Beans and Tofu

Beans are some of nature's greatest foods; they are rich in protein and contain little fat and no cholesterol. They help lower blood cholesterol, control blood sugar, fight cancer, reduce problems with constipation, build muscles (with their protein), fuel muscles (with their carbohydrate), and nourish muscles (with lots of B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, folic acid, and potassium).

Because beans are a healthful source of both protein and carbohydrate, vegetarian meals such as chili, hummus, bean and rice casseroles, and other bean meals are perfect for a sports diet. When beans are the only protein source, be sure to eat them in large quantities to consume adequate protein (see chapter 7). If you are a meat eater who wants to become more of a vegetarian, replace part or all of the meat in recipes with more beans, such as replacing ground beef in chili or lasagna with kidney beans.

Here are some suggestions for preparing and serving beans:

  • In a blender, mix black or pinto beans, salsa, and cheese. Heat in the microwave and use as a dip or on top of tortillas or potatoes.
  • Saute garlic and onions in a little oil; add canned beans (whole or mashed), and heat together. Eat with rice or rolled in a tortilla.
  • Add beans to salads, spaghetti sauce, soups, and stews for a protein booster.
  • Top a tortilla with 1/2 can (225 g) heated vegetarian refried beans, 1/2 cup (115 g) cottage cheese, salsa, chopped lettuce, and tomato, as desired. Roll into a burrito.
  • Combine black beans, refried beans, and salsa to taste. Spoon onto a tortilla, and top with more salsa and cheese, as desired.

For more information about preparing homemade beans and creating bean dishes, read cookbooks that specialize in vegetarian cookery. Appendix A has some suggestions.

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from an extract of soybeans. It is a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids and healthful fat. Tofu has no cholesterol and is relatively low in calories and sodium. It is a popular alternative to meat and can be a source of calcium for people who limit their intake of dairy foods.

Tofu is found in most supermarkets in the refrigerated vegetable section. You can buy soft or firm tofu cakes that are packaged in water; be sure to check the "sell by" date, and buy the freshest brand. Soft or silken tofu is preferable for blending into a smooth cream; firm tofu is good to crumble or slice.

Tofu itself has very little flavor; it takes on the flavors of the foods it's prepared with. For example, tofu mixed with soy sauce takes on a Chinese flavor; with chili, a Mexican flavor. Because of this versatility, tofu lends itself to many recipes: spaghetti, salads, chili, Chinese stir-fry, and even salad dressings. To achieve an interesting, spongy texture, freeze the tofu for at least two days. After it has thawed, squeeze out the water (as if it were a kitchen sponge), tear the tofu into chunks, and add them to spaghetti sauce, chili, soups, or other dishes.

RECIPE FINDER-

Minestrone soup 387

Pasta and white bean soup with sun-dried tomatoes 388

Quick and easy chili 389

Pasta with spinach and garbanzo beans 391

Hummus roll-ups 391

Tofu lo mein 393

Tofu burritos 393

See also: Chicken and black bean soup, Country pasta with turkey sausage and white beans, Mexican baked chicken with pinto beans, Diana's supersoy and phytochemical shake, Protein shake, Quick and easy chili, Mexican meal in a skillet, Skillet lasagna, Enchilada casserole

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