It woud be hard to invent a healthier food than the humble bean. Oounce for ounce beans are 22% protein, more than any other plant food. Cholesterol free, salt free, gluten free and high in fiber, beans also deliver an impressive payload of B vitamins, zinc and potassium. But wait there’s more. Beans have almost as much calcium as skin milk.This profile– high in protein and fiber and low in fat –is exactly what researchers found when they looked at the links between diet and skin aging. And while prime beef is now $10-20/pound, one pound of dried beans is less than $2– which works out to less than 30 cents per serving. Seriously. .
Beans From Around the World
Beans are one of the oldest cultivated foods. They have been found in Egyptian tombs and are metioned in the Bible. In fact, Esau sold his birthright for a dish of beans. Beans are prominent in a wide range of cultures and countries including Italy, USA, Mexico, Turkey, Latin America, Egypt and India.
The Problem with Beans
Affordable and healthy, beans have one big problem– they can cause bloating and indigestion. In addition to an admirable nutritional profile, beans contain an indigestible sugar complex that ferments into gas in our large intestine.
Some people are more affected than others and soaking dry beans overnight before cooking can cut back on the problem. If beans still cause bloating, limit portions to 1/2 cup and don’t combine with other gas producing foods like cabbage
Learning to Cook with Beans
I have to admit that until I realized their beauty benefits, beans were not on my shopping list. Once I realized their health and nutritional benefits, I decided to commit to two servings of beans a week. To stick to this pledge, I developed a handful of bean recipes that friends and family would enjoy. My recipe for white bean spread turned out to be especially popular. A little pot served with crostini is the perfct appetizer. Spread on whole wheat pita and tpped with olives and tomates, this spread makes a terriffic sandwich. If you’re gluten free spread some on soft lettuce leaves top with chopped red onions, role it up and dip in cucumber yogurt ssauce. Last week I served it simply with a plate of raw veggies when a video shoot ran late. Just about the only thing I haven’t tried was a bean spread face mask.
Rustic Bean Spread
Ingredients: one can navy beans,drained , one medium potato, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 cup of chopped onions, 2 clove of grlic, chopped, 1/4 teasoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Directions: Cook the potato for 30 minutes or until soft. Peel and cut up into one inch pieces and set aside. Heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Toss in the potatoes, herbs, beans, and season with salt and pepper. Stir over low heat for a few minutes. Cool a bit, then dump into food processor. Blend until fairly smooth. If the mixture seems dry drizzle in addiitonal olive oil.