Monday, January 16, 2012

80-20 rule and
easy black bean salad recipe

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart – and your wallet
The 80-20 Ratio
In terms of maintaing a healthy diet – and in maintaining equilibrium in most things in life – I'm all about the 80-20 ratio. Generally speaking, I aim for 80% healthy foods and 20% hedonistic. Some weeks are better than others. Sometimes without even trying, I can nosh 99.99% healthily for weeks on end. Other times, when I answer the call of the wild vegan cupcake with reckless abandon, the odds swing in the other direction. But on the whole, I would say that 80-20 is how my daily diet levels off.

We Americans are socialized to think in extremes. This said, I am sure a knee-jerk, visceral reaction to the  terms "healthy" and "hedonistic" is that they are mutually exclusive. Au contraire, organic pear! Healthy can and should be hedonistic. Plus, what could be more self-indulgent than flooding your body with phytochemicals, vitamin, minerals and fiber, all tied together via a tasty recipe?

Easy Black Bean Salad
Case in point this easy, Southwest-inspired black bean salad. Besides infusing the beans and produce with a decadent creaminess, the avocado also adds 20 nutrients, including cancer-fighting lignans, and pretty specks of celadon. Like most of the recipes I share, this black bean salad is versatile. You can eat it as-is, room temperature, as a side – or use it as burrito filling, tortilla chip dip, Southwestern soup base or green salad topping. It's also flexible in that you can add virtually any flavor-compatible ingredients and spices. You can also omit ingredients without anyone noticing. Plus, as a special added bonus, the spectrum of colors in this rainbow salad positively vibrate, contrasting against the glistening black beans. Serve it on a white plate for extra visual pop.
Bean Counting: Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or a die-hard omnivore, beans are, without question, the ultimate frugal protein. I eat a lot of beans and admittedly lean on canned beans when I am busy. But when I have time, I cook dried beans [which I find meditative] and freeze them in 1-2 cup portions in Ziplock bags. The bean counters tell me this can add up to saving about 34 cents per cup of beans. If you're a big bean eater, that adds up to a lot over the course of a year. Cooking beans with a pressure cooker would only increase the savings. Although I don't own one, for space and simplicity reasons, I am sure this appliance that would quickly pay for itself.
Last night's dinner: Black Bean Salad over baby spinach, clementines and steamed broccoli, livened up with Susan's Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing [to which I added a fiery glop of harissa]

Easy Black Bean Salad
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans [or 1 can, drained and rinsed]
  • 1 mango, diced
  • One ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeƱo pepper, minced [more or less, to taste]
  • 5-6 green onions, sliced, including greens
  • 1 cup of corn [Frozen is fine]
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional additions [About 1/2 cup each]: Fresh or roasted green, yellow, orange or red peppers, shredded carrots, diced jicama, diced pineapple. 
  • You can also season with your favorite Southwestern spices and smoked salt, to taste [eg, cumin, chile powder, coriander, turmeric]

Serves 6-8

Toss everything gently in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Allow flavors to marinate for at least two hours before serving, or ideally overnight.


Mattheworbit said...

That looks great! This is the kind of thing my partner is always asking for, but I never make. I can see this dish on our plates in the future! And aren't the colours marvellous?

BTW, you really love your harissa, right? I used 1/2 tablespoon in the spicy harissa sauce last night - and it was definitely enough... 3 tablespoons?! you so crazy!! :P

urban vegan said...

Matthew: You know I love anything spicy. All I can say is, start with much less of anything spicy that I call for. It's not for everyone :)

Theresa said...

We're pressure cooker bean people - in 15 minutes we have enough cooked beans for 4 or 5 meals. We freeze them in jars and then defrost when we want to use them! I can't wait for avocado season so I can try this recipe.

Mathew said...

You know what I discovered recently about cooking beans? They can cook overnight or during the day in a slow cooker! Put one pound in a slow cooker, fill with water three inches higher than the beans and eight hours later you have tender, cooked beans. No soaking required! now for me there is no excuse to buy beans in the store. I make garbanzos one night, pinto another and black beans the next night and my freezer is full of tasty homemade salt free beans!

David@iCAN said...

We just came across your delicious vegan blog! If you are ever in Phnom Penh, Cambodia please come and join us for a meal at our restaurant, K'NYAY Khmer & Vegan cuisine ( We were the first restaurant in Camodia offering purely vegan versions of traditional Khmer dishes and also a selection of non-Khmer vegan items on our menu. Keep up the fabulous blog! Run, Sern & David at K'NYAY

Chet said...

Thanks! I scored big time when I made this dish for my Vegan.

urban vegan said...

LOL, Chet. Good to know this salad is an aphrodisiac, too ;)

Alisa said...

"Healthy can and should be hedonistic"...and spicy too I must say, I love this and cant wait to try this salad :)

Babette said...

I never thought of freezing beans in plastic bags instead of containers. Sounds brilliant.

Dawn said...

I am obsessed with my pressure cooker and making fresh beans (30 min. total, including time to bring to pressure, cook, and come back from pressure--for chickpeas!!! This is compared with 2.5 hours for chickpeas!)

I do freeze leftover beans in 1 c. or 2 c. portions, it's so easy.

I can't recommend a pressure cooker highly enough, it's such a joy if you eat beans on a regular basis, which, I know you do :-))

Also, interestingly, pressure cooked beans taste SO much better than even home made, boiled beans! I didn't used to think there was much difference between home made and canned beans when I boiled them (and, honestly, to me, there wasn't), but NOW I think there is a huge difference. Pressure cooked beans taste fresh, the texture is perfect, and they absorb whatever flavors you put in the cooking broth.

Put a pressure cooker under your bed, you won't regret it :-))) Best $40 I ever spent!