Delicious ways to eat more beans

Delicious ways to eat more beans

Never underestimate the nutritional power of beans. This rock star superfood stands tall in their ability to provide us with excellent sources of fiber, protein, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Also known as legumes, beans include kidney, pinto, white, black, garbanzo (chickpeas), lima, split peas, lentils, and edamame (green soybeans).  Green peas and green (string) beans are not counted as a legume because their nutritional compositions are not similar to legumes. 

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Beans are the only food considered by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines as part of the vegetable group as well as the protein foods group as they are excellent sources of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat. Beans contain no cholesterol or fat and are among the most versatile foods around.  Many Americans tend to fall short on their intake of beans even though the Dietary Guidelines recommends 1.5 cups of beans to be consumed each week.

If you are looking to try out a health-promoting food, beans are your answer.  Here are 13 ways to bring on beans to your dinner plate this week:

1.     Anytime you have a salad, add beans to it.  Just about any bean will do but favorites tend to be garbanzo or black beans.  Beans add texture, taste and dimension breaking up the usual ingredients in a salad.

2.     When cooking scrambled eggs, don’t forget to add in some beans.  Saute chopped tomato, onions, and peppers first, then add in an egg.  Once the egg is just about cooked, add in black or kidney beans and then top with cheese.  This can be eaten as is or serve in a tortilla with salsa and sliced avocado.

3.     Beans can be a healthy addition to most soups such as minestrone or tomato. 

4.     Spread sandwiches with hummus (chickpea puree) instead of mayonnaise.

5.     When making chili, add in a variety of beans such as chickpeas, black, kidney, or soy beans.

6.     If you’ve never had roasted chickpeas/garbanzo beans, you have no idea what you are missing.  To make this easy, crunchy, and tasty treat, first rub off the skins of a garbanzo bean making sure they are totally dry before placing in the oven to roast.  Spread the garbanzo beans on a baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes turning once during cooking. 

7.     Roasted lentils are another perfect food for when you are craving something crunchy but much healthier than pretzels or potato chips. 

8.     Substitute beans for mashed potatoes at least once a week.  Try black beans seasoned with garlic, olive oil and cumin.

9.     Add chickpeas to whole-grain dishes such as quinoa, barley and brown rice pilafs.

10.  Cooked lentils added to quesadillas make a tasty and unexpected filling.

11.  Try out a black bean and corn salad.  Many recipes are on the internet for this concoction but it makes a fantastic addition to a summer outing loaded with fiber and protein. 

12.  Black or pinto beans are a great add-in to taco meat to replace some of the lean ground beef. 

13.  Cooked lentils can be added into pancake batter or to oatmeal for a more crunchy taste and texture.