Baked beans in tomato sauce, in a brown pot.
Baked beans in tomato sauce

With New Year’s just around the corner and your home brimming with loved ones, there’s no time to waste on menu planning. Are you looking for a delicious yet exciting side dish that your guests will truly appreciate? This season, center your holiday meal on this festive and hearty baked bean recipe.

Throughout the years, baked beans have been an integral part of the American culture. These beans have accompanied millions of Americans on holidays, birthdays and so many more celebrations. Whether we’re talking about kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black beans or navy beans, the health benefits are consistent throughout all types, shapes and sizes of these nutritional powerhouses.

With a trivial price tag and a bold flavor, beans deserve a spot on your holiday menu this year.

These mighty legumes are a wonderful source of long-lasting energy as they are low in sodium and high in protein, iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid and, most importantly, fiber. Fiber is found in plant foods, but, unlike other carbohydrates, it cannot be readily digested in the small intestine.

There are two types of fiber that our bodies can benefit from: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a thick gel in our stomach. This gel helps with keeping blood sugar in check, lowering “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL) in the blood and slowing down digestion. Food sources include beans, peas, fruits, vegetables, oats, nuts and seeds.

On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It passes through the gut intact, which allows it to provide bulk for stool formation. This type of fiber also prevents constipation by speeding up nutrient transit through the digestive system.

Food sources include: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wheat bran, brown rice, whole grain breads, cereals and pasta.

Both soluble and insoluble fiber increase feelings of satiety so one feels satisfied and full for longer periods of time.

Below is an example of the substantial amount of fiber one can get from only one cup of cooked beans:

Black beans, cooked:
15 grams of fiber per cup
Chickpeas, cooked:
12.5 grams of fiber per cup
White beans, cooked:
11.3 grams of fiber per cup
Fava beans, cooked:
9.2 grams of fiber per cup
Lima beans, cooked:
9.2 grams of fiber per cup

The Institute of Medicine recommends an intake of 38 grams of fiber per day for men (age 14-50 years), 25 grams per day for women (age 19-50 years), 19 grams per day for children age 1-3 years and 25 grams per day for children age 4-8 years.

However, a majority of the American population only ingests around 15 grams of fiber per day.

Not to worry, as we are sharing this Best Baked Beans recipe packed with veggies to lock in your daily dose of fiber this holiday season. ■

THE BEST BAKED BEANS
1 cup sweet onion, diced
1 cup Swiss chard
½ cup celery, sliced
¼ cup cranberries, natural or dried
¼ cup pecans
½ cup fresh tomatoes
1 medium sweet potato, cut into
thick rounds
½ cup carrots, cut in half and sliced
1 can baked beans
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. fresh tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 Tbsp. natural organic maple syrup
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil
Fresh basil for serving
2 tsp. pickled chopped jalapeño
peppers for serving

Saute the onions and celery in olive or coconut oil for 5 minutes.

Add all the ingredients together in an oven-safe tin and cook for 30-35 minutes at 350°F or until the sauce has thickened and is bubbly.

Top off the beans with fresh basil and pickled jalapeño peppers.
Dig in!

STACY’S HEALTHY HACKS
• Canned beans are a convenient option but be sure to compare labels for sodium content as they are often packed with salt. Many brands offer low-sodium beans (less than 140 milligrams of sodium) or beans with no added salt.
• Drain canned beans in a strainer and rinse them under running water. This process can be very efficient at lowering the sodium content of the beans even further.
• Dried beans are a great option as they can last up to a year if placed in a closed container in a cool, dark space.
• Always remember to soak your dried beans in water the night before you want to cook them. This will ease and speed up the cooking process tremendously.
• Forgot to soak your beans? You can use a process called quick-soaking. Just place beans in a pot filled with water, let it boil, cover it and turn off the heat. Let the pot sit for at least a half an hour and you’re all set.
• Top your dish off with roasted crunchy lentils, chickpeas or your favorite nut and seed mix. Not only will you get a surprise crunch element with every bite, but you’ll also be benefiting from extra protein, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
• Try to incorporate beans into your snacking habits, and not just your meals. Here are some simple ways: Swap out regular chips for protein-packed bean chips; pack black bean jerky sticks for your next skiing adventure; and keep a bag of your favorite roasted BBQ bean crisps in the glove compartment of your car for when hunger strikes during rush hour.

Stacy Goldberg is a nationally recognized nutritional consultant, registered nurse and the CEO of Savorfull (savorfull.com), a Detroit-based company that sources healthy, allergen-friendly foods and provides nutrition-consulting. Savorfull is part of the Quicken Loans Family of Companies.

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