Lean, Mean, Bean Protein

January 12, 2010

Photo Courtesy of Bohman on Flickr

As with everything else in your diet, protein needs can be very individual. Whether my clients are meat eaters, vegetarians, or vegan, I always work with them to evaluate their protein intake – quantity, quality, and sources. It can be a very enlightening experience.

Not too long ago, I experimented with going vegetarian. It was a wonderful experiment. It taught me that a meal CAN be a meal without meat. I tried new vegetables and grains. I learned more about different proteins like tofu, tempeh and seitan. I realized that I didn’t NEED meat in the way I always thought I had before.

But in the end, after about a month, I found myself having a strong craving. So, as I always try to do, I listened to my body and made some chicken that night. What I experienced was a profound sense of satisfaction and grounding. I can still recall the feelings to this day. I realized that, while I thoroughly enjoyed the vegetarian experience, it was not what my body wanted. At least not for now. The new foods I incorporated then remain a part of my diet today, and I will say that I certainly consume less meat than ever before in my life.

One simple way to start experimenting with your protein intake is through beans.

Beans, or legumes, including peas and lentils, are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Beans are found in most traditional cultures as a staple food, offering grounding and strengthening properties that enhance endurance. They offer a highly usable, highly absorbable source of calcium for the body. They are also an extraordinary source of dietary fiber.

Lack of sexual energy is often due to overtaxed adrenal glands and kidneys. Beans are known for strengthening these organs (ever noticed the shape of a bean?) and can help restore vital energy as well as sexual energy.

Beans have a reputation for causing digestive distress, but this is usually because they have been undercooked or improperly prepared. To help reduce gas-forming properties, soak beans overnight prior to cooking, increase cooking time, add spices like bay leaf, oregano or cumin, or add kombu (a sea vegetable) when cooking.

And the best part? Beans (especially when bought in bulk) can be very CHEAP! It’s amazing that such an inexpensive source of high nutrition can be so rich, delicious and satisfying.

In these cold winter months, one of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy beans is in chili. But sometimes, vegetarian chili options leave me craving that meaty texture. This year, a recipe from Cynthia Lair’s cookbook “Feeding the Whole Family” absolutely blew my mind. It’s made with quinoa, and the texture of this hearty grain turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Simply delicious combination of spices I might add. I hope you’ll give it a try:

Red Bean and Quinoa Chili
Prep Time: 1 hr, 15 minutes; 30 minutes if beans are pre-cooked
Makes 6-8 servings

1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked and drained
3 cups water, divided
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed in warm water and drained
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 to 3 cups organic tomato sauce
Grated cheese, for garnish (optional)

-Place beans in a large pot with 2 cups of the water and 1 teaspoon of the cumin; bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, covered, until tender (50 to 60 minutes), or pressure-cook (45 minutes).
-Heat oil in 4,-quart pot on medium heat. Add onion, 1 teaspoon of the salt, garlic, green pepper, the remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin, and the rest of the spices and saute for 5 to 10 minutes.
-Add quinoa and stir in. Add corn, tomato sauce, and the remaining 1 cup of water to onion/quinoa mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes.
-Add cooked beans and second teaspoon of salt; simmer another 10 minutes.
-Top each bowl with grated cheese, if desired.


3 Responses to “Lean, Mean, Bean Protein”

  1. James Says:

    Great stuff Patti! I did a stint with vegetarianism myself, and indeed the body answered back a few weeks in. I likewise gained an appreciated for alternatives. I still shake dinners up with tofu sloppy joes, or quinoa pilaf, etc. That chili recipe looks to be a winner! Thanks so much!!

  2. Patti McCabe Says:

    Love hearing stories like this! Definitely try out the recipe – it’s seriously amazing. Let me know how you like it!

  3. Angela Says:

    Always love receiving a new post from Ms. McCabe!

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