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Have You Had Beans Lately?

Sep 10, 2008
When was the last time you cooked with dry beans or peas? I have at least 5 different bags sitting in my pantry waiting to be turned into soups, dips, side-dishes and even hearty main dishes. They are a healthy staple that provides us with plenty of protein and fiber. Let's take a look at why you may want to cook with them more as well.

Beans Are Inexpensive

Here's my favorite reason to cook with beans... it is really inexpensive to do. I can buy enough beans to cook three meals for my family for under two dollars. I like to buy beans at my local costco or a mexican supermarket by the way. They are usually quite a bit cheaper and I get a larger variety than what my regular grocery store has to offer.

Beans are a good substitution for meat in a meal. You can use more beans and less (or no) meat in casseroles and chilies and even tacos and burritos. I also like to add them to pasta sauces. Of course there are also all kinds of beans and rice dishes which make great side dishes and even main courses. Cooking more beans and less meat will help you feed your family for less.

Reason 2 - It's Healthy

Beans have quite a few health benefits. Obviously they have a lot of protein and fiber. The fiber is what makes them good for your heart since it helps your body remove bad cholesterol. The protein is needed both to maintain muscle mass and to provide energy to your body.

You will also be pleased to hear that beans will help you prevent and fight cancer. For those of us with diabetes it is important to know that beans can help our body use insulin more effectively by creating more receptor sites. What a great reason to eat more beans.

They Are Delicious

Beans are one of the most versatile foods I have come across. Since their flavor is mild, you can season them up pretty much any way you like them. I've made anything from spicy south western chipotle chili to Indian inspired Dahl with them. Add some black beans to your spaghetti sauce next time instead of ground beef. It's delicious, lower in calorie and makes for a great healthy meal.

I love beans as a side dish. Just cook them and add some salt and pepper or your favorite spices. Then of course there are dips. You can turn anything from various varieties of beans (like pintos, black beans, kidney beans etc) to lentils and peas (especially chick peas) into delicious dips. Serve them with raw veggies, crackers, chips or pita bread for a healthy snack.

Reason 4 - It's Fast and Simple

Yes, you heard right I think cooking with beans is fast and simple. Here are some of the reasons why Sure, some beans have quite a long cooking time, but once you get them in the pot, they pretty much cook themselves. For an even easier approach, put your beans and plenty of liquid in the crockpot in the morning. By the time you're ready for dinner they are done.

What makes beans super convenient for me is that I can cook them in large batches and then freeze them. If I use them within the next couple of days, I just put them in the fridge of course. Everything else is frozen for later use. You don't even have to thaw them, just heat and serve those beans or use them in your dishes.

If you're not a big bean fan yet, I hope this article has given you enough reasons to give these versatile veggies another try. Pick a couple of recipes and try them this week. I'm sure you'll find a new dish you and your family will really like.
About the Author
I tend to cook with lentils a lot because they cook up so fast. For example, you may want to make this lentil stew or lentil pottage.
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