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Health Food of the month - Broad beans

June 2017


The time is ripe to enjoy broad beans


Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Kiwi fruit

Cabbage

Venison


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

Broad beans are not everyone’s favourite. Undercooked they can be too hard to enjoy; overcooking can mean they lose their natural flavour and texture. Sometimes the skin is left on and can make the beans chewy.

In fact there are all sorts of reasons why they are not everyone’s top choice of vegetable…which is a shame because cooked well they are a wonderful tasty food…and even better, they are really good for us.

Broad beans come under a species of a flowering plant which belongs to the vetch and pea family. It is a very old vegetable and has been cultivated in the Middle East for well over 5,000 years and perhaps nearer 10,000. Under another name for the same vegetable, fava bean, has been found right across early human settlements, even in Egyptian tombs.

The bean spread to the UK early on and has different varieties, with horse bean and field bean versions of broad beans being grown for cattle food.

But for us, the name broad bean is used for a large seeded cultivar that provides very individual kidney shaped beans.

The broad bean plants grow to around 3 or 4 feet (90 – 120cm) tall with bluish grey-green leaves and white flowers with little black dots.  These give way to pods between 5 – 10cm long which contain these lovely broad beans we enjoy.

Broad beans are most reliable in late spring and early summer, when they will appear in farmers’ markets and other shops fresh and ready for cooking. You can also buy them frozen all year.

The beans are especially rich in protein and in fibre. They contain no polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat, and a trace only of saturated fat. They also have zero cholesterol.

So far so good, but what adds to the uniqueness of broad beans is their additional very good content of key vitamins and minerals. Broad beans contain vitamin A, C, D, B-6 and B-12 plus calcium, iron and magnesium. They also contain iron, manganese, phosphorus and folate.

If you have struggled making them tasty, the key is the cold water trick. Remove the beans from their pods and boil the beans in a small saucepan of water just for around two minutes or so and then drain. Then place the beans directly into a bowl of cold water. Then you can pop the tender, bright green beans out of the thicker, leather skins and they are ready to add to any recipe or enjoy on their own as a vegetable.

 

 


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