I am a huge advocate for basing the daily diet around functional foods…for those who have not crossed knife and fork with this term, it simply refers to:
food containing a natural compound that aids specific bodily functions in addition to being nutritious
In other words, functional foods don’t just provide fats, carbohydrates proteins or minerals and vitamins but they serve your health on a whole other level…for example the humble oat, it is not only a source of carbohydrates and B-vitamins but is also rich in fibre and beta-glucan which helps control blood sugar levels, clear excess cholesterol from the body and feed gut bacteria.
So as a chef seeks to amplify the flavour of food, I seek to amplify the nutritional and health benefits of the diet by selecting functional foods..at every meal!
My all time favourite functional food is black beans, they are not only a source of protein, vitamins and minerals but….also fibre and antioxidants. In fact, black beans have been studied for their ability to regulate postprandial blood sugar spikes in metabolic syndrome and improve insulin sensitivity. It is believed that not only the fibre content but also their antioxidant potential assists in this function. There is not much this little beans cant do!
It is worthy to note if buying tinned black beans, please read the ingredients list, some brands contain an array of unnecessary additives, stick to black beans + water + an optional pinch of salt, full stop. Black beans can be used in replace of other legumes, tossed into salads, tossed with roasted vegetables or made into soup.
To assist you in adding black beans to your day, here is an antioxidant rich salad to have as a light meal or shared side.
Black Bean, Beetroot, Feta and Basil Salad
Serves 4-6 as a side (or 2 as a light meal)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 100g rocket, spinach or watercress leaves
- 1 large beetroot, cut into cubes
- ½ bunch fresh basil, leaves torn
- 100g feta or goat cheese, crumbled
- 50g walnuts, chopped roughly
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds (if not in season can replace with ¼ cup goji berries, diced strawberries....or even dried sour cherries if you want to be extra fancy)
- ½ tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 180, place chopped beetroot in alfoil or baking paper, wrap tightly and cook in the oven for 30-40mins until tender (Note this step can be done the day or hours before)
- Meanwhile place leaves of choice in a bowl with ½ tbsp. olive oil and ¼ tbsp. lemon juice, toss well and coat the leaves
- Place black beans, feta, walnuts, pomegranate seeds, basil and beetroot on top of the leaves
- Drizzle with remaining oil and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper
- If preferred, can mix all ingredients in a large bowl instead of layering
Casey Dick | Passionate Dedicated Natural Nutritionist | Brisbane, Australia, Dietary Nutritionist, Healthy Body and Mind Advocate, Natural Hormone Balance & Healthy Weight Loss, Natural Skin Health, Anorexia, Eating Disorder Recovery, Orthorexia, Thyroid, Non-dieting Approach, Gut Health, Nutritionist specialises in PCOS, Why can’t I lose weight, Weight Loss Resistance