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Three Bean Stew

Simply Food

March 26, 2013
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." Anais Nin

You know when you meet someone and everything clicks? This could happen any time in life. It might be finding a best friend, meeting a neighbor that makes your life better just knowing they are near, or meeting the love of your life.

I remember meeting Peggy, my oldest best friend, when we were in the third grade. I moved into a new neighborhood and didn't know anyone. She knocked on my door and introduced herself. She lived five houses down the street from mine. She told me that she went to the same school I was then enrolled in. She had a handful of Chinese checkers in her pocket. We spent a few hours on my front porch that day playing with the checkers and getting to know each other. From that day on, until I moved away to college, not a day went by where we weren't together.

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Three bean stew served over rice.

Peggy and I shared everything with each other: our deepest darkest secrets, trials and tribulations involving our families, and our clothes. By the time we were in junior high, we would spend the evening together rummaging through each other's closets until we found the perfect outfit for the next day. We got into some serious trouble together. We always had each other's backs. We cried together when one another friend died tragically in a car accident. We talked each other through the highs and lows of dealing with boyfriends. In college, our separation didn't last long because she ended up moving into my apartment in Santa Barbara.

A few years later, I flew to Arizona to help her deliver her first child. To this day, we can see each other and everything falls back into place no matter how much time has passed. Our combination enhances both of our lives.

The same thing happened to me later when I met Claud. Like meeting Peggy, Claud and I spent our first few hours getting to know each other. We had such an amazing and instantaneous connection. We became best friends and fell in love. The rest is 15 years of amazing history. Two people can be just fine on their own but when you are able to find the perfect mate, life is so much more enhanced. Both Claud and Peggy opened new worlds to me and made my life a better experience.

Fact Box

Three Bean Stew

Time: 45 mintues

Serves: 4

4 cups brown rice, cooked

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 shallots, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups vegetable/chicken broth

1 cup lentils

1 cup soybeans

3 small tomatoes, quartered

1 cup garbanzo beans

2 cups fresh spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon wedges

Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Saut onions, shallots and carrots for five minutes. Add garlic and saut five minutes more. Add cayenne pepper and tomato paste. Mix well. Add broth and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add lentils. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add soybeans, tomatoes and garbanzo beans. Simmer another 15 minutes. Add spinach, salt and pepper. Serve over rice with a lemon wedge to squeeze.

Often times, life imitates nature. So, it didn't surprise me when I discovered that the same goes for food. There is actually a whole area of nutrition regarding food combining. I don't know too much about this but I am learning.

Apparently, there are some foods that shouldn't be eaten together for different reasons. This could be like those friends you thought were great for you and then learned otherwise. On the other hand, there are several nutritious foods that are perfectly good for you to eat on their own, but when combined, they create a powerhouse of health benefits.

One of the most obvious food combinations is rice and beans. Often times, recipes combine rice and beans in the same dish. I don't know if the people making these dishes realized just how amazing this combination is for their bodies or if they just naturally seemed to go together.

Combining beans and rice together forms a complete protein, which is the foundation of growth and development in humans. Beans eaten on their own are high in fiber content. One half of a cup of cooked beans contains approximately eight grams of fiber. This is one quarter of your daily fiber needs. Foods high in fiber aid in healthy digestion, help achieve permanent and healthy weight loss and prevent many degenerative diseases. Beans, other than soybeans, do not form a complete protein. They lack the methionine necessary to make it complete. Don't worry, just introduce your beans to some brown rice and voil, you have a compete protein. It is like they were meant to be best friends. Some studies even suggest that it doesn't have to be in the same meal, but needs to be consumed in the same day to achieve the desired protein. Just to be safe, I like to put beans and rice into the same meal. They complement each other anyway, like best friends. I put beans and rice into a burrito or make paella with beans and rice.

This week, I made a three bean stew with tons of vegetables and served this over some brown rice. The beans and rice combination made certain that we were getting a meal with complete protein. Together, these two foods opened my dish to a world of nutrition which was several times healthier than eating these foods on their own. I didn't want to stop there, I added onions, tomatoes, spinach and so much more to make it a force of nutrition all packed in one meal.



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