Green beans are great to always keep on hand — you can keep frozen packages in the freezer and a few cans in your pantry. Coming up with ways to enjoy them that go beyond simply sautéing or a dumping them into a casserole, however, can be a challenge at times.
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But they're so good for you that it's worth the extra effort. A cup of green beans provides 14 percent of your Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, 35 percent DV vitamin K, 8 percent DV folate and 6 percent DV iron.
And even though green beans are, well, green, they're also rich in beta-carotene (the plant antioxidant that gives carrots their hue). They actually get their green color from lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect your eyes from blue light emitted from screens (phones, computers and tablets), according to the International Food Information Council Foundation.
To reap this versatile veggie's benefits, whip up these creative and easy green bean recipes for lunch or dinner.
1. Sheet Pan Miso Ginger Tempeh
The main components of this dish from sports dietitian Kelly Jones, RD, CSSD, includes just three ingredients: tempeh, sweet potato and green beans. It's baked all on one sheet pan, making it a simple and fairly easy dish to make and clean up after. The sauce used includes miso, which is made of fermented beans and gives this dish an umami flavor.
Umami is one of our five basic flavors (along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter) and is often described as savory. It adds flavor to a dish for sure, so much so that it might actually increase our appetite when we're eating an umami-packed dish, according to a June 2014 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
But the good news is, the study also found that umami increases our satiety when paired with a protein, like the tempeh in this recipe. In fact, the participants were observed to eat less at their next meal likely due to umami's satiating effects.
2. Sesame Garlic Green Bean Fries
Fried green beans can be delicious, yes, but they're not the best bet for your health and your waistline. If you find them on a restaurant menu, they're typically heavily battered and deep-fried.
But this recipe features sesame seeds and whole-wheat panko bread crumbs. Sesame seeds add healthy fats and fiber to this dish, along with phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper and zinc.
Sesame seeds are rich in two lignans (phytochemicals) called sesamin and sesamolin, which have been shown to lower blood lipids and have anti-inflammatory properties, according to a paper published in July 2014 in Pharmacognosy Review. Enjoy this dish as is, but if you're allergic to sesame seeds, swap them out for sunflower seeds.
Get the Sesame Garlic Green Bean Fries recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Roasted Green Beans, Mushrooms and Onion
Roasting is a great way to bring out the natural sweetness in veggies without adding any sugar. This is a simple recipe that pairs green beans with mushrooms, red onion and tangy crumbled blue cheese.
Olive oil is used to toss it all together and give it a nice coat. One of the healthiest oils available, olive oil is high in monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which can help lower your risk for heart disease by potentially reducing your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Get the Roasted Green Beans, Mushrooms and Onion recipe and nutrition info here.
4. High-Protein Vegan Stir Fry
Stir-frys are one of the easiest ways to add green beans and really any other veggie to your meal. This one calls for frozen green beans, which tend to hold up better when you're cooking on high heat.
This plant-based recipe also features protein-rich shelled edamame. A cup of shelled edamame has about 190 calories and 19 grams of protein, along with 8 grams of fiber! It's also rich in folate (100 percent DV), magnesium (24 percent DV), iron (20 percent DV) and potassium (15 percent DV). Getting enough iron is especially important for anyone following a plant-based diet.
5. Warm Mushroom and Green Bean Salad With Poached Eggs
The great thing about this dish from Chelsey Amer, RDN, CDN, owner of Chelsey Amer Nutrition and author of The 28-Day Pescatarian Meal Plan and Cookbook is that you can enjoy it really any time of day — breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The green beans add a nutritious crunch, sure, but there are so many other standouts in this recipe. For starters, mushrooms are one of the few food sources with an ample amount of vitamin D, as outlined by the National Institutes of Health.
Meanwhile, the poached egg in this dish serves up choline, which helps supports liver health and helps to make sure all of the nutrients we eat get to where they're needed in our bodies, according to the Egg Nutrition Center.
Get the full recipe at Chelsey Amer Nutrition.
- FoodData Central: "Beans, String, Green, Raw"
- International Food Information Council Foundation: "What Is Lutein?"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Umami Flavor Enhances Appetite But Also Increases Satiety"
- Pharmacognosy Review: "Value Addition in Sesame: A Perspective on Bioactive Components for Enhancing Utility and Profitability"
- FoodData Central: "Edamame, cooked"
- National Institutes of Health: "Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals"
- Egg Nutrition Center: "Incredible Egg"
- Mayo Clinic: "Nutrition and Healthy Eating"