Most of us don’t eat enough fiber, and if you are a vegetarian then chances are that protein is shortchanged too in your diet. One simple solution to this is to eat French beans more often, especially during the winter season when they are in season and are amazingly fresh and extremely pocket-friendly too. Besides giving us enough fiber that protects against heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and digestive issues, beans also deliver a lot of protein (5 grams per 250 gm), and also help lower the LDL "bad" cholesterol so are good for our heart too. Plus they are rich in resistant starch so are brilliant for our gut health, help keep our sugar levels and weight in check too. In addition, this humble food also delivers iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, and folate.
These wonder beans are versatile - you can add them to soups, fried rice, noodles, sambar, pav bhaji, or try these delicious recipes to make them part of your menus more regularly.
Heat coconut oil in a pan, crackle mustard seeds, then add sliced onions and fry till golden. Next, add sliced French beans and fry for 5-7 minutes. Now add raw peanuts, grated coconut, salt to taste, and a splash of water if required. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add sliced tomatoes and cook without cover for 5 more minutes.
Melt butter or olive oil in a pan, crackle cumin seeds, add lots of garlic, and fry for 1 minute. Now add chopped green beans, salt, and chili powder to taste. Cover the pan and let the green beans cook in their own juice until they are tender (about 10-12 minutes), stirring occasionally, and add a splash of water as and when required. Makes a perfect evening snack and pairs well with rice too.
Simply Steamed Beans
Chop and steam a bowl of green beans till they are soft enough to eat but still crunchy. Toss them in 1 tbsp of gunpowder, 1 tsp of flaxseed powder, and salt and red chili flakes to taste. Add some crushed peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Make a meal with roti and yogurt, or just snack on them with a cracker or two.
Bean Salad Plus
Mix steamed French beans, boiled channa, rajma, and Kala channa. Add cubed cucumber, boiled potato, steamed carrots, chopped apple, and tuna chunks or boiled egg (optional). Add some raisins and chopped cashews and few torn leaves of lettuce. Make a dressing by whisking together olive oil, juice of lemon, vinegar, mustard, and mashed garlic. Pour over the beans, nuts, and fruits mix.
Quinoa with Shrimps and Beans
Cook quinoa in salted water and keep aside. Stir fry or deep fry shrimps and keep aside. Heat a little oil in a pan. Crackle cumin and fenugreek seeds, add chopped garlic and onion, and fry till golden. Now add steamed halved French beans and slit green chilies and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add shrimps and salt and spices - coriander, red chili powder, and coriander powder. Stir fry for 2 minutes, place on top of cooked quinoa, and dig in.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)