Judy E. Buss
O.K., we all made fun of beans with our comrades in kindergarten… Let’s take a fresh look at this remarkable food. Beans are nutritional gems, loaded with potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorous, B vitamins, protein and more. They are low in fat and high in fiber. Canned ones are, by far, less nutritious. Beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts are members of the legume family – the seeds found in pods of a particular group of plants.
Legumes are complex carbohydrates, and unlike simple carbohydrates, are digested longer, releasing a steady, slow supply of glucose. This helps stabilize blood sugar, a fundamental factor in the maintenance of good health, particularly of hypoglycemia or diabetes sufferers. Beans are also extremely filling, and help prevent general overeating.
Soybean products have been enthusiastically added to menus around the country. Tofu can take on any flavor, and comes in the form of Firm, Soft, and Silken textures. Firm tofu can be cubed and added to raw vegetable salads, stews, soups, etc. Soy milk is lactose and cholesterol-free and is a good substitute for milk, also in cooking and baking. Soy sauce is used in cooking and in salads. Among other soy products are flour, nuts, sprouts, and soy protein.
Beans, peas, and lentils are exceptionally versatile. They can be used in dips, salads, veggie burgers, stews, and soups. Combined with grains of any kind, they provide complete protein and can be substituted for meat. This can contribute to an excellent and economical weight-control strategy if consumed at least twice a week! Cooking beans does not require a major time investment; a faster method is given below. Cook a double batch and refrigerate the rest for another meal. (Remember to use up the beans within 6 days, before they grow penicillin…)
Fast bean cooking method:
FIRST PRECOOK: Check the beans for debris. Rinse them in a colander, place in a medium pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let stand in the hot water for one hour (time to walk the dog…). Drain the beans, cover with 2 inches of fresh water, and add a half teaspoon of ground ginger to reduce the unwanted side effect of eating beans. (The cooked beans will not taste like ginger as a result).
TO COOK THE BEANS: Cooking-time varies for each type of legume: Black-eyed peas – 15 minutes; chickpeas, pinto, and navy beans – 45; black beans – 90; split peas – 45. Lentils require no soaking or precooking and take only 20 minutes to cook.
Join the millions of “beaniacs” of the world. Make legumes permanent residents in your kitchen, and explore the limitless and delicious possibilities of this power food! Below is a recipe for you to try – Enjoy!
1 Firm tofu brick
4 fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons purple onion, finely chopped
1/2 small, green bell pepper, seeded, diced
1-1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
Drain the tofu and blot the access water with paper towels. In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, garlic, and onion. Cut the tofu into ½ inch cubes, and gently mix with the dressing. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
“Mission Nutrition” Tips and Recipe from Judy E. Buss, Health Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor.
Excerpted from Judy E. Buss’ article, first published in the “Feeling Fit” Magazine, Sun Coast Media Group newspapers, Florida.
Stay tuned for more Judy E. Buss’ “Mission Nutrition” words of wisdom and recipes.