Whether you are an omnivore or a vegetarian or a vegan, beans are an inexpensive nutritional powerhouse. In discussing beans, I’m including black beans, red pinto beans, Great White northern beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, etc. rather than strictly the green beans you may have eaten as a child. Whether you’re using dry or canned, beans are an inexpensive source of protein, iron, calcium antioxidants and fiber that taste great and are both filling and satisfying. They are also a good source of amino acids, iron and folate, as discussed here. Furthermore, there is evidence that consumption of beans may aid in the prevention of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. That’s pretty amazing.
And beans are incredibly versatile- they can be used to accompany an entrée or be eaten alone, e.g. refried beans, or as a dip, (hummus) or as a substitute ingredient for baked goods, such as brownies or muffins or as a primary veggie burger ingredient, in a salad, or to create a delicious, nutritious soup–there are a multitude of ways in which to incorporate beans into your diet.
As a food low on the glycemic index, beans don’t cause blood sugar spikes. With all the varieties to choose from, you may be asking yourself which bean provides the most nutritional bang for your buck? (Hint: It’s not jelly beans : 0 ) Glad you asked. Check it out here or here. And if you’re concerned about undesirable side effects, these may be lessened during the cooking preparation process and as you gradually increase your intake of higher fiber foods.
Over time, I’ve become a big fan of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, though I wasn’t when I first bought his book, Eat to Live and realized it was, in my opinion, a book advocating a vegan lifestyle, which would have been a radical departure from my diet at that time. (this was in my heady junk food days!). As part of his guidelines in this book, he advocates for a cup of beans a day, (which was what I looked forward to most within his guidelines), though the guidelines were easier to follow than I initially expected.
If you’re feeling flummoxed about how to incorporate beans in to your diet, no worries-I’ve got you covered.
Easy black bean soup (Hint: If you use the Cuban spicy canned black beans, you can cut out some of the steps and ingredients)
Olive Garden Copycat Minestrone This soup is so tasty! (Every recipe I have ever made from this site is delicious.)