WATCH: The One Sunday Night Meal Prep Tip That Keeps You Eating Healthy All Week
Every Sunday evening, before you kick off a Marvelous Mrs.Maisel or The Crown viewing session here's the easiest thing you can do to stick to your healthy eating goals all week long: Cook a pot of dried beans.
All this simple task requires is a pot, dried beans of your choice (black, pinto, Great Northern, and kidney are a few great options), water, and a vague eye on the time (Your mouth is a better judge than the clock—so get up from your couch from time to time to pop a bean or two and taste-test).
If you want to get really fancy, consider using this trick I picked up in culinary school: Add a stalk of kombu. This dried seaweed can be found at health stores or the Asian food aisle at grocery stores and amps up the flavor of your beans while also giving them an added dose of nutrition thanks to its calcium and potassium. It's also said to help with digesting beans (read: less gas). You can also order kombu on Amazon here.
If you think beans aren't filling, think again. "When it comes to plant-based protein, beans have roughly double the protein compared to grains. They are also higher in protein than eggs and nuts," notes Rebecca Lewis, nutrionist for HelloFresh, a leading meal delivery kit company available nationwide. Once you've prepared a batch of beans, you can use them as the base of a variety of dishes like stews, chilis (this slow-cooker sweet potato-black bean chili is calling our names), soups, and salads. It's a cook once, eat thrice (tiimes two!) situation in this kitchen, y'all.
"Beans are one of the most health-promoting food groups as they are loaded with different types of fibers, plant proteins, and micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, folate, and potassium," adds Julieanna Hever, nutritionist and author of Plant-Based Nutrition (Idiot's Guides) 2nd Edition. "Regular consumption of beans has been associated with weight loss, improved blood pressure and regulation of blood sugar, insulin, and blood cholesterol levels."
Another cool added bonus of legumes? "Probiotics are trendy enough now that we know we should be taking them regularly. But, to keep those probiotics alive they need to be fed with prebiotics.That's where beans come into play," explains Hever. "Beans are not only a good source of fiber (1 cup = 17 grams of fiber), but they also contain resistant starch—the exact thing that probiotics need to flourish in your gut. Even better: All that fiber gets your digestive tract moving so you stay regular."
Now, back to Mrs.Maisel, Joel, and the crew.