With winter around, officially, for another month, and who knows beyond that, the trips to the market seem to become less and less inspiring. Though there are more choices than in the past, the produce section surely begins to feel limiting if you want to eat with the seasons or simply buy the freshest ingredients possible. Combine this with the winter blues and cabin fever, the food which should provide energy and vitality could be more a source of anxiety and boredom. There are ways to get through this final winter push, one being choosing nourishing, energy boosting ingredients.
Two great, easy to find choices are Cannellini beans and beets- not only are they full of good for you stuff, they can be combined in a vibrantly colorful meal, which will also invigorate your mood. Cannellini beans are a mild, nutty, robust cousin to the kidney bean and very popular in Italy’s Tuscany region. They are low in fat, high in protein and fiber, have more iron than beef and are a good source of magnesium, folate and thiamine. This all means the Cannellini bean is good for the heart, provides tons of energy and increases mental performance. The sweet root of the Beet is equally beneficial with high levels of protein, fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C, plus nutrients which combine to eliminate stress, boost metabolism and heart health as well as reduce risk of cancers and asthma. Lucky for us, all of the benefits can be enjoyed year round in these lovely, light, vegetarian recipes. Pair them with a great multigrain bread or brown rice and you have a satisfying, energy boosting meal.
Italian White Beans w/ Winter Herbs
- 2 cups Cannellini Beans, soaked overnight in a cool place
- 4 cloves Garlic, peeled
- 1 ½ teaspoons Sea Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ¼ cup chopped Italian Parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped Rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped Thyme
- ½ teaspoon chopped Sage
- 1-2 tablespoons good, extra virgin Olive Oil
In a large saucepan, cover the beans with 2 inches of water and add the garlic. Bring to a boil and let bubble for 10 minutes. Lower heat to a simmer, skim the foam from the top, partially cover, and cook 2-3 hours or until beans are soft. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until liquid reduced to resemble a brothy stew. Add the herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Beet Salad w/ Chicory, Arugula, Fennel, Oranges, Toasted Walnuts and Gorgonzola w/ Orange Vinaigrette
- 2 large Beets
- 1 large handful Chicory (frisee, endive, radicchio or combo)
- 1 large handful Arugula
- ½ medium Fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 Orange, peeled and cut into segments
- ¼ cup toasted Walnuts, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled (optional)
- Juice from ½ orange
- 2 tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Trim the beets of the leaves and root end, wrap in tin foil and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife inserts easily. Let cool and slide off the skin then cut into medium size chunks.
For the Vinaigrette, put the orange juice, vinegar, honey and olive oil in a covered jar and shake to combine.
In a large salad bowl, add the greens with the fennel, beets, walnuts, cheese and orange segments. Pour ½ of the dressing and lightly toss to coat, add more to taste and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.