Everyday Superfoods: Why You Should Really Try … Beans

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Story Updated: Jul 27, 2012

Completely You: Food

By Hillary Tonken for Completely You

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t eat a lot of beans. Perhaps you think they’re a chore to cook, and when you do, they turn to mush.

The truth is, creating a delicious bean dish is almost as easy as opening a can, and the health benefits are outstanding. Every bite of every type of bean is packed with protein and nutrients including calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C and D -- essential for healthy teeth and gums, not to mention the rest of your body. Plus, these little gems are full of fiber, which helps keep your heart healthy and your weight down. And of course, beans are much less expensive than other forms of high-quality protein, such as fish or chicken, making them a great choice if you’re on a budget.

So why not try some beans tonight? Our tasty recipes are a good place to start. Each one features a different variety. They can all be made with canned beans (they have the same health benefits as dried beans that you soak overnight). But make sure you rinse canned beans under cold water and drain them in a colander before using.

Black Bean and Mango Salsa
This salad tastes like summer, and is particularly refreshing on a hot day. It can be served by itself or over salad greens. If you prefer a less sweet taste, you can substitute 1 cup cooked corn kernels (fresh or frozen) for the mango. You can also use other fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, oregano and thyme instead of cilantro.

Ingredients

15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

½ medium red onion, diced

1 medium mango, peeled, pitted and diced

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chipotle in Adobo sauce, minced or 1 to 2 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce

2 tablespoons of your favorite vinaigrette dressing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad greens (optional)

Serves 4-6

Directions

1. Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to develop flavors. Serve as is or over salad greens.


Hummus With Edamame




Making hummus is a breeze. Add edamame and you have a protein-packed dip or sandwich filling. Don’t feel like making your own hummus? You can buy prepared hummus at the supermarket and add your own edamame or a whole host of other mix-ins listed below.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup Tahini (sesame paste found in most supermarkets)

1 to 2 cloves garlic

Juice from one lemon

1 cup cooked, shelled edamame

¼ cup to 1/3 cup water, if needed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a food processor bowl, combine the above ingredients and blend until smooth. You may have to add a little water to thin the hummus, depending on desired consistency.

Variations: Like the hummus but want to change the flavor slightly? Try adding one of the following: 2 tablespoons chopped pimento, ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives or 2 tablespoons mixed, chopped fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme and parsley.

Quick Red Bean Chili




This hearty main dish takes fewer than 30 minutes, and for most of that time, it cooks unattended. It works well served over brown rice or stuffed in a whole wheat tortilla topped with shredded sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese and some chopped scallions (green onions). You could also try a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, which is as tangy and thick as sour cream.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons brown sugar

28-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes (available at supermarkets)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ cup water or vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

2 15-ounce cans red beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, add oil. When hot, cook onion 1 minute until softened.

2. Add garlic, chili, cumin and sugar and stir to coat. Cook 30 seconds longer.

3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, water or broth, bay leaf and simmer 10 minutes. Add beans and continue to cook 10 minutes longer.

4. Remove bay leaf. Stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Italian White Bean and Shrimp Salad



This flavorful salad is best served at room temperature on a bed of arugula. If you don’t have arugula, you can use spinach. You can also substitute cooked chicken breast for shrimp.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 stalks celery, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest (outer yellow skin only)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound medium peeled and deveined grilled shrimp

5 ounces organic arugula, optional

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine beans, celery, garlic, parsley, rosemary, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add grilled shrimp, toss again and serve over arugula.

Hillary Tonken is a professional chef with more than 30 years experience and has done everything in the food business from cookbook author to photographic food stylist and culinary school instructor. She is a frequent contributor to Completely You.


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