Have You Given Dry Beans And Lentils a Place In Your Cooking?

Now is the perfect time to give beans and other legumes another try. They are convenient, inexpensive and provide your body with plenty of protein. If you're not yet tempted to put a pot of beans on the stove, keep reading for some good reasons why cooking with beans, dry peas, and lentils is a good idea.

They Are Cheap

I probably don't have to tell you this, but beans are very economical to cook with. You can stretch just about any family budget by using more beans. Just head to the grocery store or even better a costco or bj's warehouse to buy your beans. If you're not a member at one of those, or you don't want to buy beans in large quantities to begin with, try an ethnic food store. I have been able to find a lot of different beans and other dried legumes very inexpensively at a mexican market in town.

Beans are a great meat alternative. You can use them as a filling in tacos or burritos, or to make anything from chili to casserole meals. Add them to pasta sauces or serve them with some rice and a few other veggies for dinner. Even if you add some meat to chilies, stews and casseroles, adding a lot of beans will allow you to use a lot less expensive meat and still get a hearty and filling meal.

Beans Are Good For Your Health

One of the big health benefits from eating beans is the fact that the soluble fiber in them helps the body remove a certain kind of cholesterol - the one that's bad for your heart from your body. I guess that's where the old saying "Beans Beans Good For Your Heart" comes from.

You will also be pleased to hear that beans will help you prevent and fight cancer. For those of us with diabetes it is important to know that beans can help our body use insulin more effectively by creating more receptor sites. What a great reason to eat more beans.

They Are Delicious

Once you start cooking with beans you will quickly realize that you can change them up into almost any type of cuisine simply by mixing them with some interesting spices and other ingredients. Try making an Indian inspired lentil dahl, or a smoky chipotle chili. Or how about a sweet and sour bean salad or a savory bean soup?

Beans make a great side dish. Just cook them and season them according to your taste. Black beans with cumin for example are a great side dish for any grilled meat dish. Almost any type of bean can also be turned into a dip. Just cook your beans and then throw them in a food processor. Add some seasonings and you have a healthy and low fat dip.

It's Easy Breasy

Let me explain why I think beans are quick and easy. Yes, you do have to cook some of them for quite some time (don't bother with the pre-soaking by the way. They will cook just fine without), but the good thing is that you don't have to hang around. Just let them simmer at the back of your stove. You can also cook them in your slow cooker. I like to start mine in the morning on low. By dinner time they are nice and tender and ready to eat.

What makes beans super convenient for me is that I can cook them in large batches and then freeze them. If I use them within the next couple of days, I just put them in the fridge of course. Everything else is frozen for later use. You don't even have to thaw them, just heat and serve those beans or use them in your dishes.

Even if you have some bad childhood memories about beans, I'd like you to give them another chance. Just try a couple of recipes and see if they don't grow on you.

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About The Author, Susannem.