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