White beans are marketed under more specific names, such as Navy beans, Great Northerns, or Cannellini. Often their containers are only labeled ‘white beans or small white beans’. Though different white bean varieties have slightly different tastes and sizes, their nutritive values tend to be very similar, and they are generally interchangeable in recipes.
Don’t confuse small white beans and Lima beans. Lima beans are white but they have a much difference flavor and are generally cooked, spiced and served differently from small white beans.
One of the biggest complaints of bean eaters is flatulence, which is caused when the body fails to break down all of the sugar molecules. In many cases, simply rinsing the beans thoroughly or soaking dried beans can reduce some of the bean’s sugars. Using the freshest beans possible may also be helpful.
White beans are used in the cuisines of many different cultures. They can be boiled in soups and strews, mixed with rice or other grains, used in casseroles. Baked beans, a popular side dish in the United States, is usually made with white beans.
It is also common for white beans to be boiled and seasoned, then served as an accompaniment to other foods, from spicy sausage and smoked chicken to roasted vegetables and grilled meats. Beans can also be mashed or blended to make a vegetable or chip dip.
Most white bean varieties are typically very high in fiber, usually between 10 and 11 grams per 1/2 cup serving. Beans are also a protein source, which can make them an attractive meat substitute. White bean varieties are typically high in potassium, folate, vitamins C and B6, calcium, and iron.
Medical professionals may recommend diets rich in white beans. Beans are believed to help lower cholesterol, and can regulate blood sugar levels. A number of academic studies have also linked regular bean consumption with a decreased risk of heart disease thanks in part to the heart friendly minerals, like manganese contain in white beans.
Easy Bean Soup – Keep It Simple
2 cups small dried white beans
4 cups chicken stock / water to cover beans or
Optional – 4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 or 2 Jalapeno peppers de-seeded and diced
1 small onion diced
Optional – 1 or 2 cloves garlic thin sliced or finely chopped
Rinse pre-soak beans in warm water.
Saute onions, garlic and pepper in a small amount of olive oil. When tender add beans, chicken stock or bouillon cubes add water to cover beans.
Simmer over medium heat until tender.
Add more water as needed during cooking process.
Serve with crackers, cornbread or butter-garlic toasted bread.
Add salt and black pepper ‘at the table’ to your taste.
Optional – Top bean soup with grated cheese.
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