Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit…

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit…

…the more you eat, the better for you, and the planet. A bit ago I ran across an article that was extolling the virtues of increasing bean consumption and reducing intake of red meat. Most of us at this point know about the health benefits of keeping meals of lean red meat to only once or twice a week at the most. Increasingly, however, it is being talked about as a choice for the planet,as well. Raising livestock for food contributes to environmental troubles in various ways, including increased methane, forest clear cutting, and transportation resources. Reducing consumption and/or switching to small production, local, grass fed beef can have a positive impact.

Though my family does not follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, I see the appeal and benefit and we do try to limit our meat intake. For boosting protein intake as well as satiety and overall nutrition, I try to cook with beans as often as my family will put up with. Lentils, garbanzos, black, white – we love them all. It is hard to pick a favorite bean dish, but today I choose to share one way I love to prepare black eyed peas. If you want to up the bean level in your life, this is a good start.

Black-Eyed Peas With Tomatoes and Capers

Ingredients:

1 small onion, diced

4 large tomatoes (one 28 oz can if making this off season)

2 cans black eyed peas, drained mostly but not totally

2 tsps dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh

2 tbsps capers

Olive oil

Scant salt

Pepper

2 cups of your favorite cooked grain/grain-like food

Method:

Heat a skillet over medium and coat lightly with olive oil.  Add the onions and cook until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and oregano and cook another 5 minutes. Toss in the black eyed peas and capers and stir in until just heated through.  The dish likely will need very little or no salt, due to the capers, but add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve over your grain of choice.  I prefer whole wheat couscous but this is equally delicious over rice, orzo, farro, riced cauliflower, etc, etc, or scooped onto crusty bread.

Chickpea Flatbreads With Tzatziki and Pickled Red Onions

Chickpea Flatbreads With Tzatziki and Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients:

3 cans of chick peas

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp coriander

Recipe for flatbreads (store bought is fine if you don’t have the time/energy/interest – but this is an easy recipe so maybe give it a peek before you discard the idea of making)

Recipe for tzatziki

Recipe for quick pickled vegetables (I do just red onion for this recipe, but you do you)

Large handful of cilantro, stems removed

Method:

In a bowl, combine the chick peas with the cumin and coriander.  To assemble (preferably at the table where each diner does his or her own), top flat bread with tzatziki, chick peas and pickled red onion.  Add cilantro if you choose.

Tzatziki

Ingredients:

1 english cucumber, cut into small dice

16 oz plain whole milk yogurt

2 tbsp fresh chopped or 1 tbsp dried dill, optional

Juice of ¼ of a lemon

1 clove garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  That’s it. You’re done. Use this on chicken, lamb, in a pita sandwich, with grains, wherever you want a little healthy tang and crunch!

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Ingredients:

2 cups of preferred vegetables: red onion, radish, cucumber, fennel are all good choices, a mix or just one

½ cup white vinegar

1 cup water

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

Method:

Cut your chosen vegetables into thin slices and place them into a bowl.  Place water, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Heat until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Add the vinegar and stir. Pour this pickling liquid over the vegetables and let it sit.  These will last in the refrigerator for 5 days to a week.

Minimal Effort, Maximum Impact: Buttery Herbed Rice

Minimal Effort, Maximum Impact: Buttery Herbed Rice

Buttery Herbed Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup white or brown rice (or cauli-rice), cooked according to package directions

2-3 tbsps butter

One large or two small shallots, minced if you have the patience, or a fine chop is acceptable

¼ cup total of any mix of chopped fresh herbs – parsley, chives, basil, oregano, tarragon, thyme, etc, 1 tbsp if using dried

Salt

pepper

Method:

Cook rice according to package directions.  In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until softened and translucent, 3-4 minute.  It is fine if they start to brown a bit on the edges. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs.  Stir this whole mixture into the rice and add salt and pepper to your liking.

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