I look forward to each new year. Even though today is just really another day, for me, it's a clean slate waiting for a new chapter to be written. Do you make resolutions for the new year? I start thinking about my resolutions right after Thanksgiving and fine-tune them during the holidays. This year, I resolve to focus on healthy, budget-friendly menus and teach my son how to cook and bake.
You've probably noticed a surge in the use of black beans in recipes. They've always been a popular ingredient in Latin, Creole, and Cajun cooking, but black beans have found their way into other cuisines, as well. What makes the black bean so popular in today's cooking? Black beans are an excellent source of protein-plus-fiber and this combination provides a level not found in most of the other food groups. Protein is essential for all growth, maintenance, and repair of the body's cells. Without adequate amounts of protein, the human body doesn't function properly. Black beans are completely sodium-free which helps you stay within the recommended amounts of sodium intake. Recent studies have also shown that black beans provide special support to our digestive process, particularly in the colon and also aid in blood sugar regulation, as well as providing cardiovascular benefits. If there is a negative about black beans it would be that they are high in calories. A half cup of black beans has about 140 calories in it. You'll want to keep that in mind when using black beans, but I think the other benefits far outweigh the calories in black beans.
In addition to the outstanding health benefits, black beans are also very economical. I picked some up on my most recent trip to the grocery store and checked the pricing of both canned and dry black beans. A 15 ounce (about 1 cup) can of black beans was 68¢ and a 16 oz. bag of dried beans was $1.28. I bought a bag of the dried beans and cooked the entire package when I got home. Once the beans were cooked, I had 3 1/2 cups of black beans which I froze in 1 cup packages for later use. A can of black beans is really inexpensive, but I figure why not save even more? Buying the dried beans and cooking them at home brought the price to 2¢ per ounce versus 4¢ per ounce of the canned beans.
Serves: 12 brownies
Did you know, by drinking water and staying hydrated, you feel healthier and are less likely to get sick? This year I also resolve to drink more water.
Encourage your kids (and you, too!) to drink a full serving of milk at each meal, but then drink water whenever they're thirsty throughout the day instead of drinking juice or pop. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so it's always nice and cold!
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