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Simple Ways to Bean-up Your Diet
You know that they are good for you, but how do you begin to incorporate beans into your meals? Here are four simple ideas, along with some healthful recipes you can try!
Incorporate beans into your favorite dishes. Italian and Mexican recipes are easily enhanced with beans. Simply rinse and drain a can of black beans and add them to your favorite homemade or jarred salsa. Use the mixture to top tostadas or tacos. Or, make an easy and hearty traditional Italian pasta dish with sausage, spinach and white beans.
Add beans to soups and stews. White beans, also known as Cannellini beans, are prime candidates for the Italian soup called pasta e fagioli. Use kidney or black beans in your family's favorite chili recipe. Make a Cuban-style black bean soup that's packed with bell peppers and a kick of jalapeno; make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken.
Add beans to your repertoire of snacks and appetizers. A puree of Cannellini beans, garlic, olive oil and an herb like basil or rosemary makes a simple and flavorful spread for warm pita, flatbread crackers or bread sticks. Spread the puree on a slice of whole wheat bread and top with sliced tomatoes, red onion, red bell pepper, lettuce, cucumber or whatever's in the produce drawer for a protein-packed veggie sandwich.
Pack beans for lunch. The high fiber and protein content makes beans a smart addition to your midday meal. Combine a can of white beans (rinsed and drained), a can of light tuna, a bit of scallion, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice to make a Mediterranean-style salad that carries just 125 calories per serving. Or, toss white beans with a pint of cherry tomatoes (halved), a bit of Feta cheese, lemon juice, olive oil and cracked black pepper, then use whole wheat pita bread for scooping.
Nutrition Facts for Popular Beans
Legumes, 1 cup cooked
If you're feeling adventurous, branch out beyond the navy beans you'll find in your local stores and look for varieties like Borlotti, Scarlet Runner, or Cranberry. If you're lucky, your hometown farmers market may be a good source for unusual or heirloom shelled and dried beans.
Bryn Mooth Bryn Mooth is an independent copywriter and journalist focused on food, wellness and design; she's also a Master Gardener and enthusiastic green thumb. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.
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