During the cold winter months, with little fresh local produce available, it can be a challenge to eat healthy. Dried beans are available year-round in our grocery stores, and are a delicious source of fiber, protein, iron, and potassium. Next time you’re in the bulk section of the grocery store, check out the different varieties of beans available. Look for kidney, pinto, garbanzo, adzuki, and lentils. If you’re not sure what kind you like, try a small amount of each and do a taste test. You can also make them into a bean salad with some chopped carrot and celery and a little vinaigrette.
Dried beans usually need to be soaked in water overnight before being boiled. You can also try sprouting them by soaking them overnight in a jar, and rinsing once a day until sprouts appear (two to three days). Snack on the sprouts, or boil them as usual. For a quick meal, use canned beans — look for BPA-free cans with low sodium.
The next time you make burritos or tacos, try using a bean variety you’ve never tasted before. Sprinkle some sprouted beans on top of a salad, or blend them in a food processor with garlic, tahini, and olive oil for some quick hummus. Or try this month’s featured recipe, chickpea flour cinnamon maple crackers.
Chickpea Flour Cinnamon Maple Crackers
1 cup chickpea flour, sifted (* See below on how to make your own.)
3 Tbsp. olive oil, avocado oil, or melted coconut oil
4.5 Tbsp. maple syrup
1.5 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
*Homemade chickpea flour: Blend dried chickpeas in a blender on high until fine powder forms. Sift into a bowl. Place the remaining pieces that didn’t sift back into the blender, and blend again until fine. Store in an airtight container.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a spatula or your hands until well combined, and you can form into a dough ball. Dough should be sticky and wet.
Place the ball of dough onto a sheet of baking paper. Place another sheet of baking paper on top, and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough as thinly as possible. The thinner the dough, the lighter and crunchier the cracker.
Carefully remove the top layer of baking paper and slide the bottom sheet of paper along with the dough onto a baking sheet. With a knife or pizza cutter, score the dough into little squares or triangles.
Bake in the oven for 6 to 10 minutes, until golden around the edges. Watch closely, depending on the thickness of your cracker.
Let cool for a few minutes and start snackin’. These are delicious served as a healthy cereal with some cold milk. Store in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.
Ava Castro is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm-to-school program.