Welcome to Grains and Beans

What is Grains and Beans, you ask? Why did Beans, a Personal Finance Podcaster and Blogger, and me, Grains, a Pharmacist-turned-Med Student decide to jump into the wild world of food and lifestyle blogging? The answer is simple: we love good food.

When Grains Met Beans

When Beans and I met we came together over our love of good food. I remember the first time he cooked for me: he made Spicy Ground Beef and Hummus from High Flavor Low Labor by JM Hirsch (more on this life changing book here.)

We sopped up the savoury sauce with chunks of fresh pita, leaning over the kitchen counter in his basement apartment and I was hooked. I hadn’t realized cooking could be this easy and tasty at the same time.

Grains and Beans. Bowls with seeds and nuts.

What started out as a love of food has become something bigger: it’s a way of living well. It’s a way of saving money. It’s a way of improving health, but also experiencing pleasure and joy in small daily experiences. It’s a way of saving time and improving productivity.

On a regular basis, Beans and I will turn to each other during a meal and say “We’re geniuses!” because we’ve yet again found a fast, cheap, healthy way to eat something we love at home.

And here’s the thing: we want to let you in on the secret. We know you’re busy, we’re busy too. We don’t have time for fancy, complicated recipes. We’ve found recipes and food strategies that actually save time.

This blog isn’t just for sharing kick ass recipes we’ve found or developed along the way. It’s also a place that we can talk about food.

Why is it important to talk about food?

Honestly, I think we should talk about food less. Food, fitness, health in general have become loaded subjects. We talk about them constantly and most of the conversation is completely toxic.

Food is a coded way to talk about a desire to be more thin, more this or more that. It’s a place we can rest our deepest anxieties, instead of facing them head on.

Rather than dealing with our deepest wounds and insecurities, we can just go on the keto diet.

So, let’s change the conversation. Let’s talk about all the ways that food can bring joy to life, and along the way unpack some of the lies we’ve been sold by the diet industry.

Welcome to Grains and Beans.

Here you’ll find a collection of our favourite recipes. You’ll also find tips for saving money on food, for eating to improve your health (if that’s what you’re after) and you’ll find our take on the current happenings in the food world – the pros and cons of Uber Eats, one health professional’s take on the latest diet trends, and more.

Vegan Peanut Curry Stew

I love this recipe so much. This was one of my first successful cooking attempts, back when I was a poor student, and long before I met Beans. I was living in Kensington Market in Toronto at the time, and would buy all the veggies from the local fruit markets. When I priced it out, it cost about $2 per meal.

I first had a version of this dish at Hillside, a folk festival in Guelph, Ontario.

Folk festivals are LIFE

Now I make this dish year round to bring back memories of sunshine, music and eco-friendly living.  I’ve been making variations on this recipe for more than ten years now. It’s a dish that I just keep coming back to!

Why make this recipe?

  • Deliciousness: the most important reason
  • Cheap: especially if you buy your veggies from a local market.
  • Flexibility: you can change up a lot of the ingredients without any problems.
  • Vegan AND gluten free so great for people with dietary restrictions – but you can add meat if you want to add a protein punch.
  • Healthy: it’s packed with tons of veggies and mostly made from whole foods – I always feel great and refreshed after eating it.
  • Freezability: it freezes well, making it a great candidate for batch cooking.

Vegan Peanut Curry Stew

Vegan, gluten free and packed with veggies, this stew is a great addition to any cooking rotation
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Servings 8 people


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes 14 oz
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen edamame or fresh snow peas
  • 1 can chickpeas drained
  • 1 qt broth vegetable or chicken
  • 1 large sweet potato diced
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter or use almond butter if peanut allergic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small bag of baby spinach 5 oz or equivalent amount of chopped kale
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Over medium high heat, saute onion, green pepper, carrot and celery for 5 minutes
  • Add garlic, ginger and curry powder. Do not brown. *If adding ground chicken, brown meat at this stage.
  • Add can of diced tomatoes, broth, edamame, chickpeas, sweet potato and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables nearly done.
  • Stir in peanut butter and cook until all vegetables tender.
  • Turn off heat, stir in cilantro and spinach.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with peanuts and fresh cilantro if desired.


Note: For the carnivores out there, I’ve successfully added a pound of ground chicken or turkey to this recipe. Shredded cooked chicken breast would also be delish.

If you like this recipe, let us know! Please share any variations you try in the comments below.

Attribution: The original version of this recipe came from GroupRecipes, but is no longer published on the internets.

10 Reasons I Don’t Enjoy Cooking Food Outdoors

That’s right, I said it. I don’t enjoy cooking food outdoors. On a grill. On a stick. Whatever other way you can think of, I don’t like it.

I enjoy eating food cooked outdoors. I’m not a monster.

I just don’t like to do it myself.

It has taken me a long time to accept this and not think there is something wrong with me.

According to this article (What is Barbecue?), everyone calls “outdoor cooking” something different. BBQ, bar-b-q, barbeque (that’s the autocorrected choice), grilling. I’m just going to use them all interchangeably because they are all some variation of cooking outdoors with fire.


As soon as it is nice enough to stand outside for longer than 5 minutes, everybody wants to cook outside.

I get it. It tastes great. It smells great. There’s something nice about a backyard BBQ. Feels like summer.

I love a hamburger cooked on the grill. 

I just don’t want to be the one grilling.


I was thinking about why I don’t like the outdoor cooking experience and I came up with 10 things:

1. I’m allergic to smoke and many things outdoors, like grass and trees and pollen. 

But that hasn’t stopped me from learning to enjoy camping and running and spending time outdoors. Sure, this is probably why I never got into outdoor cooking early on, but it’s only part of the story.

2. I don’t like fire. 

Fire is unpredictable. Sure there are knobs to control the amount of gas and the flame level but those only do so much. Fire reacts to changes in the wind, and food particles (see #6 below). In my kitchen, there is a pot or pan in between the food and the heat source. And honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of gas stoves either. I just don’t like the unpredictability of fire. Ever run out of matches or had an igniter go out when trying to light an electric stove? Trick question.

3. It’s dirty

 When I’m done cooking meat in a pan on the stove top, I let the pan cool down and then I wash it with soap and water. I’m pretty happy with this system. So now I find out that this is the generally accepted cleaning schedule for a BBQ And really cleaning it is a laborious task.

4. Bugs

Bugs in my face. Bugs in my food. Spiders in the gas pipes. Outside = bugs. 

5. That little cup of fat that hangs out the back. 

Gross. And how did that fat get there? That’s right, it slid down the BBQ through a hole. See #3.

6. Takes forever. 

Ever try to cook chicken on an outdoor grill? I just found this article online: 8 Mistakes you’re making when grilling chicken https://www.thisisinsider.com/best-ways-to-cook-chicken-2018-5 The fact that this article even exists means that cooking chicken on a grill is a huge pain in the ass. I can broil chicken in the oven on a pan in 8 minutes. It comes out great every time. 

7. Sausages = grill fire. 

Ok, maybe I’m unlucky. Maybe I don’t have the most expensive BBQ. But what I do know is that on 2 separate occasions I was cooking sausages on the grill and the whole thing burst into flames. I’ve cooked a lot with an oven and I’m proud to say that not once has my oven ever burst into flames.

8. Weather. 

My kitchen works in all seasons. Snow, rain, all good. 

9. I assembled my outdoor grill. 

You’d think that would help right? Instead I’m just more aware of how poorly constructed it is and of the possibility of random explosions.

10. I’m inexperienced. 

This is likely my main issue. If I would have grown up grilling, it would seem normal to me. But I don’t think we even had an outdoor grill until I was in my teens. And even then, I grew up in a place where the winter is long and when it’s warm enough to grill….see #4.

But the truth is, my brother loves to grill outdoors, and he grew up in the same place as I did, so apparently my environment had nothing to do with it.

Sometimes a person just doesn’t like something.

And that’s ok because there are a lot of ways to live in this world.

So all I ask is when someone says they don’t like sports or music or movies or anything that you think is universally liked by everyone you know (like BBQ), just accept them as they are and ask them what they would like on their hamburger. 

The Secret to Great Food at Home

I have a confession: I wasn’t always a great home cook.

In fact, I was awful at it. While I was a baker from an early age, the skills didn’t seem to translate into making actual meals. When I first moved out on my own, I was eating to survive. I subsisted on meals like frozen chicken fingers with frozen vegetable medley, or pasta noodles served with a store-bought jar of sauce.

When I tried to cook, I looked up recipes for my favourite restaurant dishes, like chicken fried rice or rotini with cream sauce. However, all of these meals fell flat.

I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.

All that changed when I met Beans and we started cooking together. We regularly made these mind-blowing meals with simple ingredients.

The secret to our success?  This book.

High Flavor, Low Labor by J. M. Hirsch

Yes, a cookbook can change your life. Or, at least, your eating habits.

Beans bought this cookbook on a whim one day while shopping at BMV on Bloor Street in Toronto.

The first thing he made me from this book was Spicy Ground Beef with Hummus (read about this revelatory experience here). This recipe was so amazing we began to pour through the book and pick all our favourites:

  • Ravioli with White Wine Sauce
  • North African Chicken with Roasted Veggies
  • Garlic Lime Steak with Avocado Salsa
  • Hummus Meatballs with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce.

Before I met Beans I would source recipes from places like Allrecipes.com (the rotini with cream sauce) or the backs of food packages (the fried rice).

If the recipe had an ingredient I wasn’t sure about or didn’t have, I would substitute it. If the instructions seemed too hard or finicky, I would try something simpler.

Why did I have the confidence to be so cavalier with new recipes?

I didn’t know the secret to success for new cooks:

Find great recipes.

Follow them closely.

Rule 1: Find Great Recipes

While the internet is great for food ideas, there’s something to be said for a physical book with a collection of well-designed and tested recipes.

Sites like Allrecipes.com are crowd sourced and so you get a real mixed bag in terms of quality.

High Flavor, Low Labor is written by J. M. Hirsch, the national food editor for the Associated Press. This guy knows food and he delivers quality recipes.

Hard to find great recipes in books that have totally blank covers but hey she’s persevering

Rule 2: Follow the Recipe Closely… at least at first

The first time you make something, trust the recipe author, and follow it closely. Especially if you’re a newb with a bad track record like I was – until you know what you’re doing, you don’t realize how much the changes can throw off the flavour balance of the recipe.

And here’s the thing, once you’ve tried a recipe, you can start to make modifications. Beans and I have created our own versions of almost everything we make from this book, and we will be sharing these modified recipes on this site.

Stock footage of Grains and Beans making dinner ha ha just kidding our kitchen is a mess

For me, High Flavor Low Labor was the key that unlocked home cooking. It really delivered on the promise: the recipes are easy but delicious and flavourful. It’s perfect for those of us cooking with time constraints. If you’re trying to get into cooking at home, do yourself a favour: pick up a copy of this book and start cracking.

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass Featured Image

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass - human buttocks
This is a very simple drawing of human buttocks.

I’ve been wanting to talk about how prune juice saved my ass for a few years now. 

But every time I would think about it, I would realize that talking about the awesome power of prune juice would mean that I would have to talk about my bowel movements. (That means pooping.)

I write a lot about my addiction and mental health issues, so why is it still so hard to talk about pooping?

Sure it’s gross and it smells, but everybody does it. So why don’t we talk about it?

And if I was a person who was having trouble in that department, as many people do, I would want more people to write about simple solutions to my trouble.

So it’s time I shared my simple solution: it’s called prune juice.

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass - prunes
This is an illustration of what prunes wished they looked like.

The Trouble With Bowels

I used to have a lot of trouble going #2.

Often there would be bleeding.

One of the causes of bleeding is hard stool.

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass - hard stool
This is a different kind of hard stool.

The hard stool causes anal fissures which can be painful and they never heal because we all have to move our bowels eventually.

A few years ago, the bleeding and fissures got really bad and I started to worry. I tried changing what I ate, and it didn’t seem to make a difference.

The internet told me that I might need medication or even surgery. This was all very upsetting.

So I went in to see the gastroenterologist and after he examined me he said two words:

“Prune juice.”

I was to drink 4 ounces of prune juice every day and report back in 2 weeks.

No medication. No surgery. Just prunes.

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass - not prunes, but prune juice
Prunes bad. Prune juice good.

But actually he was very clear that eating prunes wouldn’t do the trick.

It had to be prune juice. 

Something about the liquid form that makes it effective.

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass - shot glass
Shot glasses aren’t just for fun anymore.

I was a bit skeptical but I bought some prune juice and every morning for 2 weeks I took 2 shots of the brown liquid.

The thing about prune juice is that it doesn’t taste bad, but it doesn’t taste good either. 

It’s just medium.

It’s like if you put a bunch of raisins in a blender with some water. Like a mincemeat pie smoothie.

But if taking a couple of shots of shriveled plum essence could get rid of my anal fissures, I’m all for the idea.

And guess what. It worked.

No more hard stool. Eventually the fissures healed up and stayed that way.

And the solution was so simple: prune juice.

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass - girls drinking orange juice
You guessed it – there are zero stock photos of anyone drinking prune juice next to a stand full of prunes.

I feel a million times better now.

And every day I have my 2 shots of magical mediocre brown liquid.

I don’t love it but I’m used to it now so it’s really not so bad.

And I’ve learned that if I stop, even for a day, the hard stool starts to come back. It’s just the way I’m built, I guess.

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass - woman with suitcase
I wonder if she has any prune juice in that suitcase?

So whenever I travel, the first thing I do is find prune juice.

Sometimes I have to buy a huge bottle because that’s all they have, but I don’t care.

The alternative is not something I’m looking to experience again.

I want everyone to have the opportunity to escape from a life of uncomfortable bowel movements, so I’m glad I decided to put aside whatever hangups I had about writing about this topic.

We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about things if talking about them might help others.

How Prune Juice Saved My Ass - Man on Toilet
That is a nice looking tub.

So, in conclusion…I love you prune juice!

(Ok, that’s really not true, but it did save my ass.)

And now a word from Grains:

According to Beans, prune juice is the one and only magical food to relieve all of your constipation woes. And while I admire his fervour, as a health professional I must point out that there are many foods that can help.

Foods and juices containing sorbitol

Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol with a laxative effect, is the secret sauce that makes prune juice such a great mover and shaker. However, it’s not the only juice with sorbitol, you might also consider apple juice, or, better yet, pear juice.

Foods rich in fibre

Dietary fibre helps to add bulk to stool and draw water into the colon, making it easier for things to move along in a more comfortable way. What foods contain dietary fibre… why, just two of my favourites: grains and beans!

But that’s not all, here’s a list of some foods you might consider if you want to up your fibre intake:

  • Grains: think whole grains, oatmeal, multigrain cereal, etc
  • Beans and other legumes: I’m talking chickpeas, black beans, lentils, etc.
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Nuts and Seeds