Fit in ’14 – Week 13

Week 13 – Beans, Peas and Lentils

Goal for the week:

  • Serve beans as a side dish instead of potatoes or rice, or mix them with brown rice
  • Add beans to your salad

If there’s one thing you can do to instantly improve your diet and keep food costs down, it’s to eat more legumes. This group, which includes lentils, peas, and a wide variety of beans, has one of the lowest costs per nutritional value, meaning you get more nutritional bang for your buck.

Legumes are bursting with nutrients. They are rich in B vitamins, minerals and plant compounds that may help lower blood cholesterol. They are also among the best plant sources of protein, supplying about eight grams of protein per ½ cup. In addition, they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps to keep blood sugars on an even keel as well as improve bowel regularity.

With so many types of beans, peas and lentils to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know which ones to purchase. The major differences are in their taste, texture and the time it takes to cook them. White (cannellini) beans, dark red kidney beans, and brown lentils retain their shape well after cooking. Green split peas and red lentils do not, so they’re best for soups and purees.

Good to know

  • Drain and rinse regular canned beans to lower the sodium content by as much as 40 percent
  • Hummus, a spread made from garbanzo (chickpeas) beans pairs well with whole wheat pita bread and veggies
  • If you’re a fan of refried beans, look for fat-free versions
  • Bean soup mixes are a handy way to get a variety of beans without having to buy many larger bags

Unsure about how to cook dried beans? Click here for step by step instructions.

Join me next week for another healthy tip!

Mary Signature
Mary Snell, MSRD
Director of Nutrition and Wellness

Recipe of the Week

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