As a vegetarian, a main "meat" of my diet is beans. I eat beans twice a day: bean soup, beans and rice, hummus, etc. I firmly believe a diet rich in beans is crucial for good health. Here are some good reasons to eat beans.
They're full of fiber. You get about 8 grams of fiber per half cup, nearly a third of your daily fiber need. Fiber helps you lose weight, stay regular and stave off chronic disease.
They're rich in nutrients. Just half a cup of most beans covers 30 - 45% of your daily requirement of folic acid (a B vitamin that helps out your heart and helps prevent cancer and birth defects). They're also rich in iron, which helps prevent anemia, and magnesium, which is important for your heart and bones.
They're high in protein. Soybeans are "complete" proteins. And many beans have all the amino acids required to make protein, except for one called methionine. So eat bread or rice on the same day, since these starches have the missing amino acid.
And in honor of Bean Day I'm sharing with you one of my favorite bean recipes. It's one of the tops in all categories at my house (healthy, flavorful, hearty, warming, and long lasting - make it once and you have a week's worth of lunches). This is a moderately spicey soup, which is excellent on a cold winter day in which you may be feeling a little under the weather. Also, when following this recipe, try to obtain only organic ingredients. Here you go:
Adzuki Bean Soup
What you will need
- 8 ounces dry adzuki beans, soaked overnight (Please don't use canned. It's not nearly as good for you.)
- 6 cups water (A variation that I use is sodium-free, or low sodium, vegetable stock.)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced (I don't like celery, so I use carrots instead)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs, finely chopped (rosemary, oregano, parsley, chives, basil, or a combination of your choice)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 cloves
- 2 teaspoons salt (1 teaspoon if using low sodium vegetable stock and none if using full sodium vegetable stock)
- 3 teaspoons white pepper
- a large handful (or two) of fresh kale, chopped
- Rinse pre-soaked beans and place in a large pot.
- Add water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- While the beans are simmering, heat olive oil in a large skillet on med-high heat and saute all vegetables (except the kale) for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then set aside.
- Add the sauteed vegetables and all the spices to the beans.
- Bring back to a boil.
- Again reduce heat to simmer, covered, for another hour, stirring occasionally.
- Once it's done, add the kale and stir.
- Serve with some really hardy multigrain bread.
Happy Bean Day!