“Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.” - Aesop
No one has ever told me that they were looking forward to a big steamy bowl of spicy legumes for dinner, or that they were not feeling well and craved a nice comforting legume and potato soup. Beans and legumes are delicious and just perfect for nutrition dense low calorie meals. What's a bean? It's an edible seed found in some plants. Corroborating this definition is the clear labeling of bags and cans with words like Black Beans or Great Northern Beans. I trust that those who label their products can identify them correctly. Which leaves the question - what in the world is a legume? I've never seen that on a can label. Is it different than a bean? Is it a type of bean? How do you pronounce legume? Is the g hard or soft? Every now and then questions like this get stuck in my head and refuse to leave until I get on-line and find the answers.
A lot of my Internet searches end up linking me to the good people who know things at About.com, and that's where I found this terrific article on beans and legumes. The answers to my questions were really quite simple. Legumes are simply a larger classification name for plants that produce edible seeds in pods, which includes sub-categories like lentils, peas, beans, and even peanuts. The article confirmed that legumes are very good for you and can be prepared in endless delicious ways.
Beans, my favorite legume, are packed full of fiber - just the right kind of fiber to make you feel full and slow your digestion so you don’t get hungry right away. For those that are really into beans and want to know more, check out Bean Science and Bean Nutrition. Then rush out to the nearest store and get several bags of beans and legumes - which is pronounced, by the way, either leg-yoom or ligyoom as you prefer.
Dried Beans or Canned Beans? -
If you have the time, inexpensive dried beans are the best place to begin, as some nutrition is lost in the canning process. Canned beans are still very good for you though, so don't feel badly about using them. I frequently use canned beans, rinsing them to remove the salt and anything else that was added during processing. For more about how to cook beans, click here.
Eating delicious beans and reaching your caloric goal is a snap with your friends at Calorie Count!
What is your favorite bean and how do you prepare it? Have you ever expressed a wish for a big bowl of legumes? Do you add the salt early and are your beans tender? Did you see a bean on the Bean Science page that you want to try some day? Send me your favorite recipe, I’d love to try it!
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