Jane's June Jotting

By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 6/9/2014

The Musical Fruit

Beans, beans the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you …  HA!  Remember chanting this when you were a kid?  My kids still do.  I am OK with that because I am happy to have beans in their vocabulary. Fun fact:  Did you know the longer you cook your beans the less flatulence they cause.  Also, throw out the water you cook dried beans in and you’ll experience less gas.   Let me share a few of the many benefits of beans:

·         Excellent source of protein- helps you meet your needs

·         Great source of soluble fiber which helps with BS control, heart disease & elevated cholesterol

·         Fiber also provides excellent satiety (feeling of fullness) and satiation (satisfied between meals)

·         Great source of iron and zinc

·         Economical – who said eating well is expensive?

·         Tolerated well by our patients

There are so many different ways you can get beans in your diet. You can include them with any meal or snack.  I love scrambled eggs with beans & spinach for a healthy, protein rich breakfast.  My favorite quick lunch or evening meal is a Joseph’s flatbread tortilla cooked on a grill with black beans, salsa and a sprinkle of low fat cheese.   YUMMY!  Don’t forget a little side salad.  Here’s a tip.  Our patients tolerate this type of meal best when they eat a wrap with utensils rather than picking it up with their hands and taking big bites. 

You can buy beans in a bag, canned, frozen and sometimes even fresh.  Be sure to wash them well if you buy them in a can.  You can actually cut the sodium content by 40%.  That’s impressive!

When you prepare a bean dish, make lots of it.  You can actually freeze beans for up to 1 year or refrigerate for up to 4 days.  Cook once and eat for almost a week on it!  Beans are easy to reheat and don’t get rubbery like a piece of meat does when you try to reheat it. 

There are a variety of beans you can add to your diet.  Try them all.  They’re all good for you. Here is a list taken from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website www.eatright.org :

A staple of South and Central American and Caribbean cuisines, black beans are an excellent source of fiber, folate, iron and magnesium. High concentrations of anthocyanins — pigments responsible for the hues of many plants and vegetables — deliver deep, dark color and a heart-healthy boost. Enjoy the earthy flavor of black beans in salads, mashed into burgers or pureed into a hearty soup or dip.

Soybeans (Edamame)
With nine essential amino acids, soybeans may be the quintessential plant protein. Soybeans are an excellent source of calcium, iron and potassium. Research suggests whole soy protein may reduce the risk of breast cancer and bone loss in some populations and decrease total and LDL cholesterol levels. Enjoy soybeans steamed, roasted or stir-fried.

Also known as Boston or Yankee beans, navy beans earned the name for their role as a staple in the diet of the U.S. Navy. High in folate and fiber, this small, protein-packed bean is commonly mixed with molasses to create baked beans. Navy beans are perfect in chili, soup or stew.

Black-Eyed Peas
Another Southern staple and symbol of good luck in the New Year, black-eyed peas are a good source of fiber, magnesium and zinc. Their creamy, mild flavor pairs well with tomatoes and leafy greens. Commonly eaten with rice, black-eyed peas can be creatively served in fritters, stews and salads.

Cultivated in Central America to supplement a protein-deficient diet, lima beans played a nutritious role in Aztec and Incan history and the creation of succotash. Available fresh, dry or frozen, lima beans are an excellent source of fiber and a potassium powerhouse. Simply stew lima beans or combine with sweet corn for succotash.

Chickpea or Garbanzo
Middle Eastern in origin, chickpeas are one of the most common legumes in the world. Chickpeas are high in fiber and folate, and provide potassium and magnesium. Enjoy the versatility of chickpeas in a creamy hummus, warm falafel, vegetable-rich salad or roasted into a crunchy, high-protein snack.

Commonly substituted for kidney beans, red beans are smaller, softer and have a milder flavor. Red beans are an excellent source of fiber and a good source of iron. Red beans star in Creole red beans and rice and taste great in soups and salads.

Great Northern
Popular throughout North America, great northern are an excellent source of fiber and folate. Common to the French stew cassoulet, the mild, delicate flavor of great northern make them perfect for white chili, soups and dips.

Cultivated more than 5,000 years ago in ancient Peru, pinto beans are now a Southern staple and the most widely consumed bean in the U.S. Pintos are high in folate and fiber and a good source of potassium. Use pinto beans in stew, chili, vegetarian burgers or bean burritos.

Fava beans are part of ancient history with roots in the Middle East. Fava beans are an excellent source of fiber and folate and provide iron, magnesium and potassium. Unlike most of their (dry) bean brethren, fava beans are a spring vegetable commonly used fresh and eaten both raw and cooked.

Kidney (Red and White)
These kidney-shaped beans are high in fiber and folate and deliver robust flavor. Armed with a thicker skin, kidney beans hold their shape in dishes with longer cook times, such as chili con carne, but are also a popular salad bar ingredient. A bit milder, white kidney beans (also called cannellini) are often used in Italian salads and sauces.

Enjoy your summer.  Fill it with beans!   Jane

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