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Bean

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Ain’t no party like a sweet potato party. Or a crostini party. Or a tahini party. Or a Friendsgiving party. Or a Thanksgiving soiree with all your family members you see but once or twice per year and still don’t really know what to talk about besides sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

I can’t say I’m a fan of the word ain’t. (In fact, I had to look up its spelling just for this blog post.) But, I’m a huge fan of parties, even those semi-strange family ones, and I’m  equally a fan of all the ingredients listed above.

Tahini. Sweet potatoes. Honey. Toasted walnuts and baguette. Now that’s a party in a single, not-entirely-too-awkward bite to eat.

I.e., you’re going to want to put this guy on your Thanksgiving party plate list.

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Aside from crostini packages that offer a ton of flavor in one fork-and-spoon-free bite, I’m a huge fan of healthy appetizers. Let’s face it, parties aren’t always the most health-friendly activities, Thanksgiving included. In fact, recent research for my day job informed me that the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, or the equivalent of the calories you’d use to jog 10 hours straight. Yowza. That’s a party in which I’m not too interested.

Luckily, this recipe packs in the nutrition, sneaking in a little protein while it’s at it. That bean-powered protein and creamy sweet potato fiber will keep you satisfied till the main meal arrives, and keep you feeling good, too.

If that sounds great to you, I invite you to kick off your next party FFFreshAir style, and let this crostini start your taste bud tango. I promise, it’s got way better dance moves than I do.

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Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

I’ve been writing a recipe column for Today’s Dietitian, and September’s edition features a somewhat controversial veggie from my childhood days  the beet.

Grated beets

As I wrote in my column, the discord stems primarily from parents with rather differing opinions about the beautiful, but dangerous, late summer vegetable. You see,

“Beets were my mom’s worst nightmare. The juice stained her cutting boards, tie-dyed her kids’ white T-shirts, and left her scrubbing the kitchen counters until her hands turned pink. On the other hand, beets were my dad’s favorite vegetable. They were one of his continuously best-growing crops in the family garden. He loved nothing more than staining his hands as he pulled the beets out of the ground each year, and he had an affinity for their taste that my mom couldn’t match. And unfortunately, my mom had cleaning skills that my dad couldn’t match, so every summer there was a comical bone of contention that surrounded beets.”

This had always left me unsettled about my own opinions for beets. I’ve always enjoyed, but not longed, for their flavor, and I’ve always sort of shied away from the mess they tend to create.

However, in recent years, I’ve developed a newfound love.

Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

After one small one went into this recipe for tabbouleh, I was sold. That color! It’s flavor in the dish was not super memorable, but the hue it lent to the entire bowl certainly was. From then on, I would find ways to employ the beet’s beautiful color, and do so in a way that wouldn’t destroy my counters. And white t-shirts, because unfortunately, mom isn’t buying those anymore.

This recipe for Smoky Black Bean Burgers utilizes the food processor to keep the mess at a bay, while enabling beets to add color to a veggie burger that’s hard to forget. Here, the veggie adds adds a hint of sweetness that goes perfectly with the smoky paprika, as well as the parsley herb sauce that tops it all off. (Note, feel free to use any summer herb that sounds good to you. I vote for basil as an alt.)

Head on over to the digital edition of the mag for the recipe! 

Basil and Black Soybean Hummus

Herb and Black Soybean Hummus

Slowly. Day by day. I’m getting one step closer to turning into a cucumber. A cucumber who’s getting married to a bottle of vinegar. Sometimes the onions walk in, and the tears of joy cry down on this union. I’m just waiting for the tomato to make it official.

Unfortunately, tomato season rarely coincides with cucumber season, except for a few dangling days at the latter one’s end. But that’s okay. I don’t want to be officially wedded to vinegar. And I don’t I very much like the sound of calling myself a cucumber either. Nor do I really like where this paragraph is going. So let’s cut it at that.

However, I have been eating a ton and ton of cucumbers. Averaging 1-2 per day. And still waiting on the perfect tomato to join them in my bowl of vinegar.

Basil

Though I’m longing for tomatoes to come join my cukes, it’s hard to say eating gets much better than now, in the late months of summer. Fortunately I live in a city submerged with farmers’ markets, and can also retreat to my mom’s house, currently flooded with cucumbers.

With all of the summer produce coming in, this calls on the need for protein-packed dishes to pair with it.

Nearly as easy as slicing a cuke, hummus forever remains one of my go-to’s.

Summer basil

This particular hummus differs from your classic chickpea version by using black soybeans, a high protein legume that tastes kind of like black beans. For that reason, this to me naturally went very well with guacamole and salsa, too. Feel free to swap the basil for cilantro to stick to a full-blown Mexican theme.

Herb and Black Soybean Hummus I went with basil because that’s what was in the garden, and I was initially envisioning this spread on a sandwich with thinly sliced cucumbers. Also snapped a few photos of my lovely friend Laura while picking it. You choose what to put it on. Just don’t forget the scallions on top.

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Savory BBQ Tacos with Avocado

Vegetarian BBQ Tacos

Like a sunny Saturday, an avocado must never be wasted. Sure, a few brown specks are okay. But you let one sit too long, and you instantly become a fool.

Unfortunately, a fool I have been, many times over. Beneath the glorious bowl of oranges and bananas sitting on my windowsill, I’ve had one too many avocados bury themselves to death. Not good. That luxuriously creamy flesh does not come without a price. And it doesn’t help that this price seems to be stuck on a ski lift forever going up. The sight of $2 per avocado makes me feel anything but warm inside.

However, I will still subject myself to make the occasional splurge every now and then so I can scoop that golden green onto my taco. I’m convinced it’s well-worth the guessing game at the store of choosing the one that won’t be bruised, or the waiting game for the green-skinned one to finally become ripe. One thing is for sure though. Now that avocados are more of a luxury than ever, there’s no way they’ll be slipping into any sort of brown mush from biding their time on my counter.

What does all this avocado talk have to do with this recipe? Well, you see, I bought the avocado listed below to make tacos – a regular occurrence in my kitchen. Cumin, coriander, garlic and onion are my staples for a pinto bean filling. But you also have to have the toppings, avocado being one, along with salsa, lettuce, and maybe some cheese and/or sour cream. I had none of those on-hand except an avocado that was quickly headed past its prime. What I did have was all of the ingredients to make a saucier, BBQ-styled filling, which in my mind, goes just as well with avocado and tortillas.

This was an avocado-saver, and a delicious weeknight meal. I don’t like my BBQ sauces overly sweet, especially in tacos, so these BBQ’d beans err more on the savory side. However, they still have that tomato tang you’d want and expect, and just like standard tacos, help create a package full of flavor. With all the tacos I eat, it’s definitely nice to have the change of pace.

Click here for recipe…