Embracing micronutrients–even the human ones!

A couple of years ago a group of friends that reach all the way back to my earliest  elementary school years connected through Facebook and decided to have a reunion.  Some of us had not had any previous contact since leaving high school forty years before. The reunion was so delightful we’ve continued to see one another in small groups or pairs, and this weekend six of us are meeting for dinner on Saturday night.  I’m entertaining two of the “travelers” at our home for the weekend.

I’ve recently mentioned that I’m reading a health and well-being book emphasizing the role micronutrients play in boosting the nutritional value in our diets–Naked Calories. It occurred to me today that these friends are the human equivalent of micronutrients. In our diet, the macro-nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fat are essentials. My personal well-being also requires closeness with my family–my human equivalent of macro-nutrients.

But overall well-being is further strengthened by the inclusion of good friends. I value the time we spend recapturing memories through stories from our youthful past (waaaaay in the past) and we do a lot of laughing and listening while sharing  about our current interests, families and travels. Valued friends are the micronutrients in my already full life. They add in the small essentials that give my emotional health the added boost.

Because we will probably be on the go for much of the weekend I haven’t made specific plans for meals. I have things “on hand” and we’ll see what we feel like doing. But I like to have something quick and easy available for Jay, just in case he gets caught with the in between plans. He’s the easiest guy in the world to please, but sometimes that means without a little planning he’ll just grab the peanut butter. I think we can do better than that.

Here in the U.S. we’re headed into  4th of July celebrations  and maybe traditional American foods and BBQ are on menus, but we do eat a little differently most of the time. We have some very healthy foods we use as staples–I think we both could live on beans!

In colder months we have our black-eyed peas, navy beans, lentils…if it’s a bean or legume, we eat them. But at the moment I have the remainder of a 25-pound bag of beautiful pinto beans housed in my freezer for protection, and I am making a big bowl of bean and rice salad.

Just look at this large bag of beans! It came courtesy of friends who visit their family farm in Colorado. They bring us a big bag as a gift and we wouldn’t want to waste a bean!

Do you like beans? I wonder if you think of them as often as we do. Speaking of micronutrients–you should see the list of micronutrients found in an average serving of pinto beans. I won’t list them all, but take just a minute to check here  for the wow factor.

Maybe the idea of ushering in the 4th of July week with a bean and rice salad doesn’t do it for you. I understand. But tastes are sometimes cultivated and this is a nice protein dish with only good fat and all added sodium optional. And it’s very tasty!

So here’s what’s going into the refrigerator, and Jay can grab some whenever he gets hungry!

Bean and Rice Salad

1) In advance of putting the salad together I’m cooking the dried beans right now. Follow your own method for cooking the beans. There is no trick and you can’t go wrong! I wash them, cover them in cold water, turn up the heat and simmer for about two hours. I don’t pre-soak or add a thing.

2) I tend to walk away from things cooking on the stove and forgetting about them. So I put my brown rice in the cooker and set it, and went to my yoga class.  I came home to perfectly cooked brown rice. Rice cookers are not necessary…I just like the ease of not needing to be close to the stove.

From this point it’s ALL easy!


3 cups cold brown rice

3-4 cups cooked and drained beans (already cold or cooled)

1 cup of sliced celery

1 medium chopped red onion (I always add more)

1 finely chopped medium-sized bell pepper

1/4 cup cilantro

Right now I have so many courgettes (I know…zucchini) so I will be chopping some into the mix. Anything goes, so look in the garden and raid the refrigerator produce bins! Be creative.


1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 TB water

1/2 tsp garlic powder (or if you work well with fresh garlic, very finely chop in a clove or two)

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt (optional. I don’t add it, but some people need just a little).

Add the dressing to the other ingredients, cover, and chill over night. It is supposed to make about 16 servings, but that would depend on how large you make the servings.  I have yet to only eat 2/3 cup at one time.

This may not be a great treat for everyone, I know, but eating a little bit more of this kind of powerhouse food will add to your energy reserves. And if you’re going to play all weekend, I want you to definitely keep going! Maybe this can be the side dish to a more traditional bar-b-que. I believe in nutritional baby steps!

Enjoy your weekend. Whatever you eat and however you play. Just do it heartily! Maybe include a few friends, and remember the micronutrients analogy!

Making plans to breathe lighter…Debra

53 thoughts on “Embracing micronutrients–even the human ones!

  1. I am breathing lighter just reading this, Debra. I love beans and bean dishes, though I tend to stay away from making them as it is the carb content that poses a problem for Tom in keeping diabetes (Type I) in check. I will, however, try them soon as a side dish and lunch, perhaps, for me. It sounds so good.

    I just love the idea of family and friends being macro and micro nutrients in our lives. I don’t know what I would do without either or any. What a thought provoking post to guide me on my way as I go about my day. Thank you.

    Enjoy your time with your friends.

    • I know that family and friends are very important to you, too, Penny. I have had so many social engagements in the month of June that I’m a bit weary of entertaining and that got me to thinking. I realized that I am really fortunate to have this time in my life when my strength and health supports so much activity, and as I get older, it is these friendships that nourish me.

      And I’m glad you reminded me of Tom’s dietary cautions. So often I don’t understand friends who decide they are “off” carbs, and the conversation shifts to putting all carbohydrates in the same pot, as though a legume is equal to a potato chip! I do forget that Type 1 diabetics have a different reason for counting carbs. The nice thing about this recipe is it is completely adjustable…much less rice and beans and more vegetables and it’s still good. You must be an absolute expert on balancing protein and carbohydrates. I have watched some of my friends make all the dietary adjustments for their diabetic children and I’ve been amazed at what they’ve had to learn. I hope you’re having a good weekend, Penny. My guests are sleeping in, and I’m sneaking in a little blog time! 🙂

    • This dish is so easy, of course, Rita, and can be adjusted for every taste! It’s one of those go-to salads that can sit there for a few days, too, and be just as good later! And yes, I think it’s very filling and in summer heat is just simple! Sometimes that’s what I need…Simple! 😉 I hope your weekend is good for you! Debra

    • Well, you’ll notice I didn’t talk about how well each person may or may not tolerate the effects of beans! 🙂 I have heard that Beano is a good product and works with enzymes to adjust sensitive individuals making it easier to digest beans. I also think eating small amounts of beans much more frequently seems to naturally adjust most people. Whatever works!! These were Colorado beans, Deb, so you ought to be able to find some good ones, right? D

  2. Debra, one of my dearest friends is moving to Louisiana in a couple of weeks, and she is a micronutrient. I’m probably going to a little less sane without her around to have lunch with once a week and just talk girl stuff. For all my trying, she’s the only friend I have in Charleston who will meet me once a week for lunch, and I’ve already cried about how much I will miss it. I’m so happy for her, because she is making a career move that she’s wanted for a decade. But…….I’m very sad for me. So, I understand micronutrients. I’m going to be a little malnourished for a while.

    In a veer in a totally different direction, my father loves pinto beans. We do not love it when he eats them, because even he calls them ‘poot beans.’

    • I am really sorry for the loss of a near-by friendship, Andra. Boy have I been through that. One of my dearest friends moved from California all the way to Massachusetts, and although we talk on the phone and stay in touch, it’s never the same. I hope you and your dear friend find a way to establish something new and special, like a half-way point location that becomes your spot to share a weekend every few months. Maintaining friendships is a bit of work sometimes. I think once we realize how critical they are, though, to keeping us in balance, we willingly commit to finding creative ways to stay connected. But it is hard when they move away!

      I got a good chuckle at your dad’s references to his intolerance for beans! I think because I was raised on them I tolerate them really easily! That’s a guess, but I have always heard that if we eat them more, our bodies adjust! I know for some people it’s just better they stay away! LOL! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Andra! Summer is surely here! Debra

  3. I appreciate the reference of friends as micronutrients. Awesome! Besides, I’m one who preaches the most important decision in life is who one chooses to hang around – thus they can add or deplete nutrients regarding life.

    And this posts remains me I need to write one about faro!

    Alright – you are with your friends this weekend – which also means wine – so don’t forget the wine prayer. Enjoy and cheers.

    • I have certainly keyed in to the fact that friends play an important role with you and your wife, Frank. Your different social groups sound like wonderful extensions of family! I hope you will write about faro! I haven’t really explored that grain very much. I have a few vegan friends who have cooked for me and I know I’ve had it on some occasions, but I tend to forget about it, and use other grains instead. I’d be very interested. Enjoy your weekend, too, Frank. I’m quite sure you will! Debra

  4. I really, really like pinto beans, black beans, and just about anything in the legume family. I knew they were pretty good for you, but didn’t know all the “dirt” on them. Really surprised at all the vitamins and minerals. Thanks for passing this on!

    • Isn’t it just wonderful that nature provides a powerhouse food in inexpensive, plentiful beans…something that anyone can prepare economically! There’s such efficiency built into beans and legumes, and yet we tend to forget about them! I’m glad I could at least highlight the lowly pinto bean! Sometimes we don’t think about eating them cold…and in this heat, I really don’t feel like a bowl of chili! Thanks for stopping by, MJ, and I hope you have a good weekend. Debra

    • Thanks for stopping by, MJ…and the good news is that if you do enjoy beans and legumes, you’re in good nutritional stead all the time! I think it’s extremely fascinating that nature provides a food with so much benefit, that is easily accessed and so inexpensive. I think with today’s economy I’d trying to raise the profile! 🙂 Debra

  5. That bean salad sounds not only delicious but also so very good for you. And that would be the largest bag of beans I have ever seen. If you eat all those you’ll be abounding in great health! How wonderful that after all these years you’ve been able to reconnect. That’s fabulous. I hope you have a great weekend of catching up with lots of good times and plenty of laughs xx

    • I shake my head in a bit of wonder at these friends and the fact that we can so easily fall into conversation and appreciation for one another after all these years! I’ve know them for more than 50! That’s a little shocking, even to me! 🙂 And the beans are such an economical and easy power-lunch, if not dinner. Not very glamorous, but efficient! Ha! I didn’t want to overstate our commitment to these little beauties, but our friends just returned from their ranch and we have ANOTHER big bag in the freezer. I may be posting more recipes…I can be the resident pinto bean expert! Tat might be fun. Ha! Hope you’re having a good weekend, my friend. D

    • This is such an easy base recipe that can be adjusted “all over the place” for taste! It’s nice to have something so nutritionally efficient in this heat…and I’ll bet you’re getting some of that! We are, too! Summer if finally here, isn’t it! Have a good weekend, Sandy! Debra

    • I’m glad the recipe sounds good, and it’s such an easily adjustable one. I think you’re a very creative cook and could take this and do much more with it! I almost didn’t post it simply because it is sooo simple! But in summer heat, sometimes that’s all I want…simple! 🙂 Debra

    • Food does keep us connected, Stewart. Since my dad came home from the hospital with very strict dietary restrictions I’ve been even more aware of how socializing around the table is centerpiece to so many occasions. I’ve thought more and more, too, about how food becomes a balance between nutritional needs and emotional connecting…sharing with others is a way to show our appreciation to friends, too. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing! Hope your weekend is a wonderful time for you to connect to others, too! Debra

  6. I don’t think that Costco sells bags of beans that large!
    I love a good bean salad, Debra, and am always on the look-out for another recipe. At so many cookouts and barbecues, mayo seems to be the dressing of choice. I’ve nothing against mayo but I’ll take a good bean salad dressed with some vinegar any day! It’s that acidic bite that I crave. I’, going to add this recipe to my rotation .. well .. if there are any pinto beans left on this side of the Rockies. 🙂

    • Here’s the funny thing, John. I have one more full 25 pound bag of pintos in the freezer, too. Our friends brought back more from their latest trip. That’s why I’ve been playing around with “cold” recipes. I realize we have them and it’s a shame not to use them! I think you’re right that even Costco wouldn’t have bags this size. I may become an expert in pinto bean recipes. Now that I’m saying that I have to laugh. I have never once thought of myself as a cook…I may become one yet–just with pinto beans! Now I’m really thinking. LOL! Have a wonderful weekend, John. If my friends get up and moving perhaps we’ll make a trip to our farmer’s market! I hope you and Max can make a trip in! 🙂 Debra

    • I am also surprised at how many people don’t cook with beans, Karen. They provide such a nutritional punch and are so economical. I have approximately 35 pounds of them right now–1 1/2 bags! So I am thinking of honing my culinary expertise and becoming the blogospheres pinto bean expert! LOL! I never thought of myself as an expert related to anything in the kitchen, but if I get working at it, who knows? LOL! Have a good weekend, Karen. I need to look at the reports and see what your crazy weather is doing now!! Debra

        • I hope your whole weekend stayed nice, Karen! The news reports (radio) didn’t sound too good…but I never saw a map of how far the north the storms and power outages reached! In fact, as I’m saying that, I think I’ll google the news and find a map. oxo Debra

    • I hope you had a good weekend, Claire. My friends left this afternoon and I was glad I had posted my thoughts about them as part of my nutrition, because it did get me thinking in advance of how special they are! The rice and beans was a hit…I think that may be all my husband ate! That wasn’t my original intention, believe me, but it was an easy grab, and that was how he chose to work is way around the kitchen! Ha! Debra

    • Thank you, Kate. I had a full weekend of excellent visiting with friends and now I think I’m aiming at the 4th being a bit quiet, if that’s possible. I have been thinking that it would be a good time for me to revisit some of my American History movies or documentaries…you’ve followed how I’ve been going on and on about the Queen. I may need to use the 4th or reorient! LOL! And if you do get the chance to try this recipe, certainly experiment with your individual tastes, but it is so easy, and we don’t seem to get tired of it! Debra

  7. I love beans, so thank you for sharing the recipe! I love recipes as sometimes I run out of ideas. When I travel to see friends and family, and my mate stays home, I like to cook a few meals ahead of time so he will eat a nutritious meal. He grabs a hot dog when I don’t cook; I can’t stand the idea of him eating hot dogs for a few days. 🙂 Enjoy your time with your friends!

    • Thank you, Marie. My friends left for home this afternoon and it was such a lovely time! I will look forward to the next time! 🙂 I am glad you, too, love beans. This is just the easiest recipe and keeps well. My husband ate it all weekend. I really didn’t intend it to be his sole diet! Ha! He takes the easy route when I’m not helping! I can’t complain…he never does! Ha! Debra

    • I hope you do get a chance to make it, Edie. It’s so easy, and one of the most efficient recipes I can make in a hurry! If the ingredients are hand it really is an easy one! Enjoy the 4th of July week, and I hope all is going well for you! Debra

  8. Dear Debra, I so appreciate your “macro” and “micro” nutrients analogy. This is truly a new idea for me and I’m going to use it when talking with friends and thanking them for their friendship. As to beans, as a vegetarian for 31 years, I’ve eaten lots and lots of beans and of course I eat soybean products. I know that some people avoid them because of flatulence but my discovery has been that if I soak them well–overnight–I don’t experience that problem. Enjoy your 4th! Peace.

    • Thank you, Dee. I think we’re going to enjoy a quiet 4th! I would just love a semi-quiet day! 🙂 The micronutrient idea came to me because I’ve been really a bit too busy lately, and have tried to cut back on some socializing. In doing that I’ve had to really consider what is important to me and the friendships came up as quite primary! So I don’t know exactly how to balance my time, but I think I, too, want to thank my friends for the richness I receive from them! As for flatulence in eating so many beans, I really think the body adjusts when they are a regular part of the diet. And they are certainly economical, aren’t they! I hope your week, as well as the 4th, is also really enriching, Dee! Debra

    • I simply use a good aged balsamic. I’m not particular on any brands, but I tend to buy the ones that are in the medium-range of cost. Perhaps that’s simply to hedge my bets against ignorance, because I don’t know that much about the balsamics. I really think the important thing is just the acid, and almost any vinegar could be adjusted to taste. We did make the salad and enjoyed it. I had made enough rice and beans to make a little more tomorrow, to get me a day or two of work-day lunches. I guess it’s quite obvious we enjoy the dish! 🙂 Thanks for asking. Debra

  9. I love beans and with brown rice, celery.. cilantro.. it’s a winner! I’m so glad to hear you’ve reconnected with your friends. It’s so true that these are the micronutrients in our lives.. They are so essential to our well-being.. xoxo Smidge

    • It’s an amazing feeling to be with friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 40 years, and connect in a way that felt natural and not at all forced. I think we were very lucky! I’m glad the recipe sounds good to you, Smidge. It’s such a wholesome dish! I don’t consider myself a strong cook in areas that require a delicate hand, and I’m not been falsely modest here, but I am really adaptable in areas where nutrition is the goal. I think a good way to say it is that I’m a good “one pot” cook! LOL! Debra

    • I hope you will try it, Karen. This bean dish is really good…hearty and nutritious, and would be a good side dish, I’m sure. It also could be “jazzed up” quite a bit with a few peppers or something to give it even more bite. My husband doesn’t like things to spicy, so I don’t bother, but I think it would be an even happier dish! 🙂 I hope you enjoy your 4th of July festivities, whatever they bring. I know you’re kind of burdened down right now with concerns for Ginger…I hope things settle soon! Debra

  10. I lovem all except lima beans. Yuk. I heard you had problem being spammed blogs you follow too. It is so for me to 50% of whom I follow . I cannot notify unless email is provided although I have some through private non blog conversation. Were you able to achieve any resolution.

    • I even like lima beans, Carl. In fact, I may share a recipe a friend gave me soon…you’ll have to avert your eyes, won’t you!! I hope your Spam problem is better now. I did leave a lengthy list of things I did to finally resolve the problem on one of your posts…if you are still having trouble and didn’t see that, let me know. I’m glad to repeat it! I think my problem is finally resolved. Debra

  11. I love beans but haven’t been able to eat them since I developed food allergies and IBS about a decade ago…

    I apologize for reading your posts backwards. I should’ve started here so I’d have known that you were friends with some of these women at elementary school. I envy you having reunions. My close friends and I live on different continents.

  12. Fantastic that you have a big bag of Pinto beans. I love beans even though I don’t digest it well. Whenever feasible, I make a favorite bean dish and enjoy every bite. 🙂

  13. ღ˚ •。* ♥ ˚ ˚✰˚ ˛★* 。 ღ˛° 。* °♥ ˚ • ★ *˚ .ღ 。*˛˚ღ •˚ ˚ Happy Independence Day Greetings! ˚ ✰* ★˚. ★ *˛ ˚♥* ✰。˚ ˚ღ。* ˛˚ ♥ 。✰˚* ˚ ★ღ ˚ 。✰ •* ˚ ♥

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