Beans, Beans and Beans

Beans are the fruits or seeds of a family of plants called Fabaceae. They are one of the oldest forms of nutrition and are eaten around the world. Beans are a rich source of fiber and vitamin B. They are healthy and – if prepared with the right recipe – tasty substitute for meat as a source of protein. Their health benefits are numerous, including reducing cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels and increasing healthy gut bacteria. Here are the most common ones:

Black Beans: Also called Black Turtle Beans are a small, shiny variety popular in the Latin American cuisine. Frijoles Negros (Spanish speaking Latin America) and Feijão Preto (Brazil) are everyday staples and dearly loved. They have a subtle, slightly sweet taste that goes well with smoky flavors, such as bacon or chipotle.

Black-Eyed Peas: Although called a pea, it is actually a bean with a prominent black spot on its creamy skin. The earthy flavor is a good complement for salty meats, like bacon and ham. Also known as Black-Eyed Beans or Goat Peas.

Cannellini Beans: Cannellini, very common in Italian cooking, are also known as Italian White Kidney Beans. They have a thin skin, a smooth, silky interior, and an earthy flavor. As they retain their shape when cooked they are often used in salads and other recipes where beans are kept whole. Also known as Fazolia Beans.

Chickpeas: Also known as Garbanzos or Garbanzo Beans, their Spanish name. Round and firm, with a slightly nutty flavor. They are grown in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. Indispensable in the Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The most prominent chickpea dish is Hummus.

Fasolia Gigantes: Known in the US as Greek Giant Beans, a large, white and kidney-shaped bean, it is used in the Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine, normally as part of an oven baked dish or stew. It is an EU recognized regional product grown in the Kato Nevrokopi region of Greece. A variety known as Judión de la Granja is popular in Spain.

Fava Beans: The lime-colored beans, also known as Broad Beans (UK, Australia, NZ), are among the most ancient plants in cultivation and a staple of the Mediterranean diet. They are generally eaten while still young and tender and have a mild grassy flavor with a starchy to creamy texture keeping its shape when cooked.

Flageolets: Small, creamy-white to pale-green seeds of a variety of haricot vert beans cultivated in France 150 years ago. Braise or add to soups and stews or eat cold as a salad with lemon and oil.

Great Northern White Beans: Small, white, kidney-shaped beans with a mild taste. It is excellent in absorbing seasonings and works well in soups and stews. Also known as Large White Beans.

Kidney Beans: The popular beans, reddish on the outside and white inside,  are used for the popular Chili con Carne, the official dish of Texas.

Lima Beans:  The green, oval-shaped beans have a buttery flavor and a starchy interior that can turn mushy, so they’re best in quick sautés. Also known as Butter Beans and Sieva Beans.

Navy Beans: small white oval beans with a mild flavor, they are often used in baked beans as well as soups and stews. They were once a regular dietary staple for sailors at sea, hence the name. Also known as Pearl Haricot BeansBoston Beans, White Pea Beans, or Pea Beans.

Pinto Beans: The light brown beans with reddish speckles have an earthy flavor and smooth texture. They work well in stews or in Mexican refried beans. Also known as Frijoles Pintos (Spain), Poroto Frutillas (Spanish speaking South America), Feijão Carioca (Brazil) and Feijão Catarino (Portugal).

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