By April Irvine
If you haven’t already, it’s time to hop aboard the bean bandwagon because not only is it tasty, but its good for you too. Since starting graduate school, beans have become a pantry staple in my home because they are an inexpensive source of energy (typically less than 25 cents/cup) while providing all the nutrients my body needs. They are high in protein and soluble fiber and a good source of vitamins and minerals. Diets rich in soluble fiber are associated with improved blood sugar control, cholesterol levels, and may protect against heart disease. Not to mention they help bring regularity in the bathroom.
- Beans are typically sold dried, canned, or frozen. If you choose canned beans, choose the canned variety with less sodium or rinse and drain canned beans to remove up to 40% of the sodium.
- Vary your beans. Beans can be found in many shapes, colors, and textures. Serve beans for any or all meals of the day. Use bean flour in desserts or freeze pureed beans in ice trays to thicken soups.
- Cook more than you need. Cooked beans can be refrigerated for at least four days and frozen for up to a year.
- If cooking dry beans from scratch, avoid adding acidic ingredients like tomatoes or vinegar until they are almost finished. Adding acidic ingredients too early slows the cooking process.
- Don’t fear side effects. Flatulence can occur if you eat beans because of the indigestible carbohydrates, however research shows eating beans more often and discarding the water used to soak/cook the beans can help reduce gas.
Black beans are an excellent source of fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, and a phytonutrient called anthocyanins. Enjoy the earthy flavor of black beans in salads, mashed into burgers, soups, dips, or brownies.
Black-eyed peas are a good source of fiber, magnesium and zinc. These beans pair well with tomatoes, rice and leafy greens.
Lima beans are an excellent source of fiber and potassium. Try this recipe: Lima bean succotash.
Soybeans are an excellent source of calcium, iron and potassium. Research suggests whole soy protein may lower the risk of breast cancer and bone loss in some populations and lower cholesterol levels. Soybeans can be steamed, purred into dips, or toss into stir-fry’s.
Kidney (Red and White)
Kidney beans are high in fiber and folate and deliver robust flavor. Because of their thicker skin, kidney beans hold their shape with longer cook times, such as chili, but are also delicious in salads. White kidney beans (also called cannellini) are a bit milder and can be added to salads and sauces.
Chickpea or Garbanzo
Chickpeas are high in fiber, folate, potassium and magnesium. Enjoy chickpeas in a creamy hummus, vegetable-rich salad or in stews.
Dare to try something new?