If you have recently discovered that you need to eat a more plant-based diet, you may also be wondering how on earth to get some protein that is satisfying, tasty and not an animal product. We’re here to help, and daresay, spill the beans on how to do just that (you knew that was coming).
Beans not only contain protein but are also high in fiber, which means they fill you up and they scrub out the bad stuff in your digestive tract. They are also low in fat, so you don’t have to feel one iota of guilt for eating them. Hurrah!
Let’s start with the different types of beans, and we’ll also tell you why they are so good for you. They cover the gamut of goodness, from cancer fighters to heart healers to anti-aging agents.
The kind of beans we use most are BLACK BEANS. Not only are they an easy substitute for meat in everything from soups toburritos to burgers, they also contain anthocyanins, (also known as antioxidants) which prevent disease and fight aging by knocking out free radicals. Anthocyanins also may fight inflammation, viruses and cancer. That means they are good for preventing heart disease (by improving cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar). Anthocyanins can also boost brain power. Who couldn’t use some help with THAT??
We love us some LENTILS. Another great meat substitute, they are great in stews, salads and as a side dish. According to an International Journal of Cancer study, they have also been shown to prevent some forms of cancer, including breast, colon and prostate cancer. High in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, they also have a low glycemic index. They are also available in a variety of colors, so grab whichever kind your market has (did we mention how easy they are to cook?). Try our Lovely Lentil Soup here.>
Are you fan of hummus? Try GARBANZO BEANS or chickpeas. Great for stabilizing blood sugar thanks to their low glycemic index, garbanzos are also high in fiber (14 grams per cup!), antioxidants, iron and manganese. You can whip up an easy hummus or throw them in a salad, add to a wrap or mash them and use as a substitute for mayo on sandwiches.
Chili is never complete without KIDNEY BEANS (unless you are from Texas, in which case that would be ridiculous). High in cancer-fighting antioxidant manganese, these babies also have Vitamin K and thiamine (good for your noggin and may protect against Alzheimers ), eight grams of protein and five grams of fiber per serving. Throw them in a salad or in a hearty dip. We love our Cool California Chili.
WHITE BEANS are good for weight loss – that’s right, you heard me. They contain resistant starch, which helps boost your metabolism. They also have more cancer-fighting dietary fiber than kidney beans, flavonoids and phytochemicals, all good in the battle against the big C. Try this easy Italian Beans and Spinach recipe from my favorite Italian uncle here. Shout out, U.P.!
Tips for Cooking with Beans:
If you use dried beans, first rinse and remove any pebbles or other debris. Try to soak them in water to remove some of the oliosaccharides (those carbs that make them, ahem, harder to digest) or even better, soak in stock or broth for more flavor. Add to cold liquid, bring to a boil and then soak for 1-2 hours. If they soak for too long, they can ferment, which will make digestion even more difficult. Always discard the soaking liquid.
The longer you soak beans, the faster they cook. *Note that Lentils do not need to be soaked.*
If you use canned beans, try a brand like Eden Foods. They don’t use cans with BPA in the lining.
See?! Eating veggie does NOT have to taste bad! We have more vegetarian recipes in our NOURISH section.