Monday, October 25, 2010

Beans - Not Just For Music Making!

My daughter got back home yesterday, after a nearly weeklong conference out of state. She was able to eat vegan only once, and even that was cold. Her first question to me upon landing was, "What are you feeding me?" LOL! So I whipped up some avocado and pinto bean enchiladas for her.

Avocado and Pinto Bean Enchilada Bake

One onion and one clove garlic, diced
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
Olive oil
2 c. sliced mushrooms
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. raw cashews, chopped
2 avocados, sliced
Enchilada sauce (I buy mine in a can)
Grated vegan cheese
6-10 corn tortillas

Saute the onion and garlic with the spices until onions are soft. Add mushrooms, pinto beans and cashews and saute until mushrooms are cooked. Spread some enchilada sauce on the bottom on a casserole dish, top with corn tortillas. Spread mushroom-bean mixture over tortillas, and top with sliced avocados. Layer more tortillas, pour remaining enchilada sauce over tortillas, then sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

The original recipe suggested rolling each enchilada up individually, but I decided to make it easier by layering it like lasagna. It came out very tasty if a little on the spicy side.

Pinto beans and other beans such as kidney beans, navy beans and black beans are all known scientifically as Phaseolus vulgaris. They are all referred to as "common beans" probably owing to the fact that they derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru.

From there, beans were spread throughout South and Central America by migrating Indian trades. Beans were introduced into Europe in the 15th century by Spanish explorers returning from their voyages to the New World. Spanish and Portuguese traders brought them to Africa and Asia.

As beans are a very inexpensive form of good protein, they have become popular in many cultures throughout the world.

Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, pinto beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high quality protein. But this is far from all pinto beans have to offer. Pinto beans are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of folate and manganese, and a good source of protein and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper.
I remember reading an article somewhere that recommended 1/2-1 c. of beans daily were excellent for heart health. This is something I try to incorporate, typically having beans at at least one meal a day. Pinto beans' contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate, magnesium, and potassium these beans supply. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease, and are found in between 20-40% of patients with heart disease. It has been estimated that consumption of 100% of the daily value (DV) of folate would, by itself, reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10%. Just one cup of cooked pinto beans provides 73.5% of the recommended daily intake for folate. Pinto beans' good supply of magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects. Magnesium is Nature's own calcium channel blocker. When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart. Want to literally keep your heart happy? Eat pinto beans--a one cup serving provides almost one-quarter (23.5%) of your daily needs for magnesium. Potassium, an important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles including the heart, is another mineral that is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Pinto beans are ready to promote your cardiovascular health by being a good source of this mineral, too. A one cup serving of pinto beans provides 800.3 mg of potassium and only 3.4 mg of sodium, making these beans an especially good choice to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis. So, you see why I like to have my daily dose of beans! Much better than taking medication!

Beans, beans, the magical fruit is a song we probably all remember from childhood. I hear from people who complain about beans giving them gas. Well, yes, that happens. Beans contain the complex carbohydrates stachyose and raffinose, which the intestine can't absorb, but the bacteria in the colon love. The problem is most serious in people who have been eating a low-fiber diet and switch to a diet rich in beans and other high-fiber foods. Their digestive tracts don't have enough of the enzymes needed to digest bean sugars, which now pass undigested into the lower intestine where the bacteria metabolize them and generate gas. If people eat beans on a regular basis, the problem usually lessens as the body begins to produce the enzymes it needs. Now you can see why eating beans daily is not only good for your heart, but reduces potentially embarrassing social situations! LOL!


  1. I linked to you from your comment & just LOVE your blog!! As a fellow vegan, I'm always interested in new ways to creatively cook. Yours provide great info too. Thanks...from a new follower.


  2. Thanks for checking out my blog! I'm glad you are enjoying it! I'm always looking for new ways to cook, too, so this is kind of my journey toward that!


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