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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

I have a little something for you today that your taste buds might enjoy…

With the warm weather finally showing us a glimpse of spring, barbecuing comes to my mind. I can’t wait to get my hands on that grill! Cold summer salads are also a favorite for the season, too. Especially healthy ones. That’s where today’s recipe for black bean, corn, and wheat berry salad comes into play.

If you recall, I introduced you to the wheat berry some time last year, giving you a recipe for my perfect protein salad. This is another opportunity for you to experiment with the healthy, full-of-fiber wheat berry.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried black beans (or 1 cup canned will do the trick)
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 2 cups cooked corn niblets
  • 2 sweet roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro OR 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Step one: If you’re using dry black beans, you will need to soak them in cold water for a few hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Rinse and drain them well. Then cook until tender (about 1 1/2 hours).

Step two: Place wheat berries in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by about 4 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender. Drain well. They should be chewy, but still tender — never soft.

Step three: Combine with beans. Add corn, peppers, jalapeno, cilantro, basil, mint and chives to salad ( or whichever herbs you’ve chosen to use).

Step four: Make the dressing. Whisk together vinegar, pepper, garlic, salt and oil. Toss dressing with salad. If you need to, you can adjust the seasonings to fit your liking.

For my salad, I used cilantro and scallions. The original recipe for this salad suggests the addition of arugula or watercress.  You can add whatever makes you happy! Enjoy!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Here’s a tasty cold weather treat that will leave you begging for more. This apple oat coffee cake tastes great when it first comes out of the oven (or you can always heat it up again when you’re ready to have a piece later). Not only that, it is also complemented quite well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

You have to start off by making the crumb topping. Simply mix 3 tablespoons margarine (or light butter), 1 cup quick cooking or old fashioned oats, 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/4 cup chopped nuts together in a small bowl. I think chopped walnuts go for the crumb topping.

After you’ve created the yummy part, you can start mixing the other ingredients together…

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine (or light butter), softened
  • 1 cup skim milk (or soy milk)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup fat free egg product or 2 egg whites
  • 2 medium apples, chopped (2 cups)

Step one: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a square baking pan and set aside.

Step two: Mix all ingredients, except for apples, together in a large bowl. You can use an electric mixer if you wish. When all is mixed well, add the apple pieces.

Step three: Spread half the batter into the pan, then sprinkle with half of the crumb topping. Repeat with the remaining half of batter, then add the last of the topping.

Step four: Bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick or clean knife inserted in center comes out clean. Then, cut into 12 pieces. If you want, you can add apple slices to the top of each piece for a lavish look. Of course, it is tastier to eat when it’s fresh out of the oven.

For all you health nuts out there, each slice is only 270 calories. It really fills you up, too. This is a great winter treat!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

It’s the dead of winter. Eating comfort foods is right on this time of year. But comfort food doesn’t have to be bad for you if you know how to make healthy alternatives. Enter the blueberry almond oat muffin.

This little treat makes a delicious snack, on-the-go food, breakfast, dessert, or lunch side. It also pairs very nicely with a hearty winter bean soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries (see my note about blueberries below)*
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup milk (or soymilk)
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped

Photo by Kate Langenburg

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.

Step 2: Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in blueberries and lemon zest. Add milk, butter and egg; mix until dry ingredients are moistened.

Step 3: Scoop batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle almonds evenly over batter, pressing down gently (or you can dump the almonds right into the batter while you’re mixing all the ingredients together). Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.

*A quick note about blueberries: it’s hard to find great tasting berries this time of year. Most berries have to be shipped in from far away countries, like Chile or Venezuela, so they are often not fresh and loaded with preservatives to keep them from spoiling on the journey. As a result, a tangier taste ensues. Keep this in mind when you cook with berries during the winter.

Thanks to the Pampered Chef cookbook for this one.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

I know I just did a post about food, but I just made the most interesting soup I think I have ever tasted. So, to follow up my post about comfort foods, here lies another post about food. (I guess this would fall in the realm of comfort food.)

Today, you will enjoy african style peanut butter soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup creamy style peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (or 2) celery stalk (s), sliced
  • 1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 can (14.4 oz.) diced tomatoes (with their juice!!)
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken

Step 1: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, and celery. Saute until vegetables are very tender (about 10 minutes).

Step 2: Stir in the garlic and chili powder. Saute for an extra minute longer.

Step 3: Add tomatoes with their liquid, chicken or vegetable broth, and peanut butter to the saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring often. (It might take a minute for the peanut butter to spread out.)

Step 4: Stir in the rice and the cooked chicken. Cook five minutes longer. You’re done!

This has a very unique flavor to it, but you have to like peanut butter to really enjoy it (of course.) But it’s not an overpowering peanut butter flavor. I had my doubts when I put a whole cup of the stuff into my soup, but it turned out great. After it simmers for a bit, the flavors all come together to create something wonderful.

The consistency is very creamy, and all the vegetables, chicken, and rice are deliciously coated with a nice layer of the peanut butter-broth mix.

Your tastebuds will really like this one. 🙂

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