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08 February 2012

Nutrition: Casserole Comfort, 8 Feb 2012

Is it Wednesday already? Or, by the time you read this, Sweet! It’s Thursday!


This week has been going by very quickly. With a couple warm days and now a nice snowfall this is great late-winter weather! Bonnie and I were just talking last night about getting ready for gardening season. I am so excited to be able to have a garden this year with the help of Miss Stacey. All those delicious veggies I eat by the truckload coming fresh out of the backyard harkens back to childhood when I would browse Mom’s garden at-will! I do wish I had the gardening fever back then and learned all the lessons she had to teach, but alas I will just have to learn the Mike way – experiment!


I recently was asked a very good question regarding one of these backyard beauties – the green bean. Whether you call it a green bean or string bean, these little wonders can fill your picking basket quickly and they make great use of otherwise unusable space like fence borders and porch rails. I was asked whether they are okay to eat if you are following a whole-foods or Paleo template for your diet. Most of the websites and authors out there have their own opinion due to the fact that they are technically legumes (which we don’t recommend eating). Then there is the lecithin content (this is usually bad, such is the case in any SOY product, including Protein Powders which use soy lecithin almost exclusively). I’m going to give you an emphatic “YES!” green beans are great for your plate.


I don’t have the time today to pull up the studies or even get you a link to Mark’s Daily Apple where he has several articles on this subject, but here’s the deal. Legumes as a plant are not a problem. The progeny of a legume plant (the bean) has the same toxin and anti-nutrient issues that grains do. They are bad for us as much as they are good for the beans survival until it can grow into a new plant. See Robb Wolf for more scientific details on this one. So, eating the bean in its’ mature, dried state is not recommended. (Nor is anything else that causes gas, indigestion, or must be processed to be edible.) To eat a bean without these effects one must soak it in a brine solution for 24-48 hours with several changes of water, sprout it (this kills off the toxins), or ferment it. Go to The Nourished Kitchen and buy their e-course on this if you desire to eat grains and beans – it’s worth every penny.


Here’s where the green bean becomes a winner. It is still considered a vegetable because what you are eating is technically not the mature ovary. For the most part you are eating WAY more pod than bean (usually the string beans with big beans inside taste wonky straight off the plant) and the plant has not had the time or energy (all of that is going into making the baby) to add in the toxins and anti-nutrients. Does this click for you? I sure hope so.


An easy way to test out if it is okay to eat? If you can kill it or grow it and it looks on the plate mostly like it did in life – eat it. And if it tastes good right out of the garden and doesn’t make you sick, well then have at it! And while you are at it, pick up a pound of green beans at Market for $2 or after you’ve harvested your first bushel from the garden have at this recipe: Italian Beef and Green Bean Casserole from Jan’s Sushi Bar (a website).


To that snap. Of spring!



Italian Beef and Green Bean Casserole

serves 6


2 pounds ground beef, preferably grass-fed
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped or 2 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 small delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Heat a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat; add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula, until it’s almost browned and much of the fat and liquid has been released. Season with the salt and pepper and add the onion. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened. Add the garlic to the pan, stir and cook for another minute or until the ground beef is completely cooked through.

Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, herbs and red pepper flakes, if using. Add the squash and green beans; cover and place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender and the green beans are tender-crisp. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 33.4g total fat, 113.4mg cholesterol, 1702.7mg sodium, 1360.3mg potassium, 20.8g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 10.5g sugar, 31.4g protein.


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