We all know the old limerick. But it turns out that beans really ARE good for you. Low in fat, calories, and sodium, and high in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, beans are a wonder food.
Beans are a healthy plant-based alternative to beef, chicken, and fish on the list of good protein sources. A veggie-meal a week is good for you, the planet, and a wonderful variety. The American Cancer Society recommends that you eat a healthy, varied diet mostly from plant sources.
Beans are usually available in the grocery store either dried or canned. Canned beans are inexpensive and so much easier, but learning how to make beans is a good idea too. For each pound of dried beans, soak in 10 cups of clean water for at least 8 hours to prepare them for cooking. If you choose canned, try to choose products lower in sodium.
And it’s hard for beans to get boring with so many different choices. Pinto, black, green, great northern, garbanzo (chickpeas), red, kidney, fava, navy, and more provide colorful and versatile variety to your food dishes.
Recipe: Cuban-style Black Beans and Rice
Making your own black beans is easy and economical. First, presoak the beans overnight, covering with water. Before cooking, strain the beans and add fresh water. You can cook the beans on the stovetop, in a pressure cooker, or in a slow cooker. To cook on the stovetop, add 3 cups of water for each cup of beans and cook over medium heat, partially covered, for 1½ to 2 hours, skimming off any foam. In a slow cooker, use 3 cups of water for each cup of beans and cook on low for 8 hours.
Canola oil, 1 tablespoon
Red onion, finely chopped, ½ cup
Garlic, minced, 1 tablespoon
Ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon
Dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon
Sea salt, ¼ teaspoon
Black beans, cooked, 3 cups, or 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained, liquid reserved
Bay leaves, 2
Brown or white rice, cooked, 3 cups
Extra-virgin olive oil, 6 teaspoons
For variety: Depending on the season, I like to add fresh on the cob corn (just cook it, and scrape it off the cob, so great in the summer!) and a spoonful of low-fat sour cream. –the editor
1. Heat the canola oil in a large, heavy pot and cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt. Sauté for 2 minutes.
2. Add the beans and bay leaves. If using canned beans, add a small amount of the liquid along with the beans. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes on medium heat.
3. Remove the bay leaves.
4. To serve, put about ½ cup of cooked rice on a plate and top with ½ cup of black beans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on the top.
Total fat, 8.2 g
Saturated fat, 1.1 g
Transfat, 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated fat, 1.7 g
Monounsaturated fat, 5.1 g
Total carbohydrate, 45 g
Dietary fiber, 9 g
Sugars, 3 g
Protein, 10 g
Sodium, 105 mg