Pulse on Black Beans

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The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse. Now the question is, what is a pulse? These are a variety of different leguminous plants, including dry beans, dry peas, and lentils. Black beans are included. (For information on black eyed peas, see the post from January.)

Nutritionally, 1/2 cup cooked black beans contains around 115 calories, 20g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 8g protein, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, potassium, and iron.  They are not a source of fat or sodium, unless added.

The amount of fiber in beans and other pulses help contribute to bowel health. Since black beans are fairly inexpensive and pack in many different vitamins and minerals, they are an excellent way to maximize nutrition.

MyPlate guidelines suggest you count beans as a source of protein, but for those who are monitoring blood sugar, be aware that they also contain carbohydrates.

  • Buy: Look for dry black beans in dry goods (such as with rice). Your store may also carry canned black beans, which are a convenience. If available, choose canned varieties with less sodium.  Frozen black beans are uncommon.
  • Price: Black beans are very economical and help complete a meal without much money. Canned varieties will be a higher cost than dry, but are still inexpensive.
  • Store: Keep dry black beans away from light and moisture to extend their shelf life. Dry beans and peas take longer to cook the older they are, so use within a year for best quality. If buying canned, keep cans in a cool and dry location to prevent rust on the can and maintain quality.
  • Prepare: Follow directions for cooking on the package. Any leftover beans should be refrigerated and eaten with 3-4 days. Cooked beans also freeze well.
  • Eat: Try black beans in salads, soups, bean dips, or salsas as an ingredient. Or make them part of the main dish, like in rice and beans.



Fiesta Quinoa Salad (Makes 8 servings, ½ cup servings)

With any last summer ingredients, enjoy this refreshing and spiced cold salad.

Salad Ingredients
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup frozen corn, cooked
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup green or red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1 whole jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)

Dressing Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
Juice from 1 lime
2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt

1. In a saucepan, heat 1 cup water to boiling. Add quinoa. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and cool slightly.
2. Add corn, black beans, bell pepper, red onion and jalapeno to quinoa.
3. In a small separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, cumin, garlic powder, pepper and salt.
4. Add dressing to vegetable mixture and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours prior to serving cold.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 90 calories, 5g fat, 70mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Source: University of Illinois Extension, Meals for a Healthy Heart series