Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

my quinoa black bean burger

This past Saturday was my favorite kind of day: we had no plans, no place we had to be, no major to-do lists—and, at least for someone with my personality and temperament, I am finding days like this are crucial. Spending 24 hours at a leisurely pace, the kind where you stroll around the Franklin farmers market, fall asleep for two hours on the sofa, hold your husband’s hand as you walk up and down the block before the sun sets is just the ticket to helping yourself slow down, be still and feel thankful. Seriously, this Saturday was so good, it was almost like being in Hawaii again. Oh and also, there were these quinoa black bean burgers.

black beans + quinoa

I got the idea to make black bean burgers last week and, after pinning five or six recipes that caught my eye, I put together a version that combined their ideas and added some of my own. Using bulk-bin organic beans and quinoa, I had to soak them the night before, but once that step was taken care of, the process was pretty easy: cook the beans, cook the quinoa, saute a heap of veggies and spices; combine everything in a food processor; form into patties; saute or bake and bam! I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you: we loved these quinoa black bean burgers.

garlic, onion, celery, carrot, pepper

Price-wise, you can’t beat them: for under $7, you get eight homemade patties, some of which can easily be frozen for later. Nutrition-wise, they’re incredible: filled with the whole-foods protein and nutrients of beans, quinoa, veggies and spices. And taste-wise: I seriously can’t believe non-meat burgers can pack so much savory flavor into every bite. They’re even wonderful on their own, sans bun or toppings, eaten like little quinoa black bean cakes, reminiscent of fried green tomatoes or potato pancakes in their crispy exterior and hot, soft insides.

quinoa veggies + black beans

black beans and veggies

I wonder if it will be strange to tell you that what I think most when I look back at these pictures and this recipe is that I’m thankful? Thankful that these burgers came on a much-needed day of rest wherein I sat still long enough to notice my good gifts—gifts like longer daylight in the month of March, the kind of daylight that expands my days and makes it easier to work or cook or, as on Saturday, go for long strolls in the neighborhood; gifts like my kind and thoughtful husband who goes on those walks with me, who works alongside me, who talks to me about every single thing on my mind and who surprises me with tangible demonstrations of love like homemade chocolate souffles before we go to bed on Saturday night (!).

pan-fried quinoa black bean cakes

Because the fact is, I am too quick to forget how much I need to rest. Too quick to think I don’t have time for a free day with nothing planned. Too quick to try and squeeze in more work hours, knock out another project, feel the weight of responsibilities no one has mounted on my shoulders but me.

quinoa black bean burgers quinoa black bean burgers

And so, because they came on the restful, peaceful Saturday that I didn’t know how much I needed, because they helped me stop to savor the good, because they represent the joy of trying a new recipe with no time constraints and the pleasure of sitting down to eat with the person you share life with every day, I love these quinoa black bean burgers even more than how good they tasted and more than the migraine-preventing, protein-packed power of quinoa or the digestion-benefiting, blood-sugar-regulating abilities of black beans.

quinoa black bean cakes

The day after I made them, I read Matthew 11:28, where Jesus says to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I read that and thought, I am so glad He does.

May you enjoy these–and rest!–as we did, sometime very soon.

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T-Shirt Giveaway!

[This giveaway has ended! The winner has been contacted.] IMG_3616

These days, it’s rare I post more than once a week, but today, it’s for a giveaway!

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Thanks to Fibers.com (website | Facebook | Twitter), one reader of this blog will receive a $30 voucher for the Fibers shirt of their choice–you could opt for the baby blue “feed me avocados” v-neck I got, which is tucked in among their¬†food t-shirts (and pinned on my “things I like” board on Pinterest), or you could go with something else, even design your own shirt–your choice.

I loved the style of my shirt as soon as I saw it online, and now in person, I love how soft the 100% cotton is and how comfortable and roomy it feels (I got a medium).

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So Here’s How to Enter (one entry each, possible total of 3 entries):

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Night in Atlanta + Amaranth Porridge

Tim and I spent last Monday night in Atlanta—just a quick one-night getaway to the biggest city four hours from our home, made possible by a wedding gift from our friend Kim. After a rainy drive down that turned into a sunny stop at IKEA, we arrived at Stonehurst Place, our bed and breakfast for the night.

stonehurst front stonehurst front windows

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Stonehurst is a stunning estate built in 1896 and totally renovated in 2007-08. Our room, the Farnsworth, overlooked the screened-in back porch and was decorated with a Hollywood glam theme. It featured its own fireplace, a queen-sized bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, a marble bathroom and a full walk-in closet.

stonehurst room

stonehurst patio

stonehurst room water in the room

One of the last times I’d stayed in a B & B was in Maine, a place whose quaint little towns often make it hard not to stay in a B & B, and the thing I’ve always liked most about them is the extra amenities: at Stonehurst, we had access to an upstairs sitting room with a Keurig coffee/tea maker, fresh organic fruit and baked goods in the dining room, an open front porch overlooking the streets of Midtown—not to mention, breakfast the next morning was a gourmet spread of hot coffee or tea; organic yogurt with berries; and toasted sourdough topped with ricotta, kale and eggs cooked the way we like.

stonehurst sitting area stonehurst upstairs

fun decor at stonehurst

stonehurst upstairs stonehurst bookcases

stonehurst front patio

stonehurst tree

Even though we were in Atlanta for under 24 hours, we managed to fit in a lot of stops, from driving through Buckhead to shopping in the Virginia Highlands (and sipping on fresh-squeezed orange juice from artisanal chocolatier Cacao, a shop recommended by our Innkeeper, Sarah):

cacao in atlanta
fresh-squeezed OJ at cacao

to dinner at Yeah! Burger, a surprisingly impressive burger joint that may look like your standard eat-in fast-food place but inside is actually the adept maker of a spread like this: fresh-squeezed orange juice (we’re obsessed!), fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, a bunless grass-fed burger with goat cheese and sauteed onions, a breadless portabella sandwich with goat cheese and tomato jam, Brussels sprouts and salad.

yeah burger
yeah burger dinner

But it was our final destination that wowed us most: the DeKalb Farmers Market, which is like Costco meets Whole Foods meets an international grocery store, the one-stop-shop for every kind of specialized food ingredient and fresh produce you could ask for. Sucanat for $2.50 a pound. Organic cacao nibs for half the normal price. Fresh-baked spelt sourdough bread. Spelt cherry pistachio bread. Kamut hazelnut fig bread (!!).

We were overwhelmed.

dekalb farmers market
fresh unpasteurized OJ
dekalb farmers market bread
dekalb farmers market kumquats

When we finally left, bags and bags of groceries in our cart, this was just some of our loot:
loot from dekalb farmers market

And among that hoard was organic amaranth (at $2.99 a pound), the increasingly popular nutritional powerhouse related to spinach, beets, Swiss chard and quinoa.

amaranth

I’ve never cooked with amaranth before, but I’ve wanted to ever since I noticed it in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. Like quinoa and millet, amaranth is not actually a grain, but as any gluten-free cook could tell you, it’s often referred to as a grain because it can behave like one, yet with none of the gluten and way more health benefits.

soaked amaranth
scooping out amaranth cereal

Amaranth is rich in amino acid and proteins, and it has four times more calcium than wheat and twice as much magnesium and iron. Research has linked it with fighting cancer, inflammation and heart disease.

amaranth porridge #1
amaranth porridge with bananas

While the seeds can be eaten like couscous/rice or ground into flour for baking, one of their most well-known uses is as a breakfast porridge—something akin to Cream of Wheat or another hot cereal—so when we returned from our fast getaway, the following Sunday morning, we had amaranth for breakfast, in porridge form. It didn’t officially extend our vacation but, hot and creamy, sweet and comforting, it was the next best thing.

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Citrus Honey Basil Creamsicles

popsicle mold

Have you ever noticed how everyone wants to speak into your life—give you advice, tell you how to do something, show you what they know? In a perfect world, this would be great but in reality, here’s the thing: advice is often wrong.

grapefruit cutting

The week before Tim and I got married, we were told the honeymoon would be nothing like we expected but probably bad; newlyweds don’t know each other at all; give ourselves some time and we’ll probably hate married life; the first year of marriage is the best; the first year of marriage is the worst; and we have no idea what we’re in for.

In the months since, women have told me marriage can’t stay sweet; we’re only happy now because it’s the beginning; we should have a baby; we should wait two years to have a baby; we should be having sex X number of times a day, a week; all women get sick of their husbands; we won’t like working together at home for long; etc. etc.

grapefruit

It’s not just people, either. There are TV shows and movies, magazines and books, advertisements, websites, Pinterest. The messages they give can be subtle or aggressive, obvious or covert: make more money! your house should be beautiful! this will make you happy! want this! buy this! be this! go!

What’s worse is that I’ve believed them. I’ve believed them and I’ve repeated them—to myself and to other people—growing this cycle of half-truth and lie by perpetuating opinions and ideas rooted in nothing.

orange

orange peels

But I had a lightbulb moment last week, the climax of many months, I think, when it hit me: just like choosing what to eat and drink during the week, in many cases, the one who chooses who’s speaking is ME.

Far from a victim, I am the willing subscriber to that voice of negativity, materialism, jealousy, despair. I seek out that person. I put myself in situations where that will be the norm, the perspective, the tone. I say those things.

But if it’s true that everyone is selling a message, one that I can swallow whole, it’s also true that I don’t have to take it—that in many cases, I can “guard my heart” in the same way I guard my body, being careful what I take in.

and mixing

fresh basil

raw honey

vitamix!

Saturday morning, pulling out a grapefruit for these citrus basil honey popsicles, asking myself whether to juice it or blend it whole, I asked Tim which would nourish my body best. Turns out that while both are good (and juicing might make a more typical popsicle), blending the pith and seeds and all adds the nutritional benefits of what’s essentially the whole-foods version of grapefruit seed extract, a powerful, disease-fighting ingredient shown to have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties; work against yeast; and combat many bacteria and viruses, including E.Coli. Once I saw that, it was an easy choice—I saw how it would help my body by giving it what is good.

drink at the table

You can drink it as a juice/tonic, at once bitter from the grapefruit pith and sweet from the honey, or you can freeze it in popsicle molds (ours were a wedding gift and we love them!).

citrus honey basil tonic

popsicles
citrus honey basil creamsicle

In our little household, while we ate popsicles this weekend, enjoying God’s good gifts of grapefruit, orange, basil and honey, pureed into bittersweet frozen form, I thought how easy it seems now, in our life together, to crave fresh fruit like this, how satisfying and sustaining and, good.

In the same way, I hope that the more I feed on faith-filled voices of truth and love and authenticity, the more and more they become the sources I look to to feed my soul and, more than that, that more and more they become my voice.

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Sauteed (or Roasted) Brussels Sprouts with Red Chili Flakes

Brussels sprouts in the bowl

I think Brussels sprouts might be my favorite vegetable.

washing Brussels sprouts

It wasn’t love at first sight—these things seldom are—but you could say, I guess, it all started back in my days of visiting Nashville, amidst the excitement and unknowns of another budding relationship, when one Sunday night having dinner with friends, we poured leftover walnut-sage brown butter onto roasted Brussels sprouts and couldn’t believe how good it was.

Brussels sprouts on the cutting board

In truth, I shouldn’t have been at all surprised, having tasted the sweet caramelization of Brussels sprouts less than a year before, both at a restaurant and in my kitchen, but, as we sometimes do when we’re busy or distracted or just not tuned in, I’d managed to forgot all about it. The Nashville Brussels sprouts, thank goodness, made a more lasting impression, and my life’s seldom been without them since.

Brussels Sprouts

It’s funny how that works, you know? One day, Brussels sprouts—or say, that person you haven’t thought much of until now—does something impressive, and you think, Huh. I never noticed that before! And sometimes that’s enough to change your interactions ever after, to set on course a whole new path of life; other times, you forget and move on and have to be impressed all over again.

sauteed Brussels sprouts

For us, Brussels sprouts are that love that came softly, without our seeking it out or expecting it or planning for its entrance in our routines. Through gentle persistence, it’s become the vegetable often accompanying our Sunday night dinners, the favorite dinner on a weeknight, the thing we pick up from the produce department “as a treat.”

plate of roasted Brussels sprouts

Nowadays, we like our Brussels sprouts very simple—barely dressed, just sauteed or roasted enough to turn soft and golden, with crispy edges that crunch when you bite in. We cook them in coconut oil, with hefty dashes of salt and pepper, maybe with some red chili flakes thrown in—because, whereas before I thought little of this cabbage-like vegetable Rudy Huxtable pushed off her plate, today I celebrate it.

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