While on the road to better eating, try having beans or other vegetable proteins instead of meat for some of your meals. Most Americans eat far more meat than they need, and the alternatives are very tasty and healthy.
Beans in particular are an under-appreciated protein source. They are low in fat and high in minerals and other nutrients (and fiber!), and they are delicious, nourishing, filling, and very low cost. A pound of beans, an onion, some celery, possibly a can of tomatoes, and some ordinary spices and seasonings can create a delicious meal for 6, and no one will walk away hungry. Make some homemade biscuits and you are in heaven.
Here’s one of my own original bean soup recipes and one of my favorite biscuit recipes (which I adapted from the “Mother’s Biscuits” recipe in Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book Of Breads, hands down the best bread cookbook you will ever buy).
Delicate Bean Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time (including soaking time): 4 hours
1 pound of beans (try a mix of white beans, red beans, and pinto beans)
1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons Quatre Épices (a French spice blend)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1 medium bay leaf
2 teaspoons chili powder
- Rinse and sort beans.
- Place the beans in a large stock pot and cover with water.
- Bring water to a boil. Boil for three minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let beans sit for one hour. (This process replaces having to soak the beans overnight.)
- Drain and rinse beans once again, and add six cups of water.
- Add onions and all other ingredients.
- Bring to a boil again, then turn to medium low and simmer for two to three hours or until the beans are tender. While cooking, add more water if desired. Alternatively, if you don’t want to worry about having to watch the beans on the stove, you can either put the pot in the oven and bake at 350° F for the same cooking time, or put everything in a crock pot and cook for about three hours.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 12 to 14 minutes
2 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 450° (400° for a convection oven).
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a wire pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Gradually add the cream, starting with ½ cup, and mix with a fork. Keep adding cream until the dough just holds together (like pie dough).
- Roll the dough out with a rolling pin. Fold it over in two to four layers, then roll out again to a thickness of ½ inch.
- Cut dough with a 2-inch cookie cutter. (A smaller cookie cutter will result in crisper biscuits, which my daughter likes. A larger cookie cutter results in more fluffiness in the center.)
- Place biscuits on a baking sheet. (No preparation needed for the baking sheet.)
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes (8 to 10 in a convection oven) or until golden brown. They’ll rise quite high—1½ to 2 inches. Serve immediately.