Beans are a great source of plant protein as well as zinc and iron. Beans can provide between 5-10 grams of fiber per half cup serving. According to the USDA, at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov, beans are unique and are a subgroup of the vegetable group. Beans can be counted towards your daily goal of protein foods or vegetables. Beans are a perfect vegetarian option as a protein source in addition to being cholesterol and fat free.
Canned vs. Dried Beans
Canned and dried beans are both nutritionally a great addition to your diet, although there are some differences. Canned beans can be packed with sodium. You can decrease the amount of sodium up to 40% by rinsing under cold water for a minute, but there will still be significantly more sodium than dried beans. Dried beans are great because you can determine the amount of salt you want to add during the cooking process. One drawback to dried beans is the additional soak and cook time versus canned beans are ready to go! One thing is for sure, dried beans are far more affordable than canned, you will have far more servings from a one pound bag of dried beans versus the canned variety.
Types of Beans
Popular types of beans include black, kidney, white or cannellini, chickpeas, lima, pinto, and black-eyed peas. Green beans are a non-starchy bean that would not be considered as a source of protein like the others.
For this Italian Bean Salad I used white, red and green beans (like the Italian flag!) along with dried herbs and such that give this salad an Italian flair. Bean salads are very versatile and can be made with a variety of combinations of beans, herbs, spices, oils, vinegars and dressings. For instance, you could make a quick Mexican style bean salad with black and red beans, corn, fresh lime juice and zest tossed with a little olive oil..yum! Bean salads are a great addition to lunch or dinner, to bring to a party or potluck and can really be modified to meet your nutritional needs.
Italian Bean Salad
by Caitilin Perez, RDN
About 10 Servings
¼ c olive oil
¼ c white vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1- 14.5 oz. can cut green beans, rinsed & dried
1- 16 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed & dried
1- 15.5 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed & dried
½ c diced red onion
1) Mix all dressing ingredients in a mason jar or in a bowl with a whisk.
2) Dump salad ingredients into a large bowl, mix with dressing, and enjoy!