Stretch Your Wallet – Part 2

And now for my favorite subject: food!  Last week we reviewed various ways to save money in the kitchen (and the New York Times concurred); today we will get down to specifics from farm (or store) to table.

It is truly possible to enjoy nutritious and chemical-free foods on the cheap.  Cutting costs on what you buy doesn’t have to mean cutting out flavor or health.  Sure, mac-n-cheese is a deal, but there’s a whole bundle of fresh foods that are so much tastier and better for you ‘outside the box.’

Before farmers’ markets gear up again (May in our neighborhood,) we are dependent on the local grocery store to provide our weekly rations of produce (along with CSA’s.) As noted before, buying what’s in season is most economical and at its peak for freshness. Click to continue reading »

Where Have You Bean?

One of my favorite protein sources has just gotten some respect, as in really good press.  The legume, or in more familiar terms – the bean – has an entire cookbook dedicated to it’s heritage, preparation, and recipes which will entice even the leery ‘musical fruit’ lover (see ‘romantic’ note below.)

“Heirloom Beans” is a hot new publication by Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo, whose passion for indigenous New World food inspired the creation of his book.  In a quest to find lost varieties of heritage beans, Steve ‘searched the Americas’ for interesting and rare selections that he could bring back home and cultivate.  After discovering many nuances and flavor profiles previously unknown, Steve’s mission took on a whole new life – and it pretty much became his life.

Well, good for us on many levels. As you will read in the book, beans are a super food. They are a wonderful source of plant protein, high in fiber, low in fat.  It’s the soluble fiber which helps cholesterol move out before it has time to be absorbed.  And it’s the high fiber which slows down the rise in blood sugar, making beans a favorite choice as ‘medicine’ for people with diabetes.  Beans are also high in iron, calcium, vitamin B-complex and a slew of other minerals.  They help reduce blood pressure (as in good for the heart) and are said to promote ‘balanced’ sexual activity (I’m not exactly clear on this term but perhaps that’s why Steve labels them ‘romantic.’)

Bottom line is – they taste good!  Heirloom beans have different textures and complex flavors over their mass-produced counterparts. If you have the time, it’s best to pre-soak them to ‘turn off the music,’ so to speak, before cooking. (But according to Steve, his beans are fresher which will reduce the soaking time.) And now with over 100 succulent recipes to choose from, you can make beans a ‘regular’ part of your daily diet. (See next post for an appetizer!)

To purchase a copy of “Heirloom Beans,” I always recommend your local bookstore first, or you can find it at Amazon.  To buy the beans, visit Rancho Gordo’s website for a complete listing of varieties and shipping details.