Beans

I love beans and since I’ve been on this healthy eating, new me journey I’ve come to love them even more and to include them more and more into my diet.

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All manner of beans, pulses and chick peas are now a real feature of my winter warmer recipes. Ever mindful of proving that healthy and wholesome can be done on a budget I’d recommend that one way to make huge savings on including these things into your diet is to avoid buying them pre-prepared in tins or cans and buying them in bulk in their dried forms and preparing them yourself. I figure I get the equivalent of six cans of beans for the price of one by doing the prep from dried myself. I use a wide variety from red kidney beans to big soft butter beans and chick peas, black eyed peas and haricots as well as red and green lentils which I find give some texture and substance to soups in the absence of meat and cream.

Now this can seem like a mess about when we’re so used to just popping a can open, draining and tipping into a bowl or pan but if you plan out your meals you can become quite efficient at planning your bean prep too. I just look at my next week’s food menus at the weekend and have a bean boiling and soaking session, getting my allocation ready then sealing up in plastic tubs with a little filtered salted water covering them. I got a handy set of cannisters which are about the size of a small food can. I usually prepare too many of each so that if I’m looking for a snack I can throw a bean salad together to chomp on. Adding a little home made vinaigrette dressing and a clump of chopped coriander for taste.

Eating beans has reduced my meat intake, something I’m really trying to cut down on. I’d like to cut out red meat altogether but truth is I love it and so I do indulge when I really fancy it rather than a matter of course. It’s not a regular feature on my weekly menu and increasingly meat is taking a back seat to fish, dairy and pulses as my protein source. I think I’ve about got the balance right now and meat is consumed in moderation with red meat a rarity. I’ve also taken to war time rationing practice and get bones from the butcher to use to boil up for tasty broths and stocks so that I get the flavour of meat in soups, stews and casseroles without eating any or buying any. It’s really inexpensive too and far more economical than buying high quality stocks.

Another thing I did with my kids who resist beans was to gradually supplement out minced beef for beans in some of their favourite recipes and little by little they were hooked until now I make chilli with no meat and lasagne with no meat and pasta sauces with no meat just lots of beans and nobody even notices.

I’ve written before on thinking about what we were designed to eat, what was around us ready to just chow down on off the peg and I figured that meat, although our dentition suggests we were intended to eat it, was something we would have had as a bit of a splurge when the guys came back from hunting and that we’d more often than not pad out our diets with what was growing around us and so back to basics for me is about making meat a now and then thing. This goes along nicely with recommendations from the official bodies which tell us what to eat and what not to eat…if you want to take notice of them.

Beans are not unhealthy saturated fatty and they don’t need fat to make them tasty or to cook them, they’re a real versatile winner when you consider that, their low cost and the masses of healthy things they pack into little tiny packets of goodness. Only problem of course is the aftermath…

Don’t forget seeds as well, what I think of as the smaller snacky, additive type bean with no need to cook. Oh and sprouted seeds too which are said to pack a real nutritional punch. Try to get as many and as much variety into your diet as possible, it’s all good natural wholesome stuff.

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