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Beans for Your Bones

Beans are an excellent source of nutrients that are key to bone health. Beans provide calcium, protein, potassium, boron, and strontium. Try to include beans and lentils in your diet so that you are getting a minimum of 1½ cups of beans weekly.

To incorporate more beans into your diet you can add them to soups, pasta, and salads. Hummus is an easy and delicious way to get more beans. Keep a variety of canned beans on your shelf for when you want to quickly add some beans to a dish. Use beans in enchiladas, tacos, nachos and on tostados. Mix beans with grains like quinoa, farro, rice or barley. If I need a quick meal, I open a can of white beans and add lots of herbs and spices along with some olive oil, feta cheese, and any leftover veggies I have on hand. Toasted cumin seeds, fresh cilantro, salt, and pepper, and some good olive oil with white beans is one of my favorites.

There are lots of varieties of beans, many you may have never heard of or had the pleasure of eating. Rancho Gordo and Camellia are good sources of high-end and unusual beans. However, there is nothing wrong with grocery store beans. Beans are a very economical source of good nutrition. Beans are best if cooked within one year of harvest, although they will last up to two years. Old beans take longer to soften.

When I have time, I like to cook dry beans. Always rinse dry beans prior to cooking. I soak one pound of beans the night before in a brine of 2 ½ Tbsp. salt and 4 quarts water. The beans will soften faster if soaked and brined overnight. Always drain the beans the morning after brining and start with fresh water for cooking. When in a hurry you can pressure cook or Insta-pot dry beans without pre-soaking or brining. It’s a myth that salting beans before they are done keeps them from cooking. Salt beans while cooking for better flavor. If you are in a hurry lentils don’t need soaking and cook very fast.  

If you are looking for creative bean recipes check out the cookbook, “Cool Beans” by Joe Yonan. The Bean Institute website is also a good source of bean recipes, cooking tips and ideas https://beaninstitute.com Here is one of my favorite bean recipes.

Spinach Black Bean Lasagna

Makes 6 generous servings – make enough for dinner one night (full serving) and a ½ serving for lunch the next day.  May freeze leftovers for another time.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

1 tsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

12 cups fresh spinach

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 15-ounce container part skim Ricotta cheese

¼ cup Cilantro, chopped plus extra chopped cilantro for garnish

¼ tsp. sea salt

1 ½ cups grated Jalapeno Monterrey Jack Cheese - divided

2 15 oz. cans No salt added Black Beans or 3 ½ cups cooked black beans

     I like Eden No Salt Added canned beans with BPA free lining or try Whole Foods 

    365 Organic No salt added beans that are packed in cartons.  If you have time cook

    your own from dried beans.

1 25 or 26-ounce jar Pasta sauce (use a good quality lower sodium version like Beekman 1802

    “Mortgage Lifter” or Cucina Antica Marinara - or make your own lower salt version)

½ tsp. cumin, ground

½ tsp. garlic powder

9 Lasagna noodles, cooked

¼ cup chopped cilantro

Heat olive oil in large pot. Sauté chopped onion over low heat until tender. Add spinach (it is ok if the spinach still has water clinging to it from washing) and cook until spinach wilts, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

In medium bowl mix drained spinach onion mixture, eggs, ricotta cheese, cilantro, salt and 1  cup Monterrey Jack cheese. Set aside.

In food processor blend black beans, pasta sauce and cumin. (Or mash beans with potato masher.  Mix in Pasta sauce and cumin).

Lightly coat 13 x 9 baking dish with olive oil. Spread 1/3rd of bean mixture on bottom of baking dish.  Layer on 3 noodles and half of spinach mixture. Layer on another 3 noodles, 1/3rd of bean mixture, and the other half of the spinach mixture. For the final layer add remaining 3 noodles and last 1/3rd of bean mixture.  

Bake covered at 350° for 45 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Uncover and top with remaining ½ cup Monterrey Jack Cheese.  Bake uncovered until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.  Top with chopped cilantro.

Nutritional Analysis using Beekman 1801 “Mortgage Lifter” Pasta Sauce:  634 calories, 34 g. protein, 14 g. fiber, 22 g. fat, 611 mg. calcium, 630 mg. sodium

posted on 7/15/2022