The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that people on a 2,000-calories-a-day diet should eat 3 cups of cooked dry beans each week. But according to The Bean Institute, Americans only eat about a quarter of that amount.
So how can you painlessly increase your intake of beans? Simple. Blend canned navy beans into your next smoothie. Rinse and purée some kidney beans and add them to your breakfast blueberry muffin batter. Tuck smashed black beans into your brownies. Much like applesauce, mashed canned beans can substitute for oil in your baked goods in a 1-to-1 ratio (meaning use 1/2 cup bean purée for 1/2 cup oil, for example). Fruits, nuts and flavorings like vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon in your recipe will cover up any bean taste.
Some Asian desserts use a sweetened paste made from mung beans or red beans to make puddings, dessert soups, pastry fillings and other sweet meal-enders. And while it's hard for many of us to think of beans as a dessert item, consider this: The two most popular ice cream flavors -- vanilla and chocolate -- both come from beans.
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