Should You Trade the Cow For the Beans?

Ah, yes, the magical story of Jack and the beanstalk.  Poor Jack had such grandiose dreams of finding gold, but what was the risk?  He disappointed his family, sold the devoted and stable source of food, and nearly lost his life.  But what did he gain?  THE GOLD!  Not all of us can stand taking such a risk but what should we learn from this?

I can certainly apply this story to love, but my plan was to take this very literally and give you a little education on using beans in replacement for beef, or other meats, more often.  Perhaps not so exciting, but I promise it can be delicious and healthful.

Beans provide many of the health benefits of meat.  Including supplying protein that helps build body mass, and strengthening the kidneys and adrenal glands.  It is hearty and filling with no added cholesterol and way fewer calories.  Not convinced yet?  I’ll keep going.

Beans have no saturated fat or toxic nitrogen byproducts many meats have.  Beans contain the phytochemical diosgenin that appears to inhibit cancer cells from multiplying.  They also have been shown to reduce levels of serum cholesterol, which offers some protection against heart disease.  They are a top source of soluble fiber, which has tons of health benefits, and insoluble fiber which generously promotes digestive health.  And then there are the vitamins and minerals they contain…we can go on, but I’ll save you.

My tips for incorporating these “magic” beans?  First, I must encourage you to buy dried beans and soak them yourselves.  The health properties are higher in these dried beans in their natural state than those processed, canned kind.  It is really no trouble to soak them, you can do it simply over night.  Second, become your own bean connoisseur.  My favorites are chickpeas/garbanzo, lentils and black beans.  Third, try adding beans to already existing dishes or putting them on salads for extra protein, vitamins and minerals, plus fiber.  This will help you get used to the taste if you are unsure about them.

Chickpeas provide more vitamin C and nearly double the amount of iron than other legumes.  They have a smooth, nearly sweet flavor.  If you are only eating them on the salad bar than you are really missing out.  That’s the canned version and has little taste.  Try boiling them up yourself.  Simmer them in chicken stock and garlic for flavor.  You can also mix them with spices such as garlic powder and cumin for putting on salads or eating as a plain side.

We all have probably eaten a black bean.  They are common in latin-inspired foods.  Easy substitute for pinto bean, though in my opinion, way tastier.  I also enjoy eating them as a side and mixed into rice.  (See recipes page for a great black bean dip I make.)

Finally are lentils.  Probably under utilized, and not as commonly heard of in most circles.  One cup of lentils have more protein than three ounce beef patty and much less fat, virtually none.   They are high in calcium, have no sulfur like other beans and are great for the heart and circulatory system.   And unlike other beans, you don’t have soak them or cook them a long time.  They cook more like rice.

I started experimenting with beans by just adding them to dishes I already made.  I have created a white chicken chili and my own red chili.  Using them in  other ways has been easy enough to create.  (See below)

For added fun, I’ll throw in one thought using our fairy tale as a metaphor.  Giving up what is stable, well-known and reliable for a big dream that there has to be something more…well it’s risky and many times will prove the adage “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”  But if you were that unhappy with the way things are that you would chuck it all on a risky “scheme”, than maybe there was nothing to give up?  Just a thought.  Apply it to love or life, or however you like.

Don’t be afraid to be risky with your meals though!  Creativity is what makes cooking oh-so-fun.  The worst thing that happens, you throw it out.  The more you start playing with flavors and making up your own meals, the easier it becomes.  You will develop your ability to match up items and make great dishes with more regularity.  Good luck with those beans!

Chick Pea Delight

1 1/2 sp Olive Oil

2 diced chicken breasts

2 cps cooked chick peas/garbanzo beans

1 3/4 tsp garlic powder

1 1/4 tsp coriander

1 tsp ginger

3/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 chicken bouillon cube

1/2 cp white cooking wine

1/2 tsp coriander

3 cps sliced & halved zucchini

1 tsp dried cilantro

2 cps halved grape tomatoes

Chevrai or goat cheese

In a pan over medium heat, heat up the olive oil then add chicken, 1 tsp garlic powder, 3/4 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir occasionally until chicken is cooked.  Add chick peas, bouillon cube, cooking wine, zucchini, 3/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of coriander & ginger, 1/4 tsp of cumin.  Stir, cover and cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Add 1 tsp dried cilantro.  Cook for another 2 minutes with lid on.  Uncover and add halved grape tomatoes.  Leave uncovered and cook for approximately 2 minutes.  Serve over cous cous or quinoa.  Sprinkle chevrai or goat cheese on top.

 ~Mary is a professional matchmaker and self-taught cook.  Her experiences and professionally earned skills have helped her to be able to read people, realize what they want and find it for them, in all areas of their life.  She has a natural ability to put together people and flavors, creating “wholey experiences”!

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