Sweet Summer Tomato & White Bean Salad With Fresh Herbs, Lemon Zest & Olive Oil

These days, time spent in my kitchen has been limited and meals have been quick. It’s for good reason though – I’ve been spending much of my spare time in a different kitchen. In June, I began attending culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute, something I had thought about doing for quite some time. I’m completely loving every minute of it thus far and in addition to cooking, I’m learning an incredible amount about nutritional healing. The founder of Natural Gourmet, Annmarie Colbin, believes that there is a direct correlation between the food we eat and our general state of well-being – eating well is the key to living well. This is something I have believed in for some time, and something that I have proven to myself with my own diet.

When I began eating a mostly plant-based diet, I had more energy, felt more alert and happy and rarely got sick. I’ve since slipped back into a meat-eating lifestyle and I’ve noticed my body revert back to it’s less energetic form. With new knowledge from my program, I am now transitioning back into a plant-based diet, with the occasional consumption of good quality meat and cheese. I kicked this off today with my first real bike ride of the summer through Prospect Park. When I finished my ride, I landed upon a farmers market and couldn’t resist grabbing some beautiful baby tomatoes. I strapped them onto my bike in a bag and started thinking about what to do with them on my ride home. I had some fresh herbs leftover from a photo shoot at work, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to use them. Below is the recipe that I came up with and devoured for lunch.

On my first day of class, I was given The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood. This book has since become my bible as I find myself engrossed in learning about the healing properties of foods. Below is a list of the foods in this dish and their naturally occurring medicinal properties.

Medicinal & Nutritional Benefits of Ingredients in This Dish:

Legumes: Support the stomach, spleen and kidneys. They counteract damp conditions and help reduce blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure, regulate colon function and prevent constipation. Because they are slowly digested, beans help people who are diabetic or have low blood sugar, as beans cause only a gradual rise in blood sugar. The phytochemical diosgenin and isoflavones in beans help prevent cancer. They’re typically a good source of a lecithin component, choline, which supports fat digestion. White beans energize the lungs and colon. Most legumes range from 17-25% protein, roughly double the protein of grains and higher than that of eggs and most meats. They are a great source of potassium, iron, zinc and several B vitamins. As a stick-to-the-ribs filling food, beans are more “grounding” than a salad, baked potato or bowl of rice.

Tomatoes: Although acidic, after digestion they alkalize the blood and can be useful in some cases of gout and rheumatism. They are second only to gac fruit as a superior source of lycopene, the antioxidant that helps promote healthy vision (higher in cooked tomatoes than raw). The jelly like substance that surrounds the seeds is high in vitamin C. Vine-ripened tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A and B and of potassium and phosphorus. They are rich in sugar and have a moderate fiber content. They contain flavonoids an other phytochemicals with anticarcinogenic properties.

Olive Oil: Nearly three quarters of its fat content is monosaturated fat, which lowers the so-called bad cholesterol and leaves the good cholesterol undisturbed. Extra virgin olive oil is highly regarded for its ability to support liver and gallbladder functions. Additionally, fats and oils are essential for brain function and we cannot metabolize without the presence of fat.

Garlic: It stimulates metabolism, improves digestion and is used for both chronic and acute disease. It is antibacterial, anticarcinogenic and antifungal. It reduces ear troubles, sinusitis, influenza, blood pressure and cholesterol. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and lowers fever by increasing perspiration. It is antiparasitical, and promotes the growth of healthy intestinal flora. It eliminates toxins from the body, ranging from snake venom to poisonous metals such as lead and cadmium.

Sage: Supports lungs, liver, heart, kidneys and uterus. It is a decongestant whose antimicrobial properties make it and effective gargle. It is a muscle relaxant for nervous disorders such as tics. Sage stimulates and helps regulate bile flow.

Rosemary: Supports heart, kidney, liver, lung and spleen functions. It help mediate conditions of cold, mucus and damp. It is a potent antioxidant that helps slow the aging process and reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancer. It is recommended for headaches, chronic fatigue, poor appetite, low blood pressure, an weak circulation. It lowers cholesterol, eases muscle and rheumatism pains and treats lung congestion, sore throat and canker sores. It stimulates the nervous system and supports mental functions and memory, and helps relieve a sluggish gallbladder.

Lemon Zest: Citrus peel has a high oil content, which makes it a useful medicine for cold and deficient symptoms. It helps clear phlegm, enhances digestive energy, decongests lungs and helps relieve intestinal gas, pain, swelling and constipation. It contains numerous nutraceuticals, such as antioxidant limonoids, which help combat carcinogen s in the liver. As a liver tonic, lime and lemon are more effective than grapefruit.

Salt: Sodium, the primary constituent of salt, is one of the three vital electrolyte minerals; it helps convey energy and the spark of life itself. It is the electric charge that enables nerve impulses and muscle contraction; it is vital for every living cell’s function. It also strengthens the kidneys.

1 can organic cannellini beans
1 cup of small sweet tomatoes sliced in half
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon
2 sprigs of rosemary minced
1 spring of sage minced
1 clove of garlic minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine beans and tomatoes and add olive oil, garlic, rosemary, sage and lemon zest. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. Add more salt as needed.

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