There are a variety of beans used in all types cuisines that will add a powerful nutritional punch to your meals. Here are seven of SupermarketGuru's favorite beans!
Besides being delicious and versatile, virtually all types of beans are nutrition powerhouses. They are rich in protein, folate, magnesium, and protective phytochemicals. Darker colored beans are richest in heart-healthy, cancer-protective antioxidants, but all beans are beneficial to those looking to improve the nutrient density of their meals. Most beans are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, and slowly digested carbohydrates have a gentler, even beneficial, effect on blood-sugar.
Beans are inexpensive and offer at least six cups of cooked beans for six to twelve servings. Most packages are 16 ounces, but some are 12 ounces, so check the label if the quantity is right for your recipe.
Here are seven of SupermarketGuru’s favorites:
- Cranberry or Roman Beans are a favorite in Italian recipes. These medium mottled tan and red beans are oval in shape, take to spices well, and are very tender with a modest cooking time of 45 to 60 minutes.
- Garbanzo or Chickpeas, popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, are the basis for hummus, the bean spread spiked with garlic and olive oil. They're an imperfect round beige color and give both a nut-like flavor and firm texture. Use whole in soups or salads or grind up cooked beans for hummus or for falafel. They also have a modest cooking time of 30 minutes to one hour. Skins should be discarded because they're often difficult to digest.
- Kidney beans are large, almost 3/4 inch, and have a definitive kidney shape and are nearly maroon in color. These are the beans to use in chili because they're hearty and take well to spices. Cooking time: 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Pinto (Pink) is the staple of Mexican cooking and is a pinkish-mauve color that turns brownish when cooked. Some variations are mottled. Pintos look like brown medium ovals. Pintos are favored for whole or refried beans in burritos and tacos. Cooking times vary from one to two hours depending on size.
- Black-eyed Peas are the ones to bring luck into your life on New Year's Day, as the Southern custom asserts. These beans are white with black dots and have a light very smooth texture. Cooking time: 30 to 60 minutes.
- Navy beans are not navy blue as one would expect, but small white ovals that add a mild flavor to soups and salads and can be used in baked beans. They belong to the haricot bean (white bean) family and cook in 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Limas are plump, slightly curved beans that are pale colored and come in two sizes: small baby lima and white with a creamy smooth texture or slightly larger butter beans that are pale green to white. Both are delicious alone or added to soups or casseroles. Cooking time: 1 to 1.5 hours.