A photo of a creamy black bean and pasta skillet dish, served inside of a medium-sized bowl. The dish is topped with three slices of avocado.

Creamy Black Bean & Pasta Skillet

This creamy black bean & pasta skillet is the perfect dish you are looking to make whenever you are feeling too lazy to cook!

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Lazy Days

Folks, maybe it’s because I have been staying indoors so often, but I have something to tell you: I have been feeling incredibly lazy. Honestly? As much as I love cooking, I have not had much creative energy to barnstorm new meal ideas. Am I the only one who goes through this struggle?? I can’t be.

But alas, I had to come up with some meals to cook this weekend. Surely my husband could cook. But most of the time, due to our different work schedules, I take on this task. Either way, if no one cooks, no one eats. And we can’t have that.

Hmmm…

The other day, as I was looking through my pantry and fridge, weighing the limited variety of shelf-stable products and decaying produce, some pasta, back beans, and my wok, an idea come to me: Why not do a one-pot meal? So I figured, why not?

Carby goodness!

I pulled out my rotini pasta, black beans, tomatoes, and onions, and immediately began dicing my tomatoes, onions, and kale. Before I knew it, I whipped out my store-bought taco seasoning, and added it to the mix, along with the pasta and back beans, and voila! And you know what? This creamy improvisational black bean pasta skillet has been one of the most delicious meals that I have cooked in a while. Not only do the black beans give a level of richness and plant-based protein to this dish, but my impulsive decision to incorporate some coconut milk into this dish really brought this meal to a decadent creamy level. All of the ingredients and spices and flavors married beautifully. Moreover, even my very picky husband was a fan of this dish!

Did I mention that this dish is also vegan? If I haven’t, now you know!

And folks, this pasta skillet dish is not only delicious, but is super simple, contains basic pantry items, and can be ready in less than 20 minutes!

(Also, feel free to substitute the veggies in this dish for whatever else you may have!)

Now…let’s move onto the recipe!

Creamy black bean & pasta skillet: A medium bowl filled with rotini pasta, black beans, spinach, tomato sauce and coconut milk.

Creamy Black Bean & Pasta Skillet

This creamy black bean & pasta skillet is the perfect dish you are looking to make whenever you are feeling too lazy to cook!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pasta, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 671kcal

Equipment

  • Large skillet or Wok

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. Rotini pasta
  • 15.5 oz. Black beans
  • 4 oz. Full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Cup Fresh Kale or spinach
  • 1 Medium Tomato
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 6 oz. Low-sodium tomato paste
  • 4 Garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Cups Water
  • 2 Tbsp. Cooking oil

(2 tbsp.) Taco seasoning made with:

  • ½ tsp. Red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Smoked paprika
  • ¾ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Allspice

Instructions

  • Finely dice all of the veggies (tomato, kale, pepper &onion) until they are about 1 inch cubes. Set aside.
  • Heat up a wok or large skillet/ pot with cooking oil and heat tomedium-high. Gradually add in the veggies & garlic, and sauté for about 6-7minutes or until the onions and tomatoes have begun to sweat. Make sure tocover for the first three minutes.
  •  Once veggies are sweating, add the taco seasoning, water, tomatopaste, into the existing pot with the veggies. Then, increase the heat to highand allow to heat until the water mixture begins to rapidly boil.
  • Once the water begins boiling, reduced the heat back tomedium-high and add the pasta and boil for 10 min or until the water hasevaporated and created a thick sauce.
  • Add drained black beans and coconut milk and stir until mixturethickens and is creamy.
  • Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition Information per serving:

671 calories/ 17.6 grams protein/ 16.7 grams fat/ 118.4 grams carbohydrates/ 22.9 grams of fiber

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An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices

Chipotle Lentil Burgers

This Chipotle Lentil burgers recipe will be a smash hit during your next barbecue or game night!

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Happy April, everyone! From the bottom of my heart, I hope you and your families are doing well in this time. Staying hunkered down inside due to Covid-19 has made quite a few people feel stir-crazy, including me. Because of this many of us are trying to find ways to entertain ourselves, and our sanity.

Thank you!

Now, before I talk about today’s featured recipe, I want to take this moment to thank so many people, amidst the Coronavirus global pandemic. I would first like to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers risking their lives to keep us safe. I want to also thank grocery clerks and all of the essential workers working tirelessly to make sure that business continues to stay afloat. Finally, I would like to thank all of the factory workers who are either producing our food, or other essential supplies that our planet’s population is in desperate need of. With this being said, I would like to thank all of the farmers and farmworkers who continue to work day in and day out, in order to make sure that we still continue to have food on our plates. I cannot be more grateful for everything you all are doing.

The Burger!

Now, while many people are trying to figure out how to make the most of dwindling pantry supplies, I may have the perfect meal for you. I present you with my chipotle lentil burger recipe! These burgers are savory, delicious, and are jam-packed with flavor. Aside from the ease of this recipe, one of my favorite aspects about this meal is that the bulk of the ingredients may already be in your pantry. So there is no need to purchase any fancy ingredients.

An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices
An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices

Did I mention that this recipe is vegan? Well, it is!

Are your mouths watering? I sure hope so! Let’s move onto the recipe, shall we??

Chipotle Lentil Burgers

These Chipotle Lentil burgers will be a smash hit duringyour next barbecue or game night!
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Burger, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 6 Patties
Calories: 201kcal

Ingredients

  • cup dry lentils
  • 1 ⅓ cups water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. canned chipotle peppers
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup chickpea liquid (aquafaba)
  • ¼ cup tahini

Instructions

  • After rinsing the dry lentils and removing anysmall stone or sediment material, place them in a small saucepan with thewater, heated to medium-high. Gradually add in the salt, pepper, paprika,cumin, and garlic powder. Allow the water to heat until it begins boiling. Atthat point, cover, and lower heat to low, and allow to cook for 25-30 minutes,or until all of the lentils have absorbed the water. Once finished cooking, setaside.
  • Once the lentils have cooled for at least 5minutes, transfer the mixture to a medium sized bowl. Smash lentils untilsemi-chunky, and then gradually add in the aquafaba and the oatmeal. Mix allingredients until everything is well-combined. Then cover, and place in arefrigerator for at least an hour-overnight, or place in your freezer for 30-45 minutes.
  • Preparing the Chipotle sauce: Place the cannedchipotle in a blender or small food processor, until all of the pepper hasbecome liquefied. Take the blended chipotles out of the blender, and place intoa bowl. Gradually add in tahini & mix until everything is well-blended. Ifyou do not have access to tahini, then sub tahini for mayonnaise. It will bejust as tasty!
  • Topeach patty with the chipotle-tahini sauce (or mayo), and assemble with all ofyour favorite fixins, and enjoy!

Video

Makes 6 patties

201 Calories/ 7.7 grams of protein/ 12 grams of fat/ 18.4 grams of carbohydrates/ 4.2 grams of fiber

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A closeup of creamy butternut squash rotini served in a bowl

Creamy Butternut Squash Rotini

This roasted butternut squash rotini pasta dish is warm, creamy, delicious, and oh-so-nice! If you’re looking for a yummy vegan pasta dish, here ya go! 🙂

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In case any of you weren’t aware…I love food. All types! But I’ve got to admit, nothing makes me happier than a warm serving of comfort food.

Here in Central Florida, we have been experiencing a “Winter” all weekend, with temperatures dipping down to the ‘40s (Fahrenheit)! Yes northerners, laugh all you want. But don’t come complaining to me, once you decide to move down here, and then eventually complain about our frigid 40 degree weather!!!

As many of you know, my husband and I try to eat as locally and seasonally as we can. Luckily, we have had some great produce shares from Steed Farm, our local Community-Supported Agricultural system (also known as CSAs). Among this week’s most recent share of seasonal goodies, we received a very large, 5 pound choctaw squash. Now-I know what you’re thinking. The recipe that I’m about to provide is for butternut squash, yet I used a different variety. Choctaws taste almost exactly like butternut squashes, and are very close cousins. If you do not have access to butternut squash in your area, please feel free to opt for choctaw-vice/versa. Trust me when I say that once I saw that beautiful squash, my taste buds became very happy.

Pieces of chopped butternut squash

After trying to figure out how I was going to prepare this lovely fruit, an ‘A-ha!’ moment came: Why not transform this into a delicious comfort pasta dish? And so I did.

Folks, I would like to present you with this creamy butternut squash rotini recipe. This dish specifically calls for rotini pasta, as it holds its shape and does nicely with absorbing the creamy butternut puree.  While you can technically opt for whatever type of pasta you’d like, I went for pasta enriched with protein. Because the squash (and garlic!) are roasted, this recipe takes slightly over an hour to prepare. But please trust me, it’s well worth your time. While the squash and garlic are roasting, you can even do other things, such as yoga, walking, reading, or catching up on Netflix 😉 -You do you! The moment your fork digs into the rotini which later lands onto the tip of your tongue, your taste buds will feel like you gave them one of the creamiest and most delicious bites of comfort food heaven, ever.

Chunks of roasted butternut squash with the skin

Did I also mention that this specific recipe is vegan and dairy-free? Well, in case I haven’t, now you know!

I can practically hear your stomach grumbling form here…so let’s move onto the recipe, shall we??

Creamy Butternut Squash Rotini

This roasted creamy butternut squash rotini pasta dish is warm, creamy, garlicky, delicious, and oh-so-nice! 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: pasta, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 5 Servings
Calories: 416kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 14 oz. rotini pasta

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whileoven is preheating, carefully cut the squash in half, remove the seeded coreand then cut each of the half pieces, until the squash has been cut into largequarters. Take 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, to lightly grease the bottom ofa large sheet.
  • Take the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil andgently lather each quarter and place into the tray, skin side up. Place thegarlic bulb into the same tray. Allow to bake for 50-60 minutes, until the skinof each piece can be gently pierced with a fork. Allow to cool down for about 5 minutes.
  • During the last 10 minutes of roasting time,begin to boil a large pot of water. Once water is at a rolling boiling point,lower heat to medium-high, place pasta into water, and allow to cook for 7-9minutes until al-dente. Drain, and then place back into lot, with a cover. Setaside.
  • Once squash has cooled down, gently scoopsoftened squash and garlic, and place into a large food processor. Gently addin the almond milk, salt, pepper, and remaining spices. Puree the mixture for1-2 minutes until the blend has turned into a thick liquid consistency.
  • Once the puree has been created, gently mix intothe pasta until well-combined.
  • (Optional) Add in fresh spinach leaves.
  • Enjoy!

Nutritional Information per serving:

416 calories/ 7.4 grams protein/ 10.5 grams fat/ 76.7 grams carbohydrates/ 11 grams of fiber

*Substitute for any other milk of your choice

**Feel free to rinse, season, lightly oil and bake the seeds at 350 F for about 10-15 minutes, or until crispy!

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Smiling woman in front of a plate of spicy honey-baked chicken thighs

Spicy Honey-Baked Chicken Thighs

These spicy honey-baked chicken thighs are a beautiful dance filled with sweet, bold, and juicy flavors that you and your family will love!

A plate filled with spicy honey-baked chicken thighs
Spicy honey-baked chicken thighs

You may be similar to me in the sense that you do the best you can in order to consume ethically-sourced food, as often as humanly possible. This could include sourcing your veggies from a community garden, or making your own batches of vegan ice cream. Others, including myself, have been on a quest to find ethically-sourced meats.

Is that even possible?

While this specific question can certainly be seen as controversial, and filled with arguments from the sides of vegans and omnivores, I would like to take the argument and say ‘Yes!’ It is possible to find ethically-sourced meat.  The key is to find sources of meat that come from local, small-scale farmers. As an alternative to environmentally-degrading factory farm systems, there are many small-scale farmers what are intentional about raise their livestock in a free-range manner, free of any use of antibiotics or added growth hormones. Many of these farmers work to ensure that the animals are not only provided with ample space, but are raised with dignity.

Local Meat FTW

I recently had the opportunity to befriend John Roberts, the owner of Olivor Farms, a small-scale livestock operation based out of Dover, Florida.  John and his wife Chrysti raise free-range chickens and grass-finished beef cows on open pastures around the Dover area. This couple and their brand truly believe in the importance of transparency and honesty. I wrote a recent Farm to Spork feature about Olivor Farms, which can be accessed here.

Spicy honey-baked chicken thighs fresh out of the oven
Spicy honey-baked chicken thighs fresh out of the oven

After interviewing John, I knew that I had to try some of their chicken, for myself. And let me tell you…it’s delicious and worth every penny.  Being that I absolutely love eating dark meat, I developed a mouth-watering recipe that I believe you and your family will enjoy.

The Verdict?

The thighs turned out absolutely juicy, and had a lovely tangy-spigy-sweet flavor. But in my opinion, the heat was very tolerable, and not at-all unpleasant. I sourced the particular spicy honey that I used for this recipe from The Corner Store, a Plant City café and natural goods market that specializes in the sale of gourmet, organic, and locally-sourced items. If you have sensitivity to heat, you can definitely opt for a milder honey!

Describing the baked chicken sure is making me hungry…let’s move onto the recipe!


Spicy Honey-baked Chicken Thighs

These spicy honey-baked chicken thighs are a beautiful dance filled with sweet, bold, and juicy flavors that you and your family will love!
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 462kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 raw chicken thighs with skin

Spices

  • 2 tbsp. spicy honey
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. yellow mustard

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the entire set of spicesby whisking with a fork until well-blended. Gently puncture each of the thighswith a fork until there are several small holes in each piece. Place each thigh in large bowl and gently mix marinade into chicken until each thigh iswell-coated. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes-overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once oven has finished pre-heating, take a onoven-safe casserole dish, lightly grease the bottom of it, and place thechicken thighs in the dish. Allow to bake for 30-35 minutes, or until thejuices run clear. If you have a food thermometer, the internal temperatureshould be at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Allow chicken thighs to cool for at least 5 minutes, and enjoy!

Video

Nutritional Information per serving:

462 calories/ 32.14 grams protein/ 32.24 grams fat/ 9.6 grams carbohydrates/ .3 grams of fiber

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Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil bowl: An Earth-Friendly Meal

This mesquite cauliflower and lentil bowl is a dish that is delicious, and planet-friendly!

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl
Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

You’re probably like me, in the sense that you are trying to live your best life possible. Maybe this effort includes giving back to the community by being physically active, and trying to eat as healthy as possible-on top of every other responsibility you may have.

What about this planet? Where does being a good environmental steward come into play with you trying to live out your best life? What steps are you making in order to make sure that your actions, and decisions have a good impact on the Earth, and everyone else who lives here? Then the effort of living your best life shifts to living our best life.

A Global Perspective

Let’s take a step back and think globally, for a second. According to a 2017 study conducted by the United Nations, by the year 2050, Planet Earth’s population will surpass 9.8 billion inhabitants-all fighting for the same diminishing resources. Trying to live your best life, while also trying to live healthily and being a mindful steward to our ever-crowding planet may not only seem heavy, but can also become an extremely overwhelming effort.

What if I told you can take the first step of living an equally healthy and sustainable life by choosing what and how you eat? It’s definitely a great place to begin. While attempting to adopt such a golden diet may seem daunting, there is one team of scientists and researchers which may have one solution to this dilemma. In 2019, The EAT Lancet Commission was formed as an effort to address this dichotomy. The EAT-Lancet Commission comprised of over 37 leading scientists and researchers from over 16 countries who work in the arenas of agriculture. Human health, environmental science and political science who worked together to develop scientifically-backed global targets for healthy diets and a sustainable food production system (“Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission”, 2019).

A Planetary Health Plate

So what and how does the EAT-Lancet Commission reccomend we eat? The Commission developed a planetary health plate that consists of roughly half a plate of fruits and vegetables. The Other half of this plate would primarily consist of whole grains (such as rice and barley), plant-sourced protein, and unsaturated plant oils (such as olive and sesame). The Planetary includes minimal consumption of animal-based foods (such as meat, dairy, and eggs), sugars, and even includes a significant limitation of starchy vegetables and (“Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission”, 2019).

A diagram of the EAT Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Plate

Ever since I found out about the Planetary Health Plate, I have been intrigued. I definitely fall within the camp of folks who is trying my best to eat in a healthy manner while also being environmentally conscientious. I wanted to accept the challenge of eating in a way that complies with the principles of the EAT Lancet Commission, as best as I could. With that being said, I bring you my first Planetary Health Plate Dish-or should I say bowl, in this case?

An Earth-Friendly Meal?

With this, I bring to you a very delicious and hearty Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil bowl. This delicious bowl has a very rich set of flavors, which combine the natural meatiness of Lentils, with the versatility of rice. The roasted cauliflower with the homemade mesquite marinade gives this dish a burst of subtle smoke and heat-packed flavor. The incorporation of onion, garlic and generous amounts of kale help to ensure that at least half of this bowl comprised of vegetables-a recommendation of the Planetary health plate guideline. I will admit that while the guidelines recommend a minimal amount of starchy vegetables, I did incorporate a small sweet potato into my recipe, since I wanted to clean out my fridge in the process-therefore, reducing food waste. The incorporation of the sweet potato is entirely up to you! All in all, this dish took about 40 minutes to prepare, excluding the time you are preheating your oven. This may seem like a long time, but the dish was actually simple to prepare, since most of these ingredients cooked themselves, with minimal effort to watch over.

Planetary-health plate-complaint ingredients for the Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

Ready to get cookin’?! Let’s move onto the recipe!

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

This mesquite cauliflower and lentil bowl is a dish that is delicious, and planet-friendly!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free, vegan
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 407kcal

Ingredients

Black Rice

  • 1 cup Black rice (*or whatever other rice you have)
  • 2 cups water

Roasted Mesquite Cauliflower

  • 1 cauliflower large
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Lentil Stew

  • 1 cup lentils uncooked
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups kale or spinach
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 sweet potato diced (optional ingredient)
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil

Instructions

  • First, before moving forward withany other step, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooking the Rice

  • [Method 1: Rice Cooker] Load the rice cooker with the rice and water, press the startbutton, cover, and allow for the rice to cook for about 25-35 minutes, or untilthe cooker indicated that the rice has finished cooking. Afterwards, fluff withfork.
  • [Method 2: Stovetop] in a medium pot, combine the rice and water, and heat onmedium-high and allow to boil. Once the rice reaches a rolling boil, reduce theheat to low, cover, and allow to cook for 25-35 minutes or until you see thatall of the water has evaporated. Afterwards, fluff with fork.

Whilewaiting for the rice to cook, begin preparing the roasted cauliflower:

  • Coarselydice cauliflower into pieces that are roughly 2”-3” in size. Place in anoven-safe casserole dish, and set aside.
  • Makingthe mesquite marinade: In a bowl, combine the maple syrup, the chili powder,smoked paprika, oil, and salt until well-combined.
  • Gently pour over the mesquite marinade over the cauliflower pieces, and gentlymix marinade with your hands until each piece of cauliflower is well-coated.
  • Placein center rack of oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Afterwards, take out of theoven, flip each piece over, and place in the oven again for 15-20 minutes, oruntil each piece of cauliflower has lightly caramelized.

Whilewaiting for cauliflower and rice to finish cooking, begin preparing lentilstew.

  • In a fine mesh, rinse out lentils, until small rocks and debris have been removed.
  • In a medium pot, add the cooking oil, and let it heat up for about 10-30 secondson medium-high. Gradually, add in the onions and garlic and sauté for about 3minutes, or until the onions become translucent. At that point, add thelentils, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, turmeric, salt and sweet potato andallow to heat up until boiling. Once you see that the stew begins to boil,reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow the lentil stew to cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils have absorbed the broth. During the last 10minutes of the lentils simmering, mix in the kale, and cover again.  
  • Addeach of these elements into a bowl or plate of your choice, and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition information per serving:

407 calories/ 9.5 grams protein/ 11 grams fat/ 71 grams carbohydrates/ 7.5 grams of fiber


References:

Willet, W., & Rockström, J. (2019). Summary Report of the Eat-Lancet CommissionSummary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission. EAT; Wellcome Trust. Retrieved from https://eatforum.org/content/uploads/2019/07/EAT-Lancet_Commission_Summary_Report.pdf

World population projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100 | UN DESA Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2017.html.

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