By Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD
Nutritionally speaking, beans rock. They are the only food that counts as a vegetable and a protein. They are excellent sources of fiber and nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium, and folate. And the soluble fiber they contain make them filling and satisfying to boot.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 1.5 cups of beans per week for someone consuming about 2000 calories a day. What qualifies? Kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lentils, lima beans, split peas, and black-eyed beans. Green beans, categorized as a green vegetable, and green peas a starchy vegetable, don’t.
Beans can surprisingly fit in many of the meals people eat. Here are 10 ways to get more beans — adding taste, nutrition and satisfaction to one’s diet.
1. In your eggs: One of my favorite weekend dishes is Mexican eggs. I first sauté chopped tomato, onions, and red pepper and then add the eggs. When the eggs are almost done I add black or kidney beans and mix until the eggs are firm. I top with a bit of cheese and serve in tortillas with salsa and sliced avocado.
2. On/in salads: Sprinkle some chickpeas or black/kidney beans on a salad. The beans soak up the tasty dressing and add texture for a more satisfying salad, in my opinion.
3. Tasty Dips: Instead of ranch dressing, try making hummus or any bean dip for that matter.
4. Roasted Chickpeas: These recipes have been all over the internet but the problem is they can turn out mushy instead of crispy. The secret is to rub the chickpea skins off and to make sure they are totally dry before roasting. Drizzle with oil and spices of choice and roast at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, turning once during cooking.
5. Quickie lunches: I like making a pot of pinto beans in the slow cooker to make freezable bean burritos. I mix about 2 cups dry pinto beans with onion, roasted green chilies, cumin, chicken broth, and water and cook on high for 8 hours, adding more liquid as needed. When they are done, I mash them up and mix in a whole wheat tortilla with a Mexican cheese blend. I freeze them and heat up in the microwave, about 1 minute per side.
6. Side dishes: Most people choose potatoes, rice, or other grains as sides, but don’t forget beans. My favorite is black beans seasoned with some garlic, olive oil, and cumin.
7. Dessert: Our own David Grotto shares his recipe for Beanie Greenie Brownies. You have to try it to believe it.
8. Lasagna: If you have a favorite veggie lasagna recipe, try adding beans to it. Black beans work well but kidney or white beans could work too.
9. Hearty soups: I try to have bean soup in the fridge during the week. Lentil soup mixed with veggies or white bean soup or minestrone makes the perfect complement to any lunch — turning up the satisfaction factor.
Help us out by filling number 10. What is your favorite and easy way to enjoy beans?