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On Nutrition: Thankful for simple things

Barbara Intermill, Monterey Herald on

Published in Nutrition

“What everyday blessings have you experienced that are often easy to forget?” That question from my morning reading made me think.

I’ve become grateful for warm weather and gorgeous sunsets while horse camping in Arizona these past few weeks. And as we travel home to a colder climate, I’ve come to realize what life would be without some of the things I take for granted.

For example, we temporarily lost power in our camp trailer one morning. When the green light on our coffee pot finally came on, I was sooo thankful for that first hot cup of brew.

I’m also returning from this trip with renewed appreciation for one simple food item that perked up our meals with a nutritional boost — canned beans.

Yep, for the money, beans — black, pinto, red, white, whatever — are easily the most nutritious food around. In fact, because they are a good source of protein as well as dietary fiber and other nutrients, beans and lentils are the only food that qualifies both as a protein and a vegetable.

Just one serving of canned or cooked beans supplies half of one’s daily dietary fiber needs. And most of that is soluble fiber — the type that can lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar levels in check.

Beans also provide potassium (which helps control blood pressure) and numerous B-vitamins. One notable “B” is folate — a nutrient necessary to prevent certain birth defects in newborns.

 

I prefer to cook dried beans when I’m home, but canned beans are great for camping. (Guess the old cowboys knew what they were doing.) Canned varieties do have more sodium though, so simply drain off the liquid and rinse in cold water to get rid of about 40% of the sodium, say food scientists. Add a can of beans to cooked meat, poultry and/or vegetables and throw the concoction over salad greens. Add some grated cheese and voila! A complete meal!

On our way back to civilization this week, we’ll be stopping at my sister’s house in New Mexico to celebrate Thanksgiving. And oh, how thankful we’ll be for a hot shower, a real bed and a lovingly cooked meal with my sis and her family.

This trip has also sealed my gratitude for this nation in which we reside. We can travel freely, explore the desert on our horses and sleep peacefully at night, thanks to the sacrifice of those who guard our security.

As the price of gas continues to skyrocket and we encounter other uncertainties of this present life, it’s interesting to realize that our country’s first official day of thanks occurred during the dark days of the Civil War.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to “solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledge as with one heart and one voice…the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

For that, I am especially thankful.

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