Ingredient Focus: Green Beans

Just because your mother might have told you to eat your green beans just so you could have dessert doesn't mean they can't be infinitely delicious now. Your mom was right about one thing: this vegetable is super healthy for you. Green beans (or string beans as they're also affectionately known as) are great for a nutritional boost in your diet as they're packed with fiber, complex carbohydrates, and potassium.

The high levels of fiber in green beans help to lower cholesterol as well as prevent blood sugar levels from rising. This makes green beans are perfect side dish for anyone suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia. They also happen to be great for your heart health as the antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin B6 all help to regulate your metabolism.

Growing green beans in your garden is a relatively easy task. You can use existing chain link fence to help aide the beans in their growth. The green vines are a great way to decorate and make your garden pretty during the summer! It only takes about two weeks for the beans to sprout so tie them to your fence to help train the runners to grow evenly by weaving them in and out of the fence. You'll know when the beans are ready when they reach about 8-12 inches and feel full. Pick them off by the stem just by the beginning of the plant and you'll be on your way to using fresh green beans in your recipes.

Green bean recipes run the gamut from using in a stir-fry in a typical Asian-style dish with minced garlic, soy sauce, and chili flakes to using in a green bean casserole with bacon and portobello mushrooms. Or, if you're looking to start pickling, green beans are a great vegetable to start with.

What's your favorite green bean recipe?

Photo: kthread on flickr