This post was contributed by our good friend (and fellow ED recoverer) Ash. You can find her on Instagram at @innerpickle_
Change, big or small, is a funny thing. It happens to everyone. It happens in an instant. And change can even happen without you realising, leaving you powerless to stop it, and that’s exactly what happened to me when I was 16 years old.
It began in my last year of high school. What a horrible time for an onslaught of mental changes! I lost motivation, energy, and focus. I developed depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and a serious case of insomnia. I also lost my appetite, and before I even realised what was happening to me, I was too far gone. I had lost control of myself, and I didn’t even realise it.
As time went on, I got worse. I was rarely eating, except for the occasional guilty-minded binge, after which I would make myself throw up. I’d lost a shocking amount of weight, and was doing everything in my power to “control” my weight. I was anorexic and bulimic, but I was still convinced that I didn’t have a problem, that I was in control of my body, not the other way around.
For me, having control over my own mind and body has always been an important thing, so trying to regain that control was a truly difficult task. One of the biggest steps I took towards recovery and regaining control was teaching myself to cook and bake, by preparing and making my own meals. This was actually a very big change for me too, because I had always hated being in the kitchen. My family was shocked! I taught myself the true meaning of nourishment and health, and while some foods are still a struggle and I (incorrectly) feel the need to occasionally justify, I’m healthy, happy, non-restrictive, and in control of my mind once more.
I have to hand it to recovery, actually. It taught me how to truly appreciate food again, even foods I had previously disliked like figs, pumpkin, hummus, spicy foods and baked beans! As a kid, you couldn’t get me within 10 feet of a can of beans, but after trying a beautiful baked beans dish at a local Brisbane café recently, I knew I had to try making my own.
Ash’s Homemade Baked Beans
This recipe is so easy and filled with hearty, Italian style flavours, and a hint of spice from the chilli and mixed spice. I like to cook my own beans, but feel free to use canned beans if you prefer. Just make sure you rinse them thoroughly! Good luck, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
250g haricot/navy beans, uncooked
2 x 400g tin of diced tomatoes
200g pure tomato paste, no added salt
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 red chillies, roughly chopped
½ – 1 tsp mixed spice
Rosemary, basil + oregano, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Step 1: The night before you plan to make them, cover your beans in a bowl of boiling water, cover, and leave to soak overnight. In the morning, drain the beans well, and rinse until the water runs clear.
Step 2: Bring a pot of water to the boil on the stove, add your beans and let the bubbles do their magic for just over an hour. You will need to stir and add some extra water (just have your kettle pre-boiled!) periodically to the pot as the beans cook, otherwise they’ll stick and dry out. The beans will be cooked when you can squish one between your fingers with no effort whatsoever. Once the beans are cooked, drain and rinse well once more.
Step 3: Now for that rich, red sauce! Heat a small amount of oil (I use coconut or extra virgin olive) in a frying pan, and add your garlic. Stir, and once cooked, add both tins of tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir again to mix in the paste, then add your chilli, herbs, spices and pepper. I overload mine, so I’ll leave the quantities for each up to you!
Step 4: Mix it all in, bring the pan down to a simmer and finally, add your beans. Stirring occasionally, let the sauce thicken on a low heat until it has reached your desired consistency, and don’t forget to do that all important taste test so you can make sure the flavours are to your liking!
Step 5: Remove from the heat and serve with whatever sides you like. My favourite is a simple avocado on toast with some sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Alternatively, you can let them cool and store them in an airtight container in the fridge and save them for later.