Stage 6 introduces legumes to your meal plan. The legume family includes beans, lentils, and split peas. Legumes are a delicious source of iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper. They are also high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, and low in fat! This makes beans a very nutritious addition to your meal plan, so get excited about beans! To learn specifics regarding stage 6, refer to the stage 6 video.
Although one serving of beans has one ounce (7 grams) of protein, the carbohydrate content of beans is significantly higher, so they fall into the “carb” family. That being said, beans will need to be paired with a protein, or a healthy fat. Carbohydrates should never be eaten alone (I bet you are getting used to this concept by now!)
Since beans are ~100 calories per ½ cup serving, we need to get a bit creative with our calorie distribution during the day to make beans a seamless addition to the meal plan. An easy way to add beans while staying within your recommended calorie range for weight loss is to remove the dinner/evening shake from your meal plan. If you are not doing a shake in the evening, use the beans as your “carb” for your lunch or dinner meal. This means that for our meal we make sure to get the correct protein serving (4 or 6 ounces), the 3+ veg servings, and you may add in the beans as the carbohydrate serving for the meal.
Here are some helpful hints for stage 6. Regarding canned beans and soups, we want to be mindful of the sodium content in these items. If you are using canned beans, give them a quick rinse in a colander or strainer before use. This can help to decrease the sodium content by around 25%. Regarding canned soups, focus on low sodium items, or soups that contain less than 500 mg per serving.
Beans absorb the types of flavors they are cooked with, so try various types of spices! Using garlic, oregano, basil, sage and rosemary can give the beans an Italian flair, whereas using hot peppers, garlic, and cilantro can introduce a hint of Mexican flavor! As far as cooking goes, chili is a wonderful use of both beans and lean proteins, but don’t be limited to soups when it comes to beans! They are a wonderful addition to a salad, casserole, or stir fry, and hummus and veggies makes a great snack. Garbanzo beans can be a great addition for a Greek salad, or for a Mexican inspired dish, add some black beans to a salad with leftover chicken, ¼ cup shredded cheese and fresh pico de gallo for your dressing! You can refer to the stage 6 cooking video for more recipe ideas.
Remember, this is YOUR meal plan! If beans are a welcomed addition, then I encourage you to get creative in how you incorporate them into your meal plan! Variety will help keep your meals fresh and interesting as you progress through the stages! Great work so far, and get creative with legumes!