Hi! This is Karen Gaughan writing as one of the teachers at Healthy Living Kitchen. I was inspired to write after I made one of these salads and as a way to share information about alternatives you have available. I make these salads weekly for my husband to take in his lunch. It’s a healthy alternative to the sandwich with processed lunchmeat.
Everyday Bean Salad
What’s for lunch? Something easy to pack that is full
of protein, fresh vegetables, crunch and flavor – Bean Salad. Crafting this dish can be a creative experience! There is so much versatility!
Beans and grains together make a perfect protein required for your body. Add in seasonal vegetables and your favorite homemade dressing and you have a healthy, whole foods lunch for every day of the week. Make it one day and use it for several days. This type of salad is also the perfect dish to take to summergatherings or a quick pick-me-up snack. Vegetarian friendly!
Beans and grains are complex (GOOD) carbs – don’t be afraid of them. Digesting – yes – can be a problem for some. However, once you soak and cook them properly – it removes the phytic acid that can cause issues. Also using cumin and/or fennel in your recipe can help reduce gas.
Phytic acid is naturally in beans and grains. Humans have a hard time digesting it – and it blocks the absorption of some nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc that you want. (Note: to learn more about ridding your food of phytic acid, please attend the Beans/Grains Basic class at HLK.)
A word about canned beans. Yes, phytic acid is removed from them through the cooking and processing of them. Always rinse your canned beans through a colander until the ‘foam’ disappears. Canned are cooked & processed, so somewhat denatured. Use a combination of both hard (need to soak) and canned beans. Yes – canned beans saves time and effort, but there are tradeoffs.
Back to the Creative Part – Mix it up! Try different beans – garbanzo (chick peas), black beans, white small beans, cannellini, or lentils … Add different grains like whole grain rice, quinoa, kamut, farro, or barley. Then add your veggies – carrots, celery, red onion, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, and broccoli, whatever you like. Think Seasonal! Get the whole family involved in the chopping fun! The veggies add crunch and color, not to mention many nutrients and fiber.
Now a dressing – You need an acid like vinegar (red wine or balsamic) or lemon juice, spice – cumin, salt, pepper, favorite mustard, parsley, garlic, pepper flakes – and Extra Virgin Cold Pressed olive oil. The dressing can be changed each week for variety – a little spicy, Asian, Mexican, more lemony or garlicky. Mix
By using vegetables that are seasonal, you’ll also be creating variety so you will not become bored. Eat it from a bowl that you packed in the morning; on top of a bed of lettuce or in a wrap. Throw some feta or parmesan cheese on right before eating if you choose.
There are many recipes for these types of salads and dressings in books and on the internet. Use them to get your measurements, but don’t be afraid to play with them according to your tastes.
Basic recipes can be changed to meet – 1. What’s in your pantry; 2. Your tastes; 3. What’s in season; and 4. What’s on sale.
Beans and grains can be economical as well. Many places are available to buy bulk. Dry beans are more economical than canned.
So – Be Creative! Try a new salad – with your own twist – each
week. Take it in your lunch each day. Pair it with fruit, and maybe a slice of sprouted bread. It will hold you through that afternoon lull.
Creative! Versatile! Protein Packed! Seasonal! Economical!