Tag Archives: Fast Facts

An image depicting Boston Baked Beans

Boston Baked Beans for a Traditional Independence Day

Bostonians were eating slow-baked beans in molasses since Colonial days, but the city didn’t earn its nickname as Beantown until the early 20th century. To encourage attendance at a city-wide reunion known as Old Home Week in 1907, promoters distributed one million stickers (which were a new invention), with an image of two hands clasped above a Boston bean pot. Shortly after that, the slogan “you don’t know beans until you come to Boston” started appearing on postcards.

Today, baked beans show up on most July 4th picnic menus. For a touch of all-American tradition, try this recipe for authentic Boston Baked Beans from The Spruce. For a meatless version, slice vegetarian sausage into the beans in place of bacon.


An image depicting a child learning to garden

Kids Learn to Like Beans When They Grow Them in a Garden

Fourth-grade students in Washington State gained a new appreciation for beans when they participated in a “Pulse on Health” curriculum. Part of the program involved planting, caring for, and harvesting beans in a school garden. Compared to kids who didn’t grow beans, the young gardeners knew more about bean nutrition at the end of the program according to a series of survey questions they answered. Not only were they more knowledgeable, but they also had a new appreciation for beans in meals. Nearly a third of them reported that they were eating more beans.

Any type of dry bean makes a fun and educational at-home garden project for school-aged children. Beans can be grown in a small patch in your yard, or in pots on a sunny balcony. Growing beans is a valuable summer project that can also help kids eat better.

Source: Exploring Pulses Through Math, Science, and Nutrition Activities. The Journal of Child Nutrition and Management. Spring, 2016.

An image depicting umami-rich ingredients with beans

Add Fast Flavor to Beans with Umami Rich Ingredients

Sometimes referred to as the fifth taste – in addition to sweet, sour, bitter, and salty – the flavor or essence of umami was discovered in Japan around 100 years ago. The word is derived from the Japanese term for “deliciousness.” Small amounts of umami-rich ingredients can go a long way in enhancing the flavor of the simplest dishes.

Adding these foods to bean dishes is an easy way to create a savory meal with just a handful of ingredients. Try incorporating any of the following into cooked or canned beans for a dish that is packed with flavor:

  • Shredded aged cheese
  • Caramelized onions
  • Sun-dried tomatoes rehydrated or packed in oil
  • A few tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Miso broth
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Grilled or roasted sweet peppers
An image for the Cowboy Caviar Recipe

The Not So Humble Beginnings of Cowboy Caviar

First served at the Houston Country Club on New Year’s Eve in the early 1940s, this bean salad was dubbed “Texas Caviar” in a humorous comparison to true caviar. Today it’s more commonly known as Cowboy Caviar and it’s a popular dish to serve as at picnics and tailgate parties, often with tortilla chips. And the recipe is so forgiving that you can pull this together for a party with whatever you have on hand.

To make Cowboy Caviar, combine one can each of drained black beans, pinto beans, and corn. Add chopped tomatoes, chopped sweet onions and avocado cubes. Dress with oil and vinegar or bottled Italian dressing along with salt and pepper to taste.

Beans and Babies

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics lists beans as an appropriate food at age six months. First foods for infants are most often pureed cereals, fruits and vegetables. But once your baby has learned to enjoy a few of these foods, it’s time to introduce higher-protein fare. Beans are a good choice for babies. They are rich in protein, iron, zinc and fiber, and they have a mild flavor.

Cook beans without salt or other seasonings until they are soft enough to mash easily with a fork. You can also puree the beans in a food processor if you prefer. Freeze the mashed or pureed beans in an ice cube tray for baby-size portions. They can be frozen for up to three months.

Beans and Fiber

When it comes to fiber, beans have it all. Not only do they offer nearly twice as much total fiber as whole grains, but they also provide generous amounts of the two different types of fiber you need to stay healthy. Beans are a rich source of insoluble fiber, which is the type that protects the digestive system. They also provide plenty of soluble fiber which helps lower blood cholesterol.

Beans are also rich in a type of starch called resistant starch that helps you feel full longer and improves the way your body uses insulin. Including beans in your diet is the easiest way to ensure that you’re consuming generous amounts of both types of fiber and of resistant starch.

Canned Beans versus Cooked from Scratch: Both Offer Good Nutrition

Cooking beans yourself saves money, but when you’re in a hurry, nothing is quite as easy as canned beans. They’re also good for you. Canned beans offer about the same amount of protein and fiber as their cooked-from-scratch counterparts. Beans from a can are lower in the B-vitamin folate, although they’re still a good source of this nutrient.  If you’re watching your intake of sodium, be sure to rinse canned beans or look for those that are made with less salt. For busy cooks, or those who don’t enjoy cooking, canned beans are always a good choice.

Additional information:



Eat More Beans to Lose Weight

Weight loss is more than just cutting down on your diet. It’s also about eating the right types of food. One of these foods is beans, where incorporating just a single serving can improve your daily diet and weight loss efforts.

Though it isn’t clear how beans help people shed pounds, it is known their content of slowly-digested starches may help you feel full longer. Beans may also affect the way the body metabolizes fats according to research at Colorado State University. These investigators found that feeding beans to rats caused reductions in visceral fat. This is the “deep” fat that accumulates around organs and is associated with a higher risk of chronic disease.

They may not be the whole answer to permanent weight loss, but growing evidence points to benefits of adding beans to your diet if you’re hoping to shed a few pounds.

Are You Getting Enough Fiber and Potassium?

There are many reasons why nutrition experts are recommending more plant-based protein. One major reason is that plant-based protein foods like beans also
contain “nutrients of concern” like fiber and potassium, nutrients that most Americans don’t get enough of in their diets.

Adults need 25-38 grams of fiber per day. The average American adult only gets about 16 grams. A single serving of beans can provide one-third of your daily fiber needs. And the average potassium intake of 2,640 milligrams per day falls short of the recommended  4,700 milligrams. Most types of beans are good sources of potassium and excellent sources of fiber.

Black Beans ½ cup, cooked 114 8 8 306
Kidney Beans ½ cup, cooked 112 8 6 358
Navy Beans ½ cup, cooked 127 8 10 354
Pinto Beans ½ cup, cooked 122 8 8 373
Almonds ¼ cup 164 6 4 208
Peanuts ¼ cup 161 7 2 200
Walnuts ¼ cup 190 4 2 125
Hummus ¼ cup 100 5 4 137
Tofu 2 oz. 183 20 3 299

Recipes from History: Launch Beans

July 17, 2014, Mentalfloss.com, by Matt Soniak

In April 1981, the NASA crew at the Kennedy Space Center was hard at work preparing for STS-1, the first orbital flight of the space shuttle program. People have to eat, even when they’re making history, so members of the launch crew brought in food from home to share during long hours of pre-flight tests and other preparations.

On the day of the launch, test director Norm Carlson brought in his contribution to the potluck: cornbread and a small crock pot of beans. After a successful lift off, the team celebrated and dug in to the food. Carlson’s beans were a hit and disappeared quickly. For the next shuttle launch later that year, Carlson doubled his recipe and brought in two pots of beans. The larger batch was again eaten in no time. He kept bringing in more and more beans and more and more crock pots for each flight, until it got to be too much keeping up with his hungry team.

“Finally, sensing that it was getting too difficult to bring in enough crock pots to feed everyone, Mr. Carlson switched to an 18-quart cooker, and set up shop on the fourth floor of the LCC [launch control center], just above the firing rooms,” says the KSC website.  “The call ‘Beans are Go!’ came to signal that the shuttle had successfully launched, and it was time to relax and unwind.”

When Carlson retired, his bean-cooking duties were turned over to the center’s food service contractor, which prepared twelve 18-quart cookers for every launch until the shuttle program ended in 2011.

Want to eat like a rocket scientist? Here’s Carlson’s recipe, from Spaceport News, NASA’s newsletter for KSC employees.

“Successful Launch Beans”
Courtesy of Norm Carlson, former NASA Test Director Chief

Put 6 lbs. of dried great northern beans in an 18-quart electric cooker.

Cut 10 lbs. of smoked ham into cubes.

Add ham and ham bones to beans.

Add 1⁄2 shaker of lemon pepper.

Add 3 lbs. chopped onions.

Add 2 stalks chopped celery.

Add 1 tsp. liquid smoke.

Cover with water and cook for at least 8 hours.


“Famous Launch Day Cornbread”

Martha White Self-Rising Corn Muffin Mix

Follow directions on box.

For more information, and a smaller recipe, visit https://insideksc.blogspot.com/2006/08/go-no-go-beans-insideksccom-exclusive.html.

Fast Facts: 10 Simple Ways to Enjoy More Taste with Less Waste

Americans throw away 165 billion pounds of food each year. That’s about 20 pounds of food, per person, per month. Food is the number one thing in America’s landfill and has a big impact on sustainability. The good news is we all can do something to address this important issue. Try these 10 simple tips to enjoy more taste with less waste.

  1. Shop Smart. Always shop your refrigerator before grocery shopping, plan menus based on what you already have, make a shopping list of what you need, avoid impulse buys, and don’t buy too much.
  2. Portion Control. The larger the plate, the more likely we are to fill it. Use smaller serving plates and watch portion sizes. We have a tendency to eat with our eyes instead of eating with our stomachs.
  3. Planned Overs. If you know there are going to be extras at one meal, think about what they can be used for at subsequent meals. Friday night’s rice and beans make the perfect base for Saturday morning’s breakfast bowl.
  4. Date & Label. There’s nothing worse than finding a container of old, forgotten leftovers. Date and label everything that goes in the refrigerator & freezer.
  5. Repurpose Past-Prime Foods. Just because a food is past its peak doesn’t mean it can’t still be delicious. Crusty bread makes great French toast or croutons. Vegetables past their prime are good for soup. Wilting spinach is perfect in eggs. And macerated slightly overripe berries (a little balsamic vinegar and sugar) is absolutely delicious on ice cream or yogurt.
  6. Love Your Leftovers. Don’t be a leftover snob – save and actually eat them! Also, get creative with your leftovers. It doesn’t have to be the same meal twice.
  7. Stay Organized. Avoid clutter in your refrigerator, freezer & pantry. Keep things organized, labeled and remember FIFO – First In, First Out.
  8. Understand Food Dates. Treat “Use By” and “Best By” dates as suggestions rather than hard lines. These are voluntary terms used by food manufacturers to indicate quality, not the shelf life of a product. Learn more about food dates with handy phone apps like Food Keeper.
  9. Store Foods Properly. The shelf life of food is significantly increased with proper storage. Check out these guidelines from Save the Food for how to optimally store almost any food.
  10. Freeze It. If you have foods you can’t eat before they go bad, freeze it. Freezing significantly increases the life of food, and almost all foods can be frozen. Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation for proper food freezing guidelines.

For more information on food waste and additional tips, visit www.savethefood.com

Five Facts You May Not Know About Breakfast

  1. Breakfast is a relatively new concept and did not exist in the United States, as we know it today, until the mid to late 1800s. According to Abigail Carroll, a food historian and author of Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, a morning meal in the 1600s was likely to be leftovers, stewed grains, or cheese and bread. By the mid to early 1700s, meat and fish were often added, and this was a sign of growing prosperity. The breakfast we know today came about as a result of the industrial revolution and more people flocking to live in cities.
  2. James Caleb Jackson invented the first breakfast cereal in 1863. It was called “granula” and required soaking overnight to be chewable.
  3. The word “cereal” comes from the ancient Greek word “cerealia,” a major festival celebrating Ceres, the goddess of agriculture.
  4. February is National Hot Breakfast Month!
  5. Every traditional breakfast around the world is unique. In China, breakfast includes fried dough sticks (or “youtiao”) and warm soymilk. Colombian breakfast is typically arepas, a dense, slightly sweet corn cake that’s served with butter, jam, meat or egg. A traditional English breakfast is a hearty feast including eggs, sausage, bacon, beans, mushrooms, cooked tomatoes and toast. And a Swedish breakfast is typically an open-faced sandwich topped with fish or cold cuts, cheese, mayonnaise, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Fast Facts: Things You May Not Know about the Mediterranean Diet and the Region it Calls Home

1. There are 21 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, but the countries on the northern border (Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and the South of France) are home to the foods and traditions most typically referred to as “Mediterranean” cuisine.
2. The Mediterranean basin covers 28,580 miles of shoreline and connects three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.
3. Olive trees, producing the fruit used to make olive oil, are native to the Mediterranean region and are one of the oldest known cultivated trees in the world, grown before written language was invented.
4. The climate around the Mediterranean—mild, rainy winters and dry, hot summers—is ideal for producing the wide variety of fruits, vegetables, pulses and wheat that are traditional to the diet.
5. The Mediterranean Sea has been given a variety of different names by different people through history, including “Our Sea,” “Great Sea,” “Western Sea” and “White Sea.” The name Mediterranean Sea comes from the Latin word mediterraneus, meaning “inland” sea.
6. Wine making has been an important part of Mediterranean life for at least 5,000 years, and today Italy, France and Spain lead the world in wine production.

Fast Facts: 7 Inspiring Bean Dishes from Across the Globe

Beans are served across the globe and each region has its own varieties and flavor profiles to make them unique and delicious. Here we feature 7 dishes to give you a taste of how beans are enjoyed around the world.

From Egypt: Ful Mudammas

Ful mudammas is beans cooked with onion and tomato and is a popular morning meal in Egypt. Egyptians prepare ful with dry fava beans, but cranberry beans or pink beans work, too. They eat them whole, lightly mashed, or fully mashed, topped with olive oil, melted butter, a hard-boiled egg or a fried egg. According to an Arab saying, ful is “the rich man’s breakfast, the shopkeeper’s lunch, the poor man’s supper.”

From New Orleans: Red Beans and Rice

Every Monday, you can find a pot of red beans and rice cooking in someone’s kitchen in New Orleans. As the main port of the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans was a hub for chilies and spices from the Caribbean and Latin America. These seasonings were used to flavor the local beans and provide the unique flavors for this signature New Orleans dish.

From Peru: Tacu-Tacu

Tacu-tacu is a recipe that originated to use up leftover rice and beans. Leftover rice and seasoned beans are fried in a skillet to make a large patty. It is typically served with Peruvian salsa, but can also be served with leftover meats or a fried egg.

From Spain: Fabada

This traditional, and probably best-known, Spanish bean dish extends far beyond the Asturias region where it originated. Asturian cooks use large dry white beans and include sausages, smoked pork, bacon and paprika.

From Great Britain: Beans on Toast

With the advent of home toasters came countless variations of toppings and accompaniments. In England beans on toast has been a staple in the diet for decades. As a quick snack or light and easy dinner, this comforting and cost-effective meal is a go-to for Brits and friends across the globe.

From West Africa: Cachupa

This is a famous dish from the Cape Verde islands of West Africa. The dish includes corn, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes and meat or fish made into a slow cooked stew. It is often referred to as the country’s national dish.

From India: Rajma

Rajma is the definition of Indian comfort food. Also referred to as kidney bean curry, it is a cooked dish of red kidney beans, garlic, ginger, tomato sauce, and spices like cumin seed, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and asafetida powder. Accompanied with rice, it is a very popular dish across North India.




Did You Know? 10 Facts about U.S. Holiday Traditions

  1. Approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year. There are approximately 350 million Christmas trees currently growing on farms and they are grown in all 50 states and Canada.
  2. Each year at Thanksgiving, the President receives a gift of a live turkey. At a White House ceremony, the president “pardons” the National Thanksgiving Turkey, allowing it to live out the rest of its life on a farm.
  3. The largest Easter egg ever made was 25 feet high and weighed over 8,000 pounds. It was made of chocolate and marshmallow and supported by an internal steel frame.
  4. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924.
  5. U.S. growers produce over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins each year. The top producing states are Illinois, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. Pumpkins are native to Central America and Mexico but now grow on six continents.
  6. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third Presidents of the United States, both died on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
  7. The first celebrated U.S. Labor Day was Tuesday, September 6, 1882 in New York City. At this celebration, 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to 42nd Street and then met with their families in Wendel’s Elm Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches.
  8. About 4% of all the candy consumed in the United States occurs on a single day – Halloween.
  9. In 1906, “O Holy Night” became the second song to ever be broadcast on the radio.
  10. The top three places to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the United States are New York City, Las Vegas and Disney World.

Eight Great Reasons Beans are a Blessing

As holiday season kicks into gear, we wanted to give you eight reasons to be joyful for beans!

Beans are simply delicious, versatile ingredient.

dark-red-kidney-beansBeans are an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into any meal. They work well in both sweet and savory applications. Beans can be prepared very simply and served as a delicious side dish, or they can be added to more complex dishes to boost protein, fiber, and flavor. One of our favorite ways to enjoy simply delicious beans this time of year is to sauté cooked or canned beans with olive oil, onion, sage, salt and pepper. This simple side dish pairs well with roast turkey.

Beans are naturally nutritious.

Beans are a nutrient-rich food. All types of beans—including black, cranberry, great northern, dark red kidney, light red kidney, white kidney, navy, pink, pinto, and small red—are good sources of protein, excellent sources of fiber, and naturally fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free. Many types of beans are also good sources of potassium.

 Beans promote healthy blood pressure.

Beans are one of the foods highlighted in the DASH diet. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Created by researchers, the DASH diet was designed to see if a healthful eating pattern could work as well as medication for controlling blood pressure. Researchers were surprised to learn that this diet is more powerful than medication! Additional research suggests the DASH diet may also reduce risk of certain cancers, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. The DASH diet recommends eating beans most days of the week. This dietary patterns also highlights fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.

 Beans are a sustainable crop.

Beans are part of the legume family. The roots of legume plants have nodules on them that house good bacteria that can convert nitrogen in the air into a form that plants can use, thereby reducing the need for natural or synthetic fertilizer. The nitrogen-rich soil from legumes makes other crops like wheat, planted in the same field in subsequent years, even more productive.

Beans are a gluten-free food.

People who need to avoid gluten for medical reasons or people who choose to avoid gluten for other reasons can enjoy beans. They are a gluten-free food that can enhance protein and fiber intake. Beans are also a good source of iron and an excellent source of folate, nutrients of concern for people who follow gluten-free diets.

Beans are a prebiotic food.

Beans provide non-digestible carbohydrates called oligosaccharides that provide food for the good bacteria in our gut, which may enhance health in many ways. Emerging research is exploring relationships between the gut microbiome and immunity. What we eat may be as important as what we feed our gut in terms of enhancing health and increasing longevity.

Beans are a low glycemic food.

The carbohydrates in beans come in many forms, including starch, non-starch polysaccharides, resistant starch, and oligosaccharides. The digestible carbohydrate fractions are broken down slowly in our bodies. Consuming low glycemic foods like beans may provide significant benefits when it comes to weight management and blood glucose management, especially if low glycemic foods take the place of higher glycemic foods.

Beans are an affordable source of plant-based protein.

Beans are one of the lowest-cost per serving protein foods. A ½ cup serving of cooked dry beans costs a mere $0.14 per serving. Compare that to a serving of lean ground beef at $1.32. If a family of four substitutes dry beans for lean ground beef twice a week for a year, they could save about $490!

These are a just a few of the reasons we give thanks for simply delicious, naturally nutritious beans. Let us know why you give thanks for beans via Instagram, Facebook, X, or email.


Fast Bean Farming Facts

Want to impress your friends with your bean farming knowledge? Here are 5 key farming facts to share with friends and family:

1. Beans are members of the legume family, which includes beans, lentils, peas, peanuts and soybeans. These plants contribute to soil health through nitrogen fixation, a process where atmospheric nitrogen is converted into a form of nitrogen plants can use.
2. Each acre of land in the U.S. planted to beans will produce 1,500 to 2,800 pounds of beans, depending on location, weather and soil conditions.
3. In 2015, U.S. farmers in 19 states produced more than 2.97 billion pounds of dry beans. The top five beans producing states were North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Idaho.
4. In 2015, the top five types of beans produced in the U.S. were pinto beans (32%), black beans (19%), navy beans (15%), kidney beans (7%) and small red beans (4%).
5. American farmers grow approximately twice as many pinto beans as any other beans.

Fast Facts: Beans in Schools

• Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) must offer at least ½ cup of beans and peas (legumes) per week as part of the Vegetable requirement.

• Beans can also be counted as a meat-alternate (MA) in the National School Lunch Program.

• A ¼ cup of beans counts as 1 oz. for the Meat/Meat-Alternate meal component.

• Beans can be counted as a vegetable or meat-alternate in a single meal but not both!

• The term “beans and peas (legumes)” refers to beans, peas, and other legumes that are harvested in the dry form including black, Great Northern, kidney, navy, pink, pinto, and small red beans as well as black-eye peas, chickpeas, lentils, mature lima beans, split peas, and mature soybeans.

• The USDA Food Buying Guide for Schools includes a wide variety of beans in both the dry and canned form, including black, Great northern, kidney, navy, pink, pinto and small red beans as well as refried beans and baked beans.

• Beans are naturally rich in dietary fiber.

• Beans are naturally fat, cholesterol, and sodium free!

• Draining and rinsing canned beans can remove up to 40% of the added sodium.