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The healthy bean

This is one healthy food. Or at least the initial stab at seeing what it can do for you seems pretty positive. Fighting both colon cancer and heart disease with two different elements, anitoxidant phytonutrients and insoluble fiber, this little legume can make a big difference to your health.

The irregular-shaped, smaller beans are referred to as “desi-type” and vary in color. With their thicker skin, it is believed that they have a larger concentration of antioxidant phytonutrients when compared to the rounder, “kabuli-type” beans commonly found in the grocer.

It may be this unusual combination of antioxidant phytonutrients and insoluble fiber that make the garbanzo an important food source and potential fighter of heart and colon disease.

The amazing garbanzo, also known as chick pea in the US, Chana in India, and ceci in Italy, are pretty amazing. With well known antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, it’s the phytonutrients that are packed into the little bean that make it the little powerhouse that it is.

The flavenoids kaempferol, myricetin, and quercetin, and the phenolic acids, caffeic, chlorogenic, ferulic, and vanillic all contribute to its punch. In addition, anthocyanins delphinidin, cyanidin, and petunidin are also encapsylated in this little legume.

Along with the mineral manganese, which is an antioxidant for mitochondria, is found in most cells.

Now, to me it’s just a bunch of letters strung together that I can’t pronounce. Unlike the words on “boxed” food, which I can’t pronounce either, they actually are good for you. It is believed that the combination of all these words make for a super fighter of heart disease.

The insoluble fiber is a lot easier to understand. Because of the insolubility, the fiber makes it all the way to the large intestine and helps feed the good bacteria, which create SCFAs – short chain fatty acids. It’s these fatty acid that fuel the cells of your intestine, which in short, makes you healthy and happy.

Now if, after all this scientific talk, you think it’s going to be like eating some essential healthy cardboard, your wrong … way wrong.

This little treat is the main ingredient in hummus. It’s also a wonderful ingredient in soup, and with 14% protein, it’s more than just something to eat for your health. If you can get over the initial hump and remember to soak a cup (or buy a can of them instead,) your are on the way to better food. Garbanzos are the third most consumed legume and a major source of protein for a large percentage of the population of the earth.

Featured in the May issue of Food & Wine Magazine in the trend spotting “tastes to try now”, these legumes come from Idaho and Washington state.

These Garbanzos (and lentils too) are grown in an area called, The Palouse. A magical land of humps and hallows that was sculpted by the ice age when massive amounts of water movement ground the previous lava flows. It’s the last ice age that is most important in the creation of the last layer of earth, in which the crops are grown.

As the continental glaciers moved they pulverized the lava, creating a fine powder – a yellowish-brown silt. Blown by the ancient winds of time this silt, known as Loess, created the mounds which make up the amazing area of The Palouse. In some cases, these mounds of loess reach 200 feet deep.

It is this silt that makes the land so amazingly fertile for farming.

From the vantage point of 3,612 feet, on top of Steptoe Butte, a 400,00 million year old rock that stands high above the surrounding loess. you can see for miles in all directions. If you arrive in the hours before sunup, the magic hour, the sun bounces off the sky, raking the earth with streams of light, shadowing and exposing the humps and hallows of the seasonal crops. These natural elements, seeming so otherworldly, create a giant painting full of color that feels like the creation in ones minds eye.

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