I’ve been trying to incorporate more beans into our diet lately because not only are beans super cheap, they are also very good you. We almost always have black beans in our tacos/nachos along with the meat and our chili always has chili or kidney beans in it… but beyond that, and the occasional can of baked beans, we never particularly ate beans. So the past few weeks I have been trying to incorporate additional beans into our diet to get all of the nutritional benefits that they offer. We have had mixed bean soup, lentil soup and we had chickpeas in our pasta the other night. If you were to look into our pantry you’d also find dried great northern beans, dried chickpeas, and canned black, chili and pinto beans. Some of my favourites are black beans, lentils and the mixed bag of bean soup. I also love fava beans but we only had those in our CSA share and I don’t think we can purchase them locally otherwise, and the chickpeas were pretty tasty in our pasta although most often we eat chickpeas in the form of hummus. I have never made hummus at home, and I keep meaning to try it but I don’t know where to find tahini (ground sesame seed paste) – although I haven’t looked hard for it here either and I think maybe they would have it at our Co-Op or even one of the local grocery stores.
Dry beans are cheaper ranging from less than 1 dollar for a pound of lentils to about $1.26-$1.50 for a pound of other types of beans, they take longer to cook but you also get more beans from one bag than you do from one can of precooked beans. Precooked beans are super easy for last minute food or when you don’t need many beans. I don’t know the exact price off the top of my head but our canned beans are roughly $0.70 to $0.80 per can. I’ve found that they cook super easy in the crockpot all day. Both times I have made soup I put the beans in the crockpot with onion,tomato, lots of water and seasonings and cooked them on low for 8 hours and they turned out great. Other people soak them overnight and cook them on the stove. We haven’t tried that many recipes yet but there are thousands if you search online so you don’t just have to eat soup!
If you want some pictures and information about some varieties of beans you can visit the Mayo Clinic website and their information about legumes. The US Dry Bean Council also has a PDF file on the 12 key nutrients you can find in beans. These include folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc, fiber, protein, copper, potassium, carbohydrates and calcium. Beans are gluten free, and can help with weight management and managing blood glucose levels. They may also reduce the risk of heart disease, and certain cancers. What more could you ask for from a cheap little dried bean?