Chef shows easy ways to use nutritious beans

LOS ANGELES

"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.

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