Eat Local. Eat Healthy. Eat Beans

By: Chef Brenda Wattles, RDN and The Idaho Bean Commission

According to the Idaho Bean Commission, the number one reason to eat Idaho’s beans is due to our rich volcanic soil and clean mountain water that produces the “highest quality, disease-free bean seed in the world.”  If that isn’t reason enough, Registered Dietitian and Chef Brenda Wattles adds five more reasons to eat our local, healthy food.

Beans are Versatile
There are ten varieties of beans grown in Idaho. All of which have their own flavor profile and texture that offer numerous ways to prepare them. Beans can be served as a main course or a side dish. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, beans can be considered as a main protein entree or a side vegetable. That is versatility at its best!

Beans are Easy to Prepare
Whether you are cooking them dried or straight from the can, they are easy! Dried takes a little longer, but the process is simple (*see instructions below). Once they are cooked and ready to go, add them to soups, hummus, salads, or even smoothies! Visit the Idaho Bean Commission’s website for recipes ideas.

Beans are Inexpensive
If you are looking to save money on your grocery bill, beans are a great cost-conscious alternative! Adding them to your menu as a main dish protein can cut your budget tremendously. Chef Brenda recommends making homemade black bean burgers, hearty vegetarian chili, or topping entrée size salads with beans as your main protein source.

Beans are a Protein and a Fiber-Rich Superfood
Most Americans are getting enough protein. However, they are often deficient by about 10 grams of fiber a day. By adding one cup of cooked beans to their diet, they will be adding about 12-16 grams of fiber a day. Additionally, beans are high in antioxidants.  They are also low in calories and saturated fat.

Beans are Excellent for Weight Loss
One cup of canned black beans is only 218 calories! Not only are they low in calories, they provide lots of bulk during digestion. So, they will keep you full longer! Adding beans to your diet is one of the best ways to get a variety of nutrients for such a small number of calories.

*How to Prepare Dried Beans
Rinse and drain one pound of dry beans. Discard damaged beans and any foreign material. Place in sauce pan and cover with 6 cups water. Either soak overnight or boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover, and soak for one to four hours. Discard soaking water. Replace with clean water and cook beans at a low boil for one to two hours, until beans are tender.

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Take it outside!

The next time you feel like falling into the recliner or perching yourself comfortably with your laptop, smart phone, tablet or whatever… STOP! Take it outside. In fact, take the whole family outside. Put down the remotes, put away the technology, turn off the power. Unplug. There’s a whole world waiting for your family – outsideUnplug and Be Outside is happening across Idaho in April and May. Check out the FREE activities in your area. Try a new activity. Have a family contest. Each family member can choose an activity for everyone to try – rock climbing, golf, fishing, bike rodeo, geocaching, star gazing, camping, belly dancing, hockey, zumba, ice skating, gardening…and the list goes on! Check out Health Matters for more ideas. Come on – reconnect with the earth. Take it outside!

How does your family “take it outside” and be active?

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Probiotics, Herbal Remedies, Massage…and more!

Herbal Remedies

Probiotics, herbal remedies, yoga, massage, meditation, acupuncture, natural products, and more … can be considered complementary and alternative medicine or “CAM”.  So what’s CAM all about?  Complementary medicine is generally used in addition to standard medical care you receive from your doctor; alternative medicine is generally in place of standard medical care. As you consider different forms of CAM, check out these key points. Make thoughtful choices. Know the benefits. Take charge of your health and be an informed consumer of CAM. Information is out there!

Is there an area in your life where you use complementary or alternative medicine?

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Clean Eating – what’s it all about?

A co-worker came in last week all excited about ‘clean eating’ and asked if I was into it. I said ‘of course’ I always wash my food and clean up my dishes. She grimaced at me. So, I did some homework and here’s what I found. Clean eating is kind of about going back to the basics with food. Clean eating asks you to reduce the processed foods you take in and prepare and eat them in as natural or as whole a state as possible…eat that potato as a potato, not as a French fry with sauce. It takes me back to growing up with a big garden and cooking our own food vs. eating out of a box, restaurant, or microwave. Clean eating is common sense. That being said, I decided this weekend to track things I eat that are more processed than whole. I was amazed! My Dorito chips were virtually unrecognizable as corn, the broccoli was screaming to get out from under the mushroom soup and crunchy fried onion rings, I couldn’t find anything whole or natural about the hot dog, and I guess the peach cobbler was just wrong from every perspective. My point? Stop and think about what you eat. When you can, eat foods that are in their whole or natural state. Skip the sauces, sugars, creams, salts, crunchies, and all the add ons we use to spice things up. Your body will appreciate you! Check this month’s Featured Recipe on Health Matters…it’s pretty ‘clean’. Do you have a favorite recipe you can share that leaves most of the ingredients whole or natural?

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