Cinco de Mayo, A Few Days Late

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  Though this battle was not a major strategic win, the win at Puebla was a symbolic victory and strengthened the resistance against France, who ultimately withdrew 5 years later.  Though it’s a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has evolved in the US to be a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.  For me, the celebration of Mexican culture and heritage isn’t complete without celebrating the underappreciated black bean.

Before we go into the benefits of beans, though, I refer to Dr. Michael Greger’s informative and entertaining article to clear the air about beans and gas.  Dr. Greger uses data from a famed flatologist and even NASA to explain the normal incidence of intestinal gas, the main sources of gas, and strategies for reducing gas.

Despite this information, if you still feel that beans do not work well with your digestive system, start with small servings and smaller beans (lentils, black beans, black-eyed peas), believed to be easier to digest.  Gradually increase your serving size over a few weeks and work your way up to larger beans (pinto, kidney, fava).  Also, drain and rinse canned beans really well.  If cooking dried beans, first soak the beans for 8-12 h in cold water, changing the water a couple of times if possible.  While cooking the beans, change the cooking water once or twice to further reduce gassiness.

Beans are a fiber superstar with 7 grams per ½ c serving.  Fiber, or plant roughage, has a critical role in ridding our bodies of toxins, cholesterol, medications, and excess hormones.  As it filters the blood, the liver removes these undesirable chemicals, which are then sent to the bile duct and to the intestinal tract.  It is in the intestinal tract that fiber soaks up the undesirable chemicals and carries them out as waste.  However, if there’s no fiber circulating in the bloodstream, the undesirables end up being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream and the whole process starts over again as enterohepatic circulation.  Without regular fiber in one’s diet, enterohepatic circulation keeps hormones, toxins, and cholesterol circulating for longer than they should.Barnard and Reilly

If the idea of toxins and excess hormones hitting their targets over and over isn’t enough to increase your daily fiber intake, T. Colin Campbell’s findings from The China Study provide evidence that high fiber intake was consistently associated with lower rates of rectum and colon cancers.Campbell and Campbell

The Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine influences advancements in medicine StrikeOut_PCRM  and science and advocates for preventative medicine, especially good nutrition, in the form of a whole food, plant-based diet.  PCRM gained attention last summer by informing fans at Major League Baseball’s All Star game in Kansas City that hot dogs can strike you out
for good, referring to the link between consumption of processed meats and increased risk of colorectal cancer.EPIC                                                                                     Buns_PCRM

So save your buns by increasing your daily consumption of both soluble and insoluble
fiber.  The most fiber rich foods are beans and vegetables, followed by fruits and whole
grains. Soluble fiber dissolves in water (example, oatmeal) and is known for its ability to 
control cholesterol levels.  Insoluble fiber is found in vegetables, fruit, wheat, rice, and other grains.  Both types of fiber are needed for prevention of cancer, and if you’re diet is rich in beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, then you’ll get plenty of each type –  realizing that the average American only gets 10-15 grams of fiber per day, compared with the ideal of 40 g/d.

This week’s recipes highlight the black bean.  If you’re using dried beans, make a big batch and freeze what you won’t eat this week to use in recipes over the next few weeks.

 

Taco Salad

Greens, torn into bite-sized piecesTaco_Salad

(Not only can you get a lot more greens in a small area if they’re in small pieces, but it’s also much easier to eat a salad if you don’t have to bother with cutting everything up first- really helpful in encouraging kids to eat more greens.)

Top with: black beans, diced tomato, diced avocado, peppers, organic corn (fresh or frozen, raw or briefly cooked), etc

Go naked or dress with: salsa or avocado dressing (1 avocado pureed with ¼ c orange or lime juice plus garlic powder or mustard if it is too sweet)

 

Oven Baked Tortilla Chips

Whole wheat tortillas

Spray EVOO

Salt

For chips, cut the tortillas in half (2 at a time), then cut into triangles.  Arrange on a lightly EVOO sprayed baking sheet.  Spray the tortillas with EVOO and sprinkle with salt.

For scoops, cut the tortillas in half (2 at a time), then cut more like 2”x2” squares.  Spray the cut tortillas with EVOO and place each tortilla oil side down into a mini muffin pan.  Spray the tortillas with EVOO and sprinkle with salt.

For salad shells, take each tortilla and drap over a small oven proof casserole dish or bowl, gently pushing the sides down to form an inverted bowl.  Spray with EVOO.

Bake at 350’ for 5 min then watch carefully for edges to brown.  The chips/scoops/salad shells are done when lightly browned and firm.  They will crisp up more as they cool.

To kick it up a notch, sprinkle with lime juice or seasonings, or use flavored tortillas.  Lime habanera tortillas were used in the taco salad above- delish!

 

Easy Black Bean Dip

1 can (1.5c) black beans, rinsed well

½ c fresh salsa, drained

In a blender or food processor, puree the beans and salsa.  Add liquid from the salsa if needed to thin consistency.

Add-ins: cumin, garlic, jalapeno, habanera, etc.

 

Black Bean Mango Salsa

2 cans of black beans (or 3c), rinsed well

2-3 mangoes, diced

Juice from 1 lime

½ t salt or to taste

Cilantro, optional

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Ideally refrigerate 12 to 24h before serving for flavors to develop.  Adjust lime, salt, and cilantro to taste before serving and add any of the suggested add-ins if desired.

Add-ins: diced pineapple, avocado, or tomatoes

 

References

Barnard ND, Reilly JK. The Cancer Survivor’s Guide. 2008

http://NutritionFacts.org

Campbell TC, Campbell TM. The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health. 2006

http://www.pcrm.org/media/online/aug2012/hot-dog-eaters-save-your-buns

European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study http://epic.iarc.fr/