Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Insider’s Viewpoint: Beans & Balance

May 24, 2016

We’ve all heard that beans are the magical fruit, but it should be noted that they really do pack a nutritional punch! For adults, the USDA recommends three cups of beans per week, which can be broken down into one ½-cup serving per day. Beans play an important role in maintaining a balanced diet, and provide a wealth of additional benefits!

Top 5 Reasons to Eat More Beans

  1. Plant Based Protein: This term has gained popularity, but it is important to understand its meaning – getting protein from plant sources rather than from animal sources. While some plants provide more protein than others, beans are an excellent source of protein, iron, and zinc!
  2. Fiber: Beans contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber promotes bowel regularity by attracting water to the stool. Soluble fiber will bind with cholesterol so your body will not absorb it and this could help your HDL (high density lipoproteins) and LDL (low density lipoproteins) levels if they are abnormal.
  3. Budget-friendly: Beans are an excellent way keep your budget in check without sacrificing nutrition. Whether you decide to purchase them canned or dry, you can stretch your dollar and still get enough for a hearty family meal.
  4. Variety: There are many different types of beans to choose from – Black, Great Northern, Chickpeas (Garbanzo), Navy, and Kidney just to name a few! With so many varieties available, you can use them in many different forms and recipes.
  5. Convenient: Canned or cooked from dry, beans require minimal prep work, and are an easy nutritious addition to many recipes. For example, they can be used to top a salad or added to your favorite wrap.

Not sure how to incorporate beans into your diet? This chickpea lettuce wrap recipe is a great place to start!

Recipe

Chickpea Lettuce Wraps
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rinsed and drained canned garbanzo beans
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped drained sun-dried tomatoes in oil, 1 tablespoon oil reserved
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped drained roasted red peppers
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika or paprika
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cumin
  • ⅛ tsp. ground red pepper
  • 8 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. In medium bowl, with back of fork, coarsely mash beans; fold in celery, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, reserved sun-dried tomato oil, roasted red peppers, olive oil, paprika, cumin and ground red pepper. Bean mixture makes about 2½ cups.
  2. To serve, evenly spoon bean mixture into lettuce leaves; top with avocado, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired.

Nutritional Information (per 2 wrap serving): Calories 290, Fat 13g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 400mg, Carbohydrates 35g, Fiber 9g, Sugars 2g, Protein 8g, Vitamin A 35%, Vitamin C 30%, Calcium 6%, Iron 10%

Katie Stitzel, RD, LD
Regional Dietitian Specialist
Giant Eagle & Market District
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