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Living Well In Yalobusha County

Beans, Beans, Beans

By Pamela Redwine

Since we are in the middle of barbecue season I really have to ask: Who can sit down to eat ribs, hamburgers, pulled pork and not have baked beans?  Baked beans are an interesting food.  They are made from the navy bean and stewed in a sauce.  Although they are delicious, most baked beans are high in sugar.

Beans can be purchased two ways, dried or cooked.  The equivalents:  For most beans: 1 pound dried beans = 2 cups dried = 4 – 5.   Beans are low in fat and loaded with nutrients, and we’d probably eat more of them if they weren’t also loaded with flatulence-producing enzymes.  

There are ways to enjoy beans without having to forego social appointments, however.  One is to change the water from time to time while you’re soaking or cooking the beans. Pouring off the water helps gets rid of the indigestible complex sugars that create gas in your intestine.  It also helps to cook the beans thoroughly, until they can be easily mashed with a fork.  Most people who like beans, prefer dried beans. But canned beans are also available.  These don’t need to be cooked, but they tend to be saltier and less flavorful than reconstituted dried beans.  

Beans hold an important place in MyPyramid, the USDA’s recommended eating plan for Americans. Because of their nutrient content, beans and peas are the only foods that appear in two different food groups in the pyramid. In fact, beans are recommended by MyPyramid for everyone, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Below are answers to common questions about how beans fit into MyPyramid.

Why are beans listed in both the Meat and Beans Group and the Vegetable Group?

Beans fit into two groups because they have a nutrient profile similar to other foods in both the Meat and Beans Group and the Vegetable Group. Because they are a good source of protein, beans are listed in the Meat and Beans Group. Even better, unlike some other foods in this group, beans provide a low-fat, saturated fat-free, and cholesterol-free source of protein. And, because beans are a plant-based food that provide fiber, folate, potassium and antioxidants, they also are listed in the Vegetable Group.

When do beans count as Meat and Beans and when do they count as Vegetables?

Beans are generally counted in either the Meat and Beans Group or the Vegetable Group – but not both. People who seldom or never eat meat, poultry and fish would typically put beans in the Meat and Beans Group. People who consume the recommended amounts of meat, poultry and fish would put beans in the Vegetable Group.

How many servings of beans should I eat in a week?

For a 2,000 calorie daily diet, USDA recommends that people consume three cups of beans each week. That is about three times what the average American consumes today. (See for recommended bean intake at other calorie levels.) There are lots of easy ways to add beans to the diet: on top of salads, mixed into soups, in Mexican dishes, or as a side dish instead of rice or potatoes.

Why are beans sometimes referred to as dry beans?

“Dry beans” is the technical term for bean seeds that are allowed to dry in their pods until they are fully matured. The term “dry” does not refer to how the beans are packaged.

For example, both canned pinto beans and pinto beans sold in a bag are considered dry beans. Common types of dry beans include pinto beans, navy beans, black beans and kidney beans. Green beans are not considered dry beans because they are harvested before maturity and thus have a different nutritional profile than dry beans. Green beans are part of the Vegetable Group but not part of the Meat and Beans Group.

So, the next time you get ready to barbecue, why not try some of the other bean options out there.  After all there are many types of beans.

Recipe of the Week

By Pamela Redwine

Mexicali Bean and Cheese Salad

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1 boneless skinless chicken breast half 9about 6 ounces) ,cooked and shredded

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/3 cup rinsed and drained canned pinto beans

1/3 cup rinsed and drained canned kidney beans

1/2 cup chopped seeded fresh tomato

2 tablespoons drained canned diced milk green chilies

1 green onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 ounces reduced fat Mexican cheese blend or Monterey jack cheese, cut into 1/3 inch cubes

1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add garlic. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add red onion, chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir 3 minutes.  Add chicken, corn and beans. Cook 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

2. Spoon bean mixture into medium serving bowl. Add tomato, chilies, green onion and lime juice, toss to combine. Add cheese , toss to combine. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Makes  2 servings

Nutrients per Serving: 1/2 of total recipe

Calories 336

Fat 10g

Protein 36g

Carbohydrate 36g

Fiber 6g

Cholesterol 72mg

Sodium 606mg

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat

Recipe Source: Taste of Home’s Diabetic Cookbook 2006

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