Loving the BITE: Chicken and Bean Chili
Baby, it’s cold outside. Only one thing to do: Break out the slow cooker and whip up some delicious, satisfying, and ultra-healthy chili. Specifically, chili that features our super-nutritive key ingredient: Dark Red Kidney Beans. Could there be anything better to come home to after a long workday and after-work ride? I think not.
Recipes of the week: Fabulous Chicken & Bean Chili
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 cubes (for vegetarian chili, omit chicken and optionally substitute with 1 lb firm tofu)
- 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) dark red kidney beans or equivalent cooked beans
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans
- 1 can (15 ounces) white beans
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
- 2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
- 1 medium yellow or green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 2 teaspoons Caribbean Jerk Seasoning, divided
- ½ – 1 teaspoon minced garlic
1. Cut chicken or tofu and drain beans; rinse and drain again.
2. Combine chicken/tofu, beans and remaining ingredients, except 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon Caribbean Jerk Seasoning in 3 1/2 or 4-quart crockery slow cooker; stir well.
3. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours; stir well. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon Caribbean Jerk Seasoning.
Really, you can’t go wrong with beans. Hands down, one of the healthiest foods on Earth. Sure, they’re the butt of many jokes. But while the people around you may not thank you, your digestive system and heart will. Eat ‘em and you’ll likely be healthier and stronger cyclist. Why? Dark Red Kidney Beans provide:
- Cholesterol-Lowering Fiber & Heart Health: Every ½-cup of kidney beans provides ~6 grams of fiber, both in soluble and insoluble forms. The soluble fiber can promote optimal digestion, give your healthy gut bacteria a food source, and reduce cholesterol. The insoluble fiber will keep your digestive tract in top-form.
- Perfect protein: While not a complete protein, the amino acids from kidney beans are easily absorbed and metabolized. When combined with other amino acids, such as those from whole grains, they form a complete protein that will promote healthy immune function and cell recovery. In fact, I typically recommend that my vegetarian clients keep black beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans handy as a replacement of meats in entrees (kidney beans often work well in recipes in place of beef). Of note, the beans and whole grains do not need to be eaten at the same meal, but they sure work well together!
- Blood Sugar Balance: Kidney beans provide very-slow-acting carbohydrates and fiber that promotes balanced blood sugars and steady energy. Instead of opting for a refined-grain plate of pasta the night before a big ride, choose a higher fiber carbohydrate source such as beans for steady energy (research has shown that low-glycemic carbs, such as beans or lentils, provide better energy than refined grains when eaten the night before training).
- Antioxidants: Dark red kidney beans have an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorpbance Capacity) score of 13259…above most all cultivated berries including blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries. It’s first among beans and high on the overall list. What’s this mean to a cyclist? The more kidney beans eaten, the less free radicals bouncing around your cells causing damage and slowing you down.
- Minerals for detoxification: Got molybdenum? It just happens to be a component of an enzyme that detoxifies sulfites in the body. Nasty sulfites make their way into our bodies via preservatives in our foods (of course, the more you eat whole foods, the less preservatives and sulfites you’ll ingest). Many people are sensitive to sulfites and suffer rapid heartbeat, headaches and even disorientation. Molybdenum is here to help.
Furthermore, kidney beans are a good source of manganese and magnesium – these are important for energy production, antioxidant action, and good blood flow through healthy arteries. Just what we cyclists need.
- Vitamins for Energy & Heart Health: If you like energy and heart health, you love kidney beans’ folate and thiamin. First, folate can lower homocysteine – elevated homocysteine is associated with heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease. Then, as B-vitamins, folate and thiamin play key roles in our cells energy production. Specifically, folate is involved with DNA synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and red blood cell synthesis.
Warm up this week with a big bowl of chili. And, instead of using it as a topping for potatoes, Fritos, or hot dogs, make it ultra healthy and spoon it over steamed broccoli. Heck, go wild and add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. Then, stretch on your favorite cold-weather full-body cycling spandex and let your anti-oxidized, detoxed, energized, healthy cells roll.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
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