Happy Beans

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Last night after cooking, I took a bag of garbanzo beans (chick peas) and put them in the crockpot to soak overnight. This morning I turned them on high and then reduced to low for them to cook all day. At 4:30 PM the house smelled so wonderful that I became inspired to make one of the healthiest, and most popular, buffet dinners in our house! Teenager approved. (Caveat - if I make something he doesn't like I can risk becoming the short order cook for pizza, macaroni or spaghetti!).

Mediterranean Style Garbanzo Beans

1 lb dried garbanzo beans, soaked and boiled until tender

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic/garlic paste

1 cup no-added-salt chicken broth

1 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 cup baby spinach leaves (fresh if you can)

Black pepper to taste

Saute the garlic until nutty. Add the chicken broth and reduce to half the amount (evaporate). Add the tomatoes, the cooked chick peas (can use canned, drained instead). Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer briefly. (Serves 8, each 1 cup serving: 222 calories, 4 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, o g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 29 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 11 g fiber, 11 g protein)

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Fluffy Jasmine Rice

For the rice, I cooked white jasmine rice (I know, it should be brown but this is so light and delicious it was our one indulgence!) in the rice cooker - 1 cup rice, 1-1/2 cups water - cooks in 20 minutes - fluff with a fork. It goes REALLY well with the garbanzo beans.

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Butternut Squash

Cut squash in quarters, remove the seeds, cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes or until fork tender, sprinkle with reduced-calorie pancake syrup and cinnamon.

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4 Pepper Lemon Chicken

Wow - this one was a big surprise it tasted so wonderful!

8 chicken tenders (we buy them bulk frozen at Walmart)

1/2 tsp olive oil

1 onion, sliced

1 red pepper sliced

dash: cayenne pepper, chili powder, black pepper

juice of 2 lemons

orange zest (optional - we used dried orange zest but you can also grate fresh or skip this if you are in a hurry)

Put the chicken tenders in the microwave for 5 minutes - they will thaw and cook slightly which hastens the cooking of this whole dish. Meanwhile, use a large nonstick wok or skillet and saute the onions and peppers. Season well according to your taste. Add the lemon juice. Remove the chicken and chop it lightly into thinner strips - add to the pan. Season with orange and saute until the chicken is done.

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For our salad, I used romaine, fresh ginger paste (I buy this in a tube in the produce section of the grocery store), grated carrots and a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It is so flavorful with the ginger and no salty/fatty dressing is needed. It is always a hit.

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Voila - enjoy. I have noticed that a buffet at 4 or 5 o'clock always ends up with kids eating a LOT of healthy items.

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Check out the Heart Education Materials and Heart Quiz in our store - February is heart month or see the new materials for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines:

What are you doing for Bean Day? Let us know in the comments below:

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