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Monday, June 6, 2016

Dried Lime Adventures: Part I

I love that owners Monica and Ivan at Bazaar Spices always inspire me to experiment with new ingredients every time I come in.

They recently introduced me to dried lemon and dried limes.  Both are fruits that have lost their water content, usually after having spent a majority of their time drying time in the sun.

They looked like walnuts – dark in size. I wondered how to use them. 

Ivan told me I could smash them with a meat hammer or perforate with a fork.  Sarah told me I could use a mortar and pestle.  And, frankly, one of these smashed in my hand – still in the bag, proving I wouldn’t need to worry much about cracking these limes.

Dried Fruit, Seeds and All...

Ivan talked about the different ways I could use the spice to create a recipe. He said he had crushed it into a powder and created a smoky, tangy rub over chicken and seafood.  I could also use drop the dried lemon or lime whole into a soup or stew, like a bayleaf, to make more fragrant.  He also suggested that a mixologist could use it to add a sour kick to drinks.

Indeed, those who like sour flavors will surely not be disappointed - they taste like a sucker punch of lemon to the face.

In terms of creating satiety – that sense of belly-contentedness we experience after a meal that cues the brain to stop eating - our bodies crave sweet, salty, and sour flavor profiles.  This contentedness or satisfaction from eating helps us feel full or satisfied and avoid the pitfalls of mindless, emotional eating.

For the health-conscious eater, adding sour flavors in our dishes help our brains receive satiety cues that allows us to stop eating for a while. So imagine the benefits of adding this flavor to something healthful like chickpeas.

Don’t think recipes, think formulas…
When I cook, I follow a formula.  I always incorporate greens.  And then I select a grain or a bean. I’ll typically then embellish a bit with cheese, dried or fresh fruit, sprinkles of finishing spices, squeezes of citrus like lemon or limes, and swirls of  oils, vinegar, and syrups.

I follow a rhythm with cooking.  I buy three greens a week. And I prepare grains and beans ahead of time.

This week I decided I’d prepare for the chickpeas for the week and try dried limes in the cooking liquid.

Just add Water. Easy Peasy.

Preparing my chickpeas.
Chickpeas require soaking overnight. To make my chickpeas, I tossed them into water before going out on Saturday night.  By Sunday morning, they had doubled in size and were ready to prepare. 

When I soak any kind of beans, I soak in salt water.  The salt helps break down the fiber, making the bean easier to cook and digest.  Sometimes I’ll change the water halfway through once or twice to make them even more digestible. And always rinse soaked beans thoroughly before cooking.

You are probably aware of the health benefits of eating beans like chickpeas:  they are a plant-based source of fiber that supports healthy digestive function and a clean source of protein to keep us strong and energetic. 

I use the Barry Farm Garbanzo Beans that are sold at Bazaar Spices.  I soaked the entire pound which gives me a nice amount of handy and healthy plant-based protein and fiber to use in dishes for several meals.

Here’s how I used the dried lime...

Pokey Pokey ;-)

I used a fork to break open the dried limes  – my goal was to enhance rather than overtake other flavors.  One to two dried lemon or limes is often enough for one pound of beans.  You’ll discover how even one lime can transform your dish.

I assembled my other spices.  I’m not someone who measures.  But if you like to measure, use a couple teaspoons of each of turmeric, coriander, and cumin. 

These are the standard of trifecta spices I use when preparing any type of bean. Turmeric casts everything golden so do be careful with countertops.

Dried Limes join the Chickpea Trifecta

Again: turmeric, cumin, and coriander.

Sometimes I'll add an interesting dried pepper. Today dried limes.

Add salt. Find all of these spices (and interesting salts) at Bazaar Spices when you get your dried lemons and limes.

I combined ingredients in water.  I added water, enough to generously cover the chickpeas by an inch or so.  Then brought it to a boil for a minute or so, and reduced it to a simmer, covered. I let it simmer for about an hour. I listened to a podcast and tidied my place as the chickpeas simmered on a Sunday morning.

Easy, Clean Protein for the Week

And at last my chickpeas for the week.

For more inspiration and instructional stories on meals with our chickpeas, check out Part II and Part III of the Dried Lime Adventures.

To your health!

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