by Leanne Ely

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I've written many times on the deliciousness of beans, the ease of cooking them, the frugality of the lowly bean, and most importantly, the health qualities that encompasses each and every bean variety.

And today I am going to do it again. Dried beans are one of those things that sit for years in people's pantries becoming fossils. One of the reasons is because so many people don't know how to cook dried beans (It's really simple; soak overnight and simmer till tender.). And most people, if they do use beans, use the canned variety.

I want to make a case for the humble bean, dried, in a bag, and less than a buck (usually) for the whole darn package. Dried beans are wonderful, versatile, healthy and will save you a fortune on your grocery bill, if you can start to work them into your family's menu once or more times a week. That doesn't mean they need to be the mainstay. Just add a few to soups, salads, and stews. It really does help to extend a meal and adds more protein, a ton more fiber, and a bunch of important nutrients.

Now about that gas problem that we all know exists with the consumption of beans. I won't even go there, telling you how to make your beans gas free in the first place because in my humble opinion, that information is really trite and useless. What is useful, however, is Beano, which is a wonderful little enzyme-filled product that helps take some of the "music" out of your beans.

So how about a recipe? I'm glad you asked because I've got a good one for you. Now go soak your beans!

Barbecued Lima Beans
Serves 6

1 pound dried lima beans
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
8 drops Tabasco sauce
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1 (14.5 ounce) can low sodium vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, soak washed beans in water overnight. Do not drain. Add onion to beans and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 to 60 minutes or until beans are beginning to get tender. Drain beans.

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Mix well. Pour in vegetable broth to cover beans. If you need more liquid, add water until beans are barely covered.

Cover. Cook on low 10 hours or high 4 to 6 hours (your mileage may vary, depending on your appliance), stirring occasionally.

Per Serving: 402 Calories; 1g Fat; 20g Protein; 83g Carbohydrate; 16g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 427mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain (Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 2 Other Carbohydrates.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with coleslaw and cornbread for a hearty meal.

Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular,, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

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