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A Hill of Beans

A Hill of Beans

Why are beans so good?
What are some cool ways to eat beans?
Is it better to cook dried beans from scratch?

The whole world loves legumes (peas and dried beans). Mexican food features kidney, pinto, and black beans. From India, we get dal, which is made with spiced, blended lentils and served over rice. In the Middle East, chickpeas are pureed to make hummus, a smooth paste you can spread on pita bread. In Asia, azuki beans are made into a sweet red bean paste that's stuffed into steamed buns and served with pancakes or ice cream. And in the United States, every region seems to have its own version of baked beans. back to top

Why are beans so good?
Legumes have almost as much protein as meat, but they're much lower in calories and have little fat (except for soybeans). Beans are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber too. Bite for bite, they're packed with nutrients you can use. And legumes are much less expensive than meat, poultry, and fish. back to top

What are some cool ways to eat beans?
  • Peas and dried beans taste great cooked in soups and stews. Try chili, black bean soup, or split pea soup, or add cooked beans to any vegetable soup.
  • Mix three or more types of cooked beans together to make a cold bean salad. For a complete meal, add cold, cooked pasta and chopped vegetables. Or spoon the cold beans over a green salad.
  • Mash together cooked rice, cooked beans (chickpeas or lentils work best), and chopped onions and celery. Add a little fresh parsley for color and flavor, and then form the mixture into veggie burgers. Brown the burgers in a nonstick pan or broil them.
  • Puree beans and chicken or vegetable broth in a blender to make a smooth sauce. Add garlic and herbs, like basil and oregano. Heat and serve over cooked pasta. back to top
Is it better to cook dried beans from scratch?
Some people prefer cooking dried beans rather than buying beans in a can. Freshly cooked beans are firmer, and you may find that they taste better. Lentils and split peas cook faster than black beans and kidney beans. Of course, beans from a can are just as nutritious as dried beans, so don't feel you have to cook your own. Canned beans may have extra salt, but you can get rid of it by draining the liquid from the can and rinsing the beans before eating them. You can eat canned beans cold or heat them up. back to top

Last Modified Date: 4/2/2001
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