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Give Beans a Try!

Give Beans a Try!  11/04/16What does it mean, “seize the day?”  If you are a fan of the sitcom, “Cheers,” you can perhaps imagine Cliff Clavin explaining it this way, “It’s a little known fact that seize the day has its origin in the Latin ‘carpe diem,’ and it means to make the most of the present time, moment, or opportunity.” 

With the change in seasons, it is time to “seize the day” at my house and get busy cooking up one of my family’s favorite fall/winter foods: chili.  Dry beans are a key ingredient to chili at my house, whether it be chicken chili and beef chili.

Dry edible beans, such as pinto, navy, kidney, pink and black beans, along with lentils, peas, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), peanuts and soybeans are members of the legume family. Legume plants produce seeds inside a pod.  Dry beans are the mature seeds within those pods. Three cheers for ND agriculture!

Dry edible beans are economical, nutrient-rich foods.  They provide protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals at a relatively low calorie cost.   Because of their unique nutrient package, including beans in our diet could improve overall health, and at the same time reduce the risk of developing certain diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and some cancers.  They have also been proven to be useful in managing blood sugar levels.

Dry beans are an excellent source of folate.  Folate is a B-vitamin.  In synthetic form, it is referred to as folic acid.  It is essential for the production of red blood cells in the human body, and it is also essential for the healthy development of an embryo’s nervous system during the early stages of pregnancy, even before the woman may be aware of her pregnancy.

There are four basic steps when cooking with dry beans:  1) clean, to remove any broken beans or foreign objects, 2) rinse in a colander under cold running water, 3) soak and 4) cook. The “hot soak” method is the preferred method.  However, traditional soak and quick soak methods are also options.  When using canned beans, draining and rinsing them will reduce the sodium content by more than 30%.

People often hesitate to consume beans, fearing “the musical fruit” will cause them to experience discomfort and/or embarrassment. To reduce the likelihood of this, “seize the day” with these tips from the NDSU Extension publication, “All About Beans:”

  • Increase beans in your diet slowly. For example, you may start by eating 2 to 4 tablespoons of beans per day, and gradually increase each day.
  • Drink more water each day as you eat more beans (or other fiber-containing foods).
  • Use the hot soak method when preparing dry beans. The longer beans soak, the more you will reduce the amounts of the gas-producing compounds.
  • Change the water several times when soaking dry beans, and discard this water when soaking is completed. Many of the gas-causing carbohydrates are released into this soaking water.
  • Rinse canned beans before eating or using in recipes.

Reference:  https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/all-about-beans-nutrition-health-benefits-preparation-and-use-in-menus/fs1643-all-about-beans.pdf

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/dried-beans-vegetarian-peas-organic-763158/    (downloaded 11/08/16)


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