Beans, beans, they're good for your heart...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I have several gadgets on my iGoogle page that provide me with such things as Healthy Eating Tips, Fun Health and Nutrition Facts, and Fat Loss Tip of the Day. Most of the time they aren’t worth the effort it takes to read them (Fat Loss Tip: Use light mayonnaise instead of regular), but every once in a while something noteworthy will pop up.

HEALTHY EATING TIP: People who eat legumes such as dried beans, peas, and lentils at least four times a week lower their heart disease risk by 22 percent, according to a Tulane University study.

You have to admit that’s a pretty interesting statistic. If you like beans. Which I do. Beans are low in fat, cholesterol-free, and high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They're also a good source of protein, so they make a great substitute for meat.

You can eat them by themselves as a main meal or side dish or you can dump a bunch into soups and casseroles. Versatile!

My only problem with beans (no, not THAT!) is that I can never really remember how to cook them. It’s always in the back of my mind that it’s a complicated procedure, so I don’t do it as often as I would like to. Which is a shame because, besides being healthy and delicious, dried beans are a pretty economical food choice.

Because I know you will want to run right out and buy beans after reading this, and to remind myself that it is NOT complicated to cook beans, I will share with you some simple directions for cooking beans:

First, you have to soak them. The preferred method is to soak them overnight in approximately 3 cups of water for every cup of beans. I rarely think this far ahead, so I normally use the “quick soak” method: Cover the beans with water, bring to a boil, remove from the heat and cover and let it sit for an hour. Whichever method you use to soak, drain the soaking water before you cook them to reduce the “gas factor”.

When you are ready to cook them, add fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 1 to 2 hours. Check them occasionally to make sure the water is not boiling away. And that’s it. Pretty simple.

Fall is the perfect time for soup, and for bean soups especially. I like to make a big pot on the weekend and have it for lunch all week. (Mr. Jelly Belly does not, of course, eat soup.) This bean soup will definitely be on my menu soon.

For more info on beans and lots of ideas on how to use them, check out Bean Basics at Allrecipes.

I will leave you with one more fascinating and little-known Fat Loss Tip from my Google Gadget: Always remove the skin from chicken before cooking.


Cyndi said...

Mmmmm, I love beans. I'm getting ready to make some white chicken chili that's loaded with beans.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I often cheat and use canned beans, even though they're more expensive and have more sodium. Because I'm never organized enough to buy in bulk and soak ahead of time!

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

White chicken chili is my FAVORITE. Thanks for the reminder to dig out my recipe!

I use canned beans a lot because I, too, am way too disorganized. Oh, and LAZY. :)

midlife mommy said...

Um, the skin is the best part?

Here's a tip -- don't order the NS chicken breast. (I'm not even sure that it's chicken, frankly.)

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

LOL!! It took me a few minutes to figure out that you were talking about Nutrisystem (I was determined to decode that and not have to ask!!!). I think Cyndi also has some experience with that...

And, by the way, my pinto beans are soaking even as we speak. I feel so on top of things. LOL