By Gina Noe
They’re high in satisfying protein and provide a heaping dose of fiber and complex carbohydrates. They are low in fat, yet high in fiber. They are inexpensive, easy to keep on hand, and simple to prepare.
What magical food has all these qualities? The answer is a Kentucky favorite, the bean.
Beans are a great addition to a healthy diet. People like the way they taste and enjoy the variety beans can add to salads, soups and main dishes.
One of the best things about beans is that they are a form of slowly absorbed carbohydrate. This means they supply a steady amount of energy and are an excellent choice for people concerned about their blood sugar, such as athletes and people with diabetes or hypoglycemia. Beans are also a good source of soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower blood cholesterol.
You may purchase canned or dried beans. The primary difference between canned and dried beans is how long it takes to cook them. Canned beans are more convenient and are just as nutritious as the dried form.
If you are concerned about sodium intake, preparing beans from scratch will allow you to add less salt. You can reduce the amount of sodium in canned products by discarding the liquid and rinsing.
To cook a pot of dry beans, add six cups of cold water for each pound of beans. You can soak them overnight or boil for two minutes and soak for one hour. Discard the soaking water, rinse the beans and cook with fresh water.
Beans and bean soups freeze well. Cook a double batch and freeze them to use in later recipes or for individual servings.
If you like beans, but they don’t seem to like you, try them again, but start small. Research has shown that people tolerate beans better if they are added slowly to the diet. Try small amounts more often at first, for example, a 1/2 cup serving, twice a week.
Jennifer Howard, Clark County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences, will be sharing more tips on cooking with beans as well as some delicious recipes during our Magical Bean class on Tuesday, Jan. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. The class will be free and open to the public. Call the Madison County Extension Service, 623-4072, so we will have plenty of handouts, recipes, and samples.
The class will be held at the Madison County Extension Education Center, 230 Duncannon Lane, Richmond.
Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.