Many thoughts can dance across your mind when you celebrate a birthday. And the older we get — this includes me — the more we think about how long we will live.
But if you are like some of the people who live in Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; the Nicoya Penisula of Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, Calif., it might not be of a concern until much later in life.
Those are so-called “Blue Zones,” which have some of the highest rates of citizens living to 100 years of age. That’s what Dan Buettner, explorer, National Geographic fellow and author of “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People” has discovered in his research.
One of the cornerstones of every Blue Zone diet in the world, according to Buettner, is beans. “About a cup of beans a day. If you’re eating a cup of beans a day, it’s probably adding about two years to your life expectancy,” Buettner says.
One of the ways I like to get beans into my diet is in chili. And I’m not just talking about the traditional kind. I really enjoy a white chili, which contains chicken and white beans and is a delicious, low-fat alternative and a change of pace to the ground beef-based variations. And it’s a great way to use leftover chicken.
Here’s a recipe for white chili that I like, especially the day after we’ve roasted one of those plump Hutterite chickens that we purchase from the Forest River Colony near Fordville, N.D. It’s quick and easy and the perfect meal for an on-the-go family.
Chicken Chili with Corn
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 15-ounce can great northern beans or cannelloni beans (can substitute kidney beans)
1 4-ounce can mild green chilies, diced
½ teaspoon parsley
½ teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup whole-kernel corn
1 lime, for garnish
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium/low heat.
Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic and cumin and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add chicken broth, chicken, white beans, chilies, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper.
Bring chili to a boil. Stir a couple times and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes until chili starts to thicken.
Mash some of the beans to help thicken the chili a little more. Add corn. Stir to combine and add extra seasonings if desired. Garnish with lime slices.