necessity is the mother of invention {& that's why we're here, friends} we dance to the music, we play in the kitchen & sometimes that means one of us breaks the wine glasses {we're not saying who} the cook is a cubicle-warmer/learning & development specialist by day, & a writer/photographer/kitchen goddess by night who has fun inventing healthy things she can actually eat we seriously both need capes & a kick-ass theme song & the baker is a catering delivery superhero; no job too big or too early or too floral not to come home & make magic with a mixer & an oven we are always gluten-free, dairy-free, & magically delicious now, somebody turn up the music! we're about to get our dance on!

28 March 2008

magic beans

The calendar says it's spring, but I'm not convinced. Tell that to the scene outside my window. I'm looking out at blossoming cherry trees through a thin veil of snow mixed with rain. It's nearly April, but from the look and feel of it, it might as well be January.

And you know what that means friends: I'm in the mood for something that's going to warm me up from the inside out!

Our latest dish was inspired by my love of legumes and the weather that has me singing [albeit not nearly as well as Dean Martin], baby it's cold outside!

Today we're using some old favorites: black beans, green beans, and tomatoes. And some favorites are making their debut at the playful cook in today's recipe.

Meet some of my friends and allow me to tell you why I love 'em ...

Garbanzo Beans (aka chickpeas): Like many of our bean-y friends, garbanzos are rich in both protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber, keeping you satisfied with a minimal amount of fat. These friends of ours are rich in many minerals including molybdenum (good for detoxifying sulfites, a common type of preservative in prepared foods), manganese, folate, iron, copper, and phosphorus. All super-good stuff for your bod!

Kidney Beans: Ah, the kidney bean! Full of protein (about 15 g per cup!!) and fiber and very low in fat (less than 1 g per cup), the kidney bean also will do its part to keep you satisfied and regular. There's no use skirting the issue, that's one of the many things fiber can do! Almost a nutritional twin to the garbanzo bean, kidney beans are rich in molybdenum, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, and copper. This is another bean your body will thank you for.

Some other benefits of fiber? You already know that it helps reduce cholesterol. It also helps prevent constipation and digestive disorders. It prevents spikes in blood sugar levels after a meal. It lowers your risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. It also helps improve absorption of essential minerals such as calcium.

You might have already guessed, but I'm a bit obsessed where fiber is concerned. With my history of digestive issues [see links on sidebar], I make a concerted effort to eat a diet that is rich and fiber and the bonus? I feel fantastic!!

And friends, this recipe is super easy. If you can open a can and turn on the stove top, you're good to go!

So without further ado ... let's get cooking!!

Extra-virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Green beans (approx 1/3 lb.)
Snap peas (approx 1/3 lb.)
1 - 15 oz. can black beans
1 - 15 oz. can kidney beans
1 - 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
Cayenne pepper (approx 1 to 1-1/2 tsp)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:
Brown sugar (approx. 2 tbsp.)
Chicken sausage

What else you'll need:
Chopping knife
Cutting board
Can opener
Deep skillet (or wok)

In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat
Add chopped garlic, allowing to brown & caramelize
Add green beans and snap peas
Add all the beans
Add chopped tomatoes
Add cayenne pepper
Add salt and pepper to taste

Stir occasionally until all the beans are heated through to desired done-ness; I think mine was done after about 18-20 minutes [mostly because I used frozen green beans & snap peas].

[see, I told you it was easy!!]

Enjoy with a fork or a spoon. Sit by the window and watch the precipitation as you feel the heat radiate outward from a happy belly.

five bean goodness photo by kirsten.michelle

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