Did you know that people who eat beans on a regular basis weigh on average, 7 lbs less than people who don't?
Beans. If you ate just 1 cup of beans a day, you would get half the daily recommended amount of 21-25 g that we’re all supposed to have. Chances are that the fiber in beans will fill you up and help you lose weight. This is specially true if you are substituting beans for a meat source. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pound down a can of beans. There are many ways to sneak them into your diet and I’ve got a list of ways you can do just that. You can add them to any meal or snack including breakfast. Yes, I said breakfast! Try throwing some plain, unsalted black beans in your blender with a banana, almond milk, cocoa powder and some organic vanilla yogurt. Voila! The perfect way to start your day!
Now, I am not a big bean person. I find my favorite beans come mashed up in a cup and slathered with cheese at Taco Bell, but being (mostly) a vegetarian, I need to find a way to get more of those little protein and fiber bombs in my diet without the trip to the fast food chain. Beans are digested more slowly than meat which keeps you fuller longer. They are also powerhouses of vitamins, minerals and a host of other nutrients. This news may get the carnivores mad at me, but did you realize that a decrease in America’s meat consumption could make a big impact in our water usage? Oh dear Californians with your dry, parched land and water shortage, take heart! According to the website, Changing Tastes, Americans currently get about 15% of their protein from plant-based sources. Shifting that to 25% could result in enough water savings to provide two-thirds of California’s water supply.
So, what to do if you aren’t a big bean eater? Here are several ways you can squeeze them in your diet. I betcha never heard of some of these ideas!
- Mexican Bean Salad (see recipe below)
- My favorite all time way to eat beans; the Flourless Black Bean Chocolate Cake. See recipe here, Black Bean Cake. Be prepared to drool or get your happy a** to the grocery store for the ingredients.
- hummus and veggie sticks or chips
- toss some on your green salad for extra protein
- add some plain, unsalted beans to your favorite smoothie. I prefer the black bean/chocolate/yogurt/banana version. Yum!
- Puree up in the food processor and stir into any sauce or soup
- add to your favorite tuna or chicken salad
- mash some up in your guacamole
- Roast some chickpeas in the oven for a crunchy snack. Toss with olive oil, season and bake at 350 degrees.
- And of course, there’s always chili!
Mexican Bean Salad
(Feel free to play around with the type of beans you like. I prefer black and kidney because they are full of antioxidants, but any bean will work. And as far as the cilantro goes, if you don’t like cilantro, I don’t know what to tell ya. I can’t really think of a different herb to use!)
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c chopped cilantro
1 1/2 c chopped tomatoes (I prefer cherry or grape tomatoes to give a little sweetness)
1 half a bunch of green onions, chopped
1 small container of feta cheese (or crumbled soy cheese to keep it vegan)
3 tb olive oil
2 tb lemon juice
2 ts sriracha sea salt (optional – just use salt and pepper to taste if you don’t have it)
Mix in a bowl and refrigerate for a couple hours to let the flavors gel. Serve cold with chips and enjoy with a margarita! (optional of course. )
The last thing I want to tell you are the secrets to keeping your bean eating ventures a quiet affair if you catch my drift. 😉 If you use dried beans, make sure you soak for at least 8 hours and rinse them thoroughly. This helps break down the indigestible carbohydrates (oligosaccharides) that cause gas. I have heard of other ways such as adding some vinegar or baking soda, but I have not tried it myself. Also, as you increase your intake of beans, you may find your body adapting to this new food to digest and your flatulence might start decreasing. Anyway, a couple of toots is worth it for the health and environmental benefits that eating beans has.