My family has stopped eating a lot of meat. My daughter is a vegetarian, my son eats it only occasionally and my husband is trying to eat less meat because of his high cholesterol. For a while I would always cook a vegetarian version of a meal, but lately I’ve started to just leave meat out entirely and no one seems to mind. But cutting down on meat or poultry means having to replace it with something that provides the protein and other nutrients we look for in meat—beans and legumes are the perfect answer.
In fact, there are many reasons to include more dried or canned beans in your family meals. Aside from their flavor, beans provide protein, fiber, important minerals and plenty of healthful antioxidants. They are also nature’s best source of folate—a vital nutrient during pregnancy. They’re inexpensive and help stretch the family food budget. Beans are versatile and can be a part of every mealtime. There’s also a lot of new medical research that links eating beans to improved blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, cardiovascular health and even weight loss.
Perhaps you want to include more beans and legumes in your meals but you just don’t know how. Here are some tips and recipes to get you started. Another resource for recipes and information about beans is http://www.beaninstitute.com
Tips for Including More Beans in Family Meals
- Breakfast Burritos: wrap some beans, grated cheese, scrambled eggs & salsa in a corn or flour tortilla. It’s a quick grab & go breakfast!
- Make it a Meal Salad: toss any kind of bean into your salad to make it a filling entrée with added protein & fiber.
- Beans & Pasta: add some beans to your favorite pasta dish—you’ll find that it’s a great complement to either a tomato or cream sauce.
- Hearty Soups: nothing is easier than making soup out of leftovers—simply add a can of beans and some broth and make a delicious heart warming soup.
- Baked Potato Bar: bake up some sweet or white potatoes and top them with beans, grated cheese and your favorite veggies—dinner’s ready in minutes!
- Snacks: try roasting rinsed canned garbanzo or lima beans tossed with a little oil, salt and your favorite spices. A perfectly healthy snack to nibble on!