Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Breakfast Beans

The beans I soaked last night have swollen in the bowl. Plump, burgundy beans like polished beach pebbles and a name like a comic book exclamation. ADZUKI!  I pour them into a large pot and add more water. The screen door lets the last hour of cool air into the kitchen. I play Patsy Cline on a loop. I pull lycra over my head, over my hips. I like how it compresses my flesh, holds me tight, will not budge. The beans begin to boil and the steam smells like hot earth. I fill water bottles, I stuff my pocket with packets of viscous sugar, I leave my bike shoes by the door. When the beans are nearly done I throw a handful of salt in the water. I slice fat crescents of avocado and split cherry tomatoes in half with a sharp, blue knife. I drain the beans and scoop some hot from the colander. A clove of garlic and an egg in the pan. Each bite is muscle flexed and contracted, the turn of the pedals, the cadence quickened, a hill climbed. I eat my meal and picture the ride. An hour later I am winding up the road on my old Trek bike. The acacia still blooms in the shady hollows but most has given way to a thick cloak of jasmine and early California lupine. There are deer on the road, hawks above the vines, flop-eared rabbits half-hidden in the mustard between the rows. The road keeps climbing and to my right the road falls away to a narrow valley of eucalyptus and juniper. There are few cars. There are pot holes. The sun clamps down on me, draws sweat from every inch of skin. From the next bend in the road I can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Tam, the tiny rectangle of a container ship headed out to sea. The road steepens, steadily climbs, I keep pushing and pulling, my legs burn, my hips burn, every thing is taut, contracted, gripped. Involuntary sound escapes from deep in me, something guttural, animal, the last reserves of effort, and finally my tires find level ground and the blessed tip down hill.
There is something very special and also very logical about feeding the body for fuel. We spend so much time thinking and talking about how we look, and the conversations most overheard about food seem to be about what to eat and what not to eat in order to lose weight, whether that's a health based imperative for someone or not. But what about feeding the body so that it can perform? So that it can run and swim and dance and bike and play? On Sunday I will participate in my first triathlon. I have come to realize that one of the things I most love about training is how I come to re-understand my body as an instrument of action, and not as an object. For 12 weeks I have pushed myself, asked my body to perform tasks it has never done before (ie, getting off a bike and immediately going for a run. What?!), and the way I eat has changed. Of course my food must still taste delicious, but what I want to eat is food that will fuel my body, repair my muscles, sustain a long ride, or a run or a swim. Most of us forget that food in the body, at its most basic level, is energy. What do you do with your fuel? When is the last time you recognized your body for all the amazing work it does, all it is capable of doing? Maybe this week, forget about the mirror, put away the scale. Fuel yourself. Go out and play.

A Bowl of Beans
1 cup of dry beans, rinsed and soaked overnight*, less if you don't want leftover beans
1 or 2 eggs
1/4 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 a firm but ripe avocado, sliced
1 clove of garlic chopped
a handful of broccoli or kale, chopped
1 T coconut oil
olive oil to taste

*You can make this with canned beans too but I prefer the taste and texture of dried beans. Soaking them overnight will shorten the cooking time and make them easier to digest.

Pour the beans and the soaking water into a pot and add more water so the beans are covered by at least an inch of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until tender. About 30 minutes (might take longer for bigger beans such as kidney beans or white beans).  I recommend testing the beans around 20 minutes and if they are tender but need to cook more, add a good pinch of salt. Salting too early can make the beans shriveled and hard.

Drain the beans in a colander over the sink. Scoop one cup of cooked beans into a bowl. The rest you can use over the coming days in variations on this dish or in other meals.

In a small pan heat the tablespoon of coconut oil over medium-high. Throw in the garlic, broccoli and/or greens and sautee until soft. Add the veggies to your bowl of beans.

Return the pan to the burner. You may need to add a bit more oil. Fry or scramble an egg then place on top of the bean-veg bowl. Add tomatoes and avocado and maybe some fresh herbs and hot sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. 


Annie said...

Wonderful idea. I have recently started using herbes de Provence in my scrambled eggs and this might be a nice touch to complement the beans.

Alexis said...

I want this in my belly.