Quick, Cheap and Healthy: The Humble Bean

Red, Pink, Yellow or white, beans offer variety… and so much more !  When’s the last time you had beans in a new recipe?  Most of use enjoy a steaming bowl of soup and maybe a few  sprinkled on a salad, but do you know how good beans are for our budgets and our bodies?   Here are a few convincing reasons to try them:

• Convenience. A can of cooked  beans is just waiting to be transformed into a dip, main dish, sandwich, soup, salad, or satisfying side dish! No refrigeration, peeling, or – depending on the recipe – additional cooking needed. “Canned beans may be stored up to 12 months in their original sealed cans,” according to the American Dry Bean Board.

• Cost. Because beans are so nutrient dense and a great way to get low cost protein, a drained and rinsed 16-ounce can of cooked dried beans provides about three one-half cup servings or enough beans for two main dishes; the cost ranges from about $1 to $1.50 per can.

• Weight management. Beans are a great thing to use in weight management. They also are high in fiber, which provides a sense of satiety or fullness that helps reduce food cravings. Depending on variety, a half cup of cooked dry beans averages about 120 calories.

• Heart health. Beans provide heart-healthy amounts of folate, an essential nutrient that helps protect against heart disease. Fiber, especially soluble fiber, may reduce our risk for heart disease by helping lower cholesterol. A half cup of cooked dry beans provides about 6 grams of fiber, of which 2 grams is soluble fiber. The recommended daily intake of total fiber is 28 grams for a 2,000-calorie meal plan. Beans contain NO cholesterol, are virtually fat free, and unless sodium is added during canning or cooking, are low in sodium.

• Cancer. The folate, fiber and low glycemic index of beans also may help lower the risk of cancer.

• Diabetes management. Beans’ fiber and low glycemic index can help persons with diabetes maintain normal blood glucose levels and a healthy body weight, both important in the control of diabetes.

Ready to try something new?   This is a great recipe for your next get together. It can be made all year-round; in the summer, use fresh, local ingredients or veggies you grew yourself for even more robust flavor.

Farmer’s Market Salsa (Serves 8)
½ cup frozen (or fresh, cooked and chilled) corn
1 can (15 oz.) drained and rinsed black beans
1 cup fresh diced tomatoes
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced green peper
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 each finely diced chopped garlic cloves
½ cup picante sauce
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover and chill until serving time.  Drain if needed before serving and serve with low fat baked tortilla chips or fresh vegetables.   (adapted from Kansas Family Nutrition Program)

Or next time you make tacos or taco salad, try using ground turkey, your favorite seasoning and cook as directed, only add ½ cup of refried beans to the mixture and mash them into the meat mixture.  They help to thicken the mixture, add flavor and give us the goodness that beans have to offer.

If you haven’t tried them, give kidney beans a chance on your next salad.  Just drain and rinse and top your favorite salad with the deep red color that’s appealing to the eye and the taste is great.

Once you try a few, I think you’ll find many ways to incorporate beans into your family meals.   Here’s a great web site that will share cooking tips and new recipes for you to try: http://food.unl.edu/web/fnh/cooking-with-dry-beans.

3 thoughts on “Quick, Cheap and Healthy: The Humble Bean

  1. Pingback: Quick, Cheap and Healthy: The Humble Bean | Lehman's Country Life | Cheap Quick Recipes

  2. Question: living off the grid, do you experience outages often? How long do they typically last. I just assume that it is a matter of getting a part or something. Just curious. :)

  3. I’m not completely off the grid yet, but I have friends who are, and it seems that batteries are the weakest link in the system. My approach has been to eliminate, as much as possible, the need for electricity. I still use power wood-working equipment, but can manage without electricity in most other areas. Working on getting rid of the refrigerator.