What food is cheap, versatile, nutrient-dense and found in your cabinet? Beans! Beans are an underappreciated source of protein in our culture – the focus is on meat and dairy products. When on a budget, meat can sometimes be out of people’s price range or something too expensive to buy for every day. It’s also good to mix up our sources of protein – beans, dairy, nuts, tofu, meat, etc. so that we get a variety of nutrients and do not get bored.
Beans are a great source of fiber and nutrients such as iron, which helps prevent anemia, and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. One concern with beans is that canned beans contain lots of sodium, which can elevate blood pressure. To reduce sodium, opt for canned beans with no added salt or rinse the beans before serving. You can also make the beans at home, by soaking and cooking dried beans. Beans can be used in a variety of ways – bean salads, added to chili, bean dips, etc.
For even more information on beans and why they are so great, read this Washington Post article by Jennifer LaRue Huget: Inside the new Dietary Guidelines: Beans. And for some great recipes, look no further than Martha Shulman’s Recipes for Health.
One great snack that we use in our classes is the Spicy White Bean Dip.
SPICY WHITE BEAN DIP
Serves 6, ¼ cup per serving
•2 cloves garlic
•1 (15.5 ounce) can cannellini beans
•¼ cup water
•1 Tbs. canola oil
•½ teaspoon salt
•½ teaspoon ground black pepper
•Pinch of cayenne pepper
•1/3 bunch fresh parsley
1. Peel and mince garlic cloves.
2. Drain and rinse cannellini beans.
3. Place garlic, cannellini beans, water, canola oil, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Rinse and chop parsley. Place dip into serving bowl, top with parsley and stir.
What are some of your favorite uses for this super food?