Six weeks into the International Year of Pulses (dried beans) and halfway into American Heart Month, it’s time again to talk about beans.
They do a heart good, offering plenty of protein, meaty texture without meat’s cholesterol, plus goodly amounts of heart-supporting soluble fiber, of which meat has none. The trick is getting you to eat them. Happily, there’s delicious new ways to get beans in your body without slow-cooking or cranking open a can.
The chip. Maybe you won’t eat a chickpea, but Beanfields Snacks (6 ounces $3.99) knows you’ll eat a chip. They make bean and rice chips in seven munchworthy flavors, from sea salt to dairy-free ranch, all GMO-free, gluten-free and vegan, with a solid tortilla-like crunch.
An easy-to-eat 1-ounce serving averages 140 calories and140 milligrams sodium, roughly the same as an ounce of tortilla chips, but Beanfields works its wellness edge by offering twice the fiber and protein (4 grams each) and a third less fat (5 grams), plus the carbs in these chips are complex. Available at Whole Foods and Milams.
The pasta. Gluten-sensitive people, say hallelujah. Then say Banza (8 ounces, $4.99). This chickpea pasta contains 190 calories per 2-ounce serving, comparable to traditional semolina past, but has 8 grams each protein and fiber — double the protein and, whoa, four times as much fiber.
Banza cooks quickly, under 10 minutes, with a neutral flavor, but is a touch gummier than semolina pasta and can collapse in cooking. A box appears to be the same size as 13-ounce box of regular pasta but contains only half as many servings. Available at Whole Foods and Fresh Market.
The better bean. Better Bean (14 ounces, $3.99) beans are fresh, not canned, and ready to eat. They’re also GMO-free, vegan and generously seasoned — with more than salt. The roasted chipotle bean dip offers a true chile charge.
The Cuban black beans — via Portland, Oregon, where the family-owned company is based — are thicker than your abuela’s, pigless, too, yet vibrant and rich with onion and poblano. A half-cup serving contains 140 calories, 4 fat grams, 220 milligrams sodium, 7 grams protein and 6 grams of fiber. Find all seven varieties of Better Bean in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods. Load up a tortilla, serve over rice.
Ellen Kanner: @soulfulvegan
These are like your classic Italian bakery cookies, full of sweet, nutty flavor, with a crunchy exterior yielding to dreamily chewy interior. The secret ingredient is aquafaba. Huh? The Latin translation is bean water. Chickpea cooking liquid is a brilliant vegan egg replacer and a great use of a byproduct we usually throw out. Commercial vegan chefs have been using this viscous bean brine to whip up frothy meringues and airy mousses. These quick and easy cookies contain only a scant amount of aquafaba and taste not at all of bean. Note: To blanch almonds, pour whole raw almonds into a small heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 15 minutes, then drain. Rub the almonds between your fingers. Their skins will slip off, leaving you perfect, bare nut kernels.
1 cup whole blanched almonds
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of low-sodium chickpeas)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
16 whole blanched almonds or maraschino cherries
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment or a silpat. In a food processor, pulse the almonds with sugar until ground fine. Add aquafaba, almond extract, vanilla and pinch of sea salt and pulse until mixture is the color and texture of damp sand — about a minute. Roll mixture into balls about the size of a walnut and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
Using the back of a spoon, gently flatten cookies slightly. Lightly press a blanched almond or maraschino cherry onto the top of each cookie. Bake macaroons in middle of oven 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. The cookies soften as they age.
Yield: About 16 macaroons