Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cheap and healthy

The economy is in the news everywhere you look. How is the economy going to affect people's health? There is good news and bad news here. People are eating out less, and some restaurants, like Bennigan's have closed their doors. But Americans have been told (brainwashed) for more than 30 years that "we deserve a break today," and we're still looking to the same place that taught us that jingle back in the early 70s.

Which stocks are not tanking right now? McDonald's is doing a booming business, thanks in large part to their value menu and other cheap foods. If you saw "Supersize Me," you know how bad that food is for you. Even if you didn't see it, you should know how bad it is for you to eat fast food regularly. But if you didn't see it, and you are one of those people who is eating more at fast food restaurants, rent a copy. Your heart, liver, and thighs will thank you. Don't complain about the money that you can't afford to spend at the nice restaurants. Take this opportunity to learn new, healthier habits.

One of the best things about living in the middle of nowhere is that there is no temptation to grab fast food for dinner when I don't feel like cooking. I recall driving all the way to the "big city" 45 minutes away for dinner a couple of times after we first moved out there, but then we realized how silly it was to spend $10 on gas to go out to eat (now it would be $16) -- and driving that much wasn't saving us any time either. So, by necessity, we've learned how to cook at home more, which is great, because it's cheaper, and it's healthier.

Now is an excellent time for people to start doing more cooking at home. Here is my suggestion for today on cheap and healthy ... beans!

A pound of beans is less than $1, and you can feed a family of four with a pound of beans. They're good for your heart and your intestines and your thighs. The calorie count of beans is so ridiculously low that you could eat until you're ready to burst, and you wouldn't gain weight.

With most beans (other than lentils and split peas, which I'll address tomorrow), you should soak them overnight to soften them, so you can save money on cooking (electric or gas). Black beans and pinto beans make great Mexican dishes. Kidney beans and garbanzos make delicious Indian dishes served on rice. White beans make a mean pasta fagioli, and kidney beans make a mouth-watering minestrone. If you work, you can put beans in the crock pot in the morning before you leave, and dinner will be waiting when you arrive home at night.

We eat lots of beans around here. Whether you want to lose weight, eat healthier, or save money, beans are your friend. So, over the next couple weeks, I'll post recipes and meal plans that use beans in a variety of dishes. If there is anything in particular that you're interested in, just let me know, and I'll be happy to share my recipes and ideas!


pedalpower said...

We've been eating out less and I've lost 7 pounds so far. Woopie!

Beans....I love them. Every winter I try for us to have at least one "bean meal" a week. Ham and northern beans, 7 bean soup, chili, limas and ham....hmmm I think I need more recipes. I'll be watching your blog.

When I was working at our church food pantry I tried to get people to take beans but they won't. Apparently they'd rather have something that's in a box that you can make in 15 minutes.

Carolina Trekker said...

Yes..please share your recipes for Beans. Trying to stay away from white potatoes, rice & pasta, I have learned to substitute with beans, but I buy the canned ones.
Would enjoy your recipes!

Jenny Holden said...

Beans definately have fans in this house! Chris and I add them to stews and chillies to bulk them out along with pulses like barley. Yum :o)


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