I recommend a rotation of foods from day to day, week to week. It is important to acquire a wide variety of nutrients in our diet. One of the most common comments my clients make is that they can’t think of what to make for dinner or they may think of a main protein component but can’t think of what side dishes will complement the starring protein.
One of our favorite meals that is incredibly simple to make and very nutritious: Gazpacho, hummus, guacamole and fresh veggies.
I recommend a whole food eating plan which does not include bread. Bread is not a whole food, it is a highly processed product. Do not be misled by the word ‘whole’ as in whole wheat and think it is an innocent and healthy food. I also recommend avoiding corn chips as up to 95% of corn in our country has been ruined by GMO pollens. Corn is a very inflammatory food to begin with, add the GMO and pesticide components and there is no food left to consume. Enjoy dips with fresh organic vegetables like cucumber, radishes, carrots, celery, bell pepper, jicama, raw cauliflower, tomatoes and (insert your favorite here)! Leaving the table after enjoying these dips without bread or corn will make a huge difference in how I feel in both the short and long term.
Gazpacho is a cold fresh vegetable blend (soup). I have been making gazpacho for years but forgot how much I love it until my husband and I enjoyed some time with my cousin in Spain last summer. The origin of Gazpacho is under debate, it may have originated with the Romans in some form but most data shows this favorite coming from the Andalusian region of Spain. It is light, refreshing and an amazing source of nutrients with all the fresh veggies.
I make a pot of beans every few weeks and freeze two to three cup portions for later. I add beans to soups, salads and in this situation, I mash them to make a dip. They are an excellent source of nutrition and taste yummy. Definitely a win-win!
Beans need to be soaked. Soaking helps make them more digestible. People think something evil is released in the process of soaking them but the only thing really happening is that they are being made soft by absorbing the water and therefore more digestible. The reason beans create gas is because they are the hardest food on earth for our bodies to break down. They are both a protein and a carbohydrate and require a great deal of time, energy and differing enzymes to move through our body. The longer you soak and cook them, the easier they are to digest and the less side effects of gas will result.
It is possible to quick soak beans by bringing them to a boil on the stove then allowing them to rest for an hour to absorb some of the water. In each case, pour off the soaking water and start with fresh water for cooking.
Do not add salt! Beans will not cook with salt added to the water. Beans are salted after cooking! I learned that the hard way a hundred years ago with my first pot of what should have been a super easy pot of beans.
There are three simple ways I use to cook beans: A crock-pot, somewhat unattended. On the stove top, must be checked every 30 minutes or so during the 3-hour cooking process. Lastly, a pressure cooker. I have used all three of these methods over the course of my cooking life span and I am so glad I finally tried a pressure cooker again. They have come so far from the days of the scary pot on the stove! I can cook a pot of pre-soaked beans in about 30 minutes.
Cover soaked beans with about 2 inches of water and cook on low all day if need be.
Cover soaked beans with about 2 inches of water, bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer for 2-3 hours. Check every half hour or so, stir and add water if levels drop too low.
Electric pressure cooker method:
Cover soaked beans with at least 2 inches of water. Use the ‘bean’ setting or select manual 30 minutes at high pressure.
When beans are done cooking, drain away water and divide beans into 2 cup portions and store in fridge or freezer to be used later.
Hummus will last three days in the fridge and freezes well.
Gazpacho will last three to four days in the fridge and can be frozen as well.
When I make fresh salsa I save leftovers to blend into gazpacho with a day or two. I freeze the salsa if I am not ready to make gazpacho with a few days.
Ripe avocados can be mashed with a little lemon added and frozen to be enjoyed as guacamole another day. Guacamole is best served fresh. It will oxidize (turn brown) the longer it lives. Does not really change the flavor but is no longer gorgeous.
It can be frozen but not optimal, the fresh onion will not recover well from the freezer.
Make them yourself
For the base, blend:
3-4 Large tomatoes, cored, rough chopped
½ Peeled cucumber, rough chopped
1-2 Cloves fresh garlic, crushed
¼ Red bell pepper (optional)
1-2 Tablespoons vinegar (red wine, apple cider, white, balsamic)
¼ Cup Extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon Cumin (optional)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Blend all the above until smooth. Adjust for taste. If seeds remain, strain. Gazpacho is served cold. The longer it is stored in the fridge the stronger the flavors. You can enjoy right away by adding ice cubes. Chances are this will be eaten before the ice has a chance to dilute the base much. In general, the base can be thick and could use some thinning with the ice. I serve smaller portions in a pitcher. When serving for a crowd I use a soup terrine. Serve with diced toppings on the side.
Bell peppers, any color
Drizzle with olive oil
2 Cups Garbanzo beans
2-3 Cloves fresh garlic
1 Medium lemon, juiced
¼ Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
½ peeled cucumber and 1 Tablespoon dill (optional)
½ rough chopped red bell pepper (optional)
Blend all the above until smooth. Add water a tablespoon at a time if thinner results are required. Adjust seasoning to taste. required. Adjust seasoning to taste.
2 Ripe avocados
½ Red onion
2 Cloves garlic, chopped or pressed (in garlic press)
½ Lemon or lime (juice)
½ Teaspoon cumin (optional)
½ Teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Mash all the above together to a lovely consistency smooth or slightly chunky and enjoy both guacamole and hummus dips with fresh cut vegetables such as cucumber spears, carrots, celery, bell pepper, radishes, jicama slices, tomatoes etc.
Mardi Linane is a healthy foodie lifestyle coach in Redlands. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org