Late summer and autumn bring us the beautiful cranberry bean, so named for the deep-red speckles that adorn its white or cream-colored pod. If you don’t mind doing a little shelling, fresh fall beans like these take much less time to cook than the dried varieties (though you can buy them dried, too) while providing all the same health benefits.
Beans are a great source of plant-based protein, and they also contain an abundance of fiber which has tons of powerful benefits for our health. The legumes provide us with saponins, protease inhibitors, and phytic acid, which appear to protect our cells from cancer-causing damage, as well as flavan-3-oils which are anti-inflammatory. and increase the activity of enzymes that deactivate carcinogens
Cranberry beans have a delicate, nutty taste that is perfect for cooked, fall salads, and soups. One cup of boiled beans provides 17 grams of protein. They are packed with nutrients such as thiamin, which helps our bodies to turn the food we eat into the energy we need, magnesium and phosphorus, which support DNA synthesis, potassium, copper, and manganese, a powerful antioxidant — not to mention a little colorful eye-candy.
Beans also contain many phytonutrients, which are plant-based compounds that provide an extra layer of protection in both plants and in some cases in humans as well. Beans contain many phytonutrients that have been shown to be anti-inflammatory which helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including some cancers.
Consuming a variety of legumes, including kidney beans is an important component of a healthy diet plant-based diet that supports both cancer prevention and during survivorship. Consuming a minimum of ½ cup cooked beans per day helps to boost your daily fiber intake and provides an excellent source of protein and nutrients. Our recommendation is to consume a variety of beans and legumes 4 to 6 days per week, aiming for ½ to 2 cups beans per day. If you currently don’t consume many beans and legumes in your diet, add beans in slowly and in small amounts as they can stimulate the digestive tract and may cause loose and frequent stools.
Look for full pods that have not begun to wilt or dry out. You can store them fresh in the fridge for up to a week. Do not eat these or similar beans raw, as they contain a toxin that only neutralizes after 10 minutes of boiling.
To cook, shell the beans and rinse them well. Cover with water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes, then turn the heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, another 15- 20 minutes, or to the point where they no longer taste mealy.
Cranberry beans have a relatively mild flavor and can be used in many different recipes. For a simple salad, combine freshly cooked cranberry beans, extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh lemon juice along with chopped fresh parsley or basil, or try our Fresh Cranberry Bean & Tuna Salad.
For a great cooked, autumn salad, toss cranberry beans with chunks of sweet roasted butternut squash and tangy, steamed broccoli rabe.