July 3rd is Eat Beans Day

Xmas Lima Beans/Leoadec via Creative Commons

Xmas Lima Beans/Leoadec via Creative Commons

The healthiest diets have one thing in common: beans.

The U.S. Dry Bean Council lists some commonly used dry beans, such as black eyed peas, red kidney beans and garbanzos.  Several others, such as lentils and white kidney beans, are available in most grocery stores. Beans come in a variety of flavors, and can be prepared with a wide variety of seasonings, from Mediterranean garlic and herbs to chili spices to curries and more.  In some countries, Eat Beans Day would be seem strange and unnecessary, because every day is Eat Beans Day.

Nutritionally, beans are true super stars: high protein, high fiber, significant source of many key minerals like potassium, but low sodium and low fat.  Another plus: they keep easily.  Dried beans don’t need refrigeration or special canning.  Another plus: they’re inexpensive compared to expensive protein sources like meat. No wonder beans have sustained people in many cultures around the globe for centuries.

Our western cuisine doesn’t focused much on beans.  We eat baked beans with BBQ and refried beans on burritos.  We can buy canned lentil or split pea soup.  Hummus, made with garbanzo beans, is increasingly popular.  That’s about it for common uses.  Given the many health benefits, beans should be eaten everyday, not just on July 3rd.

One reason people may be put off by beans (other than that obvious reason) is the cooking process.  Beans can take a long time to cook, what with soaking them over night and them simmering for house until they’re tender and then starting on your recipe.  Of course, that’s not really an excuse anymore.  You can buy canned beans that work just as well in recipes.  In some cases, you can find pre-cooked beans in the frozen foods section.

Ways to eat more beans

  1. Easy bean salad: drain two cans of beans (black, kidney) and rinse.  Put the beans in a bowl and add a variety of chopped vegetables, depending on your taste preferences.  Good choices include tomatoes, sweet pepper, scallions, fresh zucchini and corn.  Season with fresh herbs (basil, cilantro or mint), garlic and minced jalapeño.  Dress with fresh lime or lemon juice and a dash of olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Voila, dinner is served.  You can garnish with chopped avocado or crumbled feta cheese.
  2. Easy bean soup: Saute an onion with herbs of your choice and minced garlic.  Add 1 can diced tomatoes and 2 cans beans o your choice (kidney, navy bean, black).  Add fresh or frozen greens like spinach, chard or kale.  Garnish with grated Parmesan.
  3. Really easy bean soup: Add a can of beans to a can of prepared vegetable soup.
  4. Add drained, rinsed garbanzo beans to tossed salads.
  5. Heat refried beans in a bowl, garnish with grated Jack cheese and salsa for a really quick hot lunch
  6. Investigate recipes for dal, or lentils, made with Indian-style curry seasoning.
  7. Eat more burritos or tacos with refried beans.  Buy low fat refries to save calories.
  8. Celebrate New Years Day with Hoppin’ John, made with black eyed peas.
  9. Make roasted chickpeas
  10. Make Bean and Rice salad

Here’s another very good reason to eat more beans: the environment.  The world’s population is growing, and as more people move into the middle class, they want to buy more meat.  Unfortunately, we simply don’t have the agricultural resources to feed 9 billion people giant slabs of meat everyday.  Something got to give.  If meat prices escalate, getting more protein from beans starts to look like a very wise choice.

Copyright: All content © 2010-2019 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.