• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Chef shows easy ways to use nutritious beans

July 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Beans are an often overlooked protein that can be used in many ways. They are easy to use, but many find them daunting.

"Beans and legumes or lentils are one of those items that has secret, hidden nutrition benefits but a lot of people don't really want to tackle it," said Le Cordon Bleu Chef Chanel Martinez.

The beans need a good soaking, but it takes a mere minute to put them in the pot.

"Just adding water to them, letting them soak overnight, and then you can move forward with them as if they were from a can," Martinez said.

Changing soak water helps eliminate the negative digestive issues, as will enzymes like Beano. And talk about a meal deal: One bag dried costs under $2 and will yield up to 12 servings.

Even ready-to-eat canned costs $1 or less, and you can serve up to four people, depending on the dish. And they are good for you, as they are a good source of potassium, which acts like a broom, sweeping sodium out of your system. Beans also have magnesium, a relaxant, and folate, which is important for cell development.

Martinez made a Northern bean sauce for pasta for those who don't like the texture of beans, along with a summer staple: a salad with a white creamy bean, crisp sweet grapes, cherry tomatoes and a smattering of feta cheese.

Another consideration is lentils. It's a nice bean substitute as they require no soaking and can cook up in about 20 minutes, which she features in a farmer's market salad that includes some fresh bell pepper and mixed field greens.

There's also a tried-and-true, slow-and-low soup with all kinds of veggies -- even chicken if desired.