calories in your dessert, this pudding is your answer. Dollop with a dairy or non-dairy whipped topping to your preference.

Nutella Pudding

By the way, recently on one of my tours at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum where I work, I asked a group of second graders which animals provide dairy products. With utmost confidence, one kid raised his hand and shouted: “Ducks!” If duck milk ever becomes a thing, I’m gonna call it non-dairy and say you can make this pudding with it, too.

Print Recipe
Dairy Free Nutella Pudding
A Nutella pudding made with almond milk that's still creamy and smooth!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn starch, cocoa powder, and salt. Add almond milk and bring almost to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently to break up any lumps.
  2. When the mixture begins to thicken and almost boil, turn heat to low, add Nutella, chocolate chips, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour into 4 individual bowls or ramekins, or one large bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve chilled with non-dairy whipped topping.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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Veggie Pot Pie Skillet with Cheddar Biscuits

Veggie Pot Pie Skillet

I’ve already got a pot pie recipe on this site, and it’s kind of my pride and joy, since it’s one I came up with myself, and (can I brag a little?) it’s to die for. Savory chicken, a velvety cream sauce, and pan-roasted veggies….mmmm….it’s like my wee chickeny baby I just love to dote upon.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other awesome pot pies out there, each with their own spin on the classic. My own recipe certainly isn’t the final word on pot pies, as far as I’m concerned. Especially when I see a new pot pie recipe that involves cheese.

That’s right, I said POT PIE WITH CHEESE.

If you’re a purist, you might think this sounds about as appealing as cheese on your breakfast cereal.(Aside: can I just note how long it took to think of something, anything, for that sentence that would be gross to put cheese on? But cereal and cheese does sound pretty wrong. Give me a minute, though–I may warm up to the idea…) When I saw this veggie pot pie skillet with cheddar biscuit topping over on Budget Bytes, I was smitten. If Beth, the author of that blog, tracks her visitor stats, she may have noticed a giant spike in the number of visits to that particular post in the last few weeks.

They’re all me. I have now made this recipe four times since Christmas, with no signs of slowing down.

Veggie Pot Pie Skillet

Here’s why. This recipe is:

  • Meatless
  • Easy
  • Cheap
  • One-dish meal
  • Uses very common ingredients, making it a virtually no-shop meal if you keep things like frozen vegetables, chicken broth, and flour on hand
  • Totally cozy-comfort-food delicious!

Even my kids go crazy over this meal, which I normally would not think possible for something so obviously based on vegetables. The filling is herb-y and creamy and the biscuit topping always comes out light with just the right texture–a real feat for something as notoriously tough to nail as biscuits.

All that being said, I do have to confess that while it may be vegetarian, this recipe is definitely not low calorie or low fat, since it has quite a lot of butter and no small amount of cheese. Still, we’re talking pot pie here, so nobody’s expecting it to be super healthy, right? In moderation, it’s a yummy, easy one-dish meal that won’t break the bank. Try it out for an alternative to the usual pot pie!

Veggie Pot Pie Skillet

 

Print Recipe
Veggie Pot Pie Skillet with Cheddar Biscuits
A creamy veggie filling gets topped with tender cheddar biscuits in this vegetarian comfort food!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the filling:
For the cheddar biscuits:
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the filling:
For the cheddar biscuits:
Instructions
For the filling:
  1. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet (very important that it's oven-safe!), melt butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and saute until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add flour and continue to saute another minute. Pour in milk and vegetable broth and whisk until smooth. Add salt, thyme, sage, and some black pepper.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes until it thickens to to the point where a utensil dragged through it leaves a trail. Add frozen vegetables and stir to combine. Continue to cook until veggies are heated through. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees while you make the biscuits.
For the biscuits:
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in cold butter in small pieces and mix with your hands, the back of a fork, or a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like damp sand. Add cheddar and chives, then milk. Stir just until a dough comes together.
  2. Take the veggie filling off the heat and dollop the biscuit mixture evenly across the top of it.
  3. Bake 18-20 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through. Serve immediately, being very careful not to burn yourself as you serve from the skillet! (Lesson learned from experience.)
Recipe Notes

Somewhat adapted from Budget Bytes.

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