Bean Sleepin’ In?

Our life is about to change; drastically.  Breakfast at 6:15, healthy and durable bag lunches ready by 7:00, and then they are probably going to still want dinner at night too!  I knew there was something more than just sleeping in that I like about summer.  But this year, I am resolved to bring some order to my daily chaos in the kitchen.  First of all, I am going to plan ahead (gasp) for more than just dinner, and have those ingredients waiting for me so I can do more than just hope something is in the refrigerator when I roll out of bed. Next, in my planning I am going to save time by finding ways to make last night’s dinner into tomorrow’s lunches.

Ultimately, I want to make lunches that will:
1) taste good
2) keep their shape in a backpack
3) won’t kill anyone after being in a warm locker for a few hours and
4) give good nutrition and steady energy throughout the day.

One trap that is so easy to fall into when preparing bagged lunches is to rely on lots of ready made, kid approved simple carbohydrates like juice, pretzels, white bread, sugary treats and crackers. We want life more simple, but carbohydrates are better for us when complex because they provide healthier digestion, better fuel for energy and more vitamins and minerals.  Think unprocessed whole grains and fruit…whole wheat bread or tortilla instead of sourdough for your sandwich, spelt angel hair pasta rather than regular noodles, whole wheat pastry flour in the pancakes, whole pieces of fruit instead of fruit juice, and quinoa, couscous, or wild rice instead of white rice with dinner. 

While the starch in complex, whole grain carbs will eventually end up as glucose blood sugar like processed grains and sugars, it will happen more slowly and evenly because the complex carbs in whole grains take more time for your body to take apart than simple sugars, and the fiber helps even more.  This slower digestion eliminates the spike and then fall in blood sugar levels that accompany the digestion of carbohydrates without fiber. Instead of a rush and then crash in your energy level, complex carbs provide energy that is more constant and even as the digestion moves steadily along at a slower pace. And don’t forget, that ever present piece of fruit next to the sandwich (or whatever) has fiber along with its carbohydrates to slow down digestion just like a whole grain does, so don’t replace it with anything that has been processed (has packaging basically). (1) 

Beans are another secret weapon that you should have in your kitchen at all times in order to make dynomite lunches.  Besides being cheaper than almost anything else in your cart, beans are very rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.  For instance, one cup of kidney beans provides 30% of your recommended daily allowance for protein, 45% for fiber, 28% for iron, 42% for vital trace mineral manganese and 57% for folate. Then there are the good amounts of phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B1 and vitamin K also hidden in this one particular mighty bean. (2)  In addition to all that, they survive better than meat without refrigeration and are key players in popular entrees like burritos and chili.

Try soaking dried beans in water overnight to greatly reduce cooking time, help break down naturally occuring indegestible sugars, and eliminate a great deal of the phytic acid which blocks absorption of nutrients. I soak then sometimes for a few days, then rinse well and simmer in clean water.  I’ve also started experimenting with letting the beans sprout because this greatly increases the beans’ nutrients! (3)

If you have some great ideas for healthy and durable lunches, please send them along..I would love to hear your input and then share some with everyone.  We’re all in this together, remember?

Good bye freedom.  Hello structure.

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