Article: What can you do with a can of beans?

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Dear Timaree: “I have heard that beans are good for me, but I don’t know why… and what can I do with a can of them?”

Here is a question for a question… What food is so versatile that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, is a great source of vitamins (especially thiamin, folic acid, niacin and vitamin B6) and minerals (iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and zinc), a wonderful source of protein and fiber, very inexpensive and super easy to cook?… LEGUMES?!  This group of beans and peas, truly earns their superfood status!  And, you’ll never get bored because there are so many to choose from… Adzuki beans, black beans (turtle beans), black-eyed peas, cannellini beans, cranberry beans, flageolet beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), Great Northern beans, green beans (fresh), red and white kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, peanuts, pinks beans, pinto beans, pinquito beans, Roman beans, soybeans (edamame), yellow and green split peas and more…

While it doesn’t get any easier than tossing canned beans into breakfast burritos, salads, soups, whole grains, chili or pasta dishes, some can be relatively high in sodium. Here’s what you can do to reduce the sodium content:
1.Buy 50% less sodium varieties (lower sodium and regular canned beans are often on sale for less than $0.70 per can).
2.Rinse those canned beans!  This can reduce the sodium content by as much as 70%!
3.Consider buying organic beans, especially when they are on sale, as they tend to be lower in sodium (look for beans with less than 250 mg of sodium per serving).

Dry beans are an amazing value, and I’ll give you some helpful tips for cooking those, as well as more ideas for incorporating legumes into your meals very soon! In the meantime, check out a great website with 100+ bean recipes! http://www.beansforhealth.com/recipes/

Timaree Hagenburger, is a registered dietitian and certified health fitness specialist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College, does corporate wellness work, as well as professional speaking engagements and teaches hands-on cooking/nutrition classes.

My article was published in the Lodi News Sentinel on October 6, 2010.

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