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There’s something to be said about simple comfort food. Recipes don’t always need to be complicated to be delicious, and quite frankly- who has ‘thyme’ for that?

I like to stock my pantry with a variety of beans and lentils because they’re cheap, nutritious, versatile and quick to cook. I can add salsa, garlic, ginger, dried herbs or any variety of spices (cumin is probably my favorite) and make meals in minutes.

With people worried about weight gain during this pandemic, consider plant-based meals to be your ally, not your nemesis. Insoluble fiber from the skins of plants provides bulk, which is filling. Soluble fiber from oats and beans have a low glycemic index and are digested slower, helping you feel fuller, longer. Beans are fat free- meat is not! Lower fat means less calories.

Many dieters hear that high protein (meat based) diets work better, which may be true in the short term because glycogen stores and water are initially lost.  There are a few small studies to suggest that the protein in fava beans and peas is more satisfying that animal protein.  If you’re not ready to be completely vegan, below are some plant-based swaps to try:

  • In chili, double the beans and delete the meat
  • Use almond or peanut butter on toast in place of butter
  • Add a slice of avocado to your sandwich instead of cheese
  • Add nuts to your salad in place of croutons
  • Eat steel cut oats for breakfast in place of eggs
  • Have hummus in a sandwich wrap instead of lunch meat

Finally, if you’re concerned about getting enough iron in your diet when you delete meat, try lentils.  Lentils contain 20% of the daily value for iron.  Adding peppers or tomatoes, which are high in vitamin C, boosts iron absorption.  Try them in soup or as a cold salad.

In honor of #NationalVeganDay, here’s a quick meal that everyone can enjoy.

Vegan Black Beans and rice

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

1 Tbsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. cumin

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

Chopped cilantro, optional

Directions

  1. Add paprika and salt to rice before cooking. Cook rice on a stove top, rice cooker or Instant pot according to directions.
  2. While rice is cooking, place beans, cumin, garlic, oregano and seasoned salt in a small pan. Heat on medium for about 10 minutes.
  3. Serve beans over rice with chopped cilantro (optional).

Makes 6-8 servings.

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