Friday, January 3, 2014

Healthy eating resolution, Part 3: Political potentiality

I wasn't planning to make this into a trilogy post, but Texas' gubernatorial candidates Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis have both driven me to it.
Which one is better??  On the subject of food, they both get a FAIL from me this morning.

Photos screengrabbed from Wikipedia here and here.   
Houston Chronicle did what was supposed to be a lighthearted compare-and-contrast in which they queried both candidates on a number of less-consequential personal preferences.  But there's no such thing as a political interview that doesn't count toward a candidate's ultimate public perception, and that's certainly true in this case. 
Chron's question seemed innocuous enough: 
Do beans belong in chili?
Davis said, "No beans." 
Abbott said "No.  As they say, real Texas chili doesn't need a filler."

Screengrabs from
Now, I realize that they were both responding within a specific context, but that doesn't change the fact that they both missed an opportunity for meaningful elaboration.  That's what politicians are supposed to do, isn't it?  Capitalize on opportunities to communicate important messages to the electorate? 
Let me get this straight:
31% of Texans are now obese - not just overweight, but obese -  and both of you are suggesting that Texans not put beans in their chili?!  Holy crap!!

Screengrab from this CDC website
If it had been me, I would have opened a dialog by acknowledging that the traditional way of preparing Texas chili does not include beans of any kind (e.g., variants here and here). 

I then would have expounded by letting people know that there are ways to prepare a walloping good chili with beans, and that those ways are both better for their health and consistent with a lower-calorie eating plan that will help maintain a lower weight. 
I didn't buy all this stuff on New Year's Day for nothing.  While I can make a good chili from scratch, my family really enjoys this Cookwell and Company product, and so I usually default to using it as the base. 
When I make red chili, I follow the same rationale as I did in making the green chili chicken stew I showed yesterday:  I pack in vegetable and legume components such that the resulting home-made product ends up being both lower in calories and higher in certain micro-nutrients and fiber without any noticeable loss of taste.
Typical chili beef contains two and a half times the calories of red beans, but the beans are still relatively high in protein.  Furthermore, the consumption of beans can help control blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and reduce cancer risk

So when I make chili, I add both - the beef for the taste and protein, and the beans for their health benefits and net calorie-lowering potential. 

Comparison composed of Google screengrabs. 
That's how I would have brought that question to closure if it were asked of me.  I would have said, "By all means, enjoy traditional Texas chili once in a while.  But also know that there are updated recipes that taste wonderful and that could significantly benefit your health and weight loss goals." 

Abbott is questionable with his reference to beans as "filler".
That's a hell of a lot of "filler" in my pantry stockpile, eh? 
I wonder how the Texas Hispanic population reacts when they see his statement?  Beans are so central to Hispanic cultural heritage that it's impossible to think of one without the other.
This guy ain't sellin' filler, and I ain't whistlin' Dixie.  When I think of the Hispanic families I have come to know over the past several decades, one of the aspects I remember most vividly is that enormous pot of traditional home-made beans on the stove, simmering aaaaall day long as giant extended families gathered to be with each other.  And those beans were always out of this world!

Screengrabbed from Wikipedia.
Anyway, I don't have a bean-laden red chili recipe to share with you today, but I'll do that in the future.  In the mean time, Happy New Year, and healthy eatin'.
Guilty as charged:  If you look carefully, you can see some beans visible through the glass Pyrex dishes in this, my most recent batch. 
However, I'd put my chili up against any other in a taste test.  Remember all those organic Anaheims I harvested from our suburban back-yard garden a few months ago?  I slow-roasted them on the BBQ, and then I put them in that batch of chili, which my husband declared to be "Our best yet." 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm forced to moderate comments because the spammers have become too much for me to keep up with. If you have a legitimate comment, I will post it promptly. Sorry for the inconvenience.