To Your Health: Punch up April's stovetop beans with onions

To Your Health: Punch up April's stovetop beans with onions

Do you have a favorite onion variety?

My favorites depend on the time of year: green onions in spring, Vidalia or sweet onions in summer.

Onions are usually a food that we grow into enjoying over time. It is not surprising, because many varieties have a strong flavor and, after all, cutting them can make you get a little teary-eyed.

However, onions add great flavor to recipes without adding salt and turn slightly sweet the longer they are cooked.

Our stovetop beans are a great example of an onion recipe that has a subtle flavor and is the perfect side dish to go with your grilled burgers or chicken this spring.

Onion nutrition: Onions, like most fruits and vegetables, are naturally low in sodium and fat free. They are also a good source of fiber and high in vitamin C.

Onion selection: Look for onions that have firm, smooth skin. Avoid those that have cuts or bruises.

Onion storage: Great news! Onions, when stored correctly, can be kept for up to four weeks. Make sure you store whole, uncut onions in a cool, dry and well-ventilated location at home.

If you are storing cut onions in the refrigerator, you will need to use them within a couple of days.

Onion preparation: There are multiple suggestions to stop the tears when cutting up a raw onion. A key item is to make sure you are using a sharp knife!

Other tips that may help: put the onion in the freezer for 30 minutes before prepping and rinse both halves under cold water after the initial cut.

STOVETOP BEANS

Servings: 4.

2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, drained

To reduce sodium (salt) in recipe: Use 2 cups dried black beans, sorted and soaked in water overnight before preparation

3/4 cup water

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium apple, finely chopped

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover saucepan with lid. Cook gently for 30 minutes.

Uncover pot and stir. Cook for additional 10 minutes.

Link to recipe online: http://go.illinois.edu/stovetop_beans

Many other recipes are on our website, "Let's Eat Health for Illinois! Easy Family-Friendly Recipes for Any Budget," at https://go.illinois.edu/inep_recipes.

Beth Peralta is a registered dietitian and media communications specialist for University of Illinois Extension, and a spokesperson for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Contact her at 217-244-7405 or cavaller@illinois.edu.

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