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Few hum­ble ingre­di­ents pro­vide such com­fort and sus­te­nance as greens and beans.

By beans, we nat­u­rally mean legumes– that class of veg­eta­bles that include lentils, peas and beans of all types.

Can­nellini, Ital­ian, chick peas (gar­banzo), black, white, navy, north­ern, lima, fava, Adzuki and but­ter top the list of pow­er­house beans.

Legumes are typ­i­cally low in fat, con­tain­ing no cho­les­terol, and are high in folate, potas­sium, iron and mag­ne­sium. A good source of pro­tein, legumes can be a healthy alter­na­tive to meat.

Due to their blend of fiber, pro­tein and nutri­ents, legumes aid in blood sugar reg­u­la­tion more than almost any other food group, a key qual­ity for dia­bet­ics and those con­cerned with main­tain­ing sta­ble insulin response.

They are a fine com­pan­ion to the often neglected fam­ily of cook­ing greens. The kale craze has encour­aged more respect and exper­i­men­ta­tion with dark, leafy greens in recent days. Paired with beans, the magic unfolds.

Sev­eral vari­eties of greens hail from the cru­cif­er­ous fam­ily of veg­eta­bles, known for their liver detox­i­fi­ca­tion and anti-​cancer prop­er­ties.

These include kale, col­lards, mus­tard greens, and bok choy.

Other famil­iar greens come from the cheno­pod fam­ily, such as spinach and chards. These are more del­i­cate than the cru­cif­er­ous greens, and don’t require as much cook­ing.

Greens and beans have been a cor­ner­stone of the pop­u­lar Mediter­ranean diet. This clas­sic com­bi­na­tion can be made a thou­sand ways depend­ing on what’s in the pantry and fridge.

Break out leeks, car­rots, cel­ery, pep­pers and onions if the mood strikes and they are in the mar­ket. Win­ter greens are often the most local and abun­dant veg­etable avail­able to us, along with root veg­gies.

Start with chick­peas and cab­bage, white beans and Tus­can kale, or lentils and broc­coli rabe. Work up to other more exotic dishes by adding gin­ger, gar­lic, lemon­grass and other herbs and spices.