When I grew up in the Deep South, everyone that I knew cooked dried beans pretty often, some people as often as every day. My mother fixed them less than some people, but I still ate my share growing up because my grandmother, across the chirt road that we lived on, fixed them every day. Most of the time, most people fixed Pintos. “Big, white butter beans”, or large, limas were less common but still a part of our culture and black eyed peas were always showing up somewhere. I was taught that dried beans were a meat substitute and when my mother, and grandmother, cooked them they did not cook any meat. I did know of a few people who cooked meat with them. When I got to be an adult and did my own cooking, if I cooked dried beans, I did not cook meat. I cooked them on the stovetop and it took practically all day. After all that time, there was no way that I was cooking much of anything else. Nowadays most people cook them in the crock pot or the instant pot and it’s much easier. Regardless of how you cook them or how you serve them, beans and greens are always a nutritional goldmine. You get great nutrition that fills you up, that’s inexpensive and versatile when you eat beans. Paired with greens, the nutritional profile is unbeatable.
Pintos are the most popular dried bean in the United States. (1) They are full of vitamins and minerals. One cup has 245 calories, 30 NET grams of carbs, (total carbs-fiber), 15 grams of fiber 28% of the DV of Thiamine, 20% of Iron, 21% Magnesium,20% Phosphorus and 16% of the DV for Potassium. They have other nutrients in smaller amounts and the Thiamine helps you metabolize your food into energy that you can use. Beans are considered a superfood because they are nutritionally dense.
Large, white limas are usually called butter beans while the smaller, pale green beans are known as baby limas. One cup of lima beans contains about one quarter of the iron that you need in a day. Iron can help you avoid iron-deficiency anemia which is more of a risk for menstruating women. All legumes are low glycemic foods which make them an ideal choice for diabetics. They are rich in soluble fiber which allows you to absorb carbs more slowly and regulate your blood sugar more efficiently. Beans help you to feel full longer due to their high fiber content so they may help you with your weight loss efforts. Due to the presence of unsoluble fiber, or roughage, beans also help you avoid constipation. One cup of lima beans has 313% of the molybdenum, 49% of copper, 42% of manganese and 39% of folate for 209 calories, 31 grams of NET carbs and 11.6 grams of protein. If you choose to use canned beans be mindful of the sodium content. Canned beans can be a source of a lot of sodium in your diet. You can rinse them and that will alleviate a lot of this problem. If beans give you gas, you can soak dried beans overnight and then rinse them before cooking to remove some of the gas causing culprits.
Contrary to their name, black-eyed peas are actually beans! They are nutritionally dense, rich in folate, copper, thiamine and iron. One cup has 194 calories, 13 grams of protein, 24 NET grams of carbs, 11 grams of fiber, a whopping 88% of the DV of folate, 50% copper 28% of thiamine, 21% of phosphorus, 21% of magnesium. Black-eyed peas are also high in antioxidants that help the body prevent cell damage.
I have discovered that small red beans give me less digestive upset than any other bean. They have 200 calories, 13.1 grams of NET carbs and 6 grams of protein per 1/2 cup. A 3.5 ounce serving contains 30% of the folate, 29% of the manganese and 17 % of the phosphorus needed according to the Daily Value standards. They contain a good supply of antioxidants also but like all beans contain “antinutrients” that make it hard to absorb the nutrition in the beans. Soaking, sprouting and fermenting all help to alleviate this problem. (2)
As a young child I thought that I was being tortured if I was asked to eat green, leafy vegetables until I was diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia at the age of four years. I clearly remember the doctor telling my mother and I that I had to eat liver and spinach. While I thought it would be a hard thing to do, I never balked. Even then, I wanted to be healthy and was willing to work for it. I swallowed spinach and gagged until I could swallow it without gagging. Now it is a favorite food. Health is not promised to us. We have to work for it. Dark Green leafy vegetables are one of the healthiest food groups in the world.
While many people love iceberg lettuce, it’s not the best choice. Spinach is a nutritional superstar and romaine is a real winner also. Some say that “Kale is king.” because it’s one of the most nutritionally dense foods on earth. It is a cruciferous cancer-fighter and contains 206% of the DV of vitamin A, 684% of the vitamin K, 134% of the vitamin C and 26% of the DV of manganese. It’s negligible calories and nutrient density make it a nutritional superstar. It contains large amounts of the cancer-fighter quercetin, (and other cancer-fighters), that also has good antiviral properties. It contains lutein and zeaxanthin which help protect the eyes. (3) Some people believe that kale should be a part of all healthy diets.
Italian Beans and Greens
This traditional Italian meal uses cannellini beans and the greens of your choice. White beans contain about 242 calories, 33 grams of NET carbs and 17 grams of protein per 1 cup serving. They also contain 55% of the DV of copper, 36% of the folate, 36% of the iron and 21% of the potassium.
Net Carbs 19.1 grams
Total Fat 10.1 grams
Protein 11.8 grams
2 large bunches of the greens of your choice with thick stems removed and greens cut into 1 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive OIl
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken broth
15.5 oz. can of cannellini beans
Saute garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil til garlic is golden and fragrant.
Stir in greens and broth and cover and cook together for about 15 minutes, til greens are tender and wilted.
Add beans to pan and stir and simmer together for about 2 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.