Worth a Hill of Beans

(Yes, I borrowed the title…I’m not that clever)

When I told some folks at work that I eat a plant-based diet, automatically the conversation went to what I eat for protein.  “Oh are you eating Gardein?” Because I don’t like most of the meat-substitutes out there, I use beans as my primary source of protein.  For reasons I’ve explained in one of my previous blogs, I avoid canned beans when possible.  So, I thought I would share the benefits of this nutritonal powerhouse, the bean.

It’s full of fiber, protein, and a great source of folate and iron – important for women during child-bearing years.  For the nutrients you get, it has very little calories, thus making it a nutrient-dense food (a definition my students have just learned).

Several books and websites do a great job at discussing how to cook the bean, so I won’t bore folks with that information.  A recent article from the American Institute for Cancer Research on the importance of beans discusses how to cook beans.  But I will say that the book, Heirloom Beans, is really fabulous. My brother and sister-in-law know the author and shared his book with me. Unfortunately, this is just one of the reasons folks don’t eat them is usually due to the preparation; it’s too time consuming. The other is the gas that is produced from eating beans. If folks eat more beans, and cook them properly, the amount of gas you produce is decreased over time, usually due to the healthy microbes in your gut “working” on the fiber.  Also, if you increase your intake of beans or other higher fiber nutrients, make sure you drink plenty of water, as well.  We don’t want constipation issues.

If you normally eat black beans or chickpeas, buy them dry and cook them yourself.  You can easily make many Mexican dishes using black or pinto beans.  Or use the chickpeas for hummus which is very popular in the Middle East.  Several Indian dishes use chickpeas, too.  Simple stews and chilis are another way to incorporate this powerhouse food into your diet.   But one of my favorites is marinated white beans (cannelli, yellow eye bean) with a salad or mixed with quinoa.    Alright, I’m getting hungry; I’m going to go make a pot of beans.  🙂

About Sharon M., MS RD

As a registered dietitian and a master gardener, I know the healing power of food. Nothing has given me more satisfaction than growing my own food. I have experience working in the public health field, including school districts. I have worked with pregnant moms, children, diabetics, and bariatric patients. I emphasis a plant-based, whole food diet. Yet, I appreciate the movement of eating sustainably, while hoping folks appreciate the bean as a source of protein. "To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld "Feeding is going well if both you and yor child are having a good time." -Ellyn Satter
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