January-February 2018 Newsletter: One-Dish Meals Part I - Easy, Flavorful, & Nutritious

Mexican Black Bean stew

Mexican Black Bean stew

One of my favorite tasty and easy-to-cook meals is a vegan "Mexican" black bean stew, which can be easily adapted to suit non-vegan preferences. It can also be altered to suit anyone's taste preferences (more or less spicy; more or less garlic or onions, quantity and types of herbs  and spices etc), you can substitute with other beans (adzuki, pinto, kidney, or navy beans), it take only about 30 mins start to finish (you can simmer longer if you have time), and it keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days.

In terms of the nutrition profile, it is pure perfection:

Each serving is approximately 325 calories, but it is where these calories come from that is key.

In terms of the macro-nutrient profile, each serving has about 10 grams of fat (16% of Daily Value based on a 2000 calories/day intake), mostly healthy monounsaturated fats; one gets  about 16 grams of protein per serving (33% DV); the complex carbohydrates (that take longer to digest and cause NO insulin spike) from the beans and vegetables makes up about 45 grams (16% of DV); dietary fiber from this dish is a whopping 18 grams (71% of DV); and about a third of ones protein requirement at 16 grams (32% of DV).

There is plenty of Vitamins A and C, and significant amounts of Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.

In fact, its a great dish for winter with more than 100% of your Vitamin C per serving (Vitamin C is known to help fight infection due to its powerful antioxidant properties). It cannot cure a common cold but its thought to help prevent more serious complications. The Vitamin A content which is 20% of your daily requirement, is great for eye health and also for overall immune health.

Calcium in this dish is about 15% of your DV. This is a critical nutrient for building and maintaining strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly. Some studies suggest that calcium, along with vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health, perhaps protecting against diabetes and cancer.

Iron content may be surprisingly high - vegetarians take note! Up to 25% of your daily requirement of Iron can come from this dish. Put simply, the major reason we need iron is because it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body. Without healthy red blood cells, your body can't get enough oxygen. And if you're not getting sufficient oxygen in the body, you're going to be tired often; that exhaustion can affect everything from your brain function to your immune system's ability to fight off infections. Iron is also necessary to maintain healthy cells, skin, hair, and nails.

And lets not under-estimate the potent power of #potassium. It plays a role in every heartbeat. A hundred thousand times a day, it helps trigger your heart to squeeze blood through your body. It also helps your muscles to move, your nerves to work, and your kidneys to filter blood. This dish contains 22% of your daily requirement of potassium and if you top it off with a serving of avocado, that gives a double punch of potassium so you get almost half your daily requirement from this dish alone!

Given the nutrient dense but low calorie count, this is dish allows for a lot of flexibility.  Some great add-ons for flavor and nutrition are:

  1. Quarter to Half an avocado or guacamole from half an avocado and lime as a topping.
  2. Four to five ounces of sauteed firm tofu as a side dish or as a topping.
  3. Two ounces of any hard, grated cheese or 2 ounces sour cream as a topping.
  4. A handful of sauteed mushrooms as a topping.
  5. A 4-6 oz piece of any non-vegetarian protein if you eat animal protein. Grilled chicken or fish goes best with this dish.  

To access the recipe click here.

Next Newsletter - One-dish meals Part II!