“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”   – 1 Peter 5: 6

After I graduated from The Culinary Institute of America and worked for several years in the industry, I began dating and subsequently married my husband.  As you might imagine, I didn’t ask him for much input when it came to cooking the meals early on in our marriage. I assumed all food purchasing and preparation duties with great pride – and control!

My quest for perfection in the professional kitchen now spilled over into my home kitchen and this trend lasted until we had our second child. I could no longer fulfill my cooking ideals in the way I once managed and this often led to much undue stress! I realized I would have to adapt to imperfection or sacrifice what mattered more: family meal time. After many episodes of cranky children waiting around for me to perfect dinner, I finally humbled myself and asked my patient husband if he had any efficient dinner ideas. I am here to report that his suggestion to cook a big pot of beans each week has helped us in countless ways.

A native of San Antonio, he grew up on pintos and practiced a bean-centric diet as a single person, securing for him a leaner lifestyle, both financially and physically. Not only are beans rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, including plant phytochemicals, they are also low in fat and price.

I have many favorite recipes but refried black beans make a weekly appearance in our home.They are so simple to prepare but in case you didn’t grow up in bean country like me, watch an instructional video from my friend, Melissa Guerra, an authority on Mexican cookware and cuisine. (Bean lovers, beware… you may want to begin cooking your beans in this ancient originating pot.)

For another perspective, I leave you with a recipe below from Tuscany, Italy. With the new year at hand, consider the humble bean and discover all of the possibilities. Either cook your own on the stove or stock your pantry with a variety of canned pre-cooked beans. Go lean and go bean!  ~Lauren

Tuscan Cannellini Bean and Tuna Salad

2 6 oz cans tuna packed in olive oil

3 cups  drained and rinsed cooked cannellini beans (or from 2 15 oz cans of cooked cannellini beans)

1/2 – 1 red onion (to taste), quartered and sliced very thinly

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 – 1 teaspoon (to taste) finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2-1 teaspoon salt (to taste)

freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Optional: add in some capers or pitted olives if desired

Mix all ingredients together in a medium or large mixing bowl. Taste it and adjust the acid or salt balance if needed. Allow to sit for a few hours if possible in order for flavors to marry better. Serve on either toasted baguette slices as an appetizer or tossed with some baby arugula as a dinner salad. Also great as a side item on a buffet.