Beans: Healthy and versatile

During the month of January, there are numerous food holidays celebrated. From Spaghetti Day on Jan. 4 to Blueberry Pancake Day on Jan. 28, there are many opportunities to celebrate various foods throughout the month as we start the New Year.

One of the foods we can acknowledge during the month is a food that is often overlooked. What is this food you ask? It’s beans! Bean Day is celebrated on Jan. 6. Beans are a healthy, versatile food that make a great addition to many dishes or by themselves. Here are a few facts about beans as the food holiday draws near.

1. Beans can be counted toward a few different food groups on our plate. While they are typically counted as a vegetable, they also contribute towards our protein intake for the day. In addition, beans are a starchy vegetable and, therefore, are a source of carbohydrates.

2. There are many types of beans. While many may have tried kidney beans in chili or black beans on burritos, there are so many others to try including borlotti beans and chickpeas. Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, have a wonderful creamy texture and are a great addition to Italian dishes. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are great in dips and salads.

3. Like mentioned earlier, beans are a very nutritious option. Beans are full of fiber which is important for weight maintenance, lowering our risk for diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer and helping combat certain digestive conditions such as constipation. Most types of beans are a good source of potassium as well which is important for healthy blood pressure.

With so many types of beans to try, there are many ways to celebrate Bean Day on Jan. 6. Here is a recipe that includes navy beans.

White Bean Hummus

Source: EatingWell.com

Ingredients:

1 (15 ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup fat-free dairy sour cream

2 tablespoons light mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fat-free milk

1/2 of a canned chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped

Snipped fresh chives (optional)

1 pound cucumber, sliced

Directions:

In a food processor, combine beans, sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, chipotle pepper (if using), cumin, and garlic. Cover and process until smooth, scraping side as needed (see Tip). Transfer to a serving bowl. If desired, garnish hummus with chives. Serve with cucumber slices.

Tip: If you do not have a food processor, place beans in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher or a fork until nearly smooth. Stir in sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, chipotle pepper (if using), cumin, and garlic. Dip will have a chunkier consistency.

Happy New Year everyone!

Rachelle Deutz is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.

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