Loving the BITE: Black Beans & Rice w/ Mango
If you’re a Loving the Bite reader, you may be asking yourself, where’s the bean been? Or, maybe not. Nevertheless, black beans shine as this week’s highlighted ingredient. For daily nutrition, not many foods top beans. They are full of healthy nutrients and contain very few components, if any, that aren’t healthy. And, while beans may not stand out to you as a specific food needed by cyclists, they simply promote health. And, of course, healthy bodies ride better.
Recipe of the week: Black Beans & Rice w/ Mango (Vegetarian)
- 1 Cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped
- 4 Cups Black Beans (2 15 oz cans rinsed and drained)
- 1 Cup Onion, chopped
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 tsp Dried Oregano, crushed
- 1 – 2 Cups fresh mango, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
- 1.5 Cup Water
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt to taste
Instructions: (prep: 10 minutes, cook: 20 minutes)
- Chop red pepper & onion. Mince garlic.
- Heat olive oil on med heat; Add onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook and Stir 4-5 minutes.
- Add beans, water, oregano, & crushed red pepper; bring to boiling. Reduce heat, cover & simmer 10 minutes. Salt to taste.
- Optionally, add in a cooked meat source such as chicken, and avocado slices.
- To serve, spoon bean mixture over quinoa or brown rice in individual serving bowls. Top with mango.
Yield: 6-8 servings
Why black beans?
It’s simple. Beans are some of the healthiest foods in the world. And black beans, specifically, offer some of the highest amounts of nutrients. They provide fiber, protein, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and flavanoids without any of the unhealthy components that come along with many protein sources. Here are the details:
First, black beans provide special support for digestive tract health, and particularly our colon. The indigestible fraction (IF) in black beans is larger than the IF in lentils, chickpeas, or other beans. Research has shown the IF of black beans to be the perfect mix of substances for allowing bacteria in the colon to produce butyric acid. Cells lining the inside of the colon can use this butyric acid to fuel their many activities and keep the lower digestive tract functioning properly. By delivering a greater amount of IF to the colon, black beans are able to help support this lower part of our digestive tract. Your digestive tract is the gateway of health – from foods to nutrients to your blood stream. Don’t neglect it.
Next, there’s protein – and, as an athlete, you need it. Every ½ cup of black beans provides approximately 8 grams of protein. When combined with a high-protein grain-seed like quinoa, you’ve got a meals’ worth of vegetarian protein on your plate. And, although this type of protein is not my first choice for “recovery” after training, it’s a perfect slow-acting protein for daily nutrition. What’s more, black beans offer a great carbohydrate-protein balance.
Thirdly, they are full of health-promoting phytonutrients, and they even contain more than was previous thought. Recent research has recognized black beans as a strong contender in phytonutrient benefits – the outer coat is an outstanding source of three anthocyanin flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. These three anthocyanins are primarily responsible for the rich black color that we see on the bean surface. Kaempferol, quercetin, ferulic, sinapic, chlorogenic acid, and numerous triterpenoids are additional flavonoids provided by black beans. All of these flavonoids have well-demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection is especially important for our cardiovascular system. When our blood vessels are exposed to chronic and excessive risk of oxidative stress (damage by overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules) or inflammation, they are at heightened risk for disease development.
In fact, black beans come in first place among beans in terms of antioxidant activity. Then, they contain about 10 times the amount of overall antioxidants in an equivalent serving size of oranges and similar to the amount found in an equivalent serving size of grapes, apples and cranberries. Athletes need high amounts of antioxidants.
What’s all this mean? Decreased diabetes risk, decreased cardiovascular disease risk, reduced oxidative stress, reduced cancer risk (especially colon cancer), better digestion, and improved overall health. Not bad.
If you’re intimidated by the soaking and cooking of beans, don’t be, it’s easy. My favorite way to cook dried beans in the in the slow cooker. First, place 1 pound beans in a bowl. Fill with water (enough water to be double or triple the height of the beans in the bowl) and soak overnight. Soaking beans increases the availability of the nutrients by reducing the amount of phytates and tannins – it also decreases some of the gas-producing substances.
Then, drain the beans and place them in a slow cooker. Add about 10 cups of fresh water. Cook on low 8-10 hours, or until tender.
If you’ve been waiting for a bean recipe, you’re wait is officially over. If you’re not a bean-lover, it’s still a good idea to try to incorporate more into your diet whenever possible. Black beans are versatile and add flavor and nutrition to Mexican Food dishes, Black Bean burgers, and more. They can be the protein portion or the carbohydrate portion of your meal, or both. Eat them in place of grains for a more satisfying and health-promoting side dish.
Although you may want your meal to amount to more than a hill of beans, you’re in for a treat with black beans, quinoa and mango. Fuel your body with healthy foods day to day, and you’ll become a better cyclist.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.