PCF Recipe Club: The Benefits of a Home-Cooked Meal
Everyone has heard of “fast food” – it’s everywhere. It can seem like a tantalizing solution to our increasingly overstuffed lives: cheap, fast, and easy to access. Moreover, in a pandemic, if you’re trying to minimize exposure to other people in indoor spaces, fast food may seem more tempting than either the grocery store or the inside of your local family restaurant. Here’s the thing, though: don’t do it. Fast food meals are notoriously higher in calories, saturated fat, salt, and/or sugar than anything you would prepare at home. Even the “lighter fare” options can come in large portions and contain more salt and sugar than you need.
What about “slow food”? This month’s recipe was created for our “21 in 21” challenge on a day when we encourage you to slow down. It contains dried beans in a hearty stew….which is going to take a little bit of time! Many of us are cooped up at home right now, and the aim is to start the New Year off with healthier home cooking and a more relaxed pace – whatever “relaxed” means to you.
Research has explored the potential benefits of home cooking. Themes that emerged from one review of nearly 60 scientific studies included: control over what you and your family are putting in your bodies, preservation of family eating habits and traditions, self-sufficiency, staying on a budget, and the feeling of connection and love that comes from cooking for others.
Researchers also identified barriers to home cooking (which may sound familiar!) including having little confidence in one’s cooking skills, lack of time or interest, cost of fresh foods, or living alone. This month’s recipe features foods that are healthy and low-cost. Moreover, it will make a large portion that can be packed up in the freezer, to be brought out later – when time might be short – for a fast & healthy meal.
But back to the bean stew: The ingredients themselves are old friends to regular followers of PCF’s wellness and recipe offerings: you can read about the health benefits (and great taste) of beans, sweet potatoes, kale, and members of the Allium family (garlic and onions). This recipe is both slow and simple – with just one pot, a cutting board, and a few utensils to wash up afterwards. So, in this third day of 2021, suit up (with your PCF Eat It To Beat It apron) and slow down with a little stew.
• 1 lb dried beans (black, pinto, garbanzo)
• 1 onion, chopped
• 4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1-2 large tomatoes, chopped
• ¼ cup of olive oil
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 sweet potatoes, washed well and chopped into ½ inch cubes
• 1 head of kale, chopped fine
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Fresh chopped herb for garnish
1. Presoak the beans overnight and discard the soaking water.
2. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, sauté onion in oil until lightly browned; add tomatoes and cook on high, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes; add garlic and stir for 30 more seconds; stir in the pre-soaked beans, salt and pepper.
3. Immediately add enough cold water to cover the beans by about 2 inches and add bay leaves; bring to a boil, then partially cover and reduce heat to a simmer.
4. Test the beans for tenderness after an hour, and every 20 minutes after that – be patient!
5. When the beans are almost tender, add the sweet potatoes (add more water to cover if necessary), return to a boil, and boil on medium heat for 20 more minutes.
6. Add kale, return to a boil, and boil for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and remove bay leaves.
7. Add additional salt and pepper (even hot pepper!) to taste. Roughly mash ¼ of the beans and potatoes in the pot to create a more stew-like texture.
8. Serve garnished with your favorite fresh chopped herb.