The food nicknamed “The Musical Fruit” is actually a pot of gold! Beans are packed with nutrients, are most economical, extremely versatile, and in their dry state do not require refrigeration. Dry beans, peas, and lentils, are members of the legume family. They are rich in protein, B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Legumes help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood glucose, are exceedingly low in fat, and provide ample fiber.
Beans can be transformed into literally hundreds of delicious dishes such as soups, stews, whole-meal salads, and dips. Combining beans (or lentils) with any whole grain, yields complete protein that can also form the basis for satisfying meatless meals. Canned beans are devoid of most of their nutrition, are overcooked and often contain artificial flavors, preservatives, high levels of sodium, sugar, fat, and other harmful chemicals.
Cooking most types of beans is much easier and faster than you think. Lentils do not require soaking whatsoever. Time can be saved by cooking a double amount, for a second meal a few days later.
Fast cooking method: Measure one cup of dry beans. Check for stones and other uninvited guests. Using a colander, thoroughly rinse them under running water then transfer them to a medium saucepan. Cover with water reaching 2 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Turn off the stove and let the beans soak in the hot water for 1 – 2 hours. Drain, and once again cover the beans with fresh water reaching 2 inches above them and cook until tender. Cooking time: Chickpeas (garbanzo) require 45 minutes; Black Eyed Peas 15 minutes; Pinto Beans 45-60 minutes; Black Beans 90 minutes; Split Peas 45 minutes; and Lentils (cooked without soaking) 25 minutes. If someone tells you that you are “full o’ beans”, your response should be “Amen!”
CURRIED LENTIL SALAD
1 cup dry lentils
2 tablespoons sweet onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Check the lentils for debris and other unwanted guests. Rinse them in a fine-mesh sieve and place in a small saucepan. Cover the lentils with water reaching 1 inch above them. Cook for 25 minutes, drain, and let cool a bit. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix the lentils with all the other ingredients. Serve with toasted whole wheat or multi grain pita wedges if desired.
“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.