Traditional Three Sister’s Bean Stew

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Today’s recipe is a homage to Iroquois Indians and their dietary staples (throwback Thursday, nutrition edition).

In the olden days, the Iroquois were known to cultivate corn, squash and beans, a wondrous combination commonly referred to as “the Three Sisters”. These three sisters/crops had an interdependent relationship: the tall corn stalks allowed for beans to grow up them and the roots of the bean plants were capable of capturing nitrogen from the surrounding air and releasing it into the soil, which fulfilled the corn’s high nitrogen need. Moreover, the squash growing between the corn stalks provided shade to retain moisture for the corn and beans and prevented weed growth. Basically put, these three traditional and mutually supportive crops gave way to a successful gardening method. Pure genius!

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This is an interesting recipe from a nutrition angle as well as corn and beans combine to form complete protein. First, allow me to explain protein completeness. Proteins are chains, kind of like edible pearl necklaces, with each tasty pearl being called an amino acid. There are 20 existing amino acids, with nine of them being considered “essential”. The term “essential” means that the body, try as it might, cannot make them within itself, and that these nine amino acids playing “hard-to-get” must be obtained through protein-containing food. It is a well-known fact that meat, poultry and fish are complete sources of protein and that most plant-based foods are incomplete (missing one or more “essential” amino acids). As an example, corn is lacking in an amino acid called lysine (but is high in methionine) and beans are lacking in an amino acid called methionine (but contains notable amounts of lysine). Combining grains with legumes is always a fine choice when your goal is forming complete protein.

Lucky for vegetarians, we now know that some plant-based protein is complete. And the nutrition Oscars for complete plant-based protein go to: edamame beans, hemp seeds, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa & spirulina. Applauso!


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May I say that making home-made soups or stews is always a grand idea (as opposed to purchasing them canned)? For one, sodium content is lower, no preservatives are necessary (to extend shelf life, simply freeze away your leftovers) and taste is more “ohhh” and “ahhh”-inducing.

I love this recipe as it takes us back to the basics. Back to a day where foods were unprocessed and unadultered. Moreover, its is hearty, healthy and quick.

Traditional Three Sister’s Bean Stew

  • 1/2 cup each beans (white, black, pinto, lima) or 2 cups of whatever beans you have on hand
  • 1 butternut squash, cut into cubes
  • 2 green peppers, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large can (796 ml) organic tomatoes (BPA-free can)
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into chunks
  • 5-6 small carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup organic corn
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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  1. In a large pot, add vegetable broth, butternut squash, carrots onions, garlic, spices (cinnamon, thyme and chili) and canned tomatoes and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. When butternut squash begins to become tender, add in the celery, green peppers, zucchini, beans and corn.
  3. Once the latter vegetables are well-cooked, stir in the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.


Stew is one of the most satisfying winter foods. So why not cozy up to a steaming hot bowl of this stew. Perfect for chilly nights when your fashion attire ressembles this:


Country food is coming to town!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jonathan Mongeau says:

    Great article, no mistakes and made perfect sense. Im so lucky to eat healthy like this 😉

    Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:16:58 +0000 To:

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