September 13, 2010

Beans, Beans, Good For the Heart!

I'm sad to say that summer seems to be dwindling away faster than usual this year, and though I love the fall season, I hate to think of the unpredictable winter that's lurking just around the corner. That's really what I hate about winter, not knowing what it will be like. Freezing temps? Lake effect snow? More than three feet?
The best way to handle my anxiety is to know that my freezer is stocked with lots of good food, there's wood for the fireplace, and I have at least three good novels on my nightstand to get me through it all. I won't write in great detail about the benefits of "legumes". I'm sure you've heard it all, but please take my advice and try to incorporate them into your diet as much as possible. There are so many different varieties, all with unique tastes and textures. Your heart will thank you!

I was introduced to this little bean by my sister-in-law, who was nice enough to pick up a bushel for me at the farmer's market (reasonably priced I might add!) I went back a few days later to grab more, but they were gone, rightfully so. They're delicious! Called Cranberry Beans, they are mildly sweet, perfect for soups and stews. Don't bother soaking them first; they always come out tender.

If you can find these at your local farmer's market, try a quart or two to see if you like them. They are also very easy to prepare for the freezer.
Be sure to choose bean pods that are brightly colored....
,,,then, using your finger, gently split open the pod, and you'll find the most adorable little beans inside...
I love them so much, that I filled up a whole bowl!
Now just place them in ziploc bags...
...and into the freezer they go! See you in the winter!
When you're ready to use them, just give them a rinse in a strainer and plop them in a simmering broth for about 20 minutes. Soup recipe to follow!

Food For Thought: Beans are one of the best sources of fiber on the planet, and are the ultimate low-glycemic food. It's also reasonable to assume that beans, especially red, can have anticancer benefits as well. According to one study listed on the website of the American Institute for Cancer Research, men who consumed the most beans had an 18 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than men who consumed the least. Beans can also help lower cholesterol and are a great source of protein. The best part, they don't come with added steroids, antibiotics or hormones.

- The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D, CNS

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