There aren’t a lot of foods that can hold more than one place on the food pyramid. But, long before we started talking about super foods, ancient peoples knew the benefits this humble food had to offer; as a vegetable, a protein, and a healer.
In traditional Indian medicine, there exists an ages-old system of living and healing that includes a vegetarian diet using legumes like lentils, beans, and peas to keep the body healthy. Now, beyond the Middle-Eastern cultures, many people recognize the power of the bean to support whole nutrition and well-being. Here, we discuss some of the benefits of beans, and why they are leading a double life as a well respected super food.
Perfect Nutrition On Many Levels
Legumes are edible seeds contained in pods, and beans are part of that family. By their very nature, beans have a convenience factor that makes them a favorite food in many parts of the world. They are generally inexpensive and store well with the potential for a long shelf life, particularly when they are dried. Beans offer sustained nutrition and energy due to the fact they have a low glycemic index, meaning they provide energy to the body over a long period of time.
You won’t get bored quickly eating beans, either. There is virtually an endless variety of beans and legumes to choose from, as well as a mountain of recipes to try when adding beans to your healthy diet. A short list of beans would include navy beans, black beans, lentils, soybeans, great northern beans, mung beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas, and kidney beans.
Beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins, and are naturally low in fat, calories, and sodium. You can serve beans in nutritious main dishes or side dishes that will satisfy your appetite with less-costly consequences to your body, or budget. These reasons alone would easily earn beans their super food status, but there’s more!
Eating several servings of beans each day, not only helps you reach your daily vegetable requirement, but those same beans also add up as your protein intake. Yes, those inexpensive, versatile beans are a protein. That’s why we consider them a double-duty super food.
Beans can easily be combined in recipes with other protein sources, vegetables, and starches like corn, whole wheat, or brown rice to create ‘complete proteins’ containing all the necessary amino acids our bodies require to function well.
2 (15 1/4 oz.) cans lima beans, drained
2 (15 oz.) cans butter beans, drained
2 sweet red peppers, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C of lemon juice
1/2 C of olive oil
4 table spoons of cider vinegar
2 teas spoons of ground cumin
1/2 t pepper
Place both types of beans into a serving bowl and toss to combine. Add the red peppers, green peppers, onion and garlic and toss again. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil and vinegar. Add the cumin and pepper and whisk until blended in well. Pour the mixture over the bean mixture and toss to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Preparation time: approximately 15 minutes; total time: approximately 15 minutes.
Makes 16 servings.
Note: You can add or change the type of beans used in this recipe. For example, try kidney beans, black-eyed peas or more, for a three-bean or five-bean salad. Get creative!
Selwyn Richards is an award-winning master chef. He is also the President and Executive Chef at The Art of Catering Inc. and is the author of “The Art of Cooking: Soul of The Caribbean”. Chef Selwyn can be reached at: email@example.com or by phone — (905) 619-1059.