Whole Foods 28-Day Challenge: Vegan Frijoles de la Olla

There are a few recipes that I’m known for and serve often at Casa de los Condes. Green chile chilaquiles, gluten-free mixed berry pie with dark sweet cherries, and pinto beans cooked with bacon.

My beans are my mom’s recipe and it’s one of my favorites. The pinto beans are soaked overnight and cooked the next morning with bacon and bay leaves. After they simmer on the stove all day, she puts in garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, cheese and a chili powder I can’t find anywhere outside of Arizona. (The ingredients are chili and natural spices and flavor. God knows what’s really in it, but it sure tastes good!)

Part of the challenge of the Whole Foods 28 Day Challenge is cooking without meat and dairy so there goes the bacon and cheese. Beans without bacon and cheese?? Why even make them??

Because I was starving, that’s why. I hadn’t been eating enough protein and needed something that I could go to all week long if I needed something quick. Last Sunday I tried making a vegan version of Frijoles de la Olla. I combined recipes I found in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday and in Marcela Valladolid’s Fresh Mexico.

Rick Bayless had directions for making beans in the slow cooker without soaking them first. He writes that soaking them doesn’t help much with digestion and you end up throwing away the flavorful soaking water. I had never gone without soaking beans, but thought it was worth a try. Chef Marcela had a recipe that called for garlic, onion and bay leaves.

Here is the combined recipe and it turned out amazing. Really tender and flavorful beans that I think are just as good as the bacon and cheese version.

Frijoles De La Olla

1 pound pinto beansonions
4 garlic cloves
½ a large white onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
Salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and oregano to taste
Rinse and sort beans. Bring the beans and 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, chop the onion and mash the garlic. Put the onion, garlic and bay leaves in the slow cooker. Once the beans are boiling, pour the beans and water into the slow cooker with the onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Cook for six hours or until beans are tender. Add the salt, pepper, and spices to taste.

cooked beans

The beans will be more of a bean soup the first day. By the second day, they should be thick enough to use in a tortilla, taco or as a side dish.

Vegan Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies With No Refined Sugar

The headache finally went away. I’ve been doing the Whole Foods 28-day Challenge and the second week is going much better. The challenge requires participants to go 4 weeks without meat, dairy, oil, or refined sugar. I had a headache for the first 4 days as I detoxed from sugar and salt, but since then, I’ve been feeling pretty good.

It’s kind of incredible how good I feel, actually. I usually follow up everything I eat with a little something sweet. Whether it’s a piece of chocolate or a cookie or some candy. So for the last week and a half I’ve been reaching for fruit or nothing at all. I’ve even stopped sugaring my coffee. I’m not having sugar cravings at all. (Disclosure: I did cheat for an hour when I went to a blogger tasting at a local natural bakery. But I was working!)

And oddly, I’m not thinking about food as much. But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped baking gluten-free treats. I love to bake, so I tried to come up with something that would work for the challenge.

I combined a couple of recipes I found online and then made it gluten-free as well. These cookies are not designed to mimic a sugary, gluten filled treat as many of my other recipes are. These are different; dense and filling and not terribly sweet. But like I said they are filling and they will help curb that sweet tooth if you’re not eating refined sugar.

Vegan Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

1/3 cup natural peanut buttermaple batter
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp unsweetened soy milk
2 tbsp maple syrup or raw honey
2 ½ cups quick cooking gluten-free oatmeal (Bob’s Red Mill makes it)
1/4 cup gluten free flour (King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose flour or see below*)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon xantham gum
¼ to ½ cup dried cherries or other dried fruitoatmeal batter

Preheat oven to 350º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine oatmeal, flour, cinnamon, salt, and xantham gum. Set aside. With a wooden spoon, mix the mashed banana, vanilla, soy milk, and maple syrup. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Mix in the cherries.

Using two spoons or a small ice cream scoop, drop cookies onto a cookie sheet. Avoid using hands because the mix will be very sticky.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

*Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix with Brown Rice Flour
6 cups brown rice flour
2 cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca flour
Store leftover flour in an airtight container.

LA Food Blogger Bake Sale

If you love fabulous and interesting baked goods, you must try to catch one of the Food Blogger Bake Sales going on around town this weekend. Proceeds will benefit Share our Strength, an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger.

Gaby, from What’s Gaby Cooking is hosting an LA bake sale this Saturday, May 14 from 11:30 am to 2 pm at BLD Restaurant. It will feature baked goods from an amazing collection of food bloggers including one of MomsLA’s own, Daydreamer Desserts. I had the pleasure of tasting some of her gourmet macaroons and if she makes them this weekend I may have to buy them all.

I’ll be donating gluten-free cookies, brownies, and vegan mocha cupcakes and, I must admit, I’m a little intimidated. I sometimes write about food, but these people are some of the best food bloggers in town.

If the West Side isn’t convenient for you, check out the bake sale Veronica, of Muy Bueno Cookbook, is hosting in Valencia. Her sale runs from 3 pm to 7 pm on Saturday, May 14 at Westfield Valencia Town Shopping Center (Sisely’s and TGIF entrance).