Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eat...more beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit....yes, you know the rest! My clients get pretty sick of me talking about the health benefits of beans but they are on a very important list of the healthiest foods that you are not eating! As a vegetarian, beans are a huge part of my diet but most of us tend only to eat beans in chili, hummus or refried form. So I've come up with 5 good reasons to get to know the lowly bean...

1. Fibre: No plant food has more fibre and since the average Canadian only gets 14 grams of fibre a day - it is time to reach for beans! Depending on the bean, the average is 5 grams of fibre per half cup. Not too shabby indeed.

2. Protein: we all need to eat more plant based protein for our health, the health of the environment and the health of our wallets. Beans are a great source of protein and are easy to add to salads, soups, casseroles and more to beef up (no pun intended!) the protein. Just rinse canned beans and add them to your favourite foods.

3. Slow Carbs: the ultimate slow carb source, the carbohydrates in beans (and nutrient balance in general) ensure a nice steady rise in blood sugar for sustained energy and hormone balance.

4. Potassium: 3/4 cup of lentils, like other beans, have 540 mg of potassium. Potassium is severely lacking in our processed food world and is vital for healthy blood pressure regulation.

5. Magnesium: another "if only we ate more whole foods" nutrient, most of us don't get enough magnesium...and not because it doesn't exist in foods! Magnesium is vital for muscle contraction and heart health; magnesium also has a calming effect on the body 3/4 cup of most beans have about 50 mg of magnesium...you only need about 350 mg a day.

So here is a little comfort food for the last days of winter....my Beans and Greens Casserole! This recipe will easily serve 4-6 hungry people -

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Bring quinoa and water to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, fluff and re-cover for later.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-3 cloves garlic
1/2 large sweet onion
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
2 19oz cans of your favourite beans, such as white cannellini beans or chickpeas

1 lb of your favourite greens, such as broccoli, kale or spinach
2 tbsp soy sauce
chili flakes to taste

1 cup 1% cottage cheese
2 cups light (not low fat) aged cheddar, grated

Chop onion, garlic and greens. Drain and rinse one can of beans. Leave the other can with liquid intact.
Heat oil over medium heat, add onions and saute until glossy. Add garlic, oregano and rosemary and saute for a minute more - don't let the garlic brown.

Add both cans of beans and simmer for 10 minutes then add greens and simmer until tender. Add soy sauce and chili flakes.

Place quinoa, cottage cheese and beans mixture into a 9 x 12 baking dish and mix until thoroughly combined. Top with cheddar and bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.

To lower the sodium, use salt free beans and reduced sodium soy sauce.


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