Why they’re good for you: Legumes are cheap and easy to cook, which makes them a staple in many people’s diets. They’re also high in protein, making them a popular meat substitute among vegetarians, and they’re packed with fiber, so they help you stay full and energized. Black beans even have a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which boost heart health. “Black beans are high in the powerful phytochemical anthocyanins — the same ones found in blueberries. Studies indicate the darker the bean, the higher it may be in antioxidants,” says Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian and the author of The Plant-Powered Diet.
How to eat them: Black beans are great in Southwestern-inspired dishes like burritos and black-bean burgers. Add them to your salad for an extra protein kick.
Serving size: ½ cup, cooked
Recipe: Southwestern Black Bean Quinoa Salad
Yield: 6 servings
1 15-oz. can black beans, no salt added, rinsed and drained
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
1 cup frozen corn
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh mango
¼ cup chopped red onion
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried, if fresh is not available)
1 small fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
Mix beans, quinoa, corn, pepper, mango, onion, cilantro and jalapeño together in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder and turmeric together. Toss into salad mixture and chill until serving time.
Nutrition per serving (about 1 cup):
Fat: 5 g
Sodium: 9 mg
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 8 g
Recipe excerpted from The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today by Sharon Palmer, R.D. (The Experiment, 2012)
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