January 6th is known as Bean Day. Beans are one of the most underrated foods. They are inexpensive, versatile, and can be as plain or as flavorful as you want them to be. Beans are one of the best sources of fiber. They have between 6 and 9 grams of fiber in a half-cup serving. One half-cup serving would be about the same size as half a baseball.
Canned beans have more sodium than dried beans, but are much more convenient. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse well to remove a lot of the sodium. Draining and rinsing also helps to lessen the substances that cause gassiness.
Here are some tips on how to get more beans in your meals:
Make your chili with more beans and less meat. This will also help cut your food costs down.
Add beans as a side dish. If they are too plain, add some herbs, seasonings, garlic, or a low-fat condiment such as hot sauce.
Incorporate beans into recipes. Add them to soups, stews, or puree them and add to many dishes. Eat hummus with vegetables or crackers instead of other dips. Hummus is made from chickpeas or garbanzo beans.
Some dry beans should be soaked prior to cooking by covering with water (one pound of beans to 10 cups of water), then cover with a lid and refrigerate overnight or for six to eight hours. Lentils, black eyed peas, and split peas do not need to be soaked.
To cook dry beans, cover the beans with three times their volume of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered. Stir gently and check beans after about 30-45 minutes. Most will cook in no longer than an hour and a half.
Canned beans can be easily prepared by draining, rinsing, and then heating to boiling in fresh water. Let simmer for a few minutes and add seasonings if you wish.
Here are some recipes and unique takes on beans:
- Black bean brownies – Drain and rinse one can of black beans. Put the beans back in the can and fill with water to the top of the can. Using a food processor or blender, puree the beans and water. Add this mixture to a box of brownie mix. Cook according to the brownie mix directions, but they may be done sooner than regular brownies. You cannot taste the black beans!
- Mashed white beans - Drain and rinse one can of white beans. Mix beans with chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and begin to mash beans. Add more chicken stock as needed. Season with rosemary or your favorite seasonings. This is a great side dish!