When you think of beans, what is the first thing that comes to mind? (besides the reference to the childhood chant so many of us have heard) For many of us it is probably re-fried beans served at a Mexican Restaurant. But beans are So much more (and in fact you are best to order just Pinto beans rather than the re-fried ones) Today is focused on your Long life eating goal: At least 5 servings of beans per week.
For those who don’t eat beans that often, it’s hard to think up many interesting meals in which beans are the star. But a glance at a bean cookbook will be a revelation. Beans are the successful centerpiece of many stews, soups, cassoulets, whole-meal salads, and even sandwich spreads. Find a few recipes and give them a try! A great suggestion is to have main dish beans on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Another great tip, is to always have beans on hand. Your pantry should contain a large assortment of canned beans ready for cooking (rinse twice to remove added sodium) and plenty more dried beans for overnight soaking and cooking. Both are healthy, but dried beans have more crunch and texture and aren’t salted and flavored like many canned beans. We suggest using dried beans when you’re cooking a bean dish from scratch (change the water before simmering to remove indigestible sugars that cause bloating and embarrassing personal gas!) Use canned beans when you want to toss some into other types of dishes.
Another great idea is to add beans to everyday dishes. Beans go well in rice dishes and even better in soups. They work fine in pasta sauces and add texture to roasts. Every time you cook a dish, ask yourself, “Can I add some beans to this?”
Beans are great in dips and spreads. No need to keep their original form. Blend beans with herbs, garlic, olive oil, or other flavorings and use as dips for vegetables or spreads for sandwiches or hors d’oeuvres.
Another great idea, Mix plain canned beans with baked beans. The tasty sauce in canned baked beans is full of sugar and calories. Keep the taste and lose some of the sugar by mixing in small red beans or kidney beans. Serve at lunch with a low-fat sandwich or hot dog.
Here is one marvelous lunch idea: Just toss together black beans, baby spinach, mandarin orange sections, and spicy vinaigrette. Add other high-antioxidant vegetables left over from last night’s dinner, such as steamed broccoli or beet slices.
One last great idea is to use beans and a garnish. Keep chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in a sealed bowl in the refrigerator and put it on the table at every meal. Get in the habit of adding a few to your salads, your vegetables, or your pasta. Or just nibble on them as you would if a bowl of olives or almonds were on the table.
Some other great combinations to consider:
Make a commitment to start adding more beans into your diet everyday, TODAY!
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