Processed isn’t good…

In my on-going quest to live healthier and lose weight, I have found myself drawn more and more to whole foods. I posted a while back about my granola bar recipe. It’s not that you can’t buy good granola bars at the store, but I am finding that I just don’t trust food that I didn’t make myself. If I don’t know what went into it, I’m less likely to want to eat it. (Which is such an about-face from this time last year!)

That is not an across-the-board kind of statement. I fully admit that I eat mini chocolate bars and chocolate cheerios and some other things that fit in the processed-food category. But I am slowly taking steps away from that. Once my stash of mini chocolate bars are gone (which will take a while because I don’t eat more than one a day), I will be doing my best to make the switch to 70% cocoa dark chocolate for snacking. I am not sure how that will go, but I will make the effort to develop a taste for it.

Because I have been ill all week, I haven’t been cooking. So when I was at the store for Imodium and soda crackers the other day, I decided to pick up a couple of boxes of the Gardennay boxed soups. I used to love these. I used to eat them all the time, and they were on sale, so I picked up two flavours. Yesterday, when my appetite began to make an appearance again, I decided to have one of these boxed soups. All I could think was: Wow, I make a much better black bean soup. Mine is so much more flavorful.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my own black bean soup after having this disappointing processed black bean soup. So, I thought I would make some today. I went to bed thinking about picking up some canned beans this morning in order to make the soup. But as I lay there, another thought occurred to me: I have some dried beans that I could use. Using the dried beans meant two things: 1) a break to the budget (not having to buy beans when I already have some) and 2) I wouldn’t be consuming the salt and preservatives that are typically found in canned beans. So I found myself tromping downstairs in the middle of the night to put the beans to soak (dried beans typically need to be soaked for about 8hrs before cooking).

Now – I won’t say that the soup turned out perfectly. I didn’t adjust my recipe to account for the fact that I was using dried beans instead of canned and I had a tough time getting the beans to actually cook. I think all I needed was to make the soup in the slow cooker with the lid on instead of in the large wok without a lid. That is what I will do next time. In any case, I’m glad to have taken one more step towards whole foods with this bean adventure. I will definitely be using dried beans from now on.

(Here’s the recipe I use – revised for dried beans, using a slow cooker – ust in case you’d like to give it a go! This is adapted from the Spicy Black Bean Soup recipe found on the Weight Watchers website.)

2 medium uncooked onion
2 sweet red peppers
2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp dried chipotle pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp dried cumin
2.5 c dried black beans
1 box fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes


  • THE NIGHT BEFORE making your soup, take 2.5 cups dried beans and immerse them in 8c room temperature water for at least 8 hrs
  • when ready to make soup, drain and rinse the beans and set them aside
  • Chop onions and peppers, place in frying pan on medium heat and cook until soft (I don’t use any oil to cook them in, I don’t find it necessary)
  • Place onions, peppers, beans, tomatoes, cumin, chipotle and chicken broth in slow cooker and cook covered on high for 4 hrs or until beans are tender.
  • Once beans are tender and soup is done, scoop batches of soup into blender and blend until smooth.
  • Eat and enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Processed isn’t good…

  1. I too have been moving away from the processed food for a long time, and the first time I noticed how awesome it was was also a soup experience. I was sick, feeling lazy, cracked open a can of something I used to really enjoy… And it was HORRIBLE!!! Back to the basics for me – food is so much yummier and more rewarding when you prepare it with healthy ingredients and your own two hands 🙂

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