Crazy day at work? The last thing you want to do is come home and cook. But how great would it be to walk into your house, with dinner already planned and prepared? And how amazing would it be to have the entire family around the table eating that delicious meal? Better yet, that meal is simple to make, the food is naturally nourishing and nutritious and wait – it’s also budget friendly!?!
Throughout 2016, I will be featuring nourishing foods for your kitchen (like my last post on potatoes!) – these are foods that are simple, naturally nourishing and nutritious and budget-friendly too. They must be all of these things to qualify!
On a budget? We all are.
Want to be healthy and live a long life? Of course.
Not sure about some of those foods you have in your house? Keep reading (subscribe so you don’t miss a post!).
As a dietitian, I’m surrounded by food information, research studies come into my email about food and nutrition, I receive magazines with recipes and I just plain love food! My mission begins in the kitchen. And I want to help you simplify things a bit. Let’s be intentional and purposeful about what we are purchasing so we are creating the recipe to our nourishing life.
So let’s get on with it – what’s this week’s nourishing food for your kitchen?
Beans are simply delicious. Think of an artist’s canvas. Blank and waiting for color. That is what beans are. Mellow in flavor with a satisfying texture, beans make the perfect base to a flavorful meal.
Beans are naturally nutritious. All beans are good sources of protein and excellent sources of fiber. In fact, beans are one of the most naturally rich sources of fiber out of all plant foods! And beyond the protein and fiber, beans are filled with potassium, a beneficial nutrient for blood pressure and muscle contraction. What I love about beans is the fiber – yet we all know the saying ” the more you eat the more you toot”. Let me explain briefly – beans are filled with a fiber called oligosaccharides which survives our acidic stomach, making their way to the colon where they are fermented by the good bacteria in our gut and gas is created in the process. So, tooting is actually a sign of a healthy gut! (I never thought I would write that in a blog post!) If you want to reduce the gas formation, eat more beans, drink more water as you eat more beans, change the water several times when soaking the beans and rinse canned beans before serving. Voila!
Beans are low cost. I’ve been purchasing dry beans as they are so inexpensive, in fact, on average, a 1/2 cup serving of dry beans is about seven cents. That’s 28 cents for a family of four. Swapping in beans for meat even once a week can save you money in your food budget all year long.
The recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 emphasized the need for more legumes – meaning dry (then cooked) beans and lima beans, lentils, split peas and edamame – with the goal of eating 1.5 cups per week (for a 2000 calorie meal pattern). (You can get my take on the guidelines in this newspaper interview.) Here are some quick and easy “no-recipe” meal ideas using beans:
Beans at Breakfast
- Add 1-15 oz. can of pinto or black beans to your favorite egg bake, quiche, or frittata. These dishes are simple combinations of eggs, vegetables, cheese and meat. And if you buy a pre-made pastry crust for the quiche, it couldn’t be easier!
Beans at Snack-Time
- Try hummus with vegetables or whole grain crackers. Eating hummus with carrots is seriously addicting. And it’s a cinch to make. Just follow this recipe:
Beans in Salads
- Add your favorite beans to any vegetable, grain, or pasta salad. Adding beans to salads gives you flavor, texture, and nutrition!
Beans in Wraps or Sandwiches
- Beans make a great addition to almost any sandwich or wrap. Mash or puree your favorite bean to use as a creamy spread on your sandwich, or toss whole beans in your wrap for extra protein and fiber.
Beans in Tacos, Burritos, Nachos, and Quesadillas
- Taco Tuesday, Nacho Night or Meatless Monday – no matter when you plan your bean-y meal, don’t forget the beans! They are a natural fit and a great meat stand-in.
Build Great Meals with Beans & Rice
- There’s a reason Dave Ramsey recommends beans and rice to save money – they are staple foods that are inexpensive and get you nutrition. Add some seasonings, vegetables, other meat options if you desire and make it your own. One of the most popular items on our school lunch menu is the Burrito Bowl. Black beans, brown rice, chicken, peppers and onions – it’s a hit.
Dry beans are the most economical choice, but how do you cook dried beans so they are edible? Just follow this simple, four step process. I start it right before I go to bed and let them sit overnight, finishing the process at dinner the next night.
- Clean the beans: Place the beans in a shallow layer in a pie plate or baking sheet. Do a quick sort, looking for any leaves, stones or twigs or even broken beans to discard.
- Rinse the beans: Rinse them under cold running water in a strainer.
- Soak the beans: Place beans in a large pot with 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of beans and heat to boiling. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 4-24 hours. Drain and discard soaking water. Rinse with fresh, cool water.
- Cook the beans: Place beans in large stockpot and cover with fresh, cold water. Place over medium heat to keep cooking water at a gentle simmer to prevent split skins. Stirring occasionally, cook for 30 minutes to two hours. When fully cooked, the beans should be tender but not mush.
To store: refrigerate for up to five days or freeze for up to six months.
For alternative methods on cooking beans, including the quick soak method, check out this handy resource from The Bean Institute.
And for all of us with busy families, I wanted to share this chart, courtesy of the Bean Institute, with you for some simple ideas to incorporate more beans into our meals.
Thanks to The Bean Institute for their bean-ificial information. I would love to hear your ideas on how you are going to incorporate beans into your nourishing meals!