The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were just released, continue to recommend a plant-based diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas) as a key factor to achieving good health. These foods are full of fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals, free of cholesterol, and low in calories and saturated fat. Delicious Michigan Beans are part of this esteemed list and they are not only a versatile and sustainable food, but their tiny package provides a powerful nutritional punch that can help you meet your health goals. Here are my five top reasons for adding more Michigan Beans to your meals this year:
- Noteworthy Nutrition – When it comes to nutrition, beans deliver the goods and they count as both a vegetable and a protein source in your meal pattern. Beans are also an excellent source of fiber and nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium, and folate.
- Support Digestive Health – The nutrients and fiber in beans help replenish healthy intestinal bacteria which supports your immune system. In addition, Michigan Beans are rich in 2 kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble. While soluble fiber helps to lower blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, the insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and keeps you regular. This may assist with preventing constipation, colon cancer and other digestive health conditions.
- Promote Healthy Weight – Beans are naturally low in fat, high in fiber, and a good source of plant-based protein. Research shows that people who eat more fiber tend to weigh less. The protein and fiber content of Michigan Beans both contribute to feelings of fullness and satiety which can help with weight management.
- Good for Your Budget – Beans are an affordable ingredient that can be widely used in a variety of dishes. Cooking just one 16 oz. bag of dried beans yields 12 (1/2 cup) servings for approximately $1.80 or less. That’s only 15 cents a serving! Canned beans, while more expensive, are still very healthy, affordable and convenient if you’re looking for a quick meal ingredient.
- Versatile Meal Options – To reap the many health benefits of beans try adding them to the foods you already enjoy. Since beans have a neutral flavor, they go well with many dishes. Here are some of my favorite ways to add more Michigan Beans to meals:
- For breakfast: Add beans to scrambled eggs and wrap in a whole grain tortilla with low fat cheese, avocado and salsa for a protein-filled breakfast sandwich.
- On or in salads: Top your salad with beans to add beneficial protein and fiber. Bonus – the beans soak up the tasty dressing and add texture for a satisfying salad. This Southwest Bean, Veggie & Quinoa Salad is layered in a jar for a beautiful presentation.
- Make a dip: Try our Michigan Navy Bean Hummus with crunchy vegetables or whole grain crackers. The dip also makes a great sandwich or wrap spread – just add veggies, cheese and/or meat.
- Side dishes: Instead of potatoes or pasta, try a side of baked beans, beans and brown rice or beans seasoned with garlic, olive oil and cumin.
- Easy assembly meals: One of my easy go-to meals is simply topping corn tostados with beans or refried beans, cheddar cheese and corn. Heat in the microwave then add your favorite additions like avocado, salsa, onions, tomatoes and shredded lettuce. Or try these amazingly easy and delicious Michigan Kidney Bean Tostados.
- In hearty soups: Beans are a great addition to any soup from vegetable to chili. Add your favorite type of bean to your next batch. I love this Pumpkin Chili recipe!
- Add to pasta: Try adding white beans to pesto pasta or to jarred pasta sauce instead of meat.
- Blend with meat: Go flexitarian by creating this delicious Plant-Powered Black Bean and Beef Blend. Use it in a variety of recipes including Burrito Stuffed Peppers or Mexican Lasagna.
- In dessert: You can substitute some of the flour in brownies with pureed beans! Our Chocolate Chip Bean Brownies with Berries will definitely satisfy your chocolate craving and since the beans add fiber and protein there’s no guilt needed.
For more information and tips on how To Make Every Bite Count with the Dietary Guidelines visit: Start Simple with MyPlate.