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Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Healthy Recipes

Black Beans are Healthy and Delicious

When your family budget is stretched just about as far as it will go, you need some real tools to stretch it even further. One of the means we can use to squeeze a few more pennies out of your paycheck is to cut back at the grocery store. This is where our friend the black bean comes in.

5 Ideas for Cooking Cheap, When All You Have Are Black Beans

If you find yourself wandering aimlessly through the aisles of your grocery store, looking for something to make for dinner that won't break your budget, take a detour over to the black bean display and check out the price. Considering that black beans are loaded with nutrients like protein, iron, calcium, and potassium, and they are high in fiber, and low in fat and sugar, they really offer a lot of bang for your buck. It's obvious that black beans should be a staple in every household, frugal or not. So, let's think up a few simple meals to create with your new best friend... the black bean.

1) Simple Four Bean Soup

What you'll need for the beans is 1 can each, black beans, garbanzo beans, butter beans, and navy beans (although you may substitute your favorite beans for any of those). Drain each can and set aside. Into a large pot, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil, add 1 cup finely chopped celery and 1 cup of diced onion. Cook on medium low until celery is just tender. Next add 1 clove of garlic, either minced, crushed, or grated, and let cook for just one minute. Then throw all your beans into the pot. Add 1 small can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and 1 small can chicken broth. Simmer nice and slow for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. It's done!

2) Loads Of Beans Salad

You'll be choosing your favorite canned beans for this salad, keeping in mind color and texture; favorites like black beans, butter beans, navy beans, kidney beans, waxed beans, and whatever else you like. Drain and rinse all the beans and put them in a large serving bowl. To the beans, add some sweet onion, or green onion including the tops, chopped celery, freshly chopped parsley, maybe some fresh rosemary, or whatever herb you like, and top it all with a little shake or two of a very good vinaigrette salad dressing, I use Paul Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. You've got yourself a kid-friendly and nutritious salad.

3) 30 Second Black Beans with Taco Seasoning

Alright, this one may appear a little strange at first, but my daughter actually sold me on its merits. Drain and rinse your black beans, making sure they're drained well. Put your black beans into a bowl and top them with any favorite taco sauce, even those little leftover packets from take-out. Mix gently and enjoy! You just have to trust me on this one. Of course, you may also use any taco sauce you have in your refrigerator, or even a nice hot salsa will do. But, just a touch, not too much sauce. You want to just flavor your black beans. (Of course you can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top, too.)

4) Black Bean Celery Salad with Cottage Cheese

You can throw together a really fast and delicious salad in just a few minutes, with these simple ingredients. Take a salad bowl, add about a 1 cup scoop of cottage cheese, salt to taste, and add some freshly ground black pepper. Thoroughly drain and rinse some canned black beans. Add about 1/2 cup of the rinsed black beans to the top of the cottage cheese. For crunch, dice some celery and put a handful on top of the black beans. This salad is not only yummy, but it's got the nutrition you're looking for, like lots of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, and fiber.

5) Use-It-Up Black Bean Burrito

If you have a few staples in your pantry you can whip up this simple burrito. You'll need a flour or corn tortilla, either heated or not, that's up to you. Drain and rinse your black beans, then start building your burrito however you want. I add black beans, some diced tomatoes, a little onion, lots of shredded cheddar cheese, a little sour cream, leftover rice, some chopped up pieces of chicken from last night, and whatever else I have to use up. Depending on how I feel that day, I go a little heavier on the black beans and lighter on the other stuff. Get your salsa or taco sauce ready and enjoy.

These recipes are just a few ways to use the wonderful, and versatile black bean. All five of these simple black bean dishes can be tweaked easily by you to show off your individual style and to become your own family favorites.

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