Saturday, December 17, 2011

183.4 and I hope I am not loosing my muscle

So the official score a few moments ago was 183.4, and that is a tad scary. During this post-surgical weight loss period, I touched 181.9 pounds once, but it bounced right back up again. 183.4 is an awfully low figure. I hope I am not losing my muscle.

Lately, I've been cruising around 184.8 to 186.9. That is approximately a 2 pound range. That is a normal oscillation factor. This can be accounted for by body-water and body-waste. I've been bouncing around in that range for more than one month.

But this was before I learned how to cook beans...

What is the big deal about beans? It turns out that beans, all kinds of beans, constitute a diet super-food. Just about every "get-ripped" diet focuses hard on consuming beans. If the rhetoric from countless certified dietitians is to be believed, beans are a magic weight-loss food. They deliver a pretty solid nutrient pop, whilst being low in calories and high in fiber. They deliver a lot of mass with a very small calorie load. You can eat your fill of beans and wind up with a low calorie total... Even if you have a big stomach. If you have a 90% surgically reduced stomach, as I do, your fill of beans constitutes almost nothing in terms of calorie load.

My family never ate much in the way of beans as I was growing up. Bean dishes were frowned upon as "poor-man's food." This fact may well be implied by my former body weight. Consequently, on those rare occasions when I attempted to cook them, it didn't work out well. I didn't know how to cook them well.

It doesn't help that 8-24 hours of soaking is called for my many recipes. That's 8-24 hours of soaking before several hours of simmering. It doesn't help that the "speed method" involves boiling and resting for one hour before pressure cooking. All of these methods are long. In stark contrast, rice can be prepped in 12-30 minutes if you use the speediest methods.

It turns out there is a rapid method. You put 8 oz of raw/dry/hard beans (by volume) in 32 ounces of clean water, and you pressure cook for 31 minutes. My Cuisinart electric pressure cooker needs 31 to do a masterful job. Your pressure cooker may need less. Once the beans are done, you discard he water by draining them in a colander. You then dress them like salad: Olive oil, a tab of butter, some balsamic vinegar, a dash of Tabasco sauce, and a generous amount of sea salt gets the job done.

If you pressure cook the beans with some fresh Thyme, Bay leaves, and Rosemary, you will like the results better. You also need a bit of oil in the brew to prevent foaming.

Speaking of salt, salt was the absolute key factor in my past failures with beans. No salt until they are done pressure cooking. No salt when you soak. No salt when you boil. No salt when you pressure cook. No salt until they are done.

This is contrary to all culinary laws, and highly counter-intuitive. Still this is correct. No salt until they are done. The answer lies in the chemical composition of the bean skin. The bean's skin reacts chemically with the salt. It hardens enormously on contact with salt. This will prevent the bean from cooking. What you get is a rock-hard bean that is inedible. If you forgo all salt until they are done, they come out fine.

Since I learned how to cook them, I have fallen in love with beans. I eat a lot of them now. They are great in pesto sauce also. Coincidentally, beans in pesto makes for a very nutrient rich mixture, especially if you use spinach and mixed nuts to make the pesto. The calorie load goes up a bit, but it still isn't bad. They are delicious together.

This remarkable drop into the 183.4 just might indicate that the bean diet is working.  On the other hand, it may indicate I am losing my muscle.  I sure hope the latter isn't the case.