Have you tried recommending that your patients cut back on their meat consumption by switching to beans and legumes such as this recipe for Escarole with Caramelized Onions and Beans? If so you’ve probably gotten the evil eye, that’s if they didn’t just turn around and walk out of your office. Beans and legumes also known as pulses have such a bad rap for such a fantastic food!
My (Regina) grandparents were from a poor region of Southern Italy so their whole diet was based on inexpensive leafy greens and protein in the form of beans, lentils and eggs. I grew up eating delicious dishes like Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans), Chickpea Soup and Escarole and Beans not because they were good for me but because it’s what was for dinner.
I realize how lucky I was to be exposed to such incredible food and always want to share just how delicious vegetables, beans and legumes can be. Using beans as an ingredient for main dishes is most likely a foreign concept to your patients but there’s no disputing they are a scrumptious but economical source of protein and fiber. Here’s one dish that might convince your patients to give them a try.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia; about 1 pound), thinly sliced
- 1 large bunch escarole (about 1-1/2 pounds), washed and torn into pieces
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 15½ - ounce can cannellini beans, undrained
- Parmesan cheese optional but highly recommended
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Lower heat and add a tablespoon of broth or water if onion is browning too quickly.
- Add escarole, cook, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until leaves are tender and stem ends are still crunchy. Sprinkle with salt.
- Stir in beans with their liquid. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until heated through.
- Divide into 4 bowls and top with freshly grated cheese, if desired.
Beans can be used in a slew of other ways for patients to bump up the protein and fiber of what they’re already eating.
- Switching out 1 cup of all-purpose flour and replacing it with 1 15 oz can of black beans, pureed.
- Swapping out ½ cup quinoa with ½ cup cooked green lentils in a veggie bowl.
- Replacing mayonnaise with hummus as a sandwich spread.
- Substituting ½ or all of the ricotta in your lasagna with with pureed cannellini beans