They’re Good For Your Heart…

March 2, 2009

I often hear complaints that it’s too expensive to eat healthy. I was fortunate enough to have a “sink or swim” tutorial in the art of healthy eating on a budget: public health grad school. Public health grad school presented the perfect paradox. Grad school = no money. Must budget. Public health = junk food stigma. Eat poorly, be judged. I was forced to learn to eat healthy without going broke. Brace yourself, it’s not as exciting as having Rocco DiSpirito in your kitchen each day but it works.

Secret Numero Uno: The Bean. I have noticed down here in the South that beans often have to play second fiddle. Having BBQ? Don’t forget the beans. Would you like pintos or limas with that side of fried chicken? Beans, however, make a great starring role in a dish. They’re low in cals, they’re packed with fiber (meaning you stay full) and high in protein.

And oh yea – they’re SUPER cheap.

I forgot how much far 1 pound of dried beans goes, so I’ve been eating this soup for lunch for nearly two weeks. Next time, I think I’ll freeze half.  Enjoy, the first of my healthy/cheap eats: Black Bean Soup.

Black Bean Soup with Cheddar Cheese

Black Bean Soup with Cheddar Cheese

Makes 8 cups <> 1 cup = 210 cals, 10 g of fiber, 13 g of protein.  (The cheese adds a squeak more calories, of course!)

1 pound dried black beans

10 cups water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 ½ cups finely chopped green pepper

1 ½ cups finely chopped onion

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp dried whole oregano

1/8 tsp hot sauce

1 can (14 ½ oz) tomatoes with onion  (Del Monte)

Sort and wash beans, place in a large pot. Cover with water to a depth of 2 inches above beans and let soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain beans and return to pot. Add water, 2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer 2 hours or until beans are tender.

Add green peppers, onion, cumin, oregano and hot sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer 45-60 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes and simmer 15 minutes more.

Total cost at Harris Teeter: $7.24*

*(not including the spices.  If you don’t have these spices on hand, come to my house where I have them in mass quantities and never, ever seem to use them up.)

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