Bean Edition: Know Your Legumes
Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit...They Really Are!
Beans are one of the healthiest foods that many Americans are not taking full advantage of in their diet! They are a great source of fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates and iron. The great thing about beans is that they go well in almost any style of dish: main dishes, salads, soups and dips. Read this guide to find out everything you need to know about these little legumes with big flavor.
The Azuki bean is grown widely throughout East Asia and the Himalayas. They are loaded with nutrients and are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and vitamin A. These beans are thought to treat kidney ailments as well as other illnesses.
This bean (aka Aztec bean, Cave bean, New Mexico Appaloosa) is a red and white bean native to the North American Southwest. Similar to pinto beans, these red and white speckled beans were originally grown by Native Americans.
Black Turtle - These small, shiny beans are especially popular in Latin American and Southwestern cuisine.The black turtle bean has a dense, meaty texture and flavor reminiscent of mushrooms, which makes it popular in vegetarian dishes such as a black bean burrito.
Also known as cow peas, black-eyed peas are a southern staple. They are rich in potassium and phosphorus. Try them the traditional way, served with steamed greens and a splash of vinegar.
Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas are a staple food in the Middle East and are high in potassium, calcium, iron and vitamin A. These round, pale yellow legumes are traditionally used to make hummus - a thick mixture of chickpeas and tahini used as a dip or spread - and they are also great with grains.
These medium-sized red beans get their name from their distinctive shape. Kidney beans are a staple in many Mexian and Northern Indian meals, and they work equally well in soups and stews. Try mixing them with other cooked beans and tossing them in a light vinaigrette for a quick and easy, super nutritious salad.
A member of the pea family, these small, disk-shaped seeds have been found in excavations dating from the Bronze Age. These little legumes are nutritional dynamos - they are high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, chlorine, sulfur and vitamin A - and are available in brown, red, and green varieties.
Lima beans have a distinctive flavor and are loaded with potassium, phosphorus and vitamin A. They take a little longer to cook, but they are worth the wait. Serve them hot, tossed with fresh basil or rosemary and a little olive oil.
These small, dark green beans are grown in India and the Orient. Sprouted, they are the mainstay of stir-fries and make a wonderful addition to salads. Try tossing a handful of sprouted mung beans in soups just before serving, or mix them with millet and a little ground cumin for a savory side dish.
Particularly popular in Britain and the United States, the hefty size and hearty texture of these flavorful white beans makes them the perfect bean for soups and stews. Or try mixing them with diced carrots and slivers of green pepper for a hot side dish or cold salad.
These flavorful members of the legume family come in both yellow and green varieties and make a wonderfully substantial soup that is easy to make and loaded with nearly any grain and are especially delicious with buckwheat or wild rice.
Along with black turtle and kidney beans, pinto beans are a favorite from the Southwest. Named for its mottled skin, they are rich in calcium, potassium and phosphorus, and they make great soups.
The soybean has been a major source of food and oil in the Asia for thousand of years, but it was unknown in Europe and America until 1900. The soybean is the only legume that's a complete protein by itself, and it is the most versatile bean around - you will find soybeans in a variety of forms, from dried or toasted soybeans to tofu, miso, tempeh and tamari.
About the Author
Kathryn Steed is a writer and editor for Recipe4Living.com, an ever-growing recipe sharing website. For more articles like this, or for a large collection of recipes, visit the site as http://www.Recipe4Living.com.