Food: Snap green beans into the mix (recipe) |

Food: Snap green beans into the mix (recipe)

close up shut of green beans on the table
Val Thoermer |

I’m a huge fan of green beans, and with the abundant summer crop available this year, I decided to learn more about one of my favorite vegetables. Green beans also are known as string beans because of a string that runs down the length of the pod. Modern varieties seldom have the string anymore and are now known as snap beans.

Snap beans are picked at a younger, immature stage. The name comes from the snapping sound the beans make when they are twisted between your fingers. They are the least expensive, can be eaten raw and are at their tasty best from summer to fall. Green beans are selected before the tender beans in the pod mature.

Actually, green beans aren’t really a bean at all. They are nutritionally more comparable to other pod vegetables such as okra and belong to the same family as shell beans such as pinto beans, black beans and kidney beans. They are all referred to as “common beans,” probably because they all derived from a common Peruvian bean ancestor.

Migrating Indian tribes spread common beans throughout South and Central America, then Spanish explorers returning from voyages to the New World introduced them to Europe around the 16th century. Traders of Spanish and Portuguese descent spread the beans to other parts of the world.

Greens beans are low in sodium and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are a good source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and copper. Green beans also are a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and K, folate and manganese.

Greens beans are relatively inexpensive and easy to find locally. The United States produces 60 percent of all commercially grown green beans, especially the states of Illinois, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Wisconsin. If you’re unable to obtain fresh green beans, you still can get many valuable nutrients from ones that have been frozen or canned.

While green beans are typically showcased in a casserole during Thanksgiving and Christmas, they’re delicious all year around. My recipe for Summer Salsa Fresca Green Bean Salad is the perfect light supper or side dish to highlight fresh green beans during the summer. Snap to it!

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

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