Coach Bex's Beans
I mention in my bio that nutrition is a key focus for me, that stems from a love of cooking passed onto me from the amazing women who raised me. It's just over 2 weeks until my next race - the Bellingham Bay Half which will be closely followed by the New York City Marathon so it's time to focus, but it's exciting! I see my nutrition plan as something very positive - experimenting and learning how my body responds to different fueling sources. It's not about denial - thanks to a lot of amazing resources out there such as Run Fast, Eat Slow (opened my eyes and CAN’T WAIT for book 2) it’s not hard to find new ways to work better nutrients into your diet.
Stay tuned on the IG accounts @runcoast2coast and @mexibexie for more ideas and insight into what I do. For this week’s blog post I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes for something I really rely on all the time, not just during race prep.
Bexie's Black Beans!
First a little about the humble black bean - it’s cheap and bean (get it) around for years yet is such a valuable, and as I’m learning, versatile nutritional food source.
We all know that beans are a source of ‘plant based protein’ (seemingly new buzz phrase - I recently heard a salsa at a farmers market being described as ‘plant based’ !?!?!?!) and complex carbohydrates but let's take a closer look at this particular bean.
They contain 39g protein per cup of dried beans and 29g fiber, along with valuable nutrients like Iron, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium and Phytonutrients (stuff from plants that are good for us) - in my opinion they’re a pretty super food!
At a high level the good combination of protein, carbs and fiber will provide you with a nice steady release of sustained energy. Magnesium and Calcium help the body to function better at hydration and circulation which in turn will reduce inflammation, aiding in muscle relaxation and recovery. We need Iron and B6 help the body produce red blood cells which we need for the cary of oxygen around the body - useful for anyone but especially so for people on the run. Add a whole grain (like rice….) and you have a complete protein - meaning all of the building blocks (amino acids) are there to build muscle. Not all plant based proteins are complete proteins which is why a variety is needed.
Now to the recipe…..well sort of….more of a notion. Grains and pulses and legumes are so nutritionally dense and affordable I don’t want anyone to be put off by something so rigid as an exact recipe and end not cooking because they don’t have enough of or need to buy x, y, z. View this as more of a lesson in cooking most legumes. I will tell you what I do and give you options for add ins and everything is scalable - and I highly recommend this. Whenever you do anything like this it is worth making extra and portioning off and freezing to use when you’re in a rush or just to make life a little easier. Because this is a bit fluffy there is a shopping list you can download at the end of the article with what you would need if you want something to quickly grab and go to the store.
Recipe for Bexie’s Beans
The Basics ‘essentials’:
Dried black beans - they usually come in 1lB bags - place these in any container, cover with water and leave in the fridge over night. (You could leave covered at room temperature during the day if you forget and want to make them that evening)
All quantities are for 1lb dried black beans
Salt - 2 tsp
Black pepper - good grinding
Garlic - a couple of cloves minimum, I usually add 7 or 8
Onion - 1 or 2 depending on size or how much you like onions
Some oil for cooking - around 2 tbsp
Optional Add ins:
Carrots - 1 or 2
Peppers - 1 or 2, whatever kind you like
Celery - 2 stalks/ribs, I wouldn’t recommend this for black beans but for more mediterranean inspired bean recipes
Tomatoes - 2-4 whole, let them cook down whole so they give a nice sweetness, again not necessary here, but works well with white beans (read sling them in the pot)
Spices - 1-2 tsp per 1lb beans depending on spice levels you like. Cumin works very well and is my favorite (also anti inflammatory)
Dried herbs - 2 tsp, I like Oregano and Bay leaves (1 or 2 whole)
Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce - 1-2 chiles chopped fine and some of the sauce. These go in everything, beans, rice, quinoa etc. Check the spice level as I’ve found some brands to be much spicier than others and they smell so good it’s easy to get carried away. I learned the hard way.
Epazote or Kombu - 2 tsp (dried), a sprig (fresh), or a strip. This helps with the digestion and can reduce gas but I’ve found them hard to find so don’t stress if you leave them out
Drain the black beans
Take a large pot that has a lid - enough to hold the beans - a tip is to soak the beans in the pot you will cook them in so you know you will have enough room
Chop the onion and garlic, put the oil in the pan and set the heat to medium, throw in the onion and garlic and stir
While that begins to sizzle chop the other veg you may be using and add that to the pan
Stir the veg and control the heat so they ‘sweat’ and soften - they shouldn’t brown (about 10 min)
Add the salt, pepper, spices, herbs and epazote or kombu if using and stir
Add the drained beans and cover with water, put the lid on
Allow beans to simmer until you can squish them with the back of a spoon on the side of the pan - the beans are cooked!
If the beans are too liquid continue to simmer with the lid off until you have your desired consistency. If you want it thick mush some up with a fork
Enjoy immediately or wait to cool before portioning and freezing
Now for the fun part…….you have your beans what do with them? Here are my uses, you can see from the list why I always have some handy!
Side dish - use with rice to make a tasty side dish - chicken and broccoli is common in our house.
Tacos - fry some firm tofu, onions, garlic and peppers and add in black beans for a tasty vegetarian taco/burrito filling.
Post long run brunch - 2 fried eggs, avocado and some beans, I add rice too if I have leftovers.
Superfood baked potato, cheese and beans - a take on a british classic. Use a sweet potato, black beans good quality sharp cheddar (so you use less). Half a chopped avocado makes my joy complete!
Stir Fry - lots of veg (always onions & garlic, ginger, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, zucchini, spinach, cabbage, kale the list can go on); protein - I take this as a chance to go meat free and use tofu but any meat can work; seasoning - I like liquid aminos, cumin, turmeric, pepper flakes and sesame oil. Go easy with sesame oil. Stir fry all ingredients until cooked/tender and add in some black beans for an extra protein & nutritional uplift.
Turkey burgers - don’t use the liquid but adding some beans into ground turkey and makes for a tasty patty to use as you would any burger
Quick lunch for the office - when I cook rice I make extra and take rice, beans and half an avocado to the office for a tasty, nutritious, affordable and delicious lunch...don’t forget the hot sauce!
In a Quinoa/Rice/Grain salad - stir in using your favorite ingredient to make a hearty salad
Quite a lot for one pot! At Run Coast 2 Coast we’d love to know how you get creative with these beans! Post your photos to IG tag us @runcoast2coast and #Bexiesbeans and we’ll add the ideas to the blog!
Hope this fuels many runs for you. Coach Bex x