Do you think every meal needs to include a piece of meat in order to give you adequate protein? Well, then you don't know beans! Beans are an easy way to add high-quality, plant-based protein to your diet. They are high in iron, B vitamins (especially folic acid), and fiber (lowers cholesterol and helps stabilize blood sugar); plus, they are versatile enough that you may never tire of them. There are so many varieties with unique tastes: kidney, black, canellini, cranberry, anasazi, adzuki, great northern, and black-eyed peas, mung, navy, garbanzo, just to name a few. A wonderful vegetarian meal option, beans pair well with whole grains as the two foods together form a complete protein.
Buy organic, dried beans, ideally in the bulk food section. Make sure they are fresh; old beans will not soften, even with thorough cooking. Remember to sort and rinse your beans first, removing any shriveled beans and pebbles. Beans stay fresh longer when stored in a cool, dark place (rather than on your countertop). If you buy canned beans, consider those made by Eden Organics who soak their beans before cooking, don’t use harmful can linings, and (unlike most canned bean brands) do not add ridiculous amounts of salt.
Concerned about gas? Some people do have difficulty digesting beans and legumes and develop gas, intestinal problems, or irritability. Try soaking dried beans in cool water with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice for several hours before cooking. Adding another splash of vinegar in the last 15 minutes of cooking also renders beans easier to digest. Don’t add salt until the very end of cooking.
Looking for a great versatile recipe you can take anywhere? Try this classic "Cowboy Caviar"
Use as appetizer, side dish, dip, or a meal all by itself!
1 can black beans
1 can black eyed peas
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 cup corn
1 Avocado (keep until about to serve)
1 Red bell pepper and/or orange bell pepper
1 small red onion
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 2 fresh limes (about 1/4 cup)
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the beans, and black eyed peas (after rinsing) with tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, onion and cilantro in large bowl.
2. for the dressing, in small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lime juice, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
3. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and mix gently.
4. Add the chopped Avocado just before serving to preserve the freshness.
This can be made the night before and travels well for backyard cookouts. See an ingredient you don't like? skip it! This recipe is endlessly adaptable, the way we like it! ;-)