CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Spicy Beans

Dry beans are one of the healthiest foods around. They are loaded with protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals and are low in fat. In addition, they contain several types of phytochemicals, which play a role in preventing osteoporosis, heart disease and certain cancers.

That’s pretty heady stuff, but for me, the fact that they are that are low in calories makes them so appealing. (One-half cup of cooked dry beans contains only 115 calories.

For quite a few years, one of our weekly meals — on Thursdays — was spicy beans. It became such a routine that our family in Ohio used to joke when they called on Thursdays and asked if we were having spicy beans.

Perhaps the best thing about spicy beans is that they are a quick meal — if you use the canned variety. And that’s OK, because nutritionally, canned beans and dry beans are comparable.

I threw together a batch of spicy beans the other night, my first attempt in quite a while. But I’ve made them so many times — it’s like riding a bike — you never forget. The result was quite tasty.

And while we just had beans and a little slaw — a great combination — a bed of rice and some sausage would further enhance the meal. To save on dishes, you can cook the meat with the beans.

You can’t beat that. A quick meal and quick cleanup!

Spicy Beans
2 cup diced onions
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons vinegar
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 15-ounce can chili beans.
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 15-ounce can great northern beans
1 dried cayenne or Thai pepper, crushed
1 Hungarian wax pepper or Anaheim pepper, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, saute onion, garlic and celery in olive oil until translucent.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the beans. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then add beans and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, partially cover and cook until mixture thickens,
about ½ hour.

Yield: Serves 6.

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