Beans, dry: Cheap, but rich in health

Common beans: 215 calories per cup (cooked)
Lima beans: 260 calories per cup (cooked)

Whether red, white, pink, or brown, beans are now in the spotlight for their benefits to blood cholesterol and heart health.

Beans contain generous amounts of insoluble fiber, too. Making them just as useful for promoting digestive health.

It has shown that, like wheat bran, beans promote the passage of food through the digestive tract. That’s a plus for those bothered by constipation and also for helping to prevent colon cancer. They’re also a good source of iron and thiamine.

Common beans

At the market: Dry beans should have a clear, bright, even color and uniform size.

Regardless of variety, however, make sure that the beans have not shriveled.

If using canned beans, rest assured that plenty of protein, potassium, and iron is there.

Unfortunately, the salt will be added, too, sometimes in generous amounts.

Rinse canned beans before using them to wash away some of the salt. Check the label before buying if you are on a low-sodium diet.

Precooking procedure for removing many of the gas-forming factors.
. Rinse beans and sort out any foreign particles.
. Pour in boiling water to cover.
. Allow to soak for 4 hours or more (the time will vary with the type of bean).
. Drain so that beans are cooked in freshwater. (You should remove any beans that float to the top during soaking before you pour off the water).
Now to cook them! Add water to the pot until it reaches two inches above the beans.

If cooking over regular heat, cook until tender – about one to three hours, depending on the variety.

You can save time – and sometimes the need to soak – by preparing beans in a pressure cooker. (Incidentally, remember to never fill the pressure cooker more than three- quarters full of liquid).

To test for doneness, set one or two beans on a spoon and blow on them. If the skins fly open, they are ready.

Accent on Enjoyment: Beans are delicious in so many different dishes.

Eva uses the flavor of red, pink, and white beans is uniformly mild, you can use them interchangeably in cooking.

Whatever your preference, try beans in:
. Salads, croquettes, stews, soups, casseroles, sauces and curries.
. Mexican and Cajun stews.
. Purées and dips.
. Dishes made with apples or other slightly sweet ingredients.

As your food bill will tell you, nothing stretches your budget like beans. A cup of dried beans will serve about four people when cooked – that’s an awful lot from such an investment.*(Nening A N. By P H & J B H)