Bean Edition: Know Your Legumes

Bean Edition: Know Your Legumes

Beans, beans, the magical fruit...they really are! Beans are one of the healthiest foods that many Americans are not taking full advantage of in their diet! They are a great source of fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates and iron. The great thing about beans is that they go well in almost any style of dish: main dishes, salads, soups and dips. Read this guide to find out everything you need to know about these little legumes with big flavor.

Azuki (Adzuki) -The Azuki bean is grown widely throughout East Asia and the Himalayas. They are loaded with nutrients and are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and vitamin A.  These beans are thought to treat kidney ailments as well as other illnesses.

Try using Azuki beans in any bean or vegetable soup for extra protein and flavor!

Anasazi - This bean (aka Aztec bean, Cave bean, New Mexico Appaloosa) is a red and white bean native to the North American Southwest. Similar to pinto beans, these red and white speckled beans were originally grown by Native Americans.

You can make a delicious dish by using beans that have barely been cooked tender and braising or oven-baking them with spices and vegetables.

Black Turtle - These small, shiny beans are especially popular in Latin American and Southwestern cuisine.The black turtle bean has a dense, meaty texture and flavor reminiscent of mushrooms, which makes it popular in vegetarian dishes such as a black bean burrito.

Black Bean Chipotle Burger

Black Bean, Spinach and Mushroom Burritos

Black-eyed peas - Also known as cow peas, black-eyed peas are a southern staple. They are rich in potassium and phosphorus. Try them the traditional way, served with steamed greens and a splash of vinegar.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Black-Eyed Pea Supper Dish

Garbanzo (chickpeas) - Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas are a staple food in the Middle East and are high in potassium, calcium, iron and vitamin A. These round, pale yellow legumes are traditionally used to make hummus - a thick mixture of chickpeas and tahini used as a dip or spread - and they are also great with grains.


Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad

Kidney Beans - These medium-sized red beans get their name from their distinctive shape. Kidney beans are a staple in many Mexian and  Northern Indian meals, and they work equally well in soups and stews. Try mixing them with other cooked beans and tossing them in a light vinaigrette for a quick and easy, super nutritious salad.

Cuban Beans and Rice

Red Kidney Bean Curry

Lentils - A member of the pea family, these small, disk-shaped seeds have been found in excavations dating from the Bronze Age. These little legumes are nutritional dynamos - they are high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, chlorine, sulfur and vitamin A - and are available in brown, red, and green varieties.

Lentils Italiano

Lentil and Chestnut Soup

Lima Beans - Lima beans have a distinctive flavor and are loaded with potassium, phosphorus and vitamin A. They take a little longer to cook, but they are worth the wait. Serve them hot, tossed with fresh basil or rosemary and a little olive oil.

Lima Beans with Sage

Baked Lima Beans

Mung Beans - These small, dark green beans are grown in India and the Orient. Sprouted, they are the mainstay of stir-fries and make a wonderful addition to salads. Try tossing a handful of sprouted mung beans in soups just before serving, or mix them with millet and a little ground cumin for a savory side dish.

Asian Stir Fry with Spring Peas - While Mung beans are not in this recipe, try adding them in for additional flavor or substituting for chicken for a vegetarian-friendly option.

Navy Beans -  Particularly popular in Britain and the United States, the hefty size and hearty texture of these flavorful white beans makes them the perfect bean for soups and stews. Or try mixing them with diced carrots and slivers of green pepper for a hot side dish or cold salad.

Navy Bean Soup

White Bean and Tuna Salad

Split Peas - These flavorful members of the legume family come in both yellow and green varieties and make a wonderfully substantial soup that is easy to make and loaded with nearly any grain and are especially delicious with buckwheat or wild rice.

Split Pea Dal

Bananas with Green Split Peas

Pinto Beans - Along with black turtle and kidney beans, pinto beans are a favorite from the Southwest.  Named for its mottled skin, they are rich in calcium, potassium and phosphorus, and they make great soups.

Pinto Bean Pie

Healthier Refried Beans

Soybeans - The soybean has been a major source of food and oil in the Asia for thousand of years, but it was unknown in Europe and America until 1900. The soybean is the only legume that's a complete protein by itself, and it is the most versatile bean around - you will find soybeans in a variety of forms, from dried or toasted soybeans to tofu, miso, tempeh and tamari.

Miso Soup

Tofu lasagna

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