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January: Magical beans!

By Staff | Jan 24, 2014

Many have heard the popular tune of ‘beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you,’ well you know the rest. Although beans are not a fruit, they may be magical because they fit under not one, but two food groups. Within USDA’s MyPlate they are found under the vegetable and meat group because they are so packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.

Bean Benefits & Tips for eating them:

Healthy weight. Beans are low in fat and calories and high in dietary fiber and protein.

The fiber in beans provides a sense of fullness that helps keep food cravings down. Depending on variety, a half cup of cooked dry beans is only about 120 calories.

Chronic disease

Because of their high fiber, low glycemic index, and high nutrient content, eating beans may help reduce the risk of Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and some cancers.

Recommendations Research shows that eating a half cup of beans several times a week, within a well-balanced diet, has resulted in a reduced risk of heart disease.

Popular uses

Navy beans are great for soups, stews, or baked beans. Kidney beans are used in chili and three-bean salads. Pinto beans are used refried in stews and dips. Great northern beans and lentils are used in soups and stews. Garbonzo beans are used in salads and hummus.

Minimizing the ‘musical fruit’ effect.

Discard the soaking water when making dry beans from scratch and rinse beans thoroughly before cooking. Gradually increase the amount and frequency of beans. Try over-the-counter products with an enzyme that breaks down gas-producing substances. Drink plenty of fluids.

Beans are convenient and cost effective. They are available in the dry form in sealed bags and precooked in cans. A can of cooked dry beans can easily be transformed into a dip, main dish, soup, or salad. A drained and rinsed 15- to 16-ounce can of cooked dried beans provides about three one-half cup servings or enough beans for two main dishes.

Beans can be a nutritious part of your diet and there are tons of resources to help with recipe ideas and tips for cooking them.

Red lentil soup

2 cups dry red lentils

8 cups chicken broth, low-sodium (or water)

4 medium carrots, peeled and diced

tsp. cumin

tsp. paprika

2 chicken-flavored bouillon cubes, reduced-sodium

1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained

1 large onion, diced

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil

1 lemon, juiced (1/3 cup juice)

Rinse lentils in a colander under running water. Place in large pot and add broth. Bring to a boil. Add diced carrots. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Wen lentils are tender, add spices, bouillon cubes, tomatoes and green chilies. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add onions and garlic and cook until golden brown. Add to soup mixtures. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice to pot and stir. Optional servings idea: Garnish with parsley and paprika. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Makes 12 servings. Each serving has 190 calories, 4 g fat, 13 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber and 125 mg sodium.

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