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Something Different
Week of: July 5, 2010
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Giving a Classic Salad a New Look

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Along with coleslaw, potato, and macaroni salads, three bean salad is an American classic. Unfortunately, recipes for this side dish, although full of good fiber and light on fat, are often full of sugar. Most versions are so sweet that I decided to experiment in a different direction, one that is just as good but healthier.

Along with sweet dressings, creamy ones are popular, too. So I pair this trio of beans with a tangy dressing that blends together thick Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and mustard. Then, for color and fresh, summer flavor, just before serving, I toss in lavish amounts of fresh dill and Italian parsley plus chopped red and green bell peppers that add more color, plus nice crunch.

While I sincerely recommend using home-cooked dried beans because this avoids the load of sodium found in most canned beans, few people seem willing to do this, so when developing recipes, I use canned beans. Buying them raises two issues. First, canned beans vary widely in texture, from nicely firm to downright mushy. Second, from a health standpoint, most commercial and private label brands of canned beans are high in sodium content, providing from around 250 mg to nearly 500 mg per half-cup serving. Fortunately, rinsing canned beans reduces sodium considerably, and supermarkets now offer a growing number of low- and reduced-sodium choices. Still, I suggest trying different brands to find one that is both lowest in sodium and has the best texture. Also check out natural foods brands, which generally contain from zero to around 150 mg sodium and do not contain additives, such as sulfites and sugar, that may be found in other brands.

Three Bean Salad with Creamy Mustard Dill Dressing

Three Bean Salad with Creamy Mustard Dill Dressing

  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup canned Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup canned kidney or red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. fat-free or 2 percent Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse seed mustard
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

In mixing bowl, combine beans with onion and peppers, if using.

For dressing, place in mini food processor the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper and whirl to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in oil. Add dressing to beans and mix to combine. If serving immediately, mix in dill and parsley. Or, cover the dressed beans and refrigerate for up to 8 hours, adding herbs just before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 230 calories, 5 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 36 g carbohydrate,
11 g protein, 11 g dietary fiber, 390 mg sodium

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $100 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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