A balanced diet includes eating from all healthy food groups. The two that are the most often neglected are legumes and vegetables.
A Balanced Diet Includes Plenty of Legumes
Legumes like black beans are an important part of a balanced diet. They’re an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber, which makes legumes a highly satiating food. Most legumes contain significant amounts of insoluble and soluble fiber. Eating legumes will keep you feeling full for a long time and they’re relatively low in calories. They also promote bowel regularity and help keep blood sugar levels in check.
Black beans are a great addition to a balanced diet. They have the following health benefits: they help maintain healthy bones, lower blood pressure, manage diabetes, ward off heart disease and promote healthy digestion and weight loss.
A Balanced Diet Emphasizes Vegetables
Any balanced diet focuses on eating a lot of vegetables. The USDA recommends eating 2-1/2 to 3 servings of vegetables per day. A serving size is 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens. Eating a balanced diet that’s rich in vegetables can reduce the risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, protect against cancer, and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Since vegetables are low in calories, they also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Sweet potatoes are high in many important nutrients. They contain a good amount of fiber as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and several other vitamins and minerals.
Better Brownies Recipe for a Balanced Diet
Here’s a sneaky and delicious way to add black beans and sweet potatoes to your balanced diet while also satisfying your sweet tooth.
Ingredients (makes 24 mini-muffins)
• 1 large sweet potato
• 1 15 ounce can black beans (drained, rinsed)
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted, divided)
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
• 1/3 cup brewed coffee
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease 24 cups of a mini-muffin tin with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
2. In a blender or food processor, puree the black beans until smooth and creamy. Measure 1/2 cup of black bean puree. With a fork, prick the sweet potato a few times and microwave until it is completely soft and tender, about 7 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, scoop out 1 cup of the sweet potato flesh. Add the black bean puree, melted butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
4. In a small bowl, add the chocolate chips and pour the hot coffee on top. Stir until melted. Add to the sweet potato mixture.
5. In another small bowl, add the cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix to combine. Add the cocoa mixture to the sweet potato mixture, and stir to combine.
6. Use a spoon to fill the muffin cups three-quarters full. Place the muffins in the oven and bake for 8 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of a brownie comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and the brownies resist light pressure.
7. Let the brownies cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool.
(per mini-muffin, from My Fitness Pal comparable recipe)
Tip: Use the remaining black bean puree for tacos, nachos, or a black bean dip.
Click here for full healthy brownies recipe and make it a part of your healthy, balanced diet.