Beans: 3 ways and budget friendly.

New Year always comes along with two constant states: sad looking savings account and list of resolutions.

There might be different reasons for both states, i.g. had too much fun, purchased too many cute looking presents, ate too much cookies etc, but the result is always the same. Last time I went to the gym to take Pilates class, there were 24 people instead of average 6-7 maximum; there were 2 people swimming in each lane in the pool instead of average 0; most of the treadmills are out of service (and how am I supposed to get ready for my half marathon in -11 F?). And finally, there was a lot invested in this holiday season, everything-wise.

So, I thought I’d try to watch the budget more carefully and keep myself stuck to the grocery list instead of grabbing all the extra (useful, of course) items I normally grab. The challenge is to be able to make a week worth of meals for three of us with the same nutritional value, variety and completeness as I normally try to provide. Unfortunately, the biggest and the most expensive part of the grocery shopping is fresh produce. Green salads and fresh juices can’t be made from a can or a package, but everything else can.

What is the most well-known plant-based protein? I bet even Frederic knows by now: beans and legumes. Both are pretty cheap but have a lot of potential. Both could be cooked in stew, soup, fried, baked, cookie (this black bean chocolate chilli cherry is my favorite), bread, spread, crackers, you name it..

Pretty cool, huh?

For these 3 recipes I used 3 cans of beans (no salt added) and cooked ahead dark chickpeas. 2 of these 3 meals cost about $3 total and serve 4. Not so bad, right? I also used seasonal vegetables like turnips and sweet potatoes, which don’t cost a fortune either.

Turnip pureé is sweet and rich velvety delicate dish, which is both nourishing and filling. I like it on its own, or poured over  rice as a topping.

Stew is the most common week meal in my house. It doesn’t require much effort, its simple and works the best for chilly days. Spices are the key to success, while seasonal vegetables take care of the proper filling content.

Lobio is a staple in the Georgian cuisine and it quickly became very popular appetizer in Soviet Union. Georgian and Armenian cuisines are similar to Middle Eastern: spices, herbs, a lot of fresh vegetables and lean protein. Simple and always fresh. On my trip to Armenia I was taken to quite a few very authentic restaurants and everything was too tasty to be true. I was sold completely when I entered the market. Though I couldn’t bring all the market with me, I brought good memories and a desire to come back and eat more of traditional food. Seriously, its a proper gastrotour for me to go.

But back to lobio. My mom made it for their New Years dinner and I decided to make one two. Wasn’t sure how my family would take it, but right now we are half the way through the second portion.

So, enjoy the seasonal food and stay warm.

Creamy turnip pureé with chickpeas

DSC_0149 DSC_0156 DSC_0157 DSC_0179