Beans, beans, that magical fruit.

Spilling the Beans - CookbookIf you’ve been to my house more than once, chances are I have had baking for you. I like cookies and so when I have guests it’s the perfect excuse to get the flour out (without the concern that I will eat the entire batch myself). My all time favourite cook book is called One Smart Cookie, by Julie Van Rosendaal. My mom got hooked on Julie’s book when I still lived at home and most of the cookies I ate in my late teens were her creations. The great thing about the cookbook is that it is calorie wise, but not taste challenged. Julie loves her butter and applies good ol’ fashion common sense & science to her calorie reduced recipes vs. marketing hype and margarine.

A few years back, Angie invited my mom & I to attend the One Smart Cookie: Second Edition book tour & cooking class at Well Seasoned. With our first edition books in tow, we were fangirls of the highest order and got our books signed. Julie is such a dynamic and entertaining speaker that any session with her feels like a party. When Angie booked Julie for the launch of her newest book, she gave me a call knowing that I’d be there with bells on.

The newest book by Julie & her co-author Sue Duncan is called Spilling the Beans. I was particularly excited since one of my favourite cookies from One Smart Cookie is called the “breakfast bean cookie”. It uses white kidney beans, so these cookies are a protein packed punch to take with you when you need to eat on the go. Julie had eluded to working on a bean book when I had last seen her at Well Seasoned, but I didn’t know it had been printed until I saw it on the shelves at Barara Jo’s Books To Cooks. My mom picked up a copy right away (as SOMEONE is lying on a beach in the Bahama’s and wasn’t able to make the class), but I waited until I got to Langley so I could buy a copy from Angie and get it signed.

The evening was filled with giggles, beans, bruschetta and bacon. Just what I had come to expect from a session with Julie. She and Sue danced about the kitchen and showed us how to make beet coloured hummus, bean & raisin scones, bruschetta, maple syrup and bacon roasted chickpeas and black bean brownies (soooo goooooood). Adding mashed beans to bruschetta is perhaps the coolest party trick I have ever learned. If you’re as messy an eater as I am, bruschetta at a party is quickest way to ruin a nice dress. It’s always falling all over the place and each morsel that bounces (or rests) on my considerable cleavage leaves an oily mark behind. Adding beans is the perfect bruschetta paste!! I skipped the bacon dish like a good vegetarian, but may have scooped an extra brownie serving from Jacquie (who was also attending the class). Cas has just informed me that his office is having a bake sale on Monday, so I think I’m gonna send him to work with some brownies from my new book!

While your first reaction to all this might be “beans??”, I encourage you to think about the actual flavour of beans. When you’re eating them from a can, are they in a sauce? If not, can you really tell what the flavour of cooked beans is in a mixed dish? Not likely (with most beans), and so the addition of beans to most recipes is an excellent way to add fiber and protein. Beans are also pretty darn sustainable. They can be used in soil enrichment and they are prolific. Not only that, beans and lentils are a major export in Canada. In fact, Sue mentioned that Canada is the largest exporter of lentils GLOBALLY. This means, if you get your beans and lentils on, you’re likely supporting the Saskatchewan economy! The magical fruit indeed.

The best tip of the evening, especially as Cas and I explore a mini-career in running, was that you can cook red/orange lentils in the am and mix them into your oatmeal. Take the ~4g of fiber from oatmeal and give it a major boost by mixing in lentils that have been cooked for about 15 minutes when you’re boiling your oats.

If you’re in Langley, I suggest you pop by Well Seasoned, support a local merchant and pick up a copy (bet there are some signed copies left). In Vancouver, Barara Jo’s Books To Cooks had a healthy stack of copies available!

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