First Posted: 3/8/2013
It’s March, National Nutrition Month where we are challenging readers to include a new food in their meals. It’s also St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner. The Irish love their potatoes, but what about beans?
Today we are focusing on the low cost healthy food - beans. Beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes. They include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo peas (chickpeas), lima beans, black-eyed peas, split peas, and lentils. How often do you eat beans? I try to serve them at home at least once a week and then eat them for lunch one other time. According to USDA Dietary Guidelines, we should be eating a minimum of 1 ½ cup a week if we are consuming 1800 calories or more.
There are lots of reasons why we should include beans in our weekly meals. They are high in soluble fiber which helps to lower something called insulin resistance and cholesterol. Just one cup of beans contains 9-13 grams of soluble fiber. It’s tough, but we strive to eat 25 grams of fiber a day.
Beans are also an excellent source of protein. They provide other nutrients such as iron, zinc, potassium and folate.
Green peas and green beans are not considered to be “Beans and Peas.” Green peas are similar to other starchy vegetables and are grouped with starchy vegetables. Green beans are grouped with other vegetables such as onions, celery and cabbage because their nutrient content is similar to those foods.
Pick one of the more unusual bean or peas and put it on your shopping list. I like to use a crock pot to cook dried beans and then use them to make baked beans. Here’s how – it’s easy!
No-Fail Crock-pot Beans
(Starting w with one pound of beans)
1. Sort dry beans, removing any small rocks or dirt pieces. Put the beans into a strainer/colander.
Rinse well with cold water.
· In a large pot, heat 6 cups of water to boiling.
· Add beans; simmer for 10 minutes on the stovetop.
· Drain and rinse beans
· Pour beans into crock-pot cover with water and cook on low setting overnight (8 to 12 hours)
You can now use these beans in a recipe or freeze (2 cups would be equivalent to a 15.5 ounce can of beans).
1 cup cooked dried or rinsed canned kidney beans
½ chopped onion
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
¼ cup canned or frozen corn
½ cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
½ cup tomato puree
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cumin
1/2cup low fat cheddar cheese
Corn Bread ingredients:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg or 2 egg whites
½ cup skim milk
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
Filling: sauté onion in oil. Add all other ingredients except the cheese. Mix well.
Corn Bread: Preheat oven to 350. Mix together flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Beat egg and milk together, add oil. Stir in liquids into dry ingredients to make a stiff batter.
Assemble the Pie:
Spray 9 inch pie plate with nonfat cooking spray. Spoon corn bread batter into the pie plate, building it higher around the edges. Fill the center with bean mixture. Top with cheese.
Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until corn bread is golden brown.