Who doesn’t love baked beans?! Okay, don’t answer that… but if you don’t I promise you’ll love these! I used to eat baked beans all the time, on toast, with black pepper, paprika, melty cheese, with tinned tomatoes. Baked beans and a buttery cheesy baked potato with a good hearty salad was an old-time favourite meal growing up. Then there’s beans and mash, chips and beans… But it’s bean ( 🙂 ) so long since I could eat tomatoes and other nightshade family plants, and also refined sugar, and so baked beans have been well off the menu. I think also as I have embraced a wholefood diet and avoided refined sugar (and my taste buds have as a result improved) I would try your average tinned baked bean and find them far too sweet and too lacking in flavour.
these saucy baked beans made from squash are the answer!
They’re rich and yet light tasting too, packed with natural sweetness and flavour and way better than canned anything anywhere. Tomatoes can be very acidic, squash isn’t and so it’ll leave you feeling great. Beans on toast has never been better! But for a weekend breakfast I’ve thrown in my recipe for herby veggie sausages with toasted pine nuts. These include polenta and a grain-free alternative too. I’m currently transitioning and trying some grains, and cornmeal (aka polenta) is just the best-friend of veggie sausages and stuffing and the like. You can substitute beans and buckwheat (kasha’s best) for corn for a grain-free version, which is super good and more protein dense and filling, or for a fluffier sausage choose the corn.
Being now 27 weeks+ pregnant with my first child I am going through an intense transition, and for me a big part of that is in my relationship to food. In past years I have steered myself into a quite strict (but wonderfully abundant) diet, an anti-inflammatory diet (which means different things to different people with their individual needs but for me meant avoiding all grains, nightshade family plants, refined sugar, soya and caffeine, as well as the gluten and lactose I am severely intolerant to). I will always have to strictly avoid gluten and lactose, I don’t drink alcohol, another inflammatory. I have done this to reduce the inflammation in my body and pain, and help to control the many chronic health conditions I live with, make me more mobile and help me to get the most I can out of life. I found that if I could reduce the amount of carbs I ate, and up the vegetables and fruit, I was more well. Being pregnant, and laid up with a bad back, has made me less active and more hungry and compulsive about food. In the second trimester especially I craved especially carbs and sugar, and different foods crept back in (through the open gateway of bought gluten-free chocolate chip biscuits, from which I am now banned and resemble a hamster…). I have slowly over the past few months introduced grains such as oats, rice (in v small amounts not as a substitute for pseudo-grains) and corn, also occasional soya (which I don’t think agrees with me still) and some unrefined brown sugar into my diet (as opposed to only having fruit-based sugars), in a measured (and occasionally less measured) way. I have seen an increase in pain and inflammation, but not perhaps as much as I had experienced previously for foods such as corn, and so I am aiming to keep an eye on this and keep reassessing in the future using elimination diets.
i think it is important to reassess many food intolerances periodically
I shall see how my diet evolves and how my body responds; the body changes and intolerances can change also, even disappear. When first reintroduced you are very sensitive to foods, but this sensitivity may decrease. For me as a coeliac my high intolerance of gluten won’t change, and I doubt my high intolerance of lactose will either, but otherwise I can find a balance that suits me and my lifestyle at the time. However I do know that if I want to be in optimal health, for me, and be as mobile and pain-free as I can be, I will have to cut back on all inflammatory foods. And as a type 1 diabetic too, such a naturally low-carb and low GI/ GL diet is very beneficial. But I also don’t want to be too restricted when I am breast-feeding, in case I pass on an intolerance somehow to the baby. So much isn’t known about such things, but there are theories and a mother’s milk is very influential on a child’s health. I think when a month away from the birth I shall focus once again on a strictly anti-inflammatory diet, no grains etc., to give myself the best chance of tackling that epic marathon, and then introduce small amounts of foods, just in case that is an issue. And of course the most important thing is that I keep eating a diet rich in nutrients. (Where’s that green juice Daddy Dan?)
We really enjoy making these special baked beans and veggie sausages (and eating them even more!), This type of hot meal ticks so many boxes at this time of year especially, being rich and filling, protein dense, spiced and tasty and truly comforting. Both components are really versatile and go with so many things. Have them as part of a mega veggie breakfast, with ‘chippy’ parsnip chips. Dip the sausages in avocado ketchup or vegan mayonnaise. The sausage mix can be rolled into small balls and eaten with pasta and sauce like meat balls (use the baked bean sauce as a pasta sauce with the addition of garlic and olive oil), or flatten the mixture into a burger and have with your favourite bread and salad. If you want it grain-free then substitute the polenta for a mixture of cooked kasha (roasted buckwheat) and mashed bean (I’d use a white bean), which is seriously delicious too and even more nutritious. But here I have used polenta, as it is cheap and easy and creates a light grainy texture that combined with the buckwheat flakes mimics sosmix veggie sausage mix (another old childhood favourite!). Food that warms you through (which we need as the boiler’s chosen this icy spell to finally pack up and we’ve had no heating or hot water for 8 days and counting… second helping please!!) ♥
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 cup of beans, berlotti, cannellini, flagolet...
- 1 small sized onion
- 1 tbsp mildly flavoured oil
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Large pinch of ground coriander
- Large pinch of ground cumin
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Tsp of unrefined sugar or syrup, to taste
- Dash of water
- 1 small onion
- 1 cup polenta (coarse corn meal)
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flakes
- 4 heaped tbsp pine nuts
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 1 heaped tsp finely ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 tsp chopped oregano, dried or fresh
- 2 tsp chopped dried sage
- 2 tbsp or so of tapioca flour, or gram, for rolling
- Mild oil for frying
Halve, de-seed, score, rub in a little salt and oil and roast the squash in a hot oven until browning and soft. I also add water to the roasting pan to limit browning and aid cooking. Alternatively you can steam or saute de-skinned squash pieces but I like to roast as it gives such a lovely flavour and texture and you can easily scoop out the flesh from the skin.
Saute finely chopped onion in the oil, with the salt on a low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins, until browning and sweet.
Add the spices and stir for a minute or so, to brown and release their aroma and remove their grittiness. Add the sugar and stir, being careful not to burn. Add a dash of water if it starts to catch.
Add the squash and the onion with a dash of water to a blender (or hand blend in the pan), blast until smooth and transfer back to the saucepan. Add the lemon juice and the baked beans, and season to taste - you may like it sweeter, or spicier, adjust as you like it.
Refresh when eating the next day or so with a squeeze of lemon.
Saute finely chopped onion in the oil, with the salt and bay leaf, on a low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins, until browning and sweet. Add the spices and stir for a minute or so, then add the polenta (corn meal) and water to the pan, give it a good stir and cook on a low heat for 10 mins stirring regularly, until thickened and losing its coarseness. Remove the bay leaf. Mix in the buckwheat flakes, herbs and set aside with the lid off to cool.
Heat a thick pan and add the pine nuts, toasting in a medium heat being careful not to burn. As they brown remove them from the pan and add to the polenta mixture.
When the mixture is cool enough to handle, add your flour to a plate (I like a fine sift flour like tapioca or gram), form sausage shapes (or patties) and roll in the flour, rubbing the flour into the surface of the sausage as you go so there are no clumps.
To shallow fry, heat your pan on a medium-hot heat, add oil, heat, and then carefully place the sausages in the pan, not overcrowding as this causes sogginess. Turn with a spatula so that every area is browned and crisped and eat hot or cold.
You can also rub oil onto the surface of the sausages and cook under a hot grill.
You could also add olives, paprika, vegan cheese, liquid smoke, or different herbs and spices.
For a grain free version, substitute a mixture of cooked kasha and mashed beans for the polenta, which is just as delicious!
I would add that flavours do mellow, so with the sausage mix you may or may not want to add a touch more seasoning the next day, and with the baked beans a small squeeze of lemon juice goes a long way in reviving flavour.
SONG OF THE WEEK… Ian Brown ‘F.E.A.R’