Paws Off The Plate! Pinto-Bean-and-Brown-Rice Cakelets, and a dog named Nike

Pinto beans and brown rice cakesBefore I tell you about this week’s recipe and featured Washington Humane Society pets, I wanted to share the story of one of my foster dogs, Nike.

A purebred Bichon Frise with the impossibly elegant name of Sir Nike II, this little guy was 8 years old when we found him, and a master at worming his way into people’s hearts. Desi and I were at the shelter back in 2005 to pick up another foster, Freddie, when Nike rolled over to ask Desi for a tummy rub.
Nike the dog
That was it. Nike came home along with Freddie, also as a foster. Immediately, he appointed himself king of our household. A tiny bundle with character written all over his face, he would bully my German Shepherd Lucy and demand treats with angry barks. But then you’d be sitting down and Nike would find your lap and bury his head inside it, happy to have a home and people to call his own.

He was disarmingly affectionate and loved every person he ever met, but he loved old ladies in particular: maybe they reminded him of the old woman who had been his mom before she realized she couldn’t care for him any longer and brought him to the shelter.

Within a week of bringing Nike home, I took him to the vet because his tummy was unusually swollen. They found out he had Cushing’s Disease, an endocrine disorder. They told us he might live two years which was heartbreaking because small dogs like Bichons usually live well past their 15th birthdays.

Nike the dog

The tummy that conquered our hearts

Nike was with us a whole year, without a single soul dropping by to see him. When folks would come by to check out our other foster, Freddie, Freddie would simply ignore them but Nike would be all over each person, happy to see new faces he could kiss. But no luck.

We had almost given up hope of adopting him out when someone finally asked for Nike: it was an older lady, Carleen, who lived with her elderly aunt. She had seen him on the WHS web site and even after we explained his health problems, she seemed willing and eager to adopt him.

We visited Carleen and Nike, who she renamed JR, a couple of times. He couldn’t have been more at home. You could tell they were made for each other.

Last week, after two happy years with Carleen, Nike passed away. He had lived three years after being given up at the shelter. As someone who spends a lot of time around dogs, this is not the first time I’ve had to deal with the death of a beloved animal. It is always impossibly hard. Yet, I was also happy that he had died somewhere he was loved and cared for: in the arms of his mom, Carleen, instead of the impersonal coldness of a shelter where many, many pets meet their end. And where Nike might have too, had he had not rolled over that day for Desi to give him a tummy rub.

Now, here are two wonderful pets who are awaiting homes at the WHS shelter. In fact, Patrick, the dog featured today, reminds me of Nike:

Patrick is a super handsome 8-year-old Miniature Poodle. The shelter says he’s a very happy, spunky little guy who loves people. Though he does like to be in charge, he gets along pretty well with other pups and walks great on a leash. What’s more, he’s full grown at only 10lbs! Isn’t that a cutie?

This week’s kitty is Wonton, a gorgeous 3-year-old. The shelter says she’s friendly and affectionate and a true cuddlebug. Besides, how can you not love someone called Wonton?

You can find more details on Patrick and Wonton and other beautiful pets at the Washington Humane Society Web site or at Petfinder which has details on pets available in shelters in most U.S. areas.

So now that we’re done with the “paws” part of this post(whew, this is getting to a be a marathon post!) here is today’s “plate.”

Pinto-Bean-and-Brown-Rice Cakelets are a spiffy way to jazz up some everyday flavors into something extraordinarily special. What’s more, these small packages pack a huge health wallop.

If you already have some cooked brown rice and canned beans sitting around, it will take very little time to put these together. But even if you don’t, these are certainly worth the effort. Plus, you can be experimental and play around with new herbs and spices, if you like.

So here’s my recipe for these little treats. Serve them up with some pita pockets or wrapped in some rotis, or just by themselves, with an avocado salsa or guacamole, perhaps. They are pretty yummy any time of the day.

Bean and Rice cakesPinto-Bean-and-Brown-Rice Cakelets:


1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked and then cooked until tender (substitute with 2 cups canned, but remember to rinse the beans thoroughly)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 tsp red chili powder

1/2 medium red onion, minced

1 tbsp ginger, grated

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (it’s made with canola oil and has about a third of the calories of regular mayo. You won’t even taste the difference here)

2 tbsp chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour

Salt to taste.

2 tbsp canola oil

Mash the beans and rice slightly, then mix them together along with all the other ingredients except the oil.

Heat the oil in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet.

Take small lumps of the pinto-bean-rice mixture and shape into patties. I make mine pretty tiny (hence cakelets), just about an-inch-and-a-half across, but feel free to make them a little bigger, even burger-size, if you prefer.

Place them in the hot oil and cook each side for about 2 minutes or until nicely golden-brown and crusty.

Drain on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil and serve hot!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Poor Nike! He looked so cute! So sad! It’s so touching! Your narration was great, Vaishali!

    And for the recipe part, wonderful treat with the pinto beans. Sounds yummy! Must have tasted great.

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing Nike’s sad but beautiful story, Vaishali. We all deserve second chances. All the cats in our family are rescue animals, three of them adults when adopted. Once we get out of our cramped condo, we see another kitten in our future. : )

    Your recipe looks yummy. What kind of dipping sauce would you suggest, salsa perhaps?

  3. Anonymous says

    Yay! I am newly gluten-free and it is SO hard to find burger/patty recipes that don’t involve breadcrumbs or gluten. I will be trying these very soon. Thank you!

  4. says

    Thanks, Susan. Lovely to hear about your rescued cats. Cats are indeed so addictive, aren’t they?

    Anonymous, you are welcome. Chickpea flour is a great binder and I find it much tastier and lighter than bread crumbs. Hope you have a chance to try these soon.

  5. says

    You are such a wonderful person, Vaishali. Your love, passion for animals is so touching. May God bless you.I am sorry to read that Nike is no more, but his life was full of loving people like u & his new family.

    cakelets look delicious.

  6. says

    Thank you for visiting my blog. This is my first time visit to your blog. I love what you are doing, both taking care of animals and vegan cooking. I’m not a vegan I consume dairy products and store bought cakes and pastries. I just don’t bring eggs home.

    I want to try all the recipes in your blog, especially the brownies and breads. I think it will take time for me to try my hands on bread. I have bookmarked your site.

    Thank you for the pinto beans recipe. Will surely try it very soon.

  7. says

    Meera, Thank you for your kind words. As much as I love animals, it took me quite a few years to transition to animal-free eating, and I often wish I had done it sooner.

    Madhuram, Thank you very much. I do hope you will try your hand at baking bread someday. It is truly addictive and the more one bakes, the better one gets at it.

  8. says

    I got so caught up with your writing, that my banana nut bread just got burnt :(! I love animals too but I can’t think of looking after a pet. It is too demanding. I love your dedication. I am huge fan of James Herriot and Gerald Durrell. Loved your write up:)

  9. says

    Hi Vaishali.. I visited your blog for the first time today through a freind Shubas blog and while going through the list of recepies I found “paws off the plate” and I thought u had recepies for our beloved pooches :-) but i was pleasantly surprised to read your entry.. I too own a Bichon and work with dogs here in India and reading Nikes’ story was really heart warming. Great job Vaishali and I am glad I stopped by :-)
    take care and a tight hug and kiss for all your animal friends..

  10. Chitra says

    What is a vegetarian substitute for vegennaise or mayo? I have my reservations about using canola oil. Do you think hummus would work instead? This recipe sounds delicious. Can’t wait to try it.

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