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Black Beans: The Miracle Bean in Your Grocery Store

 Looking for a food that is healthy and full of anti-oxidants, protein and fiber? You might want to get your can opener -- when it comes to health benefits, it's hard to beat black beans.

Ounce for ounce, black beans have the same amount of protein as beef but contain no cholesterol and have only a third of the calories. In addition, black beans are high in dietary fiber -- one cup of black beans provides 15 grams. Dietary fiber helps control blood sugar and weight.

Black beans also provide vitamins and minerals, flavonoid anti-oxidants and omega-3 essential fatty oils, which can improve skin, lower blood pressure and boost brain function. When buying black beans, don't worry about purchasing canned over dry. Canned beans preserve the nutritional value of the beans, while making them much easier to use in recipes.

There are many ways to incorporate black beans into meals. For example, many South American and Mexican dishes include black beans. For a healthy, low-fat meal, Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, authors of the independent cookbook "Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's," suggest this black bean soup with cumin and lime:

 

Favorite Black Bean Soup

Serves Four

 

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove crushed garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 15 ounce cans of black beans, with liquid

1 cup (half a jar) of your favorite salsa

2 tablespoons lime juice, or the juice of one lime

Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

1. In a medium pot, add the olive oil and sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent.

2. Add cumin and garlic, sautéing for an additional minute.

3. Pour in black beans with their liquid, salsa and lime juice. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes.

4. When serving the soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

To learn about the book "Cooking with Trader Joe's," or to find more healthy, time-saving recipes from Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, visit www.cookingwithtraderjoes.com.