Beans: the Magical Fruit
The more beans you eat, the more you can improve your health.
Dry beans are a popular crop to grow in North Dakota. In fact, North Dakota farmers lead the nation in growing all dry beans. Most of North Dakota’s dry bean acres are in navy and pinto beans.
Dry beans are related to green beans, which are grown in home gardens. Dry beans are the dried seeds found inside the pod.
Eating beans can provide many health benefits due to their rich nutrient profile.
Beans can be categorized in the vegetable group or the protein group in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food groups. These nutrient powerhouses are high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B.
Eating a serving of beans can help you feel full longer and can slow the rise of blood sugar levels.
Regularly eating beans may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease and colorectal cancer, and help with weight management. Remember to drink more water when increasing fiber in your diet.
Bean varieties commonly grown in this area include black, pink, cranberry, dark red kidney, navy, pinto, light red kidney, small red and great northern.
Beans can be purchased dried, then soaked in water and cooked, or purchased as canned goods.
They often are used in soups, stews, salads, casseroles, dips, desserts, side dishes and bean flour.
Dry beans are one of the specialty crops that can be grown in North Dakota. Visit the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s Field to Fork website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork for more information about growing and using a variety of specialty crops, including dry beans.
Do you ever tire of iceberg lettuce?
If you do, growing your own leafy greens might be the answer. Leafy greens include lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard, kale and spinach.
Growing your own leafy greens can be economical and fun. Plus many varieties are available for planting.
Certain leafy greens, such as kale and Swiss chard, need lots of space to grow, but others can be grown in small spaces or even containers.
For more information on leafy green varieties, fun facts and recipes, check out the North Dakota State University publication “From Garden to Table: Leafy Greens!” at www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/from-garden-to-table-leafy-greens/h1754.pdf.
You can harvest individual leaves or the whole plant. Harvesting the “baby” leaves will allow you to enjoy multiple pickings during the season. Baby leaves also will be the most tender.
Clean leafy greens in cool running water. For hard-to-remove soil, place leaves in a cool water bath to soak for a few minutes to loosen the soil. Rinse with cool water and use paper towels or a salad spinner to remove excess moisture.
Dark green leafy vegetables provide a variety of nutrients and fiber. For example, 1 cup of raw spinach has 7 calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 1 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 24 milligrams sodium.
Green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins A (from the carotenoid natural pigments), C and K, and the B vitamin folate. Leafy greens also contain calcium and iron.
Leafy greens have many uses. For example, arugula is sprinkled on top of fresh pizza in Italy. Spinach often is used in salads and cooked dishes. Kale, historically used as a garnish, is increasingly used as a main entree or baked into chips.
Leaf lettuce is one of the specialty crops that can be grown in North Dakota. Visit the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s Field to Fork website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork for more information about growing and using a variety of specialty crops, including leaf lettuce.