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Bean Cuisine

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With names like Adzuki, Cannellini, Garbanzo, Navy, and Cranberry, the humble bean is a marvel of bio-engineering. Beans are nutritious, versatile, economical and come in a multitude of varieties. Learn all about beans with help from Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.

Why should we increase our consumption of this the venerable plant protein? To enhance diet quality. Beans are a nutrient-rich food that provide good nutrition in fewer calories. They also provide protein and iron, which classifies them in the Meat and Bean Group. Unlike other high protein counterparts, beans are low-fat, free of saturated fats and cholesterol. Beans are plant-based food providing excellent fiber, folate and manganese and good source of copper, magnesium, iron and potassium. 

Beans are actually categorized as vegetables in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  MyPyramid categorizes beans in both the Vegetable Group and the Meat and Bean Group.  Beans and other legumes have more fiber and protein than any other vegetable.

For a 2,000 calorie diet, MyPyramid recommends three cups of legumes, such as beans, each week, or about 1/2 cup each day. That is much more than the average American is currently eating. The Cooper Clinic Nutrition Department recommends starting a new family tradition of eating beans on “Meatless Mondays,” in an attempt to meet this guideline. From a robust soup, to a refreshing side dish, to topping a salad to a creamy dip, no healthy diet should be without! Try Crunchy Garbanzo Beans, an excellent snack from bushbeans.com. Or check out the Black Bean Slaw Burger recipe in this newsletter.

Beans are delicious, life-sustaining little packages of near-royalty in the world of nutrition. One of the oldest cultivated crops, beans have played a compelling role in regional and global food traditions. Most recently this versatile vegetable has taken the spotlight as one of today’s biggest food trends, meeting culinary criteria for ethical eating, environmentally friendly and sustainable agriculture. Beans are perfect choice for adding flavor, texture, satiety and nutrient value to everyday menu planning! They are quick and easy to prepare, available year round and adaptable to numerous cuisines.

Many people inquire if there is a difference between dry beans and canned beans. There is no difference. The term “dry beans” is an agricultural term for bean seeds that are allowed to dry in their pods until fully matured and harvested. Canned beans and unhydrated beans are both dry beans. The main difference is that canned beans are a quick, easy and recipe-ready. For people concerned about the sodium content of beans, studies show that rinsing canned beans can reduce the sodium content by 40 percent.

Beans are also known as “a musical fruit”—and with it comes the consumer concern and consequence of gas. Beans contain complex sugars called oligosaccharides. The body lacks the necessary enzymes to digest them, so the stomach passes them along to the large intestine. There, they break down and from gases. Many solutions to this problem have been proposed such as soaking and boiling beans which leaches out most of the oligosaccharides; adding baking soda to the boiling water; and adding a Mexican Herb, Epazote during cooking. Commercial remedies like BEANO also work by adding the necessary enzyme to help digest the oligosaccharides into our system, which reduces or eliminates the gas.  More information can be found at beanogas.com.

A few of the latest trends on the horizon are heirloom beans providing unique textures and flavors available from specialty retailers. Organic whole bean powder technology enables dairy foods to be fortified with soy providing added health benefits without aftertaste. And an option in formulating foods that need a fat replacer is butter bean powder, made from large lima beans, known as butter beans. They are cooked, dried and screened into varying degrees of fineness to yield an opaque colored powder with a slight buttery flavor.

Enjoy the incredible versatile bean in your meal routine. And next time someone says that you are “full of beans” consider it a compliment!

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, click here or call 972.560.2655.