Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Black Beans

Black beans are a true superfood – high in both fiber and protein, they provide a steady source of energy, help keep your blood sugar levels stable, and leave you feeling full and satisfied.  They’re also a good source of iron, manganese, and anthocyanins (a powerful antioxidant).  Black beans come in two varieties – raw and dried or pre-cooked and canned.  Raw beans take awhile to prepare – they need to be pre-soaked and cooked – but they lack the high sodium content that canned beans sometimes contain.  Due to time constraints, I normally cook with canned black beans, but I buy the low-sodium variety and rinse the beans thoroughly before I use them. 

Surprisingly, black beans, like many of the other Healthy Ingredients of the Week, can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.  Below are examples of both: a savory dish that I made for lunch yesterday, and a sweet treat I am looking forward to trying soon.

 

Black Bean Lasagna

Ingredients
2 16-oz. cans low-sodium black beans, rinsed, drained, and slightly mashed
3 cups meatless pasta sauce (either store-bought or prepared from your favorite recipe)
1 15-oz. container part-skim ricotta cheese
⅓ cup grated or shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 egg white, or ¼ cup egg substitute
¼ cup 1% or skim milk
vegetable oil cooking spray
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes but not cooked
1 cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350o Farenheit.
2.  In large bowl, stir together beans and pasta sauce.  Set aside.
3.  In medium bowl, stir together ricotta, Parmesan, egg white, and milk.
4.  To assemble lasagna, spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan or glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread about 1 cup bean mixture in the bottom of the dish.  Cover with 3 lasagna noodles, making sure noodles do not touch edges of dish.  Cover noodles with half of the remaining bean mix.  Top with half of the ricotta cheese mix and sprinkle on half of the Monterey Jack and mozzarella.  Repeat layers of noodles, bean mix, ricotta mix, and Monterey and mozzarella.
5.  Cover dish tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes or until noodles are done and lasagna is heated through.
6.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 9
Adapted from
The American Heart Association Quick & Easy Cookbook

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients
2 sprays cooking spray, flour-variety recommended    
½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained    
¼  cup black coffee, strong    
½  cup unsalted butter   
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate    
4 large eggs    
1 ¼  cups sugar    
1 tsp vanilla extract    
⅛ tsp table salt    
1 cup all-purpose flour    

Instructions
1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9- X 13-inch pan with cooking spray; line with aluminum foil and coat foil with cooking spray.
2.  In a blender or mini food processor, process beans with coffee until smooth; set aside.
3.  In a double boiler over very low heat, melt butter and chocolate.
4.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low speed, add melted chocolate to eggs; incorporate well. Add black bean mixture, vanilla and salt; mix well. Add flour; combine thoroughly on low speed.
5.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or knife inserted in center of brownies comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.
6.  Remove pan to a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, remove brownies from pan by pulling up on foil and placing brownies on cooling rack to cool more. Cut into 24 pieces and serve.
Taken from WeightWatchers.com

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