Sometimes I feel like I’m in one of those movies – you know the ones where the main character has a little angel sitting on one shoulder and a little devil sitting on the other?
I’m supposed to be working on eating more healthfully. I was approached by someone at Harry’s Farmer’s Market a while ago, and they asked me if I would be willing to try the Eat Right America challenge for 28 days, and blog about it. Once I took a look at the basic premise behind the diet, I decided it didn’t differ too drastically from the way we eat normally, so I agreed to try it.
While I’m trying to follow the spirit of the Eat Right America challenge, there are a few things that I’m struggling with on the plan: 1) they discourage the use of traditional salt as a seasoning, even though they encourage you to use things like Bragg Liquid Aminos in some of their suggested recipes, which contains more sodium by volume than Soy Sauce; 2) they encourage the use of low-fat dairy products like low-fat and fat-free milk and yogurt, which often contain a lot of additives and modified starches; 3) I find it misleading that they discourage the use of fat/oil, yet they often direct you to puree raw nuts with other ingredients in a Vita Mix or Food Processor, which extracts the oil from the nuts and serves the same purpose.
Also, based on what I’ve read (and I’m certainly not a nutritionist or medical professional, I’m just a mom trying to wade through all the information), the body doesn’t distinguish between naturally occurring sugars (like fructose and lactose) and processed sugars (like sucrose) when it’s processing them, so I’m not sure that encouraging people to eat lots of fruit serves the purpose of cutting down their sugar cravings (which is one of the things that the team at Harry’s said would happen during this challenge).
Despite all of this, I do believe that there are tons of benefits to bulking up on the number of nutrient dense foods that you ingest, and decreasing the number of animal products, like dairy, meat and eggs, that you consume. Am I cooking without salt? No. Am I cutting back on the amount of salt I use? Yes. Have I eliminated dairy from my diet? No. Have I embraced almond milk as a delicious alternative on my morning cereal? Indeed!
So, what does all of this have to do with butterbeans and buttermilk? Well, I’ll tell you.
Today was National Pie Day. Yes it was.
And as a good southern girl, and a good southern food blogger, I couldn’t let this day pass without commemorating it with a pie. Or, several small buttermilk chess pies to be exact.
At the same time, I was slow-cooking a nutrient-rich pot of Red Kale and Speckled Butter Bean soup, replete with quinoa and tomatoes and completely and utterly fat free.
The pie did have a whole-wheat crust, in case you’re curious. And I only made a half-recipe of the filling (and used only a third of the crust in the shells), so each pie only contained about half a tablespoon of butter (which isn’t great, but it’s better than the alternative). And I used natural cane sugar, which is more nutrient dense than refined sugar is. And sea salt, which contains lots of minerals. So, no it’s not healthy, but it’s also not the worst thing you could consume on National Pie Day.
So, you see – angel and devil. Diametric personality. Whatever you want to call it, let’s just say it’s my reality. I’m not perfect, nobody is. And the thing about finding balance? Sometimes you have to give in to your urges.
This soup, by the way, is wonderful. The broth is light, and the kale and beans are hearty and filling. It almost has a meaty quality, and yet it’s completely vegetarian (vegan, even).
Red Kale and Speckled Butter Bean Soup
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
1 1/2 lbs. roma tomatoes, roasted and peeled
10 cups water
5 green onions, minced (green and white parts)
1 carrot, finely diced
11 oz. fresh speckled lima beans
1 bunch red kale
1 cup cooked quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
- Place roasted tomatoes, water, onion, carrot and beans in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for a couple of hourse, or until beans become tender.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper.
- Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Add to the soup and allow to cook for another 30 minutes.
- Add the cooked quinoa (cooked according to package instructions) to the pot and let simmer another 30 minutes.
Buttermilk Chess mini-Pies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 mini-Pies
for the crust
1 cup whole-wheat flour
pinch of sea salt
5 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
4-6 Tablespoons ice water
for the filling
1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup natural cane sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 275F
- For the crust, place the flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade and turn it on.
- While it’s running, add ice water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms a ball.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll it out into a thin disc. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut six rounds. Roll these out even thinner and line the cups of a 6-cup muffin tin with the dough circles, pleating the dough as necessary.
- Place in the preheated oven to warm while you prepare the filling.
- In a heat-proof bowl, place the egg, egg yolks, sugar and salt and whisk to combine.
- Add the buttermilk and sprinkle the butter pieces over the top.
- Bring a skillet with 1-inch of water to a simmer and place the bowl in the simmering water.
- Whisk constantly until the butter melts and mixture becomes shiny and is warm to the touch.
- Remove from the heat and ladle filling into the warm crusts.
- Bake at 275F. for 30 minutes, or until filling is just set (it should still be slightly jiggly in the center).
- Allow to cool completely before serving.