Let's admit it, Ladies and Gentlemen. Although we refrain from speaking such things in public forums, for many of us, "Beans! Beans! A wonderful fruit…" is the extent of our knowledge and know-how of these wonderful, hard-shelled legumes! Yes, they do cause…flatulence…but did you know that flatulence decreases as your body adjusts to having legumes in your diet?

"Why should I care a hill of beans about beans?"

  • They're so cheap – on average $1.00 per pound or less (dried)! And, they only get heavier when they expand.
  • Protein packed – substitute beans for meat in your favorite dishes.
  • More fiber and folate (natural folic acid). Very low in bad fat, and high in healthy fat
  • Vitamin packed – stop spending your money (doctor directed) on "one-a-days" and eat beans!
  • Abounding in antioxants that keep cells healthy and immunities high.

I know, it can be intimidating looking at that bag of dried beans, or even cans, on the store shelf. I mean, whose kids or husband ask for beans for dinner?  But I promise, once you start, it becomes easier. So go ahead, buy just one bag. It may sit on your shelf for a while, but it's a start. Go now, buy a bag of kidney, pinto, black beans, or dried peas.

Ok, you bought a bag of dried beans – now what? Please do not eat them hard. First, they can break your teeth. Second, some beans are rather toxic eaten in their raw form. So it is best to always cook them! Each bag will tell you how to prepare and cook them.

"How can I sneak them into meals?"

  • Lasagna or other Italian dishes hide black beans well. Mix them in with your hamburger. Nobody will ever know.
  • Sloppy Joes hide pinto and black beans well.
  • Make them into dips or spreads. Hummus is the traditional one, but there are many others. Just start playing with them. With some added garlic and olive oil, you can puree many beans into a cold dip or use as a spread.
  • Drop a few into any garden salad. The nutty taste is amazing with dressing.
  • Garbanzo (chick peas) blend well with pastas.
  • Chili is probably the one meal where we already use beans! But don't just use kidney beans; add white beans, black beans, garbanzo beans. Any will work, and they add color, taste, and texture.
  • Add beans to your Mexican food. To stretch your meat, pair it with a bean: hamburger and black beans or chicken and white beans.
  • All bean salads are amazing. See how colorful you can make them. Add oil, vinegar and sugar to the mix. Throw in some tomatoes, onions and corn. These are amazingly healthy and yummy!

 

There's a whole world of beans out there to be discovered. Just start your search by seeing what your local grocer or farmers market has; even check online. Learn about them with your family, and, bit by bit, you'll quickly realize what a difference these little guys can make in cutting down your food budget.  Add one recipe at a time, and it will be all downhill from there!

This has been a guest post by Cherith from Quincy, Michigan
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