Recipe Box: Festive Black Bean Chili

This vegan recipe is a long-time love and even a fan favorite of my meat-eating friends. It was also among the first “real meals” I learned to make in my post-college life, back before Y2K.

Umpteen years ago I moved to Ithaca, a stunning and liberal college town nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Back then, I was a 22-year-old college grad, a vegetarian and working my first job at the local newspaper, The Ithaca Journal.

Not two blocks away from my office, I came across a great vegetarian eatery that quickly became my go-to lunchtime haunt. The Moosewood Restaurant, known for its veggie and vegan fare, was widely known. I quickly fell in love with the food and in turn started acquiring Moosewood cookbooks. (Um, I confess I have more than a half dozen of them.)

This recipe, which I’ve adapted a bit over the years, was among the first I tried and remains one of my favorites. I hadn’t made it in years, but the other day, inspiration struck.

I forgot how damn good it was. So for you, my adapted version of Festive Black Bean Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.

feb March 2016 985


1 diced onion

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. coriander

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 15-oz can black beans

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 cup salsa

salt and pepper to taste.

feb March 2016 979

In a large pot, brown the onion with garlic in 1/2 cup of water for about five minutes. Add the cumin, coriander and stir on high heat for about a minute. Add salsa and bell peppers, lower the heat and cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the black beans and tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add corn and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Stir every now and again and salt and pepper to taste. I typically pair this with either cornbread or tortilla chips (hint of lime flavor hits the spot!) Sometimes I top it with avocado before serving.

Serves 4 people. Reheats well. Each 11 ounce serving has 222 calories and 10 grams of protein (that’s without the bread, chips or avocado!) Enjoy!

Happy birthday Meri (and Jay!) I used this because these two lovelies share a birthday!

Happy birthday Meri (and Jay!) I used this because these two lovelies share a birthday!

On a completely unrelated note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MERI! Today is our chick’s 30-somethingth birthday and we love her to bits! Make sure to wish her a happy day via Scoot’s social media or in the comments below!

Recipe Box: Cauli Cream

Leafing through Wegmans’ Menu magazine last month, I came across one recipe that intrigued me: Cauli “Cream.”

For years I’ve avoided creamy dishes because heavy cream-based sauces don’t agree with me. Cauli cream would be a simple, non dairy cream substitute that would allow me to finally attempt to make some sort of alfredo dish.

I ran to Wegmans and bought the ingredients, including a head of cauliflower for $3. I chopped it up.

Following the simple recipe, I made the vegan cream alternative in about an hour, first boiling the cauliflower, then blending it into a puree.

Here’s what you need:

10 cups of water

Juice of two lemons

2 tsp. salt, divided

1 cauliflower, 3 lbs, trimmed, cored and cut into florets

Heat the water, lemon juice and 1 tsp. salt in a large pot. Bring to boil. Add cauliflower and return to simmer (med-low heat). Cook until fork-tender (it took my stove about 30 minutes.)

Cauliflower florets are simmering.

Cauliflower florets are simmering.

Transfer cauliflower to a colander. Retain cooking water in pot. Let cauliflower sit at least 10 minutes in colander.

Steaming cauliflower and my ancient blender.

Steaming cauliflower and my ancient blender.


If you have a good blender, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cooking water, about half the cauliflower and 1 tsp. salt to blender. Puree until smooth. Remove most of puree from blender and add remaining cauliflower. Puree until smooth and combine batches, mix.

My blender is less than stellar, so I do mine in about 6-8 half-cup batches. Not ideal, but it works.

I separate into 1 cup servings and use immediately in another recipe, or freeze.

All ready to go!

All ready to go!

I made a few dishes with this, all courtesy Wegmans: cauli cream corn chowder (we gave it a B), cauli cream pesto pasta with broccoli and tomatoes (Hubs gave this an A+ and I’ve made it twice already, using fresh broccoli) and cauli cream truffle pasta, using kale (solid B+)

I hope you love this easy and healthy recipe as much as I do!

Now, who can recommend a decent blender?

Recipe Box: Summer Veggies Three Ways

If you’ve been following along the last couple of Fridays, me and my chicks have been posting all about eating local. You know what happens when you’re hitting the farmer’s market and getting produce delivery?

You have a LOT of veggies laying around.

I don't even know what my counter looks like anymore.

I don’t even know what my counter looks like anymore.

Which is great! Except what the heck are you going to do with them all?

Here are three recipes I found to help me use up these beautiful bounties. And as a bonus, all three of these recipes are vegan, gluten free and paleo friendly, because I’m nice like that (it was mostly coincidence, but lets roll with it).

The first is recipe is adapted from the awesome vegan cookbook, The Kind Diet. If you don’t know this one, it’s written by Alicia Silverstone. I’m not a vegan (right now), but vegan cooking is happening a lot right now due to the dairy elimination. If you don’t know much about succotash, get ready to make the ‘ewww, Lima Beans’ face. Honestly, though, lima beans are awesome. And if you really, really hate them, you could swap in edamame instead. Don’t let the beans scare you off though, this is delicious.

Summer Succotash

Lima beans, the bane of my childhood existence, getting some action with my fresh corn and tomatoes.

Lima beans, the bane of my childhood existence, getting some action with my fresh corn and tomatoes.



1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 diced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (10 ounce) package frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1 cup fresh or frozen corn (I used ridiculously fresh local corn, cut right off the cob)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heat the butter and oil together in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until the onions begin to brown (5-7 minutes).  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Stir in the lima beans and saute another 5 minutes.  Add the corn and tomatoes, saute 1 minute longer until heated through.  Remove from heat and add parsley, basil and vinegar.

This can be served warm or chilled. And it’s great either way. Do it. You’ll love it. All I am saying, if give (lima) beans a chance.

The next recipe came from Pinterest, where I spend far too much time pinning recipes I will likely never make. But this one, Warm Zucchini Salad, I did! And it was fab. Pinterest led me to Vikalinka, a blog I hadn’t heard of before.

When you have a LOT of zucchini, make this.

When you have a LOT of zucchini, make this.

Go here to check out the original recipe post, her pictures are stunning.

The last recipe came from a trip to the library, where I stumbled upon The Real Girl’s Kitchen cookbook. I didn’t actually notice that it was written by Haylie Duff (do I secretly have a thing for cookbooks written by blonde actresses? maybe.), I just liked the pictures. Thank goodness I like pretty things, because this cookbook provided me with a few great new recipes, including this one.


I hesitate to even call this a recipe, it’s that simple. Like, even if you can’t cook, you can cook this. And you should, because I’ve made it three times in the last month, and I’m making it again this week. And you know, I DON’T like repeats.

Haricot Vert Salad

Five ingredients never looked so good.

Five ingredients never looked so good.


1 pound of french green beans (I used regular green beans, they’re just French, only fatter, and I feel it’s important not to judge beans on their size)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes – quartered 
Fresh Dill
Red wine vinegar
Olive oil
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Blanche green beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes (you want them still crunchy, but not raw), and the put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cooled down, drain and put them in a large bowl. 

Cut tomatoes in quarters. Or halves. Don’t stress it. Add those to the beans, along with the chopped dill. 

Mix the red wine vinegar and mustard together and drizzle over the beans and tomatoes. Or just dump those in the bowl and mix everything around. Salt and pepper to taste, and you’re good to go.

Now, get a plate. Or just stand there, eating it out of the bowl with your fingers. You know, as one does.

Don’t you just want some veggies now? Do you have any great vegetable recipes? Please feel free to share! 


Road Tested: Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Pro 70

Back in February, we adopted our dog, Gemma. She came from the streets of Philadelphia and I swore that she was going to have the best life in our home. We feed her food that we get at a specialty natural pet food store, give her only the best treats, and occasionally she gets free range, organic eggs. Um, I’m pretty sure she eats better than I do!

Now, I’m not a vegan but I do try to be cognizant of what I put in my body. Therefore when I heard from Fit Approach that Manitoba Harvest was looking for some folks to try out their hemp protein powder, I jumped at the opportunity.

Oh, do go on!

Oh, do go on!

I’m a morning gym goer, so my need/want for protein powder is usually in the form of smoothies. Prior to this, I solely went on taste. I tried a few protein powders that were… well, in a word, TERRIBLE. Chalky, powdery, strong-flavored (and NOT in a good way).

I finally found a protein powder that was right up my alley and it’s worked well for me but I’m always interested in trying new things, especially when they are better for me! Plant based protein with four ingredients? I’m down!

Since I was trying new things, I decided to try a couple of new smoothie recipes from the Manitoba Harvest website. I was sent two packets of Hemp Pro 70: chocolate and vanilla.

Now, before I continue, let me say that I’m definitely more of a vanilla fan than a chocolate when it comes to protein powder. That being said, I figured that I would start with the chocolate to give it a fair shot and not let any previous biases cloud my judgement.

The recipes on the website call for one serving of the protein powder but since I was given a half serving in the sample, the recipes below are adjusted accordingly. If you click through to their site, you can see the recipes.

Okay, chocolate, get your game face on!

Okay, chocolate, get your game face on!

Berry-Choco Smoothie

  • 3/4 cup organic blueberries
  • .5 Manitoba Harvest organic hemp protein powder chocolate
  • 1/2 chocolate almond milk (I used original unsweetened almond milk, as I didn’t have chocolate almond milk. I also upped it to a cup because it was too thick to drink.)

Combine in a blender and serve!


My thoughts? Well, sadly, I am still not a huge chocolate protein powder fan. I’m not sure if it’s the recipe (although I do love blueberries) or what I didn’t exactly adore about this smoothie, but I wasn’t crazy about it. The Manitoba Harvest folks suggest that their hemp products have a nutty taste but I felt like it was more earth-y.

Gemma was definitely begging for some but no can do, pup; no chocolate for dogs!

However, with the knowledge that I usually favor the flavor of vanilla protein powder, I was looking forward to powering on the following day.

Into the blender you go!

Into the blender you go!

Vanilla Berry Banana Shake

  • 1/2 cup organic strawberries
  • 1/2 organic banana
  • .5 serving of Manitoba Harvest organic hemp protein vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of organic vanilla almond milk (Again, I used original unsweetened almond milk. And again, I upped the amount to a cup.)
  • 1/4 cup of ice (which basically equals a cube)

Combine and blend ingredients in blender. Serve. Enjoy!

Hello, my pretty!

Hello, my pretty!

Now THIS? This was total and complete love at first taste. And second. And third. Sometimes I save smoothies to share with my husband but not this time. (Too bad, so sad, Dude!) (Don’t fret – Gemma got the other half of the banana.)

Additionally, what’s pretty rad about this protein is that it’s water soluble. So you can throw it into water, almond milk, milk milk (if you’re an animal product type), coconut water and bam – it’s ready to go. Sign me up for a big canister of vanilla!

If you’d like to give the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 products a whirl, here’s a coupon code! You can get 20% off the #pro70 vanilla and chocolate flavors with the code: sweatpinkpro70

Or, you can try your hand at winning a case of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 – share a picture on Instagram or Twitter showing your hemp love! Make sure you tag @manitobaharvest and hashtag #pro70 so that they see what’cha got! Contest ends 9/30.

Talk to me about smoothies, because I love them so. Any suggestions for chocolate protein powder recipes that I can try? (I really like the chocolate and peanut butter combo.) How about vanilla? Have you ever tried Hemp Pro 70?

Fit Approach and Manitoba Harvest provided the me with the opportunity to taste and review. All opinions are my own.

Throwing Down

You guys, I’ve been struggling. A lot.

Just over a month ago, I posted about my potential attempt at a (mostly) vegan lifestyle.  I gave up meat and dairy, and within a couple weeks, I was feeling amazing. My weight was dropping, my eczema cleared up and things were… regular (sorry).

And then cheese. Because it’s cheese. Actually, it was a cheese factory. Or, The Cheesecake Factory, to be more specific.

I went out for a girl’s night with my bffl and thought ‘I can relax for one night and get back on tomorrow.’

Tomorrow didn’t come. Well, it came, but it came with ALL THE DAIRY.

And with all the dairy (and meat and overeating and slacking and CHEESE – hello, vicious cycle), came the weight right back on and the general feeling of grossness.


So, as of today, I threw down the gauntlet with myself. 30 days. Full accountability to diet, exercise, tracking my food and making healthy choices for thirty days. No bullpuckey. (Look Mer, no cursing!)

Here are the rules:

No Dairy – That means no cheese, no ice cream, no Pinkberry, no cheese, no butter, no yogurt, no CHEESE.

No ‘meat’ – Eliminating beef, pork and poultry. Still eating fish and eggs. Let’s not even talk about bacon.

No heavily processed foods – I say heavily processed because some of my staples, like almond milk, tofu and whole grain pasta are definitely ‘processed’. Basically, cutting out things with ingredients that sound like things from a 10th grade chemistry textbook.  And keeping things like pre-made veggie burgers/meat replacement products limited. No take out/fast food/convenience food. Note, this doesn’t mean no going out to eat. Just not at any place that only serves crap.

Water – 8 cups a day BARE MINIMUM.

Exercise – 5 times a week, 3 of them being good, fast walks. Not focusing on running right now. I know I have a half marathon to train for, and I have a plan for that. But for now, in the ridiculous heat, I’m going to work on bringing up my walking pace so that when I do start running again, I’ll be ready for it (as opposed to now where I just sort of jog slowly and wheeze). The other two workouts are for strength training or Zumba classes. Or swimming. Or whatever way I feel like moving my body. Just moving it. Period.

Tracking on My Fitness Pal – Every day. Every bite. Every lick.

No alcohol – I know. I KNOW.

No excuses – None. At all. These are the rules, and they will be followed. For 30 days. Because while all of that is a lot, none of it has to be forever. Once I complete this personal challenge, I’ll see where I am and decide what I want to do from there.

Because it’s only 30 days. (Please remind me of this when you see me in the cheese aisle at Trader Joe’s).

So, tell me folks, what could you commit to for 30 days? What is that one thing that you let get in your way? What’s your weakness, and would you be willing to hold yourself accountable to turning it into a strength for a month?

If you think you can do it, and you want to join me in this 30 day throwdown, DO IT. And if you think you can’t do it… well, then, you’re right.

Keep Bec company?  Challenge yourself? Please, tell her in the comments below that you want to join her crazy train. She really likes company. And, apparently, cheese. 

For The Love of Bacon – A post by a non preachy, aspiring, maybe, vegan

As my fellow Scooters Jess and Meri can attest to, my love affair with bacon has been a deep and complex and downright torrid at times (Maple Bacon Donuts).

Maple Bacon Donut

There were mixed reviews on the Maple Bacon Donuts, but I was a huge fan.

It’s also coming to a close. *cue sad violin music*

I know. I KNOW. No more bacon? Why would I do such a thing? What is this world coming to? This world, or at least my world, is coming to some realizations regarding my relationship with food.

I’m going vegan, baby. Maybe.

Yeah, I said vegan. And no matter what people tell you, vegan bacon, or any bacon that isn’t actual bacon, ain’t bacon at all.

I’ve toyed with vegetarianism before, both in high school and about a year ago. But my previous attempts at vegetarianism (or pescatarianism… or flexetarianism… or veganism) were also specifically geared toward weight loss. I didn’t want to hear about the cute and fluffy animals and their feelings (and if you don’t, I don’t judge you and I promise, I’m not going to go there, so you can keep reading) and I didn’t care about the health benefits of plant based eating. I just wanted to be skinny. So, I would start eliminating foods that I thought were making me fat (meat) while continuing to eat foods that were actually making me fat (Little Debbie).

While I found that a vegetarian diet could be both satisfying and (sometimes) healthy, there was always some part of my brain saying ‘but we NEED meat!’.

Okay, technically, what my brain was saying was ‘Get thee to Five Guys, wench!’ My brain is kind of a jerk.

But, a few weeks ago, my brain and I sat down and watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix. Hungry for Change was enlightening with regard to the food and diet industries, but very fact based. The information isn’t Earth-shattering but there is a lot of it. It was a good documentary, and worth watching, but don’t expect to be blown away. Still, there was a lot of data so my brain was plenty busy processing the idea of eating a plant based diet, when I turned on the next one.

Vegucated, for me, was much more captivating. A documentary by a vegan, asking three non vegans to go vegan for six weeks and see how it goes (that’s a loose summary, at best). I won’t go into detail. If you want to watch it, it’s on Netflix instant. And maybe not everyone will take from it what I did, which is totally cool. But since my brain was so busy processing the previous facts and figures, that just left me to watch Vegucated. Well, me and my heart.

While being rather moderate in terms of footage and facts about factory farming, the part that I’ve always avoided looking at was there, and by the middle of the film, I was bawling my eyes out about baby chickens while my teenage daughter gave me the ‘seriously, Mom’ side eye.  (She cried too, she’s more like me than she cares to admit).

Vegucated = InstaVegan!

Okay, no. Not exactly. I didn’t go to the kitchen after watching the flick and immediately start flinging cheese and salami into the trash. Heck, I might have even flung some into my mouth.

But I did start thinking. And over the next few weeks, I kept thinking.

Could I be vegan, if I wanted to? Did I want to be? Was this yet another ‘diet’ idea that I would obsess on for a few minutes and then shove to the back of the pile with the rest?

I talked to people, both pro-vegan and pro-bacon, and tried to decide if this was something I wanted to pursue.

And I talked to Meri, who knows me well, and knows my propensity to jump into things without thinking. (Chick Mer is very wise, yo).

So, am I vegan? No. Not yet. And maybe not ever. I’m not sure yet.

What am I? Right now, I’m just a person trying to do my best at eating what I feel is healthy for me and working at making my body its strongest. Oh, and I’m a pescatarian.

I’ve completely eliminated cow’s milk dairy from my diet. This has been a long time coming since dairy exacerbates a medical condition that I have (I pretended it didn’t because I really like cheese). And I’ve eliminated meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc). I’m still eating eggs (which we’re starting to get from local folks that are nice to their chickens) and fish (which I don’t have a lot of warm squishy feelings about).

So what do I eat? Just about everything else I can fit in my face. Lots of nuts and seeds, almond  and coconut milk, grains, soy (not a lot). Oh and a lot of these…


Organic fruits and veggies, which I get through a local delivery service.

And I may have had an Oreo, which is totally vegan. Don’t judge.

I’m still learning. I’m learning what I love (vegan chocolate peanut butter bars from Whole Foods – shut up, nutritional yeast) and what I don’t love (beets, it doesn’t matter what color or what I do with them, they taste like dirt). I’m paying attention to my body and how it feels (today, it feels amazing). And I’m taking my time to decide if this is the lifestyle I want, one that I can sustain.

So for now, I’m a non-preachy, aspiring, maybe someday vegan. Who kind of misses bacon.

<3 Bec

P.S. C25K is not dead, I swear. I just haven’t run in a couple weeks. But I’ve been doing plenty of walking and I’ll get back to it.

What is your diet mentality? Tell us about it! And feel free to spam us with recipes!