More than just the musical fruit, beans are nutritious and can be enjoyed in a number of ways

Beans are nutritional superstars. They are a versatile plant-based food high in both fibre and protein.

Kidney beans in particular are an excellent source of molybdenum, which detoxifies sulfites. Sulfites are preservatives that have a number of alarming side effects such as headaches and rapid heartbeat. We can prevent the sulfites from harming our health by increasing the amount of kidney beans in our diet.

Kidney beans are also high in folate and magnesium. Both of these nutrients help protect against heart disease. Kidney beans stabilize blood sugar, are almost fat-free and provide a good source of iron.

They can be enjoyed a number of ways, but this protein-packed bean ball snack is especially good when you’re on the go.

These bean balls are loosely based on a recipe from The Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. They are a healthy way to energize midday. Pop them in your mouth between classes, mix them with marinara sauce and eat them with pasta to make a meal. Or, you can warm them in the microwave to spread across toast or to use as a sandwich filling. You can also use these bean balls as a vegan replacement to any recipe that calls for meat. Form them into patties to create veggie burgers or crumble them over salads.

If you don’t have hemp seeds, you can substitute them with extra whole wheat flour. Add 1 tsp of olive oil or a little more water if you need the batter to be stickier. For a spicier version, add a drizzle of hot sauce.

Energizing Protein-packed Bean Balls

Ingredients:
1 can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained to remove any excess sodium)
2 heaping tbsp homemade ketchup (recipe below)
1 tbsp water
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
A few squirts of lemon juice
5 tbsp wheat germ
4 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2. Mash the kidney beans in a mixing bowl so that there are still some chunks of beans. Add the rest of the ingredients and use a spoon to mix everything together until it is well combined.

3. Roll the bean mixture into small balls. You should get between about 20 and 30 balls.

4. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place the balls on the sheet and spray them with some olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom, then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes.

To make the ketchup: Combine 1 can tomato paste, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey), 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp whole grain mustard, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves and 2 tbsp cider vinegar. Refrigerate until use.

University of Winnipeg student Sagan Morrow writes a health and wellness blog.

Published in Volume 64, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 15, 2009)

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