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National Eat Your Beans Day: Here’s how to include more beans in your family’s diet

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Beans are making the news these days. From a health, environmental and longevity perspective, the mighty legumes are finally getting some well-deserved attention.

Samp and beans. Picture: Jo-Anne Reyneke

JULY 3 is National  Eat Your Beans Day, which reminds us to include more legumes in our diets.

Beans are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium.

They also contain healthy fats and soluble and insoluble fibre.

What’s more, beans are an excellent source of protein and are a healthy replacement for meat, which has no fibre and more fat and cholesterol.

Beans, peas and lentils are inexpensive and easy to incorporate into many meals and snacks – and even to eat on their own – when you have them on hand.

Keep a few cans of low or no-sodium beans and a few small bags of dried beans. If you have the chance to buy fresh beans from your local farmers market or grocery store, they are worth a try.

You can also keep some frozen varieties, like shelled edamame, in your freezer.

If time is an issue, go for canned beans or dried legumes that are smaller, like lentils or split peas, as they can be cooked in less time, and remember to always rinse canned and dried beans before eating.

In celebration of National Eat Your Beans Day, here’s how you can include more beans in your family’s diet.

Every salad needs a few beans. Picture: Pexels/Rasul

Toss them in a salad

Every salad needs a few beans. Whether it’s roasted chickpeas or some cooked heirloom favourites, beans are a great way to make your salads more substantial.

They add protein, nutrients, flavour and texture to any bowl. Top with a great dressing and you will have endless options.

Mix beans into breakfast

You can add hummus made with chickpeas to an egg sandwich or avocado toast.

Eggs, black beans, guacamole and salsa also make a great combo for a savoury morning.

Miso stew. Picture: Pexels/Change C

Make miso soup

It is a tasty winter warmer and even contains probiotic bacteria. Just boil some mushrooms and veg in water, spoon some of the hot water into a bowl, mix in the miso, then stir the miso back into the soup.

Roast them as snacks

Take some of the leftovers from your batch cooking and pop them in the oven with some olive oil. If you feel fancy, add some spices.

Spread on sandwiches

Hummus tastes great and is so easy to add to just about any food, especially sandwiches. It is a great substitution for mayo or other high-calorie spread.

For more inspiration, here is a vegan lentil and mushroom stew on butter bean mash recipe that you can try at home, courtesy of the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association.

Vegan lentil and mushroom stew on butter bean mash. Picture: Supplied

Vegan lentil and mushroom stew on butter bean mash

Serves: 6

Ingredients

For the butter bean mash

2 x 400g tins of butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 small clove garlic, grated finely

2 tbs lemon juice

4 tbs or 60ml olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the lentil stew

1½ cups brown lentils

5 cups mushroom stock

1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs

Olive oil

1 onion, diced

500g Portabellini mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tbs tomato paste

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes

Salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped parsley or micro herbs, for serving

Method

To make the mash, add all the ingredients to a food processor.

Blitz until smooth, adding a little water if you want to thin it out.

To warm: transfer to a saucepan over low heat and stir until warmed through.

Taste to adjust seasoning.

For the lentil stew

Rinse lentils well. Place in a large pot or Dutch oven and add the mushroom stock and thyme.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook with lid ajar for about 25 minutes until tender. If you need to give them a little liquid top up add some boiling water from the kettle.

Discard the thyme sprigs.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large sauté pan.

Add onion and mushrooms. Season lightly and cook until the onion softens and the mushrooms are golden. Add garlic, tomato paste and chilli flakes. Cook until the tomato paste turns a deep dark red colour and smells sweet.

Pour in the tinned tomato and deglaze the bottom of the pan.

Add the cooked lentils and all their liquid. Mix everything well together.

Taste to adjust the seasoning

Serve stew on warmed butter bean mash and sprinkle with micro herbs.

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