Beans Are Good for You
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women consume 1 ½ cups of beans and other legumes weekly, or 1 cup for ages 51-plus, and that men eat 2 cups a week , 1 ½ cups after age 50.
Beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber. They provide some essential micronutrients such as folate, potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium. Beans are a great source of plant protein. They are also low in calories.
If buying dried, beans, look for whole, un-cracked beans. Store beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place for up to one year.
To speed up cooking and reduce digestive downsides, boil dried beans in water for two minutes then soak for two hours; alternatively, soak un-boiled beans overnight in the refrigerator. Rinse before cooking.
Canned beans are equally nutritious to dried beans. Look for the low-sodium varieties and rinse thoroughly.
Below is a great tasting, quick to make soup that UW-Extension staff used at a number of presentations this winter that features lentils. Lentils do not need to be soaked prior to using.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped, approximately 1 cup
1 medium carrot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 teaspoons garlic, peeled and minced (3-4 cloves) or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups water
1 cup dry yellow or brown lentils
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
1 can (14.5 ounces) no sodium added diced tomatoes or 2 chopped tomatoes
1 bunch kale or spinach
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1. Add oil to large pot over medium heat.
2. Add onions, carrots and garlic. Cook five minutes.
3. Add water to vegetables in pot. Heat mixture to boiling.
4. Rinse lentils in colander with water. Add lentils to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not drain.
5. Add chicken broth, dried basil or Italian seasoning, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.
6. Rinse kale or spinach leaves. Cut out main stems of kale leaves and discard. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
7. Stir kale or spinach, salt and pepper into lentil mixture. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for three minutes.