Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Hill of Beans

So since I've been back to school, a colleague of mine has been quite eager for more new recipes.  She's embarked a major food transformation of her own and has gone vegan as well.  This recipe is for her!

I have thrown fresh tomatoes from our CSA into my White Bean Salad - so good!
I've thrown white beans into my tomato salads as well - just as delicious!

The Humble Bean

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who I guess has become something a nutrition hero of mine, holds beans in very high esteem, counting them among the five most important and nutritious foods to eat on a daily basis.  Greens, onions, mushrooms, berries and beans, and seeds (and nuts), GOMBS for short, is part of his shorthand for a healthy diet.  He recommends a cup of beans a day!  I've been eating beans a lot more lately because of  his advice.  I've always loved hummus and certainly didn't need a doctor's advice to convince me to eat more. 

So what's so special about beans?  Well, it turns out they are pretty serious nutritional powerhouses.  They're low in fat, high in protein, high in fiber, minerals and B vitamins.  They help lower blood pressure, they help diabetics control their blood glucose levels and, wait for it, they prevent and cure constipation.  Well, duh, right?  According to my search, there are 38,000 books that reference beans.  Okay, I'm not sure how many of them are cookbooks, but still.  The first one on that search list, Bean By Bean: A Cookbook , is on my wish list (hint, hint, Poppy Santa!). 
Many in the health-conscious, vegan and nutritarian community say that dried beans are best.  There seem to be pretty valid reasons for this, such as no added sugar or sodium and much lower cost.  I have not yet ventured into cooking with dry beans, which means either soaking them overnight in water and/or cooking them before use.  With two kids and a pretty busy life, I've stuck to canned beans for convenience.

Yes, yes, yes, let's acknowledge the (stinky) elephant in the room - bean--induced gas.  Here's what I've discovered, though (which discovery seems to be borne out by scientific research): if you really chew your food thoroughly, it's a non-issue.  Heck, most Americans eat all of their food way too quickly anyway, I have 20 minutes to eat lunch every day, and chewing every piece of my big salad in that time is quite a challenge.  In snarfing down our meals, we often miss the signals from our stomachs telling us that we're full, so we end up overeating (and getting fat).  Ever hear of "Chewdaism?"  Believe me, I have long been a victim of this and still have a long way to go towards "savoring" my food.  Again, I should listen to my wife, who is always telling me (and our children) to do exactly that.  She's pretty much always right. 
One of my favorite, newly-discovered beans is the Cannelini bean, sometimes called a white kidney bean.  I've also just smashed up some Great Northern Beans, put them in a wrap with sprouts and veggies for a quick lunch.  I have a great recipe for White-Bean Hummus, using Cannelinis, that I discovered a few months back, but then, an even greater use for this bean emerged, hence this post.

Rae's Sweet and Tangy White Bean Salad

A few months ago, my mother made this fantastic white bean salad and sent us home with it after a visit. I called her immediately to rave and rave about it after taking a few unbelievably delicious bites..


  • Two cans of cannelini beans (white kidney beans) - rinsed well
  • 1/2 cup - 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced or chopped (vary quantity according to taste - I've come to love raw red onion!)
  • 1/4 cup capers (I could eat these right out of the bottle!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley (flat or curly)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (essentially equal parts of the three liquids, more or less to taste)
  • Sea salt (I'm totally digging this Himalayan Pink Salt)
  • Pepper

Mix all the ingredients well in a large bowl.  It's best served nice and cold, but it's so good I usually eat almost half of it before it even makes it to the fridge.

This has become one of my absolute new favorite dishes to make.  It's SUPER quick to make, SUPER nutritious and SUPER delicious!

Here's to beans, a SUPER food!

Be well -

1 comment:

  1. Great recipe, SB. I love cannellini beans! I'm definitely going to try this recipe (sans oil). It looks wonderful!
    Sue in Ohio