The Bearable Likeness of Beans
The Bearable Likeness of Beans

As a vegetarian, beans play an important role in my diet. In addition to being a great source of protein, beans provide a wallop of additional nutritional benefits. With the country seemingly becoming more health-conscious, beans are making a comeback to kitchens and salad bars across the nation.

Beans are a great source of protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, fiber, complex carbohydrates and are low in fat. They are also known to lower cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose control (good for diabetics and those with insulin resistance or hypoglycemia) and reduce the risks of many cancers. Beans contain significant amounts of antioxidants (disease-fighting compounds found in foods), folic acid, vitamin B6 and magnesium. Diets rich in beans are known to lower blood pressure, regulate functions of the colon, prevent and cure constipation and other bowel problems, and reduce the risk of some cancers.

Numerous and extensive studies have been conducted with evidence pointing overwhelmingly in favor of beans helping to lower the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and colon cancer to name a few. And it doesn’t hurt that in this money-conscious, recession-driven economy, beans are light on your wallet as well!

With over 13,000 varieties available all over the world, it would be difficult to break down the health benefits of each and every type; so I will concentrate on the types more likely to be found in your local supermarket. Please note that in terms of dry versus canned beans the major differences, other than cooking time, is that canned beans contain higher amounts of sodium and have added preservatives. However, this naked vegetarian opts for the convenience of the can. If you have the time, opt for dried.

Black Beans

• rich in anthocyanins, an antioxidant known to fight cancer
• natural cholesterol reducer
• good option for diabetic patients

Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)

• helps lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
• good source of fiber
• improve blood sugar levels
• provides magnesium and folic acid

Kidney Beans

• contains thiamin, which protects memory and brain function; helps regulate blood
pressure and normal heart contractions
• rich in iron and calcium

Lentils

• good source of fiber
• rich in magnesium
• helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar

Peas

• good source of protein, B vitamins and variety of minerals including phosphorus,
manganese, magnesium, potassium and iron
• dried peas are an excellent source of dietary fibre
• green peas are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and carotenes

With all the nutritional benefits of beans, it’s no wonder they are making a comeback to dinner plates everywhere. So, please – eat your beans at (almost) every meal! Here are two of my favorite bean recipes!

via www.louisvillekey.com

Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1 garlic clove, crushed
6 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin

Drain beans and reserve liquid from can; blending beans in food processor to a smooth paste adding small amount of reserve liquid is necessary. Mix garlic, lemon juice and tahini together and add to beans in food processor; process until smooth. Gradually add olive oil. Add cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and chill. Eat with raw veggies, crackers or pita bread.

from Vegetarian by Nicola Graimes

White Bean & Sage Patties

1 can white beans
1/2 shallot, diced
1 small carrot, finely grated
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp chopped sage
salt and pepper

Drain beans reserving 2 tbsp lof liquid; transfer to bowl and mash. Stir in shallot, carrot, cornmeal and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tbsp of reserve liquid. If mixture is too dry, add the other tbsp. Form into approx.12 patties. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Either use non-stick cooking spray or a couple of tbsp of olive oil in pan and heat. Saute patties until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes each side).

I like to serve this with veggies and mashed potatoes!

Taken from Whole Living magazine, June 2011

Pam Ortiz Miller was born and raised in suburban New York avoiding books and writing of any kind as she preferred musical theatre where people sang you everything you needed to know. It wasn’t until she was a senior at the University of Maryland that she discovered a love of writing. Her main writing focus is poetry, however, she dabbles in short stories, news articles, screenplays and occasional angry letters to customer service reps and estranged relatives. Her latest endeavor is a blog entitled The Real Housewife of Ormond Beach chronicling her adventures in the domestic arts. Like most New Yorkers Pam ended up in Florida where she lives with her husband, three cats and a very special dog. Her hobbies include traveling, photography, cooking, cinema and getting rid of tan lines. On her off days from being a domestic diva she can be found rehabbing sea and land turtles.

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