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Spruce up your summer salads

LANSING, MI -- When the temperatures outside begin to soar, is coming home from work to cook the last thing you want do? "It's time to skip the step of stopping to pick up take-out meals," says Registered Dietitian Barbara Wunsch. "It's time to start planning for easy-to-prepare summer meals."

"A hearty summer salad can be so satisfying on a hot summer day," says Wunsch. "Adding grains and beans will move a salad to the substantial salad level." You may be surprised by the way grains and beans soak up salad dressing and how well they pair with summer ingredients such as garden-fresh peas, cucumber and tomatoes.

To simplify preparation, Wunsch says, the grains and beans can be cooked during the cool of the morning and then frozen in plastic freezer bags for later use. She suggests trying such grains as quinoa, couscous, bulgur, farro or barley. The many bean choices include garbanzo, white beans, kidney beans, black soybeans and edamame. If you are short on time, Wunsch notes, you can purchase many of the beans in cans, and edamame in the frozen section, of your grocery store.

The dietitian explains that beans supply protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Soybeans have about twice as much protein as do other beans, she says. Soybeans, a complete protein, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, Wunsch adds. A cup of edamame provides 17 grams of protein and 15 grams of carbohydrates, according to Wunsch. A half cup of black soybeans has 11 grams of protein and 8 grams of carbohydrates.

"As we look forward to seasonal fresh vegetables, summer is the perfect time to add a main dish salad to your dinner rotations," Wunsch adds. "Try Black Bean and Corn Salad as a sink-your-teeth-into salad for a delicious, filling meal."

The Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee manages soybean checkoff funds to increase return on investment for Michigan soybean farmers while enhancing sustainable soybean production. A board of farmer-leaders directs the organization on behalf of the more than 12,000 Michigan soybean farmers. For information about soybeans or the soybean checkoff, call 989.652.3294 or visit

Black Bean and Corn Salad

2 cans (15 ounces each) black soybeans, drained and rinsed

2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup chopped red onions

1 cup chopped green onion

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

2 tomatoes, chopped

Juice from 1 lime (about 1 to 2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Mix lime juice, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil to make dressing.

Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss lightly to combine. Chill several hours before serving.

Yield: 10 servings. Per ? cup serving: 120 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 8 g protein (6.25 g soy protein), 17 g carbohydrate, 299 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g dietary fiber.