We’ve heard it before: “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart.”
But are they really?
It turns out that beans are good for your heart!
And July is National Baked Bean Month, so why not celebrate by making a healthy helping for your next cookout?
According to the American Heart Association, eating beans may reduce blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. Beans also are a good source of protein, have no cholesterol, little fat and are high in minerals and fiber.
The AHA recommends buying no-salt-added beans or at least draining canned beans in a colander and rinsing them with water to remove some of the salt.
When I make baked beans, I use a wide variety of legumes, including black, cannellini, garbanzo, kidney,
and navy beans. I think the flavor is better with a mixture. I also add onion and garlic, finely diced green and red peppers, tomato sauce and tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, cider vinegar and a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes and cumin. And as long as none of my guests are vegetarians, I add real bacon bits. Yum. lima
Since I don’t have a recipe for my beans, I searched for “healthy” versions of baked beans and I found this one from the Mayo Clinic:
2 cups dried small, white beans (navy beans), picked over and rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon salt
1 yellow onion, chopped
½ cup light molasses
1½ tablespoons dry mustard
3 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into ½" pieces
In a large, ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine the beans, water, bay leaves and ½ teaspoon of the salt over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until the beans have softened but are still firm, 65 to 75 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Don't drain the beans.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Stir the onion, molasses, mustard, bacon and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt into the beans. Cover and bake until the beans are tender and coated with a light syrup, 4½ to 5 hours. Check periodically to make sure the beans don't dry out, stirring and adding hot water as needed.