fava beans in the podMy husband and I signed up for a share in Love Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program this Spring. Every Monday afternoon from June through mid-October, this share entitles us to receive 8-10 servings of farm-fresh vegetables. Of course, week-to-week, we never quite know what we’re going to get.

Fava beans arrived a couple of weeks ago. Until Dr. Hannibal Lector’s infamous line in The Silence of the Lambs (i.e., “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”), I’d never even heard of them. I’ve since made a few recipes with dried fava beans, but I’d never had my hands on the real deal right off the vine… until now.

I was smart enough to know that the beans had to be liberated from their pods. Then, I consulted good old Google. I learned that I needed to drop the little darlings into boiling, salty water for one minute. Then, I drained the hot water and put the beans in ice water to stop the cooking process. Finally, I removed the tough outer skin to reveal the vibrant green beans. Yep – it’s a bit time-consuming, but you can always check out The Silence of the Lambs while doing it!

fava beans
Fava beans right out of the pod.
fava beans
Fava beans after they’ve been boiled and peeled.

Now I was ready to actually make something! Here are the details:

Make a Smoky-Maple Sauce in a small bowl using 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon liquid smoke, 1 tablespoon lemon (or lime) juice, 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or Thai Red Curry paste), and 3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic, and set it aside. (Note: If you really like the sauce, you can up the recipe by 50%.)

fava beans in the podChop an onion and sauté in oil until translucent, about 5-8 minutes.

Add boiled, peeled fava beans and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes. Pour in the Smoky-Maple Sauce.

Add 1 good-sized bunch of fresh kale with ribs removed and leaves torn into small pieces. Continue cooking until the leaves wilt.

Serve immediately.

The resulting dish is high in nutritional content and quite delicious!

I love to eat a great, big salad for lunch. It’s a great opportunity to score a good chunk of my daily 5-7 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables while keeping me sated throughout the long afternoon.

healthy saladWhile I don’t follow a specific recipe, I choose vegetables with vibrant colors – e.g., diced bell peppers (usually red, yellow, or orange), shredded carrots, shredded purple cabbage, multi-colored kale pieces, and chopped tomatoes. If I’ve got them, I’ll add blueberries to the mix. Bright colors signal the presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals like carotenes, polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanidins. These ingredients are also jam-packed with insoluble fiber that helps food move through the digestive track.

I typically use beans as a protein source, though I’ll add whole grains if I have leftovers with no other use. Beyond their gaggle of nutrients, these items provide soluble fiber that supports healthy digestion and feeds the good bacteria in the gut.

If I haven’t had my tablespoon of ground flax seeds in my morning oatmeal, I’ll add it to the salad. Flax seeds are a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that aid in the absorption of vitamins A, D, and E, all essential for immune health.

I make my own salad dressing. It takes very little time and avoids ingestion of all the chemicals, sugar, and fat that the commercial brands contain. Again, I don’t really follow a recipe other than to combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a generous squirt of brown spicy mustard, and a splash of agave nectar. We lean a little heavily on the balsamic vinegar to provide ample coverage without adding calories.

By including a wide variety of plant foods in my salad, I’ve bolstered my immune system’s ability to respond to viruses and other pathogens that seek to make a home in my body. And, of course, I’ve delighted my taste buds while I’m at it!

While we don’t eat beef often, this recipe has been in our “standard rotation” of dinners for years. It’s delicious and ridiculously easy to make. The secret to success entails getting a really good piece of meat – preferably one with a bit of marbling to ensure the end result is tender and juicy.

Pot Roast1 (2½- to 3-pound) boneless beef roast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer or apple juice
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 (16-ounce) jar Pace mild salsa
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced (optional)

  1. Trim visible fat away from roast. Place it in a crock pot. Add beer (or apple juice), sugar, and salsa.
  2. Cook and cover on high 3 to 4 hours. Add potatoes during last 90 minutes of cooking.
  3. Remove beef from pot and let stand for ~5-10 minutes before carving.
  4. Serve beef with potatoes and generous helping of sauce.

Here’s another one of our favorite recipes to serve for dinner guests. It’s takes very little preparation, tastes absolutely delicious, and cooks in one pot!

Asian Shrimp Pasta1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons hot chili oil
3/4 pound thin spaghetti
1/2 pound green beans, stem ends and strings removed
1 pound (51 to 60 per pound) fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

  1. Pour 2½ to 3 quarts water into a stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and chili oil.
  3. When water boils, stir in pasta. Cook, uncovered, 6-7 minutes.  Stir in green beans and shrimp.  Cook until pasta is just tender to bite and shrimp are pink, about 1-2 minutes longer.  Drain well.
  4. Return pasta mixture to pot. Add dressing, cilantro, and green onions and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with nuts.  Serves 4-5.

Pork Loin with Peanut SauceHere’s one of our favorite recipes to serve for dinner guests. It’s takes very little preparation and tastes absolutely delicious.

1 fat-trimmed center-cut pork loin (about 2½ pound)
1-1/3 cups apple cider
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp hot chili flakes
2 cloves garlic

  1. On the night before or morning of your dinner party, cut 1/2-inch-deep slits all over pork; place meat in a large plastic food bag.
  2. In a blender, combine cider, soy sauce, peanut butter, thyme, chili flakes, and garlic. Blend thoroughly.
  3. Pour cider marinade over pork, seal bag, turn to coat, then set in pan. Chill, turning occasionally, for several hours, up to a day.
  4. Lift meat from marinade and set on a rack in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Reserve marinade.
  5. Bake pork at 350° oven until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches ~170° (roughly an hour). After 30 minutes, baste with reserved marinade.
  6. Transfer pork to a platter and let stand 5 to 10 minutes in a warm place. As pork rests, pour remaining marinade into pan with pork juices (excluding burned parts). Stir over high heat until the sauce is reduced to ~1 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour into a gravy boat.
  7. Slice the pork and accompany with sauce.

As one who pursues a predominantly whole-foods, plant-based diet, I like to experiment with different types of beans and different ways of preparing them. My latest adventure features black-eyed peas.

Black-Eyed PeasI lived in the South for well over a decade and noshed on my fair share of black-eyed peas. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is thought to bring prosperity in the coming year. By tradition, the peas are cooked with bacon, hambones, or hog jowls along with diced onion and hot sauce (or pepper-flavored vinegar). It’s served with collard, turnip, or mustard greens and ham. The plumped-up peas symbolize growth; greens symbolize money. And because pigs root forward when foraging, their presence suggests positive motion. But since I generally steer clear of meat, I need an alternative treatment.

As luck would have it, black-eyed peas were first domesticated in West Africa. It’s an everyday, year-round staple over there. They eat them fresh, ground, and dried. So I opted to prepare a vegetarian version of the Ghanaian Red Red Stew.

1 pound dried beans
1/2 cup healthy cooking oil
Red Red Stew1 medium-to-large onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or to taste)
2 teaspoons kelp granules
1/4 teaspoons chili powder
2-3 cups vegetable stock
3-6 green onions, chopped


  1. Pick through the black-eyed peas and discard any foreign objects (e.g., small pebbles). Rinse the beans and place them in a large pot submerged under 3-4 inches of water. Cover and let sit overnight.
  2. Drain the soaked beans, rinse them, and place them in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 40-60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not mushy. (Note: If you prefer using a pressure cooker, cooking time general runs 8-12 minutes.) Drain the beans and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, paprika, smoked paprika, kelp granules, and chili powder. Cook while stirring for an additional minute. (Note: Add a little vegetable stock to the pan if the ingredients start sticking.)
  4. Add the beans, green onions, and the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. (Note: You only want to add just enough stock to create the consistency of a hearty stew, not a watery soup.)
  5. Sample the stew and add smoked paprika as needed to make the dish more flavorful.

Ghanaians generally use crayfish in lieu of smoked paprika and kelp granules to produce that salty, smoky flavor. If that’s your preference, use about 1/3 cup of crayfish with or without the smoked paprika and kelp granules. If you like it “hot-ish,” add a whole habanero pepper with the rest of the spices.

Whatever your pleasure, you’ll enjoy a delicious stew while doing your body a big favor. One cup of cooked black-eyed peas contains a mere 200 calories but packs 13 g of protein and 11 g of dietary fiber. It also provides a gaggle of vital micronutrients, notably folate (89% RDA), manganese (41% RDA), phosphorus (27% RDA), iron (24% RDA), thiamine (23% RDA), magnesium (23% RDA), copper (23% RDA), zinc (15% RDA), potassium (14% RDA), and others.

Here’s another recipe that Spike and I have been making for a long, long time. I don’t remember the original source for this dish, but it always delights our palates and our company whenever we make it.

2 cups dried black beans
Vegetable cooking spray
1 chopped onion
Black Bean Chili4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce canned tomatoes
7 ounce can chopped green chilies
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 medium, peeled, finely chopped green apples
6 cups cooked long grain brown rice

Place dried black beans in medium saucepan covered in 2” water. Bring to boil and cook 2 minutes. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans. Add 6+ cups water. Simmer 1-2 hours. Drain and set aside.

Coat medium skillet with cooking spray. Sauté onion and garlic until tender (~8-10 minutes). Add tomatoes, chilies, raisins and spices. Simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Add cooked beans and apples to mixture; add beef-flavored water if the mixture looks dry. [I usually add 1-2 cups.] Cook 10 minutes. Serve over rice.

I’ve tried several lentil soup recipes since our cooking adventure began. My favorite remains a recipe that we’ve been making for years. Simple and delicious!

1 teaspoon olive oil
Lentil Stew1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 to 2 cups water
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1 cup dried lentils
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 cup cubed potatoes
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Coat a large pot with cooking spray; add olive oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (about 8-10 minutes). Add water, 1 cup beef broth, lentils, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add cubed potatoes and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Combine cornstarch and remaining ½ cup beef broth; add to stew, stirring well. Bring mixture to a boil and cook 1 minute.

Note: I generally double the recipe and either freeze the leftovers or use them for lunches. We never tire of this stew!

We love hummus., and we have wonderful grocery stores that carry a variety of delicious hummus spreads. The offerings from a vendor at our farmer’s market also delight our palates. Unfortunately, our local recycling centers won’t take the plastic containers in which these delicious spreads are packaged. So I decided to create my own concoction.

Here’s what I use:

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Kalamata Olive Hummus1/3 cup tahini paste (or creamy almond or peanut butter)

1/4 cup Kalamata olive juice (or reserve juice from the can of chickpeas)

1 large (or 2 small) cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large lemon, juiced and zested

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped (optional)

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

Combine the chickpeas, tahini paste, Kalamata olive juice, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley in a food processor and puree until smooth. Fold in the Kalamata olives or add to food processor and pulse a few times.

If you like your hummus a bit runnier, add more Kalamata olive juice or reserve liquid from the garbanzo beans.

I’ve been making roasted vegetables for years. They’re really easy to prepare, adjust to whatever quantity I like, and provide a lot of delicious leftovers.

I vary the vegetables included in the mix based on whatever I happen to have on hand. Here’s what I included in this batch:

1 red onion sliced vertically
I medium eggplant cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal
1 broccoli crown cut into florets
1 red bell pepper cut into ~1” pieces
2 small zucchini, halved vertically and sliced

These quantities typically fill my 9” x 11” casserole dish.

roasted vegetables
Ready for the oven.
roasted vegetables
Ready to serve.

I mix up the veggies and then coat them with olive oil and Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper seasoning blend. I roasted them in the oven for 45 minutes at 425°, giving them a stir halfway through. I know they’re done when a knife glides easily through them.

Your oven settings may vary a bit from mine. So you may need to experiment with the timing and temperature to get your roasted vegetables to turn out just right!