On November 18, 2012 by Kelly

**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.

uses for beans and nutritional infoWhether you’re looking to improve your nutrition or decrease your food budget, cooking with more beans and legumes is a great way to go. The nutritional value of beans is rarely contested, no matter in what healthy philosophy circles you run.

We eat a lot of beans in my family, but it wasn’t always this way for me. From the time I was a child, all the way through to somewhere in college, I really disliked beans. Chili was always on my “don’t eat it if you can help it” list, and I avoided refried beans. I’m not sure what happened to my taste buds – or most likely my texture sensors – but I’ve grown to love them. The more I learn about beans, the more I find to love. First, of course, beans are very frugal, weighing in at far less per pound than meat but packing a protein punch. Nutritionally, here are some foodie science geek stats for you to peruse: Beans will give you the following nutritional benefits:

All those nutrients can improve your health:

This is a serious list. If you are pregnant, trying to conceive, diabetic, pre-diabetic, or it runs in your family, have a family history of heart disease or high LDL cholesterol, want to lose weight, have digestive issues, or are just poor and want healthy food…EAT MORE BEANS!

How to Use Beans More Often

If your family enjoys beans, you can just find more bean recipes, like

Three Bean Soup RecipeThree Bean Soup (found in The Everything Beans Book)

Mexican beans and rice Mexican Beans and Rice Mexican Stuffed PeppersMexican Stuffed Peppers Recipe (can be grain-free!)

But what about those families, moms included (I used to be one!), who just don’t like beans? There’s still hope, I promise. You can do lots of creative things with beans that will change the texture and still add the power-packed nutrients. Try beans pureed and fried, like in these Chickpea Wraps: Chickpea Wraps Recipe No one will guess beans are the main base in this pasta with white bean sauce:

pasta with white bean sauce

  •  Try adding (cooked) lentils to your tacos or sloppy joes in place of part of the meat (no more than 1/4 to a half).
  • Pureed white beans go right into mashed potatoes, no questions asked
  • pureed red beans hide in any red sauce
  • lentils can hide in a number of casseroles if you are willing to risk it
  • the last recipe in The Everything Beans Book is a black bean brownie, based off this grain-free brownie from Naturally Knocked Up (also a blondie version with white beans and vanilla) – cross my heart, no one will know they’re full of beans. 😉

November Week 3  Action Item:OAMM Get Real Series

Each week we will try to give you some simple action steps to put this journey into practice. It is important that you start this journey by understanding yourself, your goals and perhaps your obstacles.
  1. Embrace a legume this week – choose a bean to grace your meal plan, find a new recipe, use legumes in a new way, or even choose a name you’re unfamiliar with and put a bag in your shopping cart. (Next week we’ll talk about what to do with those bags of beans if you’ve always been a can person.)
  2. Try cutting the meat in tacos or sloppy joes, or even a meat-heavy chili recipe, and using lentils or beans instead.

November Get Real:

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Guest Author: Katie of Kitchen Stewardship