Maybe you’re thinking this is the year you’ll start cutting back a little: trimming the fat, cutting out the junk food, maybe even shifting away from meat for health, personal or other reasons.
If you’re considering the latter, there’s a tasty, healthy and versatile alternative that may have you passing on your next burger altogether: beans.
Known for their protein punch and nutritional muscle, beans of all sorts can also be a great substitute for anyone looking to eat a little less meat or add some new variety to their plate. Here’s why:
They’re protein packed — One reason some are reluctant to give up meat entirely is because they’re worried they may miss out on the protein. But with beans, that worry disappears. Though all varieties of beans differ in how protein content, one cup of beans averages about 15 grams, which can be between 9 and 30 percent of your recommended daily intake. Add in some dairy or seafood, and you’ll be getting all the protein you need.
They’re good for you — In addition to their protein punch, beans have a wide range of health benefits too. According to WebMD, beans contain more fiber and water than meat, making you feel fuller and less hungry. The result: you take in fewer calories and help keep your waistline in check. Beans are also low in sugar and saturated fat and high in antioxidants that help take on harmful free radicals. The American Heart Association also notes that beans are full of minerals and they can help improve blood pressure.
They’re easy to use — Beans of all variety are pretty versatile and easy to use. Dried beans are usually soaked prior to cooking, while canned beans are drained. They can make great side dishes or easy meat substitutions in dishes like chili, tacos, veggie burgers or stir-fries.
They’re tasty — Because there are so many varieties of beans — black, kidney, navy, lima, garbanzo and pinto, to name but a few — there are a range of flavors and textures to tap into. Seasoned just right or paired with the perfect accompaniment — salsa, cheese and sour cream anyone? — beans can rule the day when it comes to flavor and stacking up with meat.