Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Beans, Beans They're Good for the Heart...

The first week of school has come and gone, so it's about time that I returned to my adventures in eating! Last night I brought a vegetarian cookbook with me to bed so I could plan my dinner menu for the next three days. I bought a can of every different kind of bean that I saw at the grocery store: garbanzo, pinto, black bean, kidney beans, and white beans. Each can is less than a dollar and there are so many things you can do with them! Usually I make a simple beans and rice recipe with the pinto beans, a soup with the white beans and burger patties with the black beans. Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas are something I've never cooked with but only used as an addition to salads. Try it by the way, it adds great texture!

         Since I'm trying to forgo meat I've got to get my protein from somewhere. This is where beans come in and their nutritional profile is pretty impressive. According to The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide to a Healthy Vegetarian Diet: The percentage of protein as compared to fat and carbohydrates in beans ranges from about 20% to 33%, with soybeans boasting the highest protein content. In order to put this into perspective lean ground beef has about 37% protein. The kicker is that the fat content in beef is about 63%, and typically less than 5% in most beans. Soybeans are about 40% fat; however, this is non saturated and cholesterol free unlike the fat found in meat. Beans offer a balanced ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates with the addition of fiber that help you feel full and satisfied longer as they help to balance your blood sugar.

         Protein and fiber are not the only nutritional boosts you'll get by adding beans to your diet, you'll also get iron and zinc. Vegetarian diets are often criticized for being low in iron, and beans are the key to increasing that iron intake. As an example, a cup of pinto beans has about 4.5 mg of iron and 1.9 mg of zinc. Compare this to 2 oz of ground beef with 1.1 mg of iron and 2.3 mg of zinc. I apologize for throwing all these numbers at you...let's just put it this way...beans are good for you! We all know the old rhyme we used to chant when we were served up a pile of beans, "Beans, beans the musical fruit. The more you eat the more you...." Well, you get the idea. Personally I don't have any problems with canned beans since they are already cooked  and then get cooked again when I add them to meals. If you just can't digest your beans without clearing the room, look into buying some Beano from the drugstore. :-P I'll accept no excuses!

So here's the breakdown one of my absolute favorite books gives you, "SuperFoods: HealthStyle" by Steven G. Pratt M.D. and Kathy Matthews

Beans are a source of:
  • low-fat protein
  • fiber
  • B vitamins
  • iron
  • folate
  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • phytonutrients
         They also recommend that you try to eat at least four 1/2 cup servings per week. Oh, and why are beans "good for your heart?" According to SuperFoods beans are an excellent source of folate and magnesium, both important for your ticker. "Recent studies confirm beans' power to lower heart attack risk." For those with, or at risk for Type II Diabetes look to beans as a way to manage blood sugar since they are high in soluble fiber.

         The recipe that I chose for tonight was from a cookbook my friend Danielle let me borrow called Vegetarian Times. On page 274 you'll find Pinto Beans with Vegetables and Red Wine. I chose this because I had half a bottle of Cabernet left over from a housewarming gift my classmate and friend gave me. If I can use things that I already have in my kitchen, then I'll be saving $$$!

I love my little glass bowls, they make cooking so neat and organized!
         Okay, so as you may be able to tell from the photo above, I used a can of pinto beans, tomato paste, chopped carrot and potato, minced garlic, sliced white mushrooms, chopped onion, a bay leaf, dried thyme, kosher salt and a bottle of dry red wine. This is super easy! I halved the recipe since I'm just cooking for myself.

1/2 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup water
1 large carrot, sliced into rounds
1/2 large potato, cubed
1 cup water
1 1/2 TBSP tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 can low sodium pinto beans, rinsed
2 cloves of garlic, minced, separated
kosher salt to taste
1/4 pound white mushrooms (4 oz), sliced

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the onions until they begin to soften, and then add 1/4 cup of water.
  2. Once the onions are translucent, add the carrot, potato, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and one cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to allow it to simmer until the potatoes and carrots are cooked. About 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and add additional water as needed to keep vegetables covered.
  3. After 20 minutes add the wine, beans, garlic and salt. Return to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms with the other half of the garlic in some olive oil until they are cooked. Add the mushrooms to the beans and veggies. You can serve it now or allow it to simmer a little longer and reduce down. Make sure your carrots and potatoes are nice and soft!

My mini herb garden in my kitchen.

Dried thyme I made with the lemon thyme plant (far left).
         The red wine really gave the dish that "something." For you meat eaters out there this would definitely go well with beef. Just don't ask me how to cook it! The picture doesn't do it justice...I served it up in my cute little Cat in the Hat soup bowl and saucer to add some color.

Simmering the beans and wine while cooking the mushrooms.
The finished product...too bad I didn't have anything to garnish it with!

1 comment:

  1. I made red beans & rice for my first time this week! Stomper was hesitant about eating the dish, especially since I made lentil soup last week, but he tried my RR and loved it! Was it you who told me that rice and beans make a great meal?!?