Three Bean Mexican Salad
We arrived home a couple of weeks ago from celebrating my birthday (which happens to fall on Cinco de Mayo) in Mexico. You only turn 30 once, right? So better enjoy it.
Enjoy it I did. But when I came back I was very ready (or at least my body was) to eat good food again. I came home craving fresh veggies and lentils (oh my, I even sound like a dietitian).
Beans are my favorite post-vacation "cleanse" food (read more about my thoughts on Cleanse Diets) because they are yummy and so, so healthy. In the spirit of healthy eating, I'm bringing a little Mexico back with me and am excited to share a little of why I love beans so much.
Beans are Full of Fiber
...and fiber is really good for you. Beans and other legumes contain two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is the kind of fiber that gels in water; this property is what lends so many amazing health benefits. From lowering cholesterol to helping stabilize blood sugar levels, I really miss this type of fiber when it's absent from my daily diet. It also helps pull in water in the colon to normalize bowel movements and improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Insoluble fiber is the type of fiber you can see: the peel on an apple or the strings in celery. This type of fiber provides bulk to the diet, thus helping keep you full and giving substance to those bowel movements. That idea might sound weird, but your digestive system needs this type of fiber to keep things moving and help you feel your best.
Beans are a Great Source of Vegetarian Protein
I love meat. It's the reason I'm not vegetarian. But meat has a high environmental price-tag and it's not always what my digestive system is looking for.
Thus, for a filling, healthy, protein-rich entree, I love to include beans and lentils in my diet. Although vegetarian proteins don't contain all the essential amino acids like animal proteins do, it's easy to balance legumes with grains to make a nutritionally complete meal (read more about complimentary proteins).
Beans are Delicious!
Beans are so versatile, so forgiving. Like other carbohydrates most have a very mild taste to begin with and take on the flavor of the seasonings used.
Try this Mexican-inspired dish Butternut Squash Mexican Skillet for a unique way to fix black beans. Or if you've been craving Buffalo wings but can't justify the calories, this delicious Buffalo Chickpea Salad by my wife-of-a-vegetarian best friend is just what you're looking for.
I often substitute chickpeas for chicken or black beans or lentils for beef if I'm trying to create a vegetarian version of a favorite meal. For example, this vegetarian Lentil Tater Tot Casserole has one-third the saturated fat as the traditional ground-beef version, but it's full of flavor and is a definite crowd-pleaser.
In the spirit of health, deliciousness, and a tribute to the country whose beautiful beaches I'm missing now, here's a delicious salad that works as a side dish or as a great vegetarian entree.
Start by dicing a cucumber, two medium tomatoes, and one red and one yellow bell pepper. Add veggies to a medium-sized serving bowl.
Next, drain and rinse the three cans (14.5-oz size) of beans: pinto, dark red kidney, and light red kidney. Mix beans together with vegetables.
For the dressing, juice five small limes and set aside. Next, wash a bunch of fresh cilantro (about a half-cup loosely packed). Cut tough stems from cilantro and discard; chop leaves and add to lime juice. To juice, mix in 1/4 cup olive oil and a half-teaspoon salt.
Toss vegetables and beans with dressing. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator overnight for flavors to blend.
Three Bean Mexican Salad
- 1 large cucumber
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 can (14.5 oz) dark red kidney beans
- 1 can (14.5 oz) light red kidney beans
- 1 can (14.5 oz) pinto beans
- 1/2 c. fresh cilantro
- Juice from 5 small limes (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Dice cucumber, tomatoes, and both bell peppers. Add to a medium-sized serving bowl.
- Drain and rinse the three cans of beans; mix these with vegetables.
- For the dressing: cut tough stems from cilantro and chop leaves. Add to lime juice and mix with oil and salt.
- Toss vegetables and beans with dressing. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator overnight for flavors to blend.
Serves 8 - Nutrients per serving: 220 calories -- 8g total fat -- 1g saturated fat -- 0g trans fat -- 0mg cholesterol -- 393mg sodium -- 33g total carbohydrates -- 9g fiber -- 5g sugar -- 9g protein