Black beans might be a pantry staple in your kitchen, but how often do you use them creatively? Aren’t they usually just a meager side dish or recipe afterthought? Well leave that mentality behind as we’re about to unveil not only the amazing health benefits of this powerhouse legume, but also share five healthy recipes you can try to branch out and start using black beans more adventurously.
Health benefits: Black beans are an incredibly complex little legume that provide tons of protein, fiber and other nutrients while still remaining low in fat and considerably low in calories. They’re also high in iron, calcium, vitamin B and folic acid, and the minerals magnesium, phosphorous and manganese.
Because of their high fiber content – nearly 15 grams in one cup – they’re great for promoting healthy digestion and preventing constipation. Beyond their vitamin and mineral perks, black beans have also been found to lower blood cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. And because they contain phytochemicals – one of the powerful elements in antioxidants – black beans have also been found to fight chronic diseases and even cancer.
Nutritional statistics: One cup of cooked black beans unsalted contains approximately 227 calories, 1 gram of fat, 15 grams of dietary fiber, 41 grams of carbohydrates, and 15 grams of sugar. This serving amount provides 20 percent of your daily recommended iron and 5 percent of your recommended calcium.
Cooking methods: Black beans come in a can for the most convenient form of use: think ‘open, pour, devour’. But they can also be purchased dry and then soaked overnight (or 6-8 hours), and simmered for about an hour for an even fresher taste. Soaking the beans is key as it can help reduce gas after consumption. Once properly cooked, black beans can be eaten on top of salads or in a burrito, served as a side dish, or added to salsas for a protein-packed dip. Two of my personal favorite ways to eat black beans is adding them to a vegetarian chili in the winter, or using them to moisten up my desserts – especially my healthier-for-you brownie pancakes found below.
While black beans may be a more common ingredient than others, that doesn’t mean they get utilized to their fullest. Armed with your superior black bean knowledge, feel free to step outside of your comfort zone and try this versatile legume in more creative and adventurous ways. If you’re looking for a good starting point, the black bean brownies and pancakes will not disappoint.
July 1st, 2012