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Posts tagged ‘meat’

Basic Eating- Beans and Rice

I am not a foodie, and never claimed to be. However, I have been told that my ability to throw stuff together is not universal, and several people have asked me what I eat. I thought I would give you my basic “go to” dish, beans, rice and whatever.

First, either soak and cook dried beans according to directions, or get out a can of beans, any kind, including baked, although they have a lot of sugar. I don’t use canned often, and if I do, I don’t rinse, since I like a lot of sauce in my food. Rinse and drain if you are worried about your salt intake. If you want to use lentils instead, cook them with the rice. Second,cook 1-2 cups of rice, according to directions. I have  a rice cooker, and never bother to measure any more. If you are using dried vegetables, or ones you want to have cooked, add them to the rice. Once these two ingredients are cooked, add any kind of tomato product; canned, fresh, dried. In a pinch I’ve used tomato soup or ketchup. Add vegetables, in any form. I like fresh onions and green pepper for the crunch. You can go southwest by adding cayenne pepper, chili powder, taco seasoning, or salsa. You can go asian by adding fish or oyster sauce, curry powder, soy sauce or whatever. This time I made rice and lentils with chili paste, dried tomatoes, dried red pepper, dried celery, and tomato soup. I’m going to add canned salmon and frozen broccoli to some of it. Or maybe all of it. You can add hamburger, tuna, chicken, whatever. You don’t need to add the meat, unless you are concerned about your protein intake.

Beans and rice can be the base for just about anything you’d like to add. I can’t think of too many things that don’t go well. Eggs are tasty in it too. Use your imagination, or use up your leftovers. You can cook up a big batch of beans and rice on the weekend, add different things to it each day and have lunch for the whole week. Don’t be afraid, if you think it’s really weird, take a half cup of the beans and rice out, add the odd ingredient and taste. If you like all the individual ingredients, you’ll probably like them together. When people complain about the cost or effort in healthy eating, I through this at them. You can’t get much cheaper than beans and rice, and since you can add any leftovers to it, you aren’t wasting any food.

To Vegan or Not to Vegan, That is the Question.

On top of a friend of mine going vegan, Venus Williams is too.  Vegan means nothing from an animal or fish, no eggs or dairy, on top of no meat. If you don’t care to read the article, here is a synopsis: Venus has Sjogren’s syndrome (pronounced show-grins), and this is an attempt to treat it. According to the article, vegan diets have shown some effect on fibromyalgia patients.  I don’t dispute that, but let me quote one sentence from the article:

In a show of sisterly solidarity, Serena has also chosen to follow Venus’ raw, vegan diet. That means both Williams sisters will be dining on whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains — nothing bottled, boxed or canned. And the raw distinction means nothing can be heated above 116 degrees or the nutritional value is believed to be compromised.

This is much more than a vegan diet. A raw diet is a very extreme diet by anyone’s standards. If it causes her relief, great. I don’t think most people would be able to stick with that for very long. Remember, the best diet is the one you can stick to. Also, notice one more distinction- nothing bottled, boxed or canned. There is where I think everyone could benefit from.  I’m not an absolutist, it’s winter, I can food myself and eat some canned food from the store. I eat mostly frozen, but there are some boxes in my cupboard.  Think of your diet as a continuum- from terrible- a night of pop, Doritoes, and Ding Dongs,-to great- a spinach salad, grilled salmon with almonds and an olive oil vinegrette, lightly roasted veggies with rosemary…mmmmm. But I digress. You get dozens food choices a day, from shopping, meal planning, preparation, eating out, snacking, etc. Plans or philosophies make it easier to make those choices for a lot of people. All of them cause us to make better choices, so they all work. Low carb, Paleo, Low fat, Atkins,  Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw are all diets that ban some foods, they all work for some people.

Go vegan if you want, but I would suggest that rather than ban or exclude food groups, you start thinking about what you eat, shrinking the portions, and banning sweets and deserts, rather than milk or eggs. You can make vegan muffins, which, in my opinion, is defeating the purpose.The great thing about a vegan or vegetarian diet is it makes you eat lots of vegetable, which is never a mistake. The best diets are made up of large quantities of veggies, no matter what else they change.

Most foods are a trade off, almonds have a lot of benefits, but are packed with calories. The dreaded meat and dairy- what the vegans are avoiding- are loaded with vitamins, protein, calcium and other benefits. However, they do have saturated fat and can trigger allergies. While you could avoid them completely, it may be better to treat them as condiments. A serving of meat should only be the size of your palm anyway. Think of that when you get that 1/2 a chicken at your next barbecue. Cheese? should only be the size of the last knuckle on your thumb. Think 1-2 squares from those premade cheese platters.

So I throw it out there- what are you going to do to improve your diet? Can you cut back on the harmful things, or is it easier to just ban them? Is it just easier to follow a premade diet, rather than think about all your choices? Does it make it easier to resist temptation to say  “I can’t have that, it has milk in it”, rather than just not having it since you don’t need the calories?

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