Thursday, March 13, 2014

Healthy Comfort Foods: Bean Stew

I had a very stressful week last week, and, as a result, my body was demanding lots of comfort, including comfort food. So, on Saturday, I ate a giant sandwich and desert in one sitting, way more than my body could usually handle. Then on Sunday, I continued with a giant bowl of Alfredo pasta for dinner and baked amazingly delicious chocolate swirl cupcakes (will post recipe by the end of the week), and on Monday I wanted to start my day with a cupcake or two...

Ok, this had to stop!

It is true, scientists claim that comfort foods really do lift our mood. Technically, certain foods, like fat and sugar, can increase serotonin activity in the intestines. And serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls that "feel good" sense in our brains. And, naturally, having eaten something that make us feel really good makes us eat more of it!

Great! What can I do then? Can I trick my body and prepare healthy food that gives me similar feeling of fullness and comfort? There's got to be something!

And the answer is - Beans. After researching the subject, I found out that a bean dish is very comforting and very good for us. Beans are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Beans are hearty and are a good alternative to high-fat protein sources like red meat. I mean honestly, a half cup of beans is only 100 calories!

First, I thought to make a vegetarian chili, but, being lazy and not following directions, I ended up with a delicious Bean Stew. A very healthy, low calorie, and very satisfying Bean Stew!

Shopping list: 
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 onion (and, unless you are an onion dicing pro, a tissue for your tears)
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, preferably red
1 chipotle pepper (but I didn't have it and substituted it with jalapeño pepper)
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 can organic diced tomatoes and chili pepper
1/2 tbs curry
2 pinches of cumin
red pepper, cinnamon and salt to taste.
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
sour cream and cilantro for garnish

Preparation time 15 min, cooking time 10-15 minutes!

Step 1: Dice onion and peppers, chop garlic. Drain and rinse beans.
Step 2: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic until the onions are transparent. Add bell pepper and chili peppers. Add both cans of tomatoes (don't drain). Stir in curry, cumin and spices (red pepper, cinnamon and salt). Don't put too much salt if canned beans were soaked in salt water.  Let it cook for a minute. 
Step 3: Stir in the drained and rinsed beans. Heat through for about 3-4 minutes.
Last year I took couple of cooking classes at Sur La Table, and the instructor told us that the only reason we cry while chopping onions, is because our knives are not sharp enough.

Obviously, my knives are NOT sharp, because I've cried... a lot. My Honey told me that he has no problem when he dices onions using the same knife. He said I chopped too slow...

Well, he may think he is a pro, and I think that he is just not sensitive enough!

So, if you are like me, have a tissue ready, just in case.
I am happy to inform you, that this dish painlessly broke my streak of consuming fatty foods, and I am back to my usual diet now.

xo, Zuma A.

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