On this morning’s coffee break, I read Jennifer LaRue Huget’s article about beans: what they are, why they rock, and how they figure into the new (2010) Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The article is short, sweet, & to the point; most of the information it contains is info I was already familiar with. Why am I posting the link, then?
Simple: to reinforce the message that legumes rule.
It’s easy to forget how good we have it. Yesterday, during my daily chat with my sis, the topic of clean eating came up. I related that most of the produce Hook and I eat is organic. Most of our meat is grass-fed/hormone-free/etc. It’s been a year, at least, since I ate a non-strained yogurt. I still eat junk food, of course, but in a conscious, deliberate way.
As I described my diet, I thought, “Holy shit: I eat like a king.” And most of the time, this golden fact slips from my consciousness. I certainly try not to take my diet for granted, but there’s a difference between not taking something for granted and feeling true gratitude.
I eat beans every week, several times a week. Yeah, I’m a carnivore, but I happen to like beans. Beans are cheap; they don’t require cooking — only rinsing! — and they’re not as refrigeration-sensitive as other proteins.* Moreover, beans are super versatile: you can fashion them into spreads, stir them into soups, include them in tacos or wraps, or even serve them (smashed) with eggs. If you’re a salad fan, you can sub them in for chicken breast or hard-cooked egg.
Despite my frequent bean consumption, I don’t often give beans the acknowledgment they deserve. They’re the workhorse of my weekday lunches, the staple meekly waiting in the pantry. They’re Birkenstocks to the Louboutins of fresh Petrale sole, oysters, filet. Birks need their day in the sun just as much as any other shoe, and today is that day.
Beans, here is my shout out. You are one of my favorite protein sources, and my lunches wouldn’t be the same without you.
In the spirit of this hastily defined Bean Day, here’s a list of my favorite ways to eat beans (in descending order of most favorite to least favorite):
1) On salads: Most commonly, I top salads with Cannelini beans, but I also use pintos, black beans, and chickpeas.
2) In burritos: At Chipotle, or Papalote, or Trapisueno, or at my home.
3) As part of Huevos Rancheros: OK, so Huevos Rancheros aren’t part of my everyday (or every week) diet, but I freaking love this breakfast dish. Undying, valiant love. I first sampled Huevos in grad school, and quickly spread the gospel. It’s hard to beat eggs, black beans, hot salsa, and cornbread, dished up with sour cream.
4) Roasted: I’m referring here to Mark Bittman’s recipe for roasted chickpeas. I haven’t yet served these as a main dish, but they’re great on salad (again) or as a snack.
5) With Rice: When I was in grad school, beans and rice were one of my easy, go-to dinners. To prepare: prepare rice as normal. For the beans, empty one can black beans, liquid and all, into a saucepan. Add black pepper, lots of cumin, minced garlic, and lime juice. Simmer until liquid reduces. Serve beans over rice; top with cilantro and sour cream. Delicious, quick, and cheap.
An honorable mention goes out to pork and beans, which I lovvvvvvvvved when I was a kid. My dad would gussy up canned P&B with ketchup, garlic powder, chili powder, and a sliced hot dog. Scoff if you will, but that mess was tasty.
However you eat them, show beans some love this week — and share recipes, if you have favorites!
*I’m not suggesting that beans don’t need to be refrigerated. Rather, I’m saying that I don’t get as skeeved about bringing my lunch salad sans ice pack as I do about eating a turkey sandwich that was unrefrigerated during my commute. PHEW! That was a lot.