Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Gift to be Simple: Black Bean Burgers and Ojai Chocolates

Mother Nature isn't sure whether it's spring or summer, but we spent practically the entire day outside today anyway.  I love days like this: no frills, just being in the world, and being together.  Despite a high of nearly 90 degrees, we went geocaching in the morning along the South Branch of the Raritan River and discovered just how huge Echo Hill Reservation really is; and in the afternoon, we went to a wonderfully sane at-home birthday party for one of Ian's two "best" friends at school, where activities included collecting ladybugs, making tissue paper butterflies, playing with Chinese yo-yos and turning balloons into rocketships, playing "pass the present," and whacking a hand made pinata.  No outrageous entertainment, no ridiculously over-the-top venue.  Home made cupcakes and fresh fruit salad.  The kids had a fabulous time.

I love people who have a healthy appreciation for simplicity.  Life is complicated enough.

And even better, my doctor called me today with test results.  Turns out my T3 is a little low, which could account for some of the symptoms.  And my iron %saturation was low, too.  So I'm adding iron (being careful to take with raw sources of Vitamin C ... thanks, JeCaThRe) and a T3 supplement to see if it makes a difference.

To celebrate, I made veggie burgers (see below).  Well, OK.  I was going to make veggie burgers anyway.  But I also had some amazing raw chocolate.  Ojai Choclat is a small operation in Calfornia run by a woman named Mimi who does magical things with raw cacao, raw cocoa butter, nuts, maca, and a host of fresh local (to her) ingredients.  She's not a "raw foodist," but has lots of "raw foodist" friends, was presidposed to diabetes, and started making raw chocolates after her years of experience growing up on a farm where her mother grew organic foods, and coming to farmer's markets.  I ordered some on a whim a few weeks ago, and was amazed.  No, they don't taste like Hershey's or Lindt.  But they do taste like berry truffle, or nut butter, or chili.  They're sweet without being cloying.  And best of all ... no dairy, no sugar.  I'm not sure how much I believe about the health benefits of things like maca and the claims people make about raw, but I do know that it's nice to actually taste the chocolate.  Pure and simple.

(OK, commercial done.  No, she didn't pay me or send me any free samples.  Yes, I know that you're still eating chocolate.  Yes, I just think they're that good.)

Black Bean Bell Pepper Veggie Burgers

15 oz. can low sodium black beans
2/3 c. Italian bread crumbs
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 c. mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 c. shredded cheddar or Jack cheese
2 t. vegetable oil
2 eggs

Heat oven to broil.  Heat vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat; add pepper and mushrooms and saute until lightly browned.  Set aside and cool.  In a small bowl, beat the egg lightly with a fork.  Drain and rinse black beans.  Place beans in a large bowl and mash well with a fork.  Add bread crumbs, egg, pepper, mushrooms, and cheese.  Stir until evenly combined.  Form into 8 small patties and place on a baking sheet.  Place sheet 4-6 inches from the flame, and broil 5 minutes.  Flip and broil another 5 minutes.  Watch closely to prevent burning.  Serve in pita pockets.
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