Tiny Beans and Big Words

This evening, I was soaking some black beans to prep for the meals we could make with them throughout our work week.  After the soaking period was up, I cooked them and proceeded to put some rice in the cooker.  These ingredients are some of the basics for a variety of dishes that we have made in the past… sometimes we’ve used lentils, others times kidney beans, and also black beans.  Choose your flavor of the week, and you’re good to go!  I love making “Greek Salad” that’s got zucchini chunks, tomato, couscous, ground turkey, and a variety of spices mixed in a delicious blend of savory and nutritious goodness.  We could probably eat this for a week and not grow weary.  There… I’ve shared with you my amazing recipe!

Aren’t those just the cutest beans on the planet?!  ….As I was saying–before going on my Greek Salad rave–these little beans have me fascinated.  Their shiny black surfaces seem to beckon to me, “Look!  We have to be eaten.  We’re full of such great stuff!”  And I believe them instantaneously.  Even before I did a little research, my body told me (in the wise way that only it can) the story of black beans: “They make me feel satisfied, full, and healthy… How could you not want to consume them?  It’s biologically sound.”  Well, that could’ve settled it, but seeing as one of my top strengths (it’s a Gallup thing) is Input, I had to collect some data about this.  Lo and behold, there are hoards of information stored up about research on these tiny gems!

From my ever-helpful Google search, I have reaped these results, stick with me, I promise it’s worth reading!: (from whfoods.com)

“The seed coat of black beans (the outermost layer that we recognize as the bean’s surface) 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 and quercetin are additional flavonoids provided by this legume. All of these flavonoids have well-demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Also contained in black beans are hydroxycinnamic acids including ferulic, sinapic, and chlorogenic acid, as well as numerous triterpenoids. These phytonutrients also function as antioxidants and, in some cases, as anti-inflammatory compounds as well. 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.”

OK–what does this overly wordy paragraph say to me?  That black beans are a heck of a lot more complex and complicated than I ever imagined upon first glance.  Food is a heck of a lot more intricate.  We see this tiny bean, small and vulnerable to the world… perhaps uninteresting and undesirable to some…and we believe we know it all!  We have everything we need to make an assessment about it: It is black.  It will be slightly crunchy, yet give to a more chewy consistency when eaten.  It makes a good dip.  Yes, and yes.  Yet there is something wise to gain from this tiny bean.  God knows what he’s doing, and He did it for us.  Even here, even in this bean, and its amazing natural chemical composition.  Our bodies need so many things to function properly–hence the HUGE, enormous health epidemic we are facing in the U.S.  I have read that for the first time ever… obese individuals can actually be malnourished.  This means that they are getting calories, but they are empty calories that have nothing to offer in the way of body needs.  Astounding.  We consume something, get full, and think that means our bodies are nourished.  Wrong.

We have to appreciate the fact that we know very little, very minuscule amounts of what there is to find out about foods and their properties.  We have to realize that the natural foods God created, which come from the ground and not the candy land factories that pump fake things into our lunches… will give us a fulfilling and healthy balanced relationship with food!  It’s a beautiful thing, really, the synergy that is possible in ecosystems and in our body.

I think perhaps my little hats-off to the black bean is over with now.  : )  But I just had to go in depth a bit.  I love food, I love how it looks, feels, I love the textures when I feel them in my hands.  It’s fun for me to get into a bowl of rice with my hands and feel the grains.  But even more so, I love how food is something to be studied, and something that has puzzles to it–something we can’t quite get yet.  I love the mystery of food.  And I just relish the opportunities to learn more about what I can do to fuel my body–to experience more deeply the wealth of offerings our foods give.  So I don’t understand the big words yet.. the delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin.  Heck, I’ve never heard of those things!  But I’m excited to learn more, and that’s compelling for me in this life.  The tiny black bean is spectacular–and even more so the fact that God figured out how to pack all of those little punches into it.  Wow!

If you want to read a really good book, check out ANYTHING by Michael Pollan.