Healthy Sunday Cooking With Crys: Brazilian Bean Salad

Beans, beans, good for the heart

The more you eat them the more you fart

The more you fart the better you feel

So eat your beans for every meal!

Perhaps that was a touch childish, even for me, but that schoolyard rhyme is actually quite accurate. Apart from the fact that beans make you fart, which is a given, they actually are quite good for your heart as well, though indirectly.

Beans are full of dietary fiber, and eating plenty of it is associated with lower body weight and less cardiovascular disease, as it can lower blood cholesterol levels, hence being indirectly “good for the heart”. Beans also contain complex carbs and protein, and taken together these things help feeling fuller for longer. As to why beans also make you fart, I’ll leave that fun fact at the end, which will also include the reason why adding fiber to your diet by buying those powdery products to dissolve in your water is not really the best thing for you.

So, for this week’s healthy recipe, I’ll be making a very easy recipe that I learned when visiting my father in Bahia, a fresh and delicious salad made with black-eyed peas.

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Sunday Cooking With Crys: Italian Apple Crumble

I found myself with some leftover apples in my house. For my taste they were too soft to eat, but they were still in excellent condition and I thought it was a pity to throw them out. So, I decided to leaf through my books, notes and fridge to see what else I had lying around that could be thrown together with the apples to bake something. After all, soft apples are perfectly fine for cooking.

Some rummaging in my fridge yielded some extra sour cream that I had bought for another recipe and didn’t use. In that case, I’m going to make myself the Italian version of apple crumble.

If you already like apple crumble the way it is, you will find this version to be the poor man’s crumble so best save yourself the trouble. If, on the other hand, you sort of like apple crumble but find it to be too sweet and/or too buttery for your taste, then this is the recipe for you. It’s lower in fat, it’s not sweet, but it’s still very nice warmed with some whipped cream or ice cream next to it.

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This Week In Zoology Meets Sunday Cooking With Crys

It’s winter, and for those of us who do not live smack in the middle of a giant metropolis, it is always nice to help the birds who did not migrate to warmer climates make it through the season. You can buy those funny smelling balls of birdfeed and hang them in your garden to give them a boost, but for those of you who live in countries in which they are not so widely sold, did you know that you can also make your own?

Well I didn’t know until today, but I came across a great recipe for what I am now calling birdfeed balls on a conservation and animal rights website.

The recipe is in Italian, however, so I have translated it for you here. I happen to have all of these ingredients in my house already save one, so I think I might be cooking for the birds this Christmas too, because why not.

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Sunday Cooking With Crys: Diet Tip Of The Week (IV)

Recently, while looking through various fitness websites for workout ideas, I came across the idea of zucchini spaghetti. I had never heard of this, so I immediately went online and found that what they mean by this is to use a vegetable spiralizer.

Pfft, I’ll try that. I went ahead and bought this one on amazon.

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The image was somewhat misleading, as the zucchini noodles I wound up getting were not that thick, they were more like thin fettuccine. Despite that, I was surprised as to how much this worked out.

As a pasta lover, cutting down on pasta has been hard on me. The pasta itself takes away so much of my daily points that also having a fatty, flavorful sauce is almost out of the question, unless I eat such a small portion that I just get angry. However, with this idea, I can have a nice ragu or creamy cheese sauce, because the “noodles” are simply zucchini.

As with the cauliflower rice, I’m not going to pretend that it’s the same thing, it’s not. If I want to eat a simple tomato sauce, I’m still going to go for real pasta. However, for ragu, and cheese sauces, and pesto, I was surprised at how good this option actually was. As with the cauliflower rice, just add a teaspoon of oil to you pan, the spiralized veg, a little salt, and try to cook as uncovered as possible without adding any water. When they are soft, add whatever sauce you desire and let them cook in the sauce for a couple of minutes. Even with the thin fettuccine zucchini, I could twirl them on my fork, and enjoyed them immensely.

Vegetable spiralizer, highly recommended.

Sunday Cooking With Crys: Sarmale

My boyfriend has begged me, on behalf of his waistline, to cease and desist with the dessert frenzy on Sundays. I agreed that, perhaps, I got a little carried away.

So, instead, I’m going on a Romanian cooking spree for a little while, partially because I like Romanian cooking when it’s cold outside, and partially because I think he’s been missing the taste of home.

So, today I decided to make sarmale. These are either stuffed cabbage or stuffed vine leaves, and many traditional cuisines have their own variation on this dish, including Russia, Turkey, Greece, and Serbia. Even within Romania different regions make them differently, but I will be sharing the variation that I encountered in the Moldavia region.

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Sunday Cooking With Crys: When There’s No Brown Sugar

Last week, I told you about American style cookies, and how you need two key ingredients to make them: brown sugar, and good quality vanilla extract. The problem is, you can’t find brown sugar in most countries. Some commenters gave recipes for making your own brown sugar using molasses, but in many places molasses is even harder to find than brown sugar. So, what do you do when you just can’t get your hands on the stuff?

I have so far found just one recipe for chewy, American-style chocolate cookies that does not need brown sugar, though you’re still going to need that good vanilla.

Unfortunately, I’m waiting on a new battery for my phone at the moment, so this week I wont be able to include pictures. So, a pictureless recipe is included below the fold.

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Sunday Cooking With Crys: Diet Tip of the Week (II)

For this week’s tip in healthy eating I am going to turn on one of my favorite veggies: the eggplant. I know the season is over, but I happened upon some very nice eggplants at a Turkish market, so of course I bought them immediately.

For a long time, I thought that I would have to abandon eggplant once I went on my healthy eating phases, for the simple fact that they absorb a freakish amount of oil when you cook them, and attempting to reduce the amount of oil just results in watery, gross eggplant. However, a few years ago I picked up an excellent tip from an Asian cookbook that my father brought me from Singapore which gets around this inconvenience, and I will now share it with you.

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Sunday Cooking With Crys: American Cookies

This week I wanted to make an old classic, as it has been a very long time since I’ve indulged in some good old-fashioned American style chewy cookies. For the Americans amongst you, this will be the most unilluminating post ever. For those of you who are not American, however, I am about to divulge the secret of their cookies.

For those gooey, sweet cookies the Americans love, there are two key ingredients that make all the difference. One is soft brown sugar, which is not always easy to find outside of the US. I don’t mean simple raw cane sugar, I mean the brown sugar that you could make a snowball out of and throw at somebody. This is the key to the chewy core, and these cookies will not work without it. In Italy, I have found soft brown sugar at the Coop. Otherwise, you’ll need to look around stores with foreign imports, or health stores.

The second key ingredient is vanilla essence. Once again, I mean the good stuff. Not the clear fake vanilla that comes in little glass bottles, I mean the kind that is dark brown bordering on black and tastes awful if you try it pure. Without it, the cookies just wont be the same.

With that said, I went with a good old fashioned American classic: chocolate chip cookies. With a twist, because I had some Cacau Presado on hand.

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Sunday Cooking With Crys: Diet Tip Of The Week

This last paper and overworking has, once again, pushed me into the “my clothes don’t fit me anymore” zone, so I am back on a diet. I use the word “diet” quite loosely, in that I’m not one for extreme fads, zero carb zero fat paleo never eat such-and-such ever again kinds of diets. Rather, I overlay my knowledge of healthy eating and nutrition over a Weight Watcher’s skeleton, and in such find a way for even my pathetic-metabolismed self to return to my fighting weight without shutting myself up in my apartment, killing my social life and crying over the cakes that once were.

This means that I will not stop making my once a week complicated dish, but I also cook a lot of healthy, low-calorie things to keep me going through the week. I have had to watch what I eat for as long as I can remember, and so over the years I have picked up quite a few tricks. So, I thought, I’d split my Sunday Cooking With Crys segments into two: one with the fun, complicated dish, and the other featuring one of the many tricks up my sleeve for eating healthier.

For this week, I’d like to introduce cauliflower rice.

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Sunday Cooking With Crys: Cookies of Olive Oil and Wine

I admit that I am a couple of days late in posting these, because despite my being between projects at the moment I have found myself surprisingly busy and utterly failed to budget my posting time accordingly. I still wanted to post this recipe though, because it is one of my favorites and also one that baffles many who are not Italian.

I was not being poetic in the title, these cookies are quite literally made with olive oil and wine. On the surface that sounds absolutely disgusting, but in reality this is one of those recipes in which, if done right, two seemingly incongruous flavors combine to make a unique third flavor which tastes like neither of its components, and you would never be able to tell that they are oil and wine cookies. This is usually why I have people taste them before I tell them what they are, so as to not prejudice themselves into thinking they’re going to hate them before they give them a go. This also means that the recipe leaves little room for tinkering with, as both olive oil and wine flavors might overpower the whole and taste nasty. However, I have found you readers to be quite adventurous in the food department up until now, so here goes.

These cookies also happen to be vegan, although that is entirely by accident. Still, it’s not bad to have a couple of decent vegan recipes in your back pocket, especially for sweets, given the ever increasing fashion of veganism currently gripping the privileged world.

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