Thursday, September 23, 2010

Curry Chickpea Stew

I really dislike recipes that call for cooked beans because it's an extra step!  Most of the time, I cook a big batch of beans and freeze them in small portions for easy use in these recipes.  Sometimes  (like today) I don't have the right beans frozen and I don't want to go through the hassle of cooking beans right at that moment.  I could use canned but I like to use canned beans sparingly (mainly in dips like hummus or salads) because they can be more expensive than dried beans (and as much as I have tried to ignore it, there's the BPA issue blah, blah, blah).  

Anyway, most soaked beans lend themselves well to being cooked in a soup or a stew.  I've done it with almost every bean under the sun just using spices and herbs that naturally compliment the beans (like cumin for black beans or fennel for navy beans).  I've done it for every bean except garbanzo beans (chickpeas).  Until today.  

Curry Chickpea Stew
  • 4 cups of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) along with 16 cups of their soaking water (soak the beans overnight)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • kale, stems and all, chopped or ripped into ribbons
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup vegetarian beef chunks or cubed tofu (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
In a large soup pot, in 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium flame, saute the chopped onion till translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or so.  Add spices and cook for 1 minute.  Add diced tomato and cook until the tomatoes break down, about 3-4 minutes.  Add carrots.  Pour in the chickpeas and the soaking water, cover and bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling, reduce heat to low.  Cook for 1 hour or until beans are tender.   Add the vegetarian beef chunks or cubed tofu (I used beef chunks but tofu that had been frozen and thawed would work great in this recipe) and then add the kale and the corn.  Cover and cook for 1-2 more minutes.  Taste.  Adjust seasoning (i.e. add salt or more pepper).  Turn off heat.  Enjoy!

Makes 10 servings.

I had a little bit of sweet plantain left over that I tossed in there too.  I can't taste it but it might be doing a little something for the dish.  :)

The stew is really delicious and satisfying.  It's actually a wonderful fall/winter stew.  I think instead of (or in addition to the) beef chunks or tofu, you could add some pumpkin or sweet potato. 

The recipe as I cooked it today is 7 Weight Watchers points per serving.

Tracts: Do they really work?

I was driving home this morning after my (amazing) yoga class and a quick (speed work) run.  I noticed two well-dressed ladies handing out tracts to the Mexican guys who wait to get picked up for work on one corner of my town's main street.  

Now, I used to be one of those ladies, shy as I was, handing out tracts in a well-intentioned effort to win souls for Christ.  Even then, I wondered how effective handing out tracts was.  I saw people stuff them into their pocket but I imagined that one day, they'd be terribly down and out, and on a chance, find the tract they stuffed in their pocket all those days ago and it would speak to them and they would give their heart to the Lord.  And my efforts at evangelism would have worked.  

Nowadays, I don't take tracts from anyone except really old ladies who are cooing at my two cutie pie boys.  

It just got me wondering . . . are tracts really an effective way to evangelize?  Do they really work?  I'm way skeptical about tracts and wonder if they are worth the paper they are printed on.  Especially in these days of constant entertainment and business.  Do people actually read them? Does it touch anyone?  I personally have never met anyone who decided to come to Christ because of a tract.  But maybe they are out there. 

Anyway, I cringe at the thought of some of the tracts I handed folks.  Stuff that would have been highly offensive to people of other faiths.  Stuff that was written to bring folks to God out of fear and not out of love.  Stuff that was just plain bizarre.  But I know my heart was pure and I was just trying to do what I thought God wanted me to do.  So maybe at the end of the day, it's really not about the recipient of the tract exactly but about the person giving them out. 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Surprise Endings?

I know it may sound strange but I am shocked by the changes that have happened to my body over the last 2 years as I've been on this fitness/weight loss journey.  

I'd always been a very shapely woman--hourglass figure and all that.  Now that I've lost all this weight, I have an "athletic" build meaning that my waist and hips measure about the same.  I had more of a childbearing figure before I bore children!

The hubby mentioned that it's all about body shaping and that anyone can morph their body:  bulk up, slim down, accentuate certain parts.  I started to wonder what my body would have looked like had I started to lift heavy weights before I started to lose weight.  I know they say that muscle burns fat--but I don't think it would have burned it at quite the rate that following Weight Watchers did.  I do think it might have made more of a difference [in my initial weight loss] had I focused more on lifting heavy weights and placed less of an emphasis on cardio.  It's funny how I didn't learn about the benefits of weight lifting until I was well into my fitness/weight loss journey.  Could I maybe have preserved some of the shapeliness while losing weight?  If I put on the weight again and continued to lift heavy weight, what would my body look like?  I may never know.  It's just one more bump in the road to complete self-acceptance and for me, self-acceptance is truly something I have to work at every minute of every day.
And I think that's an important lesson for folks trying to lose weight/get in shape--especially post-partum mothers.  There are all these examples of what you could look like if you follow this or that plan and it's easy to get wrapped up in it all and think, "Hey, that's how I want to look!"  In reality, you can never really predict where you'll lose weight (just like you can't foresee where you'll put it on).  You can't say for certain that your arms will look like [insert woman with great arms here] or that your calves with be Olympic ready.  These are things that are for the most part mediated by genetics.   Even though we can't say for certain how we'll look exactly by following a certain exercise regimen or philosphy, I'm fascinated by the fact that we have the ability to change our bodies so dramatically.  To me, that speaks to our innate power to create.

And it's right in line with how I feel about the Creator these days.  You don't always know what the end result will be but there's this understanding and this hope that no matter which way it goes, it will be good.  Or at least that's how I like to think the Creator thinks.  Then there's this nagging thought that maybe the Creator is not all that invested.  I don't know.  And that was a crazy tangent so getting back to the point . . . .

I usually like surprise endings in novels.  You don't want a predictable end all the time.  For me, though, I would have loved to get back the body that I had pre-kids.  I really had no idea that it would be such a drastically different body.  In so many ways, it is a entirely new ball game.  And surprise endings are par for the course. 
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