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Cooking Smarter, Not Harder

I love simple recipes. And quick ones too. Especially when my stomach is growling and I don’t have any planned-overs in the refrigerator. Planned-overs? Yes! I like to plan ahead and cook extra so that I have leftovers. Also called batch cooking, it’ simply efficient.  I think of it as cooking smarter, not harder.

My mother taught me the term “planned-overs” but it was my father, Norman Houck, who demonstrated it by example. He did much of the cooking in our home when I was growing up.  He’d cook a big pot of beans, or boil a large quantity of potatoes, which he later sliced and fried in a cast iron skillet to make his famous fried potatoes. Famous may be overstated. At least to our guests, he was known for his amazingly crispy fried potatoes. Dad’s philosophy, formed by his experience as a cook in the army in World War II, was simple: “Take a pot and make a lot.”

I like to do the same: Cook two pounds of chickpeas or three cups of brown rice at one time, then repurpose them in a variety of ways. Delicious, nutritious, and expeditious! I call it Cooking Forward (TM). You’ll be hearing more about that soon.

Whether you have planned-over cooked chickpeas or open a can, this recipe creates a simple, filling, and satisfying high-protein lunch or light dinner.

Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich Filling
This simple and satisfying sandwich filling makes a quick lunch or dinner.
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed (1¾ cup)
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
whole grain bread, optional
lettuce, spinach, arugula, or sprouts

Mash chickpeas and avocado in a bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in lemon juice and salt. Serve on bread with greens or sprouts. Or serve as a salad on a bed of greens. Makes 4 servings.

Variations: Add chopped green onion, celery, or fresh cilantro.