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Crazy About Beans

Q. My nutritionist suggested that I try to incorporate more beans into my diet. She explained that the fiber in them is beneficial. Can you suggest some interesting ways to include them, especially in the summer?

A. Your nutritionist has given you a great tip. Beans are full of soluble fiber which slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, thereby preventing rapid rises in blood sugar levels after a meal. They are actually a great choice in the summer when you don’t feel like doing as much cooking.

I often add canned beans such as black, garbanzo, pinto and navy beans to salads to add protein and fiber. When using canned beans, the trick is to rinse the beans before you use them which both takes away the taste of the liquid and reduces the amount of sodium. Here is one of my favorite ways to prepare black beans in the summer.

Summer Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad: This salad is so easy and delicious, especially this time of year when tomatoes are ripe and plentiful. To prepare, rinse off the black beans and place in a bowl with cut up tomatoes, sweet corn cut from the cob (you can lightly steam the corn if desired), and diced cucumber. Then either use a dressing of your choice or drizzle with olive oil, lime juice and season to taste with a touch of salt and pepper.

This is a very versatile salad, you can change it up with some goat cheese sprinkled on top, or add chopped jalapeño pepper for some spice and a Mexican flair. If you are trying to incorporate more greens into your diet, omit the cucumber, and instead add some lightly steamed chopped kale or baby spinach.

Other great ways to enjoy beans are in baked bean dishes and chili. For a delicious snack, you can drizzle some olive oil on garbanzo beans, add a touch of balsamic vinegar along with some spices for flavoring (I use a spice mix like Trader Joe’s 21 Salute), and then roast them in the oven (at a temperature of 375) for about ½ hour. If you like your garbanzos more on the crispy side, you can roast them a little longer.

Do yourself and your body a favor, try these recipes. You’ll be glad you did!

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