"Mr. Beans" by Kenneth Leung on flickr.com CC BY 2.0
Non-animal sources of protein like beans are less expensive than meats. If you change to a bean-based meal on Mondays, you can potentially reduce your food bill. If you are not fond of beans, learn how to prepare them and use tasty recipes.
Beans, peas and peanuts are examples of legumes. Legumes are excellent sources of protein. In addition, they provide other nutrients that also are found in seafood, meats, and poultry, such as iron and zinc. They are also excellent sources of dietary fiber, potassium and folate.
Because beans have a similar nutrient profile to foods in both the protein foods group and the vegetable group, they may be thought of as either a vegetable or a protein food and thus, can be counted as a vegetable or a protein food to meet recommended intakes.
There are a wide variety of beans to choose from in the grocery aisle. Black, pinto, lima, kidney, and navy. Beans do make it easy for you to save money as you can interchange almost any bean for any recipe. So buy what's on sale!
Beans are available either dried, canned or some stores may offer frozen, but they may be more expensive. Here are two tips for cooking with beans.
- Dry beans need to be soaked before cooking. For each pound (2 cups) of dry, add 10 cups of cold water and let soak overnight or at least 8 hours.
- Canned beans are already presoaked and precooked. They are a great convenience but are a bit more expensive. Always drain and thoroughly rinse canned beans before using in a recipe.
To get started with meatless Monday, try this casserole for dinner.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 can (14 1/2 oz) stewed tomatoes, unsalted
- 1 can (15 1/2 oz) black beans, low-sodium, drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp oregano, dried
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1-1/2 cups brown rice, cooked or minute-rice
- Sauté onions and bell pepper in canola oil until tender. Do not brown.
- Add tomatoes (including liquid), beans, and oregano and garlic powder.
- Bring to a boil.
- Stir in rice and cover.
- Reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
How to Cook Dried Beans
- Sort: Before soaking beans, pick them over and remove any damaged beans, small stones or dirt.
- Soak: Most beans will re-hydrate to triple their dry size, so be sure to start with a large enough pot. Choose one of the following ways to soak your beans:
- Quick Soak: For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour. *Set aside for up to 4 hours to reduce gas.
- Overnight Soak: For each pound (2 cups) dry beans, add 10 cups cold water and let soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
- Cook: Drain soaking water and rinse beans. Cover beans with fresh water. Simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until tender.
Source: USDA's website