Chow Town

With green bean season upon us, don’t overlook the bean’s nutritional value

Updated: 2013-08-20T17:47:15Z

By DONNA COOK

I remember growing up as a child, we would sit outside with a bucket of green beans, take the stems off and snap them, getting them ready for canning.

Of course a few wouldn’t make it in the bucket of snapped ones because we would throw them at the chickens going by.

Commonly referred to as string beans, the string that once was their trademark running lengthwise down the seam of the pod can seldom be found in modern varieties.

It’s for this reason — the breeding out of the “string” — that string beans are often referred to as “snap beans.” Because they are picked at a younger, immature stage, snap beans can literally be snapped in half with a simple twist of the fingers.

Although these bright green and crunchy beans are available at your local market throughout the year, they are in season from summer through early fall when they are at their best and the least expensive.

Green beans and other beans, such as kidney beans, navy beans and black beans, are all known scientifically as Phaseolus vulgaris. They are all referred to as “common beans,” probably owing to the fact that they all derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru.

Because of their rich green color, green beans are not often thought of as being a source of colorful pigments like carotenoids. But they are.

Recent studies have confirmed the presence of lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin in green beans. In some cases, the presence of these carotenoids in green beans is comparable to their other carotenoid-rich vegetables like carrots and tomatoes.

The only reason we don’t see these carotenoids is because of the concentrated chlorophyll content of green beans and the amazing shades of green that it provides.

If possible, purchase green beans at a store or farmers’ market that sells them loose so that you can sort through them to choose the beans of best quality. Purchase beans that have a smooth feel and a vibrant green color, and that are free from brown spots or bruises. They should have a firm texture and “snap” when broken.

Store unwashed fresh beans pods in a plastic bag kept in the refrigerator crisper. Whole beans stored this way should keep for about seven days.

Since green beans are a rich source of vitamin K, C, and A, as well as health-promoting carotenoid phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. One cup contains only 44 calories, I love this easy to prepare recipe as a healthy way of eating.

Green Bean Salad

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 pound green beans

sea salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

3 tablespoons of goat cheese

2 tablespoons of sliced almonds

4-5 drops soy sauce

1 tablespoons sliced sun dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons roasted red bell peppers

1 tablespoons chopped basil

Chop garlic and let sit for at least five minutes to bring out its health promoting properties then add the lemon juice and olive oil. Whisk together.

Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with two inches of water. While steam is building up in steamer, cut ends off green beans. Steam for seven minutes. A fork should pierce through them easily when they are done. Transfer to a bowl and add the garlic dressing.

For more flavor, toss green beans with the remaining optional ingredients while they are sill hot.

Donna Cook is the owner of Rabbit Creek Gourmet Foods in Louisburg, Kan. She is also a Master Gardener, Master Food Volunteer and on the board of directors of the Home Baking Association.

Deal Saver Subscribe today!

Comments

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here