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    Johns Hopkins Health Al ...

Posted Jun 01 2010 8:53am

    Johns Hopkins Health Alert
Beans: Cheap, Tasty, and Good For You
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You may be tempted to think that if a certain type of food is so beneficial, there must be a catch. But beans and legumes stand out as one of the most amazingly accessible dietary staples you can find. Here are some bean basics.
Beans are cheap. A 1-cup serving of many kinds of beans costs less than a dollar.
Dry-packaged beans last for up to a year. Store them in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Leftover cooked beans keep well. Place them in a covered container and refrigerate for up to five days or freeze for up to six months.
Canned beans are a great choice. They are convenient, easy to prepare, inexpensive, and just as nutritious as dry-packaged beans.
There is no legitimate excuse to be bored by dry beans and peas. Just a few of the myriad varieties include adzuki, black, dark red kidney, light red kidney, garbanzo, great northern, navy, pink, red, and pinto as well as lentils and soybeans.
Beans are a welcome addition in many dishes. Add them to salads, soups, casseroles, chili, taco fillings, and stews.
Beans make great dips. For a delicious bean dip that’s fast and easy, combine black beans, diced tomato, a sprinkle of cumin, a few sprigs of cilantro, and chopped red onion in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth (or just mash with a fork for a chunkier dip), and serve with baked tortilla chips or raw fresh vegetables. Or mash some white beans with garlic and a drizzle of olive oil and serve with pieces of crusty whole-grain bread.
Beans pair beautifully with rice. For a nutritious side dish, toss kidney beans with hot brown rice; mix in canned diced tomatoes, chili powder, chopped scallions, and a squirt of fresh lime juice. Or serve beans and rice as a cold salad dressed with olive oil, cider vinegar, and fresh herbs.
How To Cook Beans. Although canned beans are as nutritious as home cooked, some people prefer the taste and texture of dry-packaged beans prepared at home. The secret to delicious beans is soaking them before cooking, and you have several ways to do this Overnight soaking. Place beans in a pot or bowl of cold water. (Use 10 cups of water for each pound of dry-packaged beans.) Cover and let sit overnight. The next day, drain the beans, rinse them, add fresh water (6 cups per pound of beans), and cook.
Quick soaking. Place beans in 10 cups of hot water per pound of beans. Heat to boiling and let boil for two or three minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Drain, rinse, add fresh water (6 cups per pound of beans), and cook.
Hot soaking. Follow the directions for quick soaking but allow covered beans to sit for four hours instead of one. Hot soaking breaks down substances in beans that cause flatulence and makes them easier to digest. After beans have finished soaking, they need to simmer for 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the type of bean.
Posted in Nutrition and Weight Control on March 31, 2010

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