I ate a lot of beans in college. Money was tight, and beans were cheap. A big pot went a long way in those days towards filling my belly without emptying my wallet.
I’m not complaining. I happen to like beans. My family likes them as well. As it turns out, there’s a lot to like:
Nutrition: It’s no wonder, since Jim became a vegan, that we are consuming more beans than ever. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, 1/4 cup of cooked beans = 1 ounce of animal protein. They’re also a great source of vitamins A and C, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, folic acid and iron. Did I mention that they’re high in fiber and low in sodium and fat?
Low cost: Despite how incredibly healthy beans are, somewhere along the way they picked up a reputation for cheapness. As in not fashionable. They seem to conjure up images of dirty-faced, Depression era children in faded, patched overalls scraping them up from tin plates. But, considering the aforementioned nutritional benefits, they are literally worth their weight in, if not gold, then cold hard cash.
Look for them in the bulk section of your grocery store for even greater savings.
Versatility: Beans are the Marlon Brandos (or Matt Damons, depending on your age and inclination) of the food world. Hand them a script and they’ll play their part with academy award winning aplomb. From main dish to dessert there are literally bazillions of tasty recipes out there.
Here are a few I’ve found online that have made repeat performances at our table:
- Black Bean and Quinoa Chili
- World’s Easiest Falafel
- Roasted Fennel and White Bean Dip
- Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies
Stored in tightly sealed glass jars/plastic tubs, they have an almost unlimited shelf life. But make a point to consume them in at least year’s time for best flavor. While the unassuming bean may never be chic, it’s an inexpensive, nutritional powerhouse that deserves a starring role in your meal plans.