April 19th

theresa albert - my friend in food


Bean There, Done That

Beans yin yang

I grew up hating beans.  Well, all except the canned maple bacon kind and even with those I’d add ketchup and butter (the go-to condiments of my youth).  Not until my 40’s did I begin to discover, under duress at first, the wonders that these humble legumes can offer.

Magazines and TV nutritionists tout that the little beasties are high in fiber, rich in protein, loaded with nutrients, low in fat and really inexpensive.  Could there be any more reasons to use them?  They practically “toot” their own horn.

And yet, my repertoire in cooking the little flatulence-causing nuggets is somewhat limited.   I have two recipes I use when I want my family to go meat-less and pasta-less… well, almost meat-less. The first is my Pseudo-vegetarian Chili, so named because it has no ground meat in it although there are some chunks of canadian bacon (lower in fat than its common cousin but still high in flavour) and I use chicken stock instead of vegetable.   Still, it’s mainly beans and it’s quite satisfying and delicious. The second is a bean bake which I love to make because it only dirties one dish, a gorgeous Emile Henri dutch oven which looks decorative, cleans like a dream and makes me look like I know what I’m doing in the kitchen. This too begins with bacon, the strip kind, not the healthier cousin. Mind you, in spite of the artery-clogging saturated fat in which I saute the onions, the amount is small compared to the veritable cornucopia of bean varieties within:  kidney, cannellini and black. It’s an equal-opportunity fibre fest!

Ok, I know what you’re thinking… you’re remembering the famous campfire scene from Blazing Saddles and thanking your lucky stars that you don’t have to share a house with my family on bean night.   Fair enough but you know we have something the cowboys had never even thought of:  Beano.   Three little magic pills before your first bite and the evening’s “musical recital” is a non-issue.

So, now that I have a newfound appreciation for the beanie-benefits, I am on a quest to try out some new recipes.  I know that choosing to eat legumes more often in place of meat is better for me and for the planet so I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone.    I will love lentils, adore adzukis, live for limas, favour favas!   Say, do coffee beans count?



Ilana Waldston is the mother of two teenage girls who keeps sane by singing. A graduate of the prestigious International Cabaret Conference at Yale, she’s been delighting Toronto audiences with her comedic patter and well-honed ability to sell a song. She’s a self-professed foodie, loves to bake, travel and dine (often all at once) who sometimes sings of food in songs such as “My Diet Starts Tomorrow”, “Dieter’s Prayer” and “Foodblooz”. In addition to her solo work, she’s also a part of Toronto’s only female jazz quartet, The Satin Dolls... www.jazznlaughs.ca


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