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There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of creating and enjoying a homemade meal. I found a  recipe for split pea puree that combines a few great and simple flavors: split peas, onion, and lemon juice. In addition to being delicious, split peas are high in protein and fiber but low in calories.

Here’s the recipe from The New York Times’ Health Section’s Martha Rose Shulman that I can’t wait to try. Enjoy 🙂

Greek Yellow Split Pea Purée

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 cups yellow split peas, washed and picked over

Salt to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Pita bread, endive or small romaine lettuce leaves, or crudités for dipping

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy saucepan, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, five to six minutes. Add the split peas and enough water to cover by an inch, and bring to a boil. Skim foam off the top, reduce the heat, cover and simmer one hour. Add salt to taste, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes to an hour until the beans fall apart and sink to the bottom of the pot. Stir often to prevent them from sticking. The water should cloud, and some of the split peas will be intact while others will disintegrate. Continue to simmer until they have mostly disintegrated.

2. When the beans have fallen apart and are soft and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Replace the lid and let sit for 20 minutes. If the mixture looks more like a soup than a purée, with most of the liquid on the top, place a strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture into the strainer. Let sit for 10 minutes while the liquid runs through the strainer, then return the split peas to the pot. Taste and adjust salt. Moisten as desired with the broth. Add a generous amount of pepper, and whisk in the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice. Whisking helps break down the split peas and contributes to a smooth texture. Transfer to a bowl or plate, top with a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

Yield: Serves six to eight.

Advance preparation: This will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator. Retain any liquid that you’ve poured off from the pot, as the peas will continue to thicken and stiffen and you will probably want to thin them out. Reheat gently and serve.

In a city dominated by cupcakes topped with two inches of frosting so sweet I need to down 20 oz of water afterward , my favorite dessert continues to be Mollie Katzen’s Made-in-the-Pan Chocolate Cake.  Moist and dark, this aromatic cake provides a chocolate treat without being overly sweet or high in calories.  That it also happens to be vegan makes it worthy of a gold star in my kitchen.  A bonus for most college students:  Katzen’s chocolaty treat has you combine all ingredients in one 8-inch-square pan.  No pile of dirty dishes!  While I have moved on to cook from Mollie Katzen’s adult cookbooks whose pages do not remind me to ask an adult to preheat the oven, this cake from her children’s cookbook “Honest Pretzels” will always be my favorite.

Mollie Katzen’s Made-In-The-Pan Chocolate Cake

Yield: One 8-inch square cake, about 8 or 9 servings

Preheat oven to 325°F.
1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or white vinegar

1.    Put flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and baking soda into a pan and mix.
2.    Add water, oil, vanilla extract and vinegar.
3.    Stir slowly with a fork in small circles to blend until smooth.
4.    Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula, and spread it evenly.
5.    Clean the edges, then bake for 30 minutes.
6.    Cool before cutting into squares. This tastes good (and looks pretty) with some powdered sugar dusted on top.

Stressed with midterms and my thesis I have not been able to cook any
lengthy recipes that require more than ten minutes by the stove. I also
noticed that my lack of activity in the kitchen has made me forget about all
the fresh produce in the fridge I purchased last week.  I noticed that the baby
spinach I had in the fridge would not be suitable for a salad within two
days.  I was not in a mood for salad anytime soon, so I thought of another
way to utilize my wilting spinach. I was really craving pasta so I thought
Spinach Pesto! I did not even have time to look for a recipe online, but I
knew that if I pureed the Spinach with some flavorful extra virgin olive
oil, Parmesan cheese, and a clove of garlic, and pine nuts. I would make a
delicious sauce for my whole grain rotini pasta. I used about 2 cups of baby
spinach, three tablespoons of evoo, ¼ cup of vegetable broth, and 2
tablespoons of pine nuts. Just put everything in the blender and puree.

If you’re looking for a great place to have a nice VEGAN meal with a friend- Peace Food on the Upper West Side is the place for you. While Peace Food may not have the greatest selection of vegan entrees they are well priced and delicious even for a non-vegan such as myself! They offer a great selection of vegan desserts which, let’s face it, is the best part of any meal.  So hop on the subway and grab a bite to eat at Peace Food!

Happy Snow Day everybody! Instead of simply hibernating and sipping hot cocoa, why not take advantage of the great workouts the snow offers? Strap on your snow boots, sport your long underwear and watch the Vancouver olympics to garner enough motivation to leave the cozy confines of your home. Winter sports provide hard-core workouts that will burn numerous calories and tone your muscles (not to mention provide endless amusement as well). Some great examples are:

Snow shoeing: 500.09 calories per hour

Sledding: 476 calories per hour

Walking in the snow: 450 calories per hour

Shoveling: 408 calories per hour

You also cannot neglect dancing upon learning of class cancellation which burns 321.48 calories per hour, in case you were wondering;)

*** These values were obtained from Self magazine and are based on a 150 pound person.

Also, please take caution when exercising in the snow-laden park. Yesterday one person was killed from a falling tree branch in Central Park so try to stay in clear areas, such as Sheep Meadow.

Hey all:

I have found a healthier (and more delicious) alternative to the classic stuffed baked potato.

It stars its cousin the sweet potato, which offers lots of Vitamin A. It is joined by our friend black beans (which I think are the most flavorful beans around), and which offer us protein and fiber.

I have adapted the recipe from EatingWell.com.

Sweet potatoes stuffed with black beans

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed to remove the salt
  • 8 grape tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preparation

  1. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Microwave on High until tender all the way to the center, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees F until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour.)
  2. Meanwhile, combine beans, tomatoes, oil, and spices and heat in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  3. When just cool enough to handle, slash each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Enjoy 🙂

Ahh the ever-elusive mini fridge. At times the miniature insulator proves a venerable companion (hooray, I can store last night’s leftovers) and, at others, an epic disappointment (why oh why won’t my  head of broccoli fit inside?). Instead of just attempting to cram your dorm-sized fridge with as many adult beverages as possible, why not try storing salubrious items that can help fuel long study sessions and keep you energized. Some staple items to include in your fridge are:

1. Salsa- This low-calorie, vegetable rich condiment can serve as a salad dressing in addition to a burrito topper.

2. Crudite- Munch on raw vegetables instead of chips to achieve your daily dose of fiber and nutrients.

3. Hummus- This protein rich, Mediterranean dip provides a great source of protein that will keep you satiated for hours.

4. Fresh fruit- When your sweet tooth begins to strike, try reaching for some fresh fruit instead of that Snickers bar. Fruit provides a great source of immune system enhancing nutrients, and the water content will help keep you full.

5. Yogurt- As young women calcium constitutes an extremely important nutrient to ensure bone health. Look for yogurt with high protein and low sugar contents, such as plain or Greek yogurt, and sweeten with fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey.