Beans beans good for the heart

beans-01

This blog came up in my Twitter feed and it immediately caught my attention.  The writer, Russ Parsons, reports that we do not have to soak dried beans before we cook them!! What?! Duh? This is new information to me.  In the interest of convenience, I buy canned beans.  I don’t have time to soak beans over night, change the water, soak some more, change the water, boil the beans, change the water….

This blog is telling me that I don’t have to do all of that.  I can simply add dried beans to a pot of water and boil for 1 hour and 15 minutes and voila they are done!  But, with 3 boys, a husband and  working full time I still don’t have time to boil my beans for that long before I add them to my recipe.

My BFF, Robin, is a dietitian living in Salmon Arm BC. She just got a pressure cooker primarily for cooking dried beans.  Robin was visiting her brother in Brazil last year and his girlfriend prepared many bean dishes.  Robin learned that Brazilians use pressure cookers to facilitate the preparation of traditional bean based meals, like black bean soup.  Take a look at the Brazilian healthy eating food guide for some inspiration.

Healthy diets include a lot of plant based foods such as fruits and vegetables; grains like oats, millet, bulgur; and legumes like kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils and split peas.  Plant based foods are sometimes not so convenient and they do need preparation.  However, the benefits are worth the trouble.  Plant based foods are low in calories, high in essential vitamins and minerals and contain fiber which helps to regulate blood sugar.  One unfortunate side effect to eating beans is flatulence.  The good news is, the gut does acclimatize to legume intake and eventually the flatulence will diminish.

I regularly make burritos with pinto beans that I heat with sautéed onions and tomatoes.  I have never cooked this recipe using dried, then cooked beans, but Robin promises the flavor is worth it. She is probably right because I also make a delicious dal recipe with sautéed onions, turmeric, curry, tomatoes, dried red lentils and water.  This recipe cooks very quickly and does not require soaking the lentils.  Red lentils cook fast as opposed to green lentils which take much longer.

If you have any legume recipes to share, please leave them in the comment section.  Do you use a pressure cooker to prepare beans?  Let us know in the comments section too!

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Faux Chocolate Chip Blondies

I am tired of baking with sugar sugar sugar and white flour which is like sugar.  I found a dessert recipe with chickpeas and peanut butter and I modified it and made it for the family.  They were so-so about it but I think it is because of the peanut butter taste. Kids these days just don’t like good ol’ PB. It’s actually kind of sad.

Chick peas are a protein-carbohydrate food and they add the perfect moisture to these faux blondies. You can reduce or omit the chocolate chips altogether for a healthier version.

Nothing like home baked goodness instead of boxed processed junk. (D the Intern made these to bring to work and they were happily devoured!)

blondies 3

Faux and Flourless 

Chocolate Chip Blondies

1 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 can of chick peas (drained and rinsed)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips into a food processor and blend until very smooth.
Put in chocolate chips and pulse a few times until mixed in.
Pour batter into an 8”x8” greased pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. 


Note: The blondies in these photos were marbled by melting the chocolate chips in a double boiler first and later stirred in. This proved more difficult than expected because the chickpea mixture is very thick. The melted chocolate didn’t marble that nicely. Either way, it ended up being delicious!

Try it and let us know how it turns out and if you liked it!

 

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Summer Feast: Fish Tacos

🙂

Spicy Beans!

– D the Intern

Crazy Confusing Carbohydrates

The world of nutrition has been rocked by some recent studies.  In the past, the belief was that dietary fats were primarily responsible for heart disease and obesity.  The food industry responded by cutting fat in all their processed products.  Fat was replaced by sugars.

North Americans kept getting bigger and the problem with heart disease was getting worse.  People became fat phobic and shunned anything they perceived to be high in fat including healthy fats found in nuts and seeds, olive oils and even avocados.

It should come as no surprise that current research indicates that dietary sugar is problematic.  It seems that highly refined carbohydrates are worse for your heart than saturated fats.

Consequently, the term carbohydrate is horribly confusing for most people.  I ask all of my patients to define it for me.  90% will say bread, pastas, rice and cereal.  They are not wrong. However, those foods are considered simple carbohydrates because they are made from refined white flour.  Complex carbohydrates are not highly processed and have a low glycemic index value.  These foods include: legumes, brown rice, whole grain bread and whole wheat pasta.

To make matters even more confusing there are carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables and even milk.  However, the fiber in the fruit and vegetables and the protein in the milk are good for you.  These combinations are beneficial.

Consider foods such as pastries, cookies, Danish, muffins, crackers, chocolate bars, candy, cake, pies and you’ve got a list of foods made with added sugar and some of them with refined white based flour.  These foods are addictive and can lead to weight gain and health issues like heart disease and diabetes.

If you reduce your intake of sugar containing foods and sugar containing beverages like regular soda (and even diet soda) and juice then you can significantly improve your diet.

Replace white pasta with whole wheat and white rice with brown rice.  Use only whole grain breads and rolls when making sandwiches or toast.  Experiment with legumes in recipes.  Try making a lentil vegetable soup or a chickpea salad.  Instead of making mashed potatoes with white potatoes, use sweet potatoes as a substitute.  Consider baking with whole wheat flour and cutting down on the amount of sugar in the recipe.  Try using unsweetened applesauce in place of sugar.  Instead of juice, try homemade smoothies made from frozen fruit of your choice and milk or yogurt.

Friday Finds: Maya Nachos

April 2010 024I have to
admit I was lazy today and I didn’t actively look for a Friday Find.  I just went into my pantry to see if there
was anything good.  Luckily I found a bag
of Maya Black Bean Nachos.  I love these
chips and so does everyone in my family and anyone who comes over.

April 2010 029The best
thing about them is they are made right here in Québec near the Jean Talon
market.  They have a variety of flavors
like jalapeño, lemon, plain and black bean. 
I like the last 2.  I love making
homemade refried beans and then covering the nachos with them. Then I add sautéed
peppers, corn and a bit of cheddar and bake at 400ºF for about 10 minutes.  These nachos also hold my homemade peach
salsa very well and my guacamole.

April 2010 031If you look
at the ingredients you can see there is not much to them except for corn, canola oil,
beans and spices.  The good news is the
sodium content is 5% of the daily value and there are 4 grams of fiber.  The bad news is there are 16 grams of fat,
mostly monounsaturated which is the good kind of fat, for 16 chips. That is
pretty high so beware.  16 chips will set
you back about 300 calories. 

April 2010 033These chips
are tasty but I don’t eat them everyday. 
I will make the aforementioned dishes about twice a month.  I will probably make my nacho dish in another
two weeks since I just polished off a bowl of this week’s Friday Find while I
was writing about it!

Do you squeeze lemon over your pulses?

Image.phpOne of my friends asked me to write something
about eating certain foods together.  I
was puzzled because the only time I ever recommend food combinations is for
some diabetic patients who require a protein with their carbohydrate.   I thought my friend was talking about a diet
that was popular in the 80’s.  Sometimes
patients ask me if they are eating the right food combinations and the question
stems from that diet. I remember doing a research paper on this when I was a
student.  The main premise was you could
only eat fruits in the morning and then no fruits after that.  Protein and carbohydrates had to be eaten separately
as well.  Supposedly, if one ate in this
manner one could lose weight.  Never mind
that is completely unhealthy.  So when my
buddy asked me to write about the right food combinations I thought he was just
bugging me.   It turns out he was a bit
confused.  He was remembering something I
told him about a food combination that maximizes the absorption of iron.  Sometimes I forget that nutrition can be bit
tricky for people. 

There are 2 types
of
iron.   The first is heme iron which
is found in animal products like red meat and chicken.  The second type is called non-heme iron and
it is found in plant based foods like red kidney beans and lentils.  Heme iron is very easily absorbed by the
body.  If you are not a vegetarian and
don’t have any underlying health conditions that would prevent you from
absorbing iron, then you are probably not deficient in this mineral.  However, if you are a vegetarian (eat no
meat, poultry, fish or eggs) then you need to maximize your iron
absorption.  The best way to do this is
to get in the habit of using ascorbic acid with your cooking.  Ascorbic acid is vitamin C which can be found
in many fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits.  What you can do is add a serious squeeze of
lemon juice to your recipes.  Make
homemade refried beans with a can of unsalted tomatoes.  Use diced red peppers in your lentil
salad.  Eat fortified iron cereal like
Cream of Wheat with orange wedges. 

Incidentally, my
friend is a carnivorous meat lover who probably doesn’t need any heme top up!