Why Mondays? It’s the January of the week, the perfect time for a fresh start. Whether it is starting a healthy diet or starting an exercise regimen, we nearly always will wait till a Monday to make changes. Studies show that people see Monday as a fresh start. Studies also show that there is an increase in heart problems, occupational injuries, strokes, and suicides on Mondays that could be related to stress or unhealthy weekend behaviors. Health promotions that foster a positive transition back into a structured environment might potentially improve these outcomes. Lastly, studies show that there are more internet searches for health related information on Mondays than any other day of the week. So, why not use Mondays to promote a healthy lifestyle?
Probably the most well known of the Monday Campaigns is Meatless Monday. Meatless Monday was actually promoted during World Wars I and II, not so much as a healthy lifestyle, but as an economic necessity and a way to support the war efforts. But going meatless one day a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
Let me emphasize the importance of the protein in lean beef, pork, poultry, and other meats to our health. The meat industry is an important part of our local economy and I encourage you to support it by purchasing lean cuts of all species. But meat is not the only protein source available. Meatless protein sources are economical and nutritious and we should also be taking advantage of these foods.
Beans are a good meatless protein choice for a healthy diet. Beans are one of the few foods categorized in two different places on the Choose My Plate visual guide for healthy eating. One pound (or 2 cups) of dry beans will give you five to six cups cooked beans. One cup of cooked beans provides about 230 calories, along with one-third of your daily protein need and one-fourth of the recommended amount of fiber. Beans are also high in iron.
Cooking dry beans is an easy process. Cold tap water is normally used for all cooking. Water should be added according to the directions on the directions for the soak method being used and the discarded when soaking is complete. Fresh water or liquid should be added to the beans during the cooking process. Beans will cook more uniformly if they are completely covered with water the entire cooking time. Recipes may ask for the addition of cooking oil or shortening during the cooking process. This helps prevent boiling or foaming over the edge of the pot while the beans are cooking. Low fat cooking methods would encourage the use of minimal amounts of fat—think teaspoons instead of tablespoons.
Salt can be added to beans during the cooking process. In fact, dry beans cook faster with the addition of salt because salt helps to break down the cell wall, making the beans tender. Another concern is when to add ingredients containing acid and calcium, such as tomatoes, ketchup, chili sauce, molasses, wine, vinegar, and lemon juice. Both acids and calcium slow the cooking process of dry beans. It is best not to add these ingredients until the beans are tender.
Have you heard that the addition of baking soda to the soaking or cooking water with dry beans will prevent the intestinal gas that sometimes results? This is not true! The use of baking soda will also destroy valuable B vitamins, such as folate. Adding beans slowly to your diet over a three to eight week period until you are eating beans on a regular basis will lessen this problem Other hints are to soak and cook the beans using the “hot soak” method, chewing the beans well and slowly, and drinking plenty of fluids.
Whether or not you choose to participate in “Meatless Monday,” we should all be looking at ways to improve our diets. Chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer will continue to take their toll until we each decide to personally improve our lifestyles, including what we choose to eat. Take a look at a variety of protein sources and implement portion control measures. You will be happy that you did!
Don’t forget that the Trigg County Biggest Loser Community Weight Loss Challenge is continuing. Our next class in the “Lighten Up!” series will be held on Friday, March 8, 2013, from 11:30 AM-1:00 PM at the Trigg County Extension Office. We will be presenting ways to incorporate fruits into our meals. Call the Extension Office at 270-522-3269 before 4:00 PM on March 7th to register. Classes are free and open to anyone in the community!
For more information, contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269.
Information for this article was obtained from the Northarvest Bean Growers Association of Minnesota and North Dakota and from www.meatlessmonday.com.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
BLT Salad (Bean, Bacon, Linguini, and Tomato)
2 ounces dry linguini
1 can (15-16 ounces) navy beans
1 ripe tomato, diced
1⁄4 cup sliced black olives
1⁄2 cup diced celery
1⁄4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1⁄2 cup creamy ranch with bacon dressing
Cook pasta according to the package directions until just tender; rinse with cold water and drain. Drain and rinse the navy beans. In a medium size bowl, gently mix pasta, beans, and remaining ingredients. Chill, covered, a few hours to allow flavors to blend. Garnish with cherry tomatoes, bacon bits, or whole black olives.
Yield: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 163 calories; 7 g fat; 126 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 6 g protein
Bean and Cheese Dip
1 (16-ounces) jar processed cheese spread (Cheese Whiz, for example)
1 (10-ounces) can bean and bacon soup
2 green onions, minced
2 drops liquid hot sauce
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (8-ounces) container low-fat sour cream
Combine soup and cheese spread. Add onions, hot sauce, and garlic powder; stir. Add Sour cream and blend thoroughly. Serve with raw vegetables. Refrigerate the leftovers.
Yield: 20 servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 88 calories; 6 g fat; 423 mg sodium; 4 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein
Senate Bean Soup
1 1⁄2 cups dry navy or great northern beans
8 cups water
1 smoked ham hock
1 medium potato, finely diced
1⁄2 cup diced celery
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
Soak dry beans using the hot soak method (Do this the night before or early in the day). In a large pan, combine the soaked beans, water, and ham hock. Cover and simmer for two hours. Add potato, onion, celery, and garlic powder. Simmer one hour. Remove ham hock and cut up meat. Remove 1 cup beans with enough liquid to cover beans. Mash by hand or process in a blender or food processor. Return meat and pureed beans to soup. Heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 219 calories; 3 g fat; 20 mg sodium; 35 g carbohydrate; 14 g fiber; 15 g protein.