Beans. We may not give a hill of them, and they have long been derided as peasant food (by the same people who might think “fish sticks” are a meal). But surprise, surprise, surprise – beans are among the healthiest fast foods on the planet (the canned version is just as nutritious as other forms, by the way). And they’re just what guys like, because they’re easy protein that absorbs any flavor we mix them up with.
Here is how beans are beautiful for guys in a hurry: Mash them up, mix in your favorite flavors and then use them as “filler” to other things you have on hand in your kitchen already.
The serving suggestions made below are in fact the basis of many fast, healthy meals. It uses the incredibly simple, fast, inexpensive and healthy Garbanzo bean (a.k.a., chick peas) as a protein and fiber food that goes with many other foods you should have on hand in your kitchen already. For example, with Garbanzo beans crushed and mixed with a few flavors like lemon juice, salt, mustard and tomatoes, you can microwave it for a few minutes then eat it as a sandwich (on whole grain bread or pita wrap, ideally).
• Beans are a source of protein, but need to be eaten in the same day as other meats or whole-grain breads, tortillas or brown or wild rice. This completes the chain of amino acids necessary for muscle-building and other protein functions.
• Garbanzo beans are a very good source of the trace mineral manganese, which in combination with other food enzymes aid energy and immunity.
• Garbanzos also contain significant amounts of folate; typically, folic acid (its other name) is promoted for women who are pregnant, but guys who lift weights benefit from it too (it strengthens bones).
• Garbanzos' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, a good choice for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
• Beans are high in soluble fiber, which forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that snares bile – which contains bad cholesterol – and ferries it out of the body. So when it’s ferry time, you’re probably better off than you ever knew.
• On the subject of body functions, canned beans are less likely to cause flatulence than those made from dried beans (soaked overnight – as if). But just to minimize it further, commercial products such as Bean-O cut the problem down, so to speak.
Many Meal Bean Mash
Think of how you use protein powder: It’s waiting for you to mix with fruit and dairy products in a protein shake. Mashed up Garbanzo beans are quite similar. They might add some taste and texture, but really they boost the protein content of a meal. Additionally, when beans are mashed they are a sponge for tastes all around them – a great way to soak up juices and other flavors. And you can mash the beans in advance; just cover the leftovers for storage in a refrigerator.
|You Need |
• Shallow, flat-bottomed bowl or broad platter-plate
• Fork or potato masher
• One to three cans of Garbanzo beans
• Flavors, such as lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, spices or chopped herbs such as cilantro, oregano or parsley. Let your imagination run wild (but test things out in a side plate).
• Option: A spoon of sweetener, or sweet additions such as raisins, apple bits or corn to round out the flavor in good contrast to other, more acidic ingredients (lemon, vinegar, etc.)
In a shallow bowl, use a fork or potato masher to crush a can or two of Garbanzos; you can use a food processor for this too, if you have one. Flavor them up any way you wish, or leave them unflavored until you’re ready to eat.
|Serving suggestions: |
Each of these dishes can be prepared in minutes, are loaded with healthful nutrients – antioxidants and fiber, especially – and are made with long shelf-life goods you quite likely have on hand at any time.
Tuna sandwich mayo substitute: Some like their tuna a little creamy, so a Garbanzo bean mash might fill the bill. Because mayonnaise tends to have a little sweetness to it, add a packet or two of sweetener (sugar, or a non-caloric substitute) make it a more realistic stand-in with about 1/16th the fat. Strive to serve with whole-grain bread, which helps complete the protein chain of any bean type and which supplements the fiber content.
Steamed broccoli topping: While steaming broccoli on the stove, mix in tomatoes (chopped/fresh, or diced/canned) with the garbanzo mash, then microwave with a generous amount of grated Parmesan or low-fat mozzarella cheese. Smother the broccoli with this hot, gooey mix.
Green salad topping: Wash and shred salad greens and use your usual amount of dressing. Mix chopped onions with the bean mash and add to the salad to bring it protein and crunch; if you have cooked brown rice on hand, that completes the protein and adds additional texture and flavor to the meal.
Chicken and garlic in the pan: In a skillet, sauté a chicken breast with oil and vinegar (Balsamic or red wine) and minced garlic. After turning the chicken to cook on the second side, add the bean mash along with onions, tomatoes or other vegetables. Continue cooking until the chicken is done and the beans have absorbed the pan juices. This works as well with fresh as frozen chicken breasts (boneless and skinless), however the frozen takes a bit longer (duh).
Cabbage cruiser: Yeah, that great cruciferous vegetable works well with this incredible legume, too. Chop a handful or two of cabbage, then toss it into a skillet with olive oil at medium high heat and garlic already turning brown. Allow that to cook with the cabbage momentarily, then add the bean mash to heat it through (i.e., it doesn’t have to cook, you just want it warm and mix with the other flavors).
Each of these meals is exceptionally healthy and low in calories (when proper portion control is maintained) and saturated fat. They are great balancers to the typical indulgent meal eaten outside the home and inevitable in Western culture – bringing into equilibrium the calories in-calories out formula that plays a predominant role in body weight and overall health.
For more ideas on healthy meals made in less than 15 minutes, get “A Guy’s Gotta Eat, the regular guy’s guide to eating smart” by Russ Klettke and Deanna Conte, M.S., R.D., L.D. (Marlowe & Co, March 2004).
Get the whole story on “A Guy’s Gotta Eat.” Order today
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