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The Essential Vegetarian

Beans, Beans, Good for the Heart...

By Katie Jeffreys

Greetings, Readers! This is the last of this year’s series of The Essential Vegetarian. I have enjoyed writing the column and have received a lot of positive feedback from both vegetarians and meat eaters. On a personal note, I have enjoyed not being vegan anymore; a week was enough, and now it’s nice to be able to eat any kind of food I want. Yum. I am all about food.

So I guess I’ll just say a few words about everyone’s favorite vegetarian staple: beans. Beans are great. You can use them in so many dishes: soups, pastas, wraps, dips, etc. And there are so many kinds of beans that meals including them don't get repetitive. Granted, they can sometimes take a long time to sort, soak, and cook, but if you buy processed mixes and similar products, preparation time is a minimum.

Beans, of course, are a great source of protein. They are also a good source of calcium. This is important because calcium consumed with meat proteins is often lost through urination. Calcium consumed with plant-based proteins is more easily used by the body. Beans are also sources of other vitamins and minerals, such as iron and zinc. Plus, all of these benefits are packaged in little innocent legumes that do not have the drawbacks of meat, their fatty, inhumane counterpart.

On that note, here is a recipe for a nifty Beans and Rice recipe that is easy to prepare. Remember: you can get small amounts of fresh spices at Harvest Co-Operative Supermarket in Central Square. Have a wonderful summer, and I hope to write for you again in the fall, where I will relate to you all of my adventures as a vegetarian in Italy. Feel free to E-mail me any thoughts or suggestions you may have for next year at

Beans and Rice

1 large can of mixed beans or red kidney beans

1 large potato, cubed

5 ripe tomatoes

1 large onion


chili powder



soy sauce


olive oil

Chop onions finely and fry (in pan) in olive oil until translucent. Add cubed potatoes and spices, cook until potato is slightly browned. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes with lid on, stirring occasionally. Add beans, spices, and soy sauce to taste. Serve on rice with green salad. Serves 3-4.