Normally I have a very balanced diet, which not only means it's balanced nutritionally, but it's balanced emotionally: I manage to try everything I want while rarely over-indulging. Then the holidays hit and gatherings fill up the calendar. On one hand I can't complain; I've managed to make a career out of encouraging people to cook and eat together, and it doesn't happen more than at the end of each calendar year. However, these gatherings rarely showcase light, healthy foods. Don't get me wrong: I like a good boozy cup of eggnog and a slice of roast beef as much as the next guy, but everybody needs a break.
Take Tuesday night for example: I went into a dinner party situation wanting to eat light and not drink alcohol. Two blinks of the eye later I found a margarita in one hand and a goat cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped date in the other. Pretty soon there were pork loin sandwiches and chile rellenos. There was simply no escape.
All you can do is plan to eat differently when possible. This is a time, more than ever, to retreat to the one-bowl vegetarian meal. Lately, that's meant it's all about mung beans at my house. Sometimes the servings are small, just enough to tide me over.
I'm offering this recipe, like I do with many of my recipes, simply to guide you. Of course, if you are missing any of the ingredients like apples or avocados, replace them with something else: some leftover stir-fried greens, a chopped up boiled egg, sky's the limit. This is a good opportunity to clear the decks and the formula couldn't be easier.
In terms of the sprouted mung beans, they are usually easy to find at any large health food store or Whole Foods. I like them because they don't really require much cooking, and they feel so nourishing. If you can only find regular mung beans, don't fret. Simply cook the beans according to the package's instructions then drain and toss with the other salad ingredients.
The point here is to give your system a break and of course there's no one recipe for this practice. Just allow your system to breathe, and take refuge in a bowl of clean food. We have a whole month of holiday eating ahead, so pace yourself. Have a bowl of mung beans, then brace yourself for the next onslaught of holiday cheer.
One Bowl Mung Bean Meal
1 cup sprouted mung beans
3 cups water or broth
4 chopped green onions, white and pale green parts only
2 ribs celery, trimmed and sliced cross-wise into c-shapes
1 apple, diced
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons loosely packed chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoon lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring the water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add the mung beans and gently boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Cover and let stand for at least 4 minutes and up to 8 minutes, depending on the desired texture. Drain.
Mix the mung beans with the green onions, celery, apple, avocado, almonds, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Toss well. Divide between four bowls and serve.
Related: More Uses for Mung Beans
(images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)