Never A Boring Bean

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Beans…what to do with that dried bag of beans or the endless cans sitting in your pantry?  Beans are a great side dish but can even star as creative meat-less main.  Not a widely chosen food for a main dish…but a food that can be transformed into something wonderfully delicious!

Beans fall into the category of plants known as legumes – a plant that has pods (think peanuts or green beans or peas).  And they’ve been apart of the human diet for centuries! Most food scientists believe that beans are one of the first and longest cultivated plants in human history.  There is even evidence that beans were being used as a food source as early as 7000 BC in Mexico and Peru and 9750 BC in Thailand.

Although their history is fascinating, the myriad of benefits provided by beans is phenomenal.  Comparable to meat in calories with 20% protein, beans have two outstanding components that give them a step up;  fiber and water.  One cup of cooked beans provides about 12 g of fiber (half of the daily recommended amount for us women and 1/3 for men).  The water and fiber content of beans helps you fill up quick and stay full longer.  And phytochemicals (amazing health-promoting compounds found only in plants).  Beans (especially navy, red and black beans) topped the chart in high amounts of these phytochemicals making them a perfect meat exchange.

So what can you do with beans?  Try out the recipe pictured above from Cooking Light Magazine:  “Homemade Black Bean Burgers.”  They were meaty and delicious!  Or try my Fava Bean Pesto with Penne.

Fun Bean Fact:  All varieties of beans grown in the US are not native plants.  Most varieties originated from Africa, Asia or the Middle East and were brought to the US by nomadic tribes coming from across the Bering Strait into Alaska.

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