Monday, July 1, 2013

Chickpea and Corn Cakes with Goat Cheese

Ahh, summertime. As a teacher I'll be able to relish in summer's magnificent beauty forever. Most people have New Year's Resolutions, but for me and my teacher friends, our resolutions tend to come in the summer: "I'm going to be better in all these 1 million ways and my life will change so drastically in 6 weeks that I may never have to teach again because I'll be so f'ing rich and rolling in the good life."

Sorry, kids, this is what teachers say when we are tired and need a vacation. We only mean it a little bit.

The reality for me is sleeping in, cooking a lot, eating too much, and just general, glorious laziness. Naps every day and all that jazz. When I picture my summer so far, instead of walking, I've been skipping myself from place to place, giving out high fives and fist pumps like it's my job. Except it's not. Because I'm on vacation!! Let's just say that the rest has been necessary and it's making me very, very happy. 

I've been exercising because now I have the time and the energy to do so, and it feels oh so good. I know that exercising may contradict the laziness statement I made above, but it helps me feel relaxed and I love feeling like I'm getting in shape. Staying in shape is the hard part! Am I right?

Look at all this great shit exercise does:

  • Exercise raises norepinephrine levels (say what?), which is a chemical that reduces the brain's response to stress. While you physically try to get rid of whatever is stressing you out through exercise, not only do you leave your body feeling fresh, but you it are also exercising your brain's ability to deal with mental tension. Mind and body training, bitches!
  • Exercise releases endorphins which, literally, make you happy. Even just 30 minutes of exercise a few times a week keeps mild depression at bay. We all get a little sad sometimes, so, get moving. In all seriousness, the endorphins are what keep me coming back for more! I love how I feel after I work out. It clears my mind, gives me perspective, and boosts my mood. I consider it therapy.
  • Exercise is also proven to boost creativity. For up to 2 hours after a hard workout, it is proven that creativity levels are higher than before, Feeling creative on top of our day-to-day responsibilities sometimes feels like a luxury, but it shouldn't be. On top of feeling more physically self-confident when you exercise, watching yourself become more creative and productive will make you feel better about your own worth and value, to yourself and to the rest of the world. (
  • For you digestively-challenged people like me, exercise also makes those bowels move. Sorry, TMI, but it's the truth.

All in all, we love you exercise! Kiss kiss!

The exercise that I'm swearing by right now is Pilates. I started doing Windsor Pilates in high school and the results were magical. About a year ago I discovered Blogilates which has literally changed my exercise life. Cassey Ho, the Blogilates wonder-woman, is so full of energy that yes, sometimes she is irritating, but her videos work. With about an hour of her videos 3-4 times a week, plus significant cardio 2-3 days a week, in a couple of weeks I already see changes! And I definitely feel them, which is just as important. 

Check out her website - she has pilates/cardio/circuit videos for beginners to advanced, along with different sections for healthy meal plans and recipes. You can download her videos from her YouTube Channel, ironically named Blogilates. And everything's free so you can do it at home with just a couple of dumbbells. 


So, for today's recipe: Chickpea and Corn Cakes with Goat Cheese. Damn these are good. We had people over on Saturday for food and drinks, and these babies were a HIT. I mean it, they were gone the second they hit that plate. They are super low fat and loaded with protein and fiber, which is perfect for me and my cray diet! I'm lactose intolerant but I tolerate goat cheese in small amounts, so this gives me a burst of cheese that I so desperately miss. If you can't tolerate goat cheese, replace it with the dairy-free cheese that I'm sure is in your Stateside supermarket. I wouldn't omit the cheese all together though - it really adds a creaminess that makes these cakes sing.

And they are pretty to look at, too!

(Thank you

1 1/2 cups fresh (about 3 years) or frozen corn 
1 cup chickpeas, drained
2 eggs
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup rice flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons olive oil

Pulse 1 cup of corn, the chickpeas, and the 2 eggs in a food processor/blender until it has the consistency of a thick hummus.

Seriously, make these. You can thank me later.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the cornmeal, rice flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Stir in the rest of the corn (1/2 cup), the corn/chickpea mixture, and the salt and pepper. Check to see if you need to adjust the seasoning, and then fold in the goat cheese.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Mold 1/4 cup of the mixture into burger shapes and drop them onto the hot skillet. You may need to slightly remold the cakes with your hands or a spatula once they are on the pan, so be careful, but there is no need for perfect circles! You are going to eat them after all. Anyway, let them cook for 4-5 minutes, and if you see that they are cooking too quickly, lower the heat. Carefully flip them and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Dat's it! Keep doing this until you run out of dough, and try not to eat all of them while the rest are cooking.

Serves 4! Or 2 hungry people.

A buen tiempo!