Thursday, May 1, 2014

Three Cans (fast, easy, vegan, parve, cheap, tasty, low cal, packable lunch)


R3A2 Three Cans
(makes 1 to 3 servings, depending on how ravenous you are)
If you just eat a third of the mixture of the three cans, then
Preparation time:1 minute and
Calories: 175
1. Drain a ~one pound* can of each of the following:
     Green Beans
*These days typical cans are 14.5 to 15.5 oz but sometimes you can still find a 16 oz. can.

2. Mix together in a bowl, one you can cover and refrigerate if you have leftovers. I use an 8" vintage Corningware with a glass cover. Eat!

Lasts in the fridge for a week, maybe more.

A. If you want to get fancy, add one of these:
     a dash of Tabasco
     juice from a slice of lemon, Meyer lemon, or orange
     1-2 Tb oil and vinegar dressing

B. If you want more protein:
     Vegan: sunflower seeds (the roasted and salted kind are least likely to taste rancid)
     Vegetarian: Cheese - I favor pre-shredded asiago, or I cut up an ounce or so of extra sharp cheddar
     Pescatarian: Tuna - another can (3-7 oz) or a 2.5 oz bag to avoid having to drain

C. For more greenery, to improve presentation, or just for a change:
     * Serve THREE CANS on top of torn lettuce or arugula or a handful of salad-in-a-box
     * Pull off the leaves from a sprig or two of dill or parsley or both and stir in
     * Dice and toss in some carrot, maybe one baby-cut carrot per serving or an equivalent amount of regular carrots
     * Use leftover THREE CANS in an omelette

Notes on cans
GREEN BEANS: I prefer cut rather than French style, and I never get the low salt version because it tastes like the can to me. If you need to watch your salt, THREE CANS may not be for you.
TOMATOES: I usually use diced or petite diced. Spicy foods help me eat less volume and less fat, I think. My favorite these days is Del Monte Petite Diced with Zesty Jalapenos.
BEANS (not the green ones): Most of the time I use pintos, red or white kidney beans, northern beans or chick peas aka garbanzos. Except for chick peas, the taste is pretty much the same so my preference is really just a matter of appearance: color and size. Black beans and black-eyed peas are also fine, and they do have different tastes. My favorite brand of beans is Bush's. They still sell 16 oz. cans and their quality control is excellent. I have never used canned lima beans although maybe I will try them one of these days. Sometimes when I use plain tomatoes I mix them with spicy beans: S&W Pinquitos are delicious.

THREE CANS can be made in a hotel room if you can get to a supermarket. It can be made in advance and taken on a trip. With all the variations, you can probably lunch on THREE CANS several times a week for months and not get too tired of it. Or anyway, I can.

How I Came to Invent Three Cans: I once signed up for a web-based diet called Fat Loss for Idiots. It let you eat all you wanted of a few specified foods, 4 meals a day for 11 days. To start the program, you went through a list of foods and checked the ones you liked.* Then the software whirred and out came your personal meal plan.

For one meal I could eat all I wanted of certain vegetables. That day I was feeling too lazy to cook or chop. I did not want to use any extra bowls or knives. I looked in the pantry and selected THREE CANS. The rest is, well, both history and this recipe: a low calorie, tasty, vegan, parve dish you can make in almost no time. You can also take it with you on a trip, eat it at your desk, and dress it up when you need variety and are willing to dirty a knife and cutting board.
* The Fat Loss Program: If you checked off meats on their list, then your meal plan included "slices" of that meat: chicken, ham, turkey, beef. Did that mean I would have to buy those salty processed sliced meats in packages, or did the diet creators just assume that Americans can't cook? Maybe the word "slices" was used as shorthand for trimmed of excess fats and skin? But the diet had other oddities: "shrimp" was always listed as "Delicious Shrimp." No other food came with a sales pitch.
rjm 5/1/2014, rev 5/11/14

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