Ingredient of the Week: Green Beans
Green beans are an umbrella term for several varieties of long beans that have edible pods. Strangely enough they aren’t all green as you can sometimes get yellow or purple ones. Other names for them include string or stringless beans, fine beans, or haricot vert. They originate from Southern America but are now found all over the world. I only ever think to buy them when they are on special offer in Tesco. Otherwise I tend to overlook them as boring and unappealing. When in fact, they are an incredibly nutritious and versatile vegetable that can be added to salads, stir-fries, curries, pasta sauces and many other meals. Apparently green beans are one of the top 5 foods for increasing your intelligence, so when you need to be extra alert why not pair them with salmon like in my salmon sushi salad or swap the mangetout for them in my spicy salmon stir-fry to give your brain that extra boost. Other options could include my Moroccan chicken one pot, or my Brazilian prawn and coconut stew.
Why are they good for me?
Green beans are very high in fibre as we are able to not just eat the seeds but the casing or pod as well. This is very good for digestion and a healthy and efficient gut. This can help prevent constipation, bloating, as well as nastier things like bowel cancer. The high levels of B vitamins contained in green beans are very important for converting food to energy. This enables muscles to contract and work effectively. Therefore athletes need a good supply of these. They also, along with folate, help to keep the nervous system working efficiently.
Green beans, like avocado, contain lutein and so are also very good for maintaining healthy eyes. While they also contain zeaxanthin which has been found to protect the eyes from UV damage, resulting in macular degeneration, leading to sight loss.
How do I prepare them?
Green beans are really quick and easy to prepare. Simply remove the ends from them by either snapping or slicing with a knife and then slicing them in to the lengths you require. Normally this is in half or in to thirds.
How do I cook them?
I don’t generally cook green beans on their own but if I do I simply steam them for 5 minutes. They don’t need very long at all to cook so you can add them to pans of pasta or rice with approx 3 minutes left. If you are adding them to salads it is best to rinse them in cold water once they are done to prevent them from continuing to cook and keeping them crisp.
I must admit I’ve not been very adventurous with green beans until recently really but I should use them more as they are so simple to use in cooking. You can even buy them frozen and they are still as nutritious. Do you have a favourite meal that includes green beans? Let me know and I will try making it.
Thanks for reading and speak soon.